AO3 News

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Published:
2016-08-10 16:43:11 -0400
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Our last 14 deploys contained a lot of behind-the-scenes work, including improvements to the tools our wonderful Open Doors, Abuse, and Tag Wrangling committees use. We also squashed some annoying bugs concerning challenges, chapter counts, and the font on work summaries.

Credits

  • Coders: Ariana, CJ Record, Elz, james, Naomi, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Elz, Enigel, james, Naomi, Sarken, Scott
  • Testers: james, Lady Oscar, Matty

Details

Challenges

  • [AO3-4576] - When a challenge's potential match and assignment generation went on for a long time, the process would sometimes fail due to a lost database connection and then restart endlessly, requiring a database administrator to come to the rescue. We've fixed the cause of this and sped up match generation at the same time!
  • [AO3-4577] - The list of givers without recipients wouldn't load for large challenges due to the way we were alphabetizing the list. We've removed the alphabetization to make sure the page will load.
  • [AO3-4128] - If a challenge had more than 1000 sign-ups, the progress page for the matching process would start giving the moderator an error after the first 1000 sign-ups. Now it will work even after the 1000th sign-up is matched!

Servers, Databases, and Automated Tests

  • [AO3-4589] - We use static files called cassettes to speed up our automated tests for our work importing code. The tests started to fail because the cassettes were very old, so we updated the cassettes.
  • [AO3-4575] - When a task takes a very long time to complete, the database connection sometimes gets closed and the task stops running. Now we retry the task when we reopen the connection.
  • [AO3-4596] - We updated our deploy script to reflect the fact we took two of our old application servers out of service in order to provide power for two new database servers.
  • [AO3-4598] - We put one of our old database servers back to work as an application server.
  • [AO3-4601] - We reinstalled another of our old database servers as a unicorn worker.
  • [AO3-4611] - We added two new virtual machines: one to help the machine that currently handles downloads, and another to help the machine currently handling bots. (And all four of these are running our new operating system, too!)
  • [AO3-4612] - Another old server put back to work! This time, we turned an old application server into one that handles Resque workers for background tasks like tag wrangling and challenge matching.

Committee Tools

  • [AO3-3597] - Abuse sometimes receives reports of works that are written in one language but labeled as another. Abuse staff can now label the work with the correct language by themselves rather than waiting for a coder or sysadmin with database access.
  • [AO3-4588] - All tag wranglers had access to a method of editing tags that has the potential to overload the servers if used incorrectly. To ensure that no servers are overloaded, we've restricted access to this tool to tag wranglers with administrator access.
  • [AO3-4359] - The mass import tool used by Open Doors only handled works hosted on the sites they rescue. However, some of those sites include works which are only links to external sites. In order to preserve the collections as they are, we added the ability for Open Doors to import those works to AO3 as bookmarks.

Miscellaneous

  • [AO3-4593] - On the work posting form, the Rich Text and HTML buttons are supposed to use styling to indicate which editor is active. However, they weren't doing what they were supposed to, so we fixed that. (Obligatory reminder to please avoid composing your works in the posting form!)
  • [AO3-4578] - When a user tried to edit the pseud matching their user name, the page informed them that they could not change their "fallback pseud." It wasn't entirely clear what "fallback pseud" meant (it means "the pseud that matches your username"), so we changed the message to something more informative.
  • [AO3-4573] - Due to problems with spam last year, we turned off the ability for existing users to request invitations. It's unfortunately been off for almost a year, so the error message saying, "Sorry, new invitations are temporarily unavailable" felt a little misleading. We adjusted the wording and updated the links in the message as well.
  • [AO3-4554] - We updated some transformativeworks.org links in our Terms of Service and Terms of Service FAQ to point to the pages' new URLs.
  • [AO3-4514] - If a creator posted their work using the "Post Draft" button on their drafts page, the posted work would display a chapter count of 0/1. Now the work will show the correct chapter count.
  • [AO3-4567] - When we updated our version of Ruby, it pointed out two code errors that our previous version did not. We fixed those errors.
  • [AO3-4614] - In some browsers on some Android devices, users were seeing work summaries and a whole bunch of other text in a very light grey, which made it hard to read. It turned out that some recent Android updates were revealing a four-year-old mistake in the Archive's CSS. We corrected that mistake, and now the text should be legible once again.

