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Banner by Erin of a spotlight shining the OTW logo behind the text spotlight on strategic planning

The Strategic Planning Committee and the OTW Board of Directors would like to announce that revisions to the OTW Strategic Plan are complete. In January 2016, the newly-elected Board undertook a process to ensure that the plan was in line with the organization's top priorities and resources. As a result, the plan has been streamlined to better fit the current needs of the organization.

Strategic Planning would like to extend our thanks to the OTW's staffers, volunteers, donors, supporters, users, and broader community for their patience and engagement. The support of our community continues to make it possible for this organization to achieve our mission and to serve fans and fandom.

Implementation of the plan will begin January 2017. Strategic Planning has prepared an implementation support plan to outline the ways that our committee and the OTW are committed to the success of this plan.

We invite the public to peruse the Strategic Plan Visual Timeline or the text-only version of the plan below to learn about the future of the OTW and its projects. We have also provided definitions of common OTW terms used in the plan.

Themes

Each goal of the plan fits within a larger theme goal. The themes are indicated at the end of each goal description.

Stronger Infrastructure - The OTW needs better technology, tools, processes, procedures, and documentation. (Infrastructure)

Stronger and More Efficient Board - A strong, democratic, and efficient board will positively impact the entire organization. (Board)

Increased Volunteer Engagement, Retention, and Development - The OTW must build skills and experience in creating a stronger OTW-wide community. (Development)

Expand Fundraising and Financial Capacity - The OTW requires funds to operate and grow, thus it must expand fundraising capacity. (Fundraising/Financial)

Grow and Support Existing Projects - Each committee needs a clear understanding of their part in fulfilling the mission of the OTW. (Projects)

6-Month Goals

Document OTW-wide chair/lead position and expectations: Committee & workgroup chairs/leads work with the Board to draft a document which describes the organization-wide expectations for chairs and leads. (Infrastructure)

Purview and roles documentation: The Board drafts, approves, and internally publishes documents clarifying how the Board functions, in actuality as opposed to ideally. (Board)

Preliminary purview statements: Committees/workgroups draft a statement, outlining their purview within the OTW including potential gaps or overlap between them and other teams. (Infrastructure)

Improved Board/Committee communication: The Board implements flexible, clear, and structurally supported systems for staying in communication with committees and workgroups. (Board)

9-Month Goals

Document team-specific chair/lead position descriptions: Using the OTW-wide document outlining the roles and expectations of chairs and leads, all committees & workgroups draft their own document, adapted and elaborated for their specific leadership model. (Infrastructure)

12-Month Goals

Recruitment plan: Committees/workgroups document recruitment needs, training plans, timelines, etc for new staff (and volunteers if applicable). (Development)

Internal wiki pages for everyday and essential processes: Committee/workgroup creates and posts internal wiki pages that document their regular processes and procedures. (Infrastructure)

Committee/Workgroup and OTW-wide budgets: Finance has completed an update to the current OTW budget, and created an OTW-wide budget for the upcoming year. (Fundraising/Financial)

Overhaul Finance structure: OTW has completed a thorough review of its financial structure and made changes where needed. (Fundraising/Financial)

Coalitions guidelines: Legal has made available on the internal wiki a guide to the OTW's current coalitions with other organizations and procedures for Legal to manage the creation of new coalitions and joint projects. (Projects)

18-Month Goals

Chair/Lead Basic Training: Basic training procedures have been developed and implemented for fundamental skills that all committee chairs and workgroup leads require to be effective at their positions. (Development)

24-Month Goals

Committee/Workgroup roadmaps: All committees/workgroups have developed a roadmap describing their priorities and setting specific objectives for the future, including potential new projects they may wish to undertake. (Infrastructure)

Research governance options: The OTW's Board has reviewed research into the field of operations and governance of nonprofits, and assessed the needs regarding revisions to the OTW's governance structure. (Board)

Clarify and establish procedures to deal with personnel conflict: Procedures for dealing with personnel conflict have been drafted and approved. (Development)

Set guidelines for reserves: The OTW has set guidelines for reserves. (Fundraising/Financial)

Set guidelines for annual fundraising goals: The OTW has set guidelines for amounts for annual fundraising goals. (Fundraising/Financial)

