AO3 News

Fandom nonfiction: seeking feedback

Published: 2013-03-13 15:28:47 -0400

The Board’s decision on meta has sparked a great deal of conversation, externally and internally, and we appreciate the detailed comments many people have left. Over the course of internal discussions among the affected committees, we've determined that "fandom nonfiction" is a more useful term than “meta” to explain the kinds of works covered by the Board vote. We invite your feedback on these proposals. We will be collecting feedback for two weeks, and then will incorporate that feedback into a policy for Board approval.

Ultimately, we will handle many different kinds of fannish creativity through a work type system. However, while we hope to make progress on this later in the year, we do not have a definite timeframe for work types. In the interim, creators may choose to wait until work types are implemented or to use the additional tags to categorize their works in order to facilitate the transition to work types.

Important note: there are many key issues relating to the implementation of work type categories. We are only beginning to brainstorm on the technical aspects. If you give us feedback about what you want from the specifics of work type now, before we have a proposal on the table, we may miss it when we get into the technical aspects. So while we welcome your feedback, we ask that you focus it in this post on the general issues of policy: what we will host and what abilities administrators ought to have with respect to mislabeled works. Just by way of example: "Abuse should be able to recategorize a textual work from fiction to nonfiction" is feedback within the scope of the current proposal. "Visual art should be divided into digital, hand-drawn, and other" is not within the scope of the current proposal, though we will seek more input on these types of issues as we continue to develop the work type plan.

That said, here is a very general outline of what we are thinking:

(1) When creators post a work, some type of general "work type" selection will ultimately be mandatory, as choosing a rating and a warning or warnings are now mandatory. This will probably refer to functional file characteristics like text, video, and audio, but may also incorporate a fiction/nonfiction divide. Once the work types are available, as with ratings and warnings, our basic policy will be to defer to the creator's categorizations.

(2) Other aspects of work type will likely be optional/user-defined, possibly with autofill/some predetermined options that will not be exclusive. Again, our basic policy will be to defer to the creator’s categorizations.

(3) We may auto-detect some work features such as the presence of an image or image tag, the way we currently auto-detect word count.

(4) Where the AO3 already provides specific features for a particular kind of content—specifically, fanwork searches, bookmarks, and challenges—we will ask people to use those features for that content.

Your feedback on these general principles, as well as the more specific issues addressed below, is welcome.

How will existing works fit into this scheme or be moved into this scheme?: This is a technical issue that is not yet resolved. On the policy side, no one will be penalized for having posted a work that, because of the implementation of work type, is technically "mislabeled" as a result of the transition. However, we may try some automated solutions for detecting work type and/or ask creators to change a work type when they posted before work type was introduced. Part of the transition may thus be to automatically set work type based on the presence or absence of certain tags or other work features, then notify the creators and allow them to change the work type if the automated process made a mistake. Once work type is implemented, the current proposal is that administrators will have the ability to correct an obvious miscategorization of work type (that is, a case that is not borderline even after deference to the creator) if the creator fails to respond to an inquiry after a reasonable time.

We want to have definitions that can be reasonably explained and enforced by our dedicated volunteers. Our policy is to default to respect creators’ own characterizations of their works, and that will remain the case. Abuse will, however, be able to request the removal of or remove particular works when they are clearly beyond the scope of fandom nonfiction, just as Abuse can currently make other Terms of Service-related determinations in appropriate circumstances.

Draft FAQ additions:

Q: Is nonfiction allowed on the Archive?

A: Fandom nonfiction is allowed. Where we provide a specific function (search, bookmarking, challenges) we will ask you to use the specific methods we provide for those activities. In addition, as an archive whose goal is preservation, we want permanent, nonephemeral content. To the extent that your content is designed to be ephemeral, such as liveblogging episode reactions, it should go on a journaling service and not the Archive.

Q: What falls within the definition of fandom nonfiction?

A: Fandom nonfiction can be discussions of fannish tropes, commentary on fandoms, documentaries, podcasts about fandom, explanations of the creative process behind a fanwork or works, guides for fan-created gaming campaigns, or many other things.

