AO3 News

Archive of Our Own among TIME's '50 Best Websites 2013'

Published: 2013-05-07 21:59:47 -0400

The Organization for Transformative Works was pleased to learn that one of our projects, the Archive of Our Own, has been named among the '50 Best Websites 2013' by TIME magazine staff. We are excited to be included in this list and in the company of a number of other great websites.

We would like to extend a thank you to OTW members whose generosity has helped to support the continued development of the AO3 and to AO3 users who provide the content that helps make it one of the 'Best Websites'. We look forward to continuing to build the AO3 to make it even better in the years to come.

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Volunteer Recruiting: AO3 Support and Tag Wrangling

Published: 2013-05-05 18:25:29 -0400

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our initial call for Tag Wranglers, AO3 Documentation Volunteers, and Communications Staff. The AO3 Documentation Lead and Communications Chairs are reviewing applications and should be contacting people within the next two weeks.

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

  • Support Staff - Applications due May 12
  • Tag Wrangler Volunteer (reopening) - Applications accepted on an ongoing basis (role may be temporarily closed based on level of interest)

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.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.

Note: We are working on a set of Volunteering Frequently Asked Questions that we hope to have posted within the next few weeks. If you have any questions about volunteering for the OTW, please let us know.

Support Staff
The Support Committee handles communication between users and the various teams involved with the Archive of Our Own. We receive questions and ideas about all aspects of the Archive from users. The Support team helps to answer questions about using the Archive, diagnosing issues, documenting bugs for the coders to address, getting the most out of features like skins or challenges, passing on questions about tags to the wranglers, documenting requests for new or improved features, or getting answers about general policy.

If you like to interact with a wide variety of people through email and answer their questions, if you're familiar with the Archive, and you like finding the answers to issues, you might enjoy working as Support staff! To come join us, fill out the Support job description and application form. Applications are due May 12

Tag Wrangler Volunteer
The Tag Wranglers are responsible for keeping the hundreds of thousands of tags on AO3 in some kind of order! We choose which form of a fandom title appears on the Media pages, as well as all the character, relationship, and additional tags which appear in the filters and the auto-complete. We link tags together to make all the works and bookmarks on the archive easier to browse and search (so that users can find exactly what they’re looking for, whether that’s alternate universes with Cloud Strife, Steve/Tony and tentacles, or g-rated Rose/Kanaya fluff!)

If you like organizing, bringing order to chaos, excuses to fact-check your favorite fandom canons, or you just get a kick out of seeing all the wacky and wonderful terms fans come up with, you might enjoy tag wrangling! To join our team, click through to the Tag Wrangler job description and application form. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis

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Join Support for a Chat!

Published: 2013-05-01 13:04:47 -0400

Support chat is now over!

Hi! Support here, again! In fact, Support is always here--when you submit a ticket through the Support and Feedback form we'll respond as soon as possible to register your feature suggestion, pass your bug report on to our coders, or do our 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.

After receiving positive reviews of our previous chats in November and February, we're continuing on with Open Chat sessions with the Support Staff in our public chat room (the link will be made available on the day of the chat). We will be there this coming Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 16:00:00 UTC lasting through this Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 04:00:00 UTC. Members of Support will be available to interact with you one-on-one in live chat. See what time that is where you live. We are going to try to have future sessions at different times to make sure we eventually cover all time zones. If you can't make it to this one, keep an eye out for the next!

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, 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:

  • How do I use the new search and browse system to find a certain type of work?
  • 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?

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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Archive of Our Own Newsletter - March/April 2013

Published: 2013-04-29 21:39:47 -0400

March and April were busy busy busy months for the Archive. Our output included, among other things, a new header, an updated roadmap, and our annual April Showers promotion, a joint effort between Fanlore and the AO3 to highlight the fandoms you love!

All the Archive news that's fit to print!

As part of the continuing discussion about the OTW's decision to include meta, or fandom nonfiction, on the Archive, the OTW's Board released a statement. This statement outlined the history of the decision as well as the Board's reasons for including fandom nonfiction on the Archive. Another post, which was the culmination of a discussion between several committees, further clarified the position of the Archive's thoughts on fandom nonfiction and tentatively outlined the steps that would be necessary in introducing fandom nonfiction into the Archive.

The OTW Board released an updated Archive Roadmap. The Roadmap outlines future improvements and changes of the Archive. It is maintained by the Accessibility, Design & Technology committee, though it was created with the input of several other committees including Abuse, Internationalization & Outreach, Open Doors, Support, Systems, Tag Wranglers, and Translation. If you're interested in the future of the Archive, go check it out!

