Privacy and security
Jenny
jennys_t
Today I want to talk briefly about TOR and PGP. There has been a lot of recent discussion in light of political changes in the US.

One thing you can do to help the community is start using TOR (download their Firefox version from torproject.org). It works better when more people are using it, and this will help journalists and human rights activists if more people are used to using it for their everyday browsing. Websense currently blocks it as "Proxy avoidance" - let your workplace know why this is a bad thing if they use it.

Another thing you can do to help is get used to using PGP to sign or encrypt your emails. Thunderbird makes it relatively easy, and it's also possible in Outlook. It's harder but possible in the Gmail web interface. GPG helps you get it set up. Find a friend you can meet in person and sign each other's keys, extending the web of trust. I am happy to do this with anyone in my area.

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Quick OTW news
Jenny
jennys_t
I'm now doing more volunteering, which is fun. I've done a bit of coding on the AO3 translation interface, which is in review, and I've improved a few of the automated tests.

I've also been enjoying trying out Slack - the OTW is currently in a trial of using it as well as Campfire. It's not perfect, but the ease of creating new rooms and the usability of the mobile app have improved cross-committee communication and relationships, which is good.

We've just started a couple of informal discussion groups/courses which volunteers can choose to join and study together - one via EdX on leadership, and one I'm running on web accessibility. It's great to be able to share a bit of what I've learnt from Dreamwidth, Growstuff and my day job with other OTW volunteers.

There was an in-person meet-up for volunteers in London a few weeks back, which was fun. I heard from Priscilla (Translation co-chair) and Alex Tischer about how Translation works these days, and from Alex about the problems with the transformativeworks.org site software, as well as more about finance. James and Ariana were there and we talked code a bit as well. It's one of the benefits of London and Heathrow being a bit of a hub - occasionally people are travelling through for other reasons and can say hi. We'll do another meeting around Nine Worlds con, which several people are going to.

I'm still looking forward to seeing the budget for 2016. It sounds like the draft from the previous board wasn't of the quality you'd expect, and the current board are still working on getting all the right inputs from committees.

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OTW update
Jenny
jennys_t
Chatter about the OTW seems to have gone quiet again since the election. This is a critical time, as things calm down again - as puckling said, having engaged members in between elections is really useful for the org. Someone was setting up a Google group, on which I haven't seen anything for several months. It would be great to get that going again.

Reading minutes from 15th Dec, the board appointed the other candidates (apart from Andrea and Sanders), which I think was a good move. Atiya becomes Treasurer, which is a tough job. They're still trying to get a budget published. The next meeting is 8th Jan.

A load of things are obviously delayed by the holiday period - some volunteers suddenly have a lot of free time, and others suddenly have none, which means things move in odd fits and starts.

I've volunteered as a coder and tester again, which is interesting. I haven't yet been officially inducted, so I'm not getting all the back-channel discussions or volunteer communications, but I've been hanging out in the main chat channel as well as getting familiar with the status of things.

My 5 big posts on the state of the servers were all written several weeks ago and are stuck in holiday limbo, waiting for approval from several different committees.

The holiday period has been hard for the core team - the 10 or so most active people across Systems, AD&T and Support who keep everything up and running. Yuletide was a drop in the ocean compared to the sheer mass of people spending more time reading during the holidays, though they did have some specialist support for their assignments and tags, which was made easier by half their founders and mods also being OTW founders and volunteers. Having Elz working full-time as a contractor is good. James has been spending a lot of time coaxing the servers through overload. He's suggested $6k of new hardware which should give some breathing room, but it's going to stay painful until we get that bought and installed. The last deploy (.100) has helped the databases a bit, but we had a lot of downtime when the firewall went temperamental. There are 40 open pull requests, and a lack of senior people with time to review things, though not nearly as bad as it used to be.

For context, an enterprise application of this size, if it's business-critical or business-important, will often have a team of over 200 full-time employees, across operations, 1st line support, application development, application maintenance, all the design, build and test teams, project management, etc. If you exclude tag wranglers and translators, which are a special type of work, the AO3 has under 100 volunteers in equivalent areas. And although many are very dedicated and spend a lot of hours working for the org, it's not reasonable or sensible long-term to rely on volunteers spending 40 hours a week or more on org work. AO3 has 700k users. You could easily have 200 people working on a business system with 10k users, though obviously there are also examples on the other end of the scale with millions of users, lots more than AO3, with even fewer people running it.

Volunteer management is the hardest thing around, in many ways, and is an old and well-worn problem. The OTW has a lot of easy tasks that you can dip in and out of, like Fanlore editing, and some bits of Translation, Tag wrangling or help with Journal. But there are a lot of tasks that require keeping up to date, current skills and large amounts of time. Writing and editing the major journal articles needs experienced academics, though the Symposium section of the journal and the Fanhackers blog welcome essays from everyone. Several of the groups that keep the Org running need people who are familiar with all the processes and areas of the org and up-to-date with what's going on in each, and that needs a certain amount of ongoing time - improving efficiency helps, but fundamentally you need various roles that are in touch with each other. Support need to be familiar with all the Archive functionality, common mistakes by users, common requests for features and the official answer. The documentation is all there, but getting familiar with it takes time. And the biggest one - coding and sysadmin work takes skills, and those skills take time to develop. Either you need to be someone who already has those skills, from their day job or elsewhere, or you need to learn them, which takes a lot of time. And even once you have those skills, you need to get familiar with this particular project. Obviously there's more that could be done to make it easier for people with those skills to drop in to the AO3, but it's a lot better than it used to be, and fundamentally this is a problem that all volunteer projects face - it takes a lot of time, and dedicated people are thin on the ground.

