AO3 News

Accessibility, Design and Technology meeting - 9 July 2011

Published: 2011-07-10 17:41:20 -0400

We've been really busy in AD&T working on getting our next deploy ready. Thanks to a huge effort from everyone on the team, we expect to be ready to roll our new code out tomorrow! There are 93 issues in the new deploy! :o

Meeting highlights!

Tag sets

We're currently working on some new tag functionality for challenges, creating more flexibility for users to create sets of tags so they can, for example, create a list of Asian-source fandoms for a challenge. We spent lots of time in this meeting discussing how we can use the functionality provided through tag wrangling, which creates relationships so that, for example, the Archive knows that 'Hermione Granger' belongs to the 'Harry Potter' fandom, while still allowing users to create tag sets which include tags that haven't yet been wrangled by our awesome tag wranglers. We think we have come up with a solution which will combine the best of both worlds; we need to talk to the Tag Wrangling Committee to check out how it will work from their point of view, and then we hope to include this functionality in a mini-deploy coming up soon.

Skins functionality

We've had quite a few requests for the ability to include images in public skins. For security reasons, we can't allow images which are hosted on other sites, but when we begin hosting fanart we may be able to host images for skins. However, this would bring its own legal and content issues, so we have passed the issue over to our Legal and Content Policy teams to discuss.

Browsing enhancements

One of the things that's been high on our to-do list for a long time is improvements to our browsing system. We're aware that our current browsing filters leave quite a bit to be desired - the volume of works on the site has somewhat overwhelmed the design. One of our AD&T co-chairs has recently started work on this problem, and is busy coming up with some new designs for us to try out. Go go Elz!

Next deploy

The next deploy is scheduled for Monday 11 July, 2011. It will include a whole bunch of things including our new prompt memes functionality, new embed options to include embeds from CriticalCommons.org and Vidders.net, fixes for the annoying problem preventing some people from posting multichapter works, and much, much more. We're really proud of how much work has gone into this deploy!

News from our sub-committees

  • Coders have been really busy finishing up the code for the new deploy. They've been working hard on fixing bugs found during testing, and have also been participating in our great new training tutorials. Recent training included awesome sessions on JQuery and CSS by AD&T member Ana!
  • Testers have been working triple time to get everything in our giant deploy tested. Longtime tester XParrot has stepped up to become Testing Co-lead and has been working really hard on the issues for the new release - yeay XParrot! \0/

News from our sister committees

  • Support have been working hard to keep up with the volume of Support requests, and have been giving some feedback on the new Support Board as senior coder Sidra works on it.
  • Tag Wrangling have been wrangling hard, and giving feedback on the new tag sets functionality as it develops.

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Zooey

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We've had a busy month in AD&T! There have been several exciting code developments, and because life events for our team have prevented us sticking to our planned monthly deploy schedule, we've built up an impressive 98 issues for our next deploy! This is giving our testers plenty to work on!

Highlights!


Prompt memes

There's been tons of work going on getting our new prompt memes feature ready for primetime. Cesy, who has been coding the feature, has been hard at work polishing it up and fixing bugs. Our trusty team of testers have been trying out the feature on our Test Archive and finding all the little glitches, and our valiant volunteer Seph took on the task of writing a tutorial on the new feature. \0/ If you're curious about the kind of work that goes into creating a feature like this, check out Cesy's post on Coding prompt memes. We're really exciting about launching this feature!

Training and mentoring

We've been working on our training and mentoring procedures to make it easier for volunteers to join in and develop their skills. Cesy has been leading setup sessions for beginners, helping people get to grips with the tools we use and starting them out on a few bugs. We've embarked on a new series of training events focusing on different aspects of coding: Ana kicked off last Saturday with a fantastic introduction to XHTML, CSS and Javascript. We're also considering ways of enabling more one-to-one mentoring for coders.

The great work of our training team is already bearing fruit: new coders Tel, Laura and karen88 have been getting stuck in! We always welcome new volunteers, and the great work of our training team makes now a great time to get involved. If you're wondering how our coders go about their work, check out Enigel's post on the Day in the life of a coder.

Support board!

After lots of work by the Support team brainstorming requirements and putting together a design, senior coder Sidra has begun work on a dedicated AO3 Support board! Currently we use a third-party tool, 16bugs, to manage our Support requests, but it doesn't have the functionality we'd like. The new Support board will be entirely hosted on the AO3 and will enable all users to post responses to bugs - taking some of the pressure off our regular team when it comes to common problems - as well as providing a whole bunch of tools to help us manage the bugs. Now that we have such a big and active userbase, it's difficult for Support to keep up, so we're all REALLY excited about the new functionality.

