AO3 News

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2015-11-08 12:14:49 -0500

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


On October 27, 2015, the U.S. Copyright Office released its Rulemaking regarding exemptions to section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Last year, OTW's Legal Committee asked the Copyright Office to renew the exemption permitting fan video makers to circumvent the copy protection on DVDs and digital transmissions, and to expand it to include Blu-Ray discs. And on October 27, we won! The new version of the exemption, which goes into effect immediately, permits people to circumvent copy protection to obtain short portions of films, television shows, and other videos for the purpose of making noncommercial videos that criticize or comment on the original work. The exemption explicitly permits the use of "screen capture" technology and also permits circumvention of copy protection on DVDs, digital transmissions, and Blu-Ray discs if necessary to produce sufficiently high-quality content.

We’ve been working on this particular renewal and expansion effort since September 2014, and because the process requires renewals every three years, we expect we will be back fighting the same fight in another two years. In the meantime, we send out our particular thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who joined us in this effort, and to the many vidders who responded to our calls for stories and explanations of how this exemption matters to what they do.

The Legal Committee also joined allies Public Knowledge in filing a comment with the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in response to that agency’s request for comments on its plan for intellectual property enforcement. The comments made specific recommendations and emphasized the importance of considering the interests of the public at large, including users who can be harmed by overly aggressive enforcement of intellectual property laws.


Our Development & Membership Committee wrapped up a successful donation drive earlier this month, raising US$171,363! We are continuing to send out donation premiums. We encourage anyone who is missing their premium to get in touch with us using the Development & Membership contact form, and we'll figure out a solution to get your premium to you. Many things were learned from this drive, and we look forward to putting them to us during the next one. The Translation Committee also successfully collaborated with Development & Membership for the drive, producing over 150 documents in 17 languages!


This month, the Accessibility, Design & Technology Committee deployed several small releases addressing miscellaneous issues, including some adjustments to our infrastructure. We were also excited to offer a preview of comment moderation, but have yet to be able to push the button due to investigating and trying to fix recent site slowness and downtimes.

The Abuse Committee received about 450 tickets in October. Most were addressed within a few days, though we did have some complicated ones come in. Please be patient if you don't receive a reply immediately — the more complex the report, the more time we'll need to spend investigating!

The Tag Wrangling Committee revised the guidelines for canonical character tags that represent groups of people (to clarify that they should not be either metatagged or subtagged to individual characters), which should help both to reduce the load on servers by getting rid of unhelpful tag trees and to help users more easily find exactly the works they're looking for.


The OTW's Board of Directors met for their Annual Meeting from October 2–4. During this meeting, the 3-year OTW Roadmap produced by the Strategic Planning Committee was approved. The meeting minutes for all three days can be found on the Board Meeting Minutes page of our website.

The Elections Committee is in the final weeks of this year's OTW Board Elections. We'd like to thank the candidates for running this year. They worked hard to answer member questions in their Q&A Responses and participate in five Candidate Chats. Chat transcripts are available on our website. Voter instructions were also sent to current members. For more 2015 Board Election updates, you can visit the Elections Committee at our Twitter, @otwelections.

The annual election is a team effort — and not just the Elections team! Many thanks go out to Development & Membership, Translation, Communications, and more. Without these and other committees helping behind the scenes, this election would not be possible. Thank you all!


The Volunteers & Recruiting Committee helped Tag Wrangling, Communications, and Internationalization & Outreach recruit for new volunteers and staffers this month. Thank you to everyone who applied, and everyone who helped spread the word! We also sent a Still Willing to Serve survey out to all current volunteers, and we greatly appreciate the responses of our continuing volunteers, as well as the service of our departing volunteers. Last but not least, we have also started inducting volunteers from our September recruitment round: a warm welcome to all new volunteers, and three cheers for current volunteers taking on new roles!

