AO3 News

OTW Recruitment

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Support staffers. The chairs are reviewing applications and should be contacting people within the next two weeks.

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

  • Strategic Planning Staff - Deadline: 7 October 2013
  • Accessibility, Design & Technology (AD&T) Coding Volunteer - Closing after 20 applications
  • Tag Wrangling volunteer - Closing after 50 applications

We also have one role still open for additional technical staff

  • Web Developer Staff

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.

Strategic Planning Staff
The Strategic Planning Committee is looking for a staff member! We need someone interested in strategic planning, writing, and data processing who is willing to jump in with both feet. We're a professional, collaborative committee of people who believe in supporting each other through our work, and we want someone who is excited about the idea of being part of an environment of support, creativity, and critique. We are willing to train the right person in the OTW's processes, practices, and tools if you're willing to commit your time and energy to us!

Applications for this role will be accepted until 7 October 2013.

Accessibility, Design & Technology (AD&T) Coding Volunteer
The Accessibility, Design, & Technology committee is the guiding body that coordinates software design and development on behalf of the Organization for Transformative Works. AD&T is committed to developing high quality, accessible products that support the goals of the OTW while having a good time and providing opportunities for professional and personal growth for its members.

The main project currently occupying the committee is the creation and ongoing maintenance of the Archive of Our Own, a free, Open Source website currently supporting over 200,000 registered users and weathering 38 million page views a week.

We are looking for experienced coders to join our team of volunteers and help us fix bugs and improve existing features.

Applications for this role will be closed after we have received 20.

Tag Wrangling volunteers The Tag Wranglers are responsible for keeping the hundreds of thousands of tags on AO3 in some kind of order! We choose which form of a fandom title appears on the Media pages, as well as all the character, relationship, and additional tags which appear in the filters and the auto-complete, and we link tags together to make all the works and bookmarks on the archive easier to browse and search (so that users can find exactly what they’re looking for, whether that’s Steve/Tony with tentacles or g-rated Rose/Kanaya fluff).

If you like organizing, bringing order to chaos, excuses to fact-check your favorite fandom canons, or you just get a kick out of seeing all the wacky and wonderful terms fans come up with, you might enjoy tag wrangling! To join our team, click through to the job description and application form.

Please note: due to (amazing!) interest in wrangling volunteering, we’re currently looking for wranglers for specific fandoms only. See the application within for which fandoms are in need.

Applications will be closed after we have received 50.

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.


Volunteer to Help Users at the AO3!

Published: 2013-09-23 20:13:44 -0400

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

  • Support staff - (deadline: 30 September 2013)

We also have one role still open for additional technical staff

  • Web Developer Staff

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 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 to answer 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 30 September

Web Developer Staff: Web Developers are responsible for improvements to and maintenance of the primary web properties owned by the Organization for Transformative Works. S/he will participate in an on-call rotation of three Web Developers, implement new website features, and help determine priorities for future development efforts. Applications will be accepted until the role is filled.

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.


Legal Needs Your Help!

Published: 2013-09-22 14:04:14 -0400

Banner by Diane of two people talking with word balloons that contain the OTW logo and 'OTW Announcement'

The OTW's Legal Advocacy project engages in legal cases and responds to fan requests that involve matters of U.S. copyright and fans' rights to engage in fan practices such as creating fanworks.

But now our Legal Committee needs your help. We are helping with some (confidential, for now) court filings and would like to use the following information to help the drafters shape the arguments. We might possibly include fans' stories of facing legal difficulties, but would only do that with express permission from the fan.

What we need is the following:

(1) DMCA take-downs. We'd like to hear from fans who have received DMCA takedown requests for their transformative fanworks and have had to decide whether to counter-notify that their fanworks are fair use and therefore don't violate copyright law. We'd like to hear what they decided to do, why they made that decision, and what the outcome was for them.


