|Emma (nextian) wrote,|
@ 2010-11-01 04:43 pm UTC
I had the following exchange with FictionAlley regarding their Refresh Everything bid, which I see has just gone live.
I promised to present it all verbatim and without comment. I apologize to them for
date Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 9:50 AM
subject Pepsi Refresh
To whom it may concern--
It recently came to my attention that FictionAlley had submitted itself for a grant in the Pepsi Refresh program. Look. I love FictionAlley with the nostalgic and affectionate love of a fan who started her participation in Harry Potter fandom, and in fandom in general, during its glorious heyday. I appreciate very much what FictionAlley's done for Harry Potter fandom over the years.
But, seriously, two things:
1. Take a look at the other options on the Pepsi Refresh website. This program is designed to provide money to groups who are deeply underrepresented, or deeply in need of it. Stopping preventable infection among the homeless. Free books to low-income classrooms (a hundred variations on this one) or art supplies, or telescopes, or martial arts classes, or music supplies, or... Custom walking canes for kids who have no insurance. Thanking veterans. Just in arts and culture, we have supporting a community orchestra for people of all ages and abilities, fixing broken instrument donations, making audio theater CDs for the troops overseas.
Compare this to: supporting the running costs of a fan-fiction archive.
Even if you are in desperate need of a grant -- and it looks like it's not a measure taken in destitution -- there are arts grants that you could be applying for, money set aside for projects that are poor in the sense of "made by artists for artists," not in the sense of "underprivileged, slashed by the school board, legislated against, starving, gouged by insurance companies, on the verge of shutdown." You might say, "If people feel that way, they have no need to vote for us." Which is true. But much of your fanbase won't even have heard of Pepsi Refresh before you submit it, and they're gonna vote for you. They're going to vote every day. And if you do get that $25,000, that's money that doesn't go to a classroom with no books or to a music department with no instruments or to a homeless orchestra. This is a zero-sum game.
2. I'm a member of the OTW, so believe me, I am all for legitimizing fic and fanart and supporting them in legal fashions. But what about the rest of your community? By submitting your grant, you're outing FictionAlley to a huge audience, and due to the above factors, you're doing it in a way that opens the fandom up to some serious and vicious criticism, not to mention possible legal action from Warner Brothers if they feel that this counts as a "for profit" move. Have you consulted your members about this? Because as far as I can tell, this just went out in a newsletter as a fait accompli. That's kind of not cool on a number of levels.
I strongly urge you guys to withdraw your submission; if there's no magic withdraw button, I urge you to email Pepsi and get them to take you guys out of the queue. I will happily volunteer to help you out with a donation drive if you're in desperate need of this money, or find you someone who can find you a better grant. Just please don't get it this way.
-- Emma (nextian@DW/LJ)
date Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 5:21 PM
subject Re: Pepsi Refresh
I wanted to let you know that we have received your email. I have
forwarded it to the moderators and administrators of FictionAlley, and
will get back to you as soon as possible with a response.
date Sat, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:25 AM
subject Re: Pepsi Refresh
Thank you for coming to us with these comments. As you know,
FictionAlley has always been a place with a broad spectrum of opinions
and perspectives, representing a widely diverse population of fans, so
it's nearly impossible to please everyone all of the time, no matter
what direction we take the site.
You bring up a number of important points in your email, and we're not
refuting or rejecting them out of hand, but please understand that
there has been a lot of thought that's gone into this, and yes, it was
done out of destitution. As we said a few months ago in our post here
- last spring, the company that had been hosting our site for the last
five years was purchased by a larger company, and with a few days
notice, they started charging us $200 per month to stay online. We've
been ad-free for years and had hardly anything stockpiled, and while
we've brought in enough to carry us through to the end of the year,
our ad revenue and Associate revenue is barely a third of what we need
each month to cover this ongoing cost. We have looked at other hosts
and could probably move to something that would be twenty five or
fifty dollars less per month, but that's about it, given the size of
We've been looking into arts grants since the summer - technology
grants as well! - but we haven't found anything that would cover these
ongoing costs; if we purchased our own servers, we wouldn't have these
monthly fees. Most grants have criteria that FictionAlley can't meet,
such as working to help specific local communities or, even on the
national scale, providing more traditional educational opportunities.
Pepsi Refresh is different because it is so broad-based and open to
our kind of need.