Gems

  • [AO3-4566] - There were a few gems we needed to update before we could upgrade our version of Ruby, so we updated them.
  • [AO3-4430] - In our quest to update all of our gems, we found a gem we weren't using. We've removed it so we don't waste any time maintaining it from now on.
  • [AO3-4574] - We updated the gems for a number of things in one go: reordering things like chapters, encrypting passwords, parsing skins' CSS, entering dates for challenges, uploading user icons, and a few more behind-the-scenes things.
  • [AO3-4446] - We've polished up the gem for the unicorns that run the Archive. (That is, we updated the gem for our web server.)

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

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Published:
2016-08-10 13:16:56 -0400
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Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter's arm with an OTW logo on it and the words 'OTW Recruitment'

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Tag Wrangling volunteers!

Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Finance Committee Staff - closing 17 August 2016 UTC

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist volunteers -(at)- transformativeworks -(dot)- org in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.

If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Finance Committee Staff: The OTW is reforming its Finance committee with the goal of standardising and streamlining our processes dealing with requesting and approving expenses, maintaining books, making payments and reconciling accounts—from creating and improving internal procedures to communicating with external contractors, OTW committees and the Board of Directors. Finance members are responsible for keeping the our books accurate, making and tracking payments, working with the Board on creating and updating the budget, ensuring that the OTW meets all its tax filing requirements, and preparing and releasing accurate and informative financial statements.

We need motivated volunteers with a background in accounting to help us get solid and sustainable processes in place, and to keep the system moving once we're settled. If you'd like to work on this, please apply!

Applications are due 17 August 2016

Apply at the volunteering page!

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Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages

I. OTW LEGAL DEFENDING FANDOM

In July, Legal worked with several allies to file an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands. In the brief, we argued that copyright law should not be expanded to include garment designs. The case is about cheerleading uniforms, but some have argued that it could have an impact on cosplay. Regardless of the outcome of the case, the OTW strongly believes that cosplay and other fan costuming and building pursuits will still be allowed under the law, but this brief sends an important message about the value of fan creativity surrounding apparel and industrial design.

Early in the month, Legal wrote about CBS/Paramount’s new “Fan Film Guidelines”. As usual, in July Legal also responded to several queries from fans, many of which concerned those guidelines. The guidelines were also a big topic of discussion at San Diego Comic Con, where Legal Chair Betsy presented on a panel entitled “Comic Book Law School 303: New Revelations.” The panel discussed fair use, fan films, fanart, and other “hot” topics. Also at San Diego Comic Con, OTW allies the Re:Create Coalition unveiled “A Day in the Life of Fair Use: A Different Kind of Superhero at Comic-Con,” showing a few ways that copyright fair use makes events like Comic Con possible.

July also saw the culmination of some work that Legal has been doing for the past few months, with help from students at American University Washington College of Law’s Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic. We successfully petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel trademark registration of the word "fandom" for entertainment services. Just one more success in our effort to combat commercial appropriation of fandom and fan culture!

II. IMPROVING ACCESS TO OTW CONTENT

Journal has gone into production for the Transformative Works and Cultures September 15 issue, which is going to be a big one, with lots of great essays. TWC was also accepted into the Directory of Open Access Journals, which is great news, because the DOAJ shares their journals' metadata with a number of aggregators. That means that students or faculty who search for fan studies articles in libraries will be more likely to find content published in Transformative Works and Cultures!

Translation gained a new co-chair this month, SunnyB, who's spent the last couple of months in chair track training. They've also been collaborating with Elections and have started translating content for the upcoming Board elections in September. Translation also helped AO3 Support answer a total of 37 tickets last month, which is an all-time high!

Webs has been busy welcoming new members, and is hard at work setting up training materials, guiding new staff, and working on documentation. The influx of new staff has enabled them to begin setting up an on-call rotation to give everyone a chance to participate as well as have some days off.

