• OTW Board Resignation: A Message from Jenny Scott-Thompson

    By Claudia Rebaza on Martedì, 28 August 2012 - 5:58pm
    Message type:

    We regret to announce that Jenny Scott-Thompson will be resigning from the OTW Board effective at the end of December, which coincides with our organization's term break. We are deeply saddened to lose her as a board member, but Jenny will be continuing on in her other roles within the OTW as a staffer on the Finance Committee and as part of the Strategic Planning workgroup. She will also finish her term as Elections Officer, which ends at the end of December as well.

    This resignation was due to personal reasons relating to increasing demand from her day job, which is leaving her with insufficient time for the various tasks of her role on board. Due to these constraints she doesn't feel that she will be able to perform her duties as an OTW Board member as well as needed, and she would prefer to step down and offer the opportunity to another OTW staff member that is better able to serve the org at this time.

    Jenny's resignation has an effect on our upcoming election as this will leave us with 3 seats instead of 2 open for candidates and it will also get our board seats back onto a proper cycle sooner than expected.

    Jenny has been very active in her duties this term and we regret that we will be losing her energy and commitment to the OTW in a board role. Thank you, Jenny, for the work that you have done so far and we are glad that we will still be getting your input and time in other roles.

  • Time for a Chat

    By Claudia Rebaza on Venerdì, 17 August 2012 - 11:47pm
    Message type:

    The OTW has developed a tradition for elections, that we run a couple of public chat sessions with all the candidates. The transcript is posted afterwards for those who missed it. We'll be changing the format slightly this year. As the org grows and the number of voters increases, we need to make sure everyone gets a fair chance to participate.

    The timing of the chat sessions is determined by the candidates themselves. Depending on their availability, the Elections Officer picks the best time that suits as many of them as possible. Each chat will last one hour.

    The first chat will be a very general getting-to-know-you session. Questions can be asked in person to all the candidates. At the beginning, the moderator will ask any voters present if they have particular questions, and select one at random using a random number generator. We ask that you don't repeat questions already sent in via email, and remember that the aim is for those who want to get to know the candidates' personalities as well as their policies. Please also remember that although some candidates are happy to connect their legal and fannish names, others are not, so some will chat happily about fandoms they have participated in, with many details, while others will keep such discussion to generalities to avoid linking identities.

    For the second chat, several people asked last year about getting to see how the candidates will work together. We're still working through the details of how we can best showcase this, but we envisage it being a free-form discussion between the candidates on a topic of interest to the org, much as would happen in a board meeting.

    We'll announce exact dates and times after the candidates have confirmed, but wanted to give you advance notice of the change in format.

  • Status Update: AO3 is A-OK, Be Back Soon!!

    By .fcoppa on Giovedì, 16 August 2012 - 9:15pm
    Message type:

    This is just a quick message to say that, due to a typo in our DNS, the Archive of Our Own is currently offline for some users. The error has already been fixed but it may take as long as 7 hours to propagate through the system. However we were not hacked or anything and we hope to be up as soon as possible. (Systems is telling us that this was a test of our communication and response teams...oh, wily wily Systems! Also typing is hard!)

    We are sorry for the inconvenience and for any alarm. Also, it would be best not to click any links or submit any personal information to any unfamiliar sites.

    Systems will have a fuller report on the problem soon for those who want the dirty details. Otherwise stay tuned and thank you for your patience!

  • Survey Sunday Delay

    By Claudia Rebaza on Domenica, 12 August 2012 - 7:21pm
    Message type:

    Hi, this is Julia, the lead for the OTW's Survey Workgroup. I wanted to let you know that we will be skipping our regularly scheduled Survey Sunday post this week. The reason for the delay is actually very good news: a new statistics expert has recently joined our workgroup and is now helping us review our methodology. We have decided to rework our planned posts according to these new guidelines to make better and more meaningful use of the data. In other words, we have chosen to go with quality over speed, but once we have re-adjusted our process, we will take up our regular schedule again. Thank you for your patience!


    OTW Survey Workgroup

  • All about OTW election questions

    By Claudia Rebaza on Martedì, 7 August 2012 - 9:26pm
    Message type:

    We had a lot of questions submitted to the candidates by voters last year, and we're expecting even more this year. We all want to know what they think of the particular area of the organization we care about.

    However in order to be fair to both voters and the candidates we need to balance the needs of each group. So for the big questions that come up every year, we'll be asking the candidates to write a mini manifesto, in a question-and-answer format about their goals for the OTW and its projects. This will be available at the same time as their biographies, so you can read these before writing in with questions.

