E. Anna Szegedi 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?

As with all decisions that would have such a large effect on the way the OTW functions, listening to the needs of committees is of utmost importance. The OTW’s budget is always openly available to anyone interested (see the 2021 budget for reference), and it shows how we currently allocate our funds.

Of course, the highest amount does (and should) go to server maintenance, since owning and maintaining our own servers is how we can keep not only the Archive, but also our other websites, completely ad-free. If the growth in traffic and the ever-increasing number of works necessitate an expansion in that area, it is important to have the necessary funds.

I would also ensure that our Legal Advocacy has the necessary financial background to be able to step up and advocate for fans, and the fan community in general, if needed.

All that aside, I would most definitely seek the advice of my fellow Board members, and the Finance Committee.

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?

This is a very tricky question. The content uploaded on AO3 is not screened by our volunteers at all – Policy & Abuse works based on user-submitted complaints, therefore can only address issues that are pointed out to them. This means that if two completely different users report two completely different works by the same author, let’s say, two months apart, these cases will be handled separately, and possibly by different volunteers. Unfortunately, due to the high workload of our Policy & Abuse volunteers, they are not always able to check every work of an author; they do suggest that the author does this themselves, however.

Of course, deciding to implement such a rule would heavily impact Policy & Abuse, and I would definitely consult them about such a change in procedures before even beginning to consider the process of the change. Because of this, right now, implementing such a rule does not sound feasible for me, at least in the short term.

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

The main goal of AO3 is to provide a place to preserve as many fanworks as possible. This dedication to be as inclusive as possible has been, and will continue to be controversial. Our Terms of Service states that we do not pre-screen works shared on the platform, and that users are responsible for heading warnings and tags on works.

There are many works on the AO3 that people find distasteful, triggering or otherwise objectionable. However, as long as these works comply with out Terms of Service, they will not be removed, as that would go against our core value of maximum inclusivity of content.

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?

Yes, I am familiar with the history of AO3, and I am committed to protecting it, and the freedoms it provides. I am old enough to remember the time when disclaimers were at the start of every single fic, and when fans were still wary of authors and filmmakers potentially suing them.

I also started off in non-English fandom spaces; one specific archive I frequented had every new work, and every new chapter approved by moderators before they could be published. If you wanted to publish something that was against their guidelines, or something they did not want on their archive for any other reason – they would not let you publish it there.

These experiences made me appreciate AO3 even more; yes, there are works (and fandoms) there that I purposefully avoid, and there are popular tags that I exclude in all of my searches. There are tropes I wish would not exist (or be as popular as they are), but I know that all of the things I dislike might be the favourite of someone else, and the tropes, pairings and fandoms I enjoy might be on someone else’s excluded tags list.

I do not believe that my taste is any more important than someone else’s – therefore, I do not believe that my taste and opinion should influence the type of content allowed on AO3.

[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.]