First of all… since my initial post on this subject apparently read very harshly and negatively to some people, and appeared to be siding with people who think that aces just shouldn’t have any days outside of AAW, let me clarify that that is NOT the case! I’m fully supportive of the event, just confused by it. As I said, that kind of criticism of the event is part of why I was confused. Why make such a big deal out of it? There’s nothing wrong with having a day like that, even if it’s not necessarily appealing to my personal tastes, and even if I’m confused about what’s going on. I held back my criticisms on May 8th and just made jokes specifically because I didn’t want to bring people down—and hoped that at least some people would enjoy the humor.
There’s also, as I said before, nothing inherently wrong with seeing an opportunity and being inspired by other successful activism campaigns, although I think there was some issue with the event seeming not distinct enough from, in particular, TDOV—the initial name for it was Ace Day of Visibility, which seemed to be a direct rip-off rather than just something that was inspired by TDOV and that, understandably I think, felt disrespectful to many trans folks.
However… I think what the main issue was with the event was that… there wasn’t really a clear goal communicated to everyone. It was sort of made up as it went along, and changed quite a bit due to the controversy surrounding it. Once that drama had actually started happening, everything got even more confusing as things had to be changed, so some of that was unavoidable. Tumblr makes everything confusing by default, because of its horrendously bad design. All conversations hosted there are confusing to me, because I have to keep scrolling up and carefully measuring how the comments are nested in order to even figure out who said what. Besides that, posts tend to get buried and otherwise lost. So with all of that going on, I didn’t even know what day it was going to be until I checked Twitter on that day.
When all the information about the event is contained in Tumblr posts, it’s also harder to find, so it’s worth considering having the official information about the event hosted on a page somewhere (else?), and updated as necessary. Link to wherever the official, up-to-date information is going to be hosted on every post that promotes the event, so that people can easily find out what has changed if they happen to see an older post.
Here are some questions that I think should be asked, answered, and communicated before the next #AceDay campaign:
What is the goal of this event?
Try to be as specific as possible, and if there’s more than one goal, list each one. Also try to present some reasons for why these particular goals are chosen. Please be more specific than just saying “solidarity” or “visibility” because those are very abstract concepts that can be interpreted in many different ways. The more clear your goals are, the less confused people will be.
Who is the target participation group, and why?
One person suggested that this was meant to be a Tumblr-only event for “getting to know your local community” but if that was the case, why involve Twitter? If it’s multi-platform, try to specify which platforms should be involved, and which are not the main focus. If the event is limited to only certain platforms, let us know why. If your personal ability to advertise on certain platforms is limited, you might consider finding a few other people to co-organize the event with you. They may be able to focus their efforts in places you normally wouldn’t be able to, or reach a wider audience than you could.
Where are the most effective places to advertise?
Even if only Tumblr was the goal, there was still a failure to let people know what was going on. I would argue that even if the goal is only Tumblr users, it may still be useful to advertise at least on The Asexual Agenda’s weekly linkspam (we need a little bit of advanced notice), since there is a large tumblr following there. They can help spread the word, if you get their attention.
If you also want Twitter (or Facebook?) users to get involved (and why not?), I’d argue that AVEN is still a good place to advertise since many users there also have Twitter accounts—and if you’re uncomfortable posting on the forums yourself, you have only to ask a member there to do it for you. If you can get it onto AVEN’s home page at least a week before the event, a lot of people will see it and spread the word for you. If you email the AVEN team and let them know what’s going on, they’ll be perfectly happy to advertise for you—as they already did on their own. Giving them a little more guidance and advanced warning can only help. AVEN also tends to be the main focus for media requests, so they can potentially put you in contact with journalists, if that’s something that you care about pursuing—and having journalists generate wikipedia-credible articles would help if the goal is to eventually get it on there.
Ask around by email to see if people would be interested in advertising for you, because some may agree, or even be interested in organizing a part of the campaign on a social media platform you don’t normally use. (But please only ask each person once and don’t bug them or take offense if they don’t respond.) And, as I said above, strongly consider keeping an up-to-date official page for the event somewhere, so that if things change, people can easily find out what those changes are.
How has this campaign broadened in scope from the original intent?
Obviously, there was significant activity on Twitter and possibly other social networks. What about Facebook? Instagram? Beyond thinking about just targeted social media sites, what else might have broadened in scope? Will there be additional goals for next year? A way to accommodate those who are uncomfortable categorizing their romantic orientation? What about adding some nods to ace cards from Tarot or other non-traditional playing card decks? Is there a way to expand beyond the card motif?
Why was this date chosen, and could other dates be more effective?
In my neck of the “woods” May 8th is a day that many college students tend to be busy taking finals, moving out of their dorms, or graduating. They may not even have internet access while they’re on the move. That might be okay in the age of smart phones, though. I personally find the 8th to be a confusing choice, because all ace cards are the first in their suite, and A is the first letter of the alphabet. I think the reason for going with a particular date, especially if it’s counter-intuitive like that, should be communicated well. By the way, May 8th also sometimes falls on Mother’s Day, and it will next year! That makes it a particularly bad choice, I think. There is no possible way that Ace Day could not get drowned out by another holiday next year, if the same date is kept.
Is the writing in the official announcement(s) clear?
It may be worth running it through a round or two of beta readers who can help you revise before posting. Both The Asexual Agenda and Resources for Ace Survivors does this, and I think those posts/pages that go through this sort of revision process benefit greatly from it. Asking others to read and give feedback helps us catch where our blind spots might be. If you give me enough advanced notice, I can do this kind of thing for you—email me if you want!
All of these questions above are applicable to any other kind of activist event or social media campaign. I hope other people considering starting one will also consider them.
On a personal note, to Sara… I realize that a lot of the drama and confusion surrounding this event is not something you are personally responsible for, and that this is your first large-scale campaign, and that it’s surely been somewhat under pressure because of Asexual Outreach deadlines. All of this combined with the inevitable trolls is quite a lot to handle at once. Take care of yourself as best you can. And know that I truly do wish you the best in all of your projects, and hope they succeed!
And again, I don’t follow things going on at Tumblr very carefully, and the way I use Twitter is generally to go post something, maybe glance at things, and then close the page—or link something from an app without even looking at Twitter itself. I also reply to comments here from mobile pretty frequently, so I can’t always check things out right away, but I will try when I am able. So I’m sure I’ve missed things! If there’s something else relevant to this conversation that anyone would like to link me to, please feel free.