Although the event was not run by Archive committees (big props to the Development & Membership committee for all their hard work!), AO3 was happy to host a banner for the OTW's annual April Membership Drive as well as contributing a post sharing how much it costs to run the Archive. This year's drive was the most successful drive in OTW history. Thank you to everyone who donated!

Release 0.9.6 went live and what a release it was! It presented us with, most notably, a new header and new notification emails. Other new features included the ability to disable guest comments, and a new and improved front page. This release fixed several bugs, updated Tag Wrangling and Admin features, and gave us several other goodies. Unfortunately, this release also presented some unanticipated problems for several users. Our known issues posts describes these issues and we encourage any users who are encountering problems with Release 0.9.6 to look at the above post or contact Support.

Fanlore and AO3 ran their annual April Showers promotion, showcasing fandoms on AO3 and on Fanlore. The Archive's tumblr ao3org with the Fanlore twitter highlighted a fandom a day for the month of April.

Adventures with Support

In the months of March and April so far, we've managed 798 unique tickets so far - and we still have a couple days to go!

AD&T Committee business of note

In addition to releases, we've been working on documentation to start recruitment for selected positions soon.

Support Committee business of note

We will be holding another Open Chat session with the Support Staff in our public chat room (the link will be made available on the day of the chat) this coming Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 16:00:00 UTC lasting through this Sunday, May 05, 2013 at 04:00:00 UTC. Members of Support will be available to interact with users one-on-one in live chat. See what time that is where you live. (Real Life Monsters ate the April chat.)

Tag Wrangling Committee business of note

Tag Wrangling opened for volunteers and had such an overwhelming response that we had to hit the pause button long enough to catch up! We've now inducted the over 50 (\o/) new volunteers, and should be re-opening recruitment soon. In concert with that, staff have been hard at work putting together a comprehensive training plan; our basic tutorials are already completed and in use, and more advanced instruction is on the way. Meanwhile our new wranglers have enthusiastically been helping all our experienced hands in cleaning up tags in fandoms across the Archive; we're looking in better shape than ever!

And finally...

We are floored by the generosity of the participants in AO3 Auction. From the bottom of our squeeing hearts: THANK YOU!

Questions? Comments?

We welcome feedback from users! If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments of the latest news post, or send in a Support request (if you're reporting a bug, please send that to Support, as they're super efficient - comments on our news posts sometimes get overlooked).

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We are pleased to announce that our first applications for new OTW volunteers are open! We have three roles from across the OTW in the first round:

  • AO3 Documentation Volunteer
  • Communications Staff (Media Outreach)
  • Tag Wrangler Volunteer
    Updated 14 April 2013 - Due to the fantastic response from individuals interested in Tag Wrangling, we've temporarily closed the application while we train the over 50 volunteers who have already responded and get them settled in. We aim to reopen Tag Wrangler recruiting in mid-May.

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.

You may be wondering why you aren't seeing positions listed here that you know are open. Those committees are finalizing their position descriptions and training plans, and we will be posting those opportunities when they're ready.

If you have any questions about volunteering for the OTW, please let us know through the Volunteers & Recruiting contact form.

AO3 Documentation Volunteer
The AO3 Documentation Workgroup manages external AO3 docs such as the FAQs and Tutorials, and helps create and/or expand our internal knowledge base.

We’re looking for some people who are familiar with the Archive of Our Own and are good at writing and proofreading help documentation. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, click through to read the full details and apply to join the workgroup. Applications are due April 26

Communications Staff (Media Outreach)
Communications has primary responsibility for internal and external communication for the OTW. We manage the OTW blog and social media outlets and assist other teams in managing project-specific communication. We also field requests from outside the organization and work to spread awareness of the OTW and its projects.

We’re currently looking for someone to perform Media Outreach, which involves making direct pitches to media contacts and working to place stories about the OTW. If you have knowledge or experience in the area of media relations and are interested in helping build up our communication strategies, click through to learn more about the role and apply to join the Communication Staff Applications are due April 26

Tag Wrangler Volunteer
The Tag Wranglers are responsible for keeping the hundreds of thousands of tags on AO3 in some kind of order! We choose which form of a fandom title appears on the Media pages, as well as all the character, relationship, and additional tags which appear in the filters and the auto-complete. We link tags together to make all the works and bookmarks on the archive easier to browse and search (so that users can find exactly what they’re looking for, whether that’s alternate universes with Cloud Strife, Steve/Tony and tentacles, or g-rated Rose/Kanaya fluff!)

