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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rewriting History: IAWTV Style

This could have been a good week. The IAWTV town hall meeting on Wednesday, the apocalypse on Thursday and an epic struggle for the future of the planet on Friday. How could anything go wrong? Well, it did.

The IAWTV town hall meeting was an opportunity to set a new agenda. Power struggles often create internal tensions that allow for solutions to come forward and in one moment of clarity the future becomes visible. The IAWTV Los Angeles town hall meeting by all accounts was not that moment.

What had been assumed by many in the community to be a struggle between a Wayne-Felicia coalition and the "Tubefilter guys" for the future direction of the IAWTV never materialized and the meeting was more like one of those firework rockets that fizzled but never leaves the bottle. What went wrong?

The Streamy Awards were held on April 11, 2010. What followed what many now describe as a "debacle" was a fairly vigorous debate but it mostly focussed on the Streamys and less the IAWTV. The hope was that the internal struggle within the Board of Directors of the IAWTV would now create the opportunity for quick and effective change.

Everyone knows that there needs to be drastic changes to the Board of the IAWTV and that was never more apparent than from what happened at the town hall meeting. Listening to your membership is one thing but they had weeks to do that and this seem more like a play for extra time for the status quo rather than a game changing move. That said, they did promise change in the future but the phrase "too little, too late" jumps to mind.

So how did this happen? On April 12, 2010 Wayne, as chairman of the IAWTV, wrote an open and frank "Letter from the Chair" which was really the first indication we had of discontent from within the relatively quiet Board of Directors of the IAWTV which seems to prefer to keep their operations behind closed doors. On around April 26, 2010 the TF guys countered with "Rebuild the Trust" which was an agenda that showed they had listened to critics and then came up with suggestions to appease the angry crowd but leave Tubefilter in ownership control of the Streamy Awards. This initiative found little support and their discussion board became a litany of unanswered questions; some going right to one of the core issues of how the IAWTV members were selected and more importantly why specific people were rejected for no apparent reason.

Then word of IAWTV town hall meetings began to surface and on May 3, 2010 a new 'Letter to the Membership" appeared on the IAWTV web site that talked about the role of the town hall meetings. What was less apparent was that this letter which was now signed by both Brady of Tubefilter and Wayne, the chairman of the IAWTV was not a new post, but rather an edit of the original post which appears to no longer exist. There are many, many links on blogs about the Streamys to a post that has been fundamentally changed. Talk about rewriting history!

Clearly something had changed but it would not become clear until the actual meeting what it was. The most likely scenario is that Wayne (and possibly a few other Board members) had probably struck a compromise deal with the TF guys behind closed doors and they are still working out "details" before bringing the plan to the full body of the IAWTV. Sure, there are mechanisms to give feedback but with the Rebuild The Trust discussion board being taken down members now have to use a discussion board on the IAWTV web site which is not viewable to the public. Anyone see the draw bridge being raised?

Is this how you, the web series community, want to see the IAWTV being run? Some members of the IAWTV probably support this direction because it seems like an easy path forward, but it is not. It is a path to revise the status quo with its core problems of conflict of interest and back room deals. Only with true structural reform can the "award show" be removed from the "ugly underbelly" of controversy that has in the past divided the community into "insiders with power," and "the rest of us." In a best case scenario groups like the IAWTV lend them self to accusations of bias and elitism and that is why the IAWTV and an award show it owns need to be set up with clear systems of checks and balances that prevent that from happening.

To prevent the draw bridge from being raised the community and the membership of the IAWTV really only have two options. The first is to accept the status quo. The second is to lay siege to the castle.

The second which seems like the sensible alternative is for the membership of the IAWTV to call for an immediate dissolution of the current Board of Directors of the IAWTV and a membership initiative to hold an extraordinary special election of a new Board of Directors for the IAWTV. This would clear the deck and allow for vigorous healthy growth into the future. Only once that Board is in place should they decide with their membership, and the community at large, how any award show will be run and hopefully the IAWTV would choose to own and operate its own show because that goes to the core of the problem. It is not that the Tubefilter guys are bad or have not worked hard. It is simply a matter of them having created the wrong structure and ensured its failure by forwarding an agenda that favored their own internal needs. The membership of the IAWTV and the community need to ensure that that mistake does not perpetuate itself and a special election would at least give their membership a clear and decisive voice.

The good news is that the rest of the week went well and the season finales of Supernatural and Smallville were both epic.


Other reactions to the IAWTV Town Hall Meeting

Original image for the story icon: http://www.pbase.com/carrhighlander/image/43074555


  1. fyi, you can still real the full text of the original letter from Wayne at:


  2. Excellent article shows signs of excellence.

    There is an apparent conflict of interest where tubefilter is simply utilizing the IAWTV to try and make money. Remember StreamyGate?

