AO3 News

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2014-04-13 11:34:09 -0400

This deploy includes code contributions by Cecilia, Enigel, larissa, Naomi, Sam Johnsson, Sarken, and Scott and was tested by Emilie, Lady Oscar, and mumble.


  • The first chapter title in multi-chapter works would only be displayed once a second chapter was added. This is now fixed to show the chapter title right from the start.
  • The code that deletes drafts a month after creation was sometimes failing to completely destroy the work and associated tags. This should now be fixed.
  • The information about drafts getting deleted after a month was only displayed on the page listing all drafts. We have now added the information, including the exact deletion date, at the top of each draft.
  • Embeds from YouTube were failing (unless users added the http: string to the embed code); this has been fixed to allow all embed codes from YouTube (and other permitted domains) as they are generated.
  • Some tags were showing a negative number for how many times they were used in works. The cause for this bug is in our chosen framework, Ruby on Rails, and will be fixed in future updates of Rails. In the meantime, we will run a script to fix those erroneous use counts, so any tags with zero uses will not linger forever.
  • When a tag wrangler's user account was deleted, their assigned fandoms to wrangle would show up on the "Fandoms in Need of a Wrangler" page even if other wranglers were still assigned to the fandom. This has now been fixed.
  • Linking to the /invitations page for a non-existent or misspelled user was causing an error 500; this has been fixed.
  • When hovering over the little square symbol in the top right corner of a bookmark blurb, the number of bookmarks previously popped up as title text, especially necessary for works with over 99 bookmarks where only a * is currently displayed. That hover text had vanished and is now back again.
  • The Status/Posted/Words information on the "My Assignments" page was stacked on top of each other; now everything displays in one line as expected.
  • Fixed some CSS for the public Wrangling Guidelines pages.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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In one of our next code updates, we're going to be rolling out some changes to the FAQ section of the Archive. Here's a little information on what improvements the new FAQ will include, and what this change means for you.


As one of the main improvements, it will enable easy translation of questions and answers. Our volunteer translators will be able to submit their work to the FAQ and link it to the corresponding English text. The new interface for users will introduce a simple drop-down box for filtering the FAQ by language.

Screenshot 1
[Work-in-progress screenshot of the new FAQs, here depicting the list of available topics in Portuguese]

The new FAQ interface will benefit from a cleaner, easier-to-edit structure that makes adding questions to categories more straightforward. Browsing the FAQ will also be a lot easier: we'll improve our index page, so that you can see at a glance a full list of questions without having to read through the entire page.

Screenshot 2
[Work-in-progress screenshot of the new FAQs, here depicting the list of all available questions for one topic in Spanish]

Expected Issues

We had to make significant changes to the existing code to enable these new features. In addition, our AO3 Docs team has been working on a new and improved FAQ structure, as well as updates to the existing sections. New content will be added as work on these updates progresses.

As a result, old links to the FAQ might stop working or will link to an unexpected section of the new FAQ. For example, the link to the Bookmarks FAQ might suddenly lead you to the FAQ about Downloads. Please bear this in mind if you have linked to the FAQ on another site, as these links will likely need updating. FAQ links included previously within AO3's official communication (for instance on AO3 News or in previous Support replies) will also be affected, although we will do our best to update our own resources.

Finally, there's a chance that internal links from one section of the FAQ to another will also break temporarily as we wire the new FAQ together. There's a small possibility that following the code deploy, the FAQ section will be empty as we work on re-adding all existing content.

Looking Forward

We're excited about these latest updates: we hope that they'll not only improve our documentation and make it easier for you to find answers to your questions, but will also be a big step forward in beginning to make the Archive accessible in different languages for fans around the world. Many thanks to our teams of translators, documentation volunteers, coders and testers for all of their work on this project! We hope you find these changes helpful, and we look forward to your feedback.


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

The OTW's April membership drive has officially ended, and we'd like to thank everyone who came out to support it. Your generosity and efforts in spreading the word have made this our most successful drive ever! Since April 3 we've received more than 2,800 individual donations totaling over US$63,000. We've also raised the OTW's membership to at least 4,869 people!

Thank you to all our members, donors, and to everyone who helped spread the word to make this drive such a spectacular success. We’re very grateful for your support! We’d also like to thank all the OTW staffers and volunteers who supported the drive by creating, translating and posting content, responding to donor inquiries, designing graphics, sending e-mail blasts, monitoring donation receipts, and myriad other tasks. Thank you for making the drive possible.

Although this drive is over, we gratefully accept donations throughout the year. This year we also have a very special project to share with you, that you may want to use when telling others why you support the OTW.

Thanks to the amazing vidding skills of Ash48, and the fanwork contributions of dozens of fans, we are proud to present a video introduction to the OTW.

The OTW video explains to people unfamiliar with fandoms and fanworks what it is that the OTW does. It defines transformative works, and provides an overview of our projects as well as an insight into what fans create.

