Monday, January 24, 2011

IAWTV: Election Update - Letter from the Board of Directors

Update: Jenni Powell has posted her thoughts on the matter.
More: Tom Konkle posted about this and there is another discussion over on There is also lots of comments and thoughts on twitter.

As I posted last week, there have recently been elections to the IAWTV Board of Directors. The closing date for the final votes was last Friday and was looking forward to seeing who would be elected. This morning members have received an email to say that the elections will now start again. Once I had read the email and looked at the Forum I can say that I think this was 100% the right decision.

Here is the official IAWTV communication about the issue, sent today*:
Dear Academy Members:

This weekend, the Board of Directors had a conference call to discuss our latest Board election process and the online platform used to collect votes. While it does not appear the election process was compromised, we concluded it is best to nullify the election and start the process over from the beginning. The main concern surrounding our latest elections is the potential for a member to vote more than once. We use an online survey platform that places a cookie on receiving members’ computers. It is possible for a member to erase the cookie and vote multiple times. Also, each member was not issued a unique password.

Our Executive Director, Elisabeth Flack, gives a more detailed recap of the issues surrounding our latest election below:

Up to this point, we have been using an online survey service to collect votes. Members of the Academy uncovered that by deleting cookies placed on their computers by the site they could vote a second time, thus revealing a potential way to skew voting in favor of one candidate over another. These members alerted the Academy about the potential problem and any duplicate votes found were deleted, leaving only the original first ballot cast according to the timestamp of when the ballot was submitted. 

Separately, the online survey service doesn’t issue unique passwords that can only be used once. In the prior election, I’ve verified votes by reconciling the IP information from each vote against the IP information on file for member accounts. 

This election not only has the problem of the potential for duplicate voting, but there are a few IP addresses that could be not determined as belonging to members. While I don’t believe anyone in the membership tried to skew the vote or shared the voting information outside of the Academy, these do not make for the fairest election possible.
This differs from the previous board election because IP addresses and ballots were verified as corresponding to members and no duplicate voting occurred. In addition, the ballots and vote count were reviewed and verified by 3 members of the Academy in good standing, each of whom was not running for office at the time and had no conflict of interest with any of the candidates running for office. These verifications was done before the new board members were announced. 

In the interests of the membership and ensuring the fairest vote possible, here is what the Board has decided as best next steps. The Board, working with committee chairs, will identify a superior voting platform that will ensure our Board election process and results cannot be compromised. Our goal is to identify a solution by the end of this coming week. If anyone has suggestions for a platform we should evaluate, please email Elisabeth. After the new platform is selected, we will start the board election process over from the beginning. We plan to begin the call for nominations the week of January 31st.

Unfortunately, our new Board will not be in place by February 1st as originally planned, so the present Board will continue to serve until new Board members are elected. We are expecting the new election to conclude by the end of March. 

We deeply apologize to all of the candidates and to the membership at large for this inconvenience. And we thank you for your understanding and patience as we work through upgrading our election capabilities.

If you have any questions about the board’s decision regarding redoing the Board elections, please email any Board member or Elisabeth directly. 


The IAWTV Board of Directors

Michael Wayne, Chair
Dina Kaplan, Vice-Chair
George Ruiz, Secretary
Drew Baldwin, Treasurer
Miles Beckett
Felicia Day
Zadi Diaz
Jim Louderback
Chris McCaleb
John McCarus
Tim Shey
Joshua Cohen, Emeritus Director

Speaking as a member of the IAWTV, I think that the fact the IAWTV has moved so quickly to correct the potential problem indicates that they are committed to fairness and openness - and not afraid to take tough decisions. This bodes well for the future.

The fact that we are now back to nominations means it will be some weeks before the new Board is in place. This is unfortunate but it is better to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to vote and that the results are fair, and are seen to be fair.

A New Look IAWTV Website
There was further evidence of the work that is going on in the IAWTV today. The website has been updated and more functionality is planned. It still looks clean, but there are now links to become a member and to access the Forums straight from the Home page:

*I asked permission to repost the whole document.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

IAWTV: Voting for the Board ends Friday - why it matters!