If you like organizing, bringing order to chaos, excuses to fact-check your favorite fandom canons, or you just get a kick out of seeing all the wacky and wonderful terms fans come up with, you might enjoy tag wrangling! Updated 14 April 2013 - Due to the fantastic response from individuals interested in Tag Wrangling, we've temporarily closed the application while we train the over 50 volunteers who have already responded and get them settled in. We aim to reopen Tag Wrangler recruiting in mid-May.

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April Membership Drive: Final Day!

Published: 2013-04-09 11:20:07 -0400

Today is the final day of the OTW's April 2013 membership drive, and we're thrilled to announce that it's already a record-breaking success!

Since April 3, the first day of the drive, we've received more than 1,879 donations totaling more than US$48,508. That blows the record from the April 2012 drive (when we received 1,276 donations totaling US$38,379.50) out of the water.

We're immensely grateful to everyone who has supported the drive so far. Thank you for sharing testimonials, reblogging and retweeting, and, of course, for your generous donations. This success is thanks to you.

If you haven't participated in the drive yet, there's still time to show your support! The drive will continue through the end of the day on April 9 so please donate today to be part of the drive. However, if this time isn't a good one for you financially, you can also donate throughout the year to keep the OTW and its projects thriving into the future.


Fandom Is Love: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

<div style="text-align:center"><a href="http://transformativeworks.org/how-you-can-help/support"><img src="http://transformativeworks.org/sites/default/files/otwdrive042013.jpg" alt="Fandom Is Love: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9" /></a></div>
Help share the love! Please repost this graphic by copying the code from the text box and pasting it into your blog or website.

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The Archive of Our Own is growing rapidly! We now have over 145,000 registered users, and about 275,000 unique visitors a day. All these visitors rack up roughly 4.3 million pageviews a day (that's almost 3,000 a minute on average). It cost more than US$52,000 to keep the Archive up and running in 2012. Our costs will only increase as the Archive continues to grow, and we anticipate spending at least US$70,000 in 2013.

The Archive is funded entirely by donations to the Organization for Transformative Works. As part of the OTW's membership drive, we'd like to share some details of what we have to pay for and how much it all costs.

Hardware

The Archive of Our Own is hosted entirely on servers which are owned by the Organization for Transformative Works. This is a key part of our mission: fanworks often disappear from the internet because a site goes down without warning, or because a takedown notice is issued and site owners are unable or unwilling to resist it. By owning the servers, we ensure we're in a position to protect fanworks and keep them available.

Servers are a one-off cost, although over time they have to be replaced or added to. Over the lifetime of the Archive, we've spent US$58,099 in total on hardware. This was spread over several years:

2009

When we launched the Archive in 2009, we started with two servers with upgraded RAM, which cost a total of US$8,165 (including shipping).

2011

In 2011, we expanded our server family substantially, adding four more servers and a switch. The total cost for the new hardware was US$17,234.

2012

By the end of 2012, the extremely rapid growth of the Archive meant that we needed to add more new servers. After some extensive research by our Systems team we settled on three new machines, at a cost of US$28,200. In the same year we upgraded our existing machines by adding some solid state discs — a cost of US$1,650 — and upgrading the RAM — this cost approximately US$2,200.

The size of the Archive codebase and the number of volunteer coders we have working on it meant that in 2012, we also needed to upgrade our testing and development environments. These are used to host web-based coding environments so that our volunteers don't require very high performance computers to code on, and a test environment where our testers can test the new code before it goes onto the live site. We were lucky enough to have these machines donated, so we didn't have to pay up front for them, but we bought a hardware-based firewall for these servers at a cost of US$670.

Our total cost for hardware was US$32,720.

Colocation and hosting costs

The servers themselves are only a small part of the cost of running the site. We also have to pay for them to be physically hosted in a colocation facility: we rent the space for them and pay for electricity, bandwidth, and the physical maintenance of the machines (so if we need to add a new disc, for example, our colocation hosts do it for us). We also pay for a managed firewall at one of our colocation hosts.

Our hosting costs are US$1,365 per month, which breaks down as follows:

Hosting costs: US$1,315 per month
Managed firewall: US$50 per month

Additional tech costs

In addition to paying for hardware and hosting, there are a few other ongoing costs in keeping the Archive up and running. We pay a licence for a product which enables us monitor activity on our servers and to identify performance problems. This cost us US$1,400 in 2012 for June-December and will cost an estimated US$3,500 in 2013. (The cost goes up as we add more machines.)