We hope that you'll share the video with fans and non-fans alike. You can find it on YouTube, Vimeo, and Critical Commons, as well as on the OTW website.

The OTW's volunteer translators are currently working on subtitles for Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. As each translation is completed, we will be sending out tweets and tumblr posts promoting it.

We would also love to have this video narrated in as many languages as possible! Can you help? If you're fluent in a language (or more!) other than English and are willing to help record the voiceover track, please contact us. We'd be thrilled to work with you!

The participation and collaboration of fans everywhere is what keeps the OTW and all its projects going. Thank you for being a part of it!


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Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

You might have noticed some loud partying and fireworks recently over the Archive of Our Own surpassing a phenomenal one MILLION fanworks. Fanwork creators, viewers, volunteers, and fans greeted this milestone with much joy and celebration and a jaw-dropping explosion of fanwork — even an infographic! As one of the site's coders put it, February saw a lot of "twirling in sleep-deprived excitement."

The best part? That's not even the only amazing milestone the Archive has reached in 2014. In addition to having more than one million fanworks, the site has also become home to over a quarter of a million members — a number that's rising every day!

The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee houses many sleep-deprived twirling coders who donate their time to build the Archive. AD&T tells us there have been other achievements recently — less visible, but no less important:

  • We've been adding new servers and repurposing some old ones to improve Archive performance and redundancy. Your past donations made these purchases possible!
  • The Archive's Tumblr, created in 2011, has seen rapid growth. AD&T has worked diligently to supply it with informative and innovative content, and their efforts are paying off!
  • The Archive's Twitter account is very close to hitting the 20,000 follower mark! AD&T is thrilled that people who read the tweets aren't getting left in the dark when there's a problem with the site or the servers.
  • At the beginning of this year, AO3's page views climbed to almost 50 million page views each week. That's almost double the views for last January; and that number, too, is steadily climbing.

AO3's numerous volunteers are continuously improving its features, and in the middle of all the celebrating, they're making plans for the future. To check out some of AO3's planned features, view the section "The Road Ahead" in the AO3's continuously updated roadmap.

If any of those one million fanworks was something you enjoyed, or had fun creating, please help AD&T, Tag Wranglers, Systems, Abuse, Support, and Quality Assurance & Testing continue to make the Archive a useful and precious tool within the fan community. These volunteers give generously of their time and energy to ensure that the site runs smoothly and bring you the AO3 you love.

Your donation of US$10 or more will help us take the next steps toward partying to the tune of two million fanworks in the future!


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2014-04-09 04:54:04 -0400

As many of you are aware, the Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the OpenSSL software library. It is possible for people to gain access to information from vulnerable sites that would allow them to impersonate those sites in order to obtain sensitive data. With some smaller sites, it may be possible to acquire user names and passwords directly.

Two stick figures discuss the data that could be revealed by the Heartbleed vulnerability, including keys, emails, passwords, and erotic fanfiction
Comic courtesy of xkcd

Fortunately, our Systems team has investigated and determined that we have never run a version of OpenSSL on our web servers which is vulnerable to this attack. They have also upgraded OpenSSL and restarted the application on our application servers, even though it should not be possible to exploit any vulnerabilities on those systems.

Login information used only on the Archive should be safe. If you also use the same information on other sites, it would be a good idea to change it. Keep in mind that you shouldn't change your password on a site until after you know that they've fixed the vulnerability. You can check the status of a site with this Heartbleed test.

As always, our volunteers will do their best to keep your information safe and alert you to any vulnerabilities as soon as possible.


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Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

Do you geek out over academic and wider media discussions about fandom? You might just be a fanhacker!

Fanhackers is one of the OTW’s most recent projects, launched last year on Tumblr and WordPress. Its goal is to connect useful research on fans, academic or otherwise, with people who want to hear about it. Right now they're focusing on bringing fan studies scholarship closer to fans themselves, through reblogging links and quotes of interest.

The OTW's commitment to the fascinating world of fan and media studies doesn't stop with publishing and fostering academia. The Fanhackers team also wants to promote closer dialogue between acafans (fans who are also scholars) and fandom at large, actively promoting academic work in fannish circles and also making sure acafans know about the great meta and resources that fans make about themselves. Fans often haven't had the chance to discover the brilliant academic work done on the communities and source materials they love, and Fanhackers is happy to connect them to excellent research that deserves more love!

Fanhackers' Tumblr presence focuses on snapshot-quotes from exciting new and classic fan and media studies. Tumblr's quote-friendly culture has turned out to be the perfect way to broadcast this research to a wider, broader audience; it's been wonderful to see hundreds of followers enjoy and share what has been published. Fanhackers also live-blogged quotes from our recent wonderful Future of Fanworks chats!

