Guerrilla Media Collective Sustainability Plan

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This page needs revision to be brought up to date with our 2018 Relaunch

IMPORTANT Although many of the ideas expressed here are still present in some form or other, this entry is out of date. For updates see our Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Governance Model V 2.0


Hello there! This is version 1.3 of the Sustainability Plan for the Guerrilla Media Collective (GMC). Our new name reflects the inclusion of both the existing Guerrilla Translation project and the evolving Guerrilla Glocalization co-op. Both of these entities are described, and distinctions between them drawn, in this document. This is a first draft of GMC’s proposed modus operandi, and is intended for contributors to the project: authors, translators, editors, image contribbutors and sympathisers - we all contribute to GMC, so, welcome! You're encouraged to make comments, suggestions, criticisms and the like on the discussion page for this text. They will be reviewed and incorporated, and new sections added as needed, as we encounter new perspectives and challenges.

GMC at present

At this time, we’re functioning as an informal collective practising gift-economy principles, until we build the necessary legal structure to work as an agency. Our mid-term goal is to form a worker-owned, open accounting co-op. We are considering having it based in Spain and independent, or, perhaps it could be “nested” with other co-ops at a transnational level. We are investigating these options, and will consult with Michel Bauwens, David de Ugarte of Las Indias and others, to determine the best option. If anyone has suggestions or recommendations on this matter, or any part of this document, please feel free to share.

On top of our voluntary work, our intention is to work as an agency offering the same services as a traditional translation company: translation, proofreading, dubbing, subtitling, simultaneous interpretation, website translation and localization, etc. As noted above, we intend that Guerrilla Media Collective will have three main modes of operation.

Guerrilla Translation: For pro-bono translation with the possibility (non-guaranteed) of revenue after the fact.

Guerrilla Media Collaborative For hybrid pro-bono/paid projects with part previously agreed-upon payment and the possibility (non-guaranteed) of revenue after the fact.

Guerrilla Glocalization: For translation/localization projects with previously agreed-upon payment.

While Guerrilla Glocalization will be a co-op, we also want to explore the possibility of Guerrilla Translation being a Foundation, working in a similar way to the P2P Foundation/P2P Co-op distinction.

Modes of Operation


Guerrilla Translation will continue to showcase translations of the sort already found in right now: articles and videos with social and ecological value, authored by a complex ecosystem of creators, which are rigorously translated and presented as part of an ongoing, extended narrative of our times. Material is chosen by the translators themselves because of their affinity for it. This is what we mean when we say “voluntary”. Translators willingly offer their time for projects they have personally chosen.

Criteria is simple: “If you’re passionate about it, or it’s changed your perspective or opinion: translate it...”, as long as it complies with Guerrilla Translation’s Founding Principles. To be perfectly clear: Guerrilla Translation DOES NOT WORK ON DEMAND. We welcome suggestions, but the bulk of the material will be determined by translators’ own criteria. We work with an eye towards strengthening our platform, and always seeking to facilitate access to valuable material, freely available and freely reproducible.

Characteristics and economic model for Guerrilla Translation:

While GT is a project based on voluntary work, shared freely, we are committed to keeping track of both the value of the work done, and any type of revenue received (be it one-time gifts or crowdfunding, payment after the fact for any republishing, etc.)

We will keep track of these metrics through an OVN/OS (Open Value Network - Operating System) which will be developed with Lynn Foster and Bob Haugen.

Evaluation Metrics

The following is our outline of how to evaluate the credit for work done by members, and how to distribute income, if any.

Each translation carries a value assigned in internal credits, based on average for-profit industry standard rates per word/minute, depending on whether it’s written translation or audiovisuals. Any benefits derived from the translations can directly benefit GT’s volunteers so they can extract value from their work and be able to free up more time to translate valuable material. GT-translated material will always be freely accessible and free of charge. Occasionally, access may be temporarily delayed, or the piece may be released on a schedule determined by prior agreement with the author/publisher (for example, we could translate a book, have it published and offer it at a price. Then, six months after the fact, we could release it on our webpage on a per-chapter basis, or offer it as a free download).

Value Compensation

Value accumulated in internal credits may be compensated in a variety of ways and, typically, after being translated and shared. Value is only assigned to the work partaken (and this may include administrative work), never to its reproduction. There are a number of possible mechanisms for recouping this value. Amongst others, we’re considering:

  • Crowdfunding
  • Translation-specific microdonations, until these are “value fulfilled”
  • Value may be fulfilled through means other than money, such as barter, time banking, alternative currencies or gifts. (Translators and editors also have the option of gifting their work away and, thus, considering the value as already fulfilled)
  • Additionally, if any translations are published in paying media, the funds received will be earmarked to fulfill the established value for that specific republished translation. Once it has been totally fulfilled, any surplus will be equitably distributed amongst other translations whose value is still pending. (Please also see “Authors of original material", below). Michel Bauwens has also suggested that GT work as a syndication agency. If that were the case, it’d be important to take into account our usage of the Peer Production License (see below)
  • Another source of income could be book format compilations (paper or electronic) of previously published material on a particular theme and including new, exclusive introductory text.

