AO3 News

The OTW's Financial Future

Published: 2014-11-02 11:18:56 -0500

The October drive was a massive success thanks to your generosity! The staff and volunteers of the Organization for Transformative Works are in awe not only of the amount of money raised but also the thoughtful discussions that took place during the drive.

One question raised in those discussions is: what are we going to do with the extra money? We were also asked why, if our goal was US$70,000, didn’t we stop there?

There are multifaceted answers to both. The shortest and most direct have been given in the comments on the news posts for the drive; we’ll invest more money in servers, in staff training, and in consultants to back up our all-volunteer staff. Raising money beyond our initial goal allows us to do all of those things along with paying our bills until our next scheduled drive in April (and beyond). It also lets us grow our "rainy day" reserve for emergencies.

The longer answer means digging into a little of the structure of OTW and the history of our fundraising.

As you saw in post seven of the drive, a nonprofit organization like the OTW has many expenses. About 70% of our budget goes to hosting, servers, and other things to keep the AO3 up and running. The other 30% is spread among our other projects, services, meetings and general administrative costs.

While we’ve always been able to cover our expenses, there have been times when it was close. AO3, our major expense, has grown exponentially—and quite frankly, we weren’t sure what to expect in the early years. Now we have a better handle on our needs, and over the past three years, we’ve refined our fundraising plans to be more mindful of growing our income to match the growth of our expenses. Think of it as the OTW going from "living from paycheck to paycheck" to having a regular household budget, a safety net, and some extra funds to be able to do more good.

Our goal of US$70,000 was what we thought was attainable for us. Our last October drive had raised US$52,381, so we were prepared to fall short of the goal, even if we had been able to bring in more than last year.

We were not prepared for the overwhelming success of this drive. In fact, we expected to have to dip into our reserve fund to get us through the end of the year and help keep us afloat until our next scheduled drive, in April 2015. This isn’t uncommon for a nonprofit, especially one as young as OTW, but also not a strategy we could sustain long-term. Discussions began in August about expanding our fundraising plan to include major donor solicitations, more methods for monthly donations, and adding one or two special events to supplement our annual drives.

We will still be looking into those things, because they are part of a solid and diverse fundraising strategy, but the immediate pressure has eased thanks to nearly 8,000 donor who came through for us this October. Simply put, our finances are stronger than ever, and that means strengthening all of the projects under the OTW umbrella.

Anticipated expenses, in brief:

  • US$45,000 will be used to add additional servers in 2014, with at least US$100,000 in additional machinery in 2015.
  • More servers mean more space for colocation and higher power costs for those servers, expected to total US$36,000 or more in 2015, with an additional US$25,000 for a tertiary colocation site, analytics, and domain registrations.
  • An improved ticketing system for our Abuse and Support teams will cost an additional US$400 per month, a total of US$4,800 a year.
  • Training seminars and workshops for staff will be available from a pool of at least US$7,500, with another US$7,500 set aside for travel, lodging, and registration fees for presentations at fan cons, academic conferences, and other events.
  • An in-person meeting for the Board will take place in October, with possible attendance by chairs and/or other personnel, at an average of US$950 for travel, lodging and meals per person, estimated at US$15,000.
  • US$8,000 will cover routine administrative expenses, and other program expenses will require a minimum of US$23,000.
  • A nine-month cash reserve for emergencies of approximately US$72,000 will be maintained.

Beyond these immediate expenses, it’s difficult to pin down specific expenditures for 2015. As we mentioned above, we expected to go into next year with a smaller reserve and with modest growth in our income. Most of our concrete plans were built around those numbers. Committees are being asked to submit additional requests in November, but there are a few areas where we expect to increase funding.

We’ve talked about the immediate impact for AO3 in terms of additional servers and rack space, contract employees, and training. Fanlore and Open Doors will see some tangential benefits just from sharing the same server space. The upgrade in software for AO3 Support and Abuse will also make it easier to respond to user inquiries about Open Doors’ preservation work.

