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Fri, Aug. 10th, 2007, 12:17 pm
ex_fandrogy: the virtues of going non-profit

elements  has another great post about users, representation, and "impossible possibilities" that we should all be reading. Many of the ideas listed are relevant to the project being discussed here. Snip:

"The only way we can move en masse to another site is if it's something with what we need built right in to the way it's structured. And oddly enough, the main thing we need is NOT "freedom of speech" or assurances that the site is fan-owned or pro-fan. What we need is a site that is designed with user needs taking explicit priority over profit, and with a user voice built in and guaranteed from the ground up.

What I mean by users over profit is not that the site can't make money. What I mean is that the goal of the people running the site shouldn't be making the site look good - ie, be "monetizable" - with the primary purpose of eventually selling to a bigger company or holding an IPO that will make the original financers of the project rich.

This needs to be a site created for the public good, and the public good ain't ever made folks rich.

Luckily, it's possible to run a small company without the need for insane growth and glittering visions of IPOs - provided you can get past the initial investment period and then get and keep enough regular customers to pay your bills and salaries. Even better, if the site were part of a nonprofit, there'd be a built in prohibition on IPOs and sellouts (though being a nonprofit is not a guarantee an organization will be well-run). Nonprofit doesn't have to mean financially struggling, or even poorly-paying for employees. It just means, not driven by the desire for exponentially maximized profit made on the backs of an uncompensated and unrepresented user base. It means, operating a public good.

So one possible long-term way out is the </a></b></a>otw_news model, whether or not a blogging service would be part of the fanarchive project. Another is some of what’s being discussed over at </a></b></a>fandom_flies. I lean right now to thinking it oughtn't be quite exactly either, because fans are better protected when intermingled with non-fen, and because, heck, I want to take all my Livejournal community with me, not just the fandom part of LJ. This journal isn't even a very fandomish journal. I want this site for a lot more than fandom, and I think other people would too.

A lot of comments to my User as Citizen post mentioned modeling after a credit union. I like that idea (it's the core of my stakeholder model for reforming existing sites, mentioned later). There are a lot of options when you're starting fresh and you want to be user-owned. As a company, you can choose a stakeholder/shareholder route; as a nonprofit, you can choose various types of membership; there are possibilities for combining in odd and exciting ways, with some legal consultation of course. I'd love to see these ideas built in from the ground up to </a></b></a>fandom_flies."

Sun, Aug. 12th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)

Willing to contribute by either the share-buying or the membership route.

Mon, Aug. 13th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)

i think a thing to talk about, with otw_news and fandom_flies, is the potential of creating an umbrella nonprofit that both projects, and potential future things, could work out of.

Wed, Aug. 15th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)

Hello, people! I'm with you. I can help with translating menu in Russian. That would help to bring Russian-speaking people there. Do not look at my English. I can read and translate, but writing is much more difficult.))