AO3 News

AO3 Newsletter August 2012

Published: 2012-08-31 14:52:38 -0400

Hello readers, creators, and archivers! It's the end of August which means it's time for an AO3 Newsletter.

Cool stuff on the Archive

This month, we were able to up the number of invitations issued each day to 350. With our invite queue holding steady at 31k, this may seem like a drop in the ocean, but we are excited to welcome that many more users to Archive each day. We're also excited to announce that AD&T, Tag Wrangling and Support have a great big deploy coming soon to an Archive near you. Release 0.9.0 contains new features and a whole lot of bug fixes; stay tuned for details in the coming week.

What’s up in the world of tags?

One of the most used Additional Tags on the Archive is Alternate Universe. There are currently 45k works tagged to indicate some form of Alternate Universe!

Popular universe tropes on the AO3 include Modern Settings, High School and Gender Changes. There are tags for AUs based on where characters work, such as Coffee Shop, Circus and Library; AUs much more out of this world, like Dragons and Shapeshifters; and AUs that put the characters out of time, from Ancient Greece & Rome to the 1960s.

We're always interested to see what other universes are out there!

Support Superstars

Support have had our hands full this month with a whopping 542 tickets opened in August. We've closed 511 of those tickets and have 31 left to go!

AD&T Committee business of note

As we mentioned in last month's newsletter, our fearless captain mumble leads the way as we update the AO3 roadmap. As a guide for site development, a roadmap helps to keep us on task while we work on new features and plan deploys. We can't promise that we'll be able to keep to it exactly--a quick glance at our old roadmap should show you where we got off track--but it does provide us a framework to work with and milestones to work towards. For example, milestones such as release 0.9.0! We've been hard at work on this deploy which will roll out new features, bug fixes, and upgrades that will help Support, Tag Wrangling, and the Archive to run more smoothly. And finally, with Sarken as our guide, we continue work on a brand new header for the site (another milestone!) and have plans to consult you on various aspects and features of the header sometime soon.

Support Committee business of note

Users have kept Support busy this month. We've answered some 'Help - how do I...' questions, logged some bugs, and recorded some feature requests. Our new Support Form is almost ready for prime time. It's currently in the testing stage, and if all goes well, it should go live in the next deploy.

Tag Wrangling Committee business of note

In the upcoming deploy, we're looking forward to making public some of the behind-the-scenes tag pages that wranglers see! In these public tag pages, you will be able to see what sort of tag structures are used when our wranglers get wrangling. In connection with this new Archive feature, we're also working towards moving our guidelines to the Archive's FAQ pages, discussing revisions of some of the Archive's tagging terminology, and making some of our internal guidelines clearer and more consistent.


While moving servers behind an upgraded, more secure firewall, we introduced a typo that caused some users to be redirected to a site that was decidedly not AO3. We've been receiving reports from users who are still unable to access the Archive; if this has been the case for you, please read this post and let us know if you continue to have trouble. Tag filtering remains unavailable as we continue rewriting the necessary code to give you a better tag-filtering experience. We also ran into some problems with audio embeds when we inadvertently deployed code that allowed Google audio embeds, which is an embed we cannot support.

We apologize for the inconveniences these mistakes have caused and appreciate your continued patience with us.

Questions? Comments?

We welcome feedback from users! If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments of the latest news post, or send in a Support request (if you're reporting a bug, please send that to Support, as they're super efficient - comments on our news posts sometimes get overlooked).


AO3 connection problems

Published: 2012-08-23 15:06:52 -0400

We've been receiving a small number of reports of people unable to access the Archive of Our Own - if you've been affected by this issue, this post will give you a bit more information about what's going on. We'd also like to appeal for your help as we work to fix it!

What's wrong

We recently upgraded our firewall to improve the security of our servers. Unfortunately, it seems that we haven't got the configuration absolutely right and it's causing connection problems for some users. This problem is only affecting a small number of users, and it's not completely consistent. However, if you've received an Error 404, a warning saying 'Secure Connection Failed', or you've been redirected to a url with 8080 in it, then this is what's causing it.

While we worked on the issue, we temporarily disabled https on the site, as that was causing some additional problems. This means that if you have a browser extension such as HTTPS Everywhere enabled, or you use a browser which enforces https by default, then the site will not load - apologies for this. If the site has been consistently timing out for you, it's worth checking if this applies in your case - if the url defaults to then you have been affected by this issue.

How you can workaround

If you're being affected by the https issue, you can work around by adding an exception to HTTPS Everywhere, or using a different browser.

If you're getting errors at random, then clearing your browser cache and refreshing should help. You may also find it helps to use another browser.