Translation and internationalisation

Lots of work is going into making the Archive more usable to international users! Rebecca has been working closely with International Outreach and Translators as she continues to develop the functionality for translating the Archive interface - this is one of our core aims for the Archive and we're really pleased to see it finally coming into being. Meantime, new coder Tel has been working on improving the functionality for translated works and bookmarks of translated works on the Archive. Stay tuned for these improvements in the coming months!

Next deploy

The next deploy is scheduled for the weekend of 2 July (all being well). It will include prompt memes, a new autocomplete, the trial version of RSS subscriptions to tags (we're trying it out on the F/F tag to see how much load it places on the site), and lots of bug fixes!

News from our sub-committees


  • Coders have been working hard committing code for the forthcoming GIANT deploy! They've also been running and participating in our new training sessions - everyone is learning a lot!
  • Testers are busy on the epic task of testing out all the new code for the forthcoming deploy. They've been especially busy testing out the new prompt memes feature and giving feedback to improve it - challenges functionality is particularly hard to test because it involves so many different components (setting up a challenge, having people sign up, filling prompts, etc). Prompt memes include some anonymity features which need to be tested especially thoroughly - we want to be sure that anon features behave predictably for users.

News from our Sister committees


  • Support have been working like heroes on keeping up with the steady stream of support requests. They've also been working with AD&T to finalise the plans for the forthcoming new Support Board - everyone is VERY excited about this!
  • The Tag Wrangling committee has been working on the tag-related FAQs for the Archive, with the aim of making it easier for users to use tags and clearer how wranglers work on tags in the background. These changes will be reviewed and updated on the Archive soon. They've also been discussing how to handle original characters and fanon names for unnamed canon characters. If you are interested in wrangling, check out the list of fandoms without a wrangler to see if there's anything you can help with. Unassigned fandoms right now include Merlin RPF, Weiss Kreuz, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Zooey

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Behind the scenes at the AO3: A day in the life of a coder

Published: 2011-06-15 06:43:27 -0400

As part of our series giving an insight into what goes on behind the scenes at the AO3, coder Enigel has written up a day in the life of an AO3 coder! Enigel has been coding for the AO3 since November 2008. She studied computer science at university and works in the tech industry, but had never worked with Ruby on Rails before volunteering with the AO3. She started out tackling small bugs and has progressed to more challenging tasks - she is now one of the more experienced members of our team and is currently battling with the intricacies of our site Javascript.

I open up my archive coding tools, which are:

  • My webdev - a web-based development environment which hosts all the things needed to run the Archive, including Ruby on Rails, a MySQL database, and the Archive code itself. We used to install all this stuff on our own computers, but as the site has grown that got unmanageable for most people (especially those of us who are on Windows...), so the web-hosted version is much handier! I can see the working site and my changes at my own dedicated URL.
  • A git bash console - a command line tool which lets me upload code changes to our code repository on Github
  • Notepad++ - a text editor specially designed for editing code, which has some nifty features like syntax highlighting and line numbers
  • A Putty SSH console - a command line tool which lets me communicate with the webdev to get new code, run commands, etc
  • The Google code issue tracker - where we keep track of things which need to be worked on.

I sort the issues by priority - argh, a Critical one. I've tried to investigate it before, going from file to file to track what is defined where, and arrived to a thicket of code, deep in the forest where the Wrangulator meets the works model and controller (aka Mordor). No, today is not the day either.

Sometimes, I would just pick another issue, by priority, or by relevant interest - I'm only human after all. But today I choose a different path. Today, I will vanquish ALL the errors! We have an error notifier, which collects info about all those "Something went wrong" black holes where your pages sometimes get to, and sends emails to the Coders list. We have quite a collection. I load the page and go on chasing after those that occur most frequently, in the hundreds.

I spot a weird one, that only seems to happen for a particular browser: Sony PlayStation Portable. What's going on there? First I want to make an automated test. This is good practice in general, and vital in particular, because I don't own a PSP.

OK, how on Earth do I test this? It's pretty easy to simulate visiting a page - not so easy to simulate the peculiarity of a certain browser. Google, Stackoverflow, Google, forums, email lists. Aha! I find someone else's solution for testing sending a certain header in the browser request. I copy that in my test, and there it is! The red dots of a failed test! \o/ (Yes, this is a good thing. *g* It means I can reproduce the error in a controlled way.)