However, the nature of the Archive and the limitations of our resources mean that, while we will endeavor to host as much fannish content as possible, we need to put some limits on allowable works. In particular, the Archive is not a journaling service and it is not designed to host ephemeral content.

We will, in general, defer to the creator’s characterization of a work as fandom nonfiction as long as it has a reasonably perceptible fannish connection, either to a specific source or to fandom in general, and takes the form of an independent, nonephemeral commentary. For example, an analysis of or commentary on multiple fanworks is nonfiction meta (and must comply with our other policies, including our harassment policy). An essay on a particular character's narrative arc in canon or of the interaction between film and comics versions of a source is also meta.

We understand that, as with many things, there are hard cases at the edges of categories, but we nonetheless need some limits in order to keep the Archive manageable for our hard-working volunteers as well as for other users.

Q: What about a fanwork search?

A: Please use our search functions for this rather than creating a separate work.

Q: What about a recommendation for a single fanwork?

A: Please use our bookmark/recommendation function for this; many creators also welcome discussion in the comments to the work, which is another appropriate place for such commentary. As always, while criticism of a fanwork is not itself harassment, content must comply with our other policies, including our harassment policy.

Q: What counts as a recommendation versus a more general discussion or analysis?

A: Please use your judgment on the best way to categorize a commentary. Our general policy is to defer to creators.

Q: How does the harassment policy apply to reviews?

A: The Terms of Service state “When judging whether a specific incident constitutes harassment, the abuse team will consider factors such as whether the behavior was repeated, whether it was repeated after the offender was asked to stop, whether the behavior was targeted at a specific person, whether that target could have easily avoided encountering the behavior, whether the behavior would be considered unacceptable according to normal community standards, etc.” This policy applies to reviews. Again, criticism of a fanwork, even harsh criticism, is not itself harassment. Calling a creator evil or wishing harm to them are potential examples of harassment.

Q: What about a fanwork prompt?

A: Please use our challenge function for this.

Q: What about a letter to someone I've been anonymously matched with for a challenge?

A: Since this content is designed to be ephemeral/nonpermanent, please put it on your profile, which can be edited to include your preferences.

Q: What isn't fandom nonfiction?

A: The examples are potentially limitless, but here are some examples that we believe, based on our experience so far, do not qualify as fandom nonfiction and should not be posted as a work:

  • episode transcripts and other non-transformative fandom material;
  • primarily autobiographical or non-fandom-related essays (e.g., essays on bike lanes, even if they contain a single reference to a fannish source);
  • general complaints about behavior towards a particular creator (e.g., a post stating that a work was deleted due to lack of feedback);
  • suggestions that other fans contact the creator through email or other social networks;
  • a single word or pairing name repeated hundreds of times;
  • offers and giveaways.

As with all works, we presume good faith on the part of our users, and ask that you do the same for the fans who make up our Support and Abuse teams.

Q: How will “ephemeral” be defined?

A: Please use your best judgment; our general policy is to defer to creators in cases of doubt. However, episode reactions of the type ‘OMG SAM’S HAIR OMG OMG. DEEEEEEEEEEEAN’ are likely to be appropriate for journaling services and not for the Archive. Ephemeral content is generally meant to be read at a particular time: for example, a message about a particular challenge or a reaction meant to be read while or just after a particular episode airs.

Proposed Terms of Service changes

The current ToS says: "Repeated identical posts in multiple places, e.g., a large number of identical comments promoting a website, will also be considered spam regardless of commercial content."

Proposed: "Repeated identical or nearly identical posts in multiple places, e.g., a large number of identical comments promoting a website, will also be considered spam regardless of commercial content."

Rationale: clarifying that small differences between posts will not be enough to take a series of posts out of the "spam" category. A creator who posts 25 different fanworks in quick succession as part of moving their output onto the Archive is not spamming, nor is a creator who posts 10 different drabbles (100-word stories), but 10 rapid-fire works with minimal content of any kind might be spam.