How can we get some of those people who were spending lots of time talking and writing back in October, and get us to keep talking, to keep reading meeting minutes and news posts, asking questions, and spreading knowledge? How can we get the word out to people who were keen to help back in October, and get them now to do little but useful things like explaining to their friends how to recognise when "The AO3 looks weird and broken" is "Bug, report it via Support" and when it's "CSS hasn't loaded, hit refresh, report to Support if it keeps happening"?

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OTW 2015 Election
Jenny
jennys_t
The Fanlore page now has some links to most of what's been happening and some good summaries, for anyone who's not already aware.

I have been on various committees across the org, and am still friends with a number of people in it, though I haven't done anything active for a couple of years, as I was recovering from my time on Board. In the current mess, both my time on Board and my time on Finance are particularly relevant.

I am still figuring out what to say publicly, but I am also keen to talk about it, in between being nervous of hearing stuff dragged back up that will upset me. I'm tentatively hopeful but also slightly cynical at the moment. Matty and Atiya are great people and I look forward to seeing what they'll do. They're not perfect people, and fandom's idealisation-devaluation cycle can be vicious. There is a distinct risk of us getting a situation where they make a mistake and a lot of people turn on them at once. I hope that doesn't happen.

A clean slate is easier in some ways than changing a culture when you're a minority, but there are bits of problematic culture that have been spread across the org for so many years that I really doubt they're all gone, and I don't think the Board is the only problem culturally or ethically, let alone in any other way. This is a great opportunity for the org to improve some things, but it won't be the solution to everything.

In other news, I have been sick for the past week, I'm still recovering, and I have my day job to catch up on from a week of sick leave, chores to do, and a pile of fun stuff including Dreamwidth coding that I'd like to get to at some point. But I've volunteered to share my knowledge on the finance side, because institutional history can help, provided you can prevent it perpetuating bad culture (which I'll do by not actually joining whatever new committee or post gets set up, and staying out once I've shared my info).

So, a few clarifications and corrections, in no particular order. Some people may have forgotten or not realised just how dysfunctional things used to be, and how much better the current state of the Org is, even though it's a long way from where it needs to be. If you want more history, look up the 2011 elections on Fanlore. Read more...Collapse )

That's enough typing for now. Are there any particular bits people want to hear more about? I also have a giant half-drafted post about the AO3 servers and performance and options for throwing money at the problems - are people keen on me dusting that off as well?

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Interesting quotes on women in business
Jenny
jennys_t
I'm reading a good article at work from the Harvard Business Review, and a few bits stood out to me.

More than 25 years ago the social psychologist Faye Crosby stumbled on a surprising phenomenon: Most women are unaware of having personally been victims of gender discrimination and deny it even when it is objectively true and they see that women in general experience it.


I've seen this happen and felt horribly betrayed by women who said they'd never suffered from sexism, but the article explains how this is often because they don't want to admit to something that they feel they can't fight.

How work is valued may similarly give men an advantage: Research indicates that organizations tend to ignore or undervalue behind-the-scenes work (building a team, avoiding a crisis), which women are more likely to do, while rewarding heroic work, which is most often done by men. These practices were not designed to be discriminatory, but their cumulative effect disadvantages women.


I've definitely seen this happen - it's very hard to shout about how I've prevented a crisis when others are shouting about how they solved all the crises (that they created).

These kinds of subtle biases are something we need to talk more about with mixed groups.

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Since apparently I didn't actually post here
Jenny
jennys_t
I'm no longer on the Board or Strategic Planning - I stepped down late last year. I'm still on Finance, though I haven't been very active lately, but no other committees or volunteer groups within the OTW.

This entry was originally posted at http://jennyst.dreamwidth.org/9674.html and has comment count unavailable comments there. Feel free to comment on either site.

October drive
Jenny
jennys_t


We've achieved a lot, despite the problems. More members, from a wider audience, will help us achieve more. Please signal-boost to groups that currently aren't as well represented - membership from this drive will let you vote in the election next year.

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Ada Initiative drive
Jenny
jennys_t
Our OTW fundraising drive is coming up soon, but first, the Ada Initiative are having their fundraiser. I love the ways that the three orgs (OTW, Dreamwidth and Ada Initiative) can work together.

This entry was originally posted at http://jennyst.dreamwidth.org/9078.html and has comment count unavailable comments there. Feel free to comment on either site.

Resignation
Jenny
jennys_t
It's posted.

I have so many feelings, and not enough time or energy to post about any of them. But at least there are others who are going to pick up the baton. As Elections Officer, I sent out the call for candidates for this year's election today.

This entry was originally posted at http://jennyst.dreamwidth.org/8955.html and has comment count unavailable comments there. Feel free to comment on either site.

Quick notes make an update, right?
Jenny
jennys_t
I've been working mainly on elections stuff lately, but also a few other bits. Ira's posts have more details expanding on the minutes. I spend a fair amount of time with the strategic planning workgroup. I've also worked on some diagrams of organisational structure for the board, and we're now talking about writing up a proper job description before the election, setting out rough expected workload.

It's still exhausting, and my day job has also been busy, but there are some good signs of progress. At least we're having these conversations, and also planning to formalise the emerita board and set up an advisory board. Volcom are also making progress on their big projects for the code of conduct and related processes, which is exciting.

This entry was originally posted at http://jennyst.dreamwidth.org/8505.html and has comment count unavailable comments there. Feel free to comment on either site.

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