AO3 News

Comment period open for FAQ and ToS

Published: 2014-04-21 12:59:23 -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'

Our Content Policy workgroup has been at work on some FAQ updates and Terms of Service (ToS) changes for the Archive of Our Own which have now been approved by the OTW Board. This post begins a two-week open comment period so that AO3 users can leave feedback on these changes before they are added to the current ToS and FAQ pages.

The ToS changes are mainly small wording changes that reflect the way AO3 features have evolved from the time in which the document was originally drafted. There is one policy change that will not make a significant difference in our practices but may be of particular interest to users, which is our adoption of a DMCA policy similar to that of Wikipedia's. It takes fair use into account, but also provides us with more protection in case we are threatened by copyright trolls.

We will take feedback into account until April 28, 2014. If there are no further changes approved by the Board as a result of the feedback, the updates shown below will be added to our Terms of Service. We will also update our FAQ pages.

1) New DMCA Policy

In PDF format
In Rich text format

2) New Terms of Service Changes

In PDF format
In Rich text format

3) New ToS FAQ changes

In PDF format
In Rich text format

Q&A on the DMCA

What is the DMCA?

The DMCA is part of US copyright law, 17 U.S.C. §512. Compliance with the DMCA protects us from money damages in any case where someone posted infringing content on the Archive or Fanlore, as long as we took down that content when properly notified about it.

Our current rules will largely be unchanged, though our procedures will change somewhat. We will still decline to remove noninfrining, transformative works. We already ban copyright infringement, such as posting large, nontransformative chunks of a book, and for the Archive, Abuse already tells users to remove infringements. If they don’t comply, Abuse will disable access to the infringing work. A user who repeatedly posts infringing materials may have their account permanently suspended (terminated).

Why would the Archive want do this, if it is going to continue looking at fair use?

To put it briefly, having a DMCA policy makes it easier to shake off trolls. For copyright owners/businesses just interested in demanding thousands of dollars, it’s not worth sending us threatening letters if we have a DMCA policy, since we are protected against money damages.

Doesn’t the DMCA require websites to take down content regardless of fair use?

That’s how most providers, most of the time, implement it, because that’s the cheapest way to do it, and most providers don’t have ideological commitments to fair use that outweigh their desires to save money. Wikipedia, however, has a DMCA policy and a commitment to fair use, and follows the policy we propose. We believe that we can remain committed to fair use while providing a streamlined way to address true infringements.


Release 0.9.14 (Part 7): Change Log

Published: 2014-04-21 05:29:08 -0400

This deploy includes code by Elz which was tested by Lady Oscar.

Following a crackdown by Chinese authorities on creators and hosting services of explicit fanworks, we are welcoming an increasing number of fans from China. In response to reports from our volunteer Tag Wranglers, we quickly fixed an issue affecting Chinese and Japanese tags.

We plan to further enhance our existing support for logographic scripts, and are currently looking into ways to provide word counts for works in Chinese and Japanese, among others. We will continue to work on making the Archive a safe haven for fan creators from all over the world!


  • Fixed an issue which prevented tags from being properly separated if they were delimited by commas in Chinese or Japanese scripts, i.e. U+FF0C ( ,) or U+3001 ( 、).

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


Release 0.9.14 (Part 6): Change Log

Published: 2014-04-17 17:49:23 -0400

This deploy includes code contributions by Ariana, Cecilia, Emily E., Lady Oscar, Nathan J. Xaxson, Priscilla, sarken, Scott, and tuff_ghost and was tested by Ariana, Camilla M., Lady Oscar, matty, Qem, Sam Johnsson, sarken, Scott, and theteapot. Special thanks to Enigel for code review and merging!