New Committee Staff: Sofia (Translation), Oriontsuki (Translation), SunnyB (Translation), Cat Goodfellow (Communications), James Baxter (Web Strategy, Design, & Development), Janet Vandenabeele (Communications), qwu (Abuse), Oniondip (Abuse), Nerine Luna Cyran (Abuse), Sammie Jarrett (Abuse), Ilona van der Vegt (Abuse), shiloh (Abuse), Miranda (Abuse), fredoxley (Abuse), 6 other Abuse, 2 Communications, 1 AO3 Documentation, and 1 Systems
New AO3 Documentation Volunteers: 1
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1
New Translator Volunteers: J4Y and 3 others

Departing Committee Staff: squidgie (Wiki), Janna N. (Support), Noah Feeman (Open Doors), Jintian (Communications), Julia Allis (Communications), Ellorgast (Communications), Marta-Bee (Communications), 2 other Communications, 1 other Support, 1 Legal, 2 Elections, 1 Quality Assurance & Testing, and 1 Tag Wrangling
Departing AO3 Documentation Volunteers: briar_pipe
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Hana Lee, Asha, Swimmies, kiii17, Rana Jones, Elizabeth Moonstone, ryasdfghjkl, and 36 others
Departing Translator Volunteers: Erilia Wu and 8 others

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


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2015-11-04 17:53:27 -0500

At approximately 23:00 UTC on October 24, the Archive of Our Own began experiencing significant slowdowns. We suspected these slowdowns were being caused by the database, but four days of sleuthing led by volunteer SysAdmin james_ revealed a different culprit: the server hosting all our tag feeds, Archive skins, and work downloads. While a permanent solution is still to come, we were able to put a temporary fix in place and restore the Archive to full service at 21:00 UTC on October 29.

Read on for the full details of the investigation and our plans to avoid a repeat in the future.

Incident Summary

On October 24, we started to see very strange load graphs on our firewalls, and reports started coming in via Twitter that a significant number of users were getting 503 errors. There had been sporadic reports of issues earlier in the week as well, but we attributed these to the fact that one of our two front-end web servers had a hardware issue and had to be returned to its supplier for repair. (The server was returned to us and put back into business today, November 4.)

Over the next few days, we logged tickets with our MySQL database support vendor and tried adjusting our configuration of various parts of the system to handle the large spikes in load we were seeing. However, we still were unable to identify the cause of the issue.

We gradually identified a cycle in the spikes, and began, one-by-one, to turn off internal loads that were periodic in nature (e.g., hourly database updates). Unfortunately, this did not reveal the problem either.

On the 29th of October, james_ logged in to a virtual machine that runs on one of our servers and noticed it felt sluggish. We then ran a small disc performance check, which showed severely degraded performance on this server. At this point, we realised that our assumption that the application was being delayed by a database problem was wrong. Instead, our web server was being held up by slow performance from the NAS, which is a different virtual machine that runs on the same server.

The NAS holds a relatively small amount of static files, including skin assets (such as background images), tag feeds, and work downloads (PDF, .epub, and .mobi files of works). Most page requests made to the Archive load some of these files, which are normally delivered very quickly. But because the system serving those assets was having problems, the requests were getting backed up until a point where a cascade of them timed out (causing the spikes and temporarily clearing the backed-up results).

To fix the issue, we had to get the NAS out of the system. The skin assets were immediately copied to local disc instead, and we put up a banner warning users that tag feeds and potentially downloads would need to be disabled. After tag feeds were disabled, the service became more stable, but there were further spikes. These were caused by our configuration management system erroneously returning the NAS to service after we disabled it.

After a brief discussion, AD&T and Systems agreed to temporarily move the shared drive to one of the front-end servers. This shared drive represents a single point of failure, however, which is undesirable, so we also agreed to reconfigure the Archive to remove this single point of failure within a few months.

Once the feeds and downloads were moved to the front-end server, the system became stable, and full functionality returned at 21:00 (UTC) on the 29th of October.

We still do not know the cause of the slowdown on the NAS. Because it is a virtual machine, our best guess is that the problem is with a broken disc on the underlying hardware, but we do not have access to the server itself to test. We do have a ticket open with the virtual machine server vendor.

The site was significantly affected for 118 hours and our analytics platform shows a drop of about 8% in page views for the duration of the issue, and that pages took significantly longer to deliver, meaning we were providing a reduced service during the whole time.

