AO3 News

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Every year, the OTW’s expenses increase. Watching the trends as we grow and change is always an adventure, and fitting the numbers into a budget can be as challenging as a round of Sudoku.

Here are nine quick and quirky facts about the OTW's expenses:

Sudoko board which reads

  • 990 is the US Federal Tax return filed by the organization every year to report our income and expenses. Copies are available by request.
  • US$828 was the total cost for the year to keep our main website,, up and running.
  • 78% is the amount by which the OTW’s income grew in 2014, thanks in large part to the generosity of donors during the October fundraising drive.
  • 6 staff members were sponsored to represent the OTW at seven conventions on two continents—staffing information tables, leading panels, and networking with fans and tech professionals.
  • US$5,122.57 paid for server colocation in Europe, one of several sites where OTW servers live.
  • US$412 provided a much-needed upgrade to ticketing software for both the Abuse and Support committees, which work to address problems and answer questions for AO3 users.
  • US$3,456.00 came up twice in 2014—first as the total cost for two members of Accessibility, Design & Technology to attend training sessions for Elasticsearch (the search engine software that AO3 uses), and again as the cost for more than a dozen OTW volunteers to take part in communications training.
  • 2 contractors worked closely with the OTW in 2014—one with Accessibility, Design & Technology and a second with the Board of Directors—for a total cost of US$2,685.00.
  • 1 person's donation can make a difference.

The OTW's new expenses in 2015 will include upgrades to servers; expansion of outreach at conferences and conventions; consultants to provide additional support to AO3 and; and assistance in managing the software used for our donor database. Existing expenses will continue, including an increase of 10% in both monthly colocation fees and insurance premiums.

Every donation, large or small, helps cover the costs mentioned here and so many more, from stamps for the occasional piece of old-fashioned paper mail to providing the chat rooms in which our volunteers collaborate on and contribute to the myriad projects under the OTW umbrella. Monthly subscriptions are a great way to help cover those expenses and provide a steady stream of income in the six months between our two annual fundraising efforts.

Once again proving that 1 person's donation can make a difference, this drive we have a generous matching gift opportunity. We currently have 350 generous donors who support the OTW through recurring donations. If we can increase that to 400 donors, an anonymous donor will donate US$3,600! These recurring contributions can also count towards a premium. Any total donation over US$50 is eligible to receive a donor premium gift.

Come join us as we face new challenges this year. Make a donation and help us become bigger and even better in 2015.


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A deck of cards with the ace of hearts showing with the title 'We Win Together: OTW May 1-6, 2015 Membership Drive

It all begins with the first piece. You’ve got the whole board to place it on. Every move is open. The choice is yours.

Success begins with that first move. What are you aiming for? Maybe today you want to win a game, or you just want to have some fun with your friends. Maybe you're exploring a brave new fandom, or revisiting old favourites you've loved for years. Maybe you're creating new content, signal boosting amazing recs, or organizing a challenge. Whatever it is, you need that first move to get started.

Here at the Organization for Transformative Works, our vision is to help build a stronger fan community for years to come through our projects: Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Legal Advocacy, Open Doors, Fanhackers, and Transformative Works and Cultures.

This week, we’ve set a goal to raise US$100,000. This money helps the OTW pay for expenses that keep our projects going, in addition to funding improvements and helping us grow.

Now we need you to make the next move. Come play on our team—give us a boost by donating. You can help us build a better AO3. You can help us fight for the legal rights of fans. You can help us make fanworks and fan culture more accessible to everyone who wants to enjoy them.

We’ve set up our game board. Now we just need our pieces. Help lead us to success and donate today!


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2015-04-30 18:43:08 -0400

We fixed a few bugs and took care of a performance issue caused by the dropdown user menu. Also, no more endless scrolling to reach the Sort and Filter box on mobile devices!


