jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
The most recent Board meeting minutes can be found at the OTW website. We also posted a bit on the official blog there about what's been going on the past couple of months. After our Board term started on 9th December, we had several weeks where we struggled to meet, due to timezones and the holiday season. But we've now had four regular meetings, and things are starting to pick up. We're also starting to discuss some of the issues raised during the election, which is hard work, but I'm hopeful that things will improve.

We're a bit late starting the term for the rest of our committees, but once that all kicks off, there should be more news to talk about. AD&T have had more of a break than the past few years, but are still working hard on the next deploy and performance improvements, with the help of Systems.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
It's been well over a week since my last quick update, so here are some notes of what's been going on.

We had our first Board overlap meeting! I'm expecting a post to go up on the official blog soon explaining more about what overlap is, but the people who would have been chasing it up have had RL issues (moving house, health problems flaring), so it's taken a while. But it's basically the period while the new Board can shadow the old Board, getting access to some of the Board-locked areas of Campfire and later Basecamp, and sitting in on meetings, though we can't yet vote on decisions. The meeting lasted a whopping 3 hours, but I think we heard some useful updates and laid some good groundwork - we all discussed our hopes for the next few months, and a bit about the general theory of strategic planning.

We'll be talking more about strategic planning in the next org-wide meeting, so if you're awake at 5am UTC this Saturday and you volunteer for the OTW, come along! Or maybe read transcript afterwards :S At some point I'm also vaguely hoping to do a post on the official OTW blog talking more about the process and theory. In the meantime, a quick Google or Wikipedia of "Strategic planning" gives a pretty good overview for anyone who's curious.

AO3 deploy! We had a deploy two days ago, which included fixing some urgent bugs for due South Secret Santa and other challenges, fixing bugs for the tag wranglers and for a security loophole, among other fixes. We had a great relay team working across the Atlantic in different timezones, handing over the baton to continue working round the clock and get everything sorted as soon as possible. Now it's back to working on the new parser, the remaining skins bugs and missing features that were intended for Skins 2.0, as well as fixing the remaining automated tests that were broken by the tag sets changes.

And our donation page on the AO3 is now live, linking users to the main OTW site - the next version will include some more details and graphics, but it's a great start. That was coded by our intern, Firewolf - at the beginning of October, she'd never programmed before, and now she's fixing bugs and adding new features like this! \o/
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
As many of you are already aware, the most recent AO3 deploy did not go as smoothly as we hoped, and we’ve sometimes had issues on previous major releases. The big items are all fixed now, but it reminded me that I know a few places (both work projects at my day job and Dreamwidth) where we deal with similar issues. Here are a few ideas I have been thinking about, around the principles of managing incidents on an IT service.

Sometimes, when a technical group is trying to deal with a major problem or a code release that's gone wrong, management and task prioritisation is an issue. You have everyone putting out little fires with buckets, when actually it needs someone to go, "Wait, guys, this is a pretty big building and it's all on fire. I'm ringing the fire service - they have trucks with big hoses." But to do that you have to have one person let go of a bucket in order to pick up the phone.

The general part )

The AO3 part )
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
I realised it's been over a week since the election results were posted (time has flown!) so wanted to give a quick update since it may have looked quiet.

Board-wise, we've been trying to organise our first handover meeting - with a lot of people in different timezones, all of whom need to be there, it's not easy. There's also a post in the works explaining how overlap and rollover works, so that should be posted soon. Rollover is 9th Dec, so we've got a couple of weeks once overlap starts, hopefully this week.

AO3-wise, we've been bug-fixing and recovering from a very busy weekend. Coders and testers have again been doing great work towards a bug-fix release. I've been mentoring our coding intern, Firewolf, who has done a first version of our "Donate" page on the AO3, which will link to the volunteering and donation sections of the main OTW site. Rebecca has also re-written our HTML parser, which is another big improvement. Hooray for Firewolf and Rebecca!

I have a post in the works about Incident Management principles and managing a live IT service, but it's still in draft form, as my day job has also been pretty busy these past couple of weeks, and I've been catching up on all the things since the election.