We pay for backups and image hosting (only used for icons and collection header images). This costs an average of US$65 per month. In 2012, we also paid US$835 for cloud hosting to do some enhanced testing of the Archive code, prior to launching our new tag filters.

We currently pay to use a hosted ticket system for our Support and Abuse teams, which is used to keep track of queries from users. This costs US$180 annually.

And the rest

The above costs don't include smaller sundries such as the cost of our volunteer chatrooms, mailing lists, or other volunteer tools. The Archive is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works, so these costs are rolled into the OTW's overall expenses and it's not really possible to break them out as individual Archive costs.

Finally, there's one big cost which isn't included above: volunteer time. The Archive is entirely designed, coded, tested, and run by volunteers, who give many hours of their time to develop the site, support users, wrangle tags, and manage the servers. Their work is priceless. <3

Support the Archive!

As you can see from the above, it costs a lot of money to keep the Archive up and running. These costs will increase in years to come as more users join the site, and we expand the types of things we host (multimedia hosting is still very much part of our plans). In the next year, we expect our expenses to grow by nearly 50 percent, to a minimum of US$70,000, and you can help get us there.

The Archive is entirely funded by donations to the Organization for Transformative Works: we don't run ads on the site or charge people to use it. If you enjoy using the Archive and have a little money to spare, please donate to the OTW to help keep us thriving! A donation of US$10 confers membership in the OTW and the right to vote in organizational elections. At higher donation levels there are some awesome thank-you gifts to choose from, like our AO3 Kudos Water Bottle at the US$75 level.

Thank you to all our donors, past, present and future! We appreciate your support!

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Known issues from our last deploy

Published: 2013-04-05 06:55:00 -0400

We're currently dealing with a few issues relating to our last deploy (Release 0.9.6), and we wanted to keep you in the loop on how we're handling them (and let you know about workarounds for a few problems):

Jumbled looking header

We launched a new design for our header, which should look like this. If it's looking jumbled, buttons are overlapping, or it otherwise looks broken, please refresh the page. If that doesn't help, you may need to clear your browser cache and then refresh again. If you're using a mobile browser on your phone or tablet, and clearing the cache alone doesn't help, try completely closing the app and opening it again.

Share box always open

Some users have reported that the 'Share' button that usually pops up a pre-formatted block of work information was replaced by the text it's supposed to hold. This severely messes up all work pages. It's due to a conflict with some userscripts people have installed in their browsers, which are interacting badly with a jQuery plugin we started using for our help boxes.

The quick and dirty way of solving this problem is to disable AO3-related userscripts.

The problem is caused by scripts which contain a @require line, which tells the script to grab a copy of jQuery from Google's servers to work with. That fresh copy then overrides our own Javascript stack, causing wonkiness. If you want to keep using the script, you (or the original creator of the script) need to edit it so it doesn't use this line. A helpful Tumblr user has written up instructions on how you can edit a userscript yourself, although this might not work in all browsers. Especially if you're using Chrome, try this little script change instead.

Subscription emails are missing information

We tested all possible Archive emails in various browsers and clients, which amounts to a lot of emails. In all this testing we missed that some information had vanished from some kinds of subscription notifications, for which we apologize.

Many, many users wrote into Support about this and commented on our Release Notes, and we are rolling out a very quick fix to bring back total chapter count, work summaries, and additional tags to all notifications.

New styling of emails

We launched new multipart emails which take advantage of HTML styling. This was to give us more control over the layout of emails, and to help provide a more consistent look. Our old mailer templates were mostly a mix of text and some HTML mark-up (for paragraph breaks, links, and some text styling) that did not actually declare itself properly to email clients. This raised our spam score, looked broken in some text-based email programs, and made it harder to add emails for new features, as there was no consistent style to base them on.

We assumed that users who preferred text-only emails would select this option in their email clients; however, it's become clear that this isn't meeting our users' needs, for various reasons, and lots of people would prefer to have a text-only option.

We're taken note of all the (strongly-felt!) responses to the new emails, and we're looking at solutions, including adding a user preference for plain text emails. We need some time for our coders to look at the issue and figure out the best way forward: when we've been able to do this we'll update users on what we are planning to do and when we will do it. Please rest assured we are taking user feedback very seriously; we appreciate your patience while we work on this.

Some users also raised specific concerns about the styling, notably the size of the font in certain email clients / devices. We'll also be looking to address these issues and tweaking the HTML emails themselves.

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