AO3 News

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2015-10-28 17:53:46 -0400

Over the last month and a half, we've released several small batches of code fixes, including some improvements to help catch and ban spammers. Huge shout-out to the Abuse team for all their hard work - you are all heroes!


  • Coders: Elz, james_, Nerine, Sarken, Scott
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, bingeling, Elz, Sarken
  • Testers: Lady Oscar, mumble, Sarken, Scott



  • [AO3-4263] - Site admins, e.g. Abuse personnel, can delete references to external works (created by bookmarking non-Archive URLs); however, they couldn't do so from the main list of external works. Now they can.
  • [AO3-4264] - We cleaned up the menu of buttons that site admins can use to edit external work bookmarks.
  • [AO3-4265] - When admins hid a bookmark, they got an error 500 (even though the bookmark was successfully hidden). They now receive a more helpful message.
  • [AO3-4287] - The option for deleting news posts wasn't where our admins expected it to be, so we added a Delete button to the posts themselves and to the post editing form.


  • [AO3-4338] - Trying to edit an existing bookmark to add it to a non-existent collection now gives an informative error message rather than Error 500.
  • [AO3-4344] - Suspended/banned accounts can no longer create collections.
  • [AO3-4347] - There was an Uncategorized Fandoms option in the fandoms menu for collections, but collections do not have Uncategorized Fandoms pages. We removed the menu option.


  • [AO3-2439] - The < and > signs were getting stripped out of skins, making it impossible to use immediate child declarations in one's CSS. It is now possible!
  • [AO3-4340] - Add the ability to use the shape value for clip or x or y rotate values for transform when making skins.
  • [AO3-4345] - In the skin Reversi, the explanatory line "You may have mistyped the address or the page may have been deleted." on the Error 404 page had minimal contrast, making it hard to read. This has been fixed.


  • [AO3-4329] - Now the number of memcached servers we use can be configured dynamically.
  • [AO3-4348] - We no longer use Coveralls to identify gaps in test coverage.
  • [AO3-4351] - We made a number of changes to the way we deploy code to the Archive.
  • [AO3-4352] - Due to a hardware problem, we have temporarily removed ao3-front02 from the pool of servers that run the Archive. We also updated our deploy script to reflect the fact that we temporarily removed one of our servers.


  • [AO3-4292] - The advanced Works Search had very strong opinions about how date searches should be capitalized, and wouldn't return the correct results if you dared to search for 2 Weeks or 2 WEEKS instead of the lowercase 2 weeks. We fixed it so now you can even search for 2 wEeKs if the mood strikes.
  • [AO3-4322] - We were trying to close an <h3> HTML tag with an </h4> tag on works pages. That didn't work very well, so we changed it to </h3>.
  • [AO3-4337] - Updated the link on the Tag Wrangling Tools page to reflect the fact that we switched from Google Code to JIRA as our issue tracker.
  • [AO3-4360] - Even though the logged-in homepage doesn't show how many fandoms, users, or works the Archive has, we were still running the database query to count those items. This made the servers sad, so we stopped doing it.
  • [AO3-4363] - We fixed a potential security issue which could have opened user accounts to malicious phishing attempts.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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2015-10-27 16:04:47 -0400

The Archive currently offers a few ways to control how other people interact with your works: you can choose to only allow comments from signed-in users, or you can make your work only accessible to signed-in users to begin with.

However, to counter cases of severe harrassment on the Archive (including abusive comments from throw-away accounts created to circumvent the anon restrictions), we are now introducing a way for creators to review any comments before they appear on their works.

(Please note that this feature is undergoing testing, and all screen shots are approximate.)

What this means for creators

Once the feature is deployed, creators will be able to turn on comment moderation for new or existing works in the Privacy section of the posting and editing form.

The checkbox for enabling comment moderation on an individual work

Enabling comment moderation on a work will prevent new comments from appearing publicly unless they are approved by the creator. If the creator has comment notification emails enabled, they can access and review individual comments directly using the links at the bottom of the email. Creators can also review all comments on a work by accessing the work and following the "Unreviewed Comments (#)" link in the work's navigation.

The button-style Unreviewed Comments (2) link at the top of a work

Each unreviewed comment will have options to Approve or Delete. Note: Abuse personnel will have access to this page, so you can alert them to harrassing comments via the abuse report form without having to approve the comments first.