  3. The one thing that needs to be remembered in all of this, and it would do the IAWTV to keep this in mind is that the IAWTV and its members represent a very small part of the web series space. If they want to be a secretive organization making decisions and holding discussions behind walled gates that's fine, just as long as they realize they aren't making plans for everyone and the more secretive they are the less relevant they become to the conversation.

  4. Had the Streamys gone well Tubefilter would indeed have benefited greatly. Their web site receives a huge boost from national exposure, it gives them access to a lot of information about web series for their "Tubebase" product and it puts them in a powerful position with potential advertisers etc etc etc. However none of these are the core problem.

    The core problem is that the structure is simply wrong for the function. That in nature is a one way path to extinction. In the free market it can lead to other results but they generally have equally disastrous consequences for the marketplace in the long run.

    The focus needs to be less on TF or even the IAWTV Board of Directors but rather on what the community wants.

    There is a sense that because TF started the ball rolling they should get to control the game. That works if you are dealing with your own corporate product but it is not the appropriate outlook in this situation when you are forming a body to represent and judge the best of what the web series community has to offer. In fact by forming the body with the wrong structure some would argue that Tubefilter has potentially set us back from what may have been a more organic growth.

    There is so much potential in the web series community that it seems likely that a body of some sort would have formed in the long run anyway. We need to recognize the past but start taking control of what needs to be fixed in the present. Only then can we move forward to the future.

    Calling for the immediate election of a new Board of Directors for the IAWTV would seem to be a very productive move in the right direction and one that is well within the grasp of the members of the IAWTV to execute effectively.

  5. Two quick corrections:

    "...be a struggle between a Wayne-Felicia coalition and the "Tubefilter guys"..."
    To my knowledge based on discussions with people close to the situation, Felicia was never involved in that particular event.

    Also, less importantly, Tubefilter's upcoming product has been identified as "filterbase", not "tubebase" (MM's comment)


  6. Yes, that is correct the product is called Filterbase as we previously reported so that was a "typo" in the comment.

    The suggested "Wayne-Felicia" coalition was based purely on community speculation. Wayne openly expressed his discontent and a tweet from Felicia seemed to suggest that she might have been less than thrilled with "Rebuild The Trust". That let to the speculation about the alliance. It might also have been based on a bit of wishful thinking since Felicia is so highly regarded in the community and her opinion is highly valued.

    So as stated in the article "What had been assumed by many in the community to be a struggle between a Wayne-Felicia coalition and the "Tubefilter guys" was an assumption.

    The fact that such a coalition never materialized at the meeting and that Wayne appears to have reached a compromise with the TF guys makes it hard to know exactly what the internal dynamics were within the the IAWTV.

    To find out Felicia stated public position after the town hall meeting it is a good idea to refer to her own words:


  7. I'm really not sure why they couldn't make known at this meeting what the qualifications to be a member are/were. Having checked out the bylaws, it definitely looks to me like they worked backwards to explain why certain people were accepted. There are regular voting members, non-voting company members, honorary members, emeritus members and affiliated members. Honorary membership seems to be a catch all. modelmotion probably would qualify for honorary membership as it is defined there. I wonder if the current membership received notification of their classifications yet? So it provides an excuse why they accepted some people but not why others were rejected.

    If the IAWTV wants a do-over the least they can do is install an appeal process for the perspective members who were rejected without explanation prior to the creation of membership classifications.

  8. Here is a link to the Bylaws that were referred to above:


  9. In regard to the proposed Board of Governors (as opposed to the Board of Directors):

    Section 1. Purpose Of The Board Of Governors.

    The purpose of the Board of Governors shall be to serve the Board in an advisory capacity. The Board of Governors shall have no authority of, or responsibility for, supervision, direction or control of the business and affairs of the Corporation and cannot vote on Board matters (except to the extent required in connection with fulfilling a role as a member of a Committee or Sub-Committee, if at all).

  10. A call for an election should not be considered until viable new leaders have been identified or stepped forward or else we wind up in the exact same situation we are now. The current board had their responsibilities bestowed upon them by a small number of people...the new board members have to gain the acceptance of over 200 of their peers.

    Everyone appears to be a bit trigger-shy at the moment. Everyone is aware there is a problem but there is a fear of creating an even larger problem should action be taken prematurely.

    As far as the membership appeals are concerned, again, a viable Membership Committee with the people power to respond personally to such appeals needs to be in place in order to serve those requests.

    By the way, I think these things are absolutely within the IAWTV's power to make happen.

  11. Before you can send out proxy ballots you clearly have to identify who the candidates are. The entire process is going to take time and the sooner the membership decide to work on it the better. The process would probably be speeded up if at least a couple of existing board members were on board with the initiative to call a special election.

    One has to first evaluate the bylaws which outline the terms of special meetings and also votes without meetings.