III. AT THE AO3

Accessibility, Design & Technology deployed 4 releases in July, addressing a wide range of issues. While a number of these fixes were invisible and behind the scenes (rearranging servers, fixing database and test issues, updates to committee tools, keeping the Archive running smoothly), they also made some fixes to challenges and tackled a caching bug. The committee also started working with Development & Membership on changes for drives, and with Abuse on changes to the Abuse form. Abuse received around 400 tickets in July. They are hard at work moving to a new ticketing software which should help us deal with tickets much more efficiently.

AO3 Documentation uploaded two documents—a revised Your Account FAQ and the Unofficial Browser Tools which replaces the old Cool Stuff FAQ. They also added a new question to the Pseuds FAQ.

Open Doors announced the import of two archives (Dave & Ken's Diner, a Starsky & Hutch archive, and Warp 5 Complex, a Star Trek: Enterprise archive), and have been managing tickets related to these imports in addition to preparing for other upcoming archives.

Tag Wrangling compiled and posted the First Principles of Wrangling, with the goal of having these principles easily accessible so as to both help wranglers understand how to implement edge cases in the guidelines, and also let AO3 users see what the general ideas underpinning the Wrangling Guidelines are. The committee also put together a glossary of common terms used in wrangling for our volunteers, and made a small update to the guidelines for how tags related to kinks are handled.

In addition, Tag Wrangling worked with Open Doors to handle tag mapping requests for six incoming archives, and requested two minor changes to the wrangling interface from Accessibility, Design & Technology, which have been implemented.

IV. GOVERNANCE

After a long period of inactivity the Finance Committee has been rebooted. They have a huge to-do list ahead and are only just getting started but are hoping to recruit for new members in early August. So if you know anyone who might have the skills to help out, please send them our way!

Board kept busy with the normal flow of approvals for staff, proposals and legal filings. They also amended the bylaws to make Elections' job for the forthcoming elections easier and the election process harder to be abused. They also set up a schedule for upcoming voice chat meetings, and approved new server purchases.

Board assisted the team reviving the Finance Committee in getting their work started. The team's dedication and effort in tackling this complicated job has already started showing positive results. Strategic Planning also had a productive July fine tuning implementation for the next plan and completing edits on the plan itself.

Development & Membership has been happy to welcome on eight new staffers as they try out a new ticketing tool and a more organized task tracking system. The team is in the early stages of preparation for the October drive.

Elections's new timeline is in place, and they announced the candidates on July 31! Here are some more important dates:

  • The membership deadline is August 23. Any member who donated between October 7, 2015 and August 23, 2016, including both those days, is eligible to vote in this year's election
  • The election will be held from September 23–26.

The committee also has opened an Elections Committee Tumblr account which will have announcements and explanations for how the election works, and they're encouraging interested Tumblr users to follow the account. They also have a new communication platform, which they'll be using for the upcoming candidate chats, hoping to allow for more participation by attending members.

The OTW's bylaws have been updated with two requests from Elections: sitting Board members will need to wait until the year after their term expires before standing for election again, and new changes to the bylaws will only impact elections that are at least 90 days away.

V. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

From 28 June to 28 July, Volunteers & Recruiting received 87 new requests, and completed 81. Some highlights of this month's tasks included opening recruitment for Tag Wrangling volunteers and receiving 65 applicants, and renaming two committees: Web Strategy, Design, and Development to "Webs," and Financial to "Finance." As of the 28th of July, the OTW has 582 volunteers. Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Chairs: SunnyB (Translation)
New Committee Staff: Richard Haupt (Development & Membership), Kat Heiden (Development & Membership), Mandee Wilcox (Development & Membership), Kris Weldon (Development & Membership), TCD (Development & Membership), and 3 other Development & Membership staffers, Jeniouis (Webs), brioche (Webs), Joseph Marques (Webs), kellyprogramsthings (Webs), Lexis_Blake (Webs), dolleye (Webs), zephyruszzz (Webs), and 1 other Webs staffer, alamerysl (Finance), Priscilla Del Cima (Finance), and 1 other Finance staffer, Ona Lu (Legal), Stacey Lantagne (Legal), and 1 other Legal staffer
New Translator Volunteers: Kalliopi Siaka, zephyruszzz, Lana Garcia, SarkaS, Amsjur, Timi, georgiaodd, Chintan and 1 other volunteer

