Antonius Melisse 2021 Q&A: OTW Projects

[Note: There will be 3 Q&A posts total, covering all the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. Candidates were limited to 300 words per answer.]

Follow up question regarding OTW projects: What kinds of projects would you support allocating budget towards? How would you propose allocating & using the OTW budget?

Every year, the OTW’s budget is based on our projects and teams’ anticipated needs and goals. Our budget is always created based on discussions among the OTW board and committee chairs. I support our current allocation strategy and processes. Supporting our projects is extremely important.

I also think our current long-term goal of exploring diversified revenue streams in order to work towards expanding contracting and starting to have paid staff is important for the OTW’s sustainability.

Would you support a rule that once a user is suspended for a TOS violation they cannot later be suspended for a violation occurring previously? With sometimes hundreds of fictions, a user cannot always catch previous violations. If a user is currently behaving is it fair to punish them?

I would personally not support such a rule.

When a user joins the Archive, they have to agree to our Terms of Service. In the TOS, the rules for posting works to the Archive are set out. Content that is posted is not pre-screened when it’s uploaded to the Archive, and that’s on purpose. When the rules are broken, our Policy & Abuse committee starts investigating, only if a work gets reported by another user. In most cases, the user will only receive a warning for the first violation of the Terms of Service. The user will get notified that they are responsible for removing the infringing content from all of their works, comments and profile. Only if the warning goes ignored, or the infraction of the TOS is severe, will a suspension be given out in the first place.

Policy & Abuse do not search the entire account for other possible violations. In many cases, this would be nearly impossible — we have users with several hundred lengthy works, for example. Therefore, if a work of the same user gets reported again after the suspension, they might get warned or suspended again, depending on the case. All of this combined means that I do not feel we need a rule that would make the work of Policy & Abuse volunteers even more complex and time-consuming than it already is.

Do you intend on finding a solution to the problem of smut written about real children being hosted on Ao3?

The Archive’s Terms of Service outline our limitations clearly: however reprehensible or immoral content may be, we host it as long as it is legal under United States law — in the context of this question, the law distinguishes between actual child pornography (so, images of real children) and written fiction that depicts minors engaging in sexual activity, and the latter is legal. Therefore, this is allowed under our TOS, as long as it doesn’t violate other rules (such as harassment).

I personally feel that that content is distasteful, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think it should be allowed to exist, and I stand by our TOS when it says, “Unless it violates some other policy, we will not remove Content for offensiveness, no matter how awful, repugnant, or badly spelled we may personally find that Content to be.

Are you familiar with the history of AO3 and are you committed to protecting the freedoms it provides even if you personally find specific content on the site triggering or immoral?

I am indeed well aware of the history of the Organization for Transformative Works and the Archive of our Own, and everyone can find more about the proposal that started it all on Fanlore.

I am fully in support of the intentions and ideas as set forth in this proposal. I also pointed out some of the boundaries set by the Archive’s Terms of Service in response to the previous question, and I believe that this fully covers what is asked here; I don’t need to personally find a work enjoyable — or morally acceptable — as long as it is within the policies as we have set out.

[Note: All questions from members and candidate responses appear in the form they were submitted and represent only the views of the individual who wrote them. Questions and responses are not endorsed by the Organization for Transformative Works.]