  • Coders: james_, Sarken, Scott
  • Code reviewers: james_, Sarken, Scott
  • Testers: Lady Oscar, mugenmine, mumble, Sam Johnsson, Scott


  • The filters for works, bookmarks, and so on were positioned at the bottom of the page for users on small screen devices, which made for a lot of scrolling. For users who have JavaScript enabled, we have added a button that will cause the filters to open on top of the page. (For users with JavaScript disabled, the button will jump down to the filters at the bottom of the page.)
  • The numbers in the "Hi, user!" dropdown menu (e.g. "My Works (17)") had to be calculated every time a logged-in user loaded a page, any page. This was bad for performance. We've removed these counts to reduce the strain on our database. (This doesn't affect the dashboard menu, where you can still find all relevant numbers.)
  • Like FanFiction.Net, the website Quotev blocks any attempts to import fic from their site. We have added a warning and an error message to our Import Work page to let users know about the block.
  • There was no way to tell which email address was associated with your account if you did not have the "Show my email address to other people" preference enabled. Now it will be displayed on the Change My Email page.
  • A user's History page includes information about the last time that user accessed any given work. However, this information was only updated if the user accessed the first chapter of a multi-chapter work. Now it will update regardless of which chapter the user accesses.
  • Admins must choose a language when posting a translation of a news post. However, the list of available languages was very long and included languages we do not currently offer translations in (e.g. Latin and Klingon). We've limited the list to only include languages for which we have translated news posts or FAQs.
  • The links in a user's dashboard menu were difficult to select when using a mouse or trackpad with the Dash Line skin (or with the default skin, which uses the same code as Dash Line on any screen narrower than 640px). We've fixed the overlapping elements that caused this issue, and now the links should be easier to select.
  • We've added a simple page which our load balancer can use to ensure a server is up and running before sending work its way.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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2015-04-24 09:40:32 -0400

We've increased our cache storage space, fixed a handful of small but annoying bugs, and made some improvements for the Archive's Abuse and Tag Wrangling teams.


  • Coders: Enigel, james_, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Elz, james_, Sarken, Scott
  • Testers: Lady Oscar, mugenmine, Runt, Sara Elizabeth, Sarken



  • Draft works on the Archive are deleted one month after their creation. As a reminder, the deletion date is now included on the draft blurb. (Don't forget to back up your drafts!)
  • It was possible to leave guest kudos on a restricted work by opening the Archive in a second tab and logging out prior to selecting the Kudos button. Doing this will now give an error message.


  • Editing the tags on a bookmark did not expire the bookmark cache, so the changes did not appear in the bookmark blurb. Now changes to a bookmark tag will appear much more quickly.
  • Ratings on the Bookmark External Work form were listed in alphabetical order. Now they are listed in the same order we use elsewhere on the site (Not Rated, General Audiences, Teen And Up Audiences, Mature, Explicit).
  • In blurbs, the fandom tags on bookmarks of external works (and on series) were indented slightly. Now they line up directly beneath the series or work title.


  • On the Request Invitations page for logged-in users, we have added a note stating that requests are manually reviewed and may take several days to be approved.
  • When checking an email address's position in the invitation queue, the page would sometimes give contradictory information, like "There are currently 5 people on the waiting list," and "You are currently number 27 on our waiting list!" We've changed the way position is calculated so that will no longer happen.


  • We had more cache storage space available to us than we thought, so we've started using it. \o/
  • Abuse sometimes receives an overwhelming number of reports for a particular work. To ensure that Abuse is able to deal with reports quickly, we have limited the number of times any individual work can be reported in a month.
  • If two tag wranglers were trying to simultaneously wrangle unsorted bookmark tags, they would receive an error page that also had a success message. Now their work will be saved and they will not get an error message.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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2015-04-20 12:22:58 -0400

Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter's arm with an OTW logo on it and the words 'OTW Recruitment'

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Communications Staff: AD&T Liaison, Strategic Planning staff, and Translation volunteers. Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Communications Graphics Volunteers - [closing 26 April 2015 UTC]
  • Tag Wrangling Volunteers - [closing 26 April 2015 UTC (or after 50 applications are received)]

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 Graphics Volunteers
Communications has primary responsibility for internal and external communication for the OTW. We manage the OTW News blog and related social media outlets, and assist other teams in managing project-specific communication. We’re looking for someone to create graphics for use throughout our posting sites. If you have experience with graphic design or fanart, click through to learn more about the role and apply to join as a Communications Volunteer.