Our other two major projects, Transformative Works and Cultures and the legal advocacy work of our Legal committee, run on significantly smaller budgets than the AO3. Our legal team incurs filing fees from time to time along with the costs of traveling to hearings and meetings related to fair use. The staff of TWC, our academic journal, travel to academic conferences across the U.S.; another expense is the annual registration fee for the journal. The budget surplus created by this drive will allow them to represent OTW at more events, and for members of both committees to join Development and Membership—the committee behind our fundraising—in their plans for increased outreach at fan cons.

All of our projects and committees will benefit as well from more money to support staff and volunteers in attending more trainings, seminars, and webinars. Strengthening professional skills and connections across the OTW has always been a priority, whether it’s taking advantage of a management workshop for Volunteers and Recruiting or sending staff to participate in events like AdaCamp.

All of these areas are places in which we can grow thanks to the success of this drive and the generosity of our members. We expect to give an update on both the annual budget and our fundraising plan for 2015 by early January, so watch this space.

We’ll have another fundraising goal in April, and we hope that fandom will come through for us again. Remember: we’re only as strong and as vital as you, our users and members, make us.

Here’s some more details for all the number geeks among you:

Monthly expenses, recurring:
Regular monthly expenses as of 30 October: US$5,497.20
Monthly average expenses estimate for 2015: US$8,066.66
(Includes server colocation, routine program and administrative expenses paid every month)

Total anticipated expenses from 1 January to 30 March:
First quarter expenses, 2015 adjusted estimate: US$84,949.67
(Includes regular monthly expenses plus US$60,000 server purchase and preparation for the April fundraising drive; minimum amount we must have on hand)

Reserves:
9 months of reserves, 2015 estimate: US$72,599.94
(Based on regular monthly expenses; amount held to "keep the doors open" as we are, without growth, during emergencies)

Expenses plus reserves
First quarter expenses plus reserve, 2015 estimate: US$157,549.60
(Amount we must have on hand on 1 January to carry us through to 30 March and maintain 9 months of reserve funding)

Surplus talk:
Carry over: US$197,544.09
(Assumes we meet November and December fundraising goals and spend remainder of 2014 budget; this is the total amount of money we’ll have on hand on 1 January)

Surplus: US$39,994.48
(Amount remaining after 2014 budget is met, first quarter expenses, and reserve goal are met)

Preliminary budget talk, 2015:
We expect our 2015 budget will be (rough estimate): US$230,000
This number includes hardware purchases as well as regular monthly expenses, in-person meeting, staff development and outreach fund, and more.

Thank you for your support—your generosity makes our work possible.

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Release 0.9.33: Change Log

Published: 2014-11-02 09:39:14 -0500

Credits

  • Coders: Emily, Enigel, james_, sarken
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, Enigel, james_, Scott
  • Testers: Lady Oscar, mumble, Runt, Scott

Details

  • The option to remove requests or offers while filling in a challenge sign-up wasn't working when there were required tag fields on the sign-up form. Now it works again.
  • There was some old bookmark code hanging around, not doing anything. Now it's gone.
  • The "Bookmark External Work" button was available to visitors on the bookmark listings for tags. Only logged-in users can create bookmarks, so we removed the button.
  • When browsing your subscriptions page on mobile devices with small screens, the links for accessing only series, user, or work subscriptions weren't working when tapped. Now they work.
  • The little tooltip pop-up for the header's search field (suggesting possible keywords and sort options) only worked for users navigating by mouse or trackpad. Now it will work for people using keyboards, screen readers, or touch screens as well. Additionally, now it only appears when the search field is selected, rather than popping up whenever the cursor is nearby.
  • We used an HTML attribute to label many things in various listings on the site -- for example, the titles of works. Unfortunately, some screen readers read the content of this attribute instead of the actual text, which made it sound like every work on the Archive was named "Title." We've removed this attribute from everywhere it could impact screenreaders in this way.
  • When an admin went to a user's dashboard, any restricted works the user had posted were hidden from the admin. Now the admin can access those works from the user's dashboard, just like regular logged-in users can.
  • We moved to an even stronger encryption method for safely storing passwords.
  • Previewing a work for the first time automatically creates a draft. However, subsequent previews don't update that draft unless the user explicitly chooses "Save Without Posting". We removed the message that implied otherwise. Remember, don't use our posting form as your only writing tool! Browsers can crash, things can go wrong, your draft might get eaten. Always have a backup somewhere else.
  • We considerably spruced up the README file used for displaying information about the AO3 software project on GitHub.com.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

