Cesperanza (cesperanza) wrote in otw_news,
Cesperanza
cesperanza
otw_news

Part I: the organizational structure

NOTE: these posts are by astolat; I can't post right now due to the ongoing LJ technical difficulties, so cesperanza is putting them up for me. I have this post thumbtacked, so will see any comments made.

I know these posts are long, and there's a lot of information to absorb. If you have questions at the end, please let me ask you to first re-read the posts and see if your question was in fact answered somewhere along the way.

To clarify one thing: the first part of what we are doing here is creating a nonprofit fan-run organization. This organization will then serve as an umbrella for potentially many collective fannish projects. The creation of a central fanfic archive is one major such project, but not the only one we may undertake.



We are going to incorporate as a US nonprofit.

A quick rundown of what this means: a nonprofit corporation is not owned by anyone and does not have shareholders, and therefore it can't be sold -- if it ever gets dissolved, any assets it has have to be handed over to another nonprofit. A nonprofit can take in more money than it spends in expenses, and it can have paid staff/contractors, so this is not excessively limiting. (We won't have paid staff to begin, obviously, but nonprofits do get big enough that running them becomes a full-time job.) What it cannot do is distribute profits to its board members, and also it has to publish its finances publicly, so everyone can see where their donations are going. We will almost certainly comply with these regulations by publishing our finances online.

We will be a membership organization. The members will elect a board of directors, who then will organize committees to do the work, make final decisions, keep financial records, handle compliance, etc.

Membership in the organization will simply require an annual donation of a reasonable size. Donations do not need to be in money: you can donate labor, and the board can put a reasonable value on the time/work and credit you with a donation equal to that amount. You can donate and be a member and a board member even if you are in a foreign country.

What membership gets you is voting rights to help elect the board of directors. Everyone gets one vote, regardless of how much they contribute. (There may be fun tchotkes or custom stories etc to thank people for larger donations, but not extra voting power.)

Donations will have to be made in your real name, because we have to keep a (private) record of them in case the IRS comes calling. However, there will be no connection between your real name and the username you use at the archive. Membership in the organization will NOT be required to use the archive or any of our other tools, and there will not be levels of service. (We will generally be keeping as little information as possible about our users.)

(One nice side effect of this is, work that you do for the organization will be in your real name, separated from your fannish activity, and can easily go on your resume with the board of directors as your references.)

Board members will have a term of three years, with annual elections: every year, one third of the board positions will come up for election (along with any positions where the board member has resigned early). The goal is that no single election will overturn a majority of the board, and new people will have 2/3 of the old board to fill them in on the board's history; yet at the same time, people will be changing over enough that the board will evolve along with the community and the people who are using and contributing to it.

Candidates for the board will have to be members in good standing, with at least a year of service on a standing committee.

The board will elect executive officers from among themselves (chair, secretary, treasurer).

The board members will appoint people to a set of standing committees which will probably look like this:

  • Community Relations
    works with fandom and the press and public

  • Legal
    members who are highly knowledgable about law and can liaise with our formal legal advisors

  • Financial
    handles fundraising and all organizational monies, under the leadership of the Treasurer; financial planning

  • Elections
    to oversee the periodic election of the Board

  • Volunteers & Recruiting
    coordinates volunteer work and helps hook up volunteers with committees that need help, also responsible for assessing and confirming volunteer labor and confirming donations-of-labor.

  • Systems
    handles underlying server infrastructure for online projects

  • Design & Technology
    handles design (visual, interface, info architecture) and coding for projects not large enough for their own development team, and for the organization as a whole.

  • There will also be a committee for each project of the organization, which may have subcommittees as necessary if the project is very large:

    • Archive Of Our Own
      • Design & Technology
        handles the design and implementation of the archive

      • Content
        deals with questions of content and abuse, creates guidelines for acceptable and non-acceptable materials

    • organization website (small project but important)
    • aggregation service
    • fan history department
    • Dead Fiction Office (for preserving content otherwise lost)
    • etc.

Other standing committees or temporary committees may be created by the board as needed. (There may be overlap between the membership of these committees.)

Basically, we think this model allows everyone who contributes to also have a voice, while keeping the decision-making group small and stable enough to minimize wank and confusion. It also protects us against hijacking by an outside organization: it will be illegal (tax fraud) for any person to create sockpuppets and donate under multiple names to gain multiple votes, and even a well-financed company would have a hard time paying people to get control, especially since they would have to get a slate of candidates who had been on committees for at least a year, and they would have to do it successfully over two elections to gain a board majority.

The exact committees and the structure of the board may be tweaked from this description as we go through the legal process of incorporation, but this is our starting point and hopefully gives you all an idea of where we are heading.



Next up: willingness to serve.
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