How you can help us

We're working to get to the bottom of this problem, and we know we've already reduced the number of errors which are occurring. However, it would be enormously helpful for our Systems team to have a little more information. If you encounter an error, please submit a Support request giving the following information:

Your IP address You can find this out by going to
The url of the page where you got the error:
The exact error you got: You may find it easiest to copy and paste the error. If you didn't get an error but the page just never loads, tell us that.
What time (UTC) you got the error: Please check the current time in UTC when you get the error - this will make it easier for us to keep track, since we're dealing with users in lots of different timezones.
Is the error intermittent or constant?
What browser are you using? It would be extra helpful if you can tell us your user agent string, which you can find out by going to".

If you know how to view the source of a page in the browser, it would also be very helpful if you could could copy and paste the source code of the page that throws up the problem.

If you're comfortable working on the command line, then it would also be helpful if you could provide us with some additional information (if you're already wondering what we're talking about, don't worry, you can ignore this bit). Open up a command line window and type nslookup Copy whatever pops up in your console and paste it into your Support message.

If you can't access the Archive at all (and thus can't submit a Support request there) you can send us this information via our backup Support form.

A note on https

We know that many people prefer to use https connection to provide additional security on the web, and we will be reenabling this option as soon as we can. Because the AO3 doesn't handle data such as credit card information or similar, browsing without https doesn't expose our users to any significant security risks. However, it is always a good policy to use a unique password (i.e. don't use the same username and password combo for the AO3 and your email account) in order to ensure that if for any reason someone else obtains your AO3 credentials, they can't use them to access other data). Apologies for the inconvenience to users while this option is disabled.

ETA for a fix

We're hoping to resolve these lingering problems asap; however, our Systems team have limited time, so we may not be able to track down the root of the problem as fast as we'd like. We'll keep you updated, and in the meantime apologise for the inconvenience.


Update on audio embeds

Published: 2012-08-21 16:22:51 -0400

As many AO3 users have noticed, the types of fanwork available through the Archive have been expanding! Unfortunately our current inability to directly host any non-text content has created workaround efforts and these sometimes run into problems.

This has been the case with podfic, and we're particularly sorry that these problems have affected a recent podfic challenge hosted through the Archive. To quickly sum up, this is what has happened:

  • We were allowing people to use Google's audio player as an embed but then Google stopped supporting it so that it no longer worked.
  • We were planning to do our own hosting of Google's player (and announced this in our last newsletter) but decided that we wanted a different open-source solution that we will be able to fully support; we are working on this.
  • We did a quick deploy to enable people in the pod_together challenge to use another audio embed option specifically for that challenge, because they'd been waiting on our fix in order to host their event.
  • We inadvertently enabled our own Google player hosting at the same time. However, this was accidental and has now been disabled - this means it will have broken again for anyone who changed their code to use it. We're very sorry about this.
  • We do plan to offer an alternative solution for podficcers in the near future: this will be a player hosted on the Archive's own servers so that we can ensure it will remain available in future.

Paraka, the pod_together mod who is hosting the player, has generously offered to make it available to people outside the challenge: see this post for streaming code. We should note that this is a small site and is unlikely to be able to support lots and lots of users (also, we can't guarantee it will continue to function long-term) so we recommend that you only take up this option if you have a podfic that you want to post right now (and don't, for example, change your whole back catalogue right now).

We apologize for the confusion this series of events has caused and also about the lack of timely communication in regards to this matter. If you have further questions about audio work on the Archive, please comment here and we will do our best to address them. For specific assistance you may also want to contact Support.


Update: Site problems and our firewall upgrade

Published: 2012-08-17 09:21:15 -0400

Our Systems team have been doing some behind-the-scenes maintenance over the past week or so to improve the Archive of Our Own's firewalls. This has mostly been invisible to users, but last night it briefly gave everyone a fright when a typo introduced during maintenance caused some people to be redirected to some weird pages when trying to access the AO3. We also had a few additional problems today which caused a bit of site downtime. We've fixed the problems and the site should now be back to normal, but we wanted to give you all an explanation of what we've been working on and what caused the issues.

Please note: We will be doing some more maintenance relating to these issues at c. 22:00 UTC today (see when this is in your timezone). The site should remain up, but will run slowly for a while.

Upgrading our firewall

The AO3's servers have some built-in firewalls which stop outside IP services accessing bits of the servers they shouldn't, in the same way that the firewall on your home computer protects you from malicious programmes modifying your computer. Until recently, we were using these firewalls, which meant that each server was behind its own firewall, and data passed between servers was unencrypted. However, now that we have a lot more machines (with different levels of firewall), this setup is not as secure as it could be. It also makes it difficult for us to do some of the Systems work we need to, since the firewalls get in the way. We've therefore been upgrading our firewall setup: it's better to put all the machines behind the same firewall so that data passing between different servers is always protected by the firewall.

