AO3 News

Let's ticky! OTW Community Survey

Published: 2012-04-20 05:17:08 -0400

"What language(s) do you use in fannish or fandom contexts?" "Have you ever used the Fanlore Wiki?" "How did you first hear about the OTW?"

These are questions from the OTW Community Survey, a massive ticky extravaganza designed for one purpose: to find out how we can serve you better. It includes questions on AO3 and the other projects of our parent organization, the Organization for Transformative Works.

The members of Internationalization & Outreach have spent most of the last year gathering ideas for questions from the OTW's many committees. Our goal was to design the kind of survey we ourselves wouldn't mind taking: mindful of fans' need for privacy, conscious of the international nature of fandom, defined in scope, and free from frustrating limits on answer options.

We want you to tell us what you think about our projects and the organization in general, where you think we're succeeding or failing. And we also want to learn more about who you are. We're excited to finally open the doors and invite you in. Please bring your friends and help us make the survey a success by spreading the word in your communities!

The OTW Community Survey runs through May 2nd and is hosted on a secure connection at Surveymonkey:

OTW Community Survey, April 18-May 2, 2012, survey URL

OTW Community Survey

And if you're as curious as we are about the results: we will be publishing them in aggregate sometime after the survey closes on May 2nd. If you have any concerns or questions in the meanwhile, please contact the Internationalization and Outreach Committee!


Email changes and USER STATS!

Published: 2012-04-19 17:07:24 -0400

In brief: YEAY USER STATS PAGES! Stats on downloads and subscriptions! Also, some email changes. Read on for details!

The Archive is thriving! We recently passed 300,000 works, with roughly 575 new works posted each day, and we have more than 40,000 registered users (and a lot more people reading on the site who don't have accounts yet). All those people are showing their love for the amazing fanworks on the AO3: we have more than 71,000 user subscriptions and over 10,000 subscriptions to individual works, and on average, our users leave more than 11,238 kudos per day, and 2,175 comments per day.

Changes to the way we deliver email

All of this love involves sending out a ton of emails from the Archive: right now, an email is sent every time someone leaves kudos or a comment, and every time a user who is being subscribed to posts a new work or a new chapter. We also send out emails for invitations, account verification, challenge reveals, and a few other things. In fact, in total, we now send out about 600,000 emails a month! This causes us a few logistical problems: the high volume of emails is a lot for us to cope with, and it also means that our emails are more likely to be flagged as spam. Additionally, our current method of handling emails means that it's possible for the entire queue to be backed up if for some reason we have a higher volume than average, such as when a big challenge is revealed or if a user with a lot of subscribers decides to upload their entire back catalogue in one afternoon.

Our Systems Committee have been working on better ways of handling our email and solving the above problems for a while, and they've concluded that the best way is to hand it over to the professionals, in this case Amazon Simple Email Service. This will mean we're able to take advantage of lots of specialised stuff designed to make sure our emails get where they're supposed to in a timely fashion. However, it also means that we'll have to pay for sending email: US$0.10 per 1000 emails. This means it's important for us to reduce the amount of emails we're sending; this is also important from a spam point-of-view, as sending multiple emails within a short space of time is one thing that can result in ISPs thinking you're spammers.

Batch delivery for kudos and subscriptions

Right now, the majority of the emails we send out are either kudos notifications or subscriptions notifications. Happily, both of these lend themselves to batching up so we can send one 'digest' email instead of lots of individual ones. We're still working out the precise technical details for this, but right now we're expecting to make the following changes:

  • Kudos notifications will be sent out once per day, and will be organised by work, so you'll get something like "Fangirl1, Fanboy3 and 3 Guests left kudos on 'My Happy Story'". This means you'll still be able to see how many individual kudos you got, but your popularity won't overwhelm the email servers!
  • Subscription notifications will be sent out once per hour, and will list everything posted since the last notification. This means you'll still get notifications in a timely manner, but if an author goes on an archiving spree or uploads their latest multichapter masterpiece, you won't be spammed with loads of emails.

We're hoping that these changes will be good news for most of our users - we've had lots of support requests for grouping notifications like this into fewer emails. However, we know that they will make some people sad, as lots of people like to see the kudos notifications rolling in and to count them up. To make sure you can still get information about how many kudos you get (and much, much more) we're launching another much-requested feature: user stats pages!

New user stats page!