Departing Committee Staff: Sarah Remy (Communications), 1 Abuse staffer
Departing AO3 Documentation Volunteers: 1 volunteer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: RepressedLurker, Aesyr, and 4 other volunteers
Departing Translator Volunteers: Ezra Gecko, Sayali Marathe, Nele Noppe, and 3 other volunteers

For more information about the purview of our committees, please see the committee listing on our website.

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HP Fandom archive header

The Hex Files archive header

HP Fandom, a Harry Potter archive for gen and slash fanfiction, and The Hex Files, a Harry Potter archive for Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter fanfiction and fanart, are being imported to the Archive of Our Own (AO3).

In this post:

Background explanation

The Hex Files and HP Fandom are both popular Harry Potter archives. The Hex Files, created in 2005 by SeparatriX, holds over 3600 Harry/Draco fanworks. HP Fandom, created in 2004 by Ataraxis, and later moderated by SeparatriX, holds over 8500 gen and slash Harry Potter stories. Sadly, for financial and health reasons, SeparatriX has reluctantly decided to close the archives.

Open Doors will be working with SeparatriX to import the fanfiction on HP Fandom and The Hex Files into separate, searchable collections with their own identity. Also, as part of preserving the archives in their entirety, the fanart previously hosted in The Hex Files galleries will be hosted on the OTW's servers, and embedded in their own AO3 work pages. Eventually the links going to the old sites will redirect to the collections on AO3 so the works can continue to be found with their old URLs. We will begin importing works from HP Fandom and The Hex Files to their AO3 collections in October 2016.

What does this mean for creators who have work on HP Fandom and the Hex Files?

This is the part where we ask for your help!

1. If you already have an AO3 account and have posted your HP Fandom and the Hex Files works there, please contact Open Doors with your HP Fandom or the Hex Files pseud(s) and e-mail address(es), so that we won’t import your works. (Please include "HP Fandom” or “The Hex Files" in the subject heading.) Please visit the Open Doors website for instructions on mass-adding works to the HP Fandom collection on the AO3, or the Hex Files collection on the AO3.

2. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one to import your works yourself, please contact Open Doors with your HP Fandom or The Hex Files pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Please include "HP Fandom” or “The Hex Files" in the subject heading.)

Please visit the Open Doors website for instructions on importing works to the HP Fandom collection on the AO3, or the Hex Files collection on the AO3.

3. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one, as well as assistance importing your works, please contact Open Doors with your HP Fandom or the Hex Files pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Please include "HP Fandom” or “The Hex Files" in the subject heading.) Once your account is set up, let us know your AO3 name, and we can transfer your works to you once imported.

4. If you would NOT like your works moved, please contact Open Doors with your HP Fandom or The Hex Files pseud(s) and e-mail address(es) so that we will not add them. (Please include "HP Fandom” or “The Hex Files" in the subject heading.)

If you would not mind your works being preserved but do not want your name attached to them any longer, please let us know that too--we can orphan your works instead of leaving them behind to be deleted.

All works archived on a creator’s behalf will be attributed with the creator’s name in the byline of the work. As we import works, we will e-mail notifications to the address associated with the work. When all works have been accounted for, the Open Doors committee will set up the URL redirects, and we will permanently close down the site.

All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly-viewable if you choose. After 30 days, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors.

If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your HP Fandom or The Hex Files account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's fantastic; if not, we will work with the HP Fandom and The Hex Files mod to confirm your claims.)

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ page, contact the Open Doors committee, or leave a comment on this post and we'll respond as soon as we can.

We'd also love it if fans could help us preserve the story of both HP Fandom and The Hex Files on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask the Fanlore Gardeners for tips.

We're excited to be able to help preserve HP Fandom and The Hex Files!

