Board Meeting Minutes: 14 March 2021

Organization for Transformative Works – Board of Directors

Minutes of the meeting: March 14, 2021, 15:00 UTC

Present

Alex Tischer
Jess White
Kati Eggert
Kirsten Wright
Natalia Gruber
Rebecca Sentance

Guests

Anne-Li
babeofhellskitchen
Beth (musikologie)
bonibaru
Capi
Citro
cjrecord
Claire P. Baker
connect_the_stars
coaldustcanary
Dhobi ki Kutti
Fiora
ioana
james_
Kaysa
Largosum
Loéva-Mat
lydia-theda
lzilen
Marion McG
martina
Morgan
NQN (bot)
Nrandom
PaleGlimmer
priscilla
saisai08
SALT
self1029
Szabó Dorottya
Veruska
YAGODB.xyz (bot)
ZG
Zixin
8351

Decisions taken since the last meeting

Administration

  • Approved new thank-you gifts for long-term donors
  • Approved new drive dates
  • Approved various CSC state filing charges
  • Approved payment of state filing fees
  • Approved changing our management liability insurance company and related costs to do so.
  • Approved minutes for the last meeting
  • Approved the 2019 Annual Report
  • Approved the 2018 Annual Report
  • Approved the 2020 Budget
  • Approved the 2021 Budget
  • Approved payment for AO3 and Fanlore SSL Certificate
  • Approved payment for Replacement front end machines
  • Approved payment for Mysql support for 3 years
  • Approved usage of HPEF expenses: File prep, copyedit, code, fixup and cover art and graphic design style sheets for Vidding: A History by Francesca Coppa,
  • [The HPEF (Harry Potter Education Foundation) donated funds have been specifically designated for this work as a way of promoting fan scholarship. They will pay for the book being released open source and free to read for fans and also to host vids mentioned in the book for illustration.]
  • Approved Proxy/Mirror site policy

 

HR

  • Approved staff requests for Open Doors, Finance, VolCom, Fanlore, PAC, Elections, Systems, Translation, Strategic Planning, AO3 Documentation and Webs
  • Approved new contract for AD&T contractor
  • Mediated a staffer’s CCAP

 

Infrastructure

  • Approved additional $15,000 on the original contract to move collections into Elasticsearch
  • Reapproved the spending for database servers, which ended up being more expensive due to us having to switch vendors
  • Approved all the costs related to the upgrade to a third server rack
  • Approved payment to AD&T contractor for Elasticsearch work
  • Approved virtual machine servers
  • Requested the purchase of the following URLs from Finance, who approved: archiveofourown.gay, ao3.gay, fanfic.gay, and fandom.gay

 

Legal Committee

  • Approved Legal’s plan for dealing with proxy/mirror sites
  • Approved Legal signing letter to USTR about copyright

Open Session

Questions regarding previous decisions

  • Could you explain the purchase of fanfic.gay and fandom.gay?

The answer for buying the various .gay domains, apart from to avoid future confusion with our projects, is that we thought they were awesome. But there have also been attempts by corporations (like Wikia) to trademark the name “fandom” and buy up the associated domain(s), and we were keen to try and head that off as well
I am curious about the plan for dealing with proxy sites?

Proxy sites were set up by third parties to help make AO3 accessible to fans who couldn’t open our main website. Since these proxies don’t reproduce content, just display it, we have no issues with it! However, since they are managed by third parties, there are always security concerns if, say, a user logs into their AO3 account via these proxies and shares their password with them. To help keep our users safe, Legal and our development team have made it so that a banner will show on proxies, informing users that the site isn’t officially associated with the AO3, and that they should be cautious with any personal information. Legal has also outlined guidelines to get in touch with these proxies, should they attempt to hide the banner, or make it seem like they are an official AO3 proxy ^^

  • Is the proxy proliferation privacy problem one that would prioritize API stuff? And if not, is that something that systems would be interested in PRs for?

One of the Support chairs jumping in here – we get a lot of tickets on this. The issue the third-party proxies are trying to solve are with ISPs blocking the connection to the servers; it’s not something an API would be able to address. As well, AD&T (the coders) and Support aren’t in a place where we can provide support and maintenance of an API yet, even if it is developed externally.

  • What does CCAP stand for?

It’s the constructive corrective action procedure!

  • Why did OTW change the management liability insurance company?

There were some issues communicating with our insurance company, and the renewal was delayed enough as a result that they had to find a new carrier for us. The first time cost of using a new carrier is higher, but subsequent years will renew at a much lower price!

 

New Co-Chair for Tag Wrangling

  • The Board voted to approve Dre as a new co-chair for Tag Wrangling

 

Financial Update

  • Link to the financials: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1K5VYGZDijz-QEoJ70_k2t42EtnT4oauY/view
  • We have about $1.8M in cash mainly due to unexpectedly successful drives in the last few years, where we have raised more money than we asked for and anticipated. As a result, we’re able to slow down our fundraising efforts to use up some of the current reserves.
  • This amount of money is able to cover roughly 3 years of operating expenses, under the assumption that the current level of activity within the OTW continues and nothing else happens. A healthy organization should have cash that can cover 2 years worth of operating expenses, so we’re more than safe in this regard. We are still exploring ways that the OTW can expand scope and improve sustainability with this money.
  • Operating expenses in 2020 are roughly $552k, but this includes depreciation of $77k, which is a non-cash expense. If you take out depreciation, actual cash spent by the OTW is $444k.
  • Expenses related to programs (AO3, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, Fanlore, etc) account for roughly 76% of total spending, with AO3 taking up around 71% of that. The remaining 22% was spent on Fundraising related activities (12%) and Management & Administration support for the OTW (12%)

 

Responses to questions

  • Is the decision to slow down on the fundraising taken with the assumption that for the next three years there will be no development on hiring employees for the org that entails more expenses than the current operating costs?

We need to put a significant amount of infrastructure in place first before we’re in a position to hire employees, and we don’t want to just hoard cash until that time comes, but once we are in a position to do so we can look at increasing our fundraising again to cover that cost

Brainstorm new project management role descriptions

  • We tabled this as there was insufficient time for the discussion

Any Other Business

  • Could you let us know when the update on the blocking feature will be posted?

At the moment we don’t have an exact date for you but it’s in the process of being finalised and translated

 

The meeting was adjourned at 16:00 UTC

Minutes approved by the Board on 11/07/2021

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