Current ToS:
K. Ratings and Warnings

Proposed:
K. Ratings, Warnings, and Fanwork Types

...
[new 5.] Fanwork types

It is our policy to defer to creators' categorizations, but we reserve the right to recategorize a fanwork type.

A manual recategorization decision made by the abuse team is appealable through the ordinary abuse appeals process.

A manual recategorization of a fanwork will not result in suspension of a user's account, unless it is a repeated pattern for a single user, in which case it may be treated as grounds for a suspension. Moreover, if a creator unilaterally reverses a manual recategorization, without agreement from the abuse team, that will be treated as grounds for a suspension.

Related FAQ additions:

Q: What do you mean by recategorizing a fanwork type?

A: For technical reasons relating to how our database is planned to evolve, we need for archive administrators to have the ability to change a work type where it is clearly appropriate (e.g., a review essay or fanvid mistakenly or inadvertently categorized as textual fiction). Because work type will be a new addition (and we may create new categories over time), we understand that users won't necessarily go back and change the work type on previously uploaded works. Inaction on already-existing works will not be grounds for any penalty for users, even if we do later ask that the work type be changed to reflect what it is. People will also make mistakes when work type is in place. Once work type is in place, our general policy when a recategorization is clearly appropriate will be to ask the user to recategorize the work, and change the work type if we receive no response. In addition, our general policy is to defer to the creator's choices in borderline cases.

Q: What do you mean by a manual recategorization?

A manual recategorization is an individualized determination that a specific work has been miscategorized, made as the result of a specific complaint. In terms of the transition to work types, we may automate work type detection for existing works, notify users, and ask them to change the work type if the automated process made a mistake. This automatic process would operate outside the abuse process, not as a manual recategorization.

Q: Will you recategorize or remove other tags, such as relationship tags?

A: Because our Abuse and Support resources are limited, and because different people interpret tags in many different ways, we don’t think that we can fairly enforce rules about relationship or other tags. We encourage users to engage with each other on these issues.

Comment

OTW Board response to concerns about the meta decision

Published: 2013-02-25 13:17:12 -0500

There has been a very active and thoughtful response to our recent announcement in favor of allowing meta on the AO3. We'd like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to everyone for raising their concerns, showing their support, and otherwise engaging with us as we work to define our policies, refine our processes, and improve our communication. In addition, we'd like to respond to a number of the issues raised and clarify how this decision was reached and what the process will be from this point forward.

For the purposes of this and the previous post, the term "meta" refers to nonfictional fanworks in all media. While text-based nonfiction fanworks have been a frequent focus, this decision and the surrounding commentary is meant to encompass fanworks in all media; this is one reason why multimedia hosting, posting, and filtering will be referenced frequently in conjunction with the decision to support meta.

There is still a long way to go before meta can be fully supported on the AO3, and we will address a number of the concerns about implementation and timing below. Determining how meta should be supported — for example, the details of how multimedia hosting on the AO3 will ultimately look — is a matter for our committees and users to decide through committee collaboration and user input. However, determining whether supporting meta on the Archive is consonant with the OTW’s mission falls squarely within the Board’s purview and duty.

History of the discussion

When the initial question of meta was posed to Board, it was framed as a request for clarification on whether meta fell under transformative works as we defined them for the AO3, and how to proceed with reports of meta as a violation of our Terms of Service (ToS). The Board voted last August to send the meta issue back to the committees for more discussion, in the hope that the committees could work out among themselves issues that the Board had found insoluble. The decision called for balancing the competing concerns of several committees, and the Board had been unable to reach a satisfactory agreement. However, the execution of that plan dragged on for months as we dealt with Board member hiatuses, resignations, and appointments on top of other day-to-day business, and the vote was never put into action.

