AO3 News

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2014-02-26 05:31:24 -0500

(For Release 0.9.14, we will be trying something new! Bug fixes and improvements will be tested in very small batches, and then pushed to the Archive as soon as they're ready. This will make for much smaller, more frequent Release Notes, until we consider version 0.9.14 done! Stay tuned.)

This deploy includes code contributions by Enigel, Lal, Sarken, and Storm and was tested by Ariana, Lady Oscar, Naomi, and Scott.


  • Fixed another issue with signup summaries generated for gift exchanges. This remains a somewhat brittle piece of code, and we continue to work on improvements.
  • Removed the Subscriptions count in the user menu in the header for performance reasons. In the same menu, Preferences now says My Preferences, to match the rest of the items.
  • The order of the Language, Custom Stylesheet, and Privacy options in the work editing form was different from the order when editing multiple works at once. Both forms now follow the same order.
  • Fixed the page titles for our FAQ and Terms of Service pages. They previously said "Tos" and "Faq", now follow proper capitalization.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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2014-02-25 16:42:28 -0500

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 is proud to announce the release of The Fan Fiction Studies Reader . The brainchild of
Transformative Works and Cultures
editors Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, the reader is a reprint collection of many key works in the field of fan studies. The Reader is intended for classroom use, but it will also be of interest to people in the field of fan studies.

All royalties for The Fan Fiction Studies Reader will go to the OTW. The OTW supported the project by paying fees for the essays' reprint rights. (In the case of many such anthologies, these payments are provided by the academic institutions that employ the editors.) Karen and Kristina have written a general introduction as well as brief overviews for each of the book's four sections. Because of their interest in open access publishing, Karen and Kristina have placed their introduction and the headnotes in the public domain, effective in 10 years' time.

The essays, which are organized into four thematic sections, address fan-created works as literary artifacts; the relationship between fandom, identity, and feminism; fandom and affect; and the role of creativity and performance in fan activities. Fan works, considered as literary artifacts, pose important questions about the nature of authorship, the meaning of originality, and modes of transmission.

The Fan Fiction Studies Reader is part of the University of Iowa's newly launched fan studies line. Their university libraries' special collections department also works with the OTW's Fan Culture Preservation Project, which preserves fanzines and other nondigital forms of fan culture.


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2014-02-23 13:27:54 -0500

Banner by caitie celebrating Fanlore's 500,000th edit

As we mentioned during our milestone weekend, today we're announcing four events that will continue our focus on fanworks while celebrating the OTW's project milestones. Starting on March 8, each Saturday next month we will be featuring a discussion on "The Future of Fanworks" with a variety of special guests.

March 8: Live chat with fan studies scholars on "The future of fanworks" from 1600-1800 UTC (What time is that in my timezone?)


March 16: Live chat with fans on "The future of fanworks" from 0100 - 0300 UTC (What time is that in my timezone?)

  • Moderator: Jintian, OTW Communications staffer
  • Guest: cereta
  • Guest: yhlee
  • Guest: yifu


March 21-24: Q&A posts with copyright practitioners and scholars on "The future of fanworks."

March 29: Live chat with entertainment industry representatives on "The future of fanworks" from 1500 to 1700 UTC (What time is that in my timezone?)


Each chat will be held in our Public Discussion chatroom. Links to the chats will be posted shortly before the events. Although we have done our best to vary the chat times to accommodate fans in all timezones, the scheduling is ultimately dependent on guest availability. For anyone who can't join a chat live we expect to post transcripts of the events within 48 hours.

We would also like your input! We will be giving all panelists a set of 6 common questions as we believe it will be interesting to bring out different (or common) perspectives on the topics among the various groups. You can submit as many questions as you'd like but as we have limited time we can't guarantee any particular question will be included. We'll be looking for questions that are broadly applicable to all groups and are a good representation of "The future of fanworks" topic.