Goals and/or accomplishments for each project: Each OTW project has a plan identifying objectives and goals for the next 3 years. (Projects)

30-Month Goals

Training plan for Board in place: A training process is available that can be utilized by all newly-elected Board directors. (Board)

Complete chair/lead training plan: The OTW has a complete chair/lead training plan that covers OTW-specific skills as well as more general leadership and management skills, including leading meetings, delegating tasks, conducting staff training, engaging new volunteers, etc. (Development)

36-Month Goals

Organization handbook: There is a handbook (likely located on the internal wiki) that can be handed to every staffer and volunteer, which includes basic information on the OTW that every staffer or volunteer needs to know, e.g. background on each committee/workgroup and basic how-tos for the organization’s tools. (Infrastructure)

Board succession plan: There is a Board succession plan in place that ensures that existing Board directors/officers feel their knowledge and responsibilities are securely preserved and new Board directors/officers feel supported and informed in their training and transition process. (Board)

New operations model plan: the OTW has developed a plan for revising the governance structure of the organization. (Board)

Review and consider options for org-wide annual/quarterly meetings: The OTW has explored the possibility of holding organization-wide meetings. (Development)

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Published:
2017-01-20 13:25:30 -0500
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Copyright Week banner

Yesterday, we asked you to take part in a short survey about copyright law. (If you haven't done it yet, please do! And tell your friends to, too!) Today, as Copyright Week draws to a close, we want to focus on copyright and free speech.

Fanworks are the very essence of free speech: Fans saying what they need to say, building community through self-expression. A few years ago, when we asked you to tell us your stories of how fanworks have helped you, you told us powerful stories about how fanworks helped you find your voices, your skills, and yourselves. We used those stories of empowerment and self-expression to help advocate for balanced copyright laws that preserve the relationship between copyright and free expression.

How does copyright law relate to free expression? Copyright law is a double-edged sword. On one hand, copyright law promotes free expression: Authors of all kinds, from bestselling novelists to fledgling fanwork creators, can feel comfortable expressing themselves because they know that they own the copyright in what they produce, and can use copyright law to prevent people from profiting off of their expression without permission. But on the other hand, this same protection can hinder free expression, if copyright owners use it to prevent people from talking about or building upon their works. That is why copyright doctrines like Fair Use and Fair Dealing are so important: they help authors take advantage of the safety of copyright law while still allowing people to comment and build upon existing works without having to get permission.

The Organization for Transformative Works believes that copyright law should promote free speech, not restrict or suppress it. And we want to know what that means to you! In the comments below, or in an e-mail to legal [at] transformativeworks.org, tell us how creating and consuming fanworks has helped you express yourself. We will use your comments and e-mails to continue our advocacy work.

It's Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of the law, and addressing what’s at stake, and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation. Most laws don’t get even one “week” of their own, but copyright law gets two: Copyright Week in January, and Fair Use Week in February. The OTW is taking part in both, so stay tuned!

You can learn about the OTW’s activities concerning copyright law and fandom, or ask questions, from the OTW’s legal team. Find out more at http://transformativeworks.org/projects/legal.

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Published:
2017-01-19 14:01:28 -0500
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Copyright Week banner

All around the Internet today, you can find discussions of "21st Century Creators." We think there are no better examples of 21st century creators than fans! Fans have long been in the vanguard of creating new kinds of work, using new technologies to express themselves, and popularizing new platforms for sharing creative work. But how much do fans and fan creators actually know about copyright law -- the law that surrounds almost everything that fans do? OTW Legal wants to know. Your answers will help us serve the fan community, advocate for fans, and answer your questions about the law.

We have created a short survey about copyright law, fan practices, and your knowledge, and we hope you will take part in it. It should only take about 20 minutes to complete. It's completely anonymous, and you won't have to answer any question you don't feel like answering. We'll discuss what we learn next month, during Fair Use Week.

Please tell your friends -- we want as many responses as possible. Click here to participate!

Most of all, thanks to you and fans everywhere for being 21st century creators and enjoying 21st century creativity.

It's Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of the law, and addressing what's at stake and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation. Most laws don't get even one "week" of their own, but copyright law gets two: Copyright Week in January, and Fair Use Week in February. The OTW is taking part in both, so stay tuned!

