Safer Sex Editorial Board1/12/96 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Safer Sex Page, soon at http://www.safersex.org/, is a well known site on the World Wide Web, and certainly the most comprehensive source of information on safer sex, condoms, and HIV prevention on the Internet. I believe that the Internet, despite its current limitations and restricted audience, is an important new medium for public health education, and one that will only grow with time.
Until now, the Safer Sex site is produced entirely through the volunteer efforts of one person -- me, John Troyer. My method of procuring new content is to accept anything offered. There is no written mission statement or editorial policy. I am a computational chemist by training, and as the site grows in size and audience I feel at times that I'm in over my head.
I would like to make the web site more comprehensive, more professional, and I would like it to be self-perpetuating, since eventually I want to move on to other projects. This is why I'm assembling an editorial board to help with production of the Safer Sex site.
I have also volunteered to be a plaintiff in the ACLU's challenge of the communications decency act amendment to the Telecommunications Bill now in Congress. The case is expected to last a few years, and is another precipitating reason why I would like to have a solid Mission Statement, a qualified Editorial Board, and a Scientific Advisory Board to establish our bona fides. You should be aware that in a nightmare world gone mad, as an editor of this site you might be liable for 2 years in jail and $100,000 for each "indecent" document we put on the web. (Unlike obscenity, the legal standard for indecency does not require the entire work to be taken into account. A single paragraph or picture could be ruled indecent, regardless of the context in which it appears.) I can't say I see this actually happening, but you should be aware of the possibility.
The Editorial Board.
My current goal is to get together 5-10 volunteers who will work independently to produce the editorial content of the site. I'll handle as much of the web and HTML production work as is needed, and I'll maintain the website. I anticipate at most a few hours of work per person will be needed.
Initially, we won't be incorporated as a non-profit, and we'll have a zero budget. The board is open to anyone who wishes to participate, and I hope to operate by consensus. The volunteers don't have to be in the San Francisco Bay Area, since most operations will be carried through email. However, it does look like a lot of the initial volunteers will be from the Bay Area, and so we'll try to have periodic face-to-face meetings so we can get to know each other and work better together. Bay Area staffers will need to take care to be inclusive of non-Bay Area volunteers.
Everyone is welcome, but I'm specifically looking for people who have some training in safer sex education at some level. Writing, graphic design, and magazine experience will also be helpful skills. (I'm making this point because we need some people who know what's up. Everybody's welcome because everybody can learn what's up, but it does take time to do the research and finally reinvent the wheel. As a non-specialist, I can always do some research to find what I want to know, but I never do know if that answer I found in a 5-year-old article is still considered correct today.)
I anticipate that together we'll come up with a list of possible projects, articles, and people and agencies to contact. People will volunteer to take responsibility for different items from the list. Initially I'll coordinate things as they come in and put them up on the web.
This is going to be a horribly inefficient way to run things, and no doubt we will quickly dissolve into meandering committee meetings and rancorous arguments and finger-pointing. (That's a joke. I hope.) Assuming we don't allow consensus to tear us apart, we can establish as needed departments, section editors, or otherwise carve up areas of responsibility and oversight. Anybody with magazine editorial experience automatically will move to the head of the class. I am, however, completely flexible as to the organization, so I think we'll have to see how it works out.
If things go well, I'd imagine that we would incorporate as a nonprofit organization within a year. This would enable us to get grants, sponsorships, and donations of equipment and computer time with tax write-offs. (Right now our server time is being generously donated by the cool cats at Cyborganic.) It might also be possible to have paid positions. Eventually I would like to move back from day-to-day operations and let other people run the show, since I'm really just an Accidental Health Educator.
I'm very committed to having the site appeal to people of all orientations and genders. This implies that the editorial board should also be as diverse as possible. Right now, everyone who has expressed interest in helping out is a woman, so I would like to get more men involved. I will call or give flyers to a few organizations around town next week. I can also post to usenet and write to the local gay papers. Other suggestions are appreciated. In addition, both Internet access and healthcare access have larger race and class issues which we should address at some level.
Safer Sex: the magazine.
As the web grows and stabilizes, it's becoming clear that one model for a successful site is a magazine. I'd like to retool the Safer Sex Page as a magazine, beginning with the name. I'd like to keep the words 'Safer Sex' in the title, both for web-indexing purposes (we get a LOT of hits for people searching on 'sex') and for continuity. One possibility is simply to truncate the title and add a tagline -- "Safer Sex: the online journal of sexual health". I'm open to suggestions.
My publication goal is to produce one new feature per week. I kept this up for several months this summer, and it wasn't too bad. Regularly changing content, along with the feeling of community created by the bulletin board-like Forum section, keeps the site fresh and people coming back.
I think we should start discussing issues immediately; I am in the process of setting up a mailing list to facilitate this. I'd like to have an initial meeting of people in the SF Bay Area by the end of January. (As soon as I can find some more boys....) From email and the meeting, we should be able to come up with a list of projects and articles to work on and an editorial calendar. I'd like to have some new content as soon as possible, perhaps for a "grand opening" and some TV/newspaper coverage for Valentine's Day.
john <email@example.com> (Mon Jan 15 01:27:57 1996)