We will be collecting questions until 23:59 UTC on March 1. You can either post your questions here or submit them through our Communications form (just mention they're for the chats).


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2014-02-20 08:14:30 -0500

Welcome to Release 0.9.13. Ariana, Elz, Emily E, Enigel, james_, Naomi, sarken, Scott, and Stephanie S. contributed code to this release, which was tested by our awesome testing team: Alison Watson, aralias, Ariana, Camilla M, Emily E, Eve Forbes, Lady Oscar, Michelle Dong, Naomi, mumble, runt, Sam Johnsson, sarken, and Scott.

We're starting the year with a much needed performance fix, a major update of our Rich Text Editor, and a few importing fixes to make the lives of our Open Doors team a little easier. We have many big plans for the next several months and are also working continuously, and often invisibly, on upgrading and improving our server setup. For downtime announcements (both planned and unplanned), please watch our @AO3_Status Twitter account.


TinyMCE Upgrade!

We've updated our Rich Text Editor of choice, TinyMCE, from version 3.5.6 to 4.0.11. This takes care of several long-standing bugs in one fell swoop, and enables us to integrate bug fixes more regularly going forward. We took great care to make TinyMCE work properly with our own HTML sanitizer, which formats the underlying code more or less to our liking. However, some combinations of writing software, browsers, and formatting choices still pose a problem that cannot be easily fixed.

In particular, Google Drive/Docs documents will not retain their italic and bold formatting when pasted into the editor, and text from Scrivener is best pasted from the HTML output option. We've included a bunch of notes and usage tips in the new Rich Text help, accessible through the little question mark symbol after "Type or paste formatted text."

We are doing our best to make the Rich Text Editor work for as many writing platforms as possible, but we're limited by the features and bug fixes TinyMCE's own tireless team of developers gives us. For very complicated formatting (or even colors!), please consider writing your own HTML and using a work skin.

Archivist Imports!

Our amazing Open Doors volunteers have been hard at work preserving stories from at-risk archives! With the exception of two very large collections which were imported in bulk (Smallville Slash Archive and 852 Prospect), they've been mostly using the same importing tool that is available to all our users. Regrettably, they've had to work around several bugs for a while now.

This release takes care of a few smaller issues relating to imports and import management, and introduces a fixed and enhanced archivist feature. This allows designated archivists to import works for others, adding the author's handle and email address from the original archive. Archivist imports automatically generate an email notification to the author with links to further information and claim/delete/orphan options. This page was also updated in this release.

Better caching!

When a user accesses a work listing, e.g. all works for a particular tag, we cache that list of works and serve it to other users wanting to browse the same list. This means the information doesn't have to be retrieved from the database every single time, which makes for happier servers. However, somewhere in the code we have to make sure the listing is refreshed when anything changes, e.g. a new work with that tag is posted.

Previously, that check was done whenever a listing was accessed. We have a lot more people reading or looking at works than posting or editing, and those turned out to be a lot of checks: Was a new work added to this collection? Did this user delete a work? Was this tag added to an existing work? and so on. In short, the database server wasn't quite as happy as we wanted it to be.

We now update all data ("expire the cache") as soon as a change happens, not when a work listing is assembled. This required extensive changes to many parts of our code, as a lot of user actions affect work listings. All kudos to Elz for persevering through several rounds of testing and fixing all the things!

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

We've been having some server overload issues, detailed in our post, What's up with the recent downtimes? In order to cut down on excessive reindexing, we're currently not adding works to the reindex queue when their hit counts are updated in the database. Instead, the work information is refreshed when some kind of feedback (e.g. comment, kudos) is left or when the work gets a new chapter, forcing an update overall.

Sorting works by hit count will be slightly inaccurate as a result, and will lag considerably for works getting traffic but no kudos/comments/bookmarks/new chapters.