You can learn about the OTW's activities concerning copyright law and fandom, or ask questions, from the OTW's legal team. Find out more at http://transformativeworks.org/projects/legal.

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Published:
2017-01-18 12:30:30 -0500
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Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter's arm with an OTW logo on it and the words 'OTW Recruitment'

The Organization for Transformative Works is now looking for Open Doors staff, Translation volunteers, and TWC (Journal) volunteers.

For the first round of recruiting this year, we're pleased to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Open Doors Committee Staff - closing 25 January 2017 UTC
  • Translation Volunteers - closing 25 January 2017 UTC
  • TWC Proofreader Volunteer - closing 25 January 2017 UTC

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.


Open Doors Committee Staff:

Are you interested in the rescue and preservation of fanworks? Enjoy coordinating projects and liaising with people? Still guiltily--or not so guiltily--love the first fanwork that opened your eyes to fandom?

Open Doors is a committee dedicated to preserving fanworks in their many native formats, and is looking for staffers to support this goal. The work we do preserves fan history, love, and dedication to fandom: we keep online archives from going down, divert fanzines from the trash, and more.

Applications are due 25 January 2017 UTC


Translation Committee Volunteer:

If you enjoy working collaboratively, if you're fluent in a language other than English, if you’re passionate about the OTW and its projects, and want to help us reach more fans all around the world, working with Translation might be for you!

Translation volunteers help make the OTW and its projects accessible to a wider global audience. We work on translating content by the OTW and its projects from English to other languages, such as site pages, news posts, AO3 FAQs and AO3 Support emails. (However, we do not translate fanworks.)

We really need volunteers who speak Arabic, Croatian, Japanese, Latvian, Marathi, Romanian, Serbian, Vietnamese and Welsh—but help with other languages would be much appreciated.

(Please note that our Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Indonesian, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish teams are not accepting new members at this time.)

Applicants may be asked to translate and correct short text samples and will be invited to a chatroom interview as part of the selection process.

More information about us can be found on the Translation Committee Page

Applications are due 25 January 2017 UTC


TWC Committee - Proofreader Volunteer:

Transformative Works and Cultures is an international peer-reviewed Gold Open Access online publication about fan-related topics, promoting dialogue between the academic community and fan communities.

Proofreaders carefully proofread final online HTML-tagged manuscripts for online publication, using Chicago 16, Webster 11, and TWC's style sheet.

Applications are due 25 January 2017 UTC


Apply at the volunteering page!

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Banner created by Ania celebrating International Fanworks Day, featuring various fanworks including cosplay, text, and visual art.

International Fanworks Day will take place on February 15, 2017. The OTW is making plans to celebrate, but we also want to know what you will be doing!

What is International Fanworks Day?

A day to promote fan creativity in all of its forms, all over the world. Whether in text, image, audio, or multimedia, and whatever their nation or language of origin, we use fanworks to express love for our fandoms and forge our own communities and traditions. On International Fanworks Day (IFD), we want fans everywhere to show how important fanworks are to them.

Tell Us What Fanworks Mean to You

We will be announcing OTW-sponsored activities next month, but in the meantime we'd like to hear your plans for celebrating. We'd also like to get you to tell us what fanworks mean to you.

Send us your thoughts (up to 500 words) through our Communications contact form by January 31. We will be selecting up to six submissions for publication on OTW News in February as part of our lead-up to International Fanworks Day. When submitting, please tell us:

  1. How you would like your name/pseudonym listed
  2. What country you call home

Submissions are welcome in all languages!

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Published:
2017-01-12 12:46:42 -0500
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5 Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with ChelseaIBelieve, who volunteers as a staffer for the Tag Wrangling Committee

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

As a tag wrangler, I take all the tags people use on their works and make sure they’re sorted properly and link them together wherever possible. Wranglers assign themselves to fandoms that they have a good knowledge of the canon. For myself, I mostly work with Bandom fandoms and Sports fandoms.

