A modest proposal; was: Re: ADMIN: An Open Letter to the TECHWR-L Community

Subject: A modest proposal; was: Re: ADMIN: An Open Letter to the TECHWR-L Community
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- oddpost -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 2 Aug 2004 14:36:04 -0700 (PDT)

Sorry, I'm only now beginning to catch up on this thread.

I STRONGLY suggest we NOT do a Yahoo list. I am a moderator for one that has 4,500+ members, and the bugs and problems are legion. (Fortunately, I also have a number of co-moderators to spread out the load and soon will have enough of them that my own participation will diminish greatly.)

(As an aside, isn't it typical that techwriters aren't necessarily addressing the primary point--but get hung up on the TOOLS!)

I also have a recommendation for the group to consider, which I will detail below.

First, though, it must be determined just what the Rays are proposing to sell. The list and website generate some revenue, for example, as they are now constituted. Thus, a part of any proposed acquisition must be to determine what is offered and what is conveyed in return. For instance, what about the hardware? Any existing revenue-generating contracts? What about existing IP? There are *many* such questions involved in selling any business...and, from the perspective we are addressing, it *is* a business.

However, there may be a middle path that could do many things to address this situation as well as the general feelings about the STC.

What if we "passed the hat" and formed a nonprofit corporation and got it qualified under Section 501(c)(3) as an educational and charitable foundation? Then, what if that *foundation* took ownership of the list and the Website, partly in cash and partly in a deductible donation for the Rays? (I presume Eric and Deborah would not care whether their work was paid for by the IRS...!)

Once there is a legitimate tax-deductible foundation involved, the gates are open for other foundations to donate. It would be totally in character, for example, to then solicit grants from the various corporations who deal with tech writers--and, perhaps, from Internet providers to donate hosting services, etc.

This foundation would then, as it had any income, be able to hire the list manager/webmaster. It would also be able to set up educational programs that have meaning for the profession, sponsor online contests for recognition of one's peers, host conferences about topics of interest, etc.

For example, there is the Meadows Foundation here in Dallas that provides office space to other foundations. Various equipment vendors could be solicited for donations of new equipment as needed...and the commercial ISPs would receive great publicity while donating bandwidth.

In my view, this foundation would be the ideal vehicle to implement initiatives that we all wish the STC would have done years ago. Perhaps we could work toward some sort of formal certification process in conjunction with the various educational entities currently offering training?

Discussions about how the list could be set up would only be appropriate as we move toward some sort of resolution of the principal point. However, there are many reasonable contenders for consideration if there is to be a change of platform.

The foundation's Board of Directors would be comprised of various list contributors who have the confidence of the rest of the list. They, in turn, would engage the list and website manager and a foundation director (who may or may not be the same person). I would suggest that the foundation finances be reported regularly to the Board, of course, but also be made available to the general membership and the public from the Website.

So...if anyone is interested in discussing this possible solution to the situation, feel free to do it on list or off. Since I have been involved in some of these issues before, I will be happy to share any experience I may have with you...and, being presently unemployed, I have the time to do a little research if this seems to be a fruitful direction to go.

In conclusion, I think this is the only way we may be sure that the list stays as useful as it is now while offering a reasonable method for it to move forward to "the next level"...




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RE: ADMIN: An Open Letter to the TECHWR-L Community: From: Greg Thompson

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