Morgan Schroeder 2019 Q&A: Group 2

Is there anything about the AO3’s Terms of Service or how they’re currently applied that you think should be modified?

I don’t think anything needs to be modified at the moment, though I would of course be open to reviewing them as legal needs require, should I be elected. As our Vision Statement says, “We envision a future in which all fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative,” and I think our Terms of Service reflects that. The last time we revised our Terms of Service for AO3 was to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and unless other legislation is passed that would affect us or the site undergoes a major change, I don’t see any need to further modify either the Terms of Service or how we apply them.

What are your thoughts on AO3’s policy to allow any and all fannish content including RPF and fanworks featuring abusive or otherwise dark themes?

The Archive of Our Own was created in part to provide a safe place from the censorship and purges in other fandom areas at the time of its founding, and it continues to do so as fandom evolves. People write dark themed fics for a variety of reasons, and I don’t think those fics are any less valid than the mindless fluff pieces I tend to produce. There are stories I personally would never read on the Archive, but that’s what the extensive tagging and filtering system is for. I frequently make use of AO3’s exclusion filters to clear out the types of works I don’t enjoy as much, which I think makes my browsing experience a lot better. Just as we give creators the tools they need to upload and edit their works, we strive to give readers the ability to curate their own experience on AO3.

What are your thoughts on internet censorship and freedom of expression? Does the OTW have a role to play in that ongoing conversation? If yes, what role?

As I talked about in the last set of questions, I am very much against censorship and very much in favor of freedom of expression. The OTW was founded in part to escape censorship on other platforms, and our Legal team continues to fight for the rights of fans and fanworks. We’ve been working hard to this end for over a decade, and I think we need to continue in this role going forward. In addition, we have been welcoming fans and their works as other sites become less friendly towards fanworks for a variety of reasons, and have assisted in the preservation of sites and collections at risk of disappearing with the help of our Open Doors committee. I hope we will continue to provide these services for a long time to come.

There have been a few pressing issues, specifically the translation of the archive, and the incorporation of fanart as a category, that keep coming up during elections but are never given a concrete timeframe to be held accountable to. What will you do specifically to provide transparency to users waiting for these issues?

The Organization for Transformative Works is entirely staffed by volunteers. This means that everyone involved has to juggle work for the Org with the rest of their day-to-day lives, which could involve anything from having a paid full-time job to caring for family members to volunteering for other organizations to attending university, and usually a combination of these and more! Unfortunately, this does make it difficult to promise any concrete timeframes, as volunteers could have unexpected busy periods or major life changes that could affect their ability to work on new features for the Archive. In the meantime, we’ve done a number of other updates the past few years, including the new filtering system and some major updates for Tag Wrangling.

While I would like to see features like the translation of the archive and the ability to host fanworks, I’m afraid there’s no way to offer any sort of timeframe for when we might have them, though as a Board member I would love to support the relevant committees in whatever way they need to make the Archive grow and improve.