AO3 News

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2014-12-14 03:41:24 -0500


  • Coders: Ariana, james_, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Elz, james_, Lady Oscar, Sarken
  • Testers: Anika Kabit, Lady Oscar, legalizemavin, mumble, Priscilla del Cima, Runt


  • When a user attempted to change their username to one that was less than three characters or more than forty, the error message they received would tell them which characters are allowed in user names. Now it will tell them how long a username must be.
  • A user who had archivist privileges and wanted to import their own works from another site would receive an error message incorrectly preventing them from importing their work. They will no longer receive this error message, allowing them to import their works.
  • The admin interface for creating translations of news posts had a dropdown menu that let translators choose which of the recent posts the translation corresponded to. However, our translators are awesome and want to translate some older news posts, so we changed from a dropdown menu with a limited number of posts to an autocomplete that will let them choose any news post they like.
  • In our previous release, we tidied up the margins on tags in work blurbs, but we also introduced a bug that moved the tags closer together. We've fixed the typo that caused the problem and tags are properly spaced out once again.
  • We made some minor improvements to the code used for manual imports, in particular to turn names listed on a line starting with "Characters:" into tags where possible.
  • When a logged out user tried to access an FAQ using an old URL (e.g. one ending with archive_faqs/30), they would get a 404 error telling them the page could not be found. Now they should be redirected to the new URL (e.g. one ending in /faq/ao3-internal-tools?language_id=en) just like logged in users are.
  • In works and site documentation, <h4> headings were hard to distinguish from the main text. Now text in <h4> tags will be bold to make it stand out more.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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

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


It’s been a very active month for Legal's advocacy mission. In the beginning of November, they filed petitions with the U.S. Copyright Office to renew the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemption that the OTW helped win in 2009 and 2012. This made it legal for fan video makers to rip DVDs and online sources in order to make noncommercial fan video. In addition to seeking renewal, Legal has asked the Copyright Office to expand the exemption to include ripping Blu-Ray discs for the same purposes. The petition is only the first step. Over the coming months they will be submitting evidence and providing further arguments to support the need for the exemption. Legal thanks everyone who helped them with stories and information so far.

Legal also got some good news this month based on some work they did back in April in the case of Garcia v. Google. In April, Legal filed a brief in support of Google’s request that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals re-hear the case. And we succeeded! On November 12, the court declared its original ruling void, and set a schedule for re-hearing the case. So on November 25, Legal filed another brief, explaining why we thought the previous result would promote online censorship and harm free speech.

Legal also did some informational work in November by helping to create some educational materials about transformative works and U.S. fair use law. Their post on “The Case Against Licensing Fanworks" sparked some lively discussion on AO3 News.

Finally, in November Legal also continued work on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s multi-stakeholder project to improve the functioning of the DMCA notice and takedown process, and responded to several queries from fans. As always, they welcome your queries!


Accessibility, Design and Technology had two code deploys in November — (Releases 0.9.33 and 0.9.34) — and are currently working on a third, with the help of shiny new testers from our last recruitment round! Accessibility, Design and Technology handled a security concern related to our development data by upgrading our encryption method and asking users to change their passwords (via AO3 News post and targeted emails).

Tag Wrangling helped Support resolve tag-related tickets, fixed some broken links in the Tag Wrangling FAQ, and held special-topic training sessions for beginning and intermediate wranglers.

Abuse handled roughly 270 tickets in November, with more constantly streaming in. Please do remember that our team does not need multiple reports sent in; one report per case is all that is required for us to investigate. Most cases are dealt with in less than a week, while trickier cases could take up to two weeks to handle. Abuse is also working with coders to create a way to help better track Fannish Next of Kin requests.

AO3 Documentation sent the first five new FAQs to other committees for revision. This is the last step in their drafting workflow, which means that the first new FAQs are finally almost done! They've also welcomed a new volunteer, and started working on the required documentation to transition into a full committee, while also creating a committee roadmap for 2015.


Systems made some changes to the OTW's internal email architecture to better handle future OTW membership drive emails so that they won't affect the delivery of our internal emails. Meanwhile, Content Policy began revisions to Open Doors' FAQ, with that committee's assistance.

Open Doors announced the pending import for Chains (available in multiple languages thanks to Translation!). They are also receiving much appreciated assistance from Accessibility, Design and Technology on a solution for a second archive import, and have been making progress on two other pending archives. Translation focused on internal documentation and future-planning, including revamping workflows for news posts. Translation chairs are hard at work on chair training documentation and a roadmap for 2015.

