AO3 News

Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

What gets you excited about academic studies in fandom?

"Here's what I'm excited about," said Karen Hellekson in 2008: "an academic journal that welcomes, instead of rejects or overtly mocks, fan studies as a topic ... that takes as a given the notion that fans provide something valuable to our culture that ought to be analyzed."

That journal is Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC): run, peer-reviewed, edited, and supported by OTW members and fans like you.

TWC is a journal with contributions from fan studies scholars all over the world. Edited by Hellekson and Kristina Busse, TWC has produced 15 issues so far, featuring fascinating contributions in topics ranging from fanvids to fan labor to Supernatural.

Here's another reason to get excited: TWC is completely free to the public, and has been from the beginning. Academic journals are traditionally locked to people with university affiliations. Often you have to pay US$30 to $45 for access to a single article. But ours is an online-only Open Access Gold journal: free for the readers at the point of access. Plus, our Creative Commons copyright lets anyone reprint the essays for free. These are essential principles behind TWC, enabling its goal of connecting academics and fans through community and accessibility. That's why the journal also has an open space for non-academic fans to chime in, through the Symposium section in every issue.

In 2013, TWC obtained wider visibility and greater academic standing for its articles. Hellekson called this "a big win for TWC and an acknowledgment of the high quality of the work we publish," as well as a good sign for online academia.

Recently, editors Hellekson and Busse also worked on getting together a volume collecting a number of foundational academic texts about fandom. All royalties from The Fan Fiction Studies Reader go straight to the OTW!

So what's next? TWC staff is keeping up the good work—issue 16 is already locked, with 17 well on the way—and planning to branch out into other areas of fan scholarship, including more non-Western and nonmedia fandoms like sports and music fandoms, and to "experiment with new forms of digital scholarship."

Bringing TWC to you is a tenacious journey. The editors, team members, and scholars mostly work behind the scenes: soliciting high-quality essays, peer-reviewing them, and getting out every issue on time, expertly copyedited and typeset. For the TWC community, every issue is a landmark, the product of hundreds of hours of absorbing, thought-provoking academic work.

If you're excited, too, consider supporting TWC's high-quality, open-access fan scholarship — please donate today!


April Membership Drive: Spotlight on Legal

Published: 2014-04-06 14:35:07 -0400

Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

If you've ever felt the sting of an unfair takedown notice, you know that copyright and trademark owners and other rights-holders don't always play nicely, or recognize the legitimacy and the value of fan activity. That's why the OTW's Legal Advocacy team is on call to defend fandom and the importance of fair use and transformative works.

When they're not helping fans battle corporate plagiarism and exploitation, Cease & Desists, and those pesky takedowns, the Legal team works on the bigger picture. When governments consider fair use and copyright issues, OTW's Legal committee is there, advocating for fans' rights and fan creativity.

Here's a recent timeline of the Legal Advocacy team's work in arguing for the protection of transformative works (like fanwork!) in copyright law:

  • In 2013, Legal submitted amicus briefs in Fox v. DISH and Dish v. ABC, arguing that copyright holders do not have absolute control over how their works are used, an issue obviously very close to our hearts as fans and as creators and consumers of fanworks.
  • Also in 2013, Legal submitted an amicus brief in Lenz v. Universal about how unfounded allegations of copyright infringement harm fair use. This issue is especially important in dealing with copyright owners' abuse of DMCA notices.
  • In December 2013, OTW staffer Rebecca Tushnet testified before the US Patent and Trademark Office and the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration to defend fair use in transformative works.
  • In February 2014, Legal submitted comments to the European Commission concerning possible EU copyright reform, trying to help ensure that the end result will be respectful of transformative works.

Legal Advocacy's busy lawyers also track current events that affect fandom at large—causes and cases that could impact your rights to create and access fanworks. They've written posts covering Canadian law, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, Chinese law as it pertains to transformative works, and others, helping to keep us up to date on developments that may impact fandom.

The OTW's entirely pro bono Legal volunteer team wants to help fandom understand the laws that affect us, and to help the law respect what we do. And of course, the team also plays the important role of legal consultants to the OTW itself, helping out all our committees and projects with advice and assistance: they're essential in keeping the OTW up and running.

Please contribute to help us keep Legal's good work going!


April Membership Drive: Spotlight on Fanlore

Published: 2014-04-05 16:34:30 -0400

Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9


Have you visited Fanlore lately? If you have, then you probably know it’s a living, evolving history of fandom, created and maintained by fans. Launched in 2008, Fanlore is a collaborative wiki in which fans are invited to record their experiences and memories of fandoms, fanworks, events, and everything fannish. It's open for fans just like you to join the community in shaping how everyone perceives and remembers fandom.