The Unreviewed Comments page for the Sliding Doors work, with a comment from a logged-in user and another from a logged out user. Both comments have Approve and Delete options.

Once approved, comments will be publicly available on the work. Approved comments cannot be unapproved, but they can be deleted. Comments posted by the work creator will be approved automatically.

Creators can also turn on comment moderation for multiple works at once with the mass editor, which can be accessed using "Edit Works" link on their dashboard.

What this means for commenters

The comment form will display a notice informing commenters if comment moderation is enabled on a given work.

The comment form with a message saying comment moderation is enabled on the work

Commenters will be able to enter their comment as normal. After the comment is submitted, a message will inform the commenter that the comment has been received and will not appear on the work until the creator approves it.

A message above the comment form letting the user know their comment has been received

Commenters will receive email copies of their comments if they have that preference enabled. They will be able to access their comment using the "Go to the thread" link included the email.

More improvements to come

Our Abuse team works hard to clean up abusive comments when they are reported and to take action against users involved in harassment, but they are limited in what they can do, particularly against users who are willing to go to the trouble of creating throw-away accounts. This change will enable creators to control comments on their own works, preventing abusive comments from ever being seen.

We will be introducing some further features to help users and our Abuse team deal with harassment and spam: allowing users to reject unwanted gifts, making it possible for Abuse to delete all of an account's works at once (to more efficiently remove spam), allowing Abuse to mark works as spam/not spam, and improvements to the Report Abuse form.

We hope these features will help the Archive be a safer place for users to enjoy posting and consuming fanworks.


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2015-10-19 12:41:04 -0400

Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter's arm with an OTW logo on it and the words 'OTW Recruitment'

The Organization for Transformative Works is recruiting! This week we are looking for Communications Media Outreach Staffers, Internationalisation and Outreach Staffers, and Tag Wrangling Volunteers.

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Abuse Committee Staff, Communications Chair Track Staff, Systems Staff and Volunteers & Recruiting Staff. Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Communications Staff - Media Outreach Staffers - closing 26 October 2015 UTC
  • Internationalisation and Outreach Staffers - closing 26 October 2015 UTC
  • Tag Wrangling Volunteers - closing when 50 applications have been reached, or 26 October 2015 UTC, whichever occurs first

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.

Communications Staff - Media Outreach Staffers

Communications staffers are responsible for the distribution of information internally to OTW personnel and externally to the general public, the media, fans, and other fannish organizations. Communications is also typically the first point of contact for someone interested in or wanting help from OTW.

The Media Outreach group is responsible for various tasks and projects related to public relations and publicity. The position of media outreach staffer would be a good fit for someone with an interest in new media and a knack for networking. Experience with public relations is ideal but not required. Applications are due 26 October 2015 UTC

Internationalisation and Outreach Staffers

Internationalization & Outreach is looking for new staffers.

The OTW has a responsibility to all its volunteers and users to work toward inclusivity, accessibility and visibility for the OTW and its projects, both from a fannish and an international standpoint. I&O is currently engaged in long term planning and is looking for people to help with in-depth research into the issues that I&O deals with within the OTW in a broader context and human resources-type documentation (updating I&O role documents and position descriptions for personnel, confidentiality agreements, and so forth).

I&O is looking for people who are skilled researchers, who are good at writing clear and accessible guidelines and explanations, and who want to make the OTW more accessible for fans. We want people who are good at identifying problems and solutions and at building consensus. It’s important to know how to balance between bringing our own perspectives to the table and representing the ideas of our fellow volunteers. You should be willing to listen to the other committee members, to contribute to and critique each other’s work, and to collaborate toward our eventual goal.

We hope to build a team of people who can work together towards these goals of inclusivity, accessibility and visibility for the OTW and its projects. If you would like to help the OTW better represent fandom's diversity, I&O is the committee for you. Join us!

Applications are due 26 October 2015 UTC

Tag Wrangling Volunteers

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 will close when 50 applications have been reached, or 26 October 2015 UTC, whichever occurs first.

Apply at the volunteering page!


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Different Tropes for Different Folks – OTW Membership Drive October 2015


Hello, fans,

It’s been an exciting few days for all of us! But all good things come to an end. And this ending is a happy one!

