I am writing to provide members with the rationale I had when supporting and voting for the following to proposals:
Proposal 14.09.15.01 -- Advertising on the website (The vote count was 7-0, Shane Stafford and Maggie Berthiaume Abstained)
I formally propose we solicit advertising for our website and for the policy and LD wiki sites.
Proposal 14.09.15.02 -- Stipend for wiki, Revenue Sharing (Passed Unanimously)
I formally propose we pay a stipend of $1,000 annually to Aaron Hardy for his work on the wiki as well as split the profit from all ad revenues on the wiki on a 50/50 basis with him.
This summer I worked at the University of Michigan Debate Institute for seven weeks. I am ashamed to admit that as a long time user of the Open Evidence project and member of the NDCA this was the first summer wherein I volunteered to upload files for the OpenEv project. I uploaded all the of the University of Michigan files the last day I was in Ann Arbor and it took me hours to complete the task. After my eyes were watering from trying to not miss a file or lose my place as I uploaded each document I discovered that my contribution to the project was really very small. Many members of the community have donated hours and hours of their time to do this summer after summer. Aaron Hardy is one of those individuals. The Board member responsible for the OpenEv project estimated that his efforts this summer alone to set up and maintain the OpenEv site totaled over 50 hours. The proposal for Aaron Hardy’s stipend lists it as for his “work on the wiki” it is worth revising the language to include his work on for the OpenEv project as well. That is not to say that Aaron’s “work on the wiki” does not warrant much more compensation than the 1,000 stipend the Board decided to offer him. Prior to Aaron’s managing of the wiki it was primarily maintained by Bill Batterman from Woodward Academy. After years of volunteering hundreds of hours each year Bill would like a break! I cannot thank Bill enough for the incredible contribution he made to the community in this capacity for years. Fortunately for the HS Policy debate community Aaron Hardy volunteered to fill that role. He spent at least 30 hours setting up the wiki during the pre-season and spends over anywhere from 10-20 hours a week maintaining the site. Aaron put in these hours and spent his own money to host the wiki, upgrading the server each year, including this year where he moved it to a cloud-based setup to more easily facilitate rapidly scaling it upwards on busy weekends without any expectation of receiving funds from the NDCA. Multiple debate camps also approached him looking to buy advertising space – wherein he would have received 100% of the revenue – he declined. His efforts here were entirely to enhance the ease of posting directly from Verbatim, to provide a larger speech document repository, and allow for better full text searches and Tabroom integration. This was all done prior to my reaching out to Aaron regarding a modest monetary compensation. I initiated this dialogue with Aaron after receiving dozens of emails at the Wake Forest tournament regarding wiki glitches that I had to forward on to him knowing he was already receiving dozens of similar urgent and entitled emails.
The proposals passed by this Board with regard to a stipend and advertising space will not generate a profit for Aaron Hardy. The debate community will continue to benefit from his donation of thousands of hours and dollars of his own. The intention of the proposals was to demonstrate how grateful the organization is for his efforts.
More generally the proposals do not represent and an attempt to promote a for-profit business model. The NDCA is a non-profit organization. Last year the NDCA Board passed a proposal to provide Financial Assistance for students hoping to attend the NDCA Championships and for sponsorship of the UDL League Director Conference. These are efforts the Board felt were consistent with the organization’s mission. I would like to see these types of efforts increase that is the reason I voted to provide the organization with another means of generating revenue. It is my understanding, after consulting persons much more familiar with technical issues than myself, that the addition of these ads will not slow the operation of the sites. If that did present a problem then the Board and myself would obviously revisit this decision.