Fanlore celebrated a major milestone on February 15 when it reached 500,000 page edits! And it's still growing: more than 4,000 additional edits have been made since then. These numbers reflect the passion of Fanlore's many volunteers and contributors, who have helped build and preserve a wide-ranging, ever-changing record of fandom communities.

Some other highlights of Fanlore's history include:

  • The GeoCities Rescue Project led by OTW's Open Doors committee, which included a push to create Fanlore articles documenting fannish websites hosted on GeoCities before GeoCities closed down in October 2009.
  • Coming out of beta in December 2010.
  • Participating with other OTW projects in the January 2012 protest against SOPA/PIPA — a piece of proposed US legislation that threatened fans’ freedoms and rights.

Fanlore welcomes contributions from anyone — check out the New Visitor Portal for tips on how to get started. Each edit helps us preserve more of fandom's history, and takes Fanlore one step closer to ensuring that the staggering creativity, positivity and discussions that grow in and around fandoms old and new are not forgotten. The Fanlore team has their sights set on 600,000 edits next, and, as always, on bringing in new voices to this story of fandom.

Please help Fanlore keep growing: head over to Fanlore, add your stories, and donate today!


April Membership Drive: Spotlight on Open Doors

Published: 2014-04-04 14:11:55 -0400

Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

As this year’s theme of Stepping Stones reminds us, our future is built on our past. No OTW project better exemplifies that than Open Doors, which is dedicated to preserving fanworks for future generations.

In the past, fanworks were not as easy to access as they are now. Before the age of modern websites, fandoms were only able to be celebrated in fanzines, newsletters, and clubs. Fan videos were created using VCRs. Conventions had fan-made T-shirts, buttons, and calendars whose pictures were not able to be instantly posted to Facebook and Tumblr. Open Doors has helped memorialize these contributions through the Fan Culture Preservation Project. This project is a partnership between the OTW and the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Library where non-digital fanworks donated from private collections have been preserved for future generations.

In the present, we have seen entire archives disappear due to host server shutdowns, lack of funds, or outdated software; Open Doors works to help save these archives from disappearing entirely. They have worked on everything from helping archives import their works to AO3, to backing up archives in case hosting services shut down before they can be moved, to digitizing a classic fan novel series (with the permission of the author) in an attempt to save fanworks from disappearing entirely. The next major milestone will be the importing of the original Yuletide archive, scheduled for next month. Open Doors has also assisted in importing the Good Omens Library, GSSU- German Speaking Slashers United archive, the Dannell Lites archive, and the Leah Adezio archive.

For the road ahead, Open Doors is working to improve the automated import process and to prevent loss by working with archive mods on estate planning so that in the event of an untimely death an archive will not be lost. By being proactive, Open Doors hopes to prevent the inevitable issues that arise from such losses, and to protect these fanworks.

All of this is funded by the OTW through your donations. Take a moment to think about your favorite fic (the one you go back to and reread all the time), that fanart you reblogged twice because you wanted it to stay on your dashboard, that fanvid that was so enjoyable it got a song you had never heard before stuck in your head for three days. Think about whether you want those to be around for others to enjoy in the future. By taking a moment to donate to the OTW, you are helping to protect and preserve all of these. You are ensuring that your fandom will be around for you and others to enjoy, inspiring future generations.


Release 0.9.14 (Part 4): Change Log

Published: 2014-04-04 11:30:14 -0400

This deploy consists of code contributions by Naomi and was tested by the combined efforts of many volunteers, including testers, coders, tag wranglers, and Support personnel. Special thanks to QA lead Lady Oscar for her diligence!

These code changes fix several issues with the way potential matches for a gift exchange are generated and displayed. Further refinements and improvements to challenge features are planned.


