AO3 News

The AO3 Mail Bag: Mobile Apps

Published: 2013-09-08 15:41:10 -0400

This is the first in a new series about frequently requested AO3 features. We get lots of feedback about things people would like to see on the site, which we take into account when developing. Sometimes people ask for stuff we already have (but which might be a bit hard to find), and sometimes we're already planning to add the feature, but can't say exactly when. Other times our answer has to be 'no', or at least 'not right now'. Since there are a few things that come up more frequently than others, we thought we'd do a few posts on the most common requests.

Random Letter #1: Have you considered making an app?

One question we get asked a LOT is whether we'll ever have a mobile app for the Archive. (Since the beginning of the year, AO3 Support has received roughly 40 requests for a mobile app, in addition to the numerous posts on Tumblr and Twitter to the same effect.) The AO3 design and coding team knows that this is a super popular idea, and they have lots of ideas about what an app could look like.

However, there is sadly no magic "App This!" button hidden somewhere in the dark recesses of our servers (we looked!), and building an app from scratch takes time and resources. Websites with official apps typically have a dedicated team of developers doing nothing but taking care of the apps (plural, because iPhones/iPads and Android devices are based on completely separate frameworks) while other people focus on the website itself. The AO3 is entirely built and maintained by volunteers, and right now we simply don't have enough developers to do this.

A few people have volunteered to step in and build apps for us, which is cool! However, in order for anyone to build an app that actually lets you log into your account and make use of most features, the AO3 would need a public API first. An API, grossly simplified, provides a set of hooks in an application (which in our case is the Archive), so other websites or apps can interact with its data. Without an API, even the most beautiful app you could build wouldn't be able to access the Archive database in any useful way.

We do plan to release a public API, but again, this will take time and resources to build. Because the AO3 is still in beta and changing a lot (you'll see on our Roadmap that we need to make some major revisions to important bits of the code), it's not really worth spending the time to build an API right now. We first want to be sure it's not going to have to change radically in the near future.

Right now, our main priority is keeping the main site running smoothly, and working on our long list of bugs and feature requests yet to be implemented. The Archive website should already be functional in most mobile browsers, and we make sure it looks good on Android and Apple devices at least.

As a sidenote, even once we have an app, you probably won't be able to carry an offline copy of the Archive with you: our database currently holds 50 GB of data, which would be tricky to get onto a phone. Of course, a dedicated AO3 app would make it easier to mark stuff for later, pick up where you left off, or download and sort works without the need for another app.

Until we can make this happen, there's lots of ebook readers for your phone that let you view .epub or .mobi files while you're offline, and all files come with Archive links so you can leave kudos or comments once you're online again. For more information, please check out our Downloads FAQ!


August 2013 Newsletter, Volume 72

Published: 2013-09-03 11:16:43 -0400

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


August has seen people moving in, out, and around the OTW with new recruitment efforts and chair appointments.

The Web Strategy, Design & Development Committee is actively recruiting for Web Developers. They are also focused on creating a process to support the 2014 Board election and on refreshing a substantial number of outdated pieces of documentation.

Communications is also recruiting for a liaison to committees working on AO3 who will write news posts and do monitoring of AO3 News accounts.

OTW's Board recently appointed hele as the new Translation Committee Chair. The staff will be discussing organization and procedures for the next few months, as well as make sure their internal documentation is up to date. Translation will be contacting committees to set up or restablish liaising relationships as soon as they can do so.


Development & Membership is preparing for the October fund drive. They've also been working on documentation and considering possible revisions to membership renewal reminder e-mails.

Accessibility, Design, & Technology has been working hard on the Rails upgrade, which was successfully deployed last week (see the Release Notes for more information). Many thanks to everyone involved in the coding and testing of this update! They've also been working through a list of topics focusing on organization and documentation before moving on to the next release. So far they've discussed committee structure and procedures, talked about our place in the Open Source community, and started a collection of things that need better documentation.

For a new Archive milestone, AO3 passed 200,000 registered users last week! \o/ The committee contributed stats and figures to a news post about the occasion.

Meanwhile, from July 15 to August 15, Support answered almost 450 user-generated tickets. Systems has been fine-tuning the Archive as issues arrive, setting up accounts for the OTW's new recruits, and working on a more universally usable 32-bit Vagrant distribution of the AO3 for the coders. They're about to start this year's installation of new and upgraded servers!

AO3 Documentation is whittling down our list of FAQs that need to be updated. Once they are finished, work will begin on other external help text, as well as tutorials that need updating. They'll also be checking with AD&T and updating FAQs as new code hits the Archive.