Putty console window showing a line of red dots as a failing Cucumber test runs

Now, how to fix this? Google, Google, forums, code snippets, aha! It's a bug in Rails itself! Oh, the sheer joy of being able to say "It's not us, it's them!"

And there's also a monkeypatch available - a monkeypatch is a temporary fix, applied on top of existing code, meant to go away when the bug is fixed officially.

I add the monkeypatch, run the test - it is now green! \\o//

Putty console window showing a line of green dots as a passing Cucumber test runs

I run ALL the tests, because it's important to verify that I haven't broken something else in fixing my bug. The tests run. And run. And run. I grab some chocolate, because I deserve it, and after almost half an hour, the full test suite has finished. All green! Hurray!

I feel a bit tired, and glance at the clock - good heavens, when has it become 2am?! I push the code to my repository on GitHub - this means that the changes I have made are now saved on my personal branch of the code, and other people can see and download them. I make a pull request for that code to be grabbed in the official master branch, and... I should go to sleep. Really.

But there's another very frequently occurring error... It means hundreds of times that people have tried to load listings for various fandoms, and they got "Something went wrong" instead. And this time, the latest error is for one of my fandoms! Now this, this is personal.

I make a new code branch on Github, so that I can have a copy of the code which includes only my changes for this issue, not anything else I might be working on. I write a test. It's easier to write one for this scenario, so armed with the failing test, I start digging through our code. Aha, there are about three files involved in this. I know exactly what needs changed. I rub my hands together in glee...

...Or do I? There are always several ways of doing pretty much anything with code, but not all them are equally advisable. Luckily, there are some senior coders in the Coders room, and I pester them for ideas. I could test the parameters here, or I could do it in this other place, or even in three different places.

Obviously, a more general solution is generally (ha!) preferred. We arrive at a rather good consensus, a cleaner way - and one I hadn't known was possible. Yay, I've learned something, too!

It's a bit more involved than the other ways, but it's more rewarding. I code the changes, upload them to my webdev, launch the test. I test manually, in the browser, too, because this bug is easier to reproduce and test manually. (Unlike, for example, bugs with Gift Exchanges, for which you have to set up a whole challenge and find people to test with you. Ask Cesy about them sometime.)

Oops, errors all the way.

I fiddle with the code some more, I poke at it some more, rinse and repeat until - huzzah! - the test spits only green dots, and the page loads fine in the browser. Hurray! I push the code, I make a pull request. It is now 4am. I not so much go to sleep as ooze into bed.

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Behind the scenes at the AO3: Coding prompt memes

Published: 2011-06-05 17:12:34 -0400

We've seen some conversation recently about cool possible features for the AO3 (we love conversations like this!). Brownbetty made a post about kink memes and AO3 - some of the features suggested there are things we've been working on for a while, so we figured this would be a great time to give people a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. Coder Cesy has been working hard to develop our new prompt memes functionality - coming to the AO3 in the next release! - so we asked her to chat a bit about the issues involved.

I've been coding the new prompt memes feature for the AO3, which is due to go live "soon". It's now reached the next stage of testing (ready to be deployed to our test server again), so I figured it's a good time to post about it.

So, essentially, prompt memes will allow you to run some sorts of comment-fic challenges on AO3, though not a full traditional kink meme. They have the structure of lots of prompts and then works posted in response to prompts. They have the ability to mark prompts as "semi-anonymous" - I deliberately called it that because it isn't true anonymity of the type some people want. A semi-anonymous prompt is still owned by your account, you can still edit it and do everything with it that you could with a non-anonymous prompt, but it will show up to other people as "Anonymous" rather than your name.

The reason I've distinguished it is because there is a key problem with this - the link between the prompt and your name has to be stored in the system (in order for you to edit it), which means a couple of things:
1) There could be a bug in the system that would reveal your name to someone else. We've tried to eliminate them all, (ask me sometime about the joy of writing and refactoring cucumber tests,) but there's always the possibility we'll miss one, or introduce a new one.
2) Someone could guess which one's yours by looking at the id numbers and comparing when you posted prompts under your real name. It would take a little bit of knowledge of the system and a little bit of close watching, and for you to post non-anon prompts in the same batch as semi-anon prompts, but it's possible - if you posted prompt 17143 and 17145, it's reasonable for someone to guess that "anon" prompt 17144 is also by you. We can't hide all of those numbers from users without introducing accessibility problems in the process.

