owlmoose: (otw)
KJ ([personal profile] owlmoose) wrote2011-11-14 11:46 pm

So apparently I am going to comment on this topic

I was being good. I really, really, was. I'm a member of OTW, an avid user of AO3, and an occasional contributor to Fanlore, but I've never volunteered, and the few glimpses I've had of the organization's inner workings have been decidedly one-sided. There are so many other people who are far more involved and invested than I, saying smart and helpful and important things about the OTW election and all the issues it has raised, so I was content to sit this one out and not get involved beyond reading up on the issues and casting an informed vote in the election itself. Because what can I really add to the conversation at this point anyway?

But I guess everyone has their limits, and today I reached mine.* And I find that there are two things I want to say, the second of which I've been thinking about lately for other reasons and may come back to in more general terms soon.

1. If one is embroiled in a public controversy, it is the opposite of helpful to say that people are misrepresenting and/or misinterpreting your words and actions and then refuse to either share your side of the story or engage with the people you claim are misrepresenting you. Especially when the charges against you include an unwillingness to take criticism.

2. Relatedly, negativity and criticism is not the same thing as vitriol. It really, really, isn't. Yes, there have been many criticisms of the OTW and its leadership, and some have been in harsh terms. But I have yet to see anything that looks like people throwing rocks. Every criticism I have read has been thoughtfully written, well-sourced, and presented with the intention of making fandom a better place, and I've been reading pretty widely for the last week or so. The conflation of all criticism with rock throwing is something I see all the time in fandom, and it's an attitude that's always bothered me. In order for there to be progress, there must be debate. Where there is debate, often there will be disagreement. If there is too much pressure to be "nice" and to get along, the necessary space for debate and disagreement can get lost. Is it possible for disagreement and criticism to get out of control and reach toxic levels? Sure. But from what I've seen, this does not seem to have been the OTW's main problem. From my outsider's perspective, this whole discussion has the feel of a boil being lanced, of pent up frustrations and concerns finally being spoken in public, of people finding each other and having the conversations they've been wanting to have for years but didn't have the right words or venue to have until now. Given that, I have to believe that getting all this out in the open is going to make the OTW healthier in the long run.

*I want to be clear: I am a long-time admirer of Ms. N. Her books are among my all-time favorites, and her contributions to fandom are undeniably huge. Her leadership has been invaluable, and no matter what happens this week, it will continue to be so. But (or, perhaps, therefore) I am really, really disappointed in this response. I wouldn't criticize if I didn't expect (and hope for) better.
seventhe: (Ondore: he lies)

[personal profile] seventhe 2011-11-15 12:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I've been watching the, erm, mess from afar as well, and I really agree with you. I've been disappointed with the number of people who are associating "criticism" with "negativity" -- especially in a place like fandom, where good concrit is worth more than gold. It feels like... it feels like we should all know that already, you know?
seventhe: (Sorceresses)

[personal profile] seventhe 2011-11-15 04:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I know. And then you get the debate over "Well, a review of OMG I LOVED THIS doesn't tell me anything!" vs "Be glad you got anything!" vs "Be glad you got something positive." The relationships of criticism are complicated, certainly.

But I still think that constructive criticism is one of the best gifts that can be given, whether it's to a fanfic or an organization - or an individual. It's a tough one, but it really means somebody cares.
seventhe: (Zeromus/Cid Kramer is my OTP)

[personal profile] seventhe 2011-11-16 07:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I have this Huge Thing I could go on and on about, where I - well. Okay. Imagine a graph, because I am a nerd. The x-axis is "nice" vs "mean", and the y-axis is "honest" vs "liar". I have this HUGE THING about how it is hardest to be honest and nice. And that's why I think it's so important to be able to express your feelings honestly in a way that - as best it can, because you can't control somebody else's reaction - is as kind as possible.

And it is possible. There is no law saying honest critique can't be kind and respectful. But this is only tangentially related XD
mako_lies: Surrender or die in obscurity (03)

[personal profile] mako_lies 2011-11-15 03:20 pm (UTC)(link)
This is something I've been watching as well and I definitely agree with you, especially on number two.
sarasa_cat: (Default)

[personal profile] sarasa_cat 2011-11-16 05:08 am (UTC)(link)
Your point 2: Yes. Yes. Yes.

I've been watching the OTW situation from afar. ... Hrm. I have had weird feelings about the OTW, to be honest (and I've posted about them a few times over the past 14 months, starting with when I deleted my original A03 account and onward). Those weird feelings have made me not want to get involved with the OTW and have limited my willingness to publish on A03.