Open Doors has been working on a more comprehensive moderator agreement with much help from Legal, sent a committee role document to Board after feedback from many other committees, and corrected our archived copy of Demeter from a hardcopy of the zine.

Journal is hard at work doing production for the next issue of Transformative Works & Cultures, which is on track to be released September 15. The Journal editors, Karen and Nina, are also working on a fan fiction studies reprint anthology, due out in 2014 from Iowa; the book has gone into layout and they're expecting page proofs shortly. Nina gave a keynote speech at a convention, and work continues apace for the first two issues of 2014, which are guest edited.


Board set aside 19 August - 19 September for Project Document All The Things. What this means is that they are taking a month to focus on building, updating, and reviewing some of the documentation for how the Board functions and how it interacts with the rest of the OTW. This includes things like Board position descriptions and training plans, procedures for agenda management and issue tracking, confidentiality and conflict-of-interest policies, and more. OTW staff and volunteers will have an opportunity to review and offer feedback on each document before it is formally adopted by the Board.

Fanhackers has gotten approval from Board to become a separate committee. They will continue working very closely with Journal and look forward to welcoming some new people in the near future. More info to come!

In addition, Legal received Board approval to take part in friend-of-the-court briefing in two lawsuits currently pending in U.S. Federal Courts regarding issues that could have important impacts on aspects of fanwork legality. At present, our participation remains confidential, but stay tuned for more news on those briefs.

Legal had an active month working with Communications, Support, Board, Quality Assurance & Testing, Volunteers & Recruiting, Open Doors, Systems, Development & Membership, Content Policy, and Abuse! They have also responded to a couple of legal queries from fans, and requests from outside the organization to participate in policy-related projects.

Strategic Planning is currently finishing up their report on the Wiki Committee and Fanlore, as well as surveying Support, the Survey Workgroup, and the AO3 Documentation Workgroup.


Volunteers & Recruiting finished working on our staff training documents just in time to welcome a new staffer, bookgazing while bidding a sad farewell to co-chair, Curtis.

New Committee Chairs: hele braunstein (Translation)
New Committee Staff: Melannen (Tag Wrangling), dizmo (Tag Wrangling), Lenore (Internationalization & Outreach), bookgazing (Volunteers & Recruiting) 1 other Tag Wrangling staffer, and 3 other Internationalization & Outreach staffers.
New Communications Volunteers: Robyn, caitie, Erin Sullivan, 2 additional
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Firefox

Departing Committee Chairs: Agnieszka Siemienska (Translation), Curtis Jefferson (Communications, Volunteers & Recruiting)
Departing Committee Staff: 1 Translation staffer.
Departing Communications Volunteers: 1 Communications volunteer.

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.


Release Notes for Release 0.9.8

Published: 2013-08-30 03:27:59 -0400

Welcome to Release 0.9.8, our Big Rails Update of 2013! Ariana, Elz, Enigel, James_, Sarken, and Scott contributed code to this release, which was tested by our awesome testing team: aralias, Ariana, BelleGee, Camilla M., Enigel, Etharei, Eve Forbes, FishieMishie, hele, Jane, Jenny Scott-Thompson, Katy Armstrong, Key Foster, Lady Oscar, Leigh Berry, ljunattainable, matty, mumble, Northern_Star, Reppu, Runt, Sarken, Sumeria, Tai, and vtn.


This release was reserved for upgrading the version of Rails we are using. The Archive is built on the web framework Ruby on Rails, and it's important for us to make sure that we are always using a reasonably up-to-date version - this means that we have the latest security fixes (or can easily grab new security patches as they come out) and that we can take advantages of spiffy new features and plug-ins.

We've updated to Rails 3.2.13, which is the newest release of the version we're on. We're holding off on upgrading to the latest version because this is a BIG change - Rails 3.2. gives us up-to-date security with less potential for oddities. However, we will be upgrading to Rails 4 in the future (by which time lots more people will have made the switch and we'll know the most common gotchas).

This update shouldn't affect any of the visible parts of the site - it's just a change to the underlying code. However, sometimes these changes can have unexpected effects - for example, a form used by our Open Doors staffers suddenly disappeared because the updated Rails framework required a single extra character in our code! To avoid such problems showing up for our users, our trusty testing team (aided by our coders and tag wrangling volunteers) have been hard at work testing ALL THE THINGS and reporting issues to be fixed by our tireless coders. While our ever-growing suite of automated tests has helped a lot with this, it was still a major undertaking and we thank everyone involved!