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Boys in Chains moves in with the AO3!

Published: 2014-10-31 12:18:24 -0400

logo with the words 'Boys in Chains' and 'the slave!fic archive'

Boys in Chains, a multi-fandom archive for both fiction and art, with a focus on stories about emotional bonds between people of different ranks or status, is moving in with the Archive of Our Own (AO3). And to reflect its openness to femslash, het, and gen, its name will be changing to Chains: The Powerfic Archive. In this post:

Background explanation

Boys in Chains opened in 2000 as a m/m slash slavefic archive. It later expanded its content to become an archive for works representing power imbalances, including slavefic, prisonfic, hookerfic and fic with BDSM themes. It welcomed fan fiction and original fiction in the categories of m/m slash, f/f slash, gen, and het as well as yaoi, yuri, and gay/lesbian fiction. As well as fiction, it also had a gallery of fan art depicting similar themes.

On the AO3, Chains: The Powerfic Archive will be a separate, searchable collection with its own identity for all of the fanworks that were housed on the original archive. We will begin importing works from Boys in Chains to the AO3 collection in December 2014.

What does this mean for creators who had work on Boys in Chains?

This is the part where we ask for your help!

1. If you already have an AO3 account and have posted your Boys in Chains works there, please contact Open Doors with your Boys in Chains pseud(s) and e-mail address(es), so that we won’t import your works. (You can mass add works to the new collection on the AO3.)

2. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one to upload your works yourself, please contact Open Doors with your Boys in Chains pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to.

3. If you would NOT like your works imported, please contact Open Doors with your Boys in Chains pseud(s) and e-mail address(es) so that we will not add them. (If you would not mind them being preserved but do not want your name attached to them any longer, please let us know that too—we can orphan your works so that present and future fans can still enjoy them.)

All works imported on a creator’s behalf will be attributed with their name in the summary of the work, and will include a note about how to claim the work in the future. As we import works, we will e-mail notifications to the address associated with the work.

All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly-viewable if you choose. After 3 months, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors.

If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your Boys in Chains works, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's great; if not, we will work with the Chains archive mod to confirm your claims.)

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ page, contact the Open Doors committee, or leave a comment on this post and we'll respond as soon as we can. - The Open Doors team Share your memories of Boys in Chains on Fanlore and keep its story going for future generations--contributions are welcome from all fans! (New to wiki editing? No worries, just visit this page.)

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Releases 0.9.30 - 0.9.32: Change Log

Published: 2014-10-29 15:56:11 -0400

Credits

  • Coders: Elz, Lady Oscar, sarken
  • Code reviewers: james_, Scott
  • Testers: Lady Oscar, mumble, Scott

Details

  • There was a "Bookmark" button on user dashboards, implying that you could bookmark another user, although no such functionality exists yet. We have removed the button and the "Coming soon!" page for now.
  • The log of admin activities (used primarily by Abuse personnel) was returning errors if a page contained an admin account that had been deleted. It now displays the activity with an "Admin deleted" note.
  • The log also wasn't accessible from the main Admin menu. Now it is!
  • We deployed a temporary donation page (put together by Development & Membership staffer Kristen!) for our October Drive, and made some edits halfway through the Drive week. Thank you all so much for your donations!
  • Relatedly, we reached our goal for the Drive after only two days and had to make some on-the-spot edits to our "progress bar" code to allow for stretch goals. Next year we'll be better prepared!