I also liked the translation spotlight that was posted this week, and want to signal boost the SOPA links roundup for fans in the USA.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
This follows on from Part 1 about Test-driven development, and will make more sense if you've read that first.

A lot of testing, at its heart, is about the question, "Have we done what we intended to do, and is it done properly?" And similarly, a lot of charities and companies do that kind of evaluation of their whole organisation on a regular basis - "Are we doing what we intended to do, and are we doing it well?"

For a company, that's often a case of "Are we making money, and how much?" but it's usually more complex than that - who you're making money for, which areas are making most money, and are you also complying with the law and your Corporate Social Responsibility (ethics and charity) goals. For a charity, it's more about the grey area of "Are we helping people?" than about the black and white "How many hungry children have we fed?" GivingWell has some great discussion about what this means for charities, and how to do this kind of evaluation for a humanitarian charity.

For IT projects, there's the classic 8-point requirement check, which is designed to make sure that you can test it afterwards. Similarly, people or teams may have their performance measured against SMART objectives - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. These are both tied to the idea that what gets measured, gets done. Obviously quite often people go above and beyond, so there are things getting done which haven't and maybe couldn't be measured (like making sure a company has integrity), but if there's someone measuring it and publishing the results, it's more likely to happen, even if no-one's going to yell if it's not done.

On the other side of the equation, non-profit organisations usually focus on the intangible things first. They'll have a vision or a mission statement, a dream that inspires everyone. You can see this in charities - "Make Poverty History", Unicef's aim to end child poverty, or Water Aid wanting to give everyone in the world access to safe drinking water. You can also see it in religious institutions and political lobbying organisations, though they don't always state it as clearly. The OTW has our own vision on the OTW site.

Once you have your vision, though, it needs to be broken down into goals. We have goals for the org, and some projects and committees also have their own specific goals or mission statements. Part of the strategic planning process will involve looking at the goals for the OTW, and considering whether we are meeting them and whether those are still the key goals we want to meet.

I'd like committees and projects to be able to talk more about their goals. In some cases, these might be very simple - e.g. "keep the AO3 running", and sometimes measurable - e.g. "respond to all support requests within 3 days, solve 90% of requests within a fortnight". For some committees, this wouldn't be very useful, but for others, having something to aim for or evaluate your work against is a big help.

Of course, that then comes back to the question of what happens when you don't meet your goals. Either you can set your goals really low, so you're guaranteed to meet them, or you can ignore them and never evaluate how your organisation is doing, or you have the possibility of failure. But I think that's another thing we need to talk about - that failure is not the end of the world, that people shouldn't need to resign for minor mistakes, and that there needs to be room in our organisations and friendships for forgiveness and mercy.

At the end of the day, we all make mistakes sometimes, and we're all volunteers, doing our best. We can admit our mistakes, and still encourage each other and cheer on all the many more occasions when we succeed and exceed our goals. Because despite the things we've done wrong and want to improve, we've achieved a whole lot more - the OTW has come an amazingly long way in four years.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Transformative Works and Cultures Issue 8 has just been published! I haven't yet had a chance to read any of it, but I am sure it is awesome - the titles in the email look intriguing. I'll update this post with reviews once I've read some, hopefully this evening. I'd like to encourage people to look at the abstracts and symposium articles for interesting fannish meta even if you're not an academic and don't want to read the full thing.

What did you think - which are the articles you found most interesting?

Edit: I've just read the editorial on race. The first few paragraphs were hard to read as a non-academic, style-wise, but then I got into it and there's some great content there. Now I want to watch The Real Girls' Guide to Everything Else.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
I feel like this week has been all fire-fighting, and I desperately want to take a step back and see where it fits into the bigger picture, but I haven't yet had time for that. So, in lieu of the proper post that has to wait until my day job work and the AO3 deploy have calmed down a bit, here are some quick notes. I'd be happy to expand on any of these in comments if people want to know more - each paragraph could easily have been a post in itself.