Let's rewind to 12 months ago...
The call for nominations for the Streamys 2010 went out in December 2009, and voting for the nominations ended on January 15th 2010. Anticipation was already building for the event and everyone expected it to blow minds. Which it did, but not exactly in the way imagined. As many will remember, the ceremony itself unfortunately detracted severely from the fact that there were Award winners, and the fall out from that is still being felt.

We are all doomed repeat history if we don't remember it. Immediately after the Streamys last year there were all sorts of questions, accusations and intrigues around the Streamys and the International Academy of Web Television. It was not a comfortable time for anyone and there was inevitably soul-searching. But good things have come from that. The questions asked then have led to changes and new directions for both the Streamys and the IAWTV, and I think this is very positive. Last week the IAWTV held the first round of voting for the new Board of Directors, which has left 12 people in the running for the 6 positions.

The IAWTV, renewed
The idea of a dedicated body for web television is sound. And even while people can argue about terms (even 'web television' is contentious), reach, focus and goals, I don't see a better alternative anywhere. The election of the new Board will set the path ahead. The 12 nominees all bring their own ideas, enthusiasm, perspective and experience, and all of them will serve the Academy well. I have voted for the people I think will serve the Board the best, but every one of the nominees has much to offer. If you are a member of the IAWTV don't forget to vote - use your voice and make a difference!

The end of the beginning
There is still so much to do it would be foolish to imagine that the having a new Board will magically make things better. And yet, in a way it will. The new Board will be able to build on the work that has already been started and set the IAWTV on course to become the leader it needs to be. There will be a focus and that is the key to making progress. When there is so much to be done it is hard to get anything done. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Board sets as priorities so we can move things forward.

I'm ready to pitch in and help in any way I can. Are you?

P.S. I'd like to underline the fact that I think the IAWTV has made big progress in the last year. I am incredibly grateful for the hard work that has gone on there, often behind the scenes with little recognition. Thank you all.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Guild Season 4 Marathon on Sunday! BC Browncoats watch in style.

One way to stave off Guild Deficiency Syndrome!
It's always hard to find new ways to stop the GDS from kicking in hard. Luckily there are now The Guild comics, too, but nothing beats sitting down to watch a whole season in the company of like-minded people. Once more La Fontana Caffe is the venue for what promises to be an afternoon of Guildie-related fun. Great food, company and entertainment - guaranteed.

Want to see BC Browncoats in Action?
For the last 5 years the BC Browncoats have been celebrating Can't Stop The Serenity day in Vancouver, raising lots of cashy money for charities such as Equality Now and BC Women's Hospital Foundation. I've been to the last 3 events and they were amazing - a wonderful day out topped off by seeing Serenity on the big screen.

Last year I asked my fellow Browncoats if they would wish a certain person a Happy Birthday - and this is the result:

How are YOU coping with Guild Deficiency Syndrome?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Clicker, Indie Intertube and more: The Awards kick off

The Best of Clicker 2010 Awards announced...
...and there were some familiar names among the winners. The Guild took 'Best Web Comedy (Serial)' and The Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour took 'Best Web Comedy (Episodic)'. This is the second year of the Awards and over 200, 000 people voted. I interviewed Patrick Sullivan from Clicker about the awards last week in PinkRaygun. One of the thing that was most pleasing about the Clicker Awards was the number of categories for web content and the range of shows nominated. This bodes well for the future.

The Indie-Intertube Awards 2010
This week also saw the announcement of the nominations for the Indie Intertube Awards. With a huge raft of categories and shows this will likely be the most comprehensive listing this year. The weekly Indie Intertube podcast is always the place to start if you want to know what is happening this week in the the webseries world, and so it's no surprise that many of the nominated shows are new to me. That is one of the joys of Indie Intertube (apart from Destini and Shadhavar, of course!) - the fact that they have introduced me to so many shows I had never heard of before.

You can also vote for the Audience Choice Award on the Indie Intertube website. The Guild, The Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour and  many others are among the nominees, so you will be spoilt for choice. It's a good job you can vote every 30 minutes!