  • Collections & Challenges
    • The page listing all Collections can now be filtered by type: Gift Exchange, Prompt Meme, No Challenge, Any. The buttons for sorting results have been moved into the sidebar to be consistent with the "Sort and Filter" box for works.
    • If a user had multiple assignments in the same gift exchange (e.g. as a pinch hitter), the page heading was showing its HTML code. This has been fixed.
    • Having a work with a co-creator on some chapters, but not others, would partly break anonymity when adding the work to an anonymous collection. It now displays the "by Anonymous" bylines on all chapters.
    • Added some wording to the page for creating a collection to make it more obvious that spaces are not allowed in the Collection Name field. Also explicitly added this information to the error message that appears when a user tries to create a collection with an invalid Collection Name.
  • Works & Series
    • Large images in a work were cut off on small screens, e.g. phones. Users can now scroll to the side to see the whole picture, even if zooming out to fit the image on the screen isn't possible.
    • When the preference "Hide additional tags (you can still choose to show them)" was selected, clicking to reveal the tags on a work would show them in alphabetical order, not the order they were put in by the creator. This has been fixed.
    • The "Edit Tags" option, when used on an unposted draft, previously offered no way to re-save as a draft, only buttons for previewing and posting. A "Save Without Posting" button has now been added.
    • The "Works inspired by this one" link wasn't visible on the inspiring work if that work's last chapter was still a draft. This was fixed to show the note on the last posted chapter.
    • When deleting a work or chapter, a confirmation pop-up would ask you if you were really sure, but wouldn't spell out all the consequences for each. For works, it now says, "Are you sure you want to delete this work? This will destroy all comments and kudos on this work as well and CANNOT BE UNDONE!" For chapters, "Are you sure you want to delete this chapter?"
    • The plain text version of the email you get when you delete a work referred to "your story"; it now properly says "your work".
    • A series can now be properly deleted even when JavaScript is turned off.
    • In the series description, right-to-left text was forced into left alignment. This has been fixed for all fields containing descriptive user input or blocks of information, e.g. on user or collection profiles.
    • On the page for orphaning a series, some text was accidentally showing a bit of HTML formatting code. Now it does not.
    • The preference to hide work skins used to say "Hide other people's work skins", even though it hides all work skins, including your own. It now says "Hide work skins (you can still choose to show them)".
  • Statistics
    • Choosing to hide hit counts (whether on your works or Archive-wide) would also hide the sort by date option on your Stats page. This has been fixed.
    • The option to pick between "Fandoms" and "Flat" view on one's Statistics page was one toggle; we changed it to always show both buttons, with the selected one marked.
    • Draft works were showing up on one's Statistics page (with zero hits, kudos, etc.). The Stats page will now only list posted works.
  • Tags
    • Selecting the option to keep tags in a tag set hidden (e.g. during nominations) would hide the whole tag set from searches. The tag set is now findable by name, even if the tags in it aren't visible (yet).
    • We added the tag type to some links on tag wrangle pages, and some other text for clarity.
    • Based on feedback from tag wranglers and requests from the Tag Wrangling committee, we removed the 'Add new tags' field from tag wrangle pages to reduce clutter and simplify wrangling. The field only allowed adding canonical tags, and duplicated a function available on the tag edit page for the fandom.
    • On tag wrangling pages, links such as "Show All", "Canonical", etc. now turn into span elements to indicate the current selection. This is consistent with the behavior of navigation links everywhere else on the Archive.
  • Misc.
    • Updated the list of supported languages on our Support form. You can now send in questions and suggestions in العربية, Bahasa Indonesia, Deutsch, English, español, français, 한국어, italiano, Kiswahili, Nederlands, polski, português, suomi, svenska, Türkçe, and 中文!
    • The confirmation pop-up when deleting one's History now points out that this will also delete the "Marked For Later" list.
    • The "Marked For Later" button now retains its "pressed" appearance when viewing pages other than the first.
    • Cleaned up and standardized some navigation elements on the pages for changing one's username, password, or email address.
    • The help text for the "Plain text with limited HTML" option for comment replies was opening in the same window, potentially leading to loss of information you had already put into the comment text box. It now opens in the usual help text window.
    • The page for creating an account said, "You need to be over 13 years old to become a registered member of the archive. (Sorry to our younger readers! You'll be more than welcome when the time comes.)" - focusing specifically on written fanworks. It now addresses "anyone younger."
    • We added text to the Skin Wizard page to clarify that the wizard can only be used to create site skins. We also updated the help text for the "Percent of base font size (%)" box to better describe how it works.
    • In Internet Explorer 9, the HTML download display used the wrong font, due to a combination of a bug in IE9 and our stylesheets. We've amended our stylesheets to prevent this from happening.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


Our Legal and AO3 projects are looking for volunteers!

Published: 2014-04-14 12:53:22 -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'

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

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

  • Abuse Committee Staff - Closing 21 April 2014 UTC
  • Legal Staff - Closing 21 April 2014 UTC
  • Volunteers & Recruiting Staff - Closing 21 April 2014 UTC

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

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

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

Abuse Committee Staff
The Abuse Committee is dedicated to helping users deal with the various situations that may arise. We also handle any complaints that come in about content uploaded to the Archive of Our Own. The team determines if complaints are about legitimate violations of the Terms of Service, and what to do about them if they are; our major goals are to adhere to the TOS, to make our reasoning and processes as clear and transparent as possible, and to keep every individual case completely confidential. We work closely with other AO3 related committees such as Support and Content.