So I'd still like to think of a way to do truly anonymous prompts, where you relinquish control and editing ability in exchange for it being more securely anonymous. (Though that actually only eliminates point 1, not point 2.)

At the moment, prompt memes have the standard AO3 challenge ability for a mod to make all responses in the whole challenge anonymous, but that brings with it the modly power to reveal who wrote which fic at any point. So, there's still scope for a new type of anonymous posting for responses, where it's controlled by the author instead of the mod.

Again, here, you could have a semi-anonymous option where the author can still edit, etc. but it carries the risk of bugs. Or you could have an "instant-orphan' option, but then people would click it by mistake, which raises lots of problems of its own. We're still thinking about other possible approaches!

The AO3 "Accessibility, Design & Technology" committee (which I'm a member of) gets to debate issues like this - if you're interested, we always welcome more volunteers - just let us know you're keen.

Cesy's work on prompt memes will be featured in our next code release!

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Accessibility, Design and Technology update May 2011

Published: 2011-05-18 17:36:55 -0400

AD&T has been a little bit quiet for a while, as quite a few members of the committee have had a busy and/or turbulent couple of months. However, we've still been working away, and there is some exciting stuff on the horizon!

Highlights!

The AO3 is growing!

We've seen a massive expansion in user numbers over the last couple of months - 1,394 new accounts were created during April (up from 897 in March), and at peak times we had over 1000 new works being posted each day! We're really happy to see more fans joining the Archive - and we're thrilled that our shiny new servers are keeping up with all this work! We welcome readers as well as creators - if you've been wondering what the AO3 has to offer you, check out our recent post on Cool account features on the AO3: the readers' edition!.

Retiring OpenID

When we launched the Archive, we offered an OpenID option as an alternative to using a password. For various reasons, this isn't working out too well for us, and we're planning to retire OpenID account logins. If you want to know, check out our post on the future of OpenID on the AO3.

Prompt memes coming soon

This is a project that coder Cesy has been working on for a while, and we're super excited to see it coming to fruition! The new feature will make it possible to run a prompt-based challenge on the AO3! It includes anon options so that it's possible to run kink memes and other similar challenges - no more combing through multiple comment levels to keep track of your favourite prompt fills! More news coming soon.

Dark Agenda and new tag options

We've been discussing some other enhancements to our challenge feature with the mods of the Dark Agenda challenge. As part of this discussion, we've been brainstorming ways to offer more functionality on tags, so that it's possible for challenge owners (and other archive users) to create groups of tags for a specific purpose, e.g. to make a list of all fandoms which include chromatic characters. We think we've come up with a design which will give users more flexibility and take some of the load off our hardworking tag wranglers! \0/

Trial of Subscriptions RSS!

Since launching the first part of our subscriptions feature, we've had lots of requests for subscriptions via RSS. We're pretty keen on this idea ourselves, and in our next deploy we'll be trialing the feature by creating an RSS feed for works posted in the 'F/F' category - we've picked this because there is a steady stream of works posted each week under 'F/F', but not so many that we risk melting the Archive (at least, so we hope!). If all goes well, we'll roll out more tag subscriptions in the future.

Expansion of valid CSS for skins

When we first put out our skins, we erred on the side of caution and as a result, our parser didn't let through a lot of valid CSS. The parser will be updated in the next deploy, after which you should be able to use many more CSS features.

We're all going on a bug hunt!

AD&T member Ana is delving into the thickets of our current Support requests to identify some of the most problematic and recurrent bugs showing up for our users. He'll be compiling a 'hitlist' for coders to help them prioritise bugfixes. The good news is that so far, it looks as though the work we need to do to fix our more annoying bugs will also help us prepare for some of our new features. For example, we need to refactor the code that deals with posting new works in order to offer our planned new options for multimedia works, but this will also help us get to the bottom of the bug some users have reported with posting new chapters. Some bugs are trickier than others to squash, however, so we thank users for their patience while we work!

Next deploy

We interrupted our monthly posting schedule because so many of our team have needed to take a hiatus over the last month or so. The next deploy is scheduled for the end of May, and will include the new prompt code, the trial version of RSS subscriptions, and fixes for some of our more annoying bugs.