Looking at the road ahead, one major project that the Fanhackers staff is working hard on is compiling a comprehensive bibliography of fan studies research. It's still a work in progress, currently containing about 1,800 items—but they'll soon start requesting contributions from fans all over the world. The goal is for this to be as complete and invaluable a resource as possible for anyone delving into this field. Fanhackers' staff hopes to focus especially on gathering links and information on fan studies research across different languages and countries. Right now English-speaking and Japanese scholarship are the most represented, but they're on the lookout for more contributions! (Feel free to make a Zotero account and join in on the fun!)

This will be another major step towards making better use of existing fan research stuff, primarily by making it more accessible and findable. "We hope it'll become a great resource for people wanting to find info on fans to quote for use in places that require academic sources," says chair Nele Noppe. "Like Wikipedia! Or your term paper about doujinshi!"

We have big plans and hopes for this resource, and for Fanhackers at large! Please help us keep fan studies accessible and closer to fandom — donate today!


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Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

What gets you excited about academic studies in fandom?

"Here's what I'm excited about," said Karen Hellekson in 2008: "an academic journal that welcomes, instead of rejects or overtly mocks, fan studies as a topic ... that takes as a given the notion that fans provide something valuable to our culture that ought to be analyzed."

That journal is Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC): run, peer-reviewed, edited, and supported by OTW members and fans like you.

TWC is a journal with contributions from fan studies scholars all over the world. Edited by Hellekson and Kristina Busse, TWC has produced 15 issues so far, featuring fascinating contributions in topics ranging from fanvids to fan labor to Supernatural.

Here's another reason to get excited: TWC is completely free to the public, and has been from the beginning. Academic journals are traditionally locked to people with university affiliations. Often you have to pay US$30 to $45 for access to a single article. But ours is an online-only Open Access Gold journal: free for the readers at the point of access. Plus, our Creative Commons copyright lets anyone reprint the essays for free. These are essential principles behind TWC, enabling its goal of connecting academics and fans through community and accessibility. That's why the journal also has an open space for non-academic fans to chime in, through the Symposium section in every issue.

In 2013, TWC obtained wider visibility and greater academic standing for its articles. Hellekson called this "a big win for TWC and an acknowledgment of the high quality of the work we publish," as well as a good sign for online academia.

Recently, editors Hellekson and Busse also worked on getting together a volume collecting a number of foundational academic texts about fandom. All royalties from The Fan Fiction Studies Reader go straight to the OTW!

So what's next? TWC staff is keeping up the good work—issue 16 is already locked, with 17 well on the way—and planning to branch out into other areas of fan scholarship, including more non-Western and nonmedia fandoms like sports and music fandoms, and to "experiment with new forms of digital scholarship."

Bringing TWC to you is a tenacious journey. The editors, team members, and scholars mostly work behind the scenes: soliciting high-quality essays, peer-reviewing them, and getting out every issue on time, expertly copyedited and typeset. For the TWC community, every issue is a landmark, the product of hundreds of hours of absorbing, thought-provoking academic work.

If you're excited, too, consider supporting TWC's high-quality, open-access fan scholarship — please donate today!


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Stepping Stones: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 3-9

If you've ever felt the sting of an unfair takedown notice, you know that copyright and trademark owners and other rights-holders don't always play nicely, or recognize the legitimacy and the value of fan activity. That's why the OTW's Legal Advocacy team is on call to defend fandom and the importance of fair use and transformative works.

When they're not helping fans battle corporate plagiarism and exploitation, Cease & Desists, and those pesky takedowns, the Legal team works on the bigger picture. When governments consider fair use and copyright issues, OTW's Legal committee is there, advocating for fans' rights and fan creativity.

Here's a recent timeline of the Legal Advocacy team's work in arguing for the protection of transformative works (like fanwork!) in copyright law:

  • In 2013, Legal submitted amicus briefs in Fox v. DISH and Dish v. ABC, arguing that copyright holders do not have absolute control over how their works are used, an issue obviously very close to our hearts as fans and as creators and consumers of fanworks.
  • Also in 2013, Legal submitted an amicus brief in Lenz v. Universal about how unfounded allegations of copyright infringement harm fair use. This issue is especially important in dealing with copyright owners' abuse of DMCA notices.
  • In December 2013, OTW staffer Rebecca Tushnet testified before the US Patent and Trademark Office and the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration to defend fair use in transformative works.
  • In February 2014, Legal submitted comments to the European Commission concerning possible EU copyright reform, trying to help ensure that the end result will be respectful of transformative works.

Legal Advocacy's busy lawyers also track current events that affect fandom at large—causes and cases that could impact your rights to create and access fanworks. They've written posts covering Canadian law, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, Chinese law as it pertains to transformative works, and others, helping to keep us up to date on developments that may impact fandom.

The OTW's entirely pro bono Legal volunteer team wants to help fandom understand the laws that affect us, and to help the law respect what we do. And of course, the team also plays the important role of legal consultants to the OTW itself, helping out all our committees and projects with advice and assistance: they're essential in keeping the OTW up and running.

Please contribute to help us keep Legal's good work going!


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