The Web Strategy, Design & Development Committee resolved the problem with the OTW website that had been causing frequent downtimes. And Journal is finishing up obtaining final versions of manuscripts for the first two Transformative Works and Cultures issues of 2015, which will go into copyedit in January.


Elections wrapped up the 2014 elections period with a final OTW news post containing transcripts of the three public chats with candidates. They are now writing a roadmap for 2015 and are contacting other committees for feedback on that process.

Strategic Planning drafted an initial plan from the list of strategic goals that was brainstormed in October and presented it to all staff and volunteers for review, input, and discussion of specific implementation steps.

They then hosted two organization-wide chats to review the goals with any personnel who wished to attend. Additionally, each committee chair was contacted individually to solicit input on implementation the specific goals involving their committees. Once the feedback is received, the plan will be revised and reviewed again.

Strategic Planning also welcomed new staff members who will be helping to refine the Strategic Plan, as well as finish up survey reports for each committee and workgroup.

Development & Membership worked with the Board to create a post on the OTW's financial future following our record-breaking drive. The committee also had a lengthy "what we learned" document put together. Because of our technical difficulties with the OTW website, there were some snags in premium fulfilment for donors. But the committee has a good handle on it now, and things are should be smoother going forward.

In addition, Development & Membership announced that the OTW is taking part in the Amazon Smile program so that fans making purchases at Amazon can automatically donate to the OTW. They are also developing business cards and stationary for organizational use.


Volunteers & Recruiting spent November diving into internal committee work after closing out all external recruiting campaigns for 2014. They've made huge leaps forward on an internal audit of all OTW-wide tools, started a revision of recruitment documentation to help improve our recruiting services in 2015, continued to assess and revise committee internal documentation and procedures, and worked on feedback for the recently released draft of the Strategic Plan.

New Committee Chairs: jsparc (Wiki), Curtis Jefferson (Volunteers & Recruiting)

New Committee Staff: Nerine Luna Cyran (Tag Wrangling), ragingrainbow (Tag Wrangling), Nary (Tag Wrangling), theteapot (Translation), Kirsten Korona (Communications), Ridicully (Support), Kenna McKay (Support), LilyC (Support), Sparrow Rubin (Support), Amy Shepard (Strategic Planning), FeminineBrain (Strategic Planning), 3 other Communications staffers, 2 other Tag Wrangling staffers, 3 other Support staffers, 1 other Strategic Planning staffer, and 1 Systems staffer

New Workgroup Members: Amalia Blondet (AO3 Documentation)

New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1 Tag Wrangling volunteer

New Tester Volunteers: mugenmine, Anika Kabit, twofingerpost, pendrecarc, nightmarefluff, Agwen, and 6 other testing volunteers

New Translator Volunteers: 1 Translator volunteer

Departing Committee Staff: Priscilla Del Cima (Development & Membership), Camden (Communications)

Departing Workgroup Members: EnthusiasmGirl (AO3 Documentation), 3 other AO3 Documentation volunteers

Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 11 Tag Wrangling volunteers

Departing Translator Volunteers: Nothorse and 1 other Translator volunteer


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2014-12-05 12:19:52 -0500

graphic by James Baxter with the words 'thank you' and hearts'

Since 1985, the United Nations has designated the 5th of December as International Volunteer Day, a day to celebrate and honour volunteerism around the world. We would like to take today to thank all the dedicated volunteers who keep this organisation running.

Today, the OTW is made up of 479 active volunteers and volunteer-staff, who run 20 committees and 2 workgroups. They keep AO3 and Fanlore online and functioning; edit Transformative Works & Cultures; preserve fansites through Open Doors; and protect and defend fanworks from commercial exploitation and legal challenge as well as do many, many internal tasks that are unseen by fans.

The OTW's staffers and volunteers put countless unpaid hours toward the organisation's mission of providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan cultures. Whether you've joined us recently or have been with us since the beginning--seven years ago!--we are grateful for the fantastic work you have done. To all the thousands of volunteers, past and present, who have helped move us forward in our work, thank you!


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2014-12-02 15:25:44 -0500


  • Coders: Emily E., Lady Oscar, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: james_, Sarken, Scott
  • Testers: Agwen, Lady Oscar, legalizemavin, LtFoxYee, mumble, nightmarefluff, pendrecarc, Runt, Sara Heins, twofingerpost


Tag Wrangling & Tag Sets

  • When a tag wrangler attempted to create a tag containing certain restricted characters (i.e. , ^ * { } = ` \ %), the error message they received was incomplete and confusing due to the way the ^ character is interpreted by our code. We switched to using the numeric character reference for ^ and now a full, clear error message will be given.
  • When a user attempted to nominate a tag or create a tag set using restricted characters (e.g. giving it a title with * or ^ in it), the error message they received was similarly incomplete. These issues have been fixed as well!
  • The Wrangling Tools page (visible to logged-in wranglers) previously contained only a few links to the Wrangling Guidelines and the OTW-internal wiki. Now it includes a more detailed set of links to various pages of documentation and updated contact information for the committee staff.


