A Project History
One piece of feedback we received in the OTW survey responses was a request for more posts about the history of projects that the OTW is engaged in. This is a difficult thing to do for staffing reasons. People tend to have the time or interest either to create and work on a project or write about it, but not both. In some cases, the projects move quickly and the focus is not on documentation of the process. In others, the project takes quite a long time due to various factors and there simply isn't much to say about it in its intermittent stages, and at the end everyone involved is mostly just happy that the project has happened at all.
However, we've recently had a project launch that I, as co-chair of the Communications Committee, was involved with, so the main individual involved does have the job description of putting it down in print! So in today's post, I'm going to recount the history of our new Pinboard account.
As regular readers of OTW News may be aware, we recently announced the launch of our Pinboard account. For various reasons this did not end up being a quick project. While I can't speak to how similar this process was to that of any other project the OTW is producing, I suspect that at least some factors occur on a regular basis and it isn't entirely divorced from how things have happened elsewhere.
Where It Came From
To begin we have to go back to late 2011 when I became a staffer for Communications (Comms) and started making regular posts to our organization website. Having been a tag wrangler for the AO3 that year I was quickly annoyed by the existing set of tags that were available on transformativeworks.org. The tag set reflected the changing history (and staffing) of Comms but not the OTW's broadening range of activities. Since the site already has a search function which will find very specific terms effectively, my feeling was that the tags needed to be broad so that users looking for everything dealing with a particular area of interest could find them grouped together.
This led me to contact our Webmasters Committee. A Comms staffer has posting access to the website news blog, and this year the Comms co-chairs also gained access to the website's Events Calendar. But anything else that's up on the website, as well as anything behind the scenes, is the purview of Web.
Web's chair, Kristen Murphy, told me that yes, they could delete and merge tags if I wanted to reorder them. Great news! So now I had to take a look at the existing tags and map out a framework that would account for past content and likely future content.
Cut to six months later. Not long after I had spoken with Web, I was contacted about becoming a Comms chair and soon had plenty more to worry about than the website's tagging issues, although, as the most frequent poster to the site, they annoyed me on a weekly basis. I had also begun having thoughts about not just fixing the tags on the website but using an external bookmarking site to make the site content even more accessible. As such, I wanted to consider the initiation of an OTW Pinboard account. I stuck this matter on our committee's meeting agenda and, as it was a low priority item, waited for the issue to come around for discussion over several months.
As it happened the project made some progress due to a meeting in March with Internationalization & Outreach (I&O) chair, Andrea Horbinski. Andrea and I were meeting because at the start of the term Comms had let other committees know that we were interested in doing liaison work with them to facilitate faster distribution of information. Andrea jumped on this and wanted to see how this might work.
I&O and Comms have a good deal of overlap in terms of their purview. In general terms, I&O is focused on long-term contact efforts to potential groups of fans that may become users of the OTW services or projects. Comms is primarily focused on rapid response to existing users. But both groups are concerned about getting information out to people who want it or who might want it.
In expressing our concerns about people finding information, I mentioned my frustration with the tags and starting a Pinboard account. Although the OTW maintained a Delicious account for a while, many fans will remember the issues that arose when the site changed hands in late 2011. We felt that Pinboard would offer more functionality and possibly more longevity as well.
Andrea agreed and suggested that one of her staffers might be available to help retag the site and help set up the new account, and that she would put it on their committee meeting agenda. In late April she put me in touch with Claudia S. who agreed to meet with me and discuss what this idea might involve.
Claudia and I met twice in early May to discuss the existing situation and how we might rework stuff. We came up with a hierarchical structure for the tags and agreed on a list of terms to delete or merge as well as some new terms.
I also began the process of initiating the Pinboard account. This meant emailing the Comms' board liaison, Julia Beck, who presented our request to Board. This was approved and she told me to contact Nikisha Sanders, our Finance Chair, since the Pinboard account involved funds paid from the OTW.
This ended up taking a good while, and at first I'd no idea why it was taking her so long to get back to me. Later in May I was preparing to be absent for two weeks while on vacation and became very busy doing things such as preparing posts in advance and arranging for other staffers to take charge of getting them out.
It was while I was away that the reason for her delay revealed itself. The OTW's internal email system had started having problems and mail wasn't getting to people! Our Systems Committee got this fixed and Sanders discovered my pending requests. So when I returned at the start of June, the account was ready.
But I was not. Being away had left me with a pile of emails to go through, new posts to quickly prepare, follow-up for existing plans, and new issues to deal with. After a few days I emailed Claudia to let her know our Pinboard account was available. After a few weeks I still hadn't heard from her so I emailed again. She had become very busy at work and missed the email. I let her know how to get access to the account and she agreed on how to divide inputting posts from transformativeworks.org.
Putting together content
Another thing that had happened while I was away was that Web had deleted the tags as we requested. I started entering information in Pinboard based on the new tag system. I also added or changed tags in some of the older website posts as I encountered them. This proceeded in bursts, as I would tag for a while in between working on other tasks and projects. Comms had officially launched the OTW Tumblr account at the start of June and I hoped to have Pinboard stocked with content during July for an official launch before August.
In the meantime, I had come across one piece of good information. The Survey Workgroup had processed the part of the OTW user survey where users told us what fannish sites they used. Pinboard came in at #14 with over 125 reported users. That was not many out of the nearly 6000 people who took the survey, but it came in higher than Facebook where we already had a news outlet. I was hopeful that this meant we'd have at least some users there who would be interested in using or adding to our content.
I asked one of our Comms staffers, Camden, to input posts from AO3 to our Pinboard. Doing so would both speed our content input and also help her get up to speed on AO3 news posts, which she was going to be taking on as part of her workload. Andrea, the I&O chair, also works for Journal, and she was interested in inputting content from that committee into Pinboard.
We also had two internal outlets I could use to get additional help. Comms circulates an internal newsletter just before our organization-wide meetings, which happen once a month. This is used to keep OTW committees and groups informed about plans and activities in other areas. I mentioned that our account would be open soon and we were looking for contributions of helpful fannish resources, whether they dealt specifically with the OTW or not. I also attended the organization-wide meeting and asked the same of the group there.
In our last Comms meeting before the launch, I brought the rest of the committee up to speed on our plans and pointed them to the announcement post I had drafted. One thing we had to decide on was a content policy for Pinboard since this was a site where content originating from inside and outside the org could be brought together. After the meeting I sent an email to our Comms mailing list with some items for consideration, and after a week we agreed on a brief policy we could add to our Pinboard profile as well as our internal documentation wiki.
The announcement post got a final review last Wednesday and then went out on Thursday. And on Friday we sat back to see if anyone was going to come take a look.