Administrivia, by Michael Hart

Project Gutenberg does not want to get bogged down in administrivia, thus we have administrators who have no desire for political powers, financial rewards, or to write more than the most minimal guidelines for the Project Gutenberg volunters. (See FAQ #0 for the freedom of the volunteers to do what they want as much as possible.)

The minimal powers wielded by these Project Gutenberg administrators are divided into a traditional “Separation of Powers” between a CEO, Board of Directors and the intellectual property holder. The Board, as a requirement of the 501(c)(3) regulations must have a minimum of three members with certain oversight responsibilities, and we are in unanimous agreement that this board should remain minimal, both from the perspective of size and of responsibilities. We have no need of a large board that writes lengthy reports, multitudes of regulations and bylaws, or other administrivia; we try to have one reserve Board member in the wings, pre-approved by the rest of the Board in case a member becomes unavailable, and our CEO tries to never vote on Board decisions unless absolutely required as a tiebreaker.

The holders of these positions have traditionally been with us for a period of over 10 years and understand the Project’s history and the developmental process that has taken place since its origin; none of them have any political or financial aspirations via their work with Project Gutenberg and they unanimously agree that there should not be power of that nature connected with Project Gutenberg.

However, groups within Project Gutenberg are more than welcome to do their own creation of administrations and guidelines for themselves, as long as they fall within our minimal legal requirements and self-imposed quidelines.

Yes, it would be nice to receive a billion dollars from Bill Gates–but–even then we would want to use that only to support a volunteer effort, not to create a plethora of paid positions or create more of a physical plant than is necessary. Project Gutenberg is a virtual, not physical, entity; run by volunteers, not by those who would make it a career, other than perhaps the one truly paid position of those who oversee the entire process in the most limited manner for future generations of our volunteers.

If we do receive large grants or donations, these should not change the nature of Project Gutenberg in any manners that would prevent any of us from continuing Project Gutenberg if that money disappeared.

No one should be able threaten Project Gutenberg financially.

Having money is fine … becoming dependent on it should be avoided.

Our clear position on adminstrative, political and financial power:

Less is more.

We want Project Gutenberg to stand for opening, not closing, doors.

Written by Michael S. Hart June 20, 2004. Updated October 23, 2004.