We're launching user stats as an 'alpha' feature, so we can get the basic functionality out there and then make changes based on user feedback. We wanted to give you all a sneak peek of what's planned so you can ask any questions before it goes live. So, without further ado:

User stats page: alpha preview

Screenshot of page headed 'Statistics', with a summary of total subscribers, hits, comments, kudos, and bookmarks to the user's works. A bar graph shows the top five works by hits, and below that is a list of all works with stats for each one.

The alpha version of the user statistics page will show you the total number of subscribers, hits, comments, kudos, and bookmarks to your works. It will also include a nifty little graph showing the top five works by hits, kudos, comments or bookmarks. The graph will be created using Google's chartmaking package, which enables us to create a shiny interactive chart (it turns to a static image if you've disabled scripts). Google doesn't get any of your personal data - only titles of works and the number of hits/comments/kudos/bookmarks. The chart is generated when you load the page on the AO3, so the data is only passed to Google then, and it is only kept on their servers for three weeks.

The statistics page will also include individual stats for all works, which you can group by fandom or view 'flat' so that the works are sorted by whatever you've selected in the list options at the top (Date posted, Number of kudos, etc) but not grouped further. (If you can think of a good name for this, then do let us know!) For each work, you'll be able to see the number of hits, kudos, comments and bookmarks. You'll also be able to see 'referrers' - that is, if someone finds your work through a link somewhere else, then you'll be able to see what link they came from. (This won't store any other information about the users - for example, you won't be able to see who got there via that link.) And, in a future version of the page, you'll be able to see how many times your work was downloaded. (People ask us for this a LOT!)

The new stats features will allow you to see how many subscribers you have, and how many subscribers each work has. It won't tell you who has subscribed to you - this information will remain private to the subscribers (so if you're sekritly subscribing to your arch-enemy's WIP because it's just too good to miss, your secret is safe with us!)

Help us design stats 2.0

We know that lots of users will be THRILLED with the new stats option and you will want to ask us for lots more features! This is an alpha feature and we're keen to hear your ideas - if you'd like to get involved in discussing the design, you can see the documentation on our public facing wiki otwcode at Github - anyone can join and edit there, you're very welcome to come on in and join the party. You should also feel free to leave your comments and suggestions here! We can't promise that all your requests will make it into the design, and the first version will probably be similar to the above, but we'll use them to help us develop the next version.

We're excited about the way we're growing and changing, and really pleased to be adding the much-requested stats page. Let us know your thoughts!


By Fans, For Fans: OTW April Membership Drive

Published: 2012-04-18 09:28:54 -0400

Fanworks come in many different forms — audible, visual, textual, tactile, and even edible — but they have something in common: they would not exist without the passion, creativity, and effort of the fans who produce them.

The AO3's parent Organization for Transformative Works is a fanwork, too — a nonprofit organization created by fans, for fans, which runs on generously donated time, money, and imagination. Through our projects, we preserve fanworks and fannish history, advocate for fans' legal rights, and strive to ensure that fannish voices are included in the growing public conversation about fandom.

During our membership drive from now through April 25, we'll be highlighting each of our projects and inviting you to lend a hand in this ongoing labor of love. If you create or enjoy fanworks; if you use Fanlore or the Archive of Our Own; if you read Transformative Works and Cultures; if you want to help rescue at-risk fanworks from destruction and defend fans' rights to create and share them; then please donate. Volunteer. Tell a friend.

Your donation is tax-deductible in the United States. If you have questions about donating, check out our membership FAQ or drop us a line.

Like all fanworks, the OTW depends on fans for its existence. Be a part of this ongoing creative endeavor — please donate today.

OTW: By Fans, For Fans. Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 18-25, 2012.
<div style="text-align:center"><a href=""><img src="" alt="OTW: By Fans, For Fans. Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 18-25, 2012." /></a></div>

Help us spread the word! Feel free to repost this graphic by copying the text below the image and pasting it into your journal or website.


Enter the Wrangulator: Tag Wrangling Open House 22nd April

Published: 2012-04-17 07:35:24 -0400

Tag clud representing a variety of tags used on the Archive of Our Own, together with a stylised version of the Archive logo designed to look like a confused face, scratching its head.