Because this release involved subtle adjustments to the underlying code, we kept other changes to a minimum (it's useful to be sure we didn't create a problem ourselves). Now that the upgrade is done, we can once again turn our attention to bugfixes and site improvements! Stay tuned for a bugfix frenzy in upcoming releases! As always, if you think you've found a bug, or you have a question about any aspect of the site, our Support team are more than happy to help you out.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details

Bug fixes

  • The information in chapter headers was being aggressively cached, and would often not update to reflect changes made to authorship or chapter number unless the chapter title was also edited. This has been fixed.
  • If a collection owner had ticked the "Send a message to the collection email when a work is added" option, trying to add a bookmark to the collection would result in an error 500. This has been fixed, and an appropriate email will be sent.
  • Trying to search for a tag set would lead to an error 500. This has been fixed.
  • Trying to load any bookmark page (by user, tag, work, or series) while logged in as an admin would result in an error 500. This has been fixed.
  • Leaving a comment as the creator of an anonymous work would not properly update the comment (e.g. after creator reveals during a gift exchange) and instead keep attributing it to "Anonymous Creator". This has been fixed.
  • The emails sent to authors when a work of theirs was imported from another archive included lingering information from a previous import. They have now been scrubbed clean of specific fandom references.


AO3 Passes 200,000 User Accounts

Published: 2013-08-28 11:46:35 -0400

At the start of 2013 we posted about the AO3's growth in 2012. Those numbers showed new milestones in total works, total fandoms, total collections, total Support tickets answered, and total account users.

At the time we said, "While we still have a large body of users awaiting accounts, currently around 10,000, this is down significantly from the 30,000+ that we saw through the latter half of 2012, and we hope to decrease the wait further in 2013. It seems likely that Archive use will continue growing strongly this year, possibly even repeating 2012's feat of more than doubling its user base."

And it has! As of yesterday the Archive passed 200,000 users. By March the wait for an account dropped to 24-48 hours and we've been averaging about 500 new users a day.

For those who are feeling nostalgic, you may want to take a look back at a post recapping the AO3's first year in open beta.

When we entered Open Beta on 15 November 2009 we had:

  • 347 users
  • 668 fandoms
  • 6565 works

The site went through a 3000% increase in users that first year and an equally phenomenal jump in content. Yet today we gain more users each day than we started with in 2009.

Visitors from Everywhere!

While account holder statistics are good to know, there are many more people using AO3 than currently have accounts. Whether this is because they're random visitors, casual users, or don't find the benefits of an account appealing, we still have some clues that they're stopping by. For example, in the month of July the AO3 served pages to 3,663,572 unique IP addresses. So even if everyone with an account was using 5 different locations to access us, that's an awful lot of non-account visitors!

Another clue comes from the amount of bandwidth we're using. From just over 5 terabytes served in January we used 7.9 in July. If that pace keeps up we'll have doubled our use this year.

We've also been able to see the many countries that people are clicking in from. We've counted over 60 countries with simultaneous user activity over the past several months (including Denmark, Kenya, Jordan, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Uruguay, just to name a few at random), and many more with at least a handful of visitors this year.

Technology Old and New

We also took note of browser usage among our users and have shown the top 20 in the graph below. In the month of July this ranged from 43.5 pages per minute being served to a Windows IE 8 browser to 533 per minute being served to Windows Chrome 28.

Pie chart of browsers that accessed AO3 in July 2013

Users Doing Stuff!

Here's a quick look at the growth in certain actions on the site.

The number of users we've watched grow over the years is dwarfed by the much larger amount of commenting and bookmarking activity. In the chart below the red line below barely seems to increase compared to the growth in commenting activity this year (green line).

Graph showing growth in comments vs. user accounts

Because the scale of growth is so different for these two actions we can also look at actual numbers taken from the graph below. Comment growth has been somewhat less than that of bookmarking (yellow line). In July there were 299,849 comments left and 438,746 bookmarks added. But both are far less than the growth of kudos (orange line) which is often used by people who don't have accounts or aren't logged in. There were 1,544,028 kudos given in July 2013 alone.

Graph showing growth in comments vs. bookmarks vs. kudos

We welcome all our new users, whether they use an account or not, and hope that they enjoy their time on the site! If you're hesitant to get an account because of long wait times, don't forget that our automated invites should arrive within two days of your request. If you don't see it, please check your spam folder and make sure that is whitelisted.


Looking for a Communications-AO3 Liaison

Published: 2013-08-26 13:06:23 -0400

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Web Developer Staff and Open Doors Staff.

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

  • Communications Staff: AD&T Liaison - applications accepted until September 2

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: AD&T Liaison: 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 position of AD&T liaison requires an individual with experience/interest in technical writing to help maintain that area of our communications and outreach strategy. If you know about the behind-the-scenes development of an open-source project, and are interested in helping us create and share news about the AO3, this is the position for you! Applications are due September 2.