(2) Fans who’ve been told that their transformative fanworks violate someone’s rights of publicity, or who have considered rights of publicity in deciding whether or not to make a fanwork. We're particularly interested in published accounts about the relationship between fandom and rights of publicity.

In both cases, all communications will remain entirely confidential. We won't tell anyone's story or use anyone's name (or pseudonym) without their express permission. But we want to make contact with people who have faced these situations -- their stories will help us make legal arguments that, we hope, will prevent future challenges and take-downs of fans and fanworks.

If you have experienced either of these two things, or encountered news items about either of them, please contact Legal. If you know of someone who has experienced a DMCA takedown request, please direct them to this post. We need to hear from people by October 11. Thanks for your help!

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.


The "Search Within Results" Field and You, Pt. 2

Published: 2013-09-21 19:45:28 -0400

Users frequently ask us for an easy, clickable option to filter *out* certain tags, or generate a list of works that are either one rating *or* another. Right now, ticking boxes in the filters will only show you a work if it has *all* the things you have ticked. (And as a work cannot be both Explicit and Mature, you can only pick one rating, not two.) Creating an interface that does everything and is also a) easy on the eye, b) accessible to screenreaders and other assistive tech, and c) not entirely reliant on JavaScript is not an easy task, and it will be a while yet before we can offer this.

However, we previously showed you a workaround using the 'Search within results' field in the Sort & Filter sidebar. Using a simple minus sign, you can exclude anything you don't want, or you can string together things with an uppercase OR to find all works that have at least one of those.

As this relies on text matches across all tags, summary, and notes, putting in -Explicit will also hide works from you that are rated Teen, but include something like "This will get explicit in later parts!" in the notes. Or, as mentioned in our last post, "Derek/Stiles" will also match a list of tags containing "Derek, Stiles" in that order.

There's a way you can use our expertly wrangled tags in the 'Search within results' field, but it requires you to look up a tag ID. Right now, this is only possible for Fandom, Character, and Relationship tags. Those have feeds, which contain the tag ID:

On the Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski works page, you will find a 'Subscribe to the feed' button towards the upper right. The feed link will give you a number (as part of its URL). Now copy the number and you can do this:

  • "teen wolf" -filter_ids:264659

This will use the tag's structure to exclude any works with this tag *and* its synonyms, e.g. "Sterek" or "Derek/Stiles", but since it's not a text match it *won't* accidentally exclude works that have "Derek Hale, Stiles Stilinski" somewhere else in the tags.

And while we're blowing your mind, you can do the following to only show works that have *no* pairing tags at all:

  • -relationship_ids:*

(Search results that do contain a pairing are due to tags that aren't indexed properly or have no canonical version. But close!)

Obviously, most Archive users will never need these little hacks! The tags, search form, and filter options already allow you to drill down to content you like with just a few button clicks. However, if you do find these extra options useful, but don't want to type them into the box every time you do a search, there's an unofficial userscript for you! It will automatically perform your prefered search when you open a list of works. Give it a whirl if you use Firefox or Chrome.

(We have collected more unofficial userscripts and other tools in our Cool Stuff FAQ, including an AO3 Savior script which will automatically hide works that contain certain words. Tumblr users might be familiar with the concept...)


Call for Feedback on Category Change Proposal

Published: 2013-09-18 12:55:38 -0400

The Category Change Workgroup is excited to share its proposal changing the way fandoms are categorised on the Archive, and we are looking for your feedback!

Our goal is to change the current fandom categories into something that balances complex, sometimes competing, factors such as diverse fannish traditions, user behavior (current and potential), and ease of browsing. You can read about the concerns that brought the workgroup into existence and some more information on the workgroup in our introductory post.

Right now fandoms on the archive are sorted into media categories - Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery can be found under Books & Literature for example, and fandoms that fall under multiple categories are listed under multiple categories.