Have you ever wondered about what it is tag wranglers do? Are you thinking about volunteering as a wrangler? Do you have a question about tags on the Archive of Our Own? Is your fandom in need of some temporary assistance? The Tag Wrangling Committee is hosting their second open house! This is a drop-in session where you can ask us what's on your mind, or just have a chat about tags.

All are welcome! The chat will be held on Sunday, 22nd of April, 2012, from 19:00 to 21:00 UTC (see when this is in your timezone) in OTW's public chatroom on Campfire. The chatroom can be accessed at: (Please note: This url has changed since this post was originally posted! Apologies for any confusion.) Feel free to drop by at any time during the session to ask questions or just to hang out.

Additional Tag Wrangling Open Houses are planned for July and October. If you can't make this one, never fear - we'll be holding future sessions at different times to make it easier for people in different timezones to attend.

The Tag Wrangling Committee and their team of volunteer “Tag Wranglers” maintain and administer the tags on the Archive of Our Own, curating the folksonomy system that links related tags together for better filtering and searching, while allowing users to tag their works however they prefer.


Dancing in the Rain: April Showers parties!

Published: 2012-04-12 10:17:32 -0400

It's party time! This April, we've been catching up on some fannish history with our April Showers promotion! For the month of April, we're highlighting fandoms past and present which are underrepresented on the Archive of Our Own and Fanlore - preserve your fannish history by uploading your old fanworks to the AO3 and documenting key fannish tropes and events on Fanlore.

We'd like to celebrate some more. So, it's party time!

AO3 importing party!

Saturday 14 April, 17:00 UTC to Saturday 15 April, 2:00 UTC (see the time in your timezone)

Got any works on other sites that you've been meaning to import or copy over to the AO3? Have questions about how to format or tag any of your works? Feel like cheering other people on as they do some posting? Join the AO3 staff in the OTW Public Discussion chatroom (click the link to access) to ask questions about posting, reminisce about old fandoms, and celebrate as more works are added to the AO3. We'll have a few invitations to share with people who don't yet have AO3 accounts, and we welcome everyone!

Fanlore editing party!

Saturday 14 April, 20:00 UTC (see the time in your timezone)

Keen to add your fannish memories to Fanlore but not sure where to start? Need your hand holding as you make your first wiki edits? Or keen to share your skillz as an experienced Fanlore editor? Join Fanlore staff in the Fanlore chatroom for an editing party! You'll be able to get help making your first forays into editing Fanlore, toss around ideas for new pages, and ask questions. Everyone welcome!

Get wet in the April showers!


April Showers of Fannish History!

Published: 2012-04-01 16:34:07 -0400

Here at the OTW, preserving fannish history is a central part of our mission! We're proud to be able to offer fans a place to host their works on the Archive of Our Own, and tell their own fannish histories on Fanlore. As of March 4, 2012, Fanlore has 18,481 articles which have undergone 351,020 edits by 6,151 registered users, while the Archive of Our Own recently passed 40,000 users, and more than 332,300 works have been posted on the AO3, across over 8,800 fandoms!

We're really pleased and proud to see so much fannish representation. However, we know that there are many, many wonderful fanworks out in the world which haven't found their way to the AO3 - for example Portal and the Alien movies have only 85 fanworks apiece on the AO3! There are even more fannish stories left untold on Fanlore - we'd love to see the fannish activity over The Hunger Games documented as it unfolds! Last year, we welcomed in lots more edits to Fanlore and works to the AO3 with our April Showers promotion. This year, we're hoping to do the same! This month, bring us fannish April showers by digging out those old zines, memories of past cons, archived personal webpages, tales of shipwars and fannish events, works on slowly-decaying archives, and more! Upload your old works to the AO3 and tell your tales on Fanlore.

We'll be highlighting a different fandom for each day of the month on our Twitter @ao3org, to help jog your memories about fannish loves of the past. When uploading to the AO3, you can tag your uploaded works April Showers 2012 - at the end of the month we'll round up all the works with this tag and post stats on how many were uploaded for each fandom. However, don't feel you have to stick to these fandoms - we hope people will reach into their personal fannish histories to preserve what's important to them!

To help you out, we'll also be hosting an importing party on the AO3. From Saturday 14th April, 17.00 UTC to Sunday 15th April, 02.00 UTC (see the time in your timezone), we invite you to join us in a live chat where our staff will answer questions about creating accounts, uploading, tags and more, provide a few invitations for those who need them, and celebrate as new works are uploaded! Stay tuned for more details on this nearer to the time. You should also keep your eyes peeled for news on Fanlore editing parties, where Fanlore staff will walk you through the process of creating and editing pages - no contribution too small!