News from our sister and sub-committees

  • Coders have settled into using our new version management system, Git, and have been working on a whole range of issues. There's been some great work on Cucumber tests - essential to the overall health of the site - and Enigel has taken up her trusty sword and plunged into the javascript thickets to deal with some of our bugs and continue our transition to jQuery! We're also debating the pros and cons of using some new coding tools: HAML, SASS andd Coffeescript (readers who have experience of these, let us know your thoughts!).
  • Testers have had a quietish period, as we hadn't deployed any new code to our Test Archive for a while. We've now started work on the next deploy, so the team is getting stuck into work again. We've also welcomed two new testers: velocitygrass and Zebra.
  • Support Committee have been working incredibly hard trying to keep up with the deluge of work. Lots of new users means lots more support tickets, so turnaround is slower than usual, but the team is doing an amazing job working through it all. If you're interested in joining Support, volunteers are always welcome!
  • The Tag Wrangling Committee and their team of trusty wranglers have been working hard as always, keeping the tags ordered and useful for everyone. The TW Committee have been discussing the idea of the new tag sets options with AD&T. Wranglers have also been working closely with Support to address user questions on tags and fix the odd snag.

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Zooey

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Cool account features on the AO3: readers' edition!

Published: 2011-05-07 19:17:52 -0400

From time to time, when people ask us about invitations for the AO3, they say things like 'I don't write fic, so I don't want to take an invitation away from someone who wants to post on the Archive'. One of the things we love about fandom is this considerate attitude - but we definitely don't see it that way! On the contrary, we think that 'consumers' are just as important to fandom as creators. After all, there wouldn't be much point in creating art, fic or vids if there was no one out there enjoying it! For this reason, we're more than happy to give invitations to people who don't plan ever to post anything on the Archive. In fact, we have a whole bunch of account features which are specifically aimed at the consumer rather than the creator. If you've been wondering whether there's any point to you having an Archive account, here's a rundown of some of the cool features which come with it!

Subscriptions!

Our recently introduced subscriptions feature is our 'killer app' for account holders! You can now subscribe to an author and receive an email every time they post a new work or a new chapter. We have lots more features planned for this (we're just taking it slow to avoid the Archive exploding), so this will only get better. If you like to keep track of what people are posting on the Archive, you definitely need an account.

History

There's that great piece of fanart you saw last week, but now you can't remember who it was by... With the AO3 history feature, you can look back to see which works you viewed on the Archive and when! It will also tell you whether they've been updated since you last looked at them. We have more features planned for history - most importantly, we reeeeeally want to make it possible to filter so you can see, say, all the Sailor Moon works you have viewed - we're just trying to fit them into our coders' time.

Mark to read later

Seen a 200,000 word fic ten minutes before you have to leave for work? You could start reading and risk incurring the wrath of your boss - or you could mark it to read later and have it added to a handy dandy list for the next time you have some uninterrupted fannish time. Works marked to read later are added to your history - you can filter to show just the works you marked. When you're done reading, hit 'Mark read' to take them off the to read list.

Bookmarks and recs

Found a wonderful work of art which you want to be sure of finding again? You can bookmark it with an AO3 account - even if it's not actually hosted on the AO3. When you're logged in, all works on the Archive have a 'Bookmark' button at the top. Our Bookmark external works page has a handy little bookmarklet - just drag to your bookmarks, and then the next time you see a genius vid on Livejournal, you simply need to click the bookmarklet to bookmark in AO3. For works which you particularly loved, you can mark a bookmark as a rec. Once again, we have tons of improvements we'd like to make for bookmarks - browsing filters are top of that list - but we think they're already handy for keeping track of stuff you've loved.

Archive skins

Hate the default font on the Archive? You can change that - and almost everything else about the way it displays - by using Archive skins. You can choose from skins other people have made, or design your own. See our Skins tutorial for more information.

Site preferences

When you're an account holder, there are lots of preferences you can set to make using the Archive a more pleasant experience. You can choose never to see 'adult content' warnings on explicit works. You can choose to have all chaptered works show as a single page rather than chapter-by-chapter. You can opt never to see warnings or freeform tags. You can disable custom styling on other users' works. Preferences are handy things to have.

Signed, trackable comments and kudos

As a logged in user, your comments will be signed by you by default, and when someone replies you will get a notification. You can keep track of all comments addressed to you in your user inbox, as well as having them emailed to you (and you can opt out of the emails if you prefer). When you're logged in, the kudos you leave will be signed by you (otherwise it shows as guest kudos).

User icons

If you have an account on the Archive, you can have a user icon! This will show up wherever you leave a comment, as well as on your user profile.

Access to restricted works

Some fans prefer to make sure that their fanworks aren't accessible to just anyone stumbling in from Google (we know this is especially important to people who create RPF). When posting on the Archive, they can choose to lock their works to Archive account holders only (currently 1,503 works are restricted). You need an account to see these works!