Authors of source material

GT acts as a representative of the author, and his or her translated work, in the target country, by promoting the translated work to targeted media outlets in our network, thus ensuring that the material is appropriately and widely shared with a receptive, interested audience. Any profit gained from the variants described above is accounted for with the full knowledge and approval of the original authors and in an open way. Any occasional profits from republishing translated material will likely result in one of these situations:

Fully Gifted: Authors may express that any potential profit from republishing of our translation would be directly and fully re-absorbed into GT’s funding (no sharing of the republishing income with the original author, by their choice). Shared Returns: This is all case-by-case and hypothetical, so, with other authors we will discuss terms to share any republishing income proportionally. All authors would a) know the GT-assigned value for the translation (accounted in internal credits) and b) would be made aware of any republishing income obtained. With this information, the author could choose to distribute a portion of the funds to GT, thereby fulfilling (in whole or part) the value assigned to the translation. We also encourage authors to use their networks to engage their followers to help GT’s sustainability.

Author-absorbed Returns: Other authors will, inevitably, seek to absorb all generated profits, and not return anything to help sustain the project. There are legitimate reasons why an author (or anyone) might choose or need to collect returns in full, and that’s part of the gift economy. There are many factors to take into account, and the advantage in this system is that every interaction is unique. Other returns may follow from the original work, among other scenarios, and the overall picture and relationship are what’s most important, and what will be evaluated over time and experience. Being open to the potential long-term benefits for all is how a network of trust among peers is encouraged.


Guerrilla Media Collaborative is a Multi-Stakeholder protocol that straddles the line between Guerrilla Translation and Guerrilla Glocalization

Extended projects like books and full-length films/documentaries (dubbed or subtitled) will be negotiated individually regarding how the project can be supported financially. In this way, there will be overlap between Guerrilla Translation and Guerrilla Glocalization.

Using a book translation as an example, translation work invested in this type of “extended project” could be recouped by:

  • Crowdfunding PRIOR to the book translation, in order to finance its work value.
  • If it’s a project where all the translators are in agreement, the set value for the project can be fulfilled after publication and extracted from sales.
  • If all the translators agree, we can use a hybrid model, where the author/creator/client pay what they can afford before translation work is started. Once published, the pending assigned value can be paid back by allocating funds derived from sales of the work until the price has been fulfilled. Of course, if the translated book has no sales, we gain nothing.
  • Pricing does not vary between the assigned value for GT’s voluntary translation and the assigned value for books, films or for contract work made under the Guerrilla Glocalization label, as will be explained in the following sections.

3. GUERRILLA GLOCALIZATION: “Speaking for the Commons because we are the Commons”

Guerrilla Glocalization will be a cooperative for common benefit, working as a translation agency for P2P and Commons-oriented individuals, enterprises and collectives with values concordant with those expressed in GT’s Founding Principles. While GG acknowledges the distinction between co-ops, nonprofit and for-profit companies, our main criteria is to seek translation work with social, environmental or artistic use value.

We want to connect with companies and collectives focusing on the sharing economy, alternative energy sources, food, permaculture, human and earth rights, new technologies, art collectives, makers, 3D printing collectives, open hardware and software, open access online tools, appropriate technology, etc… In other words, the sorts of things that attract and interest us, which we think may be beneficial for society and the planet, and whose platforms (eg, web-pages, texts or videos) require top quality translation.

Our pitch is simple: Given the choice between an agency who’ll work for this sort of collective one day, and the next will sign a contract with a multinational to either translate consumerist, useless or, ultimately harmful material, why not choose us? All funds will go directly to the co-op’s translator/owners to ensure its sustainability.

The unifying quality here is the sense of personal connection, extending from the selection of the material, the rapport with the source (publisher, author, filmmaker, etc.,) and the manner in which we create the final translation. The use of what we consider to be the best possible tools - two human brains, working in cooperative relationship in the form of translator and editor - represents the finest gift of attention and appreciation that we can offer.


Prices charged by Guerrilla Glocalization are identical to the credit-value assigned by Guerrilla Translation. Whether tallied on a per-word (for texts), minutes (overdubbing and subtitle work) or working day (Interpretation) basis.

Prices are set between what an agency pays its translators for their work and what the agency charges its clients. Value and pricing are congruent with what we feel is a deserving salary for quality translation work.

For example (and, again, these figures are representative, we’re studying what a “deserving” price is)

If an agency charges:

  • 0.16 cents per word to the CLIENT, for a top quality literary translation, including professional proofreading/copyediting and then pays:
  • 0,06 per word to the translator.
  • 0,03 to the editor
  • ...and then keeps the rest (0.07)

Then GG charges (and GT assigns value as):

  • 0.14 per word to the CLIENT to then pay
  • 0,08 to the translator
  • 0,04 to the editor
  • ...while the remaining 0,02 is used for a minimum of maintenance or administrative expenses (either carried out by the translators themselves or delegated onto another person in the collective).The middleman is eliminated by maintaining a light, mobile, low maintenance, decentralised infrastructure (Guerrilla).