We kick off today by celebrating adventures on the high seas with the Pirates of the Caribbean! Ghost pirates, rise again – sail your works into safe harbor at the AO3, and tell your seadog tales at Fanlore!


Release notes - release 0.8.12

Published: 2012-04-01 15:55:04 -0400

Welcome to Release 0.8.12. Elz, Enigel, Jenny S-T, Naomi, Sarken, and Tegan contributed code to this release, which was tested by our awesome testing team: Jenn, Kylie, mumble, Sam J., Sarken, Xparrot, and Zebra.


Character and Relationship Feeds

After a trial run with the "F/F" tag and the subsequent offering of fandom feeds, we're now enabling feeds for (canonical) character and relationship tags (the same ones that show up in our browse filters). As before, you will see a "Subscribe to the feed" link on works pages for a character or relationship, such as Katniss Everdeen or Bunny/Wild Tiger. We'll be monitoring the performance impact of these and will be considering adding more feed options if everything is running well!

Editable Drafts

Before, it wasn't possible to save changes to work and chapter drafts without posting them, which wasn't ideal. We're hoping to flesh out our drafts feature more in the future, but for now, we've added an option to save changes to drafts after previewing them. Hopefully that's a start that we can build on in making the draft editing/posting workflow better moving forward!

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details


  • Enabled feeds for character and relationship tags

Bug fixes

  • Works & Tags & Challenges
    • Finally made it possible to save edits to a draft without having to post the draft right away
    • Previewing a work would show the "Works inspired by this one:" line even if there weren't any, this has been fixed
    • The "Mark as Read" button was moved to the bottom of the work page
    • Links to non-fandom tags in work blurbs went to the /tag/xxx page (instead of tag/xxx/works) which didn't redirect properly for logged-in tag wranglers; this has been fixed
    • Gift exchanges which allowed optional tags to be used for matching were resulting in all users matching all other users, causing severe issues for several Challenges; this bug has been fixed
  • Design & Display
    • Made the questions on FAQ pages stand out more for easier scanning
    • In the filter box on works pages, only clicking the arrows next to the Rating / Category / Fandom etc. headers would reveal all options; this has been fixed to expand the clickable area across the whole header
    • Fixed an issue with the gray preview box when adding and editing chapters
    • There were several issues with the edit page for a series, both visible and in terms of accessibility, it has been restructured and updated to follow the layout of the work edit page
    • Improved the tag list in work blurbs on static collection pages
    • On mobile skins, the sorting buttons for a user's works page were unclickable, this has been fixed and works can be sorted again on mobile devices
    • There were a few issues with the "Condition: " display when creating a skin with an option such as "IE6" selected under "IE Only" (or when creating a skin with no options selected), these have been fixed
    • Fixed a display issue with the chapter index navigation when viewing a work in chapter-by-chapter mode
    • The "New Pseud" button on a user's pseuds index would show up twice in Chrome, this has been fixed
    • When editing a multi-chaptered work, two drop-down menus to select a custom stylesheet would show up, this has been fixed
    • The download options navigation would overlap the other navigation buttons when Javascript was disabled, this has been fixed
    • There was an issue with erroneous commas popping up after tags in work blurbs, in IE8 and lower, this has been fixed--since the fix was done with jQuery it will only work when Javascript is enabled
    • The static error pages that would be shown in only the most obscure cases (such as 500.html) were given the look and feel of the Archive error pages
  • Search
    • Made it possible to search for works by specifying a time frame in the form of "2 days ago" or "1 year ago"; previously it would throw up an error if not given a range in the form of "< 3 days ago”, i.e. “in the past 3 days” (Note that “x weeks ago” will search the entire 7-day-period given, and so on: “3 months ago”, if typed in today, will search the entirety of December)
    • The various search pages (Works, Tags, Bookmarks, Users) were linking to each other (or not) in an inconsistent and haphazard manner, they're now all interlinked
    • Excluded downloads, searches and external works from indexing by search engines
    • On the advanced search page, there was no actual help text for the "Bookmarked?" ticky, resulting in a 404 when clicking the question mark symbol; the appropriate help text has now been added
  • Fun with Errors
    • Importing works from throws an error because they have blocked us from accessing he site - we've now added a custom error message so you can see what went wrong if you try this and it fails
    • Fixed a bug that could cause errors 500 on users' History pages
    • Fixed a bug that could cause an error 500 when trying to preview a work in very rare cases
    • Fixed some problems with fandom feeds that would result in errors if the feed was empty
    • Subscribing or unsubscribing from a user or work would result in an error 500 if the user had set their browser to not send referrer information, this has been fixed
    • Trying to access the /gifts page within a collection (without selecting a user to display gifts for) would result in an error 500, it now gives a more meaningful error message
    • Trying to access a comments index in the form of /works/xxx/comments would result in an error 500, this has been fixed
    • Trying to load the profile page of a non-existing user would result in an error 500, it now properly redirects to the home page with an error message
    • Trying to load a non-existing fandom page would result in an error 500, it now redirects to the /media page with an error message
    • Trying to access the requests summary page for a gift exchange with no fandom tags allowed would cause an error 500, this has been fixed
    • Trying to unsubscribe from a user or work without Javascript enabled would result in an error 404, this has been fixed
  • Fun with Words
    • Changed the text of the invitation emails to encompass a wider variety of fanworks (not just fic)
    • Added podfic as a type of fanwork to the greeting on the homepage and invitation emails
    • The button on the edit multiple works page said "Update all stories", it now says "Update All Works" as it should
    • Fixed some mangled text in the help pop-up for public skins