This is the final message of the October 2015 drive. We want to thank you for all your amazing support. Together we raised US$ 170,000! 7,770 donors generously gave to the OTW this week. Because of fans like you who donated and spread the word, the OTW can help keep fanworks and fandom culture thriving.

Your backing helps the OTW continue its mission to encourage and support the passion and activities of fans like yourself, and it's because of you that this campaign has had a happy ending. Thank you so much.

The Organization for Transformative Works

P.S. Here's a sneak peek at what we’ve got in store for you in the coming months:



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Different Tropes for Different Folks – OTW Membership Drive October 2015

The members of the AO3 development team — known as "Accessibility, Design & Technology" (AD&T) — don't just build the Archive software and make sure the Archive servers stay happy even under stress. We use the AO3, too: as authors, fanartists, readers, commenters, reccers, challenge mods, and more. We're thankful for your generous donations that pay for the servers we spend so much time working and playing on (although it's usually a little more work than play). On that note, here are some features we've rolled out that we're especially proud of or excited about.

1. Homepage

The homepage redesign was one of the most visible changes the Archive underwent this past year, and it was also one of the longest in the making. While it only took about eight months from writing the first line of code to deploying the finished product, the design plans date all the way back to October 2010 — that's longer than most of us have been on AD&T! The homepage was an enticing project to undertake not just because we were looking forward to the new functionality (Favorite Tags!), but because it allowed us to say thank you to the AD&T volunteers who came before us by making their ideas a reality.

2. Open Doors API

We all love the Open Doors project, which rescues fanworks from smaller archives that are scheduled to go offline or otherwise in danger of disappearing. Unfortunately, the Open Doors code was a little rusty — but then our Open Doors liaison Ariana rose to the challenge! About 20 years ago, in the early days of Internet fandoms, Ariana used to create and maintain fanfic archives for her fandoms, including Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Space: 1999. When she found AO3, she decided that having all her fandoms under one metaphorical roof was a better idea and joined AD&T to help out. Ariana put her fannish interests together with her professional knowledge of APIs and polished up Open Doors' importing code, and now we can all look forward to seeing even more at-risk archives preserved for future generations of fans.

3. Mobile filters

Computers are key for coding, but like a huge percentage of Archive visitors, the AD&T volunteers frequently access the site from their phones or tablets too. That means we were all on familiar terms with the frustration of scrolling to the bottom of the page to reach the filters on our phones. It was something we wanted to fix, and had indeed been working on, but other, more urgent problems kept cropping up and needing attention. But then AD&T co-chair Sarken found herself sick in bed and wanting fic of a certain rating featuring her new OTP. After a few days of scrolling to the bottom of the work listings, Sarken went back to her computer with a mission: finish the mobile filters. After that, it was just a few short weeks of discussion and testing before Release 0.9.57 put an end to the days of scrolling to reach the filters.

4. Work stats HTML changes

For some of us on AD&T, every hit on a work is a silent reassurance that someone is interested in what we've created — but for others, it's a glaring reminder of every kudos or comment we didn't receive. Because we had such different interpretations of the same statistic, we knew our users would, too, so we included a preference for controlling the display of hit counts on your own or all works. However, as we've adjusted our code to accommodate our growth and improve performance, caching bugs crept in and these preferences stopped working. We knew we needed a new approach to help with this old problem. We put our heads together and realized our skin system gave us a pretty good solution not just for this issue, but for hiding other statistics (e.g. kudos counts) as well. With a few small tweaks to our HTML in our July release, we made it easy for users to create a Site Skin that will hide any statistic they don't want to see.

5. Draft deletion date added to draft blurbs

As creators and consumers of fanworks ourselves, we were always heartbroken when Support shared reports of users who have lost their works due to the limited lifespan of drafts. Sadly, the big chunk of code that controls works, drafts, and tags is very old and intricate — it would need a lot of rewriting to keep drafts around forever without adding extra work for the tag wranglers. However, we've found that little changes can make a huge difference in this area. We're happy to say that we've received far fewer reports of accidentally lost drafts since Release 0.9.56, when AD&T and Systems volunteer james_ noticed we weren't displaying the deletion date on draft blurbs and added it. (We'd be remiss if we didn't take this opportunity to remind you to always keep a backup copy of your work elsewhere!)

