AO3 News

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2014-03-05 08:21:13 -0500

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


  • The form that allows Archive admins to change various site settings and put up admin banners wasn't as user-friendly as it could have been: the text was crowded, the options were ordered randomly, and we couldn't see the full text of the admin banner when we needed to edit it. Now similar options are grouped together and everything is easier to read, which makes our admin team much happier.
  • The interface for posting and editing AO3 News posts now has an autocomplete function for the post tags.
  • Users can filter News posts by tag or language, but the filter form wasn't coded as accessibly as it could have been. Now the labels are properly associated with their dropdown menus, so screen readers will tell users what the menus are for.
  • If you attempted to share a multi-chapter work on Twitter while in chapter-by-chapter view, the only thing in the tweet would be the URL. Now the tweet says, "[TITLE] by [PSEUD] - [FANDOM TAG] [URL] via @ao3org" as it already does for oneshots.
  • The forms for editing and posting works contained a field called "Custom Stylesheet" that allowed users to apply a Work Skin to their works. We changed the name to "Select Work Skin" to make its function clearer.
  • The form for editing information on multiple works wasn't as user-friendly as it could be. We've made the "* Required information" notice stand out some more and rearranged the Visibility and Comment Settings checkboxes to make it easier to see which checkbox corresponds to which option.
  • User who set their preferences to hide warnings or additional tags may have noticed that, if they selected the option to reveal the tags, there were two commas between each tag. Oops! Now it's one comma per tag.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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2014-03-04 16:13:19 -0500

Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages.

For more information about the purview of our committees, please see the committee listing on our website.


February was a month with major milestones from three OTW projects. Fanlore passed 500,000 edits, the AO3 passed 1 million fanworks, and our Journal Committee editors produced The Fan Fiction Studies Reader.

To continue the celebrations in March, Communications has lined up a series of discussions on "The Future of Fanworks" with academic, fan, legal, and entertainment industry guests. And to continue the focus on fanworks through coming years, they announced an International Fanworks Day to be held annually on February 15th.


Accessibility, Design & Technology deployed Release 0.9.13, which included significant performance fixes and improvements to the importing code. Their next update, Release 0.9.14, is happening in tiny batches and will focus on small bug fixes -- this will enable them to work through the backlog of code submissions more quickly and efficiently.

Open Doors also worked with AD&T and QA&T to update importing documentation with the fixes and features in the last deploy.

Abuse is finalizing its 2014 Road Map, discussing new policies and working on 2013 stats. Support is in the midst of recruiting and looking forward to welcoming new staffers to help them respond to tickets! Tag Wrangling is still limited due to server strain, but AD&T’s latest code push allowed them to lift some of the time restrictions. Tag Wrangling staff spent the month helping Support with tag-related requests, and coordinated with AD&T and Systems to get some large re-wranglings done without disrupting the servers.

Journal is currently going through production, with the March and June issues (No. 15 and No. 16) going through simultaneously.


Development & Membership welcomed five new staffers and is in the process of training them. They're also working on plans for the April membership drive, scheduled for April 3-9. DevMem chair, Kristen Murphy, was also interviewed by Three Patch Podcast about the OTW's growth and milestones.

Legal continued their outward-facing work, helping fans with inquiries about fair use, about how to respond to takedown requests, and about what to do when others are using their fanworks without permission. In addition, Legal Staffer Casey Fiesler published a paper on fans’ understanding of fair use. Legal also registered the OTW in the European Union's Transparency Register and filed a submission to the European Commission in response to its call for comments concerning possible EU copyright reform.

Strategic Planning is wrapping up surveys of Abuse, Comms, DevMem, I&O, and Web and moving into the data analysis and report-writing stages. They are preparing for another round of surveys and interviews in March. They also made a minor correction to the appendices of the Wiki Committee/Fanlore report based on the feedback from a former staff member.

Translation is happily training new staff, and their teams are hard at work preparing the website for the upcoming April membership drive in all the languages they can cover. They’re also finalising procedures for collaboration between tag wranglers and translators, to bring the two volunteer pools closer and enable ways that they can help each other out.


Volunteers & Recruiting has once again been very busy. In addition to answering questions from individuals both inside and outside the org, they inducted staff from the January round of recruiting and opened recruiting for three more roles (Translation volunteers, Support staff, and Communications graphics volunteers). We were very pleased with the overall turnout and are grateful that so many people are interested and willing to give their time to help the OTW and support our projects.

Beyond recruiting, VolCom is completing the set up of their new volunteer database and preparing to do a final audit to make sure that all of the records made it over in the import. They are also conducting annual reviews of committee documentation and working on VolCom's annual report for 2013 with plans to release a public version once it is completed.

New Committee Staff: Jennifer Radecki (Communications), Elise Thrasher (Communications), Rachel Weir (Communications), theteapot (Accessibility, Design & Technology), Helka Lantto (Development & Membership), DandalfTheWhite (Development & Membership), Rowan (Development & Membership), 1 other Communications staffer, 4 Translation staffers, 2 other Development & Membership Staffers.
New Coder Volunteers: 1 volunteer
New Communications Volunteers: Dogtagsandsmut
New Translator Volunteers: jerakeen, MayCSB, Nerine Luna Cyran, Nari, Snixx, Ulrika A, ACarrao, madamezou, IcePhoenix & 6 others.

Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 4 volunteers


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2014-03-01 14:31:56 -0500

This deploy includes code contributions by Enigel, James, Sarken, and Scott and was tested by Camilla, Emilie, Lady Oscar, mumble, pocketmouse, and Qem.


  • In the tag wrangling interface for fandom tags (showing characters, relationships, etc. for that fandom), we replaced the button for showing "non-canonical" tags with a "synonymous" button. Now it only shows tags that are synonyms of canonical tags, since there is already a separate listing for unfilterable tags (tags that are neither canonical nor synonymous).
  • When sorting incoming tags by number of uses, tags with the same count are now ordered alphabetically. This will make it much easier for wranglers to keep track of which tags to wrangle or edit.
  • There was some slightly wonky HTML on the "My Sign-ups" page; it's fixed now.
  • The message at the top of the "Unposted Drafts" page about drafts being automatically deleted was too easily overlooked. We added a cautionary yellow background to the message (and also urge all users not to use Archive drafts as the only place to store their work).
  • When posting a new work, you could mark it as "a remix, a translation, or inspired by another work." We have added "a podfic" to this part of the form to make the option explicit.
  • Our emails, e.g. kudos or comment notifications, will now include sender information ("Archive of Our Own") and won't merely display the do-not-reply address anymore.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues. If you're having trouble with lost formatting since our Rich Text Editor upgrade, please have a look at the RTE-related issues and workarounds.


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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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