Lessons Learnt

  • Any single point of failure that still remains in our architecture must be redesigned.
  • We need to have enough spare capacity in servers so that in the case of hardware failure we can pull a server from a different function and have it have sufficient hardware to perform in its new role. For instance, we hadn't moved a system from a role as a resque worker into being a front-end machine because of worries about the machine's lack of SSD. We have ordered the upgrades for the two worker systems so they have SSDs so that this worry should not reoccur. Database servers are more problematic because of their cost. However, when the current systems are replaced, the old systems will become app servers, but could be returned to their old role in an emergency at reduced usage.
  • We are lacking centralised logging for servers. This would have sped up the diagnostic time.
  • Systems should have access to a small budget for miscellaneous items such as extra data center smart hands, above the two hours we already have in our contract. For example, a US$75 expense for this was only approved on October 26 at 9:30 UTC, 49 hours after it was requested. This forces Systems to have to work around such restrictions and wastes time.
  • We need to be able to occasionally consult specialized support. For instance, at one point we attempted to limit the number of requests by IP address, but this limit was applied to our firewall's IP address on one server but not the other. We would recommend buying support for nginx at US$1,500 per server per year.

Technologies to Consider

  • Investigate maxscale rather than haproxy for load balancing MySQL.
  • Investigate RabbitMQ as an alternative to resque. This makes sense when multiple servers need to take an action, e.g. cache invalidation.


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

The Strategic Planning Committee is proud to announce that the 2016–2019 Strategic Plan has been approved by the Board of Directors and is ready for implementation! Strategic Planning is deeply grateful to the entire OTW for the patience, engagement and dedication they have shown throughout this process. The OTW would also like to thank our donors and supporters for making this possible.

Implementation of the plan will begin January 2016. We invite the public to peruse the Strategic Plan Visual Timeline to learn about the future of the OTW and its projects.

Organization for Transformative Works Strategic Plan Timeline

Stronger Infrastructure, icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project

Stronger Infrastructure

The OTW needs better technology, tools, processes, procedures, and documentation.

Stronger and More Efficient Board, icon by Till Teenck for The Noun Project

Stronger and More Efficient Board

A strong, democratic, and efficient Board will positively impact the entire organization.

Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development, icon by Joao Santos for The Noun Project

Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development

The OTW must build skills and experience in creating a stronger OTW-wide community.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity, icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity

The OTW requires funds to operate and grow, thus it must expand fundraising capacity.

Grow and Support Existing Projects, icon by XOXO for The Noun Project

Grow and Support Existing Projects

Each committee needs a clear understanding of their part in fulfilling the mission of the OTW.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Expand Inclusivity

The OTW celebrates the welcoming image it has achieved but must continue to promote representation and outreach.

6 Month Goals

Stronger Infrastructure, icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project

Document OTW-wide chair/lead position and expectations: Committee & workgroup chairs/leads work with the Board to draft a document which describes the organization-wide expectations for chairs and leads.

Preliminary purview statements: Committees/workgroups draft a statement, outlining their purview within the OTW including potential gaps or overlap between them and other teams.

Recruitment plan: Committees/workgroups document recruitment needs, training plans, timelines, etc. for new staff (and volunteers if applicable).

Stronger and More Efficient Board, icon by Till Teenck for The Noun Project

Purview and roles documentation: The Board drafts, approves, and internally publishes documents clarifying how the Board functions, in actually as opposed to ideally.

Phasing out and replacement of Board liaison structure: The Board implements flexible, clear, and structurally supported systems for staying in communication with committees & workgroups.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity, icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Purview and roles documentation: As part of the Board documentation goal, the role of Treasurer is completely and accessibly documented.

Grow and Support Existing Projects, icon by XOXO for The Noun Project

1-year roadmaps for each project: Each OTW project will have a roadmap identifying the objectives and goals for the next year. This is: the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Legal Advocacy, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, Fanhackers, and the website.

9 Month Goals

Stronger Infrastructure, icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project

Document team-specific chair/lead position: Using the OTW-wide document outlining the roles and expectations of chairs and leads, all committees & workgroups draft their own document, adapted and elaborated for their specific leadership model.