We've been slowly moving all our servers behind the new firewall. We're almost done with this work, which will put all the main servers for the Archive (that is the ones all on the same site together) behind the firewall. In addition, our remote servers (which can't go behind the firewall) will be connected to the firewall so that they can be sure they're talking to the right machine, and all the data sent to them is properly encrypted. (The remote servers are used for data backups - they are at a different location so that if one site is hit by a meteor, we'll still have our data.) This means that everything is more secure and that we can do further Systems maintenance without our own firewalls getting in the way.

What went wrong - redirects

Last night, some users started getting redirected to a different site when trying to access the AO3. The redirect site was serving up various types of spammy content, so we know this was very alarming for everyone who experienced it. The problem was caused by an error introduced during our maintenance. It was fixed very quickly, but we're very sorry to everyone who was affected.

In order to understand what caused the bug, it's necessary to understand a little bit about DNS. Every address on the internet is actually a string of numbers (an IP address), but you usually access it via a much friendlier address like DNS is a bit like a phonebook for the internet: when you go to, your Domain Name Service goes to look and see what number is listed for that address, then sends you to the right place. In the case of the AO3, we actually have several servers, so there are several 'phone numbers' listed and you can get sent to any one of those.

As part of our maintenance, we had to make changes to our DNS configuration. Unfortunately, during one of those changes, we accidentally introduced a typo into one of our names (actually into the delegation of the domain, for those of you who are systems savvy). This meant that some people were being sent to the wrong place when they tried to access our address - it's as if the phone book had a misprint and you suddenly found yourself calling the laundry instead of a taxi service. Initially this was just sending people to a non-existent place, but a spammer noticed the error and registered that IP address so they would get the redirected traffic. (In the phone book analogy, the laundry noticed the misprint and quickly registered to use that phone number so they could take advantage of it.) It didn't affect everyone since some people were still being sent to the other, valid IP addresses.

We fixed the typo as soon as the problem was reported. However, Domain Name Services don't update immediately, so some users were still getting sent to the wrong address for a few hours after we introduced the fix. To continue the phone book analogy, it's as if the misprinted phone book was still in circulation at the same time as the new, updated one.

If you were affected by this issue, then it should be completely resolved now. Provided you didn't click any links on the site you were redirected to, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. However, it's a a good idea to run your antivirus programme just to be absolutely sure.

Downtime today

It turned out one bit of the firewall configuration was a little overenthusiastic and was blocking some users from getting to the site at all. We rolled back part of the changes, which caused a little bit of downtime. Because this involved changing our DNS configuration again the change took a while to take effect and the downtime was different for different users (effectively we changed our phone number, and the phonebook had to update).

The site should be back up for everyone now. We'll be completing the last bits of work on the firewall upgrade today at roughly 22:00 UTC. At present we don't expect any downtime, but the site will be running more slowly than usual.

Thank you

We'd like to say a massive thank you to James_, who has done almost all of the work upgrading the firewall. He's done a sterling job and the site is much more secure because of his work. This glitch reminds us just how high pressure Systems' work is - for most of us, a tiny typo does not have such noticeable effects! We really appreciate all the work James_ has put in, and the speed at which he identified and fixed the problem when it went wrong.

We'd also like to thank our other staff who swung into action to keep people informed on Twitter, our news sites, and via Support, and who provided moral support while the issues were being dealt with.

Finally, thanks to all our users: you guys were super understanding while we were dealing with these problems and gave us lots of useful info which helped us track down the source of the bug.

Reminder: site status information

The first place to be updated when we have problems with the site is our Twitter AO3_Status. We try to answer questions addressed to us there as well as putting out general tweets, but it can be hard for us to keep up with direct conversations in busy periods, so apologies if you sent us a message and we didn't respond directly. If you see a problem, it's a good idea to check our timeline first to see if we already tweeted about it. For problems other than site status issues, the best place to go for help is AO3 Support.


Tag filtering and an apology

Published: 2012-08-15 06:16:28 -0400

We'd like to apologise for the delay in returning tag filtering. We had hoped to have tag filtering updated, run through our testers, and back out to you by the end of July. However, it's taking us much longer than we expected to finish that code and get it all tested. We hope to have all the work finished and the tag filters returned by the end of September. However, we can't promise we won't run into more unexpected snags, so right now this is a very rough timetable and we may have to revise it. We'll keep people updated as the work progresses.

