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OTW October Drive – October 13-19 2016

Our October 2016 drive is now complete, and all of us at the Organization for Transformative Works would like to thank you for your participation and generosity. Together, we raised US$139,159.45 from 5518 individual donations!

Each and every participant in this drive has helped us continue to thrive as an organization, which means our projects and teams will keep growing and we’ll be able to do more outreach. Your participation has strengthened our community, allowing us to serve you better.

We’d like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to our returning members, who make what we do possible, and we are proud to welcome over 1200 new members to the OTW. We’re truly grateful to everyone who supports us, whether by donating, signal-boosting, volunteering, or encouraging our work. You’ve got our kudos!

Kudos growth graph on AO3, from zero in 2010 to over 60 million as of September 2016.
Growth graph for works and comments created each year on AO3, starting from zero in 2008 to over 500,000 works and 9.5 million comments this year alone.

(And don’t forget: even though the drive is over, you can contribute to the OTW at any time!)

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OTW October Drive – October 13-19 2016

The OTW Legal team works every day in defense of fandom's right to create fanworks. They work to prevent unfair takedowns and lawsuits against fans, to secure exemptions that protect fans’ rights, and to participate in cases that may have an impact on fandom. To support our legal advocacy work, please make a donation.

Our Legal team also helps fans by answering their questions about fair use and their rights as content creators, and by publishing posts about new legal developments. They speak at panels about remix culture, what constitutes fair use, and how fan culture can help all content creators find their voices and gain more skills.

The OTW Legal team works primarily in the United States, although they're branching out to defend fair use principles in other parts of the world as well, including Europe, South Africa, and Australia. If you live in the US, Legal may have helped you if:

  • You cosplay (Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands)
  • You make fan video (Paramount/CBS Fan Film “Guidelines”)
  • You’ve used the word "fandom" (Petition to cancel "FANDOM" trademark)
  • You write RPF (Davis v. Electronic Arts)
  • You’ve ever made a remix (Petition to grant DMCA exemption for noncommercial remixes)

Work that Legal Advocacy has done this year related to different types of fan activity: cosplay (Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands), writing (Davis v. Electronic Arts, petition to cancel

You can find out more about their work by visiting the Legal page on our website and support their advocacy by donating today!

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OTW October Drive – October 13-19 2016

Have you ever wondered where the fanworks on AO3 are stored? Ever wanted to take a peek behind the scenes? The Organization for Transformative Works, the nonprofit behind the Archive of Our Own, Open Doors, Fanlore and Transformative Works and Cultures, owns the servers that run nonstop to host our projects. With your support, we can maintain and upgrade our servers as our projects grow and expand every year.

We're here to archive your creations, and we take the duty of preserving your fanworks seriously. By owning our own servers, we avoid being subject to other companies' terms of service and potential censorship. Without our servers, none of this would be possible!

As our community and our projects keep expanding, our servers need the capacity to keep up with the volume:

Our servers
Our servers run code, send notifications, store fanworks, wrangle tags and serve pages to visitors. Common server costs: $40,200 in yearly hosting fees, $37,420 for two database servers and about $4,000 for a general purpose server—the first two of which the OTW spent this year.
AO3 currently has around 1 million members, over 2.5 million fanworks, 134 million weekly page views (43% growth over last year) and 10 million monthly unique visitors (18% growth over last year).

Adapted from the OTW 2016 budget.

We need to make sure our servers are up to date and able to handle these demands so that pages load quickly. To help keep the AO3's servers up and running and the OTW's projects thriving, please make a donation today!

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Published:
2016-10-09 17:41:43 -0400
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This release includes several bug fixes concerning gift exchanges, the usual handful of miscellaneous improvements, and a much improved challenge matching process!

We have drastically sped up gift exchange matching by reducing the number of database queries involved in the process. Through the magic of hash mapping, caching, batching, indexing, and pre-processing, we've made matching at least five to ten times faster, depending on your challenge settings -- and we've eliminated the recently-implemented constraints that were causing difficulties for challenges that relied on hand-matching. Note that you won't notice any difference when putting your challenge together -- all these changes only affect back-end processes.

We think that all gift exchanges will benefit from the new code, but some challenges will see especially noticeable improvements. This includes single-fandom exchanges as well as fanwork fests that let participants offer and request fic, art, podfic, etc. through Additional Tags.