    There are a lot of very accomplished individuals in this community and there is little doubt that given the opportunity and support of both the core membership and the community at large a number of great candidates would come forward to run for a new Board that was committed to being truly independent and representative of the web series community.

    There is a need to recognize here that immediate change is within the reach of the membership of the IAWTV if they so choose. The longer they wait the more difficult it may become.

  12. I nominate Jenni Powell to be the new chairperson.

    I also purpose that the chairperson be given a weekly cheese stipend and either a scepter (preferably one similar to the one in The Last Starfighter and or a pet Zebra.

  13. Looks like a membership committee has already been established: http://www.iawtv.org/committee/membership.shtml

  14. Anthony: that was the membership committee from this last round of acceptances. It is already in discussion to have the members of the next membership committee be voted on and the admission system be made more clear before additional acceptances happen.

    Also, the references section is being considered to be expanded upon, since currently there is no place for a statement of reference to be included.

    Another thing discussed is a longer admission period so that the membership committee has ample time to review applications, personally contact references, etc.

  15. I for one would like to know what the criteria and qualifications are for membership.

    Also, how many members they are looking to have and what the composition of the membership is that they are looking for.

  16. Hi all,

    Just wanted to address a number of issues.

    First, it seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding combined with the continued technical glitches that seem to plague the academy site.

    Looking at the "replaced" letter url, you see it leads to a flat file whose name is the date of the letter. Given that a lot of the IAWTV is (unfortunately) still done by hand, they uploaded the file, shifted the links, and didn't think of the consequences.

    I pinged Michael and Brady and they confirmed my suspicions. They will be following up on my suggestion of setting up an "archive" page for older letters. And don't worry; I'm all about lighting a fire on their ass.

    Second, the "exclusivity" of access of the forum and the larger of who gets to be a member. The latter is a subject of active discussion on the forums; everyone recognizes there is a problem tied into limited resources, as are most problem. As to gaining access to the forums, a number of us have formed a volunteer technical commitee to help the academy get there. We have other issues on our plate, namely a Wiki, and setting up a livestreaming weekly meeting.

    Finally, on "sieging the castle" and demanding immediate elections. I do agree, having a governing body should be a top priority. But I came out of the Wednesday meeting feeling hopeful and excited about the future of this academy, and an "us" vs "them" (vs "other thems" vs etc) attitude is only a step back. A number of us are giving our time and resources to resolve these issues; its been three days but we ARE seeing movement and responsiveness.

    So reach out and offer aid. If in a month, nothing has changed, I'll be at the head of the crowd screaming bloody murder ESPECIALLy after offering to volunteer. But right now, let's stop looking for controversies and start looking for solutions.


  17. A valid an constructive solution was in fact included in the article.

  18. Just out of curiosity. But why not just have nothing to do with IAWTV and Tubefilter? It looks like they're not doing a good job. And while all I know about them is on this site, I haven't read anything about either that would make working with them worthwhile. So why don't all the people who make web series just stop doing anything with them?

  19. Because they HAVE done a good job in the past. People tend to focus on people's mistakes and not their triumphs, and such is the case here. Tubefilter has always been at the forefront of supporting this burgeoning industry and those of us who know the "Tubefilter guys", as they are called, know they are passionate and give 24 hours a day to furthering this industry. But they are still human and as such, mistakes have been made both by the IAWTV and Tubefilter. But both are owning up to those mistakes and trying to work to make things better. Perhaps not to the speed everyone is comfortable with, but still.

    If you are only getting your information about these organizations from this blog, which is historically very critical of both Tubefilter and the IAWTV, then you are only getting one point of view. And let me be clear, it's not a BAD point of view, as criticism is very important when it comes to growing and learning. But still, only having one avenue of information doesn't lead to the most informed of decisions.

  20. Credit has always been given to Tubefilter for what they have done. It takes a lot to start a company and no one has questioned that the Tubefilter guys have been able to build their franchise and contribute to web series.

    What has been questioned is the way in which they tried to extend their franchise in a way that would exploit the use of a supposedly independent body called the IAWTV. So while the Tubefilter guys contributions to web series has not been questioned their lack of judgement in regard to this particular issue has.

    Also it should be pointed out that this blog has linked to most of the other relevant articles from others in the community so the reader can make up their own mind.

  21. This site is critical of Tubefilter? Modelmotion reposts links to every damn story they've ever written.

    And yes the whole 436 article was kinda silly, maybe its time to put that particular meme to bed, but it is a valid point, the IAWTV is controlled by a single group, a group who's interest may not always align with the greater online video community.

    Furthermore, with the IAWTV retreating behinds its walled off garden to discuss the future of 'web TV' it in and of itself is creating a rift, a rift between IAWTV members and non-members. The more exclusive they become the less relevant they become.