  • Attempting to import a work from a LiveJournal community or journal marked as containing adult content would instead import the contents of LiveJournal's support page. We adjusted the importing code so it will bypass the adult content warning and import the work itself.
  • The "Post New Work Instead?" link on the import page was only reloading the import page. Now it will take you to the page for posting a new work.

External Works

  • When a user bookmarks an external work, they are asked to provide information about that work based on the work's headers. However, the field for providing the work's category (i.e. F/F, F/M, Gen, M/M, Multi, or Other) was presented as a dropdown menu, which would only let the user choose one category tag. The options are now presented as checkboxes, so the user can select all categories that apply.
  • Admins were unable to access the form for editing external work information due to a conflict with the "Hide my work from search engines when possible" preference. We've fixed the conflict so admins can access the page once again.


  • The "Totals" section on a user's Statistics page lists how many users are subscribed to them as a work creator. It was previously labeled "Author Subscriptions," but because we have more than written works on the Archive, we changed it to "User Subscriptions."
  • A work posted on or backdated to 31 December would not be included in the user's statistics for that year (or any other year). Now it will be listed in the correct year and any word counts, kudos, comments, hits, or subscriptions for that work will also be included in that year's totals.


  • In work blurbs, the first tag in a line of text was aligned differently based on whether it started on that line of text or had wrapped from the previous line. Now the tags will always align the same, creating a tidier margin on the left side of the tag section of the blurb.
  • If a form's HTML provides certain information, most browsers will place keyboard focus on an input (e.g. a checkbox or text field) when a user interacts with its label. To improve usability and accessibility, we've added that information to the form on the reset password page, so the field will correctly receive focus.
  • We recently changed the code for the pop-up search suggestions in the header (e.g. tip: lex m/m (mature OR explicit)) on most site pages. However, because our error pages use different code than the rest of the site, the search tip was always displaying there, not just when using the search field. The error pages have been updated and will now work the same as all other pages.
  • The chapter number at the top of a chapter was supposed to be a link in Chapter-by-Chapter mode and plain text in Entire Work mode, but caching would sometimes result in the the wrong format being used in a given mode. Now the chapter number will always be a link, regardless of which mode is in use.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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2014-12-02 12:41:39 -0500

banner by caitie of chat-related words and emoticons in chat bubbles'

AO3 Support staffers are the people who receive your tickets through the Support and Feedback form and try to respond as soon as possible to register your feature suggestion, pass your bug report on to our coders, or do their best to help you out with a problem. However, when it comes to explaining how to do things or why something doesn't seem to be working right, the formal back-and-forth emails of a Support request aren't always ideal.

So Support will be holding an Open Chat session in our public chat room.

They'll be available on Sunday, December 7, 00:00 UTC to 04:00 UTC (what time is that in my timezone?). Volunteers will be available to answer inquiries in English, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. If you can't make it to this one, keep an eye out for future chat announcements.

If you're having a problem using the Archive, want help trying something new, or would like an explanation of one of our features, please drop in and talk to us in person!

Some guidelines from Support, just to keep things running smoothly

We don't have a fancy presentation or material prepared--there are plenty of FAQs, tutorials, and admin posts for that. The point of live chat is to talk with you, not at you. We're happy for you to drop in and say "hi", but it's even better if you drop in and say, "Hi, what's up with my work that won't show as complete even though it is?!"

As Support, our function is to help users with bugs and issues, and pass reports on to our Coders and Systems team, who actually keep the place running. This means that policy questions are way over our pay grade. (Just kidding--none of us get paid!) So, if you have questions or comments about AO3 or OTW policies, good or bad, Support Chat isn't the right place for them. If you do want to talk to someone about policy issues (meta on the Archive, philosophical issues with the tagging system, category change, etc.) we can direct you to the appropriate admin post or contact address so you can leave feedback directly for the people dealing with the area of your concern.

Additionally, if a question looks like it might violate a user's privacy to answer (if it needs an email address or other personal information, for example) we may not be willing to work with it in chat. In those cases, we'll redirect a user to the Support Form so we can communicate via email.

So, now that that's out of the way, what kind of things are we going to talk about?