Release Details

Bug fixes

  • Works
    • The cache expiry for work listings was rejiggered to happen when data is updated, not when a listing is accessed.
    • New hits on a work are recorded in the database, but don't make it into the search index currently. Instead, the index gets updated when other work information (new comment, new chapter, etc.) changes.
    • Work drafts (showing author and title information) were visible on the Related Works page; this has now been fixed.
    • There was an issue where kudos left by a guest weren't properly added to the list (thanks to stuck caching) unless a signed-in user left kudos right after. This has been fixed and all kudos should show up in the list at the bottom of the work immediately.
    • We've had reports of blank kudos notifications for a long while, and were never able to hunt down the cause. This release includes a fix of what we now believe is the cause. We'll be monitoring the situation!
    • Marking a work for later *and* marking a work as read would both bring up the same success message. This was changed to properly indicate that the work was added to or removed from your list. Please note that changes will take a while to show up!
  • Work Importing
    • Trying to import a work as an archivist was throwing an error 500; this is now very much fixed.
    • Updated Claim page for newly imported external authors.
    • Fixed several bugs with importing from efiction archives, e.g. an issue with the same chapter being imported over and over again for certain story links.
    • The code for our Redirect Lookup Tool to find imported works on the Archive was refactored and streamlined.
    • Improved URL matching in the Redirect Lookup Tool. Extra bits such as ?mode=reply or #comments and other slight differences in the link (www/no www) are taken into account when looking for the existing import.
  • Automated Testing
    • We continue to work on updating and expanding our automated tests. To this end, we have begun using a code coverage tool called You can view the current state of our code coverage by visiting our Github page (look for the little badge in the README section).
    • One of our automated testing tools, called Fakeweb, was outputting deprecation warnings every time we ran our test suite. This was inhibiting easy understanding of the test logs, so we have switched to Typhoeus. We also fixed the causes of other deprecation warnings in the process.
    • At one point, an error 500 was generated when attempting to delete your account and remove yourself as an author from co-authored works at the same time. This was fixed in another release, and we have added automated tests to cover this particular account deletion situation.
  • Misc.
    • Signup summary generation was slow and included a query that was causing issues for the database. We made some changes to help it run more efficiently.
    • Fixed a number of issues with the Rich Text Editor, including non-functioning alignment buttons, problems with the browser spellcheck, missing formatting when pasting from MS Word documents, and others!
    • When toggling between HTML input and Rich Text, the help text "Plain text with limited HTML" would be displayed at all times. It now switches to "Type or paste formatted text" when in Rich Text mode. There is also a new help section for the RTE.
    • In the navigation header, put items under "Browse" and "Search" in the same order (Works, Bookmarks, Tags, Collections/People) for consistency


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2014-02-18 15:20:27 -0500

AO3 logo wearing a party hat amidst confetti with text of '1 Million Celebration'

Now that our milestone weekend has ended, we're thinking of plans for 2015. Specifically, next February 15th, we'd like to hold an International Fanworks Day.

Why do we need a special day?

Because fanworks are awesome! That's why fans, the AO3, and many other archives around the web have ended up with hard drives full of fanworks and thousands to millions of users. Lots of people want to create them and even more want to access and save them. And like other communities that celebrate their special traditions, a specific date for celebrating fanworks speaks to their importance in our lives.

Because fanworks are international

Every part of the world creates fanworks, both about their own stories and those which have crossed national and language borders. Fanworks belong to everyone, and a fanworks day would be a great time to have them shared with someone new.

Because fanworks don't all look the same

Text, audio, multimedia, physical or digital, fanworks exist in all sorts of formats. Whatever time period they were created in, all of them should be discovered by someone who will love them.

Because someone is looking for them

Maybe someone's new to a fandom and wants to know where the goodies are. Maybe someone's never seen a fanwork before and wants to learn more about them. Maybe someone's been away from fandom for a while and wants to know where to go to get caught up. International Fanworks Day is a great opportunity to rec your favorite works to someone new, and to celebrate the reccers and rec communities for the work they do year-round.