    Again this is an industry that lacks sustainable revenue, viewership is at an all time low, and there isn't even a consensus as to what constitutes a webseries. Sometimes it feels like they are fighting over who gets to be in charge of the Titanic.

  22. I specifically said I think it is a valuable thing that criticism be given. It is often constructive and very necessary. I just pointed out that there are other points of view out there as well.

    And absolutely, modelmotion does link to Tubefilter articles, I never insinuated he didn't. But his and other authors on the sites full articles not hidden behind a link are naturally easier to read then taking the time to click on a link to an outside site. So the personal opinions of the authors of this blog are the most prominently viewed here.

    Again, that is totally not a bad thing, in fact that is how it should be. But when someone says "I only get my views of Tubefilter here", it is prudent to point out that there are other points of view out there. I tend to encourage people to gather all the information they can, as that's how I tend to do things.

    In the end, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

  23. Copyright rules prevent us from using more than a short blurb from articles from other sites however we do make every effort to ensure that all opinions are conveyed here by linking articles from all positions.

    Jenni you are still an "author" here so if you have an opinion that you feel needs to be represented here to provide balance please feel free to do so.

    The fact is that we need change and we need it fast. Even the New Mediocracy podcast was quite critical of what happened at the town hall meeting.

    If the membership of the IAWTV does not agree with the opinions expressed in this post or wants to go a different direction then so be it, but remember the membership of the IAWTV is now fully responsible for what happens in the future and will be held accountable by the larger web series community.

  24. I never insinuated that you insinuated. No one was insinuated.

    Also, I happen to think we have been very fair in our coverage of the Streamys, the IAWTV, and the ancillary stories and activities. Personally, when the Rebuild the Trust site was launched, I was very careful to layout exactly what they were going for without jumping to conclusions. Likewise, I thought I was very restrained in my article on Streamygate.

    Similarly, as far as I can tell I'm one of the few people outside of Tubefilter's circle who hasn't called for the end of the Streamys, the removal of their ownership, or that they commit Seppuku for the Streamy debacle.

    However, like Jenni said people should look around to other sites for information, just remember to come back here when you are done. :)

  25. In the last two articles I have called for members of the Board of the IAWTV to step down . Previously I have also suggested a conflict of interest between Tubefilter and the IAWTV however I left it up to the membership of the IAWTV to handle.

    I patiently waited and tried to study as many opinions as were publicly posted. I waited for the LA town hall meeting. In the end I came to the conclusion that it was time to express an opinion that was more critical of what many have perceived to be one of the core problems.

    The results so far from the membership of the IAWTV are less than productive and if anything the draw bridge has been raised on the open discussions. The default option on Vanilla, the software used on the IAWTV discussion board is to have it fully viewable yet they choose to deliberately close it off to the rest of the World. That is their option, but they cannot expect the rest of the web series community to just sit back and let this "elite group" determine the fate of the IAWTV and thereby an award show that has the potential to either benefit or gravely hurt the future financing of web series around the World.

    Asking for people to step down is not something I take lightly. The Tubefilter guys have done a lot and built up a nice little franchise. That is something I give them full credit for.

    However in terms of the IAWTV/award show there is a problem and there is really only one solution and that is for the membership of the IAWTV to take control of the IAWTV and run it in a way that benefits the entire World Wide Web series community, not just select interest groups.

    It may seem harsh. It may seem unappreciative of all the Tubefilter guys have done. However I believe it needs to be done if we are going to move forward. You simply cannot build something on a foundation that is not appropriate. Fix the foundation and then we can begin to start rebuilding.

  26. I am absolutely still an author here. Though don't you feel as if me posting my personal opinions here will lead to the exact type of "Conflict of Interest" that we are trying to say we have a problem with? I am a member of the IAWTV and a writer for Tubefilter afterall.

    I honestly am not sure what is appropriate and what isn't, I'm just trying to maneuver through this the best I can. I have always felt community is more important than anything but I also believe in the IAWTV and enjoy my work on Tubefilter.

    All I can say is I'm listening and I care.

  27. When we talk of conflict of interest we are talking about 5 individuals from one commercial company who all have seats on the Board of Directors of a non profit that is supposed to be independent and represent the World wide community of individuals involved with web series. I would say that substantially different from anyone expressing an opinion, but in the end the decision is up to you. Your posts and input are always welcome and appreciated here.

    In regard to the IAWTV I would hope the Tubefilter guys would simply make the right decision here. Drew started the process by accepting full responsibIlity on behalf of Tubefilter/Streamys LCC. What we need now is for that process to be completed with changes to the Board of Directors of the IAWTV. What I am trying to point out is that these changes to the Board of Directors should represent a beginning, not an end point. Get the foundation right before you start to build. And, that foundation is the Board of Directors of the IAWTV.

  28. 436 never sleeps, NEVER! So don't think about putting it to bed.

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