Under the proposed system, media categories are one of three attributes that fandoms will be sorted by and browsable under. The other two attributes are country of origin and source language. Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery would have the attributes Canada and English. Like with the current media categories, fandoms will be able to have more than one country or language. The guidelines for how the country and language attributes are assigned to fandoms will be made by the Tag Wrangling Committee.

The proposed media categories have subcategories. Fandoms can belong to multiple categories and subcategories. Fandoms may also belong to a category but none of its subcategories. That subset of fandoms that belong to a specific category but none of its subcategories will be viewable.

The proposed media categories and subcategories have been named with the idea of that name being easily understandable to different people.

Proposed Media categories and Submedia categories

Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art

* Anime & Manga
* Bande Dessinée
* DC
* Films
* Manhwa
* Marvel
* Webcomics & Webseries


Audio & Music

* Albums & Songs
* Audio Plays & Spoken Word


Books, Literature & Lore

* Myth, Folktales & Religion
* Novels, Novellas & Short Stories
* Poetry



* Board Games
* Tabletop Roleplaying Games
* Video Games
* Visual Novels


Live Action Films, TV Shows & Other Productions

* Films
* TV Shows
* Webseries


Performing Arts

* Ballet & Dance
* Theater & Musicals


Real Person Fiction

* Actors
* Bands & Musicians
* Political & Historical
* Sports


Other Media

* Paintings, Sculptures & Related Art Forms

So, Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery would belong to the media category Books, Literature & Lore and the subcategory Novels, Novellas & Short Stories. It will be findable under those media categories as well as its language and country attributes. Users will be able to browse fandoms by combining these attributes to find, for example, Books, Literature & Lore fandoms that have Canada as a country of origin. Users will also be able to search for a fandom by typing its name into a search box on the main fandoms page that will replace the current media page.

Each fandom on the archive will have a landing page that will include a list of its attibutes (media, country, language), a link to its page on Fanlore (if the page exists), and a link to its works and bookmarks on the archive.

Layout Changes

Mock-ups have been created to illustrate how finding a fandom on the archive will work when this new system is implemented. This is not a finalised lay-out of the new page.

Figure 1: The Initial State of the New Fandom Page (Click to enlarge)

There is a small selection of fandoms initially displayed on the page including fandoms that have recently experienced activity, and fandoms that are currently popular on the archive. Above these fandoms is a search box labelled "Search for a fandom" as well as three tabs labelled "Media Type", "Language of source", and "Country of source".

Figure 2: Media Category Dropdown (Click to enlarge)

When the "Media Type" tab is selected, the small selection of fandoms originally listed is replaced. In their spot all of the media categories are listed and submedia categories are displayed as buttons beneath their respective categories. Alongside each media category's subcategories are the buttons "All" and "No Submedia". The number of fandoms belonging to each subcategory is displayed in brackets on that subcategory's button. Beneath "Performing Arts" one finds "All (1287), No Submedia (71), Ballet & Dance (412), Theater & Musicals (23)". (The numbers used in this mock-up are not accurate.)

Figure 3: Submedia Display Page (Click to enlarge)

When a specific submedia is selected, a small selection of fandoms in that submedia category is displayed - fandoms with recent activity and fandoms that are currently popular on the archive. On the header for the submedia, the option "show all [count] fandoms" is displayed.

So, for example, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is a fandom that would belong to the Films submedia category of Live Action Films, TV Shows & Other Productions as well as the Films submedia category of Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art. El Eternauta will belong to Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art but none of its subcategories.

Please tell us!

There is a Category Change FAQ that has been prepared for this announcement and may answer some basic questions that you may have.

Two subsets of fandoms not yet categorised in the proposed new system are WWE-type Wrestling and Anthropomorphic.

1) Wrestling is under the current fandom categories as Other Media. Are you in Wrestling fandom? Do you think it belongs in Other Media? Real Person Fiction? Performing Arts? Real Person Fiction and Performing Arts? Let us know.