The Shorty Awards
...are also underway, and apart from loving the fact that @TheBloggess is again rocking the 'government' vote, there are some interesting nominations and categories. For a start, there are multiple nominations for Felicia Day but under different title, so she does not show up on the 'Actress' leader board as yet. Top of the Actress board is Stana Katic, which is great for us Castle fans. Nathan Fillion is also doing well in both the 'Actor' and 'Green' categories. I'm hoping that Browncoats: Redemption will do well in the charity category - they are 4th so far.

More Awards Coming Up
The Streamys and the new IAWTV Awards will be coming up later in the year, which will be well worth following closely. After all the discussion, changes and community growth over the last 12 months, people will be waiting to see what happens.

Felicia Day and Kim Evey have long been hinting about new projects they are doing and Felicia teased some more this morning:

Maybe next year there will be even more nominations heading her way....

What other Awards are you looking forward to?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mind My Brains, Darling! Holiday Special

Why U2 probably won't join Quora

 Quora logo (image from Crunchbase)

Quora - the Season's big New Social Media Thing
So what's all the fuss about? Quora has been described as "..Yahoo answers for geeks.." and I think that's quite accurate. It has been causing excited ripples in the Tech Blogger world in the last few weeks and received a massive upsurge in users following some positive reviews. I joined after Louis Gray mentioned that the recent improvements made it very useful. After a bit of poking around I started to see how it might be beneficial. I was even really pleased that Quora was generating interest in my go-to social media site, Friendfeed.

Easy to join
You can use Facebook or Twitter to join and sign up is easy. When you do it this way, though, you might overlook an important issue. At the moment, Quora has the following rule:

You have to use your real name:

"The rules of the site are that you have to use your full real name on your account. To change your name, please see How do I change my display name on Quora?.

If you are ever uncomfortable about associating your identity with a particular question, you can become anonymous for that question.  See How can I anonymously add questions on Quora?"

Bono: Not a Real Name?
While I understand that any site/app/whatever can make their own rules for the membership they want, I'm very puzzled by this. There is no verification process to go through for your 'real' name, and it doesn't seem that they can check it out. And people with the same names will do what? And what about poor Bono, who only has one name? Or The Edge, who has a silly 'real' name?

Or people who have new 'real' names, like Marion Robert Morrison?

What's in a name?
I joined using Twitter and filled in my name as World ofHiglet, since that was the most sensible way of fulfilling their requirement to have a first and second name. I've done that on a few sites. Many of the people I follow on Twitter are on Quora, so I connected with them easily and started to edit the groups Quora automatically added me to. I replied and followed some questions and posted one of my own.

It didn't take too long before I received a message from a Quora admin directing me to the name rule. I replied explaining that using my real name would make me more anonymous and asked whether the policy would change. Last night I received a message:

"A Quora admin blocked you from editing on Quora for this reason:

User needs to respond to name change request."

Of course, I had replied but I hadn't change my name. Obviously the only reply that is acceptable is to comply without asking questions.

Disagreeing with Louis Gray
That is not something I would do lightly. But in this case I do not agree with him fully. In his recent post about Quora, Louis said:

"Where I have heard people express concern about Quora is what could happen if it breaks into the mainstream and becomes diluted as sites like Yahoo! Answers have, suffering from the chatroom phenomenon that doomed other sites targeted toward casual discussions. Safeguarding Quora from this is the use of one's real identity, connected through Facebook or Twitter, and the community's ability to downvote or mark as "Not Helpful" responses that don't pass muster..."

I connected through Twitter with the name people associate with me, but that is not good enough for Quora. On the one hand I can see the reasoning behind it. But it isn't flexible or responsive and will keep some people who want to participate out. Maybe that's a risk they are willing to take to keep some spammers out, and if so then that is their right, of course.

In the meantime...
More people I know from Twitter, Friendfeed and Facebook are following me on Quora and there are questions and threads that I would like to participate in. I'm not sure what to do at this point, but I think I'll wait and see. Chances are that Quora will have to change their policy. And if they don't then maybe I'll have to change my name...