Applications are due 26 April 2015 UTC

Tag Wrangling Volunteers
The Tag Wranglers are responsible for helping to keep the millions of tags on AO3 in some kind of order! Wranglers follow internal guidelines to choose the tags that appear in the filters and auto-complete, which link related works together. (This makes it easier to browse and search on the archive, whether that’s Steve/Tony with tentacles or g-rated Rose/Kanaya fluff.)

If you’re an experienced AO3 user who likes organizing, working in teams, or excuses to fact-check your favorite fandoms, you might enjoy tag wrangling! To join us, click through to the job description and application form.

Please note: due to (amazing!) interest in wrangling, we’re currently looking for wranglers for specific fandoms only. See the application for which fandoms are in need.

Applications are due 26 April 2015 UTC (or before 50 applications are received)

Apply at the volunteering page!


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2015-04-15 14:58:33 -0400

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

The OTW began receiving reports on Monday, April 13, that a site called Ebooks Tree was hosting downloadable files of works posted to the Archive of Our Own, and that they were charging for access to these files. Since then our Legal team has been investigating the entities involved and our Accessibility, Design, & Technology Committee has been finding out what had been done with AO3 content and how.

Upon further investigation, it became clear that Ebooks Tree is not hosting MOBI files of AO3 works, but linking directly to the versions hosted on the AO3 servers, and we do not currently believe they are hosting PDF files, either. The AO3 team has taken action to prevent anyone from downloading works if they were following the links provided by Ebooks Tree.

In the meantime, we have received many questions from fans through both our news outlets and the AO3 Support form. We would like to compile here some of the responses we have already made, as well as address steps that fans can take. We would like to ask that if you have further questions you make them here as it will be easier for more people to get the same information.

What is AO3 Doing To Prevent Fanworks From Being Taken?

As much as we’d like to prevent a recurrence of this kind of issue, we want to take steps that will not end up interfering with fans' use of the Archive of Our Own and content found there. Here are some things we can do and steps fans can take:

  1. The AO3 discourages bots from accessing downloads in our robots.txt rules. While these rules are usually followed by entities such as search engines, bots can also be set to ignore these rules.
  2. We are limiting how many files can be downloaded (and how fast) and could tweak these settings further.
  3. The only way we can prevent bots from downloading files would be to add a CAPTCHA button to downloads, and this would not meet our first goal of maximum inclusivity. CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA interfaces only work in a limited set of circumstances and create a number of problems for users who are not fluent in English or who have visual, auditory, or cognitive disabilities.
  4. We could also eliminate downloads entirely, but some users depend on downloads due to limited internet time or because they only have mobile access.
  5. Users can opt to keep fanworks locked away from anyone or anything that isn’t a logged-in AO3 user. In order to do so, edit your work and checkmark the “Only show your work to registered users” option, located in the Privacy box. While very dedicated PDF thieves could theoretically circumvent this by creating an account for their bots, this can help.
  6. If you are not yet a registered user at AO3, request an invite! Other than bots, everyone is welcome to have their own account at any of our projects. To get an AO3 account, click the ‘Get Invited!’ button on the front page, and you'll be able to add your email address to the automated invite queue. The queue is first come, first served, and invite codes are sent out on a regular basis. The wait time is usually less than 48 hours, but be sure to check your spam folders if it's been more than a few days.

Avoid Possible Phishing Scams

It is possible that the purpose behind offering content from Ebooks Tree was to gather financial information from users. To access their files they require you to sign up via a site called and give your credit card info. It is probably a very bad idea for fans to take this step.