(Shoutout to tickinginstant for not only making these changes, but for doing it as a drive-by contributor through our GitHub presence. Many, many thanks! ♥)

Credits

  • Coders: james, Naomi, Sarken, tickinginstant
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, james, Naomi, Sarken
  • Testers: Lady Oscar, Naomi, Sarken

Details

Challenges

  • [AO3-4635] - We vastly improved the way challenge matches are calculated, which should ensure a much smoother experience for gift exchange mods and participants. Additionally, we now have much better automated test coverage for this feature.
  • [AO3-4505] - In the challenge settings, gift exchange mods can set a message to be sent to all participants with their assignment. Previously, line breaks in that message would not be preserved in the emails. Now they are!
  • [AO3-4652] - When a challenge assignment didn't include a rating -- either because rating wasn't an option on the sign-up form or because the recipient had not chosen a rating -- assignment emails included a line saying "Rating: Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings." This managed to be both inaccurate and unnecessary, so we removed it. Now ratings will only appear in assignment emails if your recipient has specified a rating.
  • [AO3-4654] - The assignment emails weren't properly listing all tag types (Rating, Warning, Relationship, etc.) that had been set to "Any" in the matched participant's sign-up. Fixed!
  • [AO3-4656] - In further assignment email bugs, a link to the user's Assignments page was mislabeled as "your archive dashboard"; this is now properly labeled.
  • [AO3-4657] - Challenge assignment emails included an ugly "Sent at sent_at" mishap in the footer. Now the line displays the actual time the message was sent.
  • [AO3-4655] - The "Optional Tags:" line in challenge sign-up blurbs was rather misaligned and has been nudged into its proper position now.

Misc.

  • [AO3-4664] - We fixed a security issue regarding pseuds that could occur when commenting, bookmarking, signing up for a challenge, posting a chapter, or nominating a tag.
  • [AO3-4343] - The automated response to Support form submissions also included the "Sent at sent_at" line in the footer. Not anymore! In fact, it's been fixed for all emails where this problem occurred. \o/
  • [AO3-4616] - One of our automated tests would sometimes fail for no discernible reason. A reason has been found and now it shouldn't fail anymore. (Rule #1: It's always caching. Rule #2: It's always caching.)
  • [AO3-4651] - We limit the number of abuse reports about any given work on the Archive, as even one message will make sure the Abuse team investigates the case. This feature came loose in our last deploy, however. Now it's working again!

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

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Published:
2016-10-09 13:03:32 -0400
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Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with James Baxter, who volunteers as a Co-Chair for our Webs Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I work as the co-chair of the Webs Committee, which is in charge of creating and maintaining the OTW websites: transformativeworks.org, opendoors.transformativeworks.org, and elections.transformativeworks.org.

These sites are part of the underlying infrastructure that allows the OTW to keep functioning. If we're doing our job right as a committee, we provide a platform to lift up the voices and works of everyone else in the organization.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

We have meetings every two weeks, and because our committee is spread across a lot of different time zones, not everyone can attend each meeting. So, my week usually starts with a meeting, and then I try to touch base with each of the volunteers who couldn't make it.

Every person on my team, including myself, works on tickets as they come in, so I spend some time working on my weekly task.

I also spend time talking to my co-chair, Alex, about what our upcoming goals are, and who needs to do what in order to get them done. We draft and send replies to emails that need our attention.

Finally, I stop by our internal chat channels every day. Most of the OTW uses the same system, so it's one of our best communication tools. I try to respond to any feedback we get there as quickly as possible. We get comments about the sites, as well as feature requests and questions.

What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

There's a lot! The absolute best thing is getting to meet and work with such a committed, smart, and diverse group of people. I'm constantly learning about how to be a better leader, and how to build things that (hopefully) work for people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. And it's such a pleasure to get to see the direct impact of my work (our work) on the broader fannish community.

Recently, I've also enjoyed getting to train our new recruits! We've got a great team of very smart people and I'm really excited to see what they're going to do in their time with us.

Are there things you want to see happen with OTW's website?

There are SO many things I want to see happen with the OTW websites! We made a transition earlier this year from Drupal to Wordpress, and we did it fairly quickly. So, while the new sites work, and look pretty good, we definitely have room for improvement.

And, with our new staff members, hopefully you're going to be be seeing some big changes in the near future!

The top three items on my personal wish list are:

  1. Move our language switcher to the top, and set it to a drop down menu instead of a list.
  2. Create a home page for transformativeworks.org (currently it shows our most recent news items)
  3. Work on making the site more accessible.

What fannish things do you like to do?

...my OTW work? Can I say that?

I mean, that's not entirely accurate, but being a part of the OTW has definitely been the largest ongoing commitment that I've made to fandom over the years.

Otherwise, I do read a lot of fan fiction, and I spend a lot of time on tumblr and twitter. I also ran a fic and fanworks challenge for Leverage last summer, called the Leverage Thing-a-thon, which was a great experience.

In real life, I'm an illustrator and designer, so sometimes I post fanart -- mostly for Fraction's Hawkeye comics, the Captain America movie fandom, and Leverage.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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

I. ELECTIONS

The 2016 OTW Board Election was held and the results have been posted! Congratulations to the new Board members, Kristina Busse and Priscilla Del Cima! They will begin their terms on November 1st. We wish them nothing but good things during their service.