    Secondly, we'll organize the questions that are sent in by voters. All the questions will be gathered in advance. The Elections Officer will combine questions that are essentially identical while endeavoring to preserve nuance, taking advice from the current board if needed. Candidates will then be sent those questions over a rolling period, with 24 hours to answer, and a maximum word count of 200 words per question. This will mean that we preserve the quick-response, chat-style feel, but prevent the candidates from getting overworked trying to write long essays.

    Late answers will be marked as such on the website if submitted within 12 hours. Anything more than 12 hours late will not be posted. The candidates collectively have one week to answer all the questions. Over that week, each candidate notifies the elections officer when they are ready for a new batch of questions. The batch is sent, and that candidate has 24 hours to respond. They can't have the next batch until they have answered the previous set. All answers to all batches are due at the end of the week, with the number of batches designed to give a day or two without questions assuming a rate of one batch per day. If a candidate wants, they can answer all the batches one after another over the course of a single day, or spread it out over a week.

    In this manner we hope to give candidates sufficient time to reflect on the questions and manage their schedules while also offering voters a short-term response to their concerns in a more clearly presented format.

  • Announcing the OTW Pinboard Account!

    By Claudia Rebaza on Giovedì, 2 August 2012 - 2:02pm
    Message type:

    Are you curious about what sorts of information the OTW puts out? Want to point us to useful resources for fans? Want a guide to OTW posts? Check out the OTW's new Pinboard account!

    Why Pinboard?

    Users can click on our tag terms from any post on our website, and visitors to our mirrored posts are directed to our website tag cloud at the foot of each post. This can be helpful in terms of finding all uses of a term or to get an explanation of the term, but there is otherwise no way to interact with this tagged material.

    The OTW maintained a Delicious account for several years to make it easier for fans to locate and share information we put out. However as many fans know, Delicious features changed after its sale by Yahoo last year and many fans who once used it went on to different bookmarking sites. Pinboard has been a big favorite due to both its features and its fan-friendly attitude.

    So the OTW now has its own Pinboard account and we would like you to contribute to it!

    The account currently offers bookmarked posts from the OTW website, and further OTW content will be entered in coming months. But we would like to make this account a useful resource for fans looking for all sorts of fannish help and information.

    First Friday on Pinboard!

    Some of you may be familiar with our First Friday events on Tumblr. As part of our new account's grand opening, we're going to borrow the concept for Pinboard this month, with its own twist.

    One of our tags is Resources-for-Fans. We would really like to develop this with either OTW information that you have found helpful, or with information produced elsewhere that could be considered a fannish reference or resource. Some examples might be:

    • Entries on Fanlore
    • Tips for recording podfic
    • Reviews of vidding software
    • Fan studies or bibliographies
    • An explanation of how someone approaches beta work
    • Icon tutorials
    • A guide to preserving print or digital collections
    • Tips on using OTW projects in various languages
    • A newbie fan guide to Pinboard

    You get the picture! And in keeping with First Friday we will also be awarding 15 AO3 invites which may be used by participants or can be given to a designated friend.

    The giveaway will work as follows:

    1) Contest participants should tag resources they want to submit with the Resources-for-Fans tag.
    2) Members of the OTW Communications team will review existing tag uses of Resources-for-Fans on Thursday, August 2.
    3) We will again review them on Sunday, August 4.
    4) We will select 15 of the new links to highlight in a future OTW News post.
    5) We will contact those contributors through their Pinboard profile information by Tuesday, August 6.
    6) Contacted contributors need to respond to us and designate their preferred email account (AO3 invites function through an email message).

    Anyone interested in suggesting links can do so at any time by checking out our Pinboard policy.

    If you know someone who has a Pinboard account and wants an AO3 invite, let them know! And we hope you'll all stop by our Pinboard whether you have an account there or not and let us know what other OTW information you'd like to find.

  • 2012 OTW Elections

    By Claudia Rebaza on Lunedì, 30 July 2012 - 1:38pm
    Message type:

    The Elections workgroup has begun advance planning for our next election in November and in the interests of transparency, we'd like to point out a few useful links. Our FAQs have been updated, with further updates coming soon, and the timeline for 2012 is now available. The FAQs now answer a lot of the questions that came up last year, so please do read them, and let us know if you have any concerns or queries.

    We've made a few changes to the format of the chats and questions to candidates, to give voters a fair chance to ask questions while making it equal for all candidates and without burdening them with excessive time commitments. You can see some of the details in the FAQs, and we'll be explaining more over the next few months.

