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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Ah, the benefits of deciding to finish something else before writing about the latest note on OTW: other people have already stated my position succinctly in the first few comments.

Which is to say, saying that "If you expect us to act like a nonprofit org, you have to treat us as a nonprofit org" by offering constructive criticism via centralized organs of communication is assuming that the OTW has shown sufficient evidence of professionalism to justify such an attempt. This is, I will allow, a difficult thing to do, precisely because the organization has such a lot of deeply unprofessional and bad-communication history to overcome.

But that history isn't going to go away, and it's firmly attached to the organization's name and continuity. The fact that the complement of people in charge is somewhat different, now, than it was for years worth of deeply frustrating failure to respond to constructive and productive criticism does not erase those years or the suspicion they engendered. There may be more avenues of communication open, but they are still not being advertized as forcefully as they need to be. There may be changes in the internal structure of the org, but no one outside, and apparently precious few inside, of it can tell because those are not well publicized either. Except, I would note, in a lot of unofficial entries that do an end-run around the official outlets.

So, no. The members and contributors who have already given good faith and had it broken are not going to give it again easily. First, there has to be some more sustained demonstration that good faith will not be just one more heartbreaking investment of good emotion/time/money thrown after bad.

The most good faith the organization has earned back from me, so far, is to wait and see.

Date: 2012-08-04 11:51 pm (UTC)
foxinthestars: cute drawing of a fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] foxinthestars
I wasn't even up to reading the post when I saw it come up on unofficialnews... (Although skimming over it, I don't even really remember the letter to the tag wrangling list it talks about; maybe it was in the middle of the latest round of "Category Change" discussion).

But it strikes me that taking to a soapbox about what channels and tones people should and shouldn't use to criticize you is in itself not something I would expect from a professional entity, profit or non.

Date: 2012-08-05 12:04 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
oh my ever-loving god, that *letter*. the post is pretty bad too, but that *letter*, oh my *god*.

barring a few personality types who are going to be bitter and negative about anything, if you're seeing negativity bad enough to want to write a scolding mommying cult-of-nice letter to an entire group, in front of the entire group, instead of contacting people privately to try to get to the root of *why* they're so desperately unhappy and see what organizational changes you can effect to make them stop being so unhappy and negative, it's a *really bad sign*. and public scolding like that is almost always the worst thing you can do in a situation like that, because then people are unhappy, negative, and feeling micro-managed and condescended to like a two-year-old instead of being predisposed to figure out ways to make them feel not-unhappy. (not to mention, the nonspecifity means that now everyone's going to be paranoid and wondering whether the rebuke means *them*.)

praise frequently in public, discipline gently, in private, and with concrete specifics and suggested examples of ways that things should have been done instead. that's like management 101, people!

Date: 2012-08-05 12:28 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
one of these days i'm going to sit down and write the epic handbook of how the fuck to be a manager of an online project when your only experience with managing things is having been managed (often badly) in your dayjob before. and then i am going to print and bind multiple copies of it, and i am going to bring it to a number of open source projects out there, and i am going to beat the project leaders around the heads and shoulders with it until it sinks in.

(kidding about the beating part. ...mostly. there are some projects i've hit the edges of that are *even more dysfunctional* that could really use the punctuation.)

because seriously. managing people 101. hell, that's *remedial* managing people. not even talking about the specific contents of the email, you *never* chastise people as a group like that unless the problem is pervasive and you don't actually *know* who's doing the things you want to address because they're all happening anonymously, and *even then* you need to be incredibly specific about what you're talking about. preferably with incident documentation. and timestamps.

now, i'm not saying that you can't issue a set of corrective instructions in a blanket email, but it should only be done when it's something like a policy/procedure/bit of information that people are misunderstanding (and even then you need to be adamantly clear that the fault is *yours* for not having explained it well enough/not having had clear enough documentation). the *only* time, other than "pervasive problem happening and you don't know who's causing it/doing it", that you should blanket-chastise like that is if the problem is happening across literally the entire workgroup and your attempts to address it privately with the 'ringleaders' (because even if everybody's participating in the problem, there's always a few thought leaders who are driving the expression of the problem and influencing others) haven't gone anywhere.

and if that's the case, the blanket chastising should only be done after you *fire the damn ringleaders*. the fact the otw seems to have no way for a committee chair to remove somebody who's causing more problems than they're solving is ... really a bad sign. even if you don't ever *use* that ability, you need it to be there, and you need to be able to pull someone aside and say "look, you don't seem to be happy working on this project and your unhappiness is affecting the entire team; let's find you something that's more suited to your strengths". are chairs even empowered to do that? because if they aren't ... yeesh.

Date: 2012-08-05 04:02 am (UTC)
lacey: Icon is of Michael Corleone of the "The Godfather" franchise fame, leaning back in a chair with a cigarette. (Michael)
From: [personal profile] lacey
As someone looking to develop more leadership qualities so I may eventually transition to management if the opportunity presents itself, I would pay good money to read such a handbook.