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

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Our Future

Published: 2014-10-26 11:52:02 -0400

Banner with seven circles and a set of speech bubbles in the seventh one, reading 'Seven Years, Seven Wonders, Organization for Transformative Works, October 19-26 2014 Membership Drive'

Throughout the week, you’ve seen that we need you, that we’re made in fandom, that we're ad-free, that we protect free speech, that we respect each other, that we advocate for fans and fanworks, and that we are our community.

We hope that this week you got a more complete understanding of the wonder that is the OTW. We talked about how there are seven wonders of the OTW, but that’s just scratching the surface. We have thousands and thousands of wonders here — each and every one of you who has touched or has been touched by one of our projects is a wonder.

Whenever you record podfics, make fanart, create and/or edit wiki pages, write fic or meta, beta, consume, or do any of a thousand other fannish things, you are changing the world forever.

Part of our mission as an organization is to preserve fan culture. We want the amazing culture that we all have built to be remembered and honored, as all history should be.

Whether you are able to financially support us or not, you are part of this history. With your help, we will be here for a long time. And this drive, you’ve really come through and shown your support for the work we do every day, so thank you!

Twice a year, we come together to ask you, our community, to help us keep going. This drive we made history by breaking through our goal of US$70,000 to reach US$164,625.58. With your help, this was the best October we’ve ever had as an organization!

As this drive has been so successful, we understand that some of our donors would like to know how these funds will be spent. Because we have been as surprised as many of you to see this amazing total, various committees and our Board will be working together to give you some answers with a post made here next Sunday (November 2).

What we can tell you today is what it means to us to have received this vote of support. Not everyone knows that the OTW is run 100% by volunteers, which is the biggest reason why we are able to do what we do on the budget we do it on. Although that work is done without any financial reward, your support gives us that much more energy and determination to keep making the OTW better for you. Thank you.

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Community

Published: 2014-10-25 11:52:56 -0400

Banner with seven circles and a set of speech bubbles in the seventh one, reading 'Seven Years, Seven Wonders, Organization for Transformative Works, October 19-26 2014 Membership Drive'

The other day you saw the kind of awesome things our volunteers do. Today, we focus on YOU, the community, who make our projects wonderful.

When using an OTW project, you might not know that everything we do is so interconnected. All of our projects do unique things, but they are part of one big organization.

Below you’ll find an infographic with interesting stats about Fanlore and the Archive of Our Own. All the stats are based on activities you, our community members, do. You may have seen some basic stats from AO3 — such as 1,329,304 fanworks and 417,711 users — but have you ever looked deeper? Ever wondered how many works per day are posted, or how many series there are? Wonder no further!

As you read this, please remember that we exist entirely because of our community. Without you guys there is no OTW; we're all in this together. Take a look at the graphic below and know that your donations to the OTW help support our vital and brilliant community.

How Well Do You Know The OTW? Fanlore - 31,277 articles, 545,208 total edits, 39,501 edits in 2014. - Fanhackers - 1,879 articles in fan studies bibliography, 155 added this year. Archive of Our Own - 1,650 works on average posted and 4,075 works updated with new chapters every day. This year we set a record: 10 million page views in one day! That's about 7,000 page views per minute! 56,013,426 total kudos given,28,226,508 kudos given in 2014 alone.  Legal Advocacy - 
Submitted 70,684 words of legal and policy arguments this year in 7 public documents to 5 governmental entities in 2014. Transformative Works and Cultures - 2014: 51 essays in 3 issues. Since 2007: 294 essays in 17 issues. What does all this cost? In 2014 our annual budget is US$ 221,863.44. It costs US$ 155,551,19 to run AO3 for one year. US$ 17.76 pays for one hour of reading on AO3. That's 120 drabbles at 200 words/minute!
US$ 75,000 will be needed to replace old servers and expand capacity in 2015. Of the total budget, 3% funds our Legal Advocacy, Open Doors, Fanlore, and Transformative Works and Cultures Projects; 4% covers administrative costs; 7% allows for outreach, membership development, and fundraising activities; 16% provides opportunities for professional development and training for all other personnel; 70% goes directly to servers, colocation, and staff development for AO3. Help support our work!