What Can Fans Do if Their Fanworks Actually Are Hosted Elsewhere?

Fans who find their works taken and used elsewhere without their permission may want to consider using this template to tell those sites to take down your content:

  • Your Name and/or Pseudonym as an e-signature (or the name of the person you’ve authorized to submit this request, with a slash before it and after it):
  • Link(s) to the unauthorized works (link to the pdf, the mobi and the page hosting all of it)
  • Link(s) to an authorized version of your work (whether on AO3, tumblr, LJ or somewhere else)
  • An email address of the submitter (include it again even if it’s in the header)
  • This statement: I have good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
  • This statement: The information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

Legal Options for Fanworks

Here are some questions fans have had about their works, along with replies from our Legal Advocacy team.

  1. “Do I even own any copyright in my fanworks?” Answer: yes, you automatically own copyright in your original expression. You don’t own any rights in the characters, settings, etc. that you’ve based your fanworks on, but you do own rights in what you, yourself, have added to them—which means people can’t copy and sell your fanworks without your permission.
  2. “Can the OTW make a copyright claim on behalf of all people whose works have been taken off the AO3?” Answer: No. We don’t own any rights in your work, and that’s how you’d want it! When you post work on the AO3, you give the AO3 the right to display it, but you don’t give the AO3 any ownership rights at all -- which means the OTW doesn’t have the legal ability to, for example, issue a DMCA takedown notice for all of the AO3-hosted works, as some have suggested.

We will be updating this post should further information become available so please check back or leave questions here.


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2015-04-08 02:17:59 -0400

The Archive of Our Own started out as a pipe dream: What if we, the fans, actually owned the servers that house our fanworks? What if we got to write our own Terms of Service, and weren't dependent on for-profit companies to host our fannish spaces?

Defying the odds, the Archive of Our Own settled into its first set of servers in September 2009. A few months later, the initial framework for managing accounts, posting fics, and exchanging comments was considered ready for public testing: The AO3 entered its "open beta" phase, allowing anyone to sign up for an invitation and create an account.

The OTW's first servers (all two of them)

The Archive homepage when the site first went into open beta

In the last five years and change, we've seen the Archive grow in a way nobody even dreamed of when those servers were put in place. Today, we host over 1.5 million fanworks and count 7 million visitors every month. To accommodate this growth, we've been adding servers and improving our infrastructure along the way.

Three weeks ago, we reached an exciting new milestone in our history. The servers owned by the OTW moved into their very own rack (as opposed to each sharing a space with other servers across the colocation facility).

The outside of the OTW server rack: two rows of cabinets  All fifteen OTW servers in their rack
A close-up of the server rack and a bundle of wires

Now that our servers have a rack of their own, our tireless Systems volunteers are hard at work planning new server purchases to replace some of these old machines. All this has only been possible thanks to your generous donations to the OTW, and from the bottom of our excited hearts, we thank you!


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


In the past month, Systems performed a large scale server relocation—including the servers for the AO3 and Fanlore—to our own shiny new server rack. The downtime lasted a few hours with site indexing taking an additional day. Systems also worked with tech support at a large university to prevent further DDOS attacks to the Archive, and assisted with the OTW's acquisition of the domain name which now mirrors ""


Accessibility, Design and Technology deployed some minor bug fixes (Release 0.9.51: Change Log) early in March, followed by a variety of background changes necessary for future upgrades of Ruby and Rails (Release 0.9.53: Change Log).

Abuse received roughly 450 tickets in March. They've also inducted eleven new staffers! \o/ The Abuse team is working with Accessibility, Design and Technology on creating several new tools that will help both Abuse and our users. Support ended up receiving 738 tickets in February, and are well on their way to a similar count for March with 467 tickets so far.

Open Doors has been working with Accessibility, Design and Technology on a new importing process that they will be trying out with an archive next month. They have also been working on other in-progress archives, particularly the manual import for Chains: The Powerfic Archive. Proposed changes to their policy documentation are available for user feedback until April 13th.