We've been able to tackle a lot of other performance-related issues since the problems started in May/June. However, sadly this isn't enough to allow us to restore the old filter code, which just isn't able to cope with the number of users the site has now. It's been necessary to completely remove the old filter code and rewrite it from the ground up, which is a major piece of coding.

We already knew that this code was nearing breaking point and were actively working on new tag filters before the performance problems hit, which is why we were optimistic about introducing the new tag filters quickly. However, coding is always an uncertain business, and it's taken longer than we expected to finish the new code. In writing a big piece of functionality like this, it's not too unusual to run up against challenges while coding that you didn't anticipate up front. In addition, we only have a limited number of coders who are able to take on something this complex: the coder who is taking the lead on this project has been working on it all available hours, but sadly we've yet to figure out how to clone her.

In the meantime, if you've not already seen the Disabling filters: information and search tips post, check it out for alternate ways of finding works on the Archive.

Once again, many apologies for the inconvenience. We thank you for your patience while we work hard to bring back tag filtering!


Archive of Our Own Newsletter - July 2012

Published: 2012-07-31 11:52:04 -0400

*coughs* *taps microphone* Is this thing on?


Ahem, after something of a pause, this is (hopefully) the return of our regular AO3 newsletter! Your friendly AO3 news poster (that's me, Lucy!) started off the year with good intentions and a shiny new format. However, between writing various other special edition posts, co-chairing the Communications committee, and dealing with real life, somehow the newsletter kept slipping down the to-do list. The good news is that new Communications staffer Camden has volunteered to take the baton, so hopefully these newsletters will be making a more frequent appearance in the future. So, without further ado, a few updates on the major happenings in recent times.

Major doings: performance, performance, performance

For the last few months, all the AO3 teams have been working really hard dealing with the various performance issues on the Archive. These started to appear in around May and got really acute in June, before we got them under control with a lot of hard work and some emergency measures (which involved 5 code deploys in the space of a few weeks). There's been some heroic work from Coders, Testers and Systems to get the situation under control quickly: we're really grateful to everyone who pitched in and helped out. We're continuing to work on performance, most recently with a RAM upgrade and upgrades to our server software, and we'll keep users posted as new developments arise.


Our performance crunch was largely down to a gigantic increase in traffic: we had over 1.4 MILLION visitors in the month of June alone! Our invitations queue also continues to grow apace: we recently increased the number of invitations being issued each day to 300, but this is still not keeping up with demand. We're doing our best to keep expanding, but we can only increase accounts so fast while preserving site stability, so we're afraid the queue will probably remain long for a while. :(

Tag filters are coming back - we promise!

As an emergency performance measure, we disabled our tag filters. We know they're much missed, but their absence has enabled the site to run without 502 errors. We'd hoped to have the replacement filters finished by the end of July, but unfortunately they're taking a bit longer than we'd hoped (turns out we have to let coders leave the house now and again). Everyone is working super hard to get them coded, tested, and up on the site as soon as possible - we apologise for the inconvenience in the meantime.

Tags and media categories

Speaking of tags, the new Category Change workgroup recently got off the ground with their discussion of how we organise the media categories on our Fandoms page. This is an issue which we've been chewing over in-house for a really, really long time - we know lots of users find the current categories confusing and/or problematic, and we'd like to come up with a better way of handling them. However, this is a really big can of worms: for example, we know that "Anime & Manga" is problematic as a catch-all category including manhua, manhwa, etc., but we also know that lots of fans are used to looking for anime and manga and would be confused if we scrapped that terminology altogether. So, we're looking to find ways of handling the different categories which are understandable but also less problematic.

The Category Change workgroup includes members from lots of relevant committees: Internationalization and Outreach, Tag Wranglers, Support, and Accessibility, Design and Technology. They will be discussing the various issues and a range of possible solutions.

As part of this process they'll be seeking input from various groups inside and outside the organisation and using that feedback to help identify some possible solutions. They'll also be looking into the technical aspects – for example, improvements in searching and browsing on the Archive in general will open up more possibilities for how we handle categories specifically - so we don't wind up with a great theoretical solution that’s impossible to implement. Tag wranglers have already given some great ideas and thoughts on this issue - they've been discussing it on and off for at least two years - and the workgroup is really looking forward to moving ahead with it. Stay posted for more news on this!

Tag wrangling - a new view!

We've had lots of feedback from users who've said that they'd love to be able to get more information about how tags are wrangled and how they all relate to one another. This has also been one of the most frequent feature requests from tag wranglers, who put lots of work into making the tags link up in a meaningful way and would like their work to be more useful to users. Our awesome coder sarken took up the challenge and did some work to make the tags pages which are currently only visible to tag wranglers visible to any user. This will be an 'alpha' feature when it goes live - we expect we'll get lots of feedback about how it could be better - but we hope this news will be welcome to lots of people who have been wondering what's going on behind the scenes!