    Our Elections Officer this year is Jenny Scott-Thompson, supported by a workgroup of people from Communications and Webmasters.

    If you'd like to vote in the election, you need to be a member - i.e. have donated $10 to the OTW within the past year. If you've been a staffer for at least a year, you'll be getting an email about nominations in early September, but feel free to contact Jenny or the workgroup with any questions in the meantime.

  • Comment notifications on OTW website temporarily disabled

    By Kristen Murphy on Lunedì, 23 July 2012 - 2:29pm
    Message type:

    From the Webmasters committee:

    Users of the news blog have reported seeing an "access denied" message when attempting to unsubscribe from comment notifications. This unfortunately coincides with a large influx of spam comments, which is resulting in lots of unwanted e-mails for users who are subscribed to notifications. To protect our users' inboxes from further spam, we have temporarily disabled comment notification e-mails while we work on the problem. We will post an announcement when notifications become active again.

    This applies only to posts on; comment notifications on our Dreamwidth and LiveJournal mirrors are unaffected.

  • 852 Prospect: Coming Soon

    By Claudia Rebaza on Venerdì, 20 July 2012 - 4:38pm
    Message type:

    Dear Sentinel fandom!

    We're writing to let you know that the import of 852 Prospect into the Archive of Our Own (which we announced in May) has been postponed until sometime in August. Our apologies for the delay!

    The import has been rescheduled because of recent performance issues on the Archive (which our coders are hard at work fixing). We're now waiting until the next code deploy before we import 852 Prospect, but Open Doors is still working to make sure it happens.

    Thank you everyone for your patience, and if anyone has further questions, please don't hesitate to contact Open Doors.

  • 2012 Election: Expanding the Board and Amending the Bylaws

    By Claudia Rebaza on Mercoledì, 18 July 2012 - 7:32pm
    Message type:

    The OTW Board has had a number of discussions in the past months related to elections and Board workload. We'd like to talk about the three main results of these talks: we have decided to

    • expand the Board to nine members,
    • hold a 2012 election based around the two new seats, as well as a possible third from the existing pool,
    • and amend the bylaws to accommodate both of these decisions and provide clearer guidance regarding Board member retirements and seat tracking.

    Below, we'll elaborate on our reasoning for expanding the Board, the options we considered for the 2012 election, and the bylaws amendments. We'll also be presenting an explanation of seat-tracking.

    The bottom line: the Board will be expanded to nine people, and there will be an election this year for the two brand new seats. Any retirements between now and the 2015 election will be used to achieve an election cycle of three seats every year, as per the amended bylaws.

    Expanding the Board

    We’ve been talking a lot about Board workload recently -- the OTW has grown significantly over the past four years, which means more liaison work, more scope in Board work, and an overall increase in workload. Expanding the Board may even give us the opportunity to have Board members dedicated to non-liaising managerial and administrative work, strengthening the structural core of our organization.

    However, this expansion does not come without a cost. In some ways, a small Board makes it easier to meet and work together, discuss and gain consensus. A large Board also takes energy from people who might otherwise be doing different staff work, meaning there are fewer people and people-hours left in the org to do non-Board tasks.

    But we think the benefits outweigh the risks, and so we will be changing from a seven-member board to a nine-member board. Our bylaws do not specify the number of Board members, but we are also amending them to make it clearer how elections will work. It is possible to change back in the future if the larger Board is found to be too impractical, or the balance of pros and cons shifts due to other changes.

    This, along with some other considerations, will of course affect elections.

    The 2012 Election and Tracking Board Terms

    The resignation of two Board members in 2011 created a dilemma about the 2012 election. This post from 2011 describes the issue; in short, the OTW's bylaws called for an election to take place every year, but the resignations put us off the normal election cycle, creating the possibility that there would be no open seats in 2012. Last year's Board decided to leave the choice of how to handle this up to to us, the 2012 Board.

    So this year, we considered a few options. We have four people who were elected in 2011, and three from 2010. We all expected to get three-year terms, and it was not determined which of us were stepping into the seats from resignations and would therefore have shorter terms: the election returned an equal cohort and did not rank candidates or assign specific seats.

    While the bylaws as they currently stand do mention vacancies due to retirement, they do not specify the length of terms for those replacing retirees(1). This, combined with our firm principle of electing equal cohorts, leaves us with the situation described above.