We hope the above features make AO3 accounts valuable to all users, whether or not they are using them to post works. If you'd like an account, simply add your email address to our invitations queue. Wait time is currently less than a week!

As you may have noticed, we have lots of plans for making even more awesome features for AO3 accounts. However, our coders are few and our to-do list is big! If you'd like to help make things even shinier, we always welcome volunteers!

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April showers bring fannish flowers!

Published: 2011-05-03 05:46:02 -0400

May has arrived, and our April Showers Challenge has drawn to a close! Through the month of April, we were highlighting fandoms in need of love on the Archive of Our Own and our sister project Fanlore. We've been enjoying all the fannish May flowers which have appeared as a result.

595 works were posted on the AO3 under the April Showers Challenge tag. People didn't confine themselves to the fandoms we highlighted - we were happy to see people archiving works in more than 80 fandoms, including Captain Future, Starsky and Hutch and Monty Python and the Holy Grail! In addition, 2,122 works were posted in the fandoms we highlighted. See the full list below!

On Fanlore, fans took the opportunity to fill in some of their fannish history. The Fanlore team created a bunch of memories pages for the featured fandoms - memories pages are designed as an informal place to record your defining memories of a particular fandom, without worrying about exactly how to categorise them. Check them out and add your fannish history! Other April Showers activity on Fanlore included updates about the history of the fan convention. You can read more about what Fanlore have been up to during the challenge at their April Showers posts.

April Showers - The Masterlist

We've really enjoyed seeing people delving into their fannish history (recent and not-so-recent). Remember, you don't have to wait for a special occasion to archive on the AO3 or record your fannish history on Fanlore. Anyone who is interested is welcome to post their recollections (atany time) on Fanlore itself or to the Fanlore dreamwidth community posts linked in this post. Don't worry about formatting - their trusty team of wiki gardeners are eager to help out! On the AO3, you can use our import function to easily upload work hosted on other sites. If you don't have an account and you want one, then just add your email address to our invitations queue (wait time currently less than a week).

Enjoy fannish May flowers, and the wealth of fannish histories we share!

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The future of OpenID on the Archive of Our Own

Published: 2011-05-01 12:20:15 -0400

In common with most sites out there, we were keen to offer an OpenID login option when we started out, to ease the burden of juggling yet another username and password. Unfortunately, also in common with other sites, we found that OpenID created as many problems as it solved. We regularly receive Support requests from users who can't log in because of some problem with their OpenID provider, or because their provider has changed their authentication code unexpectedly. We've also had ongoing problems persuading OpenID logins to persist (the 'Remember Me' option often doesn't), as well as a lot of confusion from users about exactly what an OpenID account on the Archive actually was.

Not many of our users are taking advantage of the OpenId option: out of 16,119 users, only 383 have an OpenID set. Of those, only 73 use OpenID as their sole login option (the rest have a password as well). Despite the small number of users involved, OpenID issues are one of our most regular types of Support request! We feel that the amount of work involved in keeping our code functioning with OpenID and in supporting users with it outweighs the amount of added value it brings to our users, and we're strongly considering phasing out OpenID logins for accounts altogether. (This is in line with other sites such as 37 Signals.) If you have concerns or questions about this, then please do comment to this post.

If you're currently using OpenID and you want to switch to using a password login, just select the 'Forgot password' option. This will send out a temporary password - log in with your user name and this password, and you can set a permanent password.

One reason so few users have OpenID logins for the site is that the way our accounts work mean it's only really a password replacement (you still have to give us an email address and a user name, and we can't really offer the kind of OpenID features adopted by sites such as Dreamwidth). So, OpenID accounts aren't offering anything super useful compared to regular accounts. However, we do like the idea of offering more flexible ways to use the Archive, and retiring OpenID account logins doesn't mean we've abandoned this aim.

One area where more flexible authentification options would be useful is comments. We know that some people don't have much use for the features of an Archive account, but do want to use the Archive for reading and commenting. We think it would be very handy for them to be able to leave comments without creating an account or leaving a name and email. So, we're currently looking into the omniauth plugin, which would allow people to sign in via other sites such as Twitter, Foursquare, Google apps, etc in order to leave comments. This isn't a change we'll make immediately - we want to do some more research into different options and the privacy implications first - but we think something like this would offer our users more flexibility going forward.

As always, we welcome feedback from users about features you would like to see on the Archive! Feel free to comment on this post or get in touch via our Support and Feedback form to let us know what you think!

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