seventhe: (Irvine: blur)
[personal profile] seventhe
So I have mixed feelings about the OTW in general. Some days, I love the OTW; other days I legitimately find I couldn't give less of a fuck. I think what it comes down to is that I want to like the OTW – I want to support them and get involved and help them out – but at the very same time I deeply mistrust a lot of what I see, I give a very hesitant sidelong eye to a lot of their discussions, decisions, and actions, and I'm very wary and weirded out by a lot of it. I'm really not sure how I feel about them.


It isn't the whole "fandom is srs business!" vs "it's just fandom, FFS" argument either: I've met my best friends through fandom, and I've also used it as a silly escape mechanism, and – as I am the kind of person who can treat both everything and nothing as serious business – who am I to say where fandom falls? I don't want to have that argument here. My ambivalent feelings towards them aren't caused by their stance on fandom, or my stance on fandom – everybody has their own stance on fandom and that's cool. I'm fine with the OTW taking fandom seriously. I'm fine with other people not taking fandom as seriously. That isn't the source of my wary ambivalence at all.

It's just something about the way that I see all of this action come through. The OTW isn't super prevalent in my corners of fandom – which is its own separate and distinct issue – and the way that I see the information flowing around really doesn't help these mixed feelings. Nothing I've read about them lately makes me feel anything other than ambivalent and wary and, honestly, very weirded out by some of it.

(Also, I will admit to a small personal conflict here too, because I've watched over the past couple years as the OTW has drained two of my very closest and dearest online friends, who used to have lots of online spoons and energy to run fandom events and create fanworks, with me, and there's a small selfish part of me that feels like I've lost them to this giant behemoth of a thing, whether it's to 'cooler people' or 'more important work' or if they're just too burnt-out from the wringer the OTW has run them both through.

I've burnt out too, in my own ways and on my own projects!, so it isn't any kind of criticism: I'm sure, especially after this year, that there are friends of mine who look at my job, or grad school, and go, why the everloving fuck does she still put up with that? So I'm sympathetic. But: I still look at what this organization has taken from my friends, what it continues to put them through, and it makes me want to firmly shake the thing by its shoulders and tell it to grow up and get some perspective.

I want to like the OTW even more because it's something my friends care about so much, but watching from the outside the way that it treats them – it, as a whole, not necessarily the individuals within it, mind you; the OTW is its own entity in addition to being the sum of its own parts – doesn't foster any sort of interest on my part. Come join us! so that you too can experience total informational overload and brain paralysis within a disorganized and dysfunctional organization that doesn't appreciate you! No thanks, I already have that, it's called my job, and I need another source of nonreedeming headaches, frustration, and time consumption the same way I need another four dozen meetings scheduled on my day off (guess when project reviews were scheduled, for example! "fridays off" is a gigantic myth in SevLand, fuck my ongoing and actual life).

So: I am selfish, and prejudiced, and I love my friends with the kind of stupid defensive love you see only in mother cats and overprotective idiot people, and this taints my view of the OTW, probably unfairly because they love it and do what they do willingly, but hey, I'm a Taurus. Bull mama, baby. Full disclosure.)

So I am not sure what to make of the announcement about the Board expansion. I am – my feelings are, as always, mixed.

I understand that the Board members are overworked – frankly, uh, is anyone involved in the OTW not overworked? please leave a message at the beep – and I understand the logic that expanding the Board will help alleviate this to some extent and more hands help things move along faster. More heads means more ideas. More people means more power, more availability, more time. I do hope that this is the case. I truly do.

I also am somewhat sympathetic to the concerns and issues found in using new Board members as a band-aid to try to cover up what may be a much deeper and more fundamental problem.

And I'm sympathetic to the concern that pulling (already over-worked) experienced members of the OTW into the Board will only leave more holes in an already-bullet-ridden organizational structure.

But mostly, overall, I'm disconnected and ambivalent. Should I care? Should I get all worked up about this - pro or con - and have some kind of thoughts, opinion, whatever? I look at it and I go, "oh", and then I go back to playing FFXIII (my team: Sazh and some other people). It's like, eh. Suddenly there is communication! and transparency! and full disclosure! and lots of talking about lots of things! and I am just like, eh. My brain says, you're not Sazh and tunes out. I cannot convince myself to invest a fuck. I am disconnected.

(I had an idle thought about ways that they could pull people from the outside into the organization. I mean, when we're looking for personnel here at work for an important position, we interview both internally and externally. We look at people who are already experienced with our system, but we also open the doors to people with other kinds of experience who may bring in new skills. Now, with an elected system, I'm not sure how that would work; probably most people… want folks who have already done time in the OTW? The learning curve is too steep? You need somebody from the inside? The Board wouldn't listen to a newcomer? I mean, how would somebody like me, knowing as little as I do about how all their crap works (again, its own problematic discussion!), step into something like that? It was just an idle thought; it seems heavily unlikely (for a myriadic plethora of reasons) but with all of the talk going around, all of the problems the OTW faces right now anyway, would there at all be any benefit to bringing somebody new in? Somebody org-new? OTW-new? Yes it's dangerous but there are advantages to another point of view. *talks out of ass forever* I just get thinky, okay? I'm a brainstormer.)