    However, the bylaws do not specify a term length. This means that if someone steps down early, whoever fills their seat does not necessarily serve a short term: if necessary, the Board can declare that term to be a full three-year term in order to synchronize with an appropriate election cycle, or, likewise, the seat can be declared short (not necessarily matching up with the remainder of the retiree's term) for similar purposes. This gives us a fair amount of flexibility in how to address the seats and elections issue.

    Below are the options we considered, the relevant bylaws amendments, and all the details on seat-tracking.

    The Options

    • Option 1: Amend the bylaws and don't have an election this year.

      This would allow all current members to keep their seats, and in the not unlikely event of early retirement, the Board would be able to reset the election cycle using those seats.

      We rejected this option because we think it's important to have an election every year, to allow our members' voices to be heard and maintain a healthy turnover.


    • Option 2: Hold an election by having two of the current Board members step down (and run again if they wish).

      The retirees' seats would be declared to be full three-year terms, regardless of the length remaining in the retirees' terms. This option would quickly reset the elections cycle without the need to have candidates run for specific seats/term lengths. However, it would also impose short terms on two Board members, and we would prefer to avoid that.


    • Option 3: Add two more seats and have one current Board member step down (or run again).

      This option expands the Board to nine members and resets the election cycle quickly. As with Option 2, the vacated seat would be declared a full three-year term regardless of the retiree's remaining term length. The new election cycle would have three seats every year.

      We have chosen this as our fallback option; see below for discussion on expanding the number of Board seats.


    • Option 4: Add two seats and amend our procedures to accommodate a staggered election cycle reset.

      This is our top choice. It is the most complex but in many ways the fairest option, as it does not force one of us to retire very early, but also enables an election to happen. Starting from the 2012 election, this will yield two seats the first year (the new seats), then three seats in 2013, then four seats in 2014: close, but not enough to fill the "one third" annual quota required by the bylaws. To fully reset the election cycle, someone will have to step down anytime between now and 2015. This vacated seat will be declared to be whatever length will get us a 3-3-3 cycle.

      To see how this reset will be accomplished, we've put together an extensive explanation below. The takeaway is that this option adds two seats, gives flexibility in when retirement must occur to reset the cycle, and creates a stable cycle by the 2015 election.

      While this still requires one person from the current Board to step down, attrition on Board is not uncommon, and it will at least give everyone a chance to serve longer if retirement must be forced (and assigned randomly). This combines the flexibility of Option 1 and the guaranteed beneficial outcome of Option 3, which includes having an election and expanding the number of Board seats. Depending on how retirements fall out, Option 3 may be enacted as a fallback.

      In either case, there will be yearly elections for multiple seats, and the cycle will be fully reset by the 2015 election.

    Amending the Bylaws

    We will be amending the bylaws to (a) accommodate a two-seat election this year, followed by three-seat elections every year thereafter; and (b) to clarify procedures around retirement and vacant seats.

    The relevant section of the bylaws is excerpted below, with changes in bold.

    Election and Term of Office. At least two (2) Directors shall be elected yearly, and if the Board has nine (9) or more Directors, at least one-third of the Directors shall be elected yearly. The election may be held at an annual meeting of Members, or the Directors may be elected by written consent; provided, however, that, if such consent is less than unanimous, all of the directorships to which directors could be elected at an annual meeting held at the effective time of such action are vacant and are filled by such action. If, at the time set for an election, the number of declared candidates is equal to the number of open directorships, and notice is given to Members, then consent to the candidates’ election may be deemed given unless any Member objects. All Directors shall hold office until their respective successors are elected or appointed.

    4. Vacancies. Vacancies in the Board of Directors may be filled by a majority of the remaining Directors, though less than a quorum, or by a sole remaining Director. Directors so elected shall hold office until their successors are elected at an annual election. In cases in which a Director is appointed or elected to fill a vacancy due to death, resignation or removal, the new Director will hold office for the remainder of the former Director’s term, and the Board may specify procedures for identifying such slots in subsequent elections.

    In plain language, this means that we can add two seats this year, but after that we'll have nine seats and will elect three seats every year. Meanwhile, Board members appointed to vacated seats are expected to serve out the remainder of that term, but the Board can decide how to handle those seats when it comes to elections.

    Arranging the Seats

    The nitty-gritty of the seat-juggling necessary to reset the election cycle is pretty complicated. If you'd like to see the details, we've put together some diagrams and explanations below.