  • Previously, the "Matching" page included a list of all the potential givers for each participant, sorted by quality of match, which frequently caused the page to take way too long to load: it timed out and just displayed an error. We changed the way matches are generated and saved, so the page should be much more stable.
  • In addition, the page consisted of separate forms for dealing with various issues (users without potential matches, users who didn't have an assignment, etc.), leading to a messy and confusing layout. We have now put each listing on a page by itself, so you can focus on each problem (no match at all, no assigned recipient, etc.) one by one.
  • Very infrequently, invalid sign-ups can be created, e.g. due to a server hiccup during times of high traffic and a large volume of sign-ups. This previously caused the assignment process to crash silently in the background. We now alert individual users if their sign-up is invalid. We also check for invalid sign-ups and notify the moderators by email before running potential match generation, so they can fix them before they get to the problematic step.
  • The assignment view has been rearranged - all assignments now list an ID and a pair of recipient and giver. Clicking on the assignment ID will show you their respective requests and offers to gauge the match.
  • The help text on the various little forms (accessible through the little blue question marks) has been updated and expanded.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


Stepping Stones: OTW April Membership Drive

Published: 2014-04-03 14:39:03 -0400

Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

The Organization for Transformative Works has celebrated major milestones in the past weeks. Fanlore passed 500,000 edits, the Archive of Our Own passed 1 million fanworks, and our Journal Committee editors produced The Fan Fiction Studies Reader. In March, we hosted a series of discussions on "The Future of Fanworks" with academic, fan, legal, and entertainment industry guests to celebrate these achievements.

Now it's time to focus on the path ahead! Every milestone we've reached has been a direct result of the cumulative generosity and effort of OTW members and volunteers. By making a donation, you can help create the path to the OTW's future, and help us reach all the milestones yet to come.

During our membership drive from now through April 9, we invite you to become an OTW member by making a donation of US$10 or more. Your contribution will help to sustain the Archive of Our Own, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, Fanlore, Fanhackers, and our legal advocacy work. If you donate US$50 or more, you can opt to receive a thank-you gift to proudly show off your support.

Donations to OTW are tax deductible in the United States. If you have questions about donating, please visit our membership FAQ (located at the bottom of the donation page) or contact the Development & Membership committee.

Your donation is a stepping stone to the OTW's future. Help us forge the path to preserving and fostering more fanworks and fannish history, achieving more legal victories, and encouraging more high-quality fannish scholarship. Please donate today!

Help us spread the word! Please share this graphic by copying the code below and pasting it into your blog or website, or reblog/retweet us on Tumblr or Twitter!

<div style="text-align:center"><a href=""><img src="" alt="Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9" /></a></div>


March 2014 Newsletter, Volume 78

Published: 2014-04-02 15:24:27 -0400

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

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


Following the milestone achievements of several of our projects in February, Communications planned a series of events in March to celebrate. The OTW thanks all of our panelists for taking part, and was delighted to see the many fans joining us for the chats. If you missed any of the events, check that link to catch up!

Journal followed their announcement of the Fan Fiction Studies Reader by releasing issue number 15 of Transformative Works & Cultures which featured articles on a variety of fandoms. They are already busy finishing up issue 16, and the editorial team is working hard on issue 17, which will come out in September.

Open Doors has started the import process for Yuletide, and will likely have a few busy months alongside the Yuletide mods and AD&T getting things ready. (AT LONG LAST. \o/)

Meanwhile Legal advised fans worried about SOPA about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and worked with Communications staffer John to release a post on copyright in China.


Abuse had 160+ tickets come in during March. The most popular issues being reported are still plagiarism and non-fanwork content. As a reminder, they only need one report sent in about a specific issue. So if a work of yours has been plagiarized, please don't ask your friends to send in multiple reports!

Accessibility, Design and Technology had two more deploys in their current release cycle (Release 0.9.14) and are now getting ready to deploy a small bunch of fixes for gift exchange matching. Together with liaisons from Communications, and the Wiki Committee they've been preparing for our yearly April Showers event, during which we highlight a variety of old and new fandoms and encourage fannish activity on the AO3, including new fanworks, imports, and recs, and on Fanlore with new entries and edits to existing ones. For the upcoming April Drive, they've been working with DevMem on a drive email that can be sent to all 290,000+ AO3 users without bringing the mail server to its knees. Many thanks to james_ in Systems for his work in this endeavor!

Systems welcomed back former chair Sidra as a staffer, and added a new co-chair, Karen. Systems is continuing to split functions out onto the virtual servers we now own and run, making the AO3 sleeker and more distributed and reducing our dependence on outside providers for OTW-supporting functions. Systems has also been working with Support and Abuse to bring their trouble ticketing in-house for greater flexibility and reduced cost, using the same RT solution that Systems uses for their own tickets.

Thanks to the dedicated work of the Support team, they are caught up again, after two months of 460+ tickets. The six new staff members they've added will help keep them on track!

Tag Wrangling welcomed 15 new volunteers and the staff has been working on training the new volunteers, refining communication policies, helping Support with relevant tickets, and coordinating with AD&T and Systems to help wranglers work within server-related restrictions.