Volunteers needed for Web and Open Doors Committees

Published: 2013-08-12 14:38:23 -0400

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Communications Graphics Volunteers and Tag Wrangling Volunteers.

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

  • Web Developer Staff - applications accepted until August 19
  • Open Doors Staff - applications accepted until August 19

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.

Web Developer Staff: Web Developers are responsible for improvements to and maintenance of the primary web properties owned by the Organization for Transformative Works. S/he will participate in an on-call rotation of three Web Developers, implement new website features, and help determine priorities for future development efforts. Applications are due August 19.

Open Doors Staff: Are you interested in helping other fans save their works be they in fanzines, vids, stories, meta, artwork? Enjoy coordinating projects and people to make things happen? Open Doors is looking for staffers to do this important work.

Open Doors is a dedicated committee of the OTW that is all about preserving fanworks in their many native formats with the goal of providing access to future generations of fans as well as the wider world via the internet and several library collections. This work furthers the OTW's goal to preserve the history of fanworks and fan cultures.

How would you do this? The Open Doors staffer is often the contact between the fan with works to preserve, the OTW, and the final home for those works. There is the quiet joy of knowing we've added more linear feet of zines from the 1960s through today to a permanent collection at a university library open to anyone. There is watching the number of works in an freshly created Open Doors Digital Collection climb as we manually import stories from archives that run on old, sometimes broken code. There is knowing that history, like that contained in the Foresmutters project that has discussions that helped form some of the earliest fannish cultures is held on our servers.

We're not the loudest or shiniest committee at the OTW, but without the work we do, we would lose our history: our delicate archives that represent hours of work, the fanzines and other physical objects and more. If you're interested, click on through for a fuller description of what we're looking for and the time commitment. Applications are due August 19.

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.


OTW July 2013 Newsletter, Volume 71

Published: 2013-08-01 18:49:54 -0400

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


In July, Open Doors was contacted by three archive moderators and they're developing plans to get their archive contents safely onto the AO3 (in addition to touching base with mods for archives already in their queue). Open Doors is also facilitating two donations to the Fan Culture Preservation Project, one of which is a rather large collection (approximately 35 boxes) of materials that is pretty exciting. Lastly, a point for celebration: all unclaimed stories in the 852 Prospect Archive collection have now been unlocked. Woot, visibility!

Accessibility, Design and Technology have been doing lots of work on sustainability. They’re currently in the process of upgrading to a new version of Rails (the web framework the AO3 is built on), which helps ensure good security and means we can take advantage of new developments in Rails. They recently welcomed some awesome new recruits to our Quality Assurance & Testing subcommittee and they’ve been hard at work testing ALL THE THINGS to be sure the upgrade hasn’t broken anything. The Test Archive is now in need of some love, as we use it a lot, so AD&T has been working with Systems to plan for upgraded Test servers.

AD&T is simultaneously preparing for a period of reflection, organizing, and decision-making that will start immediately after the Rails deploy. They've assembled a master list of topics to work through, and will have discussion forums and meetings as well as get-togethers to get some of the more fiddly work done (such as evaluating our list of open bugs to check that they are all still relevant and have the right information attached). They will reflect on conceptual and procedural matters, such as our place in the world of Open Source development, and ways to support and motivate our volunteers better. AD&T will also look into cross-committee processes and touch base with relevant partners. This period of reflection is a chance for them to catch their breath and take a look at the big picture, so that they can work more efficiently going forward.

Of particular interest to users, AD&T has been working with other committees, including Support, Abuse, Tag Wrangling, and Internationalization & Outreach, on the plan for adding different work types to the Archive. This is a much-needed piece of work which will make it easier to mark and filter works by media type (art, video, text, etc), and has been a long time coming.

Systems valiantly tried to keep the OTW mailserver from committing suicide, then split it into separate incoming and outgoing mailservers. They've have also tried out some additional monitoring systems (alongside, not instead of, New Relic) and are in the process of upgrading their ticketing system. Systems will soon be hard at work bringing up new machines for testing, beefing up the servers that run the Archive, and bringing up new virtual servers for Fanlore and the OTW’s internal email server, among other things.

Lastly, Category Change is finishing up discussion on the remaining items from the internal feedback round about fandom categories on AO3, and will be dedicating itself to writing the public documentation for the proposal as soon as they’re done.


Tag Wrangling briefly re-opened wrangler sign-ups for a targeted recruitment, looking for volunteers to handle fandoms in need of some TLC. This call was so successful that recruitment closed again within a couple days! They’ll be reopening again within the next couple of months after training up our new people. There is also a team of wranglers reviewing AO3's religion, mythology and folklore tags, looking for better and more consistent ways to handle these complex fandoms.