When the Board reconvened in 2013, we initially had intended to continue with the plan set out by the 2012 Board, but we quickly realized that — partly as a result of the Board’s dramatically changed composition and partly because of a new focus on clarifying the Board's purview — we no longer felt it to be the best course of action. We looked at the conversations that had been happening within and outside the organization for the previous six months and came to the conclusion that it was in the best interests of both our users and our personnel that a basic decision be made as soon as possible, rather than occupy staff and volunteer time in further stretching out a question that we felt it was our responsibility as Board to settle: the question of the scope of the OTW and AO3's missions with respect to meta.

We had many users who had been waiting all that time to find out if their meta could stay on the Archive, and several committees who needed a determination in order to perform their duties. We took a fresh vote, which was unanimously in favor of interpreting the OTW and AO3's missions as inclusive of owing meta the same protections and support as other fanworks. Once that vote had been taken, sending the issue back to committees for a discussion that would not have changed the Board’s stance would have been disingenuous. We felt it was preferable to state a firm decision and engage the committees in determining how best to carry it out.

We are aware that the Board's decision seemed very abrupt to people both inside and outside the OTW, and we acknowledge that more transparency would have been preferable. The Board’s overall workload and the emotional burnout many of us have experienced as a result of the length and intensity of the meta discussion were obstacles that prevented us from communicating effectively. We regret our shortcomings in this area and will strive to do better in the future; we are working to reduce workload and burnout and clarify policies and purview in an effort to prevent this from recurring.

We are committed to fully engaging committees and users in determining how the decision will be implemented, and a revised Archive TOS and FAQ are currently being drafted under the leadership of the Content Policy Workgroup. As with other TOS and FAQ revisions, they will be posted for public comment before they are formally adopted.

Replies to some questions and concerns

We recognize that this decision will not be popular with all users, members, or even OTW personnel. Conversely, the choice to allow meta — and turning over the ability to define and craft specific policy to our committees — is a decision many support. The concerns raised by those leaving comments are ones the Board spent a great deal of time discussing, and we are happy to share our reasoning and to continue answering questions to the best of our ability. Here are some responses to common concerns and questions:

  • Meta does not require new code to be hosted in its bare form — unlike image or video hosting no new code is required for a basic level of service. For example, a nonfiction essay can be uploaded just like a fictional story, or a meta comic can be linked just like a fictional one is now, or a vid focused on commenting on the canon can be embedded like vids that build fictional narratives currently are. While there are ways the AO3 could be better organized to deliver meta, a basic level of hosting is already available.
  • The AO3 is intended to eventually have filtering based on work type/medium, allowing meta to be found and filtered. The intention is to expand the AO3 functionality to better host non-textual fanworks (e.g. vids, podfics, art, etc.), and the most-requested behaviors with respect to meta (filtering, tagging, etc.) all intersect with what will be in place for multimedia hosting and posting.
  • Refusing to host meta and waiting until we have sufficient code for works types would unduly punish users who have already posted meta works in good faith. In addition to posting meta based on good-faith interpretation of the TOS, users have been posting many types of works the AO3 is not strictly prepared to deal with on a technical and usability level, which includes meta of all media and most non-textual fanworks. Allowing and encouraging users to post all types of fanworks has been a cornerstone of the AO3's philosophy as an archive, and it would be disingenuous and unfair to punish one type of fanwork or creator but not others on this basis.
  • While text-based meta faces much less legal challenge than some other fanwork types, it still faces other challenges such as loss of hosting due to failing archives or discontinued blogging platforms. Non-text-based meta, such as meta art and vids, shares many of the same legal challenges as other non-text-based fanworks.
  • Fans should be able to archive all their fanworks together. Besides this general principle, there are specific instances of at-risk archives that include meta fanworks. Grandfathering in previously posted meta or disallowing meta except for that taken in through Open Doors leads to an inconsistent policy likely to cause confusion, conflict, and difficulty in enforcement.

We hope this answers some of your comments and concerns. We welcome further input and look forward to working with our personnel and our users in continuing to welcome a broad range of fannish endeavors under the OTW umbrella.