I’m also a member of the tag wrangling staff. This means that in addition to my normal tag wrangling duties, I also work to help oversee the training and tracking of all of our wranglers along with taking care of some of the more difficult tasks we come across. We help guide the new wranglers and check-in on their progress often in their first few months to make sure everything is going smoothly with them. Once they get past training, staff members still check in on each wrangler regularly and work to answer any questions or concerns that come up. Staff members work on different projects depending on what we’re working on at that time, which can include putting together newsletters, keeping minutes from our staff meetings, and sorting through new wrangling applications.

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

I like to spend Sunday nights with my laptop and Netflix, wrangling while I watch some TV. I open up my wrangling page and sort through all the tags from the week. If it’s a particularly busy week, like during Christmas, I might do this more than one night a week. The rest of the week, I usually fit in some staff tasks around my classes and job as a journalist when I can. This includes being involved in wrangling and staff chats, answering e-mails, and anything our chairs might request help on.

What made you decide to volunteer?

As a college student with free time but not a lot of free money, I wanted to do something to give back to the website that I spent so much time being entertained by. I always wanted to give donations, but could rarely afford it. I saw the volunteer page and kept an eye on it for something I could do, when tag wrangling came up one day. I thought it could be a fun thing to give back a little of my time to help out, so I applied. A few years later, I was having so much fun that I wanted to get even more involved, and I went through the interview process to be a staff member.

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

I’m probably supposed to answer helping out and being involved, and those are definitely my favorite parts overall, but if I’m being honest about the most fun thing: checklists and spreadsheets. I am one of those crazy list makers that makes a list for everything, so I made a list of all of my fandoms and I check each one off as I clean the tags each week. I also made spreadsheets to track tags because I love spreadsheets. Being a staff member is filled with to-do lists to check off for each task to make sure everything gets done properly, and it’s incredibly fun for me to get to check each thing off as I do it and then mark the whole project “Done” after completing the list. It's such a great feeling of accomplishment.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’m a writer for Hockey RPF and a former writer for Glee. Hockey is my biggest fandom, both in an RPF/RPS manner and in a more conventional sports fan way (I’m a season-ticket holder for my local NHL team and a sports journalist). I like to go out to practices and have met some other awesome fans from AO3 or Tumblr there. In addition to writing and sports-watching, I read a lot of fics in a wide variety of fandoms I’ve picked up over the years (Harry Potter, Star Trek, Marvel, Bandom, etc). I’ve extended my fandoms to both my knitting and my baking, including knitting creatures from fandoms to decorate my living room with, and cooking an entire Christmas dinner using World of Warcraft recipes. I also used to be on Tumblr a lot, but now I just pop in on occasion, preferring the one-on-one interactions (mostly via texting) that I have with good fandom friends I’ve made through both Tumblr and AO3.


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

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Published:
2017-01-05 08:08:45 -0500
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We deployed several batches of new code over the holidays, the vast majority of which concerned our automated tests and preparations for a major Rails upgrade. Happy New Year!

Credits

  • Coders: Ariana, Cesy, cosette, cresenne, james, potatoesque, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, james, Naomi, Sarken
  • Testers: james, Lady Oscar, Sarken

Special thanks to cosette, cresenne, and potatoesque, who have contributed their first pull requests as AD&T volunteers and completed their training!

Details

Tests

  • [AO3-4730] - Made the output of our Cucumber tests more informative by adding the name of each test to the happy green dots that signify a successful run.
  • [AO3-4705] - Added another test for downloading works.
  • [AO3-4761] - Extended the tests for our internal API.
  • [AO3-4762] - Added a test for admins deleting an email address from the invite request queue.
  • [AO3-4707] - Improved test coverage for related works.
  • [AO3-4767] - Ditto for external works.
  • [AO3-4768] - Also improved our tests for displaying series.
  • [AO3-4773] - Extended test coverage for our Known Issues page.
  • [AO3-4777] - Completely unrelatedly, we've added more tests for prompt memes.
  • [AO3-4785] - And for user profiles.
  • [AO3-4722] - We also added more tests covering work-related errors.
  • [AO3-4772] - And more tests for tag set nominations.
  • [AO3-4734] - Also extended coverage for tag sets by removing a bit of code that wasn't actually used. Sneaky!
  • [AO3-4746] - Likewise, we removed several unused pieces of code concerning the display of external authors (i.e. authors of non-AO3 works and AO3 user had added to their bookmarks) and thus increased test coverage through the awesome power of maths.
  • [AO3-4802] - We also added some actual tests for external authors, though.
  • [AO3-4769] - Removed a #TODO comment for test cases that were, actually, done.
  • [AO3-4770] - Same.
  • [AO3-4724] - Sometimes different parts of our rspec tests were getting in each other's way in checking different parts of the code. We've made it easier to have a full reset step between each test to prevent these issues.
  • [AO3-4776] - We'd also run into issues with the tool we use to measure our test coverage and have now taken steps to prevent faulty results if a test has to be retried.