With your help, we can keep our projects running and growing more and more every day — please make a donation.

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Advocacy

Published: 2014-10-24 12:06:31 -0400

Banner with seven circles and a scale in the sixth one, reading 'Seven Years, Seven Wonders, Organization for Transformative Works, October 19-26 2014 Membership Drive'

Many fans discovered the OTW while exploring the Archive of Our Own or Fanlore, but not all our visitors realize that the Organization for Transformative Works is an advocacy group, or what that might mean.

To the OTW, it means that we don't just provide spaces to protect and preserve fanworks. It means that we also add our voices to public conversations about fandom and fanworks. We speak out in order to help improve public policies and perceptions about fanworks and remix culture that affect us as fans. Your support helps us to speak up in more ways and in more places about issues that affect us all.

The OTW feels it's especially important to advocate for female-driven fan spaces. Far too often, modern fandom is seen as a largely male domain, be it in the areas of sports fandom, traditional sci-fi fandom, or newer fandoms. We believe in the value of online fanwork-based communities in which female, queer, genderqueer, POC, and other marginalized fans congregate.

To us, advocating for these spaces doesn’t just start and stop with online outreach. That’s why we are focusing more on doing outreach in real-life spaces like conventions. This year, we've sent OTW representatives to Comic-Con and Worldcon, and we're working on developing even more resources for anyone who wants to represent OTW or its projects at conventions.

We also recognize that outreach is sometimes larger than just fandom: that's why we recently sponsored an event at Dragon Con with EFF to advocate for online privacy rights. We also have had presences at other fandom-friendly events like AdaCamp, an open source training camp aimed at women in tech and open source culture. And, as always, through our legal work we have advocated for empowered fan spaces and greater creative freedom under current copyright laws. These activities allow our volunteers the chance to gain confidence in their skills and abilities while improving the OTW’s ability to do its work.

We believe that our advocacy helps us create a more empowered fan space for ourselves and our community. By making a donation to the OTW, you can ensure that we can continue to use our voices to speak out for fanworks for years to come.

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Protection

Published: 2014-10-23 11:54:20 -0400

Banner with seven circles and a lock in the fifth one, reading 'Seven Years, Seven Wonders, Organization for Transformative Works, October 19-26 2014 Membership Drive'

One of the best things about the Organization for Transformative Works is that we refuse to treat members of fandom like commodities.

Increasingly, fandom is coming into the public view — not just because of its creative energy, but because of its perceived value to creators, producers, and marketers. Your support helps the OTW advocate for fandom as a free space separate from commercial interests.

Various creative industries are courting fans, but not always with an understanding of or concern for fans' own interests. Fans are more than free labor, and fanworks are more than a potential new revenue source.

The Organization for Transformative Works was formed as a response to experience with too many services that proved vulnerable to commercial exploitation and control, or even to disappearance, without concern for the fans who’d built communities using those services. The OTW has long maintained the stance that fandom should be an empowered space for its members, which means that there should be fandom spaces that are free of commercial exploitation, influence, and control. Diversity gives us strength, and that diversity includes preserving noncommercial fanworks. From our mission statement: "We are proactive and innovative in protecting and defending our work from commercial exploitation and legal challenge."

One way we do that is through the work of our Legal committee in advocating for fans and liberal interpretations of fair use where fanwork is concerned. We also work to protect transformative creators, whether it's through giving individual fans advice about how to deal with copyright and other legal issues; through participation in conversations on copyright law and the DMCA; through warning fans about potentially exploitative scenarios; or through offering fans information and answering questions.

By making a donation to the OTW today, you can help us continue to do our part to help keep fandom a vibrant environment for you to create and enjoy fanwork freely.

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