Journal put out a call for peer reviewers for Transformative Works and Cultures, so if you work in fandom studies or are interested in fandom meta, you can add yourself to their reviewer database. Journal just sent the next issue into production, on track to be released on September 15. The editorial team is working on the first two issues of 2014. Journal's editors also worked with Comms staffer Jintian on a spotlight discussing their production process.

Communications held recruitment for graphics volunteers and have brought in four so far to augment our news posts with images. They are also planning to celebrate the 1000th subscriber to the OTW Tumblr account on Aug 2, which will feature work from its new recruits. The milestone makes Tumblr the third most followed OTW News outlet after LiveJournal and Twitter.

Development & Membership's The Meetup of Our Own at San Diego Comic-Con was a great success! Around 90 people attended and we collected US$365 in donations. Many thanks to Legal staffer Heidi for her leadership role in planning and hosting this event. In other news, DevMem has begun planning for the October fund drive and is developing a training plan for DevMem staffers in preparation for recruitment.


Board announced some changes to our officer lineup at the beginning of July. The current Board officers are:

President: Ira Gladkova
Vice President: Cat Meier
Secretary: Kristen Murphy
Treasurer: Nikisha Sanders
Elections Officer: Eylul Dogruel

Board held an open house chat for chairs, staff and volunteers on July 13-14 and approved Phase 1 of a proposal from Systems to expand our technology infrastructure. Phase 1 includes a new server for test and infrastructure, a temporary new virtual server to build and test the configuration for a new incoming e-mail server, and provisions for upgrading our bandwidth as usage increases.

Board also adopted and announced a reimbursement policy stipulating when and how staff members may be reimbursed for OTW-related costs they have incurred in the course of staff work and approved a proposal from Volunteers & Recruiting to purchase e-books with which they will develop a library of resources on nonprofit best practices.

They have also begun preparing for the 2013 Board election in conjunction with the Elections Workgroup.

Strategic Planning has been interviewing the Support co-chairs and preparing survey questions for Support staff members. They also interviewed the current Wiki chair to update information in the Wiki/Fanlore report that is being drafted. It should be finished along with the Systems report next month.


Volunteers & Recruiting is nearing the end of the foundation stages of building a chair and lead training program. They are also actively working on finishing their committee’s training plan in preparation to recruit for their own committee.

New Committee Staff: 1 AD&T staffer
New Communications Volunteers: Diane Quintal, Bremo
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Gnine, asa, Ruth Damaris, skieswideopen, Baranduin, Claire J. Vannette, sesanye, Ketsu, breadfuls, bscl43, Zain, Liviapenn, Temaris, KeevaCaereni, radondoran, Carrie Haase, Katy Armstrong, antrazi, Jennifer Tifft, Camilla M., jsparc, Gills, Anne R, Llwyden ferch Gyfrinach, Selenay, Lillian Bolen, slylytouchingly, bluehooloovo, Brianna Smith, Lbilover, Swamp Adder, wendymarlowe, DebetEsse, Wordwitch, ereshai, Firefly_Ca, Rav, Alix Mason, Lee H., strina, 3 additional tag wranglers.
Departing Committee Chairs: Moose (Systems)
Departing Committee Staff: 1 Systems staffer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 17
Departing Tester Volunteers: artisan447

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.


Become a peer reviewer for TWC!

Published: 2013-07-28 18:21:26 -0400

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), the OTW's scholarly journal, is looking to expand its pool of volunteer reviewers, especially for our Symposium section. If you are interested in peer reviewing for TWC, please come over to the site, sign up, and create a profile as Reviewer.

While we tend to solicit peer reviewers for the full essays from within academia (and fan studies scholars specifically), pretty much any fan who loves meta is a good match for a potential Symposium reader. So we want to spread the word and the work :)

You'll be asked to fill out some information (such as uni affiliation if applicable), but, most importantly, there's a field in the software where you input your interests and expertise.

Once you've created a reviewer account, please e-mail us to tell us who you are, how you found us, and what you are specifically interested in. We use the journal's database to find reviewers, but it is often easier when we have spoken to reviewers already and know a bit about them. Then we'll contact you when a manuscript comes in that fits your expertise, and ask if you can review it.

If you have any questions about reviewing; if you want to know more about submitting essays, Symposium pieces, or book reviews; or if you there's something specific you want to know about TWC, please feel free to contact us by emailing editor (at) transformativeworks (dot) org. You may also want to take a look at the recent spotlight on TWC which discusses our production process.

We look forward to having you join the Journal Team!

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.


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