Rails

  • [AO3-4737] - Started the long, grueling path towards a significantly more up-to-date Rails version by rewriting a small part of the code controlling the public Wrangling Guidelines (namely to switch to strong parameters). This will be followed by many, many more small parts of our code, until we're ready for Rails 4.0.
  • [AO3-4752] - Such as the chunk of code controlling abuse reports!
  • [AO3-4753] - And admin settings!
  • [AO3-4755] - And notification banners!
  • [AO3-4756] - And the code for adding and managing languages.
  • [AO3-4757] - Also amended the Preferences code to use strong parameters.
  • [AO3-4758] - Ditto for admin posts, such as this one!
  • [AO3-4759] - Also for Support tickets.
  • [AO3-4763] - And for creating a new pseud.
  • [AO3-4764] - And finally for creating and updating a collection!

A Bug Fix

  • [AO3-4795] - Filtering a user's or collection's works for a particular fandom, character, rating and so on, and then trying to sort that subset of works (e.g. by kudos) would kick you out of the filtered view and back to all works. Now you can filter and sort at the same time again!

Nice.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

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Published:
2016-12-15 12:16:52 -0500
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5 Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Nele Noppe, who volunteers as a staffer in the Communications Committee and runs the OTW's Fanhackers blog.

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

I work to make fan studies more accessible for fans (and fan studies researchers) mainly by posting quotes from fan studies articles on the Fanhackers site (which has a Tumblr mirror). There’s a ton of fan studies research happening on every topic, and much of that research contains important, new, or just plain interesting ideas that should find their way back to fans. However, it’s not always easy for people to find their way to fan studies work. That’s where we try to make a small difference.

Take the many articles published every year in our academic journal Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC). TWC is an open access journal, meaning that the articles in it are open and free to read for everyone on the internet. However, it’s not because something is free to read that people will also find their way to it. They may not hear about the article at all, because it’s not linked to in the spaces where they hang out. They may not have time to read a full-size academic article, which is pretty damn long. The article may be a bit inaccessible in other ways, for example because it uses a lot of obscure terminology (although many fan studies researchers are very good at not overusing jargon, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that they’re often fans themselves).

Publishing bite-sized quotes from these articles in fannish spaces like Tumblr is a way to draw eyeballs to them, and make it more easy for fans to discover important ideas from fan studies research.

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

Pretty calm. I keep track of new fan studies research, and pick up interesting quotes from it to put on our Tumblr. The TWC editors also keep a list of useful quotes from new articles, and sometimes people send interesting things my way. We’re still experimenting with what sort of quotes get a lot of reaction on Tumblr. Quotes from fan studies articles about, say, the AO3 are almost guaranteed to get a ton of notes, but it’s important to keep an eye on variety and also post snippets from articles on less popular or well-known topics.

What brought you into the area of fan studies?

As a young Japanese Studies student, I asked a professor for permission to write a term paper on yaoi, my favorite kind of manga at the time. He needed the concept explained to him, and was so mortified that he said “yes” just to make me go away faster. Note that this was in the early 2000s, when there weren’t that many pop culture fans in Japanese Studies. Professors were much more easily shocked by fannish topics then.

I discovered that researching fan culture was as fun as taking part in it, and went on to do an MA thesis on yaoi/BL and a PhD on dojinshi (Japanese fanzines).

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

Feeling like I’m making a positive difference. I do only one small thing, but there are hundreds of people like me in the OTW, and together we somehow manage to do very big things.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I make art and fic, these days mostly for Dragon Age, and also lurk in Yuri!!! on Ice and Attack on Titan fandom on Tumblr and Twitter.


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

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