Comment

February Support Live Chat

Published: 2013-02-18 16:03:18 -0500

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 last chat in November, we're going to regularly have Open Chat sessions with the Support Staff in our public chat room (the link will be made available on the day of the chat). The first of these will be this coming Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 16:00:00 UTC lasting through this Sunday, February 24, 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!

EDIT: We're closed, for this month. A hearty thanks to everyone who came! We will be doing this again!

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.

Comment

Archive of Our Own Newsletter - January/February 2013

Published: 2013-02-17 14:39:34 -0500

Welcome to the January-February Newsletter! We hope you had a good holiday season and are having a happy new year! Despite the term break in December, January was busy busy busy with upgrades and releases for all. February is also turning out to be a big month with releases, spotlights, tag wrangling fixes, and header posts galore! Here's what we've been up to:

All the Archive news that's fit to print!

2012 was full of Archive milestones. In November we passed the 500,000 work mark in 10,000 fandoms. In December, the Archive passed 100,000 users. Check out this post for further milestones that we passed in 2012.

Tag Wrangling shared their process for wrangling Additional Tags and why Additional Tags are not as un-wranglable as one might think.

Mini-Release 0.9.4 went live with a small number of bug fixes. We were also very happy to bring back invitation requests in December. Release 0.9.5 and its redux went off without a hitch.

Fandom Tags are now alphabetized regardless of articles. Wranglers now have the ability to assign a sort name different from a display name, making it easier for us to wrangle and browse fandoms!

We recently posted a Spotlight on Systems Committee. If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes to support the technical systems of the Archive, read all about it here.

AD&T are hard at work on a redesign of the site header. Check out our little preview and tell us what you think.

And finally, the Board approved meta hosting on the Archive. Please see this post for details on how this decision affects you, the Archive, and the Archive staffers.

Adventures with Support

Things are keeping busy in the Support world. We've got a new co-chair, and the training is letting us solidify all of our training. We're looking forward to a solid year with proactive communication with both our fellow committees and our users!

Open Doors Update

Open Doors is still working toward an automated import for the 852 Prospect Archive and recently held two open house chats (read more here). In the meantime, we've opened up manual importing by inviting all 852 Prospect authors to the Archive. Check out Open Doors' post for further instructions on manually importing works from that particular Archive.

AD&T Committee business of note

We're excited about the upcoming year and are looking forward to everything we'll be sharing with you. On a more serious note, we recently reviewed our emergency plan in the event that our site is compromised and requires an emergency shutdown.

Support Committee business of note

Support will be hosting a Live Chat February 23rd-24th, from 4pm to 4am UTC (What time is that for you?) 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. 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.

Tag Wrangling Committee business of note

We've clarified some major weirdness in our guidelines regarding AU tags and inconsistencies regarding the canonicals for Original Characters in Relationship tags.

Apologies

We've had some scheduled downtime during the past couple of weeks. Each time was for two upgrades and some site maintenance to build a better Archive. Apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced by this! We also received reports from some users that Avast was sending out malware warnings when users tried to access the Archive. The cause of this malware warning was external and no cause for alarm.

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).

Comment

OTW Board Approves Meta Hosting on the AO3

Published: 2013-02-15 14:05:33 -0500

After a long period of discussion, the OTW Board has voted to allow the posting of meta on the Archive of Our Own. We considered a range of issues while making this decision, including how this move would fit into the overall mission of the OTW, the technical and financial resources required, and demand from users of the Archive and members of the OTW. We determined that there is already a demand for meta on the Archive, and that this use of our resources is consonant with our purview and mission.

We're aware that this decision has taken some time, and we sincerely apologize for the delay. We had hoped to reach a decision sooner, but the complexity of the discussion meant we needed to think carefully about the issues. As the term of some OTW Board members ended while the discussion was ongoing, we also needed time for the new Board members to get up-to-speed with all the issues involved.

What will happen next?

Agreeing to include meta on the Archive is just the first step in this journey. The Board will now work with all related committees to define exactly how meta will be handled. Our committees, including AD&T (which will be doing the work on the technical side), Abuse, Support, and others, will be working with our Content Policy workgroup to design a workable policy.