Discounts can then be applied for translations which make use of Open, or Peer Production licenses to encourage their use, to Multistakeholder co-ops etc. This can be formalised through the MoveCommons framing system or similar (thereby providing an incentive to adopt the latter).

This same pattern applies to the rest of GMC’s services

  • Simultaneous interpretation
  • Audiovisual adaptation
  • Overdubbing and subtitling
  • Transcription
  • Online content Translation and Localization
  • Copyediting and proofreading.
  • Foreign language education

To sum up, we charge lower prices to customers and we pay higher wages to co-op members (translators and editors) and the surplus is reinvested in the company (including Guerrilla Translation’s “value pending” material).


All translations are created and shared (distributed, republished) after approval of the respective authors and rights-holders. Our license choice affects only our own work, and has no effect on or relationship to that used for author's own original material. Guerrilla Translation uses the Peer Production License for all translated content. Guerrilla Glocalization, while respecting client’s licensing preferences, will strive to promote it. The Peer Production (or P2P) license is a distinct variation on a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) Read this article for more details.

The Peer Production License works by opening up the commercial aspect of the ubiquitous Creative Commons ‘Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike,’ and shutting down the possibility of profiteering by corporate agents. (Paraphrased from the article linked above.)

In other words, ethical enterprises, co-ops and similar entities can make free use of the material and derive monetary value from it. Corporations, by contrast, must first ask permission and pay for the use of material. The intention is to encourage economic circulation around these types of entities, while while discouraging opportunistic for-profit companies from harvesting the commons value we've created.


Once we have matured these proposals, we would encourage international phyle creation for Guerrilla Translation/Glocalization. Given that practically all our translations have been Spanish-English and English-Spanish, we feel that a Latin American phyle would be very beneficial for the project and we’d collaborate with it closely.

Once this is up and running, we’d like to see the creation of French, Belgian, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Russian phyle extensions and so on.

Tentative conditions for setting up a GT/GG phyle would be as follows:

  • Maintaining the graphic appearance used in our webpage as well as content structure. (And developing both conjointly in the future)
  • Adhesion to the founding principles
  • Regional adoption of this sustainability plan.
  • Development and promotion of the gift-economy side of the project (Guerrilla Translation) not just the remunerated side (Glocalization).

Both Guerrilla Translation material and Guerrilla Glocalization contract work can be circulated among the phyle to strengthen and support itself.


Michel Bauwens:

Dear Gus,

I really believe this is a perfect formula, and so I am not being facetious or lazy in not giving you a lot of comments

Helene Finidori

Seems very good!

Neal Gorenflo:

Stacco, this very sophisticated! I'm impressed. I have a few comments:

-your pro bono work for other coops can serve as both marketing and fulfillment of one of the most important coop principles. This might be particularly effective if you serve media coops with large audiences.

-I'd consider starting out with a simple structure and evolve over time on an as needed basis to higher levels of complexity.

-the fact that you do translation, a service that can be broken done into discrete chunks, gives you a distinct advantage in distributing work and accounting for it. Stick to services like that.

-I'd focus first on expanding a single service, whatever you're best at, before diversifying. You're addressing a global market. You can make a large business on just one of your services. Marketing on the web seems to reward focus.

-develop a web site that is an inbound marketing machine. Take a percentage of all sales to invest in it. All pro bono work should point to it through an inbound link. Optimize that link for SEO. Maybe you create micro-sites for each specific service. Research relate search terms to develop your online strategy.

-create an affiliate program that encourages partners to promote you.

I hope this is helpful. Go for it!

All the best, Neal

Petros At FreeLab

Marvellous. By your permission, we shall adopt some of internal mechanisms in our “NN Coop”. As for the overall structure, it looks a bit too complex, but I understand that there are good reasons why you decided to have it so formalised. The only thing I have a problem with, is the level of unification you suggest for the phyle. I know it’s sexy, but my understanding of cooperativism is that the integration is in principles, values and goals, not in rhetoric, site design and marketing identification.

As a coop, which we plan to formalise soon as a “registered association” in Poland, we are really keen to get in cooperation with you, but we have our own, rather strong identity, which we do not plan to cease. We share a subset of values, but for example , we are quite serious about NOT using Google tools. We also adopted CC-BY-SA as a default licensing base. These (and other) standards are consistent with the rest of our activities. They do not interfere with possible cooperation, but we are (and I suppose other groups would be) reluctant to change them to become a part of a phyle. In brief, I suggest that we rather speak of a protocol based (see my general ideas about it) , networked cooperation. For now we seem to have an alternative: join the fyle (with all unification) or stay within market protocol. I believe we can develop something better.

Steve at Level Translation (Interpreters’ Co-op of Madison)

I agree with others that this is quite detailed, certainly more so than I would have made it. That said, there are few points I don’t agree with.

I also want to underscore what Petros said about not merging our respective organizations, but rather finding some form of cooperation and interoperation. We all need to be responsive to our own interests, areas of focus, and our immediate surroundings. I picture the phyle as the umbrella organization, which would be so loose-knit (for now) that it would be more of an identity than a real organization.

More thoughts later, when they’re fully formed.