Nov. 14th, 2011

lucyp: Logo for the Archive of Our Own (stylised image of a person with arms raised in celebration), red on red (OTW: AO3 logo)
Well, that was a weekend I don't want to live through again.

As most people reading this will be aware, we deployed new code to the AO3, and it didn't go well. There are lots of things which went wrong with this deploy, and lots of ways in which it could have been managed better, so people were understandably upset. But.

All the people involved in this deploy are people. Coders, testers, designers, managers, support staffers, docs writers, communications folk. They are people. And they are all, individually, doing the very best that they can, for free and because they love it.

I think that we made some mistakes with this deploy, and it's fine to point that out. But this weekend, I've seen people call our work shit, I've seen people tell us that they hope that whoever did the redesign feels like they fail, I've seen people heaping vitriol on the AO3 and the people work on it in support requests and on their journals and in the comments of news posts and in Twitter. And all of that anger, all of those hurtful words, they're directed at real people. I don't think the people who are saying these things remember that.

I've also seen a lot of posts starting 'someone should have..'. Well, yes, we made mistakes. And there are things we could have done better. But here's what 'someone'* did this weekend:

  • Someone coded for hours straight without a break to fix bugs.

  • Someone tested the fixes as fully as they could in a very small amount of time.

  • Someone took care of a sick child.

  • Someone stayed up till the small hours to answer support requests, and kept a positive and helpful tone even when they were responding to angry users.

  • Someone juggled childcare and OTW responsibilities.

  • Someone did their best to put news out on Twitter and to make sure people sending feedback that way got a response.

  • Someone put aside pressing real life concerns to do OTW work.

  • Someone stepped in and fielded comments on the various news posts.

  • Someone deployed code to the Archive, several times.

  • Someone did their best to help, in any way they could.

  • Someone stayed positive and supportive and encouraged everyone else even when they were heartsick and exhausted.

  • Someone fixed the most critical bugs within 48 hours.



And I will also say: someone sent in support requests and posted in their journal and sent in Twitter messages to say they appreciated the work of all those other someones. And that made a huge difference: thank you.

Here's the truth: there are lots of ways in which the OTW could be better, and lots of ways in which the AO3 could be managed better. And I want to see those improvements happen. But ultimately, we are people. We're never going to be perfect. We make mistakes. We have feelings. I've seen a lot of people forgetting that, and it's pretty damn soul destroying for the team of people who work their asses off and do their best.

THANK YOU to the people who invested a huge amount of work in this project, this weekend and every day for the last 4 years. And THANK YOU to the people who stopped to say, 'Thanks, we know you're doing your best, we're grateful for your work, maybe we don't like this or that but we appreciate you're trying'.

Let's keep working. Let's keep doing amazing things. And let's keep remembering that we are all people.

* And in case it's not clear: in every case these are multiple someones.

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lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
lucyp

November 2011

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