2) Anthropormophic is also currently under Other Media. Do you think it should stay there or does it belong with the proposed Real Person Fiction subcategories under a Real Life category?

Those are two areas that we're particularly interested in feedback on, but we of course welcome feedback on all aspects of the proposal.

The Category Change Workgroup will be reviewing all of the feedback and making (or not making) adjustments to the proposal in response to that feedback. There may or may not be another public review period, depending on how the proposal is altered because of the feedback. Once the Category Change Workgroup has finalised the proposal it will be sent to the Board for approval.

We want your feedback on this proposal. Please leave a comment on this post or contact us through the Category Change contact form.


Category Change FAQ

Published: 2013-09-18 12:52:41 -0400

This post is connected to a discussion of proposed changes to media categories on the AO3

What are the reasons for the change?

The current "media categories" ( date back to the very beginnings of the Archive. We have grown immensely since then, and the way fandoms on the Archive are organized needs to reflect that. The current division is limiting and unbalanced, with some categories also facing cultural issues. We additionally wanted to make it easy to further adjust the categories as we continue to grow.

Who worked on this proposal?

The Internationalization & Outreach (I&O) committee made the initial proposal to the Board. Once it was approved, a workgroup was formed with staff members from Accessibility, Design & Technology, Tag Wrangling, I&O, and Support, as well as a Tag Wrangling volunteer. These are the committees most involved with the issues of Media Categories on the Archive.

Additionally, the proposal went through several rounds of feedback internally and externally. The gathered input was used to help us in our decisions and make adjustments to the proposal. Any input you have on the current status of the proposal will be considered as well.

Is this the best solution you could find?

No system is perfect, and it will never be possible to please everyone at the same time. The big factors that steered our decisions were:

  • Usability: Does this make it easy for people using the Archive to find specific fandoms, while also allowing for more free-form browsing?
  • Inclusiveness: The categorization shouldn't make some fandoms harder to find than others. The system should be welcoming to currently under-represented fandoms, but shouldn't unfairly punish popular fandoms.
  • Flexibility: It's easy to get side-tracked by philosophical considerations and wanting to find neat little boxes for everything. We instead tried to keep things simple to allow the system to grow more painlessly.
  • Feasibility: There is always a technical aspect to keep in mind. Is it reasonable from a performance and coding effort point of view? Is it sustainable going forward?

Why are some of the category names so long?

The goal was to use familiar names to make fandoms quickly and easily findable. Newly-created or more obscure terms might be able to encompass everything while taking up less space, but we felt it was more important for category names to be clear and recognizable. This has resulted in a certain amount of redundancy (and thus length) when it seemed needed to ensure names that were both obvious and inclusive.

Will the Media categories stay exactly the same going forward?

Probably not. Category names have been changed in the past and the new system will make it easier to do so in the future. Fandom is ever-changing and the Archive is growing, so Categories will have to be adjusted to reflect that. It's not our intention to change them lightly; stability and consistency is important. However, having the ability for change should make it easier to address problematic areas.

What are the guidelines? What's the process for adding a category/submedium, or for changing a name? Who decides in which category/submedium fandoms go?

This will all be Tag Wrangling's purview going forward. The Category Change workgroup will document our suggestions, but after that it's up to them to make the decisions.

Can a fandom be in several categories?

Absolutely! The hierarchy of Media categories and submedia is fixed, but a fandom can appear in as many places as necessary inside that hierarchy. A fandom doesn't have to be placed in a submedium, either, if none apply; it can be located directly inside a top-level Media Category.

What's the point of searching by country/language of source?

This information is not useful or applicable for all fandoms (some sports RPF, for example). However, we wanted to make it easier to find those fandoms where it is useful. This should help address the current invisibility of under-represented traditions like manhwa, manhua, bande dessinée or historieta.

It is important to note that rather than trying to create an exhaustive pre-filled list, countries and languages will be added as needed, based on what fits a fandom, or a group of fandoms, best.