And one thing we haven't done yet...

AD&T volunteers and liaisons speak a number of different languages, so we're excited every time we get a step closer to offering the whole Archive experience in languages other than English — and we're thrilled to say we've recently taken one of the biggest steps yet! Last year, Scott made the FAQ section translatable, and this year, james_ has begun working on doing the same for our emails. We're working closely with our amazing Translation committee to try out possible tools for their work and we can't wait to flip the switch that will let our users select a language on offer and receive notifications from us in that language. However, there's a lot left to do! We are only a small team and frequently find ourselves with a server emergency or broken code at hand that needs immediate attention, meaning other big projects get delayed. This doesn't mean we don't care — just like you, we want to see the Archive grow and prosper and be a welcoming space for everyone who wants to use it. (More fanworks for us, too!) Please help us ensure that the Archive servers stay around for a long time, and donate today!


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Different Tropes for Different Folks – OTW Membership Drive October 2015


The first Sherlock Holmes adventure is published, inspiring a devotion that surprised even the author. A devotion so strong that nearly 100 years later, a Baker Street Irregular and his wife, a member of an all-female Sherlockian group, take their 12-year-old daughter to the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes dinner. Here her love of Sherlock Holmes begins to flourish to the point that she is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars herself, almost a century after the last story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was published.


A mom who loves history is excited about a new children's show called Doctor Who, sits down with her kids to watch, and falls in love. Four generations later, the entire family, ages 87 to 4, gathers around their Doctor Who-themed Christmas tree and plans dinner around the Doctor Who Christmas special. The four-year-old proudly wears his fez throughout dinner.


A six-year-old falls in love with Star Wars. Today she proudly debates the merits of the theatrical releases vs the enhanced 90s versions with her own child while trying not to trip over lightsabers and Star Wars action figures. Both of them are anxiously awaiting the new film, which they will see together.


A dad decides to skip E.T. and take his daughter to see The Wrath of Khan. A decade later, the child finds a Star Trek convention, and a lifelong passion for this fictional universe is born. The dad still loves to tell the story of her discoveries at every family gathering.


The new Muppets movie is released. A twentysomething wonders who'd be better to see the movie with than her mom. After all, she was the one who first introduced her to the joy of the Muppets as a small child.

Present Day

Fandom is ageless. One of the most amazing things about fandom is the pure joy fans find in sharing their love of their fandom with others. Sometimes this takes the form of sharing the source material with their own kids. Other times, it takes the form of fanworks. In both cases, the sharing keeps the passion of the original fans alive while also sparking new love in the next generations.

Sharing fanworks and preserving fannish history for the future is a job larger than any one person or family, though. That's where the OTW's many projects come in, from Legal fighting for the DMCA exemption for fan video makers, to Open Doors preserving works that would otherwise disappear, to Fanlore allowing fans to read about and add to the record of the history of their fandom.

In order for the OTW's efforts to continue, we need your help. Your donations are what enable us to preserve and protect these works for the next generation. Please help share your love of fandom and donate to the OTW today!


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2015-10-11 20:04:17 -0400

Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Board'

In recent days, there have been several comments on various posts and social media outlets about the OTW’s financial practices. We appreciate the questions our supporters have and want to be as open as possible.

As the OTW and AO3 have grown, the organization has adapted to new administrative and budgetary needs. Over the last year, we have worked hard to develop and implement best practices for nonprofits of our size, including the need for a more detailed and formal budget than we have had in the past.

In the past, the organization’s budgetary process has been informal and its fundraising drive goals have been based on past expenditures and projected needs. Along those lines, the current fundraising drive goal was set by the Board of Directors and the Development & Membership committee based on results of past drives and our anticipated needs for the remainder of this year and beyond. To determine our anticipated needs, we took into consideration our expenses in the past year together with the rapid growth of the Archive and our other projects, and produced an informal draft budget with input of estimations of expenses from our committees, which--even without a formal finalized budget--gave us a good idea of our costs for next year.