    The image below represents the cycle of seats up for election. Along the top are displayed the years. Elections take place between years and are represented by dashed vertical lines. Individual seats are displayed horizontally: each row represents one seat through the years. The seats are arranged in groups representing the election cohorts: each cohort is elected together and, barring early retirement, steps down together. The groups are staggered so that we have an election every year, with one group of seats up each year. This runs on a three-year cycle, with two seats up (Group A), then three (Group B), then two (Group C), and then we start over again with Group A, who have now served out three years, leaving those seats available for election once again.

    graph representing election seats and cohort grouping, explanation below.

    This turnover within each group is represented by slight changes in hue when a new person steps into that seat by election or appointment. Group A is various shades of green, Group B purple, and Group C blue. So for example, the light purple shade in Group B from 2008-2010 represents Francesca Coppa, Naomi Novik, and Rebecca Tushnet. After the 2010 election, the colour changes to darker purple to represent the newly-elected cohort of Francesca Coppa, Ira Gladkova, and Kristen Murphy.

    Because we elect equal cohorts, the seats are not differentiated except by the election cycle on which they run (i.e. which group they belong to). However, if you look down a column for any given year, you can see where each seat is in its election lifecycle. In 2010, Group A seats were in their first year, Group B seats in their last, and Group C seats in their middle year.

    This next image represents the state of affairs as of the beginning of the 2011 term. We elected three members in the 2010 election (Francesca Coppa, Ira Gladkova, and Kristen Murphy). Shortly thereafter, a member from Group A (Elizabeth Yalkut) retired. At this point, Hele Braunstein was appointed to fill the vacant seat. Seats with some form of turnover that does not coincide with the group's election cycle are represented by diagonal stripes.

    However, in the 2011-2012 election, both of the Group A members stepped down, ending their terms early. Those seats, as well as the two from Group C, went up for election, and four members were elected for three-year terms. This effectively moved what used to be Group A's election cycle back one year. This leaves us with only two cohorts (represented by blue and purple).

    graph showing effect of early retirements and subsequent appointments on election seats and cohort grouping, explanation above.

    At this point, we propose to add two seats — Group Z, represented below in orange — which will go up in the 2012 election (this year). Note that Group Z runs on the same cycle as the now-obsolete green Group A. This gives us a 3-4-2 cycle (B, C, Z — that is, purple, blue, orange).

    graph showing two additional election seats forming the new cohort Z in the context of the other cohorts, explanation above.

    Now all that is left is to reset the cycle to have three seats every year. There are several ways this can happen, depending on Board member attrition.

    If one of the blue-seated members steps down in time for the 2012 election, that seat will have fallen on the same cycle as what used to be Group A, which puts it in sync with Group Z. That seat can then go up for election on a three-year term. The other obsolete Group A seat, occupied by a non-retiring member of the blue cohort, will continue running on the same cycle as the other blue seats, fully integrated now into Group C. The end result is three seats per group; the redrawn group and election lines are shown in red.

    graph showing the effect of an early 2012 retirement on the election cycle and cohort grouping, explanation above.

    This option resets the cycle with the very next election, and means all election seats will be for three-year terms.

    If a blue-seated member retires at some other time, their vacant seat will be filled by appointment to a short term in sync with Group Z. That particular seat may go without election until 2015, but its occupant will still have changed, participating in overall Board turnover. This is represented in the below diagram: no election line is shown for that seat until Group Z's turnover at the end of 2015.

    graph showing the effect of a retirement that is then filled by appointment instead of election, explanation above.

    This is also the scenario that will be applied if no one retires voluntarily: if no one else opts to retire early, one of our blue-seated members has indicated willingness to step down in 2013 with one year remaining in their term.

    If, on the other hand, someone from Group B retires, their seat can immediately be converted into a Group Z seat, filled by appointment or election depending on timing. This would give us three Group Z seats, but only two Group C seats and four Group C seats, with the two B seats up for election next. That's not enough seats to comply with the one-third rule, and so we would still need to ask someone from Group C to step down early. In this case, that seat will be converted to a Group B seat.

    graph showing the effect of a retirement between 2013 and 2015 on the election cycle and cohort grouping, explanation above.

    Any of these scenarios will give us the necessary distribution. The end result will be a new group arrangement:

    graph showing re-arranged groups resulting in a stable election cycle, that is, three overlapping cohorts with three members each on a regular three-year election cycle from 2016 onwards.

    This cycle will be stable by 2016.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to ask here, or contact our Elections Officer using the elections contact form.

    (1) "Vacancies. Vacancies in the Board of Directors may be filled by a majority of the remaining Directors, though less than a quorum, or by a sole remaining Director. Directors so elected shall hold office until their successors are elected at an annual election." OTW Bylaws. (back to the post)


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