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


Have you visited Fanlore lately? If you have, then you probably know it’s a living, evolving history of fandom, created and maintained by fans. Launched in 2008, Fanlore is a collaborative wiki in which fans are invited to record their experiences and memories of fandoms, fanworks, events, and everything fannish. It's open for fans just like you to join the community in shaping how everyone perceives and remembers fandom.

Fanlore celebrated a major milestone on February 15 when it reached 500,000 page edits! And it's still growing: more than 4,000 additional edits have been made since then. These numbers reflect the passion of Fanlore's many volunteers and contributors, who have helped build and preserve a wide-ranging, ever-changing record of fandom communities.

Some other highlights of Fanlore's history include:

  • The GeoCities Rescue Project led by OTW's Open Doors committee, which included a push to create Fanlore articles documenting fannish websites hosted on GeoCities before GeoCities closed down in October 2009.
  • Coming out of beta in December 2010.
  • Participating with other OTW projects in the January 2012 protest against SOPA/PIPA — a piece of proposed US legislation that threatened fans’ freedoms and rights.

Fanlore welcomes contributions from anyone — check out the New Visitor Portal for tips on how to get started. Each edit helps us preserve more of fandom's history, and takes Fanlore one step closer to ensuring that the staggering creativity, positivity and discussions that grow in and around fandoms old and new are not forgotten. The Fanlore team has their sights set on 600,000 edits next, and, as always, on bringing in new voices to this story of fandom.

Please help Fanlore keep growing: head over to Fanlore, add your stories, and donate today!


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

As this year’s theme of Stepping Stones reminds us, our future is built on our past. No OTW project better exemplifies that than Open Doors, which is dedicated to preserving fanworks for future generations.

In the past, fanworks were not as easy to access as they are now. Before the age of modern websites, fandoms were only able to be celebrated in fanzines, newsletters, and clubs. Fan videos were created using VCRs. Conventions had fan-made T-shirts, buttons, and calendars whose pictures were not able to be instantly posted to Facebook and Tumblr. Open Doors has helped memorialize these contributions through the Fan Culture Preservation Project. This project is a partnership between the OTW and the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Library where non-digital fanworks donated from private collections have been preserved for future generations.

In the present, we have seen entire archives disappear due to host server shutdowns, lack of funds, or outdated software; Open Doors works to help save these archives from disappearing entirely. They have worked on everything from helping archives import their works to AO3, to backing up archives in case hosting services shut down before they can be moved, to digitizing a classic fan novel series (with the permission of the author) in an attempt to save fanworks from disappearing entirely. The next major milestone will be the importing of the original Yuletide archive, scheduled for next month. Open Doors has also assisted in importing the Good Omens Library, GSSU- German Speaking Slashers United archive, the Dannell Lites archive, and the Leah Adezio archive.

For the road ahead, Open Doors is working to improve the automated import process and to prevent loss by working with archive mods on estate planning so that in the event of an untimely death an archive will not be lost. By being proactive, Open Doors hopes to prevent the inevitable issues that arise from such losses, and to protect these fanworks.

All of this is funded by the OTW through your donations. Take a moment to think about your favorite fic (the one you go back to and reread all the time), that fanart you reblogged twice because you wanted it to stay on your dashboard, that fanvid that was so enjoyable it got a song you had never heard before stuck in your head for three days. Think about whether you want those to be around for others to enjoy in the future. By taking a moment to donate to the OTW, you are helping to protect and preserve all of these. You are ensuring that your fandom will be around for you and others to enjoy, inspiring future generations.


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2014-04-04 11:30:14 -0400

This deploy consists of code contributions by Naomi and was tested by the combined efforts of many volunteers, including testers, coders, tag wranglers, and Support personnel. Special thanks to QA lead Lady Oscar for her diligence!

These code changes fix several issues with the way potential matches for a gift exchange are generated and displayed. Further refinements and improvements to challenge features are planned.


  • Previously, the "Matching" page included a list of all the potential givers for each participant, sorted by quality of match, which frequently caused the page to take way too long to load: it timed out and just displayed an error. We changed the way matches are generated and saved, so the page should be much more stable.
  • In addition, the page consisted of separate forms for dealing with various issues (users without potential matches, users who didn't have an assignment, etc.), leading to a messy and confusing layout. We have now put each listing on a page by itself, so you can focus on each problem (no match at all, no assigned recipient, etc.) one by one.
  • Very infrequently, invalid sign-ups can be created, e.g. due to a server hiccup during times of high traffic and a large volume of sign-ups. This previously caused the assignment process to crash silently in the background. We now alert individual users if their sign-up is invalid. We also check for invalid sign-ups and notify the moderators by email before running potential match generation, so they can fix them before they get to the problematic step.
  • The assignment view has been rearranged - all assignments now list an ID and a pair of recipient and giver. Clicking on the assignment ID will show you their respective requests and offers to gauge the match.
  • The help text on the various little forms (accessible through the little blue question marks) has been updated and expanded.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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