The AO3 deploy has been a rush and a big deal. Support have done an amazing job. There are things I strongly disagree with about how this deploy was handled, but I've said the key things internally and I don't think there's anything to be gained by going over it here. Suffice it to say that the people who made mistakes have also been doing sterling work helping to clean up the mess, and I want to give full credit for that. I know some of the changes and the way we dealt with them have annoyed and upset people, and I'm sorry for that. I'm also looking forward to all the underlying improvements, and enjoying the benefit of them once the dust has settled. I hope that some day we can regain the trust we've lost.

I am sad about Lucy's resignation. I was looking forward to working with her on the Board if either of us got elected. I understand the need for self-care, and I look forward to continuing to work with her in various areas of the org. I'm also looking forward to implementing some of her suggestions - the things we've all mentioned in the chats can be put forward as proposals, regardless of who gets elected.

I want to link to lim's post about her work. I have really appreciated working with lim over the past few years, and I am very upset that she is leaving. From my point of view as a member of AD&T, the bad aspects of this deploy have not all been her fault - there are several other stages where the backlash could have been prevented. I want to extend a huge thank you for all the work she's done on accessibility. I hope we can finish the code off in such a way that people can see the benefits of the work she's done.

Read more... )

And lastly - a giant thank you to everyone who's supported me in this election. I am reading, even when I don't have the energy to comment, and I appreciate hearing all your views. The encouragement, both for me and for my colleagues, is a big help when we're all doing our best for the OTW.

♥ fandom ♥
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Test driven development (TDD) is a concept in computer programming, and I'd like to take time to explain it for non-technical people, as I think it's a useful start for wider discussions about goals.

Basically, it's awesome )
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
From the official OTW elections site:

We'd also like to remind all of our voters that tomorrow, 2 November 2011, is the deadline to assign a voting proxy (see our Elections timeline here). We know that the extended, electronic ballots that we use should make proxy voting unnecessary in most cases, but a voter might decide they need a proxy if the 48-hour voting period falls during a time when they may not have internet access, or when they have other commitments.

To assign a proxy, send an email from the account you used when you last donated, addressed to both and your proxy. State in the email that you wish to assign your proxy to the recipient, and include your legal name. Your proxy must reply to you and to to accept the responsibility, and to give us their legal name. Proxies remain in place for six months and cannot be revoked, so they aren't a back-up plan! Our elections website has a FAQ section on proxy voting with more details, if you think this may apply to you.

You can find more information about the OTW on the official OTW site. Election voting is November 16th-18th.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
I started drafting a post about test-driven development, objectives and goals, but then day job stuff hit. So this post is a quick exercise in the transparency I've been talking about, on a personal level.

Because we need to show not just data, but also information - not just our rough notes, but explaining and highlighting the important bits. Like Dreamwidth has both Bugzilla and [site community profile] dw_news posts, we have both Google Code and AO3 news posts for the AO3, and we need to clarify what the equivalent is for other areas of the OTW. But that's a discussion for another day.

This election process has been exhausting. It's great to have all this discussion, but one of the things I'd like to think about for next year is ways of making it less wearing on the candidates and elections officer. It doesn't help that most of us have had other stuff to deal with at the same time - computer issues, house guests, illness in the family, moving house, insomnia, et cetera. Of course, in some ways we'll have similar situations throughout the year, whether we're on Board or other committees, so it's good practice, but it's still very hard.

And as I said in one of my answers, the most wearing part is not the work in and of itself, but the interpersonal tensions and feeling that your work isn't appreciated. So here are some thank-yous, for a start: To Ira, for co-ordinating everything. To Allison, for wrangling Drupal to post things on the site, and for doing the Paypal reconciliation to make sure our list of voters is correct. To the other candidates, for answering thoughtfully and participating in the process despite everything. To Via_Ostiense, Volcom chair, for handling all the mediation stuff we don't see. To all the other committees, for carrying on with the day-to-day work at the same time. Thank you all.

Now I'm off for a tough week at work on far too little sleep, in between trying to support a friend who's just moved country, hoping I'll be able to answer the next set of questions as well as writing that post at some point. Oh, and I'd like to help out on some coding for the next AO3 deploy, if I can find some energy. Welcome to a day in the life of me. I'm generally more optimistic when I've slept properly, I promise.