My weird feelings about OTW were formed in 2009-2010 when I started investigating how I could help out as a software developer and user experience design (so I could join efforts with them rather than develop a semi-competing idea I have been playing with in my spare time). I think skud's epic post from the POV of an open source software developer fully and completely says everything I might have said if given the gift of eloquence that skud has.

So... yeah. I have not been the least bit surprised watching the OTW issues unfold over the past few months.

It makes me sad, especially when reading heart wrenching posts from people in fandom I greatly respect.
sarasa_cat: (Default)

[personal profile] sarasa_cat 2011-11-16 09:23 am (UTC)(link)
As a way-out-on-the-edges-outsider, I don't know enough about what is going on in the OTW to form a reasoned opinion. Mostly it's just my long standing weird feelings (above) that now feel "confirmed" by all of the terribly sad posts I've been reading over the past month.

But, beyond OTW/AO3, in my real life experience working on large, multifaceted, distributed projects run mostly by volunteer efforts, I've learned a lot about the importance of transparency (as skud said) and the need to invite, welcome, and trust lots of people--strangers!--to come right in and make all sorts of meaningful *small* contributions that add up into something far larger than any one person (or small group of people) could ever envision, manage, or accomplish on their own (like wikipedia).

Additionally there is a related but different concept: egoless programming which, IMHO, is best for all efforts but is absolutely necessary for the health of any volunteer effort or open source effort. Of course, the "egoless programming" concept can be applied to any creative effort. High quality concrit and egolessness go together hand in hand.

Anyhow, the formula I've seen for success is in creating bottom up efforts led by approachable people who check their egos at the door. Lots of top-down centralized control just doesn't seem to work well. But, that's all just speaking from my experience...
unjapanologist: (Default)

[personal profile] unjapanologist 2011-11-16 05:13 am (UTC)(link)
*here via a link from someone, somewhere*

Yes, this. Exactly. I found that post intensely disappointing, because in a way, it's confirmation that someone who will probably get elected to the board is content to dismiss the whole debate as vitriol and misinformation. It's indeed good for the org that all this is out in the open, but this brush-off is not a good way to start convincing people that you're willing to take criticism seriously.
unjapanologist: (Default)

[personal profile] unjapanologist 2011-11-16 09:16 am (UTC)(link)
This wouldn't be half as nerve-wracking if we could be sure that no matter who gets elected, the problems people have pointed out will definitely be at least acknowledged in some way.

I don't really expect a reply, but public record and all that. And if I gripe about it after the elections, it'll just be unproductive wank.

ETA: http://astolat.dreamwidth.org/239952.html

Awesome.
Edited 2011-11-16 13:57 (UTC)
unjapanologist: (Default)

[personal profile] unjapanologist 2011-11-16 11:23 pm (UTC)(link)
ETA? *checks*

Okay, what you said. And the questions to that previous post were either about things that have been going on for weeks, or things that she's extremely familiar with (technical management issues as raised by Skud and others) and should be able to type at least an acknowledging paragraph about at the drop of a hat. If there is misinformation, people need to know what it is.

This is pretty insulting towards voters. Elections do not work this way. (Okay, they probably often do, but they shouldn't.)
auronlu: (Default)

[personal profile] auronlu 2011-11-16 06:59 pm (UTC)(link)
I hate to say "we are the chorus and we agree," but as one who has been supporting OTW financially, because I like the premise -- as one who has posted on AO3, because I like the premise, despite the lack of community -- as one who has been immensely grateful to the volunteers I've seen for all their hard work -- I have been so very troubled to see them exploited and ignored for a long time. This is not new. I'm very inactive in fandom, yet I've been aware of OTW's problems for over a year.

The volunteers who are expressing concrit are doing it in a much more respectful and constructive fashion than I would have, after this long a period with this much duress. I have adminned for various kinds of online communities, including one bloody huge one with upwards of 50,000 members, in the 90s through about 2005, so I do have some experience in cat herding on this scale. It's not easy. That's why communication and willingness to hear and address respectful concrit in a conscious, deliberate, and earnest fashion is so vital. People kill themselves volunteering, and you have to listen to them.

Your expression of #2 is so, so, so very much more articulate than what I'm saying, so, belatedly, "this."
lassarina: (Magna Carta: Loyalty)

[personal profile] lassarina 2011-11-17 04:11 am (UTC)(link)
You say wise and good things.