For those who are really curious about tag wrangling, the Tag Wrangling Committee are also currently preparing a public version of the tag wrangling guidelines. We hope to have these posted shortly after the tags pages are made public.

What else is up in the world of tags?

The Archive welcomes all types of fanworks! We have plans to make it much more useful for different types of fanworks by adding some more browsing and posting features. However, right now, people use the "Additional Tags" field to make it clear what type of creative endeavour their particular work consists of. Tag Wranglers have wrangled the more common tags like podfic, fanart, fanvids and AMV, and even things like knitting and crochet patterns, and we're always excited to see people tagging for a diverse range of fanworks.

But you might not be aware that the tags we've wrangled go further than just describing the media type and content. Once the filters are reenabled, you'll be able to use the additional tags we've made canonical to further filter those media types by format or length - click on one of the fanwork types linked above, and browse the list, or use the advanced search.

For Fanart, there are tags that describe medium, such as Crayons, or Digital Art. For podfic and video, there are tags which describe the audio and video formats that it is available in, such as Video Format: AVI or Audio Format: MP3. For podfic specifically, there are tags which indicate the length of the recorded work, such as Podfic Length: 0-10 Minutes, through to Podfic Length: 15-20 hours.

Wranglers will add more to the canonical tag lists as we find them, but if there's a media related tag that you'd find useful to be filterable, let us know through a support request or by tweeting us at @ao3_wranglers!

Streaming podfic

We hit a snag recently with our podfic provision when Google disabled their Audio Player, which we were using to enable people to stream podfic. The good news is that we've snagged a copy of the audio player code to host on our own servers, so this will return in our next code deploy. When the deploy has taken place, you'll once more be able to embed podfic, using the following embed code:

<embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" flashvars="audioUrl=MP3_FILE_URL" src="" width="400" height="270" quality="best" > </embed>

(Essentially, if you were previously using the Google player, you'll just be replacing the Google url with Apologies for the inconvenience in the meantime!

Support superstars

The recent increase in users on the site has resulted in a corresponding increase in Support tickets. The fantastic Support team have been amazing at keeping up with all the tickets and giving users the help they need. Their turnaround is really quick and we know that people appreciate their hard work - thanks Support!

Support staffer Yshyn wrote a great post on Support ticket stats which gives an insight into what kinds of questions people ask and how many tickets we receive. One of the things which has been particularly nice for Support recently is the number of tickets which have included some positive feedback for the site, even when it's been experiencing problems. They always pass this onto the other teams and it makes everyone's day brighter - thank you lovely users!

Roadmap, feature requests, and plans

We try to keep users informed on what's going on with the site, although it can be lots of hard work! You can see the details of all our code updates to date in our release notes. Awesome AD&T staffer mumble is currently working really hard to update our very, very outdated Roadmap: this is important as a way of helping us focus our work, and a useful way of giving users an idea of what we have planned. We've also recently started using a new tool, Trello, to manage feature requests from users. Like our codebase on Github and our issues list on Google Code, this is open to the public, so you can now see what's already been requested and vote for the things you'd like! You can also see proposals that were rejected, and why. Support staffer Sam wrote up a handy introduction to our internal tools, and there's also a new AO3 Internal Tools FAQ.

We have limited resources, so we can't always introduce requested features as fast as we'd like (right now, we're focusing on site stability and trying to avoid too many new things). However, we hope that these tools will help people see what's in the works, and we're excited to have found a tool (Trello) which makes it easier for people to let us know which features they're most interested in.

Questions, comments?

We welcome feedback from users! If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments of the latest news post, or send in a Support request (if you're reporting a bug, please send that to Support, as they're super efficient - comments on our news posts sometimes get overlooked).

This post by Lucy


Survey Sunday #6: OTW Website

Published: 2012-07-29 06:46:50 -0400

A short update on Survey Sundays

We've been working on a rough schedule for our Survey Sunday reports to give the committees involved time to review their data and make sure we systematically cover all questions. Unfortunately, this means that we may not be able to answer your Survey Sunday inquiries in a timely fashion, as the related post might be scheduled for weeks or months off. We've done our best to push posts which people showed particular interest in to the top of the pile, but this hasn't always been possible. Although we warned about possible delays in our announcement post, we wanted to give you a specific heads up about this.

In short: we're still very happy to take questions, but we will integrate them into our regular releases, which might mean long delays. Thanks for your patience!