You can find more information about the OTW on the official OTW site. Election voting is November 16th-18th.

Quick rec

Oct. 24th, 2011 08:22 pm
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
I've just had a week's holiday, so I'm still catching up on everything, but I'm loving seeing so much good discussion going on about the election.

I'm particularly impressed with how many people have stayed constructive and optimistic even when offering criticism - it's good to remember that there are real people behind every journal name, and we're all trying to work for the good of the OTW and fandom, even when we go a bit astray.

There are many, many posts I could link to, half of which I haven't read yet, and other people have done better round-ups than I could, but I'd like to do a quick rec of [personal profile] astolat's post about team working - she has some great tips that we can all remember to put into practice more often, and it relates to all the rest of the discussion about burnout and sustainability.

You can find more information about the OTW on the official OTW site. Election voting is November 16th-18th.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
The candidate statementsfor election to the OTW Board are now public. I highly recommend you read them.

You may also want to question us about our plans for the year - either live in the public chat sessions, or by submitting questions to the elections officer as described on the site, or you can ask me things here on my journal.

My main aim for the next year is sustainability - the org started as a small group of friends working together, and has gradually grown as more people have volunteered. We're now at the stage where we need to put in long-term structure, to support all our volunteers. That means making sure that policies and procedures are documented, not just implicit - so you can't fall foul of unwritten rules just because you don't know the people you were meant to talk to. I've seen this situation from both sides - in some cases being the person treading on people's toes because no-one had told me how it was meant to work, and in some cases knowing how and why the org works the way it does and seeing someone else step in and mess things up because no-one was training or mentoring them. So I'm in a rare position to be able to improve things - I'm not one of the original group, so I can see it from the outside, but I've been around long enough to be able to document and pass on the assumptions that were previously unwritten.

Some things that work great for an org of 10 people don't work so well for an org of 200 or more, and we're working on changing to match that, but more always needs doing. I want to set us up for the future, so that any volunteer can take a break if they need to without anything falling over behind them, and so that anyone can volunteer without any unnecessary barriers stopping them.

Answers to questions posed in the chats will also be posted on the official site.

You can find more information about the OTW on the official OTW site. Election voting is November 16th-18th.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Jenny)
We're still having server issues - it looks like something in the deploy had a side-effect that made it worse, even though the bit we changed is better. Sidra and Elz worked a 12-hour shift yesterday to try and improve it, and they're sleeping now but will be up in a few hours and continue looking.

In the meantime, donations towards new servers are always appreciated, as are volunteer testers and coders - extra people taking the minor bugs off our hands leave senior coders with more time to focus on the big things.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Today we deployed new code to the AO3 Test server, so we're another step closer to our next release.

Features in this round )

Testing changes )


Sep. 27th, 2011 03:57 pm
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
So Delicious/AVOS broke a load of stuff. And fandom has sent in support requests, and AVOS are either frantically coding to fix it or possibly ignoring some requests - we don't know.

Fannish infrastructure like Delicious that relies on the goodwill of disinterested (or anti-fannish) parties such as AVOS or Yahoo is generally problematic - it's great to have free stuff while it's working, but it does leave us vulnerable. The OTW mission of preservation & access aims to help us in this sort of situation, but we don't yet have a full solution for all the things Delicious does.

This puts even more pressure on the bookmarks overhaul that AD&T are working on for AO3. And therefore more pressure on already overstretched coders and testers, so caring for our volunteers becomes more important. We have 21 improvements/bug-fixes planned for AO3 bookmarks, ranging from minor niggles to major new features. Which of those do you think are most urgent or important to the things you used to use Delicious for and can't any more?

I'm sure there will be an official OTW post about this later today, but I'd be interested to hear people's views.

About Me

Sep. 25th, 2011 06:19 am
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Welcome! I'm Jenny S-T, and I used to be a member of the Board of the OTW. I also previously worked on the Finance committee, Volunteers & Recruiting committee (VolCom), Strategic Planning committee and Accessibility, Design & Technology committee (AD&T).

I posted here during my time working with the OTW, and you are very welcome to ask questions about anything you're curious about.