Published: 2012-03-05 04:46:27 -0500

The OTW is delighted to welcome the SSA – the Smallville Slash Archive – to its new home within the Archive of Our Own. The Archivists of the SSA (most recently Danceswithgary) have worked hard in conjunction with ADT and Open Doors to make the SSA the first test case for our new mass importer – and the choice is both a symbolic and a practical one.

It’s symbolic because the SSA is a venerable old archive, a relic of an earlier moment in fannish time. The SSA was founded ten years ago, four days after the pilot episode of Smallville aired. Originally founded by Livia Penn and Calista Rose, for most of its life the SSA was hosted by Minotaur, a fan beloved in many fandoms and communities.

When Minotaur died unexpectedly in 2009, a coalition of fans (including Tallihensia and Elke Tanzer — thanks y’all!) worked with his family to ensure that the SSA archivists retained limited access to the site's account on the server where the archive was hosted, but this didn't include the ability to fix broken database code or updating the site.

The limits to the access and the broken code, in addition to the questionable life expectancy of the hosting, meant the archive's survival was uncertain.They approached us shortly thereafter, and have been waiting patiently for us to build the functionality required to save this archive of more than 4700 stories. And that’s why this archive is a practical first test case for our mass importer — the import will preserve the stories if the archive should go offline, and will also give authors direct access to their stories while keeping them within the context of the SSA.

The SSA’s new home is here in the Smallville Slash Archive Collection on the AO3. Our coders have been able to set up a redirect from the original domain to the new urls, to help preserve the validity of old links, rec lists, bookmarks, etc. The redirect will only work from urls; sadly is no longer available for us to set redirects. Because the redirects will be set up to go to the version of the work imported with the SSA, if you have a duplicate on the Archive with with comments / kudos you want to keep, we suggest you keep both versions for now (if you delete the one imported with the SSA, then the redirect will break). Down the line, we’re planning to implement a way of merging two copies of the same work so you can deal with these!

The SSA Collection will be kept open for a while after import in order to allow authors who have existing versions of the imported works on the Archive to add their preferred version to the Collection. The imported stories will be set as visible to Archive users only by default; after you claim them, you can use the ‘edit works’ function to set them all to public at once (if you wish). For more information about what happens with imported works, check out Open Doors Questions and Answers. Please note: If you choose to orphan your works, you will want to check them over first and edit out any remaining identifying data.

If you have questions for the SSA mods (or you’d like to give them a bit of love for their hard work keeping the SSA alive) then you’ll find more information at the mod posts: SSA Migration to AO3 - Q&A (Livejournal) and SSA Migration to AO3 - Q&A (Dreamwidth).

We’re thrilled to be able to begin fulfilling one of our longstanding missions, preserving and protecting fanworks which are otherwise at risk of disappearance from the internet. It’s a privilege to begin with an archive which represents such a large contribution to fandom.


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