Tag Wrangling worked with Accessibility, Design and Technology to coordinate wrangling around the server migration, assisted Support in responding to user tickets, and responded to several questions on Twitter.

AO3 Documentation has recently welcomed five new members to the team, who are already hard at work on drafting and editing FAQs and tutorials.


Journal's guest edited March 15 issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, Performance and Performativity, came out right on time, thanks to the stellar work of our production volunteers under the able leadership of staffer Rrain. The also guest edited June 15 issue, European Fans and European Fan Objects, is ready to finish up closer to its release date. The Journal team is currently working with authors to complete manuscripts for the September 15 general issue of TWC.

In March Legal responded to a larger than usual number of fan queries, including helping one fan find counsel to fight an overreaching challenge to a fanwork. They also worked with Communications on an educational/informational post about Tumblr takedowns.

Wiki is currently inducting three new committee members. Together with Accessibility, Design and Technology they have kicked off the annual April Showers event. An editing party was held on April 4th to help newcomers to Fanlore with their questions about creating entries.

Translation opened recruitment for volunteers, and received 58 applications! They've inducted 20 new translators and counting—current teams Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan, Dutch, European Portuguese, French, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, Polish and Swedish have grown, and have formed a new team for Kiswahili!


After the resignation of the Web Strategy, Design & Development Committee chair for personal reasons, Board has been primarily focused on addressing the issues which are continuing to cause instability in that committee and the OTW website. Eylul has been placed as temporary chair. With the support of the rest of the Board, Eylul has been working hard to address the backlog of tickets and stabilize the committee.

In the past month, Board has also approved new staffers for a number of committees, and has discussed and approved various proposals, including the purchase of graphics design software by Accessibility, Design and Technology and a migration of CiviCRM to external hosting in anticipation of the next membership drive.

Development & Membership has been working hard to get everything ready for the membership drive on May 1-6. Its theme will be games. Development & Membership will be highlighting the OTW's good work through the use of game themes including Go, Sudoku and chess! Their new staffers have all been trained and are being hugely helpful.

Strategic Planning successfully finished the second draft of the OTW 2016-2019 strategic goals document! A three-week internal feedback period is scheduled to end April 10th, but they are considering extending it to make sure everyone who wants to has a chance to give input. They will be holding a second chat with volunteers and staff and have also contacted committee chairs and workgroup leads for team-specific feedback. All of this collection of feedback is working towards publishing the final draft of the plan in time for a tentative June 2015 implementation date.


Volunteers & Recruiting organized recruiting for Abuse, Strategic Planning, and Translation and is pleased to welcome so many new volunteers!

New Committee Chairs: sarken (Accessibility, Design & Technology)
New Committee Staff: thatwasjustadream (Communications), Katarina Harju (Abuse), Paris Tuggle (Abuse), Astrid Clemons (Abuse), Amalia Blondet (Abuse), Sofia (Abuse), Highlander_II (Wiki), SoyAlex (Wiki), 1 other Wiki staffers, 2 other Communications staffers and 6 other Abuse staffers
New Workgroup Members: Chrissy Sky (AO3 Documentation), Jocelin Potash (AO3 Documentation), KM Ruiz (AO3 Documentation), Calescent and 2 other AO3 Documentation
New Translator Volunteers: Ilona van der Vegt, Marta Gil Almirón, Sofia, Roser Agnes, Eva Mignini, Oriontsuki, badhand, Dutchie848 and 8 others

Departing Committee Chairs: moonmagicks (Web Strategy, Design & Development)
Departing Committee Staff: 1 Abuse staffer and 1 Communications staffer
Departing Workgroup Members: Lucy Pearson (AO3 Documentation) and 1 AO3 Documentation volunteer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Taine and 4 others
Departing Translator Volunteers: Daniela Kreimerman, bm1893 and 6 others

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


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