August 2012 Newsletter, Volume 62
I. BEHIND THE SCENES
August has been a month of largely non-public work, as technical and documentation preparations have been going on across various committees for things to be launched next month, including a new code push at the AO3, the release of a Code of Conduct draft for staff and volunteers across the org, and celebrations of the OTW's fifth anniversary.
A look at some of the debates and difficulties that are part of running the OTW can be seen in the series of Board posts about topics such as goals for the organization and changes in elections processes in response to issues that arose in 2011. Another document released that took a look at events of that year was the 2011 Annual Report (in PDF here). A more recent look at project development focused on the launch of the OTW's Pinboard account.
II. A MONTH OF UPGRADES
The Wiki Committee has been testing a mediawiki upgrade and their gardeners have been testing the forthcoming forums with positive feedback so far. After a few hundred hours of hand-entry and research Volunteers & Recruiting completed moving all of the information from the old eFiction database into their shiny new Drupal-based database. The new database is top of the line and makes managing our volunteer information much easier. Databases may not sound exciting, but the new system allows us to keep track of all the hard work our volunteers do for us, develop new workgroups and projects more easily, and develop accurate records for all of the OTW's great projects.
Open Doors has been continuing preparations for the 852Prospect import, getting things ready for a test import and for its new collection on AO3. They have also been drafting guidelines for the Fan Culture Preservation Project and digital archive imports, so that fans can have a better understanding of how and when we can help them preserve their fannish materials or works.
Accessibility, Design, & Technology (AD&T) has been working on code for the next deploy at the AO3, which should be coming within the next few weeks. Unfortunately, the new tag filters are not completed yet, though this continues to be a central concern for the committee. More information about the delay was discussed in mid-August.
During some upgrades to our AO3 firewall a small error caused a DNS problem so that some people were redirected to a spam site when trying to access the Archive. Although this error was fixed promptly after users alerted us to the problem, some issues relating to the firewall work have lingered, forcing AD&T to temporarily disable https on the site. Users are reminded to contact Support via their form if they experience any unusual problems in utilizing the Archive.
Speaking of the Support Committee, the team has answered over 350 tickets this month. They’ve also been busy helping with various cross-committee projects/issues -- there’s lots of shiny stuff coming up soon and they want to make sure they’re prepared to help users once things go live.
Tag Wrangling will be among the committees most affected as the upcoming code deploy will make AO3 tag structures visible on the archive to all users, so they have been working on moving wrangling guidelines to a public display. This has involved discussions with tag wranglers about terminology and guideline clarity for non-wranglers. The staff has also made some changes to several canonical tags, based on requests from users who contacted us via the Support form and the tag wrangling Twitter account.
Finance finished the “990” state forms and paid our taxes. They’re still working on documenting things and processing the rest of the April membership drive, which readers may remember was the Org's largest yet.
Journal is busy with production for its next issue, which comes out on September 15. Editorial staffers are already making plans for the first two issues of 2013 and Journal is also working on a soft reboot of the Symposium Blog.
Board has approved various expenses, including some server upgrades, given various committees the go-ahead on planned projects, and has been discussing a few strategic topics. They’re working on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our organizational structure, and laying out some guidelines for the minimum work levels expected of a board member. This will also help our candidates in the upcoming election know what to expect. Minutes for all July meetings as well as the first two August ones are now available.
Strategic Planning is now an official committee and they are currently in the process of drafting their first report, which is about the Tag Wrangling team. They are also gathering responses from a second set of surveys for retired Tag Wrangling volunteers and the Volunteers & Recruiting staff, and are revising two more sets of surveys for deployment to Fanlore/Wiki and Open Doors.
Abuse has found its cases have been growing exponentially and they are working with a new model of everyone on the committee weighing in on a case, rather than assigning a case to an individual. Cases continue to center on plagiarism and disallowed content –- the latter being the ongoing issue of meta, which we hope will be resolved soon. One of the stickier issues is how we determine what is meta. Abuse has been looking for fannish content in each non-fiction piece that comes through, with those that are random and non-fannish categorized as non-meta. For now all meta is being left in place as discussion continues within the Board as to what steps should be taken.
AO3 Documentation's staffer Scott has been working on re-designing the back-end of the AO3 FAQs while the rest of the the team has been updating the FAQ content so that everything will be ready to post once the technical work is complete.
The Elections Workgroup has continued posting about this year’s changes to the elections process, and a couple of people have already been chatting with the Board about possibly becoming candidates. They’ll be sending an official invitation to all eligible Board candidates in early September.
Survey Workgroup's lead Julia Beck has resigned although she remains the group's board liaison and member. Aja and Eylul are now leading the group and have put posting on break during this transition, while also revising their work process with help from new stats expert Ruth. They expect to resume posts in September.
Legal has continued to offer assistance to fans with legal questions, though these come primarily through direct emails to the OTW. And Communications recently highlighted some of the many interviews and media appearances of OTW staffers discussing OTW projects or fandom issues.
V. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS
As usual for this year, Volunteers & Recruiting has had a lot of people they have been processing in and out of areas, and the OTW is grateful to all its staffers and volunteers for their work.
New Committee Chair: Sherry Nehmer for Abuse
New Staffers List: Ariana (AD&T), Curtis Jefferson (Volunteers & Recruiting), Emufarmers (Wiki), FishieMishie (Volunteers & Recruiting), Jeremy Wells (Communications), Phoenix (Wiki), Scott S (AD&T).
New Workgroup Members: Ruth Collings (Survey), Tuulia (Survey)
New Tag Wranglers: Tuulia
New Front End Volunteers: Becky Mezz, Ira Gladkova, Issa, Nicholas de Leon, Kasimir Star, shantismurf, Violet, poplex
New Coding Volunteers: fairywearsbootz, Shay Guy,
New Testers: Brithna, Cate N., Julibean19, SapphireNight, Seralvanova, insomniac_amy
Departing Staffers: Amelia (AD&T, Support), Christy Fish (Open Doors), Kath Gee (Translation)
Departing Workgroup Members: Jenny Scott-Thompson (Survey)
Departing Tag Wranglers: starlady
Departing Journal Volunteers: Heather Whitney