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AVENguy

Proposal for General Review: AVEN Project Team

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AVENguy

I’ve been feeling conflicted lately.

Unlike most of you here, I’ve been watching this thing since the beginning. I founded this organization back in 2001 with the undirected idea that community was a good thing, and that after feeling isolated for my entire life having other asexual people to talk to would be pretty darn cool. The first time another asexual person actually saw the site and e-mailed me, about a month after I put it up (on http://djay.web.wesleyan.edu) I got gittery and nervous for an hour. I wound up calling them and talking on and off for months, eventually going to visit them in Philly and sleeping on their floor with a sense of apprehension and contentment. Finding other asexual people to talk to felt very good, it felt powerful for reasons that I couldn’t quite express. It was that power, and not the fact that I was sleeping on a relative stranger’s floor, that led to my sense of apprehension. I stayed awake and stared at the ceiling, keenly aware that whatever I had just stumbled across was bigger, stronger and more important than I was, and that with or without my consent it had places that it was going to take me.

The move to asexuality.org and the establishment of the forum came the following summer, while I interned with a public education nonprofit in Washington DC. I got home every night and posted like crazy, responding twice to anyone who happened to drop in and leave a thought. After three months we finally had around 20 members, and for the first time you could log in to AVEN once a day and expect at least one new post to pop up (from someone other than me.) Suddenly there was a reason for people to make the site a part of their daily lives, and that’s exactly what they did. We hit 100 members by November (when I was checking the site from internet cafes in rural Ghana), and built out from there.

Now it’s the summer of 2006, and I can hardly keep track of what’s happened in the interim. We are at almost 10,000 members if you combine the different language forums. The community has grown large enough to require its own governing structure- a democratically elected team of Admods overseeing maintaining the cohesion and openness of the community that the first of us seemed to just stumble into. Out of necessity we’ve built an on-call media response apparatus that stretches across the globe. The media team has facilitated a wave of positive, comprehensive press coverage that has touched every corner of the globe, and touched so many people that it takes a team of over a dozen volunteers to field just the questions we get over e-mail. There has been so much work to do behind the scenes that posting regularly is a luxury I’ve been unable to afford for years. AVEN has become a beehive of possibilities almost too dizzying to track. After nine exhausting but fulfilling hours at my job I get home to a world of book deals, documentary proposals, grassroots campaigns to get on Oprah, shakedowns of the academic establishment, meetups, conference calls, software upgrades and sociopolitical powergrabs that is too much for me to even begin to comprehend. I don’t know where to start, and have somehow become terrified that unless I can keep it at bay this giant, buzzing frenzy will consume me whole.

The paradox of all this is that the bigger that AVEN has gotten the less I’ve been there on the ground. In between spurts of activity around major press and special projects I spend less time thinking about AVEN than most of you, as if to willfully delegate my life to things that are small enough for hold with both hands. I spend my time on anything but AVEN- local politics, nonprofit organizing structures, dancing, hiking, and baking; as if I have some need to fortify the part of myself that is not defined by what is going on here. But somehow I’m always brought back. Every political strategy I learn, every tidbit of organizational wisdom and nuance of my increasingly complicated lovelife reminds me of the unrealized power located here. I’ve come to feel like somewhere along the line my own worries and selfish fears have almost gone from keeping my responsibilities in this community at bay to holding using them to hold this community back. My conscious has been heavy- do I leave this place to its own devices and keep my mid-20’s post-post adolescence or do I blow the floodgates and let all of my fresh-baked cookies, friendships and assurance of independence go in the current?

Fuck it.

Pop quiz: What do you call a large international network of dedicated individuals with a common vision, experience making broadsweeping social change with almost no financial footprint, the ready ear of the popular press, scientific leaders and existing political institutions, and access to untapped financial resources which operates almost entirely in a realm outside of most people’s conceptual understanding? We’re sitting on the makings of a fully functional Vast International Asexual Conspiracy, whaddaya say we take ‘er for a spin and see what she can do?

I propose that we create a team of individuals who dedicated to expanding and improving AVEN beyond the forum.

Step 1: We create a temporary forum and have an election. Candidates post their age, location, a bio and an outline of their vision for AVEN. Each member of AVEN will be able to vote for up to eleven candidates (though they can only vote for one if they like.) The eleven candidates who receive the most votes will form an AVEN Project Team, and will have access to a publicly visible AVEN Project forum in which only they can post. This is not to discourage the participation of non-team members, but to focus responsibility for realizing the potential of this community on a set of dedicated individuals.