Chair/lead succession plan: Committees/workgroups document a plan for recruiting, identifying, and training potential successors for the chair/lead position.

12 Month Goals

Stronger Infrastructure, icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project

Procedure for regular updates on committee/workgroup work: Committees/workgroups develop procedures for publishing via the internal wiki or other OTW tool the status of current work, including projects, and their plans until the next update.

Internal wiki pages for everyday and essential processes: Committee/workgroup creates and posts internal wiki pages that document their regular processes and procedures.

Purview overlaps addressed: The Board with committees & workgroups identify places where committee duties overlap and begin discussions to a) revise the committee duties to eliminate the overlap, or b) build a plan to accommodate the overlap.

Stronger and More Efficient Board, icon by Till Teenck for The Noun Project

Contested elections: The OTW prepares documentation and solicits Board candidates to be ready for a contested election conducted with transparency and voting by the membership.

Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development, icon by Joao Santos for The Noun Project

Ombuds dispute system in place: The Ombuds dispute resolution system is approved by the Board and is fully implemented and running.

Committee-specific external skills training: The OTW identifies non-OTW resources useful for training staffers & volunteers in necessary skills for their specific committees & workgroups.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity, icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Recruit second accountant/bookkeeper: The OTW recruits an accountant/bookkeeper to work with the current Treasurer.

Regular audits: A process is in place to conduct regular audits of the organization's finances.

Grow and Support Existing Projects, icon by XOXO for The Noun Project

Coalition guidelines: Legal develops a guide to the OTW's current coalitions with other organizations, and makes available on the internal wiki procedures for Legal to manage the creation of new coalitions and joint projects.

18 Month Goals

Stronger Infrastructure, icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project

Organization-wide processes for project management: Volunteers & Recruiting standardizes organization-wide processes for cross-committee project management and publishes process documentation on the internal wiki.

Mapping organizational structure: The OTW's organizational structure is easily describable and has been visually mapped.

Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development, icon by Joao Santos for The Noun Project

Chair/lead basic training: Volunteers & Recruiting assists chairs & leads in developing and implementing training procedures for basic skills needed by all chairs/leads to be successful in the positions, such as leadership and management skills.

Grow and Support Existing Projects, icon by XOXO for The Noun Project

Revamp workflows and purviews for website: Clear and complete documentation exists regarding design, content management, support, and development.

24 Month Goals

Stronger Infrastructure, icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project

Committee/workgroup roadmaps: Committees/workgroups have developed a roadmap describing their priorities and setting specific objectives for the future, including potential new projects they may wish to undertake.

Committee/workgroup budgets: At least 3 committees/workgroups submit a budget to the Treasurer and receive feedback on it.

Stronger and More Efficient Board, icon by Till Teenck for The Noun Project

Operations structure with chair participation: The Board has revised its functioning and added new positions, structures, and procedures, so that OTW operations management incorporates participation from all committee chairs and current Board of Directors.

Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development, icon by Joao Santos for The Noun Project

Skills labs/workshops: The OTW creates plans for skills labs/workshops in specific areas, such as wiki code or international outreach, and at least one is conducted.

Pilot mentors for chairs/leads: At let 4 chairs/leads volunteer their services and work with Volunteers & Recruiting to create a chair/lead mentoring program for the OTW.

Committee/workgroup plans for staff/volunteer engagement: Committees & workgroups create plans for regular check-ins, tracking progress, and rewards to show appreciation.

Grow and Support Existing Projects, icon by XOXO for The Noun Project

Fanlore-dedicated design & support staff: Fanlore acquires the needed staff to maintain and grow.

Roadmaps and/or accomplishments for each project: Each OTW project develops a public roadmap identifying its objectives and goals for the next 5 years. This is: the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Legal Advocacy, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, Fanhackers, and the website.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity, icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Security overhaul: The process to update and improve the security of our financial and operational information and accounts is complete.

Committee/workgroup budgets: At least 3 committees/workgroups submit a budget to the Treasurer and receive feedback on it.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

International and inclusive roadmaps: As part of infrastructure documentation goals, all committee roadmaps include explicit plans for inclusivity and international representation.