Applications are due 21 April 2014 UTC

Legal Committee Staff
The Legal Committee is responsible for carrying out the OTW's legal advocacy mission and providing internal legal support and guidance to the OTW as an organization. We provide confidential legal advice to every part of the OTW organization, respond to fans' requests for general assistance and information, and create educational materials. We also file briefs in lawsuits and advise lawmakers about how to take fans’ needs and interests into account in creating and interpreting the law. And we're looking for a few new members!

We are particularly looking to expand our committee’s expertise in the fields of personnel/employment/HR law and nonprofit law. We’re also interested in finding people with expertise in the intellectual property laws of countries other than the U.S, and in adding to our group of people with expertise in U.S. copyright and trademark law. If this describes you – or even if it doesn’t, but you have legal experience and would be interested in joining the OTW’s Legal Committee, please click through to the application form.

Applications are due 21 April 2014 UTC

Volunteers & Recruiting Staff
The OTW is an entirely volunteer-run organization, and Volunteers & Recruiting looks after those volunteers! As the human resources committee, our job is to make sure that everyone has the tools, training and assistance they need to perform their best. If you have strong written communication skills, and an interest in or knowledge of personnel and/or project management, click through for details.

Applications are due 21 April 2014 UTC


Release 0.9.14 (Part 5): Change Log

Published: 2014-04-13 11:34:09 -0400

This deploy includes code contributions by Cecilia, Enigel, larissa, Naomi, Sam Johnsson, Sarken, and Scott and was tested by Emilie, Lady Oscar, and mumble.


  • The first chapter title in multi-chapter works would only be displayed once a second chapter was added. This is now fixed to show the chapter title right from the start.
  • The code that deletes drafts a month after creation was sometimes failing to completely destroy the work and associated tags. This should now be fixed.
  • The information about drafts getting deleted after a month was only displayed on the page listing all drafts. We have now added the information, including the exact deletion date, at the top of each draft.
  • Embeds from YouTube were failing (unless users added the http: string to the embed code); this has been fixed to allow all embed codes from YouTube (and other permitted domains) as they are generated.
  • Some tags were showing a negative number for how many times they were used in works. The cause for this bug is in our chosen framework, Ruby on Rails, and will be fixed in future updates of Rails. In the meantime, we will run a script to fix those erroneous use counts, so any tags with zero uses will not linger forever.
  • When a tag wrangler's user account was deleted, their assigned fandoms to wrangle would show up on the "Fandoms in Need of a Wrangler" page even if other wranglers were still assigned to the fandom. This has now been fixed.
  • Linking to the /invitations page for a non-existent or misspelled user was causing an error 500; this has been fixed.
  • When hovering over the little square symbol in the top right corner of a bookmark blurb, the number of bookmarks previously popped up as title text, especially necessary for works with over 99 bookmarks where only a * is currently displayed. That hover text had vanished and is now back again.
  • The Status/Posted/Words information on the "My Assignments" page was stacked on top of each other; now everything displays in one line as expected.
  • Fixed some CSS for the public Wrangling Guidelines pages.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


Upcoming Changes to the Archive FAQ System

Published: 2014-04-11 12:37:38 -0400

In one of our next code updates, we're going to be rolling out some changes to the FAQ section of the Archive. Here's a little information on what improvements the new FAQ will include, and what this change means for you.


As one of the main improvements, it will enable easy translation of questions and answers. Our volunteer translators will be able to submit their work to the FAQ and link it to the corresponding English text. The new interface for users will introduce a simple drop-down box for filtering the FAQ by language.

Screenshot 1
[Work-in-progress screenshot of the new FAQs, here depicting the list of available topics in Portuguese]

The new FAQ interface will benefit from a cleaner, easier-to-edit structure that makes adding questions to categories more straightforward. Browsing the FAQ will also be a lot easier: we'll improve our index page, so that you can see at a glance a full list of questions without having to read through the entire page.

Screenshot 2
[Work-in-progress screenshot of the new FAQs, here depicting the list of all available questions for one topic in Spanish]

Expected Issues

We had to make significant changes to the existing code to enable these new features. In addition, our AO3 Docs team has been working on a new and improved FAQ structure, as well as updates to the existing sections. New content will be added as work on these updates progresses.