Step 2: The AVEN Project forum will work like a senate. Any member of the team can post a proposal for a yes or no vote. Proposals will stay active for four days or until everyone has voted, after which time the votes will be tallied and the proposal will be accepted or rejected. Decisions about the board (the creation of new forums, etc) will remain in the hands of the admod team. The Projects Team will (at least initially) have jurisdiction over everything else- the static content, the Wiki, any money that AVEN raises and who receives asexuality.org administrator passwords. By using these resources and mobilizing volunteers from the community the Project Team will seek to enrich the asexual community and to foster open, honest public dialogue about asexuality.

Step 3:The Project Team will work with the Admod team and with leaders in the community to expand and improve AVEN. Any admod team members elected to the project team will resign their admod posts within one month of the election, so that no one can serve on both teams. Members of the Project Team will form committees and be delegated specific responsibilities (eg. Meetup Maven, Static Content Club, etc.) which they will be welcome to share with non-Project Team members. Elections to the Project Team will be held once every six months.

I have thoughts in a lot more detail, but I’ll leave it at this for now. I’m going to leave this post up for a few days to see if there is a large body of people opposed to this idea and then start the campaign process.

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Nero laughed

It had to happen sooner or later DJ. We're no longer a little social club in the corner with arbitrary decision making. Not that that wasn't right for the time or wrong for any reason, but we have grown up and need some form of organisation.

Also, thanks David for all the work and stress that you endured to get AVEN this far. I hope this move will free you up enough to maybe enjoy your creation a little bit then. :wink:

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SpirallingSnowy

I like this idea DJ!!! sounds like a superb idea!!!

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TheSMMG

An exciting idea!

I have insufficient creativity or online time (at work only!) to be effective on the AVEN Project Team, but am willing to help in any way that I can.

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Hexpiral

I wholeheartedly agree with the idea. I think it'll be a good thing for AVEN.

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Wineblood

Sounds awesome.

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CookieMoo

Great idea. Not only will it hopefully allow you to lead some semblance of a normal life, and allow you more time to enjoy the forums, but im sure there will be lots of change for the better. Fresh ideas, more public awareness, street teams, parades, late night television specials... (okay, so maybe I got carried away with those last few... :oops: ) but i do think it is a good idea. ^_^

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Verin

It does sound like a very good idea, especially with the speed at which Aven is now growing.

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mouth brooder

When in doubt, delegate. Then those people can delegate further until anyone who wants to can play an active role. Delegate people to help you delegate.

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Shockwave

An interesting idea. I hadn't realized it was time for community organization beyond the forums yet.

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deladangerous

Now that's thinking big. . .

I like it. I really do.

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Cate Perfect

Wow, DJ.

After thinking about it awhile, I think it's a good idea that could serve the community and AVEN well.

I commend you, DJ, on being willing to let AVEN grow beyond its current incarnation.

Thank you for starting us off--you have changed the lives of countless people in countries around the world. And thank you for coming up with a scheme to allow it to flourish while you pursue your own goals.

Having seen what is involved in maintaining order in a growing site, it's understandable that you'd want to have a plan in place that would encourage further growth without putting undue strain on any one person and I believe your plan addresses those needs.

I would personally like to extend my gratitude for allowing me to be an admin--that time taught me a lot about myself and I met several people who have become dear friends.

Cate/Victoria

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Orbit

Awesome idea!! :)

hawke

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141822

Sounds like a good plan!

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Neurovore

We are no longer some backwards forum in some dark corner of the internet. We have grown and matured since then. Let us embrace the recognition, with the hope that the exposure will do us some good in the world.

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Hallucigenia

*applauds*

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AmoebicMe

I can definately see why you want to do this, but I dunno. We'd really have to get down to peticulars before I am able to decide how I feel about it. Maybe I just lack the creativity to see where AVEN can and will progress from here. I like our little community the way it is, and the creation of some delegating committee puts me on edge for some reason that I don't fully understand. And how we do it could impact how AVEN behaves, whether it stays relatively the same or completely changes into a new entity. And that depends on those elected. Maybe I'm just worried about removing the DJ from the AVEN equation. Who knows. But I'm still on edge for some reason and am not entirely enthused about the project, mainly because I really feel that nailing down the details in what may be our tiny little constitution (or governing body, or drum circle, or whatever the hell it turns into) is key if we aim to progress with it.

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Charlieee

That sounds like such a cool idea!

AVEN's amazingness could be stretched even further, so many new ideas... it'll be really good for AVEN, and for you ^__^

Thanks for everything :D

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Nugan
I can definately see why you want to do this, but I dunno. We'd really have to get down to peticulars before I am able to decide how I feel about it. Maybe I just lack the creativity to see where AVEN can and will progress from here. I like our little community the way it is, and the creation of some delegating committee puts me on edge for some reason that I don't fully understand. And how we do it could impact how AVEN behaves, whether it stays relatively the same or completely changes into a new entity. And that depends on those elected. Maybe I'm just worried about removing the DJ from the AVEN equation. Who knows. But I'm still on edge for some reason and am not entirely enthused about the project, mainly because I really feel that nailing down the details in what may be our tiny little constitution (or governing body, or drum circle, or whatever the hell it turns into) is key if we aim to progress with it.