The entire situation just seems strange to me. But then again, I don't know how any of the shit works.

I'll admit flat-out that the only part of the OTW I personally interact with / use is the AO3. Apparently this makes me a horrible person in the eyes of the OTW. But we have so many other projects! Great. Still rarely giving any shits. I wish I could! I really try to give shits about their other stuff. It sounds really cool! I think it's awesome that they have these big other projects underneath their umbrella! I just don't have as much of a use for the other ones, personally. To me, the AO3 is the most important and the most valuable. Sorry guys.

(That doesn't mean I think it should have the highest priority within the OTW or whatever – or that it should be the most important: I'm not the Board. I'm an end-user, a customer, sure. But I'm one of many and "making Sev happy" sure as heck ain't nobody's mission statement but mine. I actually – honestly – think it's great that the OTW can and does prioritize this other stuff, even as an avid user of AO3 and basically only AO3.)

But even the AO3 is an awkward penguin. I love posting there – I do. I love that my fic can look how I want it to look; I love that I can use the tags I want; I love the gifting system; I love the commenting and the kudos. As a writer, it's awesome. It was excellently designed by someone who combined the good things about ff.net and LJ/DW and other sites, and I absolutely love the way it works for my work.

As a reader, it falls anywhere from "meh" to "balls" on any given day. Yes, it's easier to browse in some ways than ff.net, with the flexibility of tags and the longer summaries and all of that – but it's a polar bear to search – it always has been – the search function suck(ed)(s) and I'll just say it – and the horrible thing about flexible tags is how difficult it is for me to find fic I really know I want, seriously WHERE IS MY KORRA/MAKO/ASAMI/BOLIN because of the flexibility. So yeah, a thing I love is also a thing I don't love so much, depending on my intentions. And to add to that there are all kinds of difficulties in interaction – stemming from everything in-between poor searching and 502s – which means my fandoms have yet to really cement themselves in a place where it would be awesome to have a presence.

The AO3 bit has nothing to do with my feelings about the Board thing; it kind of just came out. I guess it's relevant because I have mixed feelings on AO3 as well; it seems my feelings here are all hanging out on the fence together, looking for ponies, and watching the shapes of the clouds.

I think the thing that I'm talking about here, the thing I'm really talking about, is the way that all of these issues present themselves to me in a way that makes me just go, "...uh." I'm a get-involved, get-your-hands-dirty type person. I'm usually the queen of "don't whine if you haven't tried to fix it yet", or "be a part of the solution", or "if you have a problem maybe you should try to help", but: I don't even feel comfortable and close enough to the situation to start whining- this is, I think, the first post I've made about the OTW. It's the first serious one, anyway.

Maybe it would be better if I knew more. But the OTW isn't really a big presence in my fandom circles – which on the surface doesn't inspire me to get involved, especially because it seems to be the symptom of a much deeper and silent disease – and even when I do have the fucks to go looking around, I look at it from this distance, with a confused reluctant ambivalence I can't even explain (although I have been trying, and probably/apparently failing, to explain it for this entire entry).

I think back to the people I know who are involved, and the other people whose posts I see on DW and Tumblr and that fandom anon meme, and: I love that they are so invested in something like this; I love that, I respect it, I even yearn for it sometimes. But I simply watch from the outside and wonder time after time how in the actual land of fuck do they continue to have so much to give? (Yeah, my job's a legitimate four-trailer-pileup, yarn-tangle, herding-cats clusterfuck right now, but I get paid for that.)

I feel like I should care, but I haven't been handed the right reason to (yet?). I would say "a good reason", but there are plenty of legitimate, meaningful, valid reasons out there. They just aren't yet right for me; it's the wrong size fitting, the wrench is too big, it's an incompatible solvent. That shirt just isn't my color, although it looks good on you. I'm not invested, I guess, and there are plenty of people who also aren't invested, but I even feel weird not being invested. Because so many other people are so invested.

I want to want to help, but there's just some weird disconnect: come on in, says the concept, we're building fandom island!, but in between every single line all I can hear is the water's fucking freezing and we only have half a life raft and oh, there are sharks!* And I – I can't decide whether it's a cry for help, please come in and help us build this life raft, we need you, or if it's a warning sign: here be teeth and frozen toes. No lifeguard, enter at your own risk.

