AO3 News

Release Notes for Release 0.9.9

Published: 2013-09-16 06:25:08 -0400

Welcome to Release 0.9.9! Ariana, ecuoln, Elz, Lal, Naomi, Rebecca, Sarken, and Scott contributed code to this release, which was tested by our awesome testing team: Camilla M, Enigel, Estirose, FishieMishie, hele, James, Lady Oscar, mumble, Reppu, Runt, Sarken.

While we were working on upgrading our Ruby on Rails install, many other fixes and improvements had to bide their time in our "pull request" queue. A pull request is a way to submit code to a software project on Github, where we keep the Archive of Our Own code: A coder "pushes" a fix to Github (where it can be reviewed) and asks for the code to be "pulled" in (so it can be neatly slotted into the appropriate places).

Since we've had many more pull requests (yay!) than we could put in during the last few deploys (boo!), we're now dealing with a considerable backlog (and some dust and cobwebs in the corners).

We're hoping to chip away at the queue in the upcoming releases, while also starting to work on larger design projects we've had to put on hold. Expect many more fixes, and please stay tuned for news about upcoming features.


Tag Set and Challenge Fixes

The festive challenge season has started, with several holiday-themed gift exchanges starting to get ready for nominations, sign-ups, or assignments. We will continue to work to improve these features, and have included a handful of fixes in this release. Some of the more awkward tag set bugs should be taken care of, and many more fixes are yet to come. We are also working on improving our challenge/tag set documentation!

Lifespan of Drafts

This deploy increases the time between the creation of a draft and its automatic deletion to 1 month (from 1 week). We are considering ways to better handle drafts in upcoming updates, but do not have any plans to enable true drafts and document management in the immediate future. Please, please, please don't use Archive drafts as the only place to store your work! Browsers crash, errors happen, and yes, drafts will be deleted. Once deleted, a work cannot be retrieved, no matter how much our Support team would really like to help you. :-(

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details

Bug fixes

  • Admin
    • Site admins could not view works restricted to site members, which has now been fixed.
    • An option in the admin interface said "days" instead of "weeks"; this has now been changed to reflect the actual setting units.
    • A setting in the admin interface could be set to zero; this caused errors and has been fixed.
  • Front End
    • We had some lavender backgrounds hanging around where we wanted grey (e.g. to mark a draft as a draft). All lavender should be gone now.
    • We've changed the Terms of Service link on our sign-up form to open in a new window.
    • Due to a bug, expanding the fandoms list on your own dashboard left you with no way to collapse the list again. That is now fixed.
  • Collections & Tag Sets
    • On fandoms pages in collections, fandoms with articles were breaking the order of the alphabet (e.g. "A League of Their Own" would shuffle the entire L section to the top of the list, where the A section should be); this has been fixed.
    • Tag sets that belonged to a collection did not actually show up on the collection's profile, and were hard to find by other users. This has been taken care of.
    • Non-canonical fandom tags vanish from a tag set when a work using that tag was posted and then deleted; this has been fixed.
    • There were some issues with accented characters in tag sets; these should now be taken care of.
    • Nominated canonical tags wouldn't display properly on the tag set page after approval by a mod; we've addressed the caching issue that caused this, so updates should now appear on the tag set as expected.
    • There were some issues with how associations between tags in a tag set were handled; these have been fixed.
    • Tag nominations with [brackets] in the tag could not be approved or rejected; now they can.
    • When signing up for a gift exchange, tags put into the "Optional Tags" field were not properly saved if there was an error in the signup or if the signup was edited; this has been fixed.
  • Misc.
    • Users could not access the second page of bookmarks if they had filtered bookmarks by a tag containing a slash. Now they can.
    • The lifespan for drafts has been extended to 1 month.
    • We have added helpful explanations to every single option on your Preferences page! Just click the little blue question marks next to the headings.
    • Support have been working with the Translation committee to offer support in various languages; this deploy updates the list of the languages we can offer support in.
    • On the list of fandoms in need of a wrangler, the fandoms could not be filtered by medium and sorted by work count at the same time. Now they can. The menu box was also displaying at the bottom of the page; it's now correctly at the top.
    • Our .epub files were identifying themselves as "application/epub" instead of "application/epub+zip", which caused issues on some devices. This has been fixed.
    • We cleaned up the method we were using to handle error or success messages on cached pages.