Amen.

I remain undecided about the idea. I will say that I think that this group should be very closely connected to the community as a whole. There should be a way for community members to offer their ideas for the committee and their objections to the committee's decisions.

I do not think it is an absolutely bad idea, but I think it could be dangerous if the group was allowed too much power over the community.

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Amcan

I have to say I agree with Nugan and AmoebicMe.

I would love to know what form nad structure it's going to tkae nad what will happen to the admods.

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crazyjerseygirl

Right now, the idea seems scary as shit.

There is just something different about belonging to a society then just a social network that makes it all so real.

We will no longer just be a haven from a sexual world, but something more.

But no-one ever got anywhere interesting without taking a chance now and again, and as scary as it might seem it can grow into something wonderful.

This place has helped me more than you can imagine, I would be for anything that would make us more available to others who are confused or scared about their sexuality (or lack thereof!)

So long as we can rely on a post from you now and again I say go for it.

we can never go back, but everythings like that i guess

TTFN

Renee'

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The Evil Cashew

I agree with amoebic and nugan

its not that i dislike the idea. i am just unsure/confused about it. and i admit.. worried to what it will do to Aven.

~Cashew

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Dixie

I agree with Nugan ameobicMe, and Cash. I would like to know specifically what some of the ideas of this creation you have in mind, David.

Edit: I have not really thought about the large magnitude of what AVEN has become, so I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed right now. I need to know the specifics before I can make a solid decision.

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Children of the sloth

Woo! If this happens we may be officially recognized by goverments as a real orientation someday. And that would just be awesome. Great idea.

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AVENguy

Just to be clear: I'm going to be running in this election. This isn't a way for me to withdraw from the forum, it's a way for me to more formally integrate a lot of the stuff that I'm already doing.

I hear people's concerns about this changing AVEN, and it will. Part of the way that I want to minimize that is by keeping the Program Team and the Admod Team seperate. Basically the forum will keep the same structure, with the Program Team occassionally buzzing in to call for volunteers for their hairbrained schemes, and (hopefully) new users, new functionality and new content coming in because of the PT's efforts. Because the PT forum will be visible to everyone what's going on will be extremely transparent. It'll be like a senate- all you have to do to get your idea into the Program Team is to find a team member who will nominate it.

Some of the projects that I would love to see this team take on (though what we take on will, of course, be up to a vote once the team is built):

A Static Content Team- to oversee and regularly update the static content on the homepage, which is pretty stagnant right now.

A Meetup Coordinator/Coordination Team- who/which would assist anyone organizing a local meetup and tracking meetup activity around the world.

A Web Team- Recruiting a team of web-savvy folks to be on hand to troubleshoot and improve AVEN's software

A User Survey- Which would go out to all AVENites, and ask questions that could guide our and the admods efforts (eg "What do you find most useful about AVEN?" "Where should AVEN direct it's efforts? Talks and Lectures, Support, Getting Psychologists to Accept us, etc."

Interlanguage Coordination- Things are going pretty crazy right now in Isreal and Germany, a lot of the alt-language forums are experiencing exposive growth and have little support. We should be talking to them regularly and helping out when we can.

To name a few....

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AVENguy

I have another sutble-n'sneaky agenda, which is that at the rate we're going we're eventually going to start having/needing some kind of regular funding. When we do we're going to need to set up a nonprofit organization, and we're going to need a structure capable of deciding how that funding gets used. This team will allow us to work out a lot of organizational growing pains before we get to that point.

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Nugan
I have another sutble-n'sneaky agenda, which is that at the rate we're going we're eventually going to start having/needing some kind of regular funding. When we do we're going to need to set up a nonprofit organization, and we're going to need a structure capable of deciding how that funding gets used. This team will allow us to work out a lot of organizational growing pains before we get to that point.

That's a good point.

So some of the team's responsibilities will extend outside of the site itself?

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Shockwave

Now that I see more of your vision I'm starting to like it even more.

Also, I'm glad to see you will be running as well.

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Xenon
So some of the team's responsibilities will extend outside of the site itself?

From what I gather, a lot of the Program Team's responsibilities will extend outside AVEN. Or at least, outside the AVEN forum. If I understand correctly what is being proposed, this new group will work to promote AVEN and asexuality in areas other than this discussion forum. Kind of like what DJ is doing now all by himself... but with more people, more effort can be spent on that, more ideas can come to fruition, and DJ won't suffer from burnout.

(Am I even close to understanding it here?)

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Shockwave

That's the way I understood it, Torgo.

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