- The Open Doors team

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Banner by Diane of a 3 line checkbox with the choices 'OTW', 'Elections News' and a checkmark next to 'Make your voice heard'

Candidates Announcement

The Organization for Transformative Works is pleased to announce the following candidates for the 2016 Election (in alphabetical order by given name):

  • James Beal
  • Kristina Busse
  • Priscilla Del Cima

Because we have 2 seats to be filled and 3 candidates, the 2016 election will be contested—that is, the members of OTW will vote on which candidates fill the seats.

The Elections Committee is excited to introduce the candidates to all of the members of the OTW! Included in this post are links to short Bios and Manifestos written by the candidates. This post also marks the beginning of our Q&A period, during which we invite the public to submit questions for the candidates. Additionally, we will be holding a series of live chats – dates and times for those are to be announced based on candidate availability. Information on the voting period and how to vote will also be posted shortly. In the meantime, there is a timeline of Elections events available here for your reference. Read on to learn more about our candidates and how you can submit questions for them!

Manifestos and Bios

We asked each candidate to provide us with a Bio that sums up their professional and fannish experience, as well as to write a Manifesto about their goals for their term on the Board by answering the following questions:

  1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?
  2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
  3. What goals would you like to achieve during your term?
  4. What is your experience of the OTW’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Please include AO3, TWC, Fanlore, our Legal Advocacy work and Open Doors, though feel free to emphasize particular areas you’re interested in.
  5. Choose two topics/issues that you think should be high priority for the OTW, both internally and externally. What do these topics mean to you and why do you value them? How will you make them a part of your service?
  6. What do you think the key responsibilities of a/the Board are? Are you familiar with the legal requirements for a US-based nonprofit board of directors?
  7. How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the OTW, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?

You can read both the candidates’ answers to these questions and their bios by following the links below.

Question & Answer (Q&A)

Candidates will also answer questions from the public. Anyone may submit questions via the Elections form. Please submit all questions by 11:59pm UTC on August 7 (what time is that where I live?). All candidates will answer each question submitted, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Questions must not be repeats of questions from the Manifestos. This is to allow candidates to spend their time answering new questions.
  • Similar questions will be grouped together so candidates don’t have to repeat themselves. Elections staff will decide which questions are similar enough to group.
  • If you have a follow-up to a Manifesto question, please specifically mention that it is a follow-up so it isn’t treated as a repeat.

The posting date for answers will be chosen depending on the number of questions received. Posts will be spread out, arranged by topic, to make it easier for voters to read all the answers.

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The Warp 5 Complex, a Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction archive, is being imported to the Archive of Our Own (AO3).

In this post:

Background explanation

The Warp 5 Complex (W5C), which has existed since 2002 to archive Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction, uses eFiction software as its platform. This software is no longer maintained and has become a security hazard. Thus, to keep the stories available to the fan community, the fic archive moderator, Kylie Lee, has decided to move the archive to the AO3 via the Open Doors project, which seeks to archive and preserve fan artworks.

Open Doors will be working with Kylie Lee to import the W5C into a separate, searchable collection with its own identity. As part of preserving the archive in its entirety, all fan fiction currently in the W5C archive will be hosted on the OTW's servers and embedded in their own AO3 work pages. Eventually the links going to the old site will redirect to the collection on AO3 so the works can continue to be found with their old URLs. We will begin importing works from W5C to the AO3 collection in August 2016.

What does this mean for creators who have work on the Warp 5 Complex?

This is the part where we ask for your help!

1. If you already have an AO3 account and have posted your W5C works there, please contact Open Doors with your W5C pseud(s) and e-mail address(es), so that we won’t import your works. (Please include "Warp 5 Complex" in the subject heading.) For instructions on mass-adding works to the new collection on the AO3, Warp 5 Complex, please see the Open Doors website.

2. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one to import your works yourself, please contact Open Doors with your W5C pseud(s) and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Please include "Warp 5 Complex" in the subject heading.) For instructions on importing works and adding them to the Warp 5 Complex collection, please see the Open Doors website.

3. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one, as well as assistance importing your works, please contact Open Doors with your W5C pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Please include "Warp 5 Complex" in the subject heading.) Once your account is set up, let us know your AO3 name, and we can transfer your works to you once imported.

4. If you would NOT like your works moved, please contact Open Doors with your W5C pseud(s) and e-mail address(es) so that we will not add them. (Please include "Warp 5 Complex" in the subject heading.) If you would not mind your works being preserved but do not want your name attached to them any longer, please let us know that too—we can orphan your works instead of leaving them behind to be deleted.

All works imported on a creator’s behalf will be attributed with their name in the summary of the work. As we import works, we will e-mail notifications to the address associated with the work. When all works have been accounted for, the Open Doors committee will set up the URL redirects, and we will permanently close down the site.

All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly viewable if you choose. After 30 days, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors.

If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your W5C account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's fantastic; if not, we will work with W5C mod to confirm your claims.)

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ page, contact the Open Doors committee, or leave a comment on this post and we'll respond as soon as we can.

We'd also love it if fans could help us preserve the story of W5C on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask the Fanlore Gardeners for tips.

We're excited to be able to help preserve Warp 5 Complex!

—The Open Doors team and Kylie Lee

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Published:
2016-07-13 13:24:58 -0400
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Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter's arm with an OTW logo on it and the words 'OTW Recruitment'

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Development and Membership staff, Web Strategy, Design, and Development staff, and Translation volunteers!

Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Tag Wrangling Volunteers - closing 20 July 2016 UTC

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist volunteers -(at)- transformativeworks -(dot)- org in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.

If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Tag Wrangling Volunteer: The Tag Wranglers are responsible for helping to keep the millions of tags on AO3 in some kind of order! Wranglers follow internal guidelines to choose the tags that appear in the filters and auto-complete, which link related works together. (This makes it easier to browse and search on the archive, whether that’s Steve/Tony with tentacles or g-rated Rose/Kanaya fluff.)

If you’re an experienced AO3 user who likes organizing, working in teams, or excuses to fact-check your favorite fandoms, you might enjoy tag wrangling! To join us, click through to the job description and application form.

Please note: due to (amazing!) interest in wrangling, we’re currently looking for wranglers for specific fandoms only. See the application for which fandoms are in need. Applications are due 20 July 2016

Apply at the volunteering page!

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Published:
2016-07-09 12:53:21 -0400
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'5 Things an OTW volunteer said' title banner by Kat

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Ryan Smith, who volunteers as a staffer with OTW's Development & Membership Committee

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

As a member of the Development & Membership Committee, my primary responsibility is coordinating the twice-a-year fund drives which is how we obtain roughly 90% of our funding for the year. This is one of most integral tasks that any particular group within the organization carries out, as it allows us to continue our overall mission. Often times, this can bring us into contact with a multitude of different bodies within the organization, though a few definitely stand out to me.

Our closest working partner in the fund drives is easily the Translation Committee as we are striving to ensure a standard international accessibility within our drive materials. As almost all of us within the committee are native English speakers in the United States, it isn't apparent to us when wording choices aren't easily understood by international audiences. While all of our drive materials in the past have gone through an editing process, we are transitioning to a more thorough model in order to better broadcast the need for our fund raising to audiences that we might have previously not been able to reach, or have disenfranchised. Beyond the Translation Committee, we also regularly coordinate with other organization bodies during the drive periods -- the Board of Directors, to ensure that our drive goals are matching with our overall yearly plan; and the Communications Committee, who coordinate the actual posting and dissemination of our drive materials.

Outside of our work on the fund drives, it largely depends on the particular person and the needs of the committee as to what we do. Our data membership specialists remain hard at work maintaining the donation and membership database which, you might be able to tell from the name, holds our donation and membership records. Some might work on analyzing data gathered from the previous drive in order to make improvements to future drives. Others still will begin the process of restocking our donation premiums in case we begin to run low. Some will work on evaluating and updating our internal documentation. One group might work on a special project in order to develop new revenue generating sources for the organization. The possibilities are endless during this lull between the drives, and really, the sky is the limit on the sort of things that you can work on.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

For me, it largely depends on the time of year! As mentioned above, our work varies depending on whether we're working during a drive period or in between them. I'll quickly cover both in order to give any readers a good idea of my work.