The "Search Within Results" Field and You, Pt. 1

Published: 2013-09-13 20:24:26 -0400

When we brought back the tag filters after their long sleep last year, we tried to keep the interface as uncluttered as possible and focus on frequently used or requested search options. Like the Archive itself, this is a work in progress. There's a lot of scattered documentation about finding stuff to read, look at, watch, or listen to on the Archive: The little blue question marks all over the Archive should provide some pointers, and there's also the Searching and Browsing on the AO3 tutorial for more details.

However, there are some "secret" search options that are already built into the filtering and search code, but aren't necessarily reflected in the interface (because ticky box overkill). Here's an overview of neat things you can put into any of the following places to narrow down (and sort!) your results:

  • the "Search within results" field in the tag filters for works (e.g. for the Pacific Rim tag or in the Dark Agenda collection)
  • the "Any Field" box in the Work Search form
  • the main search box in the header

For Works:

  • words:1000 (works with exactly 1000 words)
  • words>1000 (works with more than 1000 words)
  • words<1000 (works with less than 1000 words)
  • words:1000-5000 (works between 1000 and 5000 words)

(works for: words, hits, kudos, comments, bookmarks)

  • sort:kudos (sort by kudos, default to most kudos first)
  • sort:>kudos (reverse to fewest kudos first)
  • sort:words (sort by words, default to longest works first)
  • sort:>words (reverse to shortest works first)
  • sort:>posted (oldest works first, going by actual posting date)
  • sort:>updated (oldest works first, going by author's publishing date)

(works for: author, title, posted, updated, words, hits, kudos, comments, bookmarks)

  • restricted:true (only restricted works; requires you to be logged in)
  • complete:false (only unfinished works/works in progress)
  • expected_number_of_chapters:1 (only one-shots)
  • -expected_number_of_chapters:1 (only multi-chapter works)

For (Your) Bookmarks:

  • private:false (your public bookmarks only)
  • private:true (your private bookmarks only)
  • rec:false (everything but recs; works for any bookmarks)
  • bookmarkable_complete:true (bookmarks of completed works only)

Search Operators:

These will handle any text matches in the title, summary, notes, and list of tags. Note that there will be some inaccuracies due to the way the code stores information and handles search strings: "Derek/Stiles" will also match a list of tags containing "Derek, Stiles" in that order. (Please stay tuned for Part 2 for a workaround!)

  • kittens
  • "needs hugs"
  • "kink bingo"
  • m/m OR f/f (works tagged either M/M, F/F, or both)
  • explicit OR mature (most of the porn)
  • -death (exludes works with 'death' in the title, summary, notes, or tags)
  • -rape -"dubious consent" -"consent issues"
  • -crossover -fusion -"alternate universe"

Mix and Match:

These were put into the main search box in the header to generate results, but you can also use these tricks in the "Search within results" field to narrow down work lists for a particular tag. Just remember to put everything into one of the three search boxes listed above.

Happy browsing!


Help the OTW Get New Volunteers Started!

Published: 2013-09-09 13:51:05 -0400

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

  • Volunteers & Recruiting Staff - 16 September 2013

We also are still looking for additional technical staff

  • Web Developer Staff

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.

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.

Volunteers & Recruiting
The OTW is an entirely volunteer-run organization, and Volunteers & Recruiting looks after those volunteers! As the human resources committee, our job is to make sure that everyone has the tools, training and assistance they need to perform their best. If you have strong written communication skills, an interest in or knowledge of personnel and/or project management, Volunteers & Recruiting would like to hear from you!
Applications are due 16 September

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

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


The AO3 Mail Bag: Mobile Apps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 2013 Newsletter, Volume 72

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Release Notes for Release 0.9.8

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

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


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

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

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

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

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details

Bug fixes

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


AO3 Passes 200,000 User Accounts

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 347 users
  • 668 fandoms
  • 6565 works

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

Visitors from Everywhere!

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

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

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

Technology Old and New

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

Pie chart of browsers that accessed AO3 in July 2013

Users Doing Stuff!

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

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

Graph showing growth in comments vs. user accounts

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

Graph showing growth in comments vs. bookmarks vs. kudos

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


Looking for a Communications-AO3 Liaison

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

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

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

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

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist volunteers -(at)- transformativeworks -(dot)- org in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.
If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Communications Staff: AD&T Liaison: Communications staffers are responsible for the distribution of information internally to OTW personnel and externally to the general public, the media, fans, and other fannish organizations. Communications is also typically the first point of contact for someone interested in or wanting help from OTW.

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


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