Date: 2012-08-06 01:16 pm (UTC)
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)
From: [personal profile] anatsuno
You could make a mint! I'd buy that handbook.

Date: 2012-08-06 03:04 am (UTC)
sailorptah: "In Jon We Trust" (daily show)
From: [personal profile] sailorptah
The letter actually came in the middle of a very specific conversation, so it was clear to all which criticisms it was referring to. None of it was, to my mind, "desperately unhappy" -- sharp and not couched in niceties, sure, but also specific and concrete, and focused on plans/processes rather than people.

In brief: we got an official heads-up about the upcoming Category Change workgroup (discussed here). Cue a bunch of wranglers, self included, saying things like "whoa, what is this, where did it come from? Who's in it and how were they chosen? Was there a volunteering period that we missed? You say you're going to get input from wranglers and users, but when? That'll be the first step, right? It better be the first step!" Plus some specific proposals, like "Anime & Manga better not be lumped in with Cartoons & Comics", and "it would be nice to have some kind of Multimedia/Metatag category, so we wouldn't have things like the All Sherlock Holmes Fandoms Ever tag appearing at the top of the Books category."

(ETA: should probably mention: also, there were specific ideas for non-category-related site updates that wranglers felt were more important to improve the user browsing experience.)

Some of the specific questions, like "who are these people," were answered. But that was also when we got the letter urging us to criticize in the right places and in the right ways.
Edited Date: 2012-08-06 03:13 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-06 04:10 am (UTC)
sailorptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)
From: [personal profile] sailorptah
Mmmmyep.

I do believe the workgroup when they say they want wrangler input...it just feels like they weren't prepared to accept it quite yet, or something, and did a panicflail when it turned out a bunch of us had opinions already.

Rereading the letter, it sounds like maybe there's an official What Gets Shared Between Channels policy that's blocking the wrangler/workgroup liaison from taking what gets said on the wrangler ML and copying it to the workgroup? Still, you would think the liaison could be empowered to say "hey, anyone who doesn't want their opinions here to be locked down under org privacy policies, just say so at the top of the email."

IDEK. It's a weird situation all around.

Date: 2012-08-06 04:18 pm (UTC)
ruric: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ruric
Can I ask where is the person who is clapping with glee because of the the input from the wranglers? And is (hopefully) assembling it into a massive overview to post back to the list with a "this is what we think you've all suggested have we covered everything" email?

Because, Jesus, if I got that sort of input from projects I was working on I'd be rolling around in the corner in all the feedback making seal noises of joy!

Date: 2012-08-06 06:32 pm (UTC)
sailorptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)
From: [personal profile] sailorptah
I'm not going to give specific names because I'm not sure what privacy expectations individual people have for the ML :/ Again with a brief/general outline:

There was not, sadly, sealclapping. The initial officially-sanctioned message went something like "hey, we're doing this workgroup thing, and we just want you to know that we'll be consulting tag wranglers about it at some point!" Plus some examples of the kinds of issues they expected to be looking at.

That sparked a conversation over the next three days, which featured ~20 individual wranglers and added up to ~55 messages. During this time the official lines we got were the ones I characterized as (honest and well-meaning, don't get me wrong) panicflailing -- along the lines of "we only just started, we haven't even done anything yet, sorry the lines of communication haven't been great, we will definitely use all this feedback, check out the meeting minutes for details!"

Six days after the last message in this conversation, we got the letter on criticism, as quoted in [personal profile] ira_gladkova's post. I haven't seen anything else related on the ML since.

Date: 2012-08-10 12:41 am (UTC)
lady_ganesh: A Clue card featuring Miss Scarlett. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lady_ganesh
NGL, by the time I left the tag wrangling group, that was exactly how I felt they felt about me, all the time.

Date: 2012-08-05 01:56 pm (UTC)
quinara: 'You may be silent, but this will shut you up,' says Andrew. (Andrew ninja)
From: [personal profile] quinara
I don't really know what to say about "If you expect us to act like a nonprofit org, you have to treat us as a nonprofit org"... I mean, I couldn't be bothered to read most of that post because it was so impenetrable, but the idea of calling on all of fandom (basically) to reify the OTW's existence from the outside-in just boggles me. Surely if they were a (functional) nonprofit org then they would act like it in all instances, even if they were forced to act like a nonprofit org coming under fire from the blogosphere. You can't blame the users for throwing curveballs when all they've done is, well, use the system.

The call to treat the OTW like 'a nonprofit org' seems to me like a request to treat it like 'a successful nonprofit org' where all the offical channels etc. function correctly. As far as I'm concerned, that's not something a userbase awards a system out of good will - that's something that happens naturally when an organisation earns it.

Date: 2012-08-10 12:43 am (UTC)
lady_ganesh: Korra grabbing her hair and grimacing (korra)
From: [personal profile] lady_ganesh
Can you imagine the Susan B. Komen foundation, in the middle of the Planned Parenthood meltdown, holding a press release asking people to just be nicer on their Facebook page? How do you think it would've gone over? It's like they're trying to control an elementary school classroom.

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