Because of the way the Pepsi Refresh project works, we have no way of
knowing what other requests were submitted in our category until they
are all announced. This means that we could wind up pitted against
projects that are universally more focused on satisfying basic needs,
such as textbooks or lab equipment for schools, or we could find that
other organizations in our category all have needs comparable to our
own. Also, we are only in competition against the other requests that
were submitted within our monetary bracket, which means that we are in
no way being judged against projects that
have much lower or much higher costs for their implementation. This
makes the Pepsi Refresh project a good fit for us because we're not
'robbing' anyone else of their $250,000 request to serve our $25,000
Also keep in mind that our application isn't just for money to cover
the new servers; we have a plan set up to host writing resources and
collaborative tools, online workshops and more - and we would also use
a good portion of the money towards funding a creative project like
The Final Battle that incorporates online collaboration and
creativity, and possibly an online performance component. No, that's
not the same as getting instruments for kids - and some of our
moderators and administrators have children in public schools, or work
in public schools themselves, so are well aware of the impacts of
funding cutbacks - but for teens and twentysomethings, it's a terrific
experience to be a part of a creative group project.
We are actually working on creating an entry for an opportunity via
iGive that we just learned about today, so we are looking at other
ways to get the funding we need. However, we just don't qualify for
many things, and those that we do, like the one through iGive, have
the same issues that you've brought up regarding the Pepsi Refresh
project; charities, arts, research projects, classes and schools are
all in the same pool of consideration.
Regarding your second point, we aren't outing FictionAlley to anyone.
We've worked with Warner Brothers since 2002, when FictionAlley was on
the front page of The New York Times. This isn't a commercial
activity, but regardless, they know that we have ads, and are members
of "associate" programs - they know because we are a member of theirs.
Given that, we aren't concerned that WB will take legal action against
No, we didn't consult with everyone on FictionAlley about this. We've
discussed it internally - we've been talking about it since June,
actually - and among our staff are parents, librarians and teachers.
We know that if we don't get this grant or something similar, we may
not be able to stay online past next summer, because we just don't
have the money for it, despite the pleas we've made this summer and
this fall. Without an angel donor, or this grant, we can't continue to
spend $2400 per year on servers.
We are really sorry that you don't think it's cool. And we understand
if you think other entities are more deserving - it's one reason we're
glad the Pepsi Challenge allows everyone to vote ten times a day,
which means every person can support us and nine other charities. But
we aren't outing the site to the powers that be, we aren't creating
any risk of legal action against FA, and this is a practical way for
us to keep the site online for the next few years. Only a few FA users
have helped with monetary gifts in the last few months, but this way
people can help with their votes. Even at that, there's certainly no
guarantee that we'll win - though we hope that we will.
We hope that the situation, as we've explained it here, clarifies our
reasons for choosing this opportunity. That doesn't mean we're not
also looking for other options - and if you have any such options,
please let us know. We're happy to apply to other programs if they fit
our mission and we fit their criteria. If you still have any questions
or concerns, we're happy to have a dialogue with you or anyone else
about it. But we can't pull out of this process and take the risk that
we'll have no money to cover the site hosting fees next year, unless
we get a cash infusion of $2500 in the next few days - and then we'd
still seek grant money to cover the other projects.
Thank you again for your email.
date Sat, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:42 AM
subject Re: Pepsi Refresh
Thanks for your prompt response.
May I post this exchange of emails, verbatim and without commentary, on my journal?
date Sat, Oct 30, 2010 at 3:45 PM
subject Re: Pepsi Refresh
Please feel free to post the email exchange on your journal. However,
before you do so, we would like to ask if you have any additional
comments or questions based on our previous response. If so, we would
like to ask you to make them prior to making our exchange public, as
that could complicate any additional dialogue. However, we won't
revoke our initial permission based on any dialogue yet to come.
date Sat, Oct 30, 2010 at 5:07 PM
subject Re: Pepsi Refresh
Well, I still disagree with your position, but you've been clear and I don't have different arguments. I'd just point out that of course you're not robbing $250,000 operating costs from someone else -- you're not robbing anyone -- but you will be taking $25,000 away from someone else. That was the only part of your argument I felt I didn't understand.
* Okay, apparently "welching" = "being cheatingly Welsh"? Thanks anon for bringing this to my attention, and I apologize to anyone this made uncomfortable. Holy crap.