As a result, old links to the FAQ might stop working or will link to an unexpected section of the new FAQ. For example, the link to the Bookmarks FAQ might suddenly lead you to the FAQ about Downloads. Please bear this in mind if you have linked to the FAQ on another site, as these links will likely need updating. FAQ links included previously within AO3's official communication (for instance on AO3 News or in previous Support replies) will also be affected, although we will do our best to update our own resources.

Finally, there's a chance that internal links from one section of the FAQ to another will also break temporarily as we wire the new FAQ together. There's a small possibility that following the code deploy, the FAQ section will be empty as we work on re-adding all existing content.

Looking Forward

We're excited about these latest updates: we hope that they'll not only improve our documentation and make it easier for you to find answers to your questions, but will also be a big step forward in beginning to make the Archive accessible in different languages for fans around the world. Many thanks to our teams of translators, documentation volunteers, coders and testers for all of their work on this project! We hope you find these changes helpful, and we look forward to your feedback.


Share the OTW video!

Published: 2014-04-10 13:11:36 -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'

The OTW's April membership drive has officially ended, and we'd like to thank everyone who came out to support it. Your generosity and efforts in spreading the word have made this our most successful drive ever! Since April 3 we've received more than 2,800 individual donations totaling over US$63,000. We've also raised the OTW's membership to at least 4,869 people!

Thank you to all our members, donors, and to everyone who helped spread the word to make this drive such a spectacular success. We’re very grateful for your support! We’d also like to thank all the OTW staffers and volunteers who supported the drive by creating, translating and posting content, responding to donor inquiries, designing graphics, sending e-mail blasts, monitoring donation receipts, and myriad other tasks. Thank you for making the drive possible.

Although this drive is over, we gratefully accept donations throughout the year. This year we also have a very special project to share with you, that you may want to use when telling others why you support the OTW.

Thanks to the amazing vidding skills of Ash48, and the fanwork contributions of dozens of fans, we are proud to present a video introduction to the OTW.

The OTW video explains to people unfamiliar with fandoms and fanworks what it is that the OTW does. It defines transformative works, and provides an overview of our projects as well as an insight into what fans create.

We hope that you'll share the video with fans and non-fans alike. You can find it on YouTube, Vimeo, and Critical Commons, as well as on the OTW website.

The OTW's volunteer translators are currently working on subtitles for Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. As each translation is completed, we will be sending out tweets and tumblr posts promoting it.

We would also love to have this video narrated in as many languages as possible! Can you help? If you're fluent in a language (or more!) other than English and are willing to help record the voiceover track, please contact us. We'd be thrilled to work with you!

The participation and collaboration of fans everywhere is what keeps the OTW and all its projects going. Thank you for being a part of it!


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

You might have noticed some loud partying and fireworks recently over the Archive of Our Own surpassing a phenomenal one MILLION fanworks. Fanwork creators, viewers, volunteers, and fans greeted this milestone with much joy and celebration and a jaw-dropping explosion of fanwork — even an infographic! As one of the site's coders put it, February saw a lot of "twirling in sleep-deprived excitement."

The best part? That's not even the only amazing milestone the Archive has reached in 2014. In addition to having more than one million fanworks, the site has also become home to over a quarter of a million members — a number that's rising every day!

The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee houses many sleep-deprived twirling coders who donate their time to build the Archive. AD&T tells us there have been other achievements recently — less visible, but no less important:

  • We've been adding new servers and repurposing some old ones to improve Archive performance and redundancy. Your past donations made these purchases possible!
  • The Archive's Tumblr, created in 2011, has seen rapid growth. AD&T has worked diligently to supply it with informative and innovative content, and their efforts are paying off!
  • The Archive's Twitter account is very close to hitting the 20,000 follower mark! AD&T is thrilled that people who read the tweets aren't getting left in the dark when there's a problem with the site or the servers.
  • At the beginning of this year, AO3's page views climbed to almost 50 million page views each week. That's almost double the views for last January; and that number, too, is steadily climbing.

AO3's numerous volunteers are continuously improving its features, and in the middle of all the celebrating, they're making plans for the future. To check out some of AO3's planned features, view the section "The Road Ahead" in the AO3's continuously updated roadmap.

If any of those one million fanworks was something you enjoyed, or had fun creating, please help AD&T, Tag Wranglers, Systems, Abuse, Support, and Quality Assurance & Testing continue to make the Archive a useful and precious tool within the fan community. These volunteers give generously of their time and energy to ensure that the site runs smoothly and bring you the AO3 you love.

Your donation of US$10 or more will help us take the next steps toward partying to the tune of two million fanworks in the future!


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