I kind of just look from my carefully preserved distance, and I feel no inclinations to step any closer, even to formally criticize or engage or discuss. I just feel really weird about the OTW.

So this post doesn't really get me anywhere, does it.

(And yet I feel like it needs to be said, because I feel – grey and invisible, sure, because that's where all of my feelings on these things are hanging out, grey and invisible land, but – I wonder if I really am alone in this, or if there are other people who kind of feel this way too. People who are trying to like the OTW but don't really know what to do with it. Yet; I hope I can say yet, because I still hope they're going to get better.

But it means I don't know how to feel about this Board thing. I feel like I should be all "yay finally!" or "oh god no!" when really my only reaction is, "…uh." I just feel disconnected.

And weird.)

And those are some of my thoughts on the OTW.



* I also realize in retrospect that I've seen a lot of ongoing OTW criticisms about criticism. Like, very strange discussions about internal people not feeling comfortable (or being made comfortable, or being given an avenue for) expressing criticism, and also very strange discussions about a lack of accountability for org-people who unhelpfully slam the OTW. It's… guess what, it's also weird. It's like the analogy above is happening, but then there are people saying, hey, you can't talk about the sharks! or those sharks are an endangered species and this is their habitat or don't criticize the sharks, at the time they seemed like the best way to protect our treasure, or the sharks are a part of OTW culture, don't slam our beloved sharks in public and this analogy is going overboard (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) so I will stop before I jump the shark.

The thing is, I don't think that's healthy, and I hope that by mentioning what I seem to be reading between the lines I'm not contributing to a culture in which criticism (of a constructive sort) is looked down upon.

I'm not implying everyone is like oh god Sev this shit is bananas there are fucking sharks do you hear me sharks get away and they shouldn't be – frankly I would appreciate a healthy and mature discussion about any ongoing sharkitude in an organization that theoretically is inviting people like me to dip a toe into their seductive waters – nor am I saying that la la la this water is fucking great it's the goddamned fountain of youth all up in here is an acceptable alternative.

Nor do I mean to imply, "man, I would love to throw my hours and my brain behind volunteering for the OTW, but all of these complaining whiny posts are really turning me off." Because that ties back into a culture where critique and commentary aren't helpful and aren't helping. It isn't the presence of the critique; it's the atmosphere in which it happens, and the response to it. That's what makes me feel weird. It's the fact that accompanying every paragraph that might be even tinted with a hint of criticism, there's some sort of disclaimer, or exclamation, or comment; or something unfolds out of that tightly packed space into some new sort of disastrous mess.

I'm barely even commenting on the criticism culture that's grown up in and around the OTW, because it makes me feel additionally weird. I just hope that my terrible shark analogy isn't taken as a comment on the criticism situation.

**this post is not an invitation to trash the OTW, or AO3. Or me.*** Or sharks. I'm defensive about shit my friends love even when I myself am ambivalent towards it. Let's discuss, not hate. Make talk, not war.

***that's a lie. trash me anytime, baby

Date: 2012-07-27 03:03 am (UTC)
cypher: (alot better than complaining)
From: [personal profile] cypher
y-yeah, I. Honestly, I think keeping a safe distance is the only way to not get any parts bitten off. There are definitely sharks. :/

I've been staff on the Wrangling Committee for a long time now, until I had to take a hiatus this year because the stress of it was so unpleasant -- it's a very rock-and-hard-place position, where we have very little ability to effect change without going through other committees for help, and there have been a lot of instances in the past few years where we didn't get a chance to offer input on changes that would affect us, or where things our volunteers really wanted just didn't make it to the top of the too-long list of things for the coders to do. So there's a huge feeling of frustration and powerlessness sitting there like a big unfriendly rock on one side.

And then on the other side is the hard place of the volunteers who see us as the authorities/insiders and hold us accountable for everything that doesn't get done (or done fast enough) and every communication failure -- it's certainly not all the volunteers, but it happens often enough that a big unofficial part of being on the committee is honestly "be someone to blame."

...I imagine you've probably heard a fair bit of that from Renay before, honestly. But I just. There's so much work that needs to be done to get to a point where the organization functions in a remotely healthy way.

Date: 2012-07-28 01:37 am (UTC)
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
From: [personal profile] renay
And then on the other side is the hard place of the volunteers who see us as the authorities/insiders and hold us accountable for everything that doesn't get done (or done fast enough) and every communication failure -- it's certainly not all the volunteers, but it happens often enough that a big unofficial part of being on the committee is honestly "be someone to blame."

+1. The saddest +1 ever.

I hope you're taking care of yourself over there. ♥

Date: 2012-07-28 01:39 am (UTC)
samjohnsson: It's just another mask (Default)
From: [personal profile] samjohnsson
This. All of it.

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seventhe: (Default)
unfortunate hobo

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