What will the main navigation look like?

There will still be a Fandoms drop-down menu listing the top-level media Categories. Choosing one will take you to the Fandoms page pre-filtered for that Category.

When can I expect this to arrive on the Archive?

It will take some time. This round of feedback will have to be incorporated in our proposal. There is then the possibility of more rounds of changes and feedback, depending on the feedback received here.

Once the proposal is finished, the considerable process of designing, coding and testing the functionality begins! While we can't give you an exact date, we don't expect it to go live any earlier than 2014.


Release Notes for Release 0.9.9

Published: 2013-09-16 06:25:08 -0400

Welcome to Release 0.9.9! Ariana, ecuoln, Elz, Lal, Naomi, Rebecca, Sarken, and Scott contributed code to this release, which was tested by our awesome testing team: Camilla M, Enigel, Estirose, FishieMishie, hele, James, Lady Oscar, mumble, Reppu, Runt, Sarken.

While we were working on upgrading our Ruby on Rails install, many other fixes and improvements had to bide their time in our "pull request" queue. A pull request is a way to submit code to a software project on Github, where we keep the Archive of Our Own code: A coder "pushes" a fix to Github (where it can be reviewed) and asks for the code to be "pulled" in (so it can be neatly slotted into the appropriate places).

Since we've had many more pull requests (yay!) than we could put in during the last few deploys (boo!), we're now dealing with a considerable backlog (and some dust and cobwebs in the corners).

We're hoping to chip away at the queue in the upcoming releases, while also starting to work on larger design projects we've had to put on hold. Expect many more fixes, and please stay tuned for news about upcoming features.


Tag Set and Challenge Fixes

The festive challenge season has started, with several holiday-themed gift exchanges starting to get ready for nominations, sign-ups, or assignments. We will continue to work to improve these features, and have included a handful of fixes in this release. Some of the more awkward tag set bugs should be taken care of, and many more fixes are yet to come. We are also working on improving our challenge/tag set documentation!

Lifespan of Drafts

This deploy increases the time between the creation of a draft and its automatic deletion to 1 month (from 1 week). We are considering ways to better handle drafts in upcoming updates, but do not have any plans to enable true drafts and document management in the immediate future. Please, please, please don't use Archive drafts as the only place to store your work! Browsers crash, errors happen, and yes, drafts will be deleted. Once deleted, a work cannot be retrieved, no matter how much our Support team would really like to help you. :-(

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details

Bug fixes

  • Admin
    • Site admins could not view works restricted to site members, which has now been fixed.
    • An option in the admin interface said "days" instead of "weeks"; this has now been changed to reflect the actual setting units.
    • A setting in the admin interface could be set to zero; this caused errors and has been fixed.
  • Front End
    • We had some lavender backgrounds hanging around where we wanted grey (e.g. to mark a draft as a draft). All lavender should be gone now.
    • We've changed the Terms of Service link on our sign-up form to open in a new window.
    • Due to a bug, expanding the fandoms list on your own dashboard left you with no way to collapse the list again. That is now fixed.
  • Collections & Tag Sets
    • On fandoms pages in collections, fandoms with articles were breaking the order of the alphabet (e.g. "A League of Their Own" would shuffle the entire L section to the top of the list, where the A section should be); this has been fixed.
    • Tag sets that belonged to a collection did not actually show up on the collection's profile, and were hard to find by other users. This has been taken care of.
    • Non-canonical fandom tags vanish from a tag set when a work using that tag was posted and then deleted; this has been fixed.
    • There were some issues with accented characters in tag sets; these should now be taken care of.
    • Nominated canonical tags wouldn't display properly on the tag set page after approval by a mod; we've addressed the caching issue that caused this, so updates should now appear on the tag set as expected.
    • There were some issues with how associations between tags in a tag set were handled; these have been fixed.
    • Tag nominations with [brackets] in the tag could not be approved or rejected; now they can.
    • When signing up for a gift exchange, tags put into the "Optional Tags" field were not properly saved if there was an error in the signup or if the signup was edited; this has been fixed.
  • Misc.
    • Users could not access the second page of bookmarks if they had filtered bookmarks by a tag containing a slash. Now they can.
    • The lifespan for drafts has been extended to 1 month.
    • We have added helpful explanations to every single option on your Preferences page! Just click the little blue question marks next to the headings.
    • Support have been working with the Translation committee to offer support in various languages; this deploy updates the list of the languages we can offer support in.
    • On the list of fandoms in need of a wrangler, the fandoms could not be filtered by medium and sorted by work count at the same time. Now they can. The menu box was also displaying at the bottom of the page; it's now correctly at the top.
    • Our .epub files were identifying themselves as "application/epub" instead of "application/epub+zip", which caused issues on some devices. This has been fixed.
    • We cleaned up the method we were using to handle error or success messages on cached pages.