One of the main tasks ahead of us is to agree on some definitions and policies. We need to agree on definitions that are usable and enforceable. While any category is inevitably fuzzy, we want to preserve the Archive as a site for fanworks (so for example, we don't want it to become a general blogging site). Once we've agreed on these definitions, our committees will have a whole range of tasks ahead of them, including:

  • Drafting revisions to our Terms of Service and FAQ. Revisions to the Archive TOS will be subject to a public review period (as detailed under Section IB of the TOS) before becoming final.
  • Determining technical plans for making meta more accessible. We are already planning changes to posting and browsing on the Archive to allow for multimedia hosting. We do not expect meta to require any additional coding to implement beyond what will be required for these changes, and allowing meta won't change the existing prioritization of these features, but we will need to factor it into our design.
  • Determining tagging policies to allow for multimedia and meta browsing.

What will be allowed?

Our Content Policy workgroup will be posting guidelines on what will fall under the 'meta' category and the policies which will apply to it in the next two weeks.

What does this mean for me?

Going forward, we hope that this will mean you can find and enjoy fannish meta more easily (and screen it out if you're not interested).

If you currently have meta posted on the Archive, or you plan to post some in the near future, you should be aware that our policies are still being finalized. As action on existing meta posts was suspended while Board deliberated on this issue, in the coming months some users may be contacted in connection to how their posts fit the new policies. We recommend that users wait until these policies are made public before putting a lot of effort into new meta posts. However, we hope that, long term, meta writers will feel their contributions to the archive are welcome and can join other fanworks in finding an audience at the AO3.

Thoughts?

If you have thoughts and feedback you'd like us to consider, we ask that you comment here on the AO3 version of this post, to make it easier for the various committees involved to answer you and collate your replies.

Comment

Category Change Says: "We're working!"

Published: 2013-02-13 16:54:39 -0500

This is a short update from the Category Change workgroup. You can read about what our work entails and how we were formed in our introductory post. As we want to keep users in the loop, we wanted to provide some information on what we’ve been doing since then, and what we’re planning to do in the near future.

We began by compiling user feedback we received either in comments made to our last post or directly through the Category Change Contact Form. We then grouped together similar ideas.

After analyzing the feedback through discussion on our mailing list and in several chat meetings, we have identified the issues users have with the current Media categories, as well as their expectations when browsing and filtering. This information has informed our discussions and has been vital to understanding what we want from the new categorization system.

We had a brief end-of-term hiatus from December 17th to January 4th.

Since the beginning of the 2013 term, we have been discussing the first draft of the new categorization system. Once this task is done, we will consult with the OTW committees who would be affected by the changes and solicit feedback from them.

After we have reassessed our initial proposal in light of this feedback, we will make the revised proposal public and ask for users' feedback. We know that this could impact user experience in a big way, so we want to make sure that we have heard the users' concerns and ideas before moving forward with a final proposal.

You’re welcome to comment on this post (at any of its locations) with ideas, feedback or opinions, or you can send them to us through the Category Change Contact Form.

Comment

Sneak Peek: Our Shiny New Header!

Published: 2013-02-12 13:13:52 -0500

As we mentioned in our August newsletter, super coder Sarken and the rest of AD&T have been working hard on a redesign of the AO3 header. This new header will include drop-down menus to make site navigation easier. We're excited about our new header and we'd like to give you a little sneak peek before it goes live!

Presenting: the new header!

This is what the new header looks like without any expanded menus:

Note that the new header does not in any way affect the organization of the dashboard. The header will not affect the layout of any other pages either.

To make it easier to navigate the site, the header has four main drop downs: Fandoms, Browse, Search, and About. For example, clicking on "Fandoms" will show you this:

The "Fandoms" menu is organized by media type. Clicking on a media type will lead to the media type's main listing of all fandoms that belong to that media type. "Browse" and "Search" offer ways to look for content by works, people, bookmarks, tags, and collections - options that are available on our current header but which will now be condensed into two menus. The "About" menu will have links to the blog, the FAQ, and the volunteer page. These four main menus are available to all users.

