Hi. First of all I would like to give a warm and sound welcome to Wikia (though two months late) I am excited to see a new addition to the supprot team. I do have a question about the recent restructuring of the community team and your role.
What was the purpose of the restructuring of the community team? Since Support is now Support and Engagement does that imply or add any extra roles (I do notice that technical support has been transferred into its own team)? My other question was how does your position differ from that of Sannse and BertH as they are both "Director, Community Support" along with you as "Senior Director, Community Support and Engagement". I do know that this is basing the role stricly off the title but from what I understand BertH focuses on product interaction and Sannse has great seniority at Wikia and handles more complicated social issues. What makes you more "senior" than Sannse or Bert. Again this is strictly titular but I am curious to know.
You also seem to be fairly interactive for your role with the community so I want to say I appreciate you taking the time to make little micro comments and all (and of course answering this question)]
Hi there, Superdadsuper, and thank you for the warm welcome! I'm happy to take a stab at answering your questions. You've asked complex questions, so please pardon the long reply.
One of the reasons that I was hired was because it was clear that Bert - superman though he is - had an extremely high work load. He expressed to Jen that he had an interest in focusing his work on the interface work that he does with the product team, and Jen has for some time wanted to improve some of our internal structures (things like onboarding and training, career pathing, and trust and safety etc).
Because of my unique positioning in the wiki-world (I was Director of Community Advocacy at the Wikimedia Foundation prior to this), my deep knowledge of wiki communities and my experience with both onboarding/training and career pathing, when I began to evaluate potential roles, Wikia seemed like a natural fit.
Without speaking for Jen, I can tell you that I believe her thought process was that this was an opportunity to take care of a couple of problems: she could lighten Bert's workload, while allowing him the chance to focus on the product liaison work, she could pick up a team member with experience in areas where she wanted to shore up core competencies, and she could also provide some support to Sannse, who has been diligently focusing on Trust and Safety and complex social problems for years (and as Wikia has drastically increased in size).
As to the titular question and the org chart, it looks like this:
from the Community Support and Engagement team, Sannse reports to Jen, as do Brandon and I. (naturally, Jen also has direct reports from community tech and community development).
I have the following as direct reports: Bert, Eva, Ana, Valeria, Lucho, and Andrea. Andrew reports to Bert, and Wendy and Sean report to Andrew. So that full group is in my reporting line. By transitioning most of his direct reports to me, we were able to free up Bert for the work that he finds exciting right now, and for which he has unquestioned talents.
The team name change (to Support and Engagement) reflects a number of things, but I requested it based on my firm belief that the work the team does is not adequately captured in the traditional definition of a support team. Much of what we do is truly community engagement - it's not technical troubleshooting, for instance. This team is highly active with evolving social issues, gives a tremendous amount of advice, and generally focuses on ways to grow and develop existing wikis (where Community Development works with younger wikis, typically).
Finally, you asked what makes me senior to Bert or Sannse. I'm probably the wrong person to answer that - I didn't choose my title, it was presented to me on the hiring letter. But I would guess that it's reflective of the fact that I have a work history with online communities that stretches back nearly 20 years, with a quarter of that leading portions of the community, trust & safety, and strategy teams for one of the most popular websites in the world. Bert and Sannse each have their own unique skill sets of course, and I consider both of them to be extraordinarily gifted leaders and good friends. They've both generously given of their time (as has everyone at Wikia, from Craig on down) to help with onboarding me and with setting the conditions for my team to be successful. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them, and for Jen.
But more importantly, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work of people like you, who tirelessly give of your volunteer time to build and grow communities. I believe, as does my team, that we have an obligation to give you the best advice and support that we possibly can (in keeping with our obligations to the business as well, of course) and we believe that this reorganization positions the team well to focus on meeting goals. (From that belief also comes my strong belief that I can't represent your needs to my organization if I'm not interacting with the communities, so thank you for noticing and calling that out.)
I hope this answers your questions, and I look forward to working with you more.
Thanks for such a detailed answer, I usually don't receive these type of answers from other staff and this again demonstrates your level of "engagement" especially because it seems your role is much more related to the administrative side of the community. If o may I have one last (promise no more corporate structure questions!) that is much simpler and that is is the Fandom "team" separate from ComDev, and Marketing or is that just the collective collaboration of support and engagement, development and marketing.
Thanks so much, again (promise no more corporate questions). I wish you luck in your new role at Wikia as well
The folks working on the Fandom project are largely drawn from other parts of the org and detailed to spend a (usually significant) amount of their time on Fandom. It is not being run as a separate business unit, though it has its some dedicated resources, I believe (the programming head, for instance).
(Disclaimer: I don't personally spend much of my time on Fandom, nor does much of my team, because their support needs are somewhat limited at this point, so any information I give about that - while believed to be accurate - may be out of date, or may just be "new guy" dumb.)