Live chat is best for questions of a "How do I...?" or "Why does it...?" nature. For example, you might have been wondering:

  • I'd like to run a challenge, but I'm not sure how to do what I want.
  • For that matter, where did my work submitted to an anonymous challenge go?!
  • I want to post using formatting the Rich Text Editor won't give me. How do I do it using a work skin?
  • I want to add a lot of my older works to the AO3 -- what would be the easiest way to do that?

We'd be happy to help you with any of these questions, and anything else you're having trouble doing or would like to try doing with the Archive.


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We've recently upgraded our password encryption in response to a possible security issue affecting a number of accounts. Your account will be automatically upgraded to use the stronger encryption next time you log in. If you usually stay logged in all the time, please log out and then back in to ensure your account is upgraded.

What was the issue?

We maintain a virtual development environment which coders who want to work on the Archive can download: this is a copy of everything needed to run the Archive so that our coders can easily develop and test. This comes with a partial copy of Archive data, so that coders can see how changes in the code will affect the site, with identifying information such as email addresses stripped out. However, we were alerted to the fact that the way we previously encrypted passwords meant someone with access to this data could theoretically use it to figure out passwords associated with some accounts.

Our new encryption system will make it much harder for anyone who accesses our data in any way to guess passwords. In addition, we will review how we put together the sample data we use for development. Only known coders have accessed the old data (we keep a record of downloads) and we have no reason to think that users' accounts were compromised. However, account security is a priority and we're asking our users to change their passwords as a precautionary measure.

How to change your password

Affected account holders will shortly receive an email with a link to the "Change My Password" page. To change your password without the link:

  1. Log into your account with your current password.
  2. Visit your Profile.
  3. Follow the "Edit My Profile" link at the bottom of the page.
  4. Follow the "Change Password" link at the top.

We strongly recommend you pick at least a combination of letters and numbers, and avoid easily guessable passwords like 'password' or '123456'. You may wish to use a service like How Secure is my Password? to help you create a strong password.


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2014-11-23 13:47:02 -0500

Amazon Smile banner showing the OTW as a donor recipient

As many fans are preparing to celebrate the end-of-year holiday season, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) would like to let U.S. supporters know that there is a simple way they can donate if they are making purchases through Amazon.

AmazonSmile is a program set up by Amazon that allows you to donate to a charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. There are currently nearly one million organizations participating, and the OTW is one of them!

How to use AmazonSmile

Simply go to from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. The site has the same products and services as the usual Amazon domain, many of which will be marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. (Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible.) The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charity of your choice. Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation, however, and will not be tax deductible by you.

If you have an existing account, all details will remain the same including your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry. On your first visit to AmazonSmile you will be asked to select a charitable organization. Enter "The Organization For Transformative Works Inc" in the search field. That's it!

If you'd like to donate to more than one charity, you can always select the “Change your Charity” link in the “Your Account” page for different purchases. If you'd like to know more about AmazonSmile, visit their program details page.

Screenshot of a user's Amazon Smile page showing the OTW as the designated charity

What if I don't use Amazon U.S.?

At this time, AmazonSmile is only available to users of the U.S. site, and AmazonSmile is the only retail program through which we receive donations. If you have suggestions of other programs, please let us know!

However, you can donate directly to the OTW at any time of year through our donation page. We have answers to some frequently asked questions there, but if you have additional questions, please contact us.


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2014-11-18 21:44:48 -0500


  • Coders: Lady Oscar, Sam Johnsson, sarken
  • Code reviewers: Enigel, james_
  • Testers: Anika Kabit, Lady Oscar, Runt, sarken


  • Misc.
    • Previously, if the original version of an AO3 News post was accidentally designated as being a translation, it couldn't be set back, creating a situation in which the post would permanently vanish from the main feed. It's now possible to restore the setting.
    • On the External Bookmark page, required fields were not correctly marked as being required. All required fields are now denoted with an asterisk (*) and error messages have been updated to be inclusive of non-text fanworks.
    • We have added a link to the Troubleshooting: Common Problems When Logging In News Post from the error message that is generated upon a failed login attempt.
    • We have reduced the number of emails sent out during the AO3 signup process. After signing up, users will still receive an email with an activation link, but will not receive a success email after activating the account, as this email contained no new information.
  • Skins
    • While using the 'Reversi' Skin, it was previously impossible to read the 'You have already left kudos' message. This has been fixed.
    • We have also edited Reversi to make it easier to read the tooltip information displayed when viewing Tag Set nominations.
    • We have added a '.book' style to the Basic Formatting workskin. This style will indent the first line of each paragraph and remove the blank lines between paragraphs to give an appearance similar to the text in a standard printed book. You can read more about Work Skins in our Work Skins Tutorial.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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