To sign in, look to the top right corner of the page:

Clicking on "Log In" in the upper right corner will show the log in menu - now a drop down menu, instead of a menu that goes across the top of the page.

If a user is accessing the site from the homepage or from other pages (such as a parent fandom page), there will be an option to access dashboard features:

Clicking on "Hi, [user]!" shows a menu for users to get to specific areas of their dashboard without having to go to their main dashboard page. This menu will not include everything on the dashboard page, just the options shown here: My Dashboard, My Subscriptions (#), My Works (#), My Bookmarks (#), My Collections (#), My Sign-ups (#), My Assignments (#), My History, and Preferences.

Links with (#) will only show up if a user has something saved or uploaded under that link. For example, if a user has fourteen bookmarks uploaded, the link will read "My Bookmarks (14)". If a user has no bookmarks, "My Bookmarks" will not show up. The same goes for subscriptions, works, collections, sign-ups, and assignments. "My History" will only show up if you have history enabled under your preferences.

The header will also be visible on the mobile layout:

As we can see here, the "Fandoms" menu has the exact same options for mobile users. The mobile header reflects the new header; mobile users will have access to the same menus and options as desktop users.

How you can help us

We've been making sure that this header works without Javascript. However, to make this new header as accessible as possible, we'd like feedback from users who use screen readers and other assistive technology. If you're willing to help us out, please contact Support.

When do we get it?

We're hoping to roll out the new header by the end of February. Stay tuned for further details when it goes live!

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Spotlight on Systems!

Published: 2013-02-10 09:11:30 -0500

The OTW's Systems teams work behind the scenes to support, manage, and maintain all the technical systems needed to run the OTW and its projects, such as the Archive of Our Own and Fanlore.

Systems' work mostly happens behind the scenes, but they are BUSY, fielding requests from all parts of the organization and working hard to keep all our sites up and responsive. Systems team members have to be 'on call' in order to deal with emergencies at any time of the day or night: if the Archive of Our Own goes down, it's Systems who fly to the rescue (while over 130 thousand users wait impatiently!).

2012 was a particularly demanding year for Systems because of the speed with which the OTW and its projects grew. Over 2,970,103 people now access the Archive of Our Own in the course of a month, up from 808,000 a year ago. Meanwhile, Fanlore has also grown, passing 400,000 edits in 2012, and other projects have continued to develop. Managing these projects and their volunteers also requires technical resources, and Systems have helped the OTW to transition to some more effective tools over the past year.

Systems highlights

Over the course of 2012, Systems:

  • Handled 557 requests from around the organization \0/
  • Transitioned the OTW website and some related tools and projects to a new host with a third party Drupal vendor, who will provide much-needed technical support for these tools.
  • Dealt with the performance problems on the Archive of Our Own, stepping in to implement major performance enhancements and keep the site up.
  • Researched, bought and installed 3 new servers to host our projects and cope with the ever-growing demands on the Archive of Our Own.
  • Researched hosting options and installed two additional servers after a kindly benefactor donated them to the OTW.
  • Set up new hosting and tools for our volunteers to use, including new hosted environments for our coders, so that coders don't have to install the Archive code on their own machines.
  • Kept everything up and running, with amazing patience and good humour in the most stressful situations.

Find out more!

James from Systems has written up an amazing and detailed account of the main work Systems did in the course of 2012. To get some in-depth insight into the amazing work Systems do, check out: A year with the Systems team

If you're technically minded, or curious about how much hardware is needed to run the Archive of our Own, you'll also enjoy James' posts on our changing server setups over the past year, and our technical plans going forward:

January 2012 server setup
January 2013 server setup
Going forward: our hardware setup and technical plans

Thank you!

Systems do an amazing job of juggling their many responsibilities. We really appreciate their work - thanks Systems!

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