Strategic Planning is gearing up to recruit some new staffers to help them hopefully complete the strategic planning process by the end of 2014. They are also working on completing reports for Support, Communications, Abuse, and DevMem, and finishing information-gathering on several other committees so they can move on to the report writing process. As always, they appreciate all the volunteers and staffers who have taken the time to participate in their survey process.

Development & Membership is pleased to welcome longtime staff member Lesann as their new co-chair. There's been plenty to work on as they've busily prepared for the April membership drive. Translation welcomed and trained over forty new volunteers in March and have also been at work translating all of DevMem's April drive posts.


Volunteers & Recruiting began the decommissioning of the Grants Committee, conducted recruitment for 4 roles, and tested the ticket tracking software that is part of our volunteer database software. They also resolved over 80 internal tickets!

The OTW would like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing members of the Grants committee for their work, as well as that of all our departing staff and volunteers.

New Committee Chairs: Karen Johnson (Systems), Lesann (DevMem)
New Committee Staff: Kate E (Support), Cheyenne Bingham (Support), Meredith Sears (Support), Karlina (Support), Janna N. (Support), Agnieszka Górniok (Support), Sidra (Systems)
New Coder Volunteers: 1
New Communications Volunteers: Ania Kopertowska, Alice Wieckowska & 2 others
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Abby N-R, Aidan Walker, Amanda Triplett, Angie, Asmita, Bekkie, Beltenebra, happytohelp1991, hstoms, Imme, inkedcoffee, Karnipple, Lindsay MacMillan, Love_82, Maymay, Nerine Luna Cyran, nolifeinabox, Oryx, Skylark, yanajenn, and 1 other
New Translator Volunteers: Aurora, Meep, regenorakel, Anna Morbach, Liselot, Yenelie, Qiongshu Wu, Quincette, Sarah Konersmann, Nothorse, Mareen Fischer, Andita, Annachiara Traverso, Leonora, and 13 others

Departing Committee Chairs: Tara Keezer (Grants)
Departing Committee Staff: Sarah Trombley (Legal), 1 Open Doors staff, 3 Grants staff, 1 Web Strategy, Design & Development staff, 1 Internationalization & Outreach staff, 2 Support Staff
Departing Translator Volunteers: 2


April Showers is here!

Published: 2014-03-31 14:56:55 -0400

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

Here at the OTW, preserving fannish history is a central part of our mission! We're proud to be able to offer fans a place to archive their works on the Archive of Our Own, and tell their own fannish histories on Fanlore. Both of these sites passed major milestones in February and represent works and stories about many thousands of fandoms.

However, we know that there are a lot more histories and fanworks out in the world which haven't found their way to the AO3 or Fanlore. So this month, we invite you to bring us fannish April showers by digging out those old zines, memories of past cons, archived personal webpages, tales of shipwars and fannish events, works on slowly-decaying archives, new works you've been putting off creating, and more! Help us celebrate fandom's history and diversity by uploading your old (and new) works to the AO3 and by telling your tales on Fanlore. When uploading to the AO3, you can tag your uploaded works April Showers 2014

Alternatively, celebrate your favorite fanworks on the Archive by sharing your recs with us. To do so, simply bookmark the fanwork in question and add it to our April Showers Recs collection.


Screen capture of the bookmark screen showing the Notes box, the Collections field (just type in April Showers Recs 2014, or use the autocomplete) and the Rec ticky box


To do this, either create a new bookmark of the work or edit an existing bookmark you'd like to highlight for this occasion. In the Bookmarking screen, scroll to the bottom, check the "Rec" box and add the name "April Showers Recs 2014" in the collection field. When sharing your recs, we encourage you to leave some comments about it in the Notes section, to help guide other fans.

For our part, we'll be highlighting a different fandom for each day of the month through our social media sites:

Check them for the hashtag #aprilshowers! We hope to jog your memories about fannish loves of the past and highlight some currently active fandom activity. However, don't feel you have to stick to the fandoms we highlight!

Fanlore editing party!

Keen to add your fannish memories to Fanlore but not sure where to start? Need your hand held as you make your first wiki edits? Or keen to share your skillz as an experienced Fanlore editor? Join Fanlore staff in the Fanlore chatroom for an editing party! You'll be able to get help making your first forays into editing Fanlore, toss around ideas for new pages, and ask questions. Everyone is welcome!

Join them on Saturday, 19 April, beginning at 20:00 UTC. The end time is still to be determined but you can see when the start time is in your timezone.


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