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Published:
2012-02-26 11:35:21 -0500
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We will soon be starting to import at-risk fannish archives into the AO3 through Open Doors. This is a central part of the OTW's mission: the preservation of fannish history. At the request of archivists, we will import works which would otherwise disappear because the archive code they are hosted on is old, because the archivist or the community can no longer afford server space, or because their maintainers are no longer able to support the archive (or a combination of all three). Archives imported onto the Archive of Our Own will be made into collections: this means they will be accessible via the main Archive, but will retain some visual distinctiveness with a unique profile and a link from each work to the parent collection.

We realize that this might raise a lot of procedural and philosophical questions, so we've recently revised our Open Doors FAQ. Below, we've excerpted some of the key questions and answers about what to expect if you have work on an archive which is being imported onto the Archive of Our Own.


How will I know if an archive with my work on it is going to be imported onto the AO3?

Before we import an archive, we'll post an Archive news post about the import and tweet about it on our Twitter account @ao3org. We will also encourage the maintainers of the archive we're importing to publicise the import on the old archive (if feasible) and in other venues where they believe affected users will see the news. Since at-risk archives are often older archives where many users have moved on and/or changed their contact details, we can't guarantee that everyone affected will know ahead of time, but we'll do our best to make sure people are aware.

How will I know when my work is imported onto the AO3?

When an import takes place, an email will be sent to every user who has had a work imported. These emails will go to the email address associated with the account on the old archive. This does mean that if you no longer have access to that email address, you won't be notified automatically - we hope that the other publicity around imports will help ensure that those people affected will hear about it. We maintain a list of imported archives in the Open Doors Special Collections Gallery.

What will happen when my work is imported onto the AO3?

When your work is imported onto the AO3, several things will happen:

  • We'll send an email to the email address associated with the account on the archive that's being imported, letting you know you can come and claim your works.
  • If you already have an account on the Archive of Our Own, you'll be able to claim the works and add them to your existing AO3 account.
  • If you don't have an account on the Archive of Our Own, you will be invited to create one, and will be able to claim your imported works and associate them with that account.
  • Your imported works will be locked to logged-in Archive users by default.

What if I don't have an account on the AO3?

When an archive is imported onto the AO3, you'll be notified by email. If you don't already have an account, you will be invited to create an Archive account (without adding yourself to our regular invitations queue). Yay! If you do already have an account, you'll be able to claim the works for that account.

How will I get control over my imported works?

If you have access to the email address associated with the account on the old archive:

  • You will receive an email letting you know your works have been imported and giving you the following options:
    • Claim the works on the Archive of Our Own and create a new account which they will be associated with (this means you get an AO3 account if you don't already have one). You can then edit, delete, etc, the same way you would with any work you posted on the AO3.
    • Claim the imported works and associate them with your existing AO3 account. You can then edit, delete, etc, the same way you would with any work you posted on the AO3.
    • Delete the imported works. If you do this, you will also have the option to prevent any future works associated with that email address being imported onto the Archive.
    • Orphan the imported works. This leaves the works on the Archive, but removes them from the control of any user account. You can choose whether to remove the name they were associated with on the old archive, or leave it displaying as a pseud.

If you don't have access to the email address associated with the account on the old archive:

  • Contact the archivist who is maintaining the new collection - contact details will be given on the profile page of the collection.
  • Contact the Open Doors team.

How will people be able to find my work?

The imported archive will be made into a collection on the Archive of Our Own, so it will remain individually distinct and can be browsed independently of the main archive. Imported works will also be accessible from the main Archive pages (so you may get some new readers!). Where possible, we will implement redirects from the original archive domain to the Archive of Our Own: we will publicise this on a case-by-case basis.

What if I have already posted a copy of the works being imported on the AO3?

If you imported the work from the original archive using our import feature, then the work will not be imported again and your existing copy will be associated with the collection. If you posted the work manually or imported it from a different url, then you will need to decide what to do with the duplicate work. You can:

  • Keep the version you posted manually and add it to the collection created for the imported archive. In this case you will wish to delete the duplicate copy.
  • Delete the version you posted manually and claim the version created during the Archive import.
  • Claim the imported version and choose to keep both versions (you may wish to do this if both versions of the work have comments and/or kudos, as there is no way of transferring comments from one work to another).

Will my comments / reviews from the old archive also be imported?

Our aim is to import comments and reviews, because we are keen to preserve fannish history, which includes the way people interacted with the work. However, this functionality depends on the setup of the original archive, so this will be determined on a case-by-case basis and information will be made available for each individual archive import.

Why are you importing archives onto the Archive of Our Own? Why not just save the entire archive and host it on the OTW's servers?

Preserving fannish history is a central part of our mission - we love the plurality of fandom and want there to be many individual archives, but we want to ensure that if someone can no longer maintain an archive, this bit of fandom isn't lost. We'd love to be able to preserve the archives themselves, but the resources required are too big: each archive would need its own server space, a team of coders able to update and/or rewrite the code behind it, some dedicated mods, etc. By importing archives onto the AO3 but making them into distinct collections, we are able to save the wonderful fannish creativity and a little of that individual identity, while ensuring we only have to support one set of code, one lot of servers, and one support team.

I have more questions! Where should I ask them?

Please contact the Open Doors committee.