About the answers

Today we’ll be answering questions #84 to #88. These relate to the OTW website ( usage, design and content. We've prioritized preparing this data so that our webmasters can factor the results into their planned OTW website redesign. All questions presented in this post are complete and include final numbers, including the last three open (i.e., free-text response only) questions.

It’s important to note that everyone who replied to Question #84 saying that they hadn’t read the site before or that they didn't remember having done so would have skipped all the other site-related questions and automatically been redirected to the last question in the survey, #89, though this fact will also be mentioned when relevant in the corresponding sections.

Additional notes on Freeform Questions #86-#88

In these questions users were given a text box in which to enter their opinions. This type of question obviously requires more time and labor to answer than one with limited choices. This fact, along with the skipping logic, the fact that these questions were at the end of a long survey, and possibly a lack of awareness of the OTW website likely contributed to these questions having a small number of answers compared to the rest of the survey. (Only 4-5% of total survey respondents answered these questions.) Many categories thus represented the opinions of only a very small portion of the respondent pool, so we have chosen not to represent these results as percentages, preferring to focus on the actual counts.

We categorized the answers to these questions by assigning one or more categories to each (similar to tagging) rather than simply dividing responses into distinct bins. Some comments were quite lengthy and included several different ideas, suggestions, and concerns. For this reason, the number of answers in each category will often add up to a number greater than the total number of respondents who answered a question.

84. Have you read the OTW website ( before?

Answer Options Response count Response percentage
Yes 1,772 35.7%
I don't remember 1,145 23.1%
No 2,046 41.2%
Answered question 4,963
Skipped question 1,023

82.9% (4,963) of the people who took the survey answered this question. People who answered either "I don't remember" or "No" were immediately redirected to the last question in the survey (question #89), while people who skipped this question, or answered "Yes", were directed to the following questions related to the site.

Only 35.7% of the people who answered this question chose "Yes", indicating that they had read the OTW website. 41.2% said "No", and 23.1% said they didn't remember.

graph for question 84, description in the text above.

85. Based on your previous visits to the OTW website (, how strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Answer Options Strongly agree Agree No particular opinion Disagree Strongly disagree Response Count
The OTW website made it easy to find the information I was looking for. 167 748 640 127 24 1,706
The OTW website is easy to navigate. 178 776 600 126 22 1,702
The OTW website met my expectations as a user. 185 766 648 79 18 1,696
Answered question 1,707
Skipped question 4,279

Only 28.5% (1,707) of survey respondents gave an opinion on at least one of the statements. Of the 4,279 people who skipped this question, 3,191 did so automatically by answering "No" or "I don't remember" to question #84. This means that 18.2% of the people who took the survey skipped this question purposefully. Taking into account that only 2,795 people would have seen this question (1,772 who answered "Yes" on question #84 and 1,023 who skipped question #84), about 38.9% of the people who saw this question skipped it.

In general, response count for each statement was nearly identical, and a high percentage of people skipped the question purposefully compared to other sections and questions. The percentage of people expressing a particular opinion on each statement had few variations. Given that the statements are related (particularly "easy to navigate" and "made it easy to find the information I was looking for" – the third option is more ambiguous), this is not overly surprising.

Below we'll analyse each statement separately.

The OTW website made it easy to find the information I was looking for.

Answer Options Response Count Response percentage
Strongly agree 167 9.8%
Agree 748 43.8%
No particular opinion 640 37.5%
Disagree 127 7.4%
Strongly disagree 24 1.4%
Answered question 1,706
Skipped question 4,280

28.5% (1,706) of people who took the survey gave an opinion about this statement. This is almost 100% of the people who answered question #85 in any form (1,707).

53.6% (915) agreed in some manner (whether strongly or not), 37.5% (640) expressed neutrality by choosing "no particular opinion", and 8.8% (151) disagreed in some manner (whether strongly or not).

graph for question 85 first answer, description in the text above.

The OTW website is easy to navigate.

Answer Options Response Count Response percentage
Strongly agree 178 10.5%
Agree 776 45.6%
No particular opinion 600 35.3%
Disagree 126 7.4%
Strongly disagree 22 1.3%
Answered question 1,702
Skipped question 4,284

28.5% (1,702) of people who took the Survey gave their opinion about this statement (about 99.7% of the people who answered this question in some manner).

53.1% (954) agreed in some manner (whether strongly or not), 35.3% (600) expressed neutrality by choosing the "no particular opinion" option, and 8.7% (148) disagreed in some manner (whether strongly or not).

graph for question 85 second answer, description in the text above.

The OTW website met my expectations as a user.