Because fanworks are valuable and ought to be preserved

A sad moment for any fan is trying to access a fanwork they've enjoyed only to discover it's suffered a takedown, has gone offline, or has otherwise become unavailable. The OTW wants to put the issue of fanwork preservation out into public discussion, whether it's to remedy the legal problems fans may suffer when they try to share their work, or by creating safe spaces where fanworks can be housed when they're at-risk.

So how do we celebrate it?

Any way you want. Fans are the most creative people around and everyone enjoys fanworks for their own reasons. For example:

  • Fan 1 may make it a day of activism, reaching out to legislators or taking part in an organization's campaign for the public's right to remix

  • Fan 2 may make it a day of renewal, dusting off a WIP that was put aside when things got busy

  • Fan 3 may make it a day of reflection, writing meta about what fanworks mean to them

  • Fan 4 may make it a day of sharing, posting recs to their favorite works for others

  • Fan 5 may make it a day of traditions, organizing a Fanworks Day challenge
  • So tell us how you'll plan to celebrate!


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    2014-02-17 13:23:41 -0500

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

    We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Translation Committee Staff, Development & Membership Committee Staff and Communications AD&T Liaisons.

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

    • Support Committee Staff - Applications accepted until 24 February 2014
    • Translator Volunteers - Applications accepted until 24 February 2014
    • Communications Graphics Volunteers - Applications accepted until 24 February 2014

    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.

    Support Committee Staff The Support Committee handles communication between users and the various teams involved with the Archive of Our Own. We receive questions and ideas about all aspects of the Archive from users. The Support team helps by answering questions about using the Archive, diagnosing issues, documenting bugs for the coders to address, getting the most out of features like skins or challenges, passing on questions about tags to the wranglers, documenting requests for new or improved features, or getting answers about general policy.
    Applications are due 24 February 2014

    Translator Volunteers Translators and translation betas help make the OTW and its projects accessible to a wider international audience. We work on translating all sorts of content throughout the OTW and its projects: site pages, news posts, Archive FAQs, AO3 Support tickets, and any inquiry that reaches a committee or volunteer group in languages they can’t translate themselves. Most of our work consists of translations from English to another language, though we also need to do the reverse in some occasions.

    If you are fluent in one language (or more!) other than English, if you enjoy working collaboratively, if you like having flexible deadlines that you set yourself, if you’re passionate about the OTW and its projects, and want to help it reach more fans all around the world, working with Translation might be for you! We have a pressing need for volunteers who speak Dutch, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and Turkish — but any and all help with other languages would be much appreciated!
    Applications are due 24 February 2014

    Communications Graphics Volunteers
    Communications has primary responsibility for internal and external communication for the OTW. We manage the OTW blog and social media outlets and assist other teams in managing project-specific communication. We’re currently looking for someone to create graphics to accompany our news posts and for special events. Please see our News page for examples. If you have experience with graphic design or fanart, click through to learn more about the role and apply to join as a Communications Volunteer. Applications are due 24 February 2014.


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    2014-02-16 18:28:32 -0500

    AO3 logo wearing a party hat amidst confetti with text of '1 Million Celebration'

    Yesterday the AO3 reached its one million milestone and here are some things that have been taking place since.

    ao3million posts

    Since our milestone 354 new works have been posted to AO3 using the AO3 1 Million tag. \o/ for new fanworks!

    There have also been a lot of fic recs flying around on Twitter and Tumblr under the #ao3million tag. So if you're looking for something new, check those out and remember to add your own!

    It's been very moving to the staff and volunteers to read the many personal messages of how much AO3 has meant to people. Thank you for sharing those with us and also to the new donors who have stepped forward to help us keep things running!


    The organizers of Nine World's fanfic programming last year are hosting a party in London to celebrate AO3's milestone. It will be held on March 8 from 5-11 pm at The Blue Lion. Let them know you'll be there.