Inclusivity trainings: The OTW holds at least 3 trainings, open to all personnel, on internationalization and how individuals enact inclusivity and reach out to their communities.

Inclusivity survey: The OTW conducts at least 2 surveys for internal and external stakeholders regarding internationalization and inclusivity.

30 Month Goals

Stronger Infrastructure, icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project

Purviews clarified and documented: With Board's assistance, each committee/workgroup drafts, approves, and circulates a detailed document of their purview within the OTW.

Internal tool review and research: The OTW reviews current internal tools and researches better alternatives for suboptimal tools plus new tools to fit unmet needs.

Stronger and More Efficient Board, icon by Till Teenck for The Noun Project

Training plan for Board in place: A training process is available that can be utilized by all newly elected Board directors and by any qualified staffer who is considering stepping up to join the Board in the future.

Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development, icon by Joao Santos for The Noun Project

Organizations-wide internal skills training: Mirroring the chair/lead basic training goal, basic training procedures are developed and implemented for skills needed by all personnel.

Complete chair/lead training plan: Expanding the basic training goal, the OTW implements a standard plan for all new chairs/leads covering both general and OTW-specific skills.

Administrative support/procedures for chairs/leads: Committees & workgroups create plans for handling routine communications, scheduling, minutes, task management, etc.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity, icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Achieve 3-month reserves covering operating costs: The OTW has saved financial reserves sufficient to cover 3 months of the organization's operating costs without any additional fundraising.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Research best practices for international organizations: The OTW researches best practices for international organizations, prioritizing research on organizations that have a non-Western and/or non-Anglophone perspective and organizations that serve marginalized populations in the western, English-speaking world.

Survey data collected and reported: The diversity workgroup reports on the results of the analysis of the inclusivity surveys and prepares recommendations for the OTW base on said results.

36 Month Goals

Stronger Infrastructure, icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project

Organization handbook: The OTW creates and handbook which includes basic information on the OTW that every staff or volunteer needs to know, such as orientation to the committees & workgroups and how-tos for the organization's tools.

Purview gaps addressed: Where the purview statement have identified tasks being handled by committees & workgroups outside of their purview, this overextension is addressed.

Stronger and More Efficient Board, icon by Till Teenck for The Noun Project

Board succession plan: The OTW implements a Board succession plan where exiting Board directors & officers feel their knowledge and responsibilities are securely preserved and new Board directors & officers feel supported and informed in their training and transition.

New operations model plan: The OTW develops a plan for revising the operations management structure of the organization.

Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development, icon by Joao Santos for The Noun Project

Organization-wide self-assessment: Self-assessment is implemented at every level: individual staff and volunteers, committees & workgroups, and the OTW as a whole.

Organization-wide external skills training: All personnel have access to external training programs and courses for skills that are difficult to develop internally.

Mentoring program for chairs/leads: The individuals available to mentor other in specific areas or skill sets is well documented on the internal wiki and the mentoring program is standardized across the OTW while remaining flexible to fit each committee/workgroup.

Explore a structure for inclusive annual meeting(s) that are not Board retreats: The Board explores the possibility of holding organization-wide meetings.

Expand and revise personnel outreach and recruiting strategies: The OTW expands methods an strategies for recruiting staff and volunteers.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity, icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Annual fundraising raises annual operating costs plus 10%: The OTW's annual fundraising consistently raises enough to cover our annual operating budget plus 10%.

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project

Inclusivity survey structure: A procedure, set of tools, documentation, and support structure are set up for the OTW to regularly survey internal and external stakeholders on issues of diversity, inclusion, representation, and internationalization.

All icons are from The Noun Project:

Stronger Infrastructure icon created by Yamini Chandra for The Noun Project
Stronger and More Efficient Board icon by Till Teenck for The Noun Project
Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development icon by Joao Santos for The Noun Project
Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity icon by Olivier Guin for The Noun Project
Grow and Support Existing Projects icon by XOXO for The Noun Project
Expand Inclusivity icon by OCHA Visualization Unit for The Noun Project


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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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