During the drives, I am writing some aspect of the materials that will go out for the drive -- whether that be an email to AO3 users, or one of the posts, or something else. Simultaneously, I am coordinating with my fellow committee members, by commenting on their own drive materials, answering questions, scheduling meetings, or more, to keep the work on the drive moving ahead as necessary. During this, I'm also monitoring our incoming email queue for any intra-organization communication that needs to be responded to, or for questions coming in from the general public. While our email queue is mostly easy to manage during the time between drives, during drives it will sky rocket with incoming questions. We also have to be aware of comments coming into the news posts and respond to them promptly.

When we aren't running around like chickens with our heads cut off during the drives, we work independently on projects and coordinate with each other as necessary. We also attend our weekly meetings in order to stay on top of any work that another committee member might be doing (which is particularly helpful, because you never know when someone else might be interested in the work you might be doing). One of my big projects has been to update our internal documentation where necessary, which has been pretty fun! As part of this, we've implemented a new meeting minutes procedure and developed a method of easily tracking our out of date documentation (which should hopefully make this type of work easier for our future committee members)! One project that we've been working on following the April 2016 fund drive is selecting a ticket management solution. This will better track our email and ensure that nothing slips between the cracks.

What’s the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

For me, I have to say it would be getting exposure to and interacting with other members of fandom. I'm definitely part of fandom on places like Tumblr, and have been on other things like fandom message boards. But in situations like that it is incredibly easy for me to either fade into the background noise or not really take part (lurking for the win).

Being a volunteer within the OTW though, depending on what committee you serve with, you have varying levels of interaction with others. This is great for a wide range of people, because even the shyest of wall-flowers can find a way to help. Even with our most interaction-heavy committees, there are generally ways for you to stick to the background by performing a less communication-intensive role within the group. For me specifically though, I've come to know so many people and have made so many friends from my time within the organization. There are also those crazy, serendipitous moments where you find odd connections between volunteers that leave you going, "Whoa!" For instance, another volunteer and I discovered that she lived in my tiny Louisiana hometown for quite a while!

What did you learn from other roles you've had in the OTW?

Oh gosh, how did I know you'd ask this question? So as a bit of back story, I first served within the OTW in 2013 as a Tag Wrangler and then a Communications staffer. After a car accident, I had to take some time away to regroup in my personal and professional life, but came back in 2015. This time I served as a staffer for both Volunteers & Recruiting, and Development & Membership. While mine definitely isn't the longest record of service, it is probably up there among those with the most variety!

In my time on the different committees, probably the lesson that resonates with me the most is that you have to be responsive to your own needs and take care of them. You have to be aware of when you need to take time for yourself or just plain need a break from the OTW. After my car accident, I was being forced to work more and more hours to pay for bills, which impacted my overall energy and ability to serve within the OTW. I felt obligated to continue serving and so inadequate, because I thought I might be letting down my fellow committee members should I step back for a time. This culminated in me "vanishing" from the OTW because, for me, I was more ashamed of admitting that I needed help than simply running away.

I've also learned a great variety of skills that I can apply to everyday life. Time management, organization, and technical writing are some things that I feel have definitely been improved on my by time within the OTW. I've also gained a fairly solid foundation within the subject matter of the committees I've served on.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Well, mostly I'm a consumer of fannish things, though I do have some pet projects I work on. What I tinker with rarely sees the light of day, because it rarely moves beyond the confines of my brain! I love reading fanfic on the Archive, seeing fanart on Tumblr, and recently being a bit more involved in the fan game community. I am a huge Pokémon fan, and some of the biggest projects for Pokémon fans out there are fan games. Recently I joined up with the Pokémon Phoenix Rising team as a writer. We hope to have our first release out before the end of summer, so here's hoping! In the past, I've been more involved in the fannish community overall on forums and such, but in recent years that has faded.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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