    If you are planning parties or events yourself, let us know here in comments and we'll keep updating this post with information.

    Another milestone!

    The AO3's sister project, Fanlore, has also zoomed past a milestone. Last year it was passing 25,000 articles. Now it's passed its 500,000th edit on the same day that AO3 hit 1 million! Please join us in congratulating all the editors, gardeners, and staffers who have worked on those many entries <3

    Yet to come

    We plan to keep celebrating through March, so stay tuned for our announcement next weekend with details of upcoming events. We'll be counting on your input! And in another few days we'll be letting you know about something we're planning for coming years. So keep an eye on AO3 News.

    In the meantime, let us know what you've been seeing, planning, and doing!


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    2014-02-15 08:06:07 -0500

    AO3 logo wearing a party hat amidst confetti with text of '1 Million Celebration'

    Today the Archive of Our Own passed the 1 million fanworks mark!

    On November 14, 2009, the AO3 entered open beta. Two days into the launch, AO3 News shared the following statistics:

    "Total invitations issued: 1410
    Number of accounts before Open Beta: 347
    Number of accounts at present: 1076
    Number of works before Open Beta: 6598
    Number of works at present: 9506
    Number of fandoms represented before Open Beta: 674
    Number of fandoms represented at present: 886"

    And now, just four years and two months later, AO3 has over 1 million works representing 14,353 fandoms! The site has over 270,000 registered users (with at least 1 million unregistered users visiting each day) and is still growing. AO3 currently issues 750 invitations a day, so if you’re not already registered, now is a great time to join the Archive.

    What does this mean?

    AO3’s rapid growth shows the ever-increasing number of fans creating and sharing fanworks online. This site is still relatively young, joining a long line of fanwork archives, from those created to host a single fan’s work to the many dedicated to individual fandoms, characters and relationships; particular topics or genres; specific languages or countries; or formats and connected fandoms. We want to honor and celebrate the millions of fanworks that have come before those found at AO3 as well.

    The sheer number of visitors to AO3 also represents the importance of fanworks to the everyday life of millions of people internationally. Whether fans are creating, commenting, sharing or viewing, they engage in fannish activities every single day — something that’s never more clear than when the Archive can’t be accessed! We will continue to work hard to keep your fanworks available for a long time to come.

    Finally, the Archive is one of a very small number of open-source projects founded and largely staffed by women, another contribution fans have made to the internet as a whole. Many women who were not previously involved in technology have learned new skills in the name of fannish activities, and the AO3 is proud to stand as a shining example of this growth.

    Help us celebrate!

    As part of our celebration today, what could be more fitting than more fanworks? If you’d like to create a fanwork today and connect it to our milestone, tag it with “AO3 1 Million”.

    Even if you’re not posting a new work, you can still join in by sharing your favorite works. If you have a Twitter or Tumblr account, you can use the “Share” button on your favorite works and tag your posts or tweets “ao3million”. (Wouldn’t it be great if we could get this important milestone to trend?)

    And if you aren't already following us, don't forget to join us on Twitter at ao3org or Tumblr at AO3 News! One of our volunteers, Rachel G., has made the following graphics for you to snag and repost to let everyone know that you are an AO3 user who is celebrating today.

    The future of the Archive

    So what does the future hold? Well, that’s entirely up to you! The Archive would be empty without the fans who post their works or interact with the works of others, and it wouldn’t exist without the hard work of fans who volunteer to develop features, organize tags, respond to users, and keep an eye on performance. We all owe those volunteers, past and present, enormous thanks for giving us this site to use.

    We would also like to thank our fellow fans who have contributed financially to AO3’s parent organization, the Organization for Transformative Works, in order to fund its development and keep the treats flowing to fans around the world.

    If you value the AO3 and are able to help support it, please bring a gift to today's virtual party celebrating this milestone. And if you can't, we hope you'll spread the word to those who can.

    Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach this exciting day! We couldn’t have done it without you.


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