Answer Options Response Count Response percentage
Strongly agree 185 10.9%
Agree 766 45.2%
No particular opinion 648 38.2%
Disagree 79 4.7%
Strongly disagree 18 1.1%
Answered question 1696
Skipped question 4290

28.3% (1,696) of people who took the Survey gave their opinion about this statement; this is about 99.4% of the people who answered this question.

56.1% (951) agreed in some manner (whether strongly or not), 38.2% (648) expressed neutrality by choosing the "no particular opinion" option, and 5.8% (97) disagreed in some manner (whether strongly or not).

graph for question 85 third answer, description in the text above.

#86 - What should we improve about the website, in your opinion?

Answer Category Response count Response percentage
No Opinion 114 30.4%
Mistaken Site 14 3.7%
No Improvements Necessary 24 6.4%
Suggested Improvements/Stated Issues 223 59.5%
Answered question 375
Skipped question 5,611

Question #86 was first of the 3 free-form answer questions in the OTW website section, and used the same skipping logic as 85. Thus, only 2,795 people saw the question. Out of this number only 375 (13.42% of those who saw it) answered it in any form. (See the note at the beginning of this post for a description of how answers to this question were categorized.)

Out of 375 respondents, 114 answered to clarify that they had no opinion, 14 gave feedback for a different site (often AO3), 24 stated that no improvements were necessary and that the site was fine the way it was, and 223 pointed out issues with the site or offered suggestions to make it better.

graph for question 86, description in the text above.

Suggested Improvements

Answer Category Response count
Organization/Navigation 100
Searching and tagging improvements 40
Missing Content 33
Front page content and general page layout related issues 33
Visual concerns 29
Content Presentation 26
Other 15
Total Number of Responses with Suggested Improvements/Stated Issues 223

223 survey takers left comments suggesting site improvements or describing site issues.

The largest number of comments involved the overall organization and navigation of the site (100 answers) and the navigation/searchability of the blog (40 answers). Users expressed frustration with not being able to find the content they were looking for, even though that content is present on the site. Some users were only able to find the information after a Google search of the site, others said they reached it in ways they did not expect or that they wouldn't have found the content if they didn't know it was there in first place. There were several suggestions that information on volunteering should be made easier to access and find, and that the tagging of posts should be improved.

Another common theme was the organization of the front page and the general layout (33 answers). Here one of the biggest points was users not seeing the search box. Some users noted it was hard to find, others asked for a search box, having overlooked it. Other frequent topics included adding some static information in addition to the blog and making the path to access project links and information shorter.

A third common type of feedback was requests for improvements to visual aspects of the site (29 answers). These fell into two main themes. The most frequent request was a review of the color scheme of the site both for accessibility and aesthetic reasons. Others requested that the OTW website layout be more lively, with images.

A fourth common topic included missing content and content presentation. 33 comments involved content being missing or hard to find, including information about the OTW, its projects and committees, and its finances, as well as information about helping the Org by volunteering, joining, or donating. Note that some users identified multiple types of missing content, giving a total of 67 answers.

26 comments were related to content presentation. Within the content presentation feedback two frequent issues mentioned were language clarity on the textual content, and a request for more charts, videos, pictures and general visual cues to make the content more appealing and easier to read

The remaining 15 comments covered a variety of topics not mentioned above, such as improvements to the calendar feature, performance issues, search engine optimization and accessibility.

graph for question 86 suggested improvements breakdown, description in the text above.

Breakdown of missing/hard to find content mentioned

Answer Category Response count
Projects/committees 21
About the Org/about the site/financial information 19
Volunteering/membership/donation 16
Elections 11
Total Number of Responses with Suggested Improvements/Stated Issues 223

While the nature of missing content was the focus of question #87, several respondents specified types of content they had tried to access but could not find, had difficulty finding, or felt could be clarified further in answer to this question. The most commonly mentioned content was information on projects and committees (21 answers), information about the OTW as a whole, such as general structure and finances (19 answers), information on volunteering, donating and membership (16 answers) and elections (11 answers).

graph for question 86 missing/hard to find content breakdown, description in the text above.

87. What information would you expect to find on the OTW website that's not currently there?

Answer Category Response count Response percentage
N/A - No Opinion 98 38.7%
Mistaken Site 6 2.4%
Nothing particular/all set 43 17.0%
Suggested content/improvements to content 106 41.9%
Answered question 253
Skipped question 5,733

Question #87 used the same skipping logic as #85 and #86; thus, only 2,795 people saw the question. 253 (less than 10%) of them decided to answer it.