I'm keeping the link between this and my fannish name un-Google-able, but feel free to PM me if you'd like to know - I tend to chat more about my daily life and fandom squee over there.

Key posts on general topics:
* Incident Management
* Test-Driven Development part 1
* Goals and objectives (TDD part 2)
jennyst: OTW: Fandom is my fandom (OTW fandom is my fandom)
I've been a bit stressed lately with OTW stuff that isn't public yet. The OTW always has internal discussions going on that aren't publicly visible, ranging from usual committee meetings to new initiatives. I think there are always some of those that could be more public than they are, and some that are private for good reason.

In the meantime, I can at least talk more generally about the issues I care about. Firstly, transparency, surprisingly enough! A lot of the content in the monthly org-wide meeting is also in the monthly newsletter, but it feels different when you're there, meeting the people who do the work, and being able to ask questions. So I'd like to encourage anyone interested in the org to watch out for the announcements, come along for part of the meeting if you can, or post questions in the comments of the monthly newsletter. I'd particularly like to encourage people to comment and subscribe to comments on the main OTW site - unlike LJ, there's no limit to the number of posts you can track. The next org-wide meeting is this Saturday - details have been emailed out to all volunteers, so contact Volcom if you haven't heard about it.

Secondly, accessibility. We're revamping our Javascript on the AO3, which is going to enable more accessiblity improvements in the future, but currently means we're reminding ourselves quite how much of the site doesn't work if you turn JS off (answer: too much). Of course, in between that, we're trying to handle servers falling over, error 502 and everything else. I've also been doing a bit of recent investigation into both screenreaders (learning to use NVDA) and voice recognition software (mainly the built-in Windows one, not Dragon). We have a couple of people within the OTW who use voice recognition, and we have worked hard to make the Archive accessible, but there are still areas we could improve, notably the tag wrangling pages. If you spot a problem, please do report it to us so we can fix it - detailed bug reports are a huge help. Our internal tools are also an issue - Campfire is okay to use with Dragon or Windows Voice Recognition, if you can manage a few mouse clicks in between, but it's totally impossible with a screenreader. I raised this to Campfire support, and they said they'd never tested with a screenreader, and didn't have any plans to change it. At least they agreed to suggest to their developers to consider fixing things, and someone in their support team has now tried it with NVDA, but it's a little frustrating.

In other news, the Fanlore project to revamp their CSS is going well - there's a recent post about it on their comm. The AO3 project to revamp all our CSS and change the way skins work is also in progress, and the first draft is being tested at the moment, before review by AD&T for design and accessibility.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Tonight was the internal chat for people considering standing for Board to talk to current board members and hear what they're letting themselves in for. I am definitely intimidated. I mean, I knew most of it already, but it's scary hearing it stated all in one go how hard the job is.

*deep breath*

I can do this.
jennyst: OTW bat signal (OTW bat signal)
Last week I got the email about nominations, which is the first part of the election process for the OTW Board. Every staffer (volunteer on a committee) who is eligible to stand is invited to put their name forward. There's a bit more information about the process on the Elections site, particularly the FAQ, which will get publicised more nearer the time.

In particular, in order to vote, you need to be a member of the OTW (i.e. have donated at least $10 in the past year). So now is a great time to donate if you haven't for a while.

And now it's time for me to draft up a statement summarising my "philosophy, goals for the organization, and views on future directions for the organization". Cue much agonising as I try to put all of that into a few paragraphs.

Edit: Also, since I noticed it's been posted publicly now - the draft fanart policy is up for comment.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
(originally inspired by [staff profile] denise's Dreamwidth bug counts)

All issues needing work: 518 (up from 515)
Needs Attention On Beta (needing testing): 10 (down from 15)
Needing coding: 476 (down from 500)
Closed bugs: 1988 (up from 1943)

Support requests open: 176, down from 211

Bug bingo: We started on 14.07.2011 with 461 issues that are new/accepted/assigned/started. Now we have 437 issues.

24 / 461

That's a lot of coding in a short time, and a load of new coders getting involved. Support and testers are doing well, but both always need more people.


jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Jenny S-T

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