March 28th, 2008


Virtual Organization

While mentioning the discussion about renaming Worldcon Supporting memberships to WSFS voting memberships on the SMOFS e-mail list, I was challenged by being told that WSFS is not a real organization. In my reply, I effectively agreed with the statement, because I said that WSFS is a "virtual organization." It has no headquarters or officers or separate incorporation. Everything that possibly can be done by the individual Worldcon committees is in those committees' hands. (That's why the individual Worldcons keep all of the membership money, too -- there's no headquarters to maintain, and all of the administration of the society is done by the individual committees.) The only exception is the management of the intellectual property rights on the service marks, since it's not practical for the individual conventions to manage them. (And that committee gets a small stipend from the individual committees for that purpose; functionally, I call that the "license fee" for the use of the WSFS marks, although that's not a formal arrangement.) The government of WSFS is in the hands of the Worldcon members and exercised through the group coming together once a year as part of the Worldcon.

This is probably a very strange organizational model for many people accustomed to conventions being run by the same group every year.