Thank you to the candidates and everyone who participated, particularly those who attended the two candidate chats in their new format. Elections also wants to thank all the committees that made this possible; it was a true team effort.

Next year's election is currently planned for August, which is intended as its new permanent home.

Should the process ever see any other changes, we'll always be sure to keep you updated through the Elections website, on the OTW Elections Tumblr account, the OTW Elections Twitter account, and in this newsletter.

II. AT THE AO3

This month, Open Doors announced two new imports (The Basement, ScullySlash, and the Spooky Awards and Sinful Desire) and the project was highlighted in the OTW anniversary festivities. Much appreciation to the Communications team for organizing an interview with Versaphile (mod of several imported archives), an interview with Open Doors staffer Alison Watson, and a live chat with panelists from the three biggest academic fandom collections: University of Iowa (our partner in the Fan Culture Preservation Project), Texas A&M University, and Bowling Green University. We'd also like to thank Translation for their fast turnarounds as usual!

This was also the first month Open Doors internally recruited tag wranglers to help us with pre-import searching (to minimize duplicates for an import), and they did an amazing job searching almost 9,000 works for the Warp 5 Complex and The Hex Files archives. Many, many thanks to Tag Wrangling for continuing to help us map tags for all upcoming Open Doors imports!

Speaking of Tag Wrangling, two new guidelines were adopted as part of the team's ongoing metatag reduction project; one concerning how ambiguous canonical tags should be handled, and the second regarding character-specific tags in the Alternate Universe tree.

Due to the recent guideline updates, wranglers in many fandoms have been reexamining their existing canonical tags, and discovering that a large number are out of date. Several fandoms will be seeing tags updated to be guideline-compliant over the next few months. This will mostly involve adding disambiguations to ambiguous tags, but may also involve formatting changes to character or relationship tags, as well as reductions in metatagging in the freeforms.

III. UNDER THE HOOD AND BEHIND THE SCENES

Abuse received about 500 tickets this month! The team is currently switching to a new ticket tool, and the Abuse form has been updated.

Communications celebrated the OTW's anniversary with a public chat featuring three experts in curation and preservation of fannish history.

Accessibility, Design & Technology deployed several batches of code (summarized in the Release Notes for 0.9.154 - 0.9.158 and 0.9.159 - 0.9.163), including changes to the Abuse report form, more invisible improvements and several substantial bug fixes. The team has also added some more documentation to our GitHub presence, to invite more contributions from coders outside the OTW. Accessibility, Design & Technology has been working with one such contributor on an exciting improvement for gift exchanges, which is currently being tested and should hopefully go live soon.

As for the most exciting news of all, the team has found a fantastic contractor whom they are looking to task with upgrading the Archive's version of Rails (the web development framework the AO3 is built on), which has been urgently due for an update for a while. It's a comprehensive, fiddly project, and we're glad to be able to outsource a large chunk of the work involved. Thank you to the Board, Legal, Finance, and all the OTW donors who make this possible!

Throughout September, Webs has worked to resolve and refine several visual and practical features across transformativeworks.org. They're in the midst of minimising loading times, creating a new and improved board minutes display, and other internal improvements.

Journal came out bang on time with issue No. 22 of Transformative Works and Cultures! The team also has most of the table of contents set for one of the two guest-edited issues for the first half of 2017, and contents of the other special issue are almost ready. They have a special issue call for papers out for a 2018 issue, and they hope to add another soon.

Development & Membership has been hard at work preparing for the October drive, writing posts and emails, making infographics, choosing new thank you gifts and making changes to our donation forms. The drive starts on October 13, so keep an eye out!

IV. GOVERNANCE AND LEGAL

Finance has published the 2016 budget update! More internal work is being done to make sure that the OTW's finances are running smoothly.

In September, OTW Legal partnered with our ally Public Knowledge to file an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case of Lenz v. Universal. This continues our work on the long-running case, which concerns the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s notice-and-takedown system. Under that system, copyright owners can ask Internet hosts (like the Archive of Our Own) to take down works that infringe copyright. But before doing so, the copyright owners have to state their belief that the work is actually infringing—for example, that the work isn’t fair use.

Last year, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that before sending a takedown notice, copyright owners need to form a belief that the work is not fair use, but they held that a “subjective good faith belief” is enough. Although this ruling was a step in the right direction, the OTW believes that the court set the standard too low. So in this brief, Legal argued that the Supreme Court should examine that standard. They argued that allowing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to stand would chill freedom of expression on the Internet and invite censorship by allowing copyright owners to send DMCA takedown notices without adequately considering or understanding the actual law of fair use.

V. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

As of September 27, the OTW has 580 volunteers. Recent personnel movements are listed below:

New Committee Staff: sveritas (Finance), Cesy (Finance), and 2 other Finance staffers, 1 Translation staffer, 2 Volunteers & Recruiting, Sandra Strauch (Communications)
New Coder Volunteers: Carlos Martín
New Translator Volunteers: Zane Valule

Departing Committee Staff: Jeniouis (Webs), billiethepoet (Strategic Planning), ashleyhasahat (Communications), 1 AO3 Documentation staffer, 1 Webs
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Kits, defe and 5 other volunteers
Departing Translator Volunteers: Carmen, Chintan, Noura, and 3 other volunteers

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

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The Quidditch Pitch

The Quidditch Pitch (TQP), an all-pairing, all-era Harry Potter archive, is being imported to the Archive of Our Own (AO3).

In this post:

Background explanation

The Quidditch Pitch came into existence on October 31, 2005 with 30 authors and 40 members, and by 2015, had grown into a well-frequented archive with almost 500 authors, about 5,500 stories, and over 41,000 members. Unfortunately, that year the archive's hosting plan expired during a time when the mod, Annie, was not able to renew it, and the original archive was deleted by the hosting provider.

Using a backup of the archive, Open Doors will be working with Annie to import the original archive into a separate, searchable collection with its own identity. Eventually the links that directed to the old site will re-direct to the collection on AO3 so the works can be found with their old URLs. We will begin importing works from The Quidditch Pitch to the AO3 collection after October.

What does this mean for creators who had work on The Quidditch Pitch?

This is the part where we ask for your help!

1. If you already have an AO3 account and have posted your TQP works there, please contact Open Doors with your TQP pseud(s) and e-mail address(es), so that we won't import your works. (Please include "TQP" in the subject heading.)

Please visit the Open Doors website for instructions on mass-adding works to the TQP collection on the AO3.

2. If you don't already have an AO3 account but would like one to import your works yourself, please contact Open Doors with your TQP pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Please include "TQP" in the subject heading.)

Please visit the Open Doors website for instructions on importing works to the TQP collection on the AO3.

3. If you don't already have an AO3 account but would like one, as well as assistance importing your works, please contact Open Doors with your TQP pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Please include "TQP" in the subject heading.)

Once your account is set up, let us know your AO3 name, and we can transfer your works to you once imported.

4. If you would NOT like your works moved, please contact Open Doors with your TQP pseud(s) and e-mail address(es) so that we will not add them. (Please include "TQP" in the subject heading.)

If you would not mind your works being preserved but do not want your name attached to them any longer, please let us know that too--we can orphan your works instead of leaving them behind to be deleted.

All works archived on a creator's behalf will be attributed with the creator's name in the byline of the work. As we import works, we will e-mail notifications to the address associated with the work. When all works have been accounted for, the Open Doors committee will set up the URL redirects.

All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly-viewable if you choose. After 30 days, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors.

If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your TQP account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's fantastic; if not, we will work with the TQP mod to confirm your claims.)

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ page, or tutorials page. If these pages don’t offer the answers you need, you can contact the Open Doors committee, or leave a comment on this post and we'll respond as soon as we can.

We'd also love it if fans could help us preserve the story of The Quidditch Pitch on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask the Fanlore Gardeners for tips.

We’re pleased to be part of preserving The Quidditch Pitch on the AO3.

- The Open Doors team

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Published:
2016-10-04 15:49:39 -0400
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We will be deploying a major improvement to the potential matching code for challenges and gift exchanges shortly, and want to give a quick overview of how this could affect any exchanges you may currently be running.

  • If you have sent assignments out, no worries! The new code will not affect you at all.
  • If you have not run matching yet, please hold off on doing so until the new code is deployed! We will be announcing the code release here on AO3 News in the next three days.
  • If you are in the middle of making assignments -- that is, you have already run matching, but have not actually sent out your assignments -- you will need to do one of two things. Either:
    • Send out assignments before we deploy the new code, or
    • Wait until the new code is deployed, then re-run matching.

Please note that if you choose to wait until the new code is deployed, you will unfortunately lose the existing assignments, including any ones you may have edited by hand. You will still be able to re-run your matching, taking full advantage of the new improvements, and then re-do any manual edits that need to be made.

If you have invested a lot of time in hand-massaging assignments and do want to send your assignments out before we deploy, please contact Support by October 8 with the name of your collection and an estimate of when you expect to send out assignments. We would like to release this code, which will significantly improve matching, as soon as possible, while also trying to give everyone who is in the middle of assignments enough time to finish the process.

The changes we have made to the code are completely on the back end and will not only eliminate the (recently implemented) limit on potential matches, but will also make matching run much faster and more smoothly going forward! Thank you in advance for your support and assistance as we prepare to release this upgrade.

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