The "Search Within Results" Field and You, Pt. 1

Published: 2013-09-13 20:24:26 -0400

When we brought back the tag filters after their long sleep last year, we tried to keep the interface as uncluttered as possible and focus on frequently used or requested search options. Like the Archive itself, this is a work in progress. There's a lot of scattered documentation about finding stuff to read, look at, watch, or listen to on the Archive: The little blue question marks all over the Archive should provide some pointers, and there's also the Searching and Browsing on the AO3 tutorial for more details.

However, there are some "secret" search options that are already built into the filtering and search code, but aren't necessarily reflected in the interface (because ticky box overkill). Here's an overview of neat things you can put into any of the following places to narrow down (and sort!) your results:

  • the "Search within results" field in the tag filters for works (e.g. for the Pacific Rim tag or in the Dark Agenda collection)
  • the "Any Field" box in the Work Search form
  • the main search box in the header

For Works:

  • words:1000 (works with exactly 1000 words)
  • words>1000 (works with more than 1000 words)
  • words<1000 (works with less than 1000 words)
  • words:1000-5000 (works between 1000 and 5000 words)

(works for: words, hits, kudos, comments, bookmarks)

  • sort:kudos (sort by kudos, default to most kudos first)
  • sort:>kudos (reverse to fewest kudos first)
  • sort:words (sort by words, default to longest works first)
  • sort:>words (reverse to shortest works first)
  • sort:>posted (oldest works first, going by actual posting date)
  • sort:>updated (oldest works first, going by author's publishing date)

(works for: author, title, posted, updated, words, hits, kudos, comments, bookmarks)

  • restricted:true (only restricted works; requires you to be logged in)
  • complete:false (only unfinished works/works in progress)
  • expected_number_of_chapters:1 (only one-shots)
  • -expected_number_of_chapters:1 (only multi-chapter works)

For (Your) Bookmarks:

  • private:false (your public bookmarks only)
  • private:true (your private bookmarks only)
  • rec:false (everything but recs; works for any bookmarks)
  • bookmarkable_complete:true (bookmarks of completed works only)

Search Operators:

These will handle any text matches in the title, summary, notes, and list of tags. Note that there will be some inaccuracies due to the way the code stores information and handles search strings: "Derek/Stiles" will also match a list of tags containing "Derek, Stiles" in that order. (Please stay tuned for Part 2 for a workaround!)

  • kittens
  • "needs hugs"
  • "kink bingo"
  • m/m OR f/f (works tagged either M/M, F/F, or both)
  • explicit OR mature (most of the porn)
  • -death (exludes works with 'death' in the title, summary, notes, or tags)
  • -rape -"dubious consent" -"consent issues"
  • -crossover -fusion -"alternate universe"

Mix and Match:

These were put into the main search box in the header to generate results, but you can also use these tricks in the "Search within results" field to narrow down work lists for a particular tag. Just remember to put everything into one of the three search boxes listed above.

Happy browsing!


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