Of the 253, 98 of them answered to clarify they had no opinion on the topic, 6 mistakenly gave feedback on specific OTW projects (often AO3), and 43 answered that they didn't think anything in particular was missing. 106 answers contained suggestions to add new or improve existing content.

graph for question 87, description in the text above.

Nature of content improvements requested

Answer Category Response count
Has missing content/can use more information 87
There but hard to find 4
Can use more updates 21
Total number of answers with content suggestions 106

Although the question was specifically asking about missing content, the responses covered a variety of concerns. 87 answers mentioned missing content or asked for more detailed content. 4 answers asked for more frequent updates to particular content. 21 respondents stated that the information they were looking for was there but hard to find.

graph for question 87 nature of content improvements requested, description in the text above.

Breakdown by type of expected information not found

Answer Category Response count
Other topics 46
Legal 18
Volunteering/donating/membership 17
Finances 15
Project 13
About the Org/its structure 12
Committes/Board 11
Total number of answers with content suggestions 106

The topic with the greatest number of requests for more information was the legality of fandom and previous cases (18 answers). It is important to note that half of these (9 answers) were specifically requesting information on legal issues with an international scope. Second most frequent request on information was volunteering and donating. Users were looking for more information on volunteering and making donations (17 answers). Specific requests included more current and detailed information on what types of volunteers are needed, what new volunteers should expect, and what is the difference between becoming a member, volunteering, and donating.

Other common requests were more detailed information on OTW finances and how donations are put to use (15 answers), more detailed and up to date information on projects (13 answers), more information on how the OTW is structured, and information on committees and the Board (11 answers).

The remaining answers contained a variety of content requests such as more information on staffers and volunteers as people, FAQs, translations, resources for existing volunteers, or better access/merging of information originating from various OTW communications outlets.

graph for question 87 breakdown of information expected but not found on the OTW site, description in the text above.

88. Do you have any other feedback about the OTW website?

Answer Category Response count Response percentage
N/A - No opinion/no further comments 127 54.3%
Mistaken site/off topic 13 5.6%
Further suggestions/comments 94 40.2%
Answered question 234
Skipped question 5,752

Question #88 asked for additional comments on the OTW website on topics that weren't covered by the previous two questions. Since the question was under the same skipping logic as #85, #86 and #87, only 2,795 people saw it. Out of these, 234 (less than 10%) chose to answer this question.

Of these answers, more than half (127 answers) were to state that the respondent had no further comment or that they had no opinion. Answers that only referred to previous questions by number (e.g., "what I said in question 86") with no further comments were also categorized here.

13 of the comments were feedback on other OTW projects, general commentary on the OTW, or other off topic content such as frustration with the length of the survey (this was the question-before-last of 89 questions).

94 answers included further suggestions or general comments on the website.

graph for question 88, description in the text above.

Nature of feedback on the website

Answer Category Response count
Specific criticism or suggestions 53
No other issues/overall happy 30
Thank you and encouragement 14
General dissatisfaction 5
Positive comments on specific features or aspects 4
Total number of answers with further comment 94

The most common type of feedback given in response to this question was to suggest improvements to the site (53 answers). The most common topics mentioned for improvement were organization and issues about the look of the website.

30 users used this space to state that regardless of their previous suggestions or comments they were overall happy with the site. 14 users thanked the website team or sent them encouragements. 5 answers contained non-specific dissatisfaction with the site as a whole, and 4 answers included comments on particular aspects of the site that worked well for the respondent.

graph for question 88 breakdown by nature of feedback, description in the text above.


Happy SysAdmin Day!

Published: 2012-07-27 11:04:27 -0400

Happy SysAdmin Day! Here at the OTW, we'd like to take the opportunity to say thank you to our fantastic Systems team!

Systems work tirelessly behind the scenes to make everything work smoothly for the whole organisation.

What you see

Screenshot of a tweet reading 'The #AO3 will have some planned downtime on Thursday 26 July for some software upgrades:'

What Systems do

Maintain the servers for the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore,, Transformative Works and Cultures, Open Doors, and our internal wiki; install server software; arrange the installation of new hardware; find solutions when Fanlore is hit by a wave of spam; optimise performance on the AO3; wake up in the middle of the night to fix things when our servers melt; maintain and administer web development environments for our trainee coders; research and consult on hardware purchases; answer endless technical questions so Communications can post and tell people what's happening; pull stats to help us understand more details about our projects; set up new software tools; and much, much more.

Because of Systems, fandom can own the servers!

Our Systems committee are super-duper awesome and make it possible for all our projects to exist! <3 THANK YOU for your awesome work and all that you do!

Go go Systems monkeys!

Image of awesome dancing monkey with caption 'Systems mokeys rule, oh yes'


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