Over the last year, however, we have been increasingly aware of a need for a more formal budget. In July, we decided to develop such a budget and put the matter on the agenda for our annual in-person meeting. Over the past month, led by our newly elected Treasurer M.J. MacRae, we have been actively working on creating a more detailed budget for 2016 based on information gathered from every corner of the organization. Although that document is still in process, based on our current information, we expect the OTW’s operating expenses for next year to be approximately US$300,000, based on committees’ estimated expenses. The final version of the 2016 budget will be released to the public when it is approved by the Board. We expect this to be by mid-November.

One of the elements of that budget will be a proposal to engage a consultant CPA to organize the OTW’s bookkeeping practices going forward, including independent reviews of the OTW’s finances. We recognize that engaging consultants costs money, but we believe that doing so will improve the organization’s operations by involving people with proven expertise, which will enable the Board and Treasurer to better support the OTW personnel working in service to our mission on a volunteer basis. We have plans to have our books reviewed by independent auditors, as well. The engagement of independent auditors has been in the organization’s Strategic Plan since its earliest drafts. The Strategic Plan was approved at the 2015 in-person meeting and is being polished into its final form, which will be published publicly within the next few months.

The organization is committed to developing and protecting a financial reserve so that all of the organization’s projects, including the AO3, can continue to function even if unexpected costs arise. This commitment to a reserve fund is also reflected in the Strategic Plan. Relatedly, some recent commenters have suggested that the org consider investing in instruments that would improve the organization’s rate of return on its savings. In fact, the question of investments was a topic of discussion at the recent in-person meeting. We will continue to investigate the possibility of investing in higher-rate instruments as we move forward and will take the time needed to find the solution that best fits the OTW’s current and future needs. We anticipate that this will involve consulting with financial professionals who can help the OTW structure its overall finances and investments so that we are able to responsibly grow our assets while keeping everyone’s donations safe, preserving adequate liquid funds to carry out our operations in service of our mission, and maintaining the financial reserves mandated by the current strategic plan.

The current Board is emphatically aware that the current situation is less than ideal, and we are actively working to implement more formal financial practices in order to be the best organization we can be and to best do our work in support of our mission to support fans, fanworks, and fandom. It’s an ongoing process, but with your support it will be possible.

We truly appreciate the care and concern that have been shown for the OTW in your comments over the last few days. We want you to keep telling us what you think. Please understand that there are things that we legally are not permitted to discuss to the extent that, perhaps, you would like. However, that doesn’t change that you and your opinions matter to us and we truly appreciate your support.


The OTW Board of Directors

Eylul Dogruel, President
Andrea Horbinski, Secretary
M.J. MacRae, Treasurer
Soledad Griffin
Cat Meier
Jessica Steiner


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Different Tropes for Different Folks – OTW Membership Drive October 2015

Check out the long list of languages this post is available in! Here's the story of how they got there:

One month ago…

Membership drive content begins reaching the OTW Translation committee. This is only the beginning; it won't stop coming until the drive starts. Getting everything finished on time in all languages is a challenge that will require extensive coordination, a huge commitment from all 170+ volunteers, and a lot of fireworks when everything's over.

As soon as a post is written, Translation staff coordinators create a document for each language and assign it to a translator with a short deadline. Once translators finish their tasks, it will be time for betas to review each document. Everyone is exchanging countless messages discussing their translations and polling their respective language teams for opinions.

Three weeks ago…

Translators and betas are being assigned to the text that will appear on the drive graphics. Staff and volunteers will work together to make translated versions of the images in every language, adapting the graphics as needed. Language teams will double-check and approve each image at the end.

Ten days ago…

Everyone is in a madcap rush to complete all the posts and graphics in all languages. (There are lots and lots of checklists.) A few change requests from other committees have come in, meaning staff needs to note the changes on the document for each language, contact the relevant translators and betas, and track which ones have been updated. It's a bit of a scramble, especially those few last-minute edits!

Five days ago...

It's a wrap! The committee celebrated each team individually as they finished all the drive content, and today they're throwing a party on chat with tons of gifs and virtual confetti. Their work isn't quite done, though.

Earlier today...

Several Translation members are gathering to upload the translations of this post to AO3 News and the OTW website. Each will check the post in their own language one last time for mistakes, of course. (Just in case!)


We hope you enjoyed these flashbacks to how this post and its translations came together! Your support makes the OTW's mission and projects possible. To continue empowering the work of these translators as well as hundreds of other OTW volunteers, please make a donation.


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