AO3 News

Help the OTW Tag Wrangle and Fundraise!

Published: 2015-01-12 12:32:24 -0500

Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter's arm with an OTW logo on it and the words 'OTW Recruitment'

It's a new year and our committees are hard at work on their plans for 2015. Many of those plans involve needing to bring in new volunteers to assist with our projects. Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Communications Graphics Volunteers - closing 19 January UTC
  • Development & Membership Staff - closing 19 January UTC
  • Tag Wrangling Volunteers - closing 19 January UTC (or after 50 applications are received)

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist volunteers -(at)- transformativeworks -(dot)- org in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.

If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Communications Graphics Volunteers

Communications has primary responsibility for internal and external communication for the OTW. We manage the OTW blog and social media outlets and assist other teams in managing project-specific communication. We’re currently looking for someone to create graphics for use throughout our posting sites. If you have experience with graphic design or fanart, click through to learn more about the role and apply to join as a Communications Volunteer.
Applications are due 12AM UTC on 19 January 2015.

Development & Membership Staff

The Development & Membership committee (DevMem) coordinates the OTW's fundraising and membership-building activities. Our work includes planning membership drives, designing a convention outreach process, answering questions from donors, and exploring new fundraising opportunities. If you have skills and interests in fundraising, writing or designing promotional content, or customer service, consider applying to join our staff. Applications are due 12AM UTC on 19 January 2015.

Tag Wrangling Volunteers

The Tag Wranglers are responsible for helping to keep the millions of tags on AO3 in some kind of order! Wranglers follow internal guidelines to choose the tags that appear in the filters and auto-complete, which link related works together. (This makes it easier to browse and search on the archive, whether that’s Steve/Tony with tentacles or g-rated Rose/Kanaya fluff.)

If you’re an experienced AO3 user who likes organizing, working in teams, or excuses to fact-check your favorite fandoms, you might enjoy tag wrangling! To join us, click through to the job description and application form.

Please note: due to (amazing!) interest in wrangling, we’re currently looking for wranglers for specific fandoms only. See the application for which fandoms are in need. Applications are due 12AM UTC on 19 January 2015 (or before 50 applications are received).


Releases 0.9.40 - 0.9.41: Change Log

Published: 2015-01-11 08:00:49 -0500


  • Coders: Elz, Enigel, james_, Marie Markwell, Sarken, Scott
  • Code reviewers: Elz, Enigel, james_, Sarken
  • Testers: Anika Kabit, Lady Oscar, Matty, mugenmine, mumble, pendrecarc, Sarken



  • It was previously possible for suspended accounts to request new invitations and access the ones already granted. We're now blocking those accounts from using their invitations (e.g. to invite friends or create a new account) and from requesting more.
  • The big chunk of code responsible for handling accounts and user-related actions had become unwieldy and messy over time. It has now been refactored--cleaned up and reorganized--to adhere to best practices.


  • Challenges that were set to "moderated" (i.e. works can be submitted, but must be approved by a mod before they appear) were not included on the Open Challenges page. Now they are.
  • Previously, if you went to the posting form and used one of the Open Assignments checkboxes to fulfill a gift exchange assignment, but the gift exchange collection was closed, you'd get a 500 error. Now you will be redirected back to the posting form.


  • To help battle spam works (see our post Urgent Anti-Spam Measures for context), we've started recording the IP addresses from which works are posted, with the information only visible to site admins, e.g. Abuse personnel. This allows us to suspend spam accounts (accounts specifically set up to flood the Archive with advertisements) more efficiently.
  • On the "Import New Work" page, the link to the relevant Importing & Mass Editing FAQ was broken, as it hadn't been adjusted to the new FAQ structure yet. It works now!
  • The button for displaying a work in individual chapters, rather than all on one page, was renamed from "View Chapter-by-chapter" to "Chapter by Chapter" for button labeling consistency.
  • The "Subscribe to the feed" button on work lists by tag (e.g. Agent Carter (TV)) was renamed to say "RSS Feed", to distinguish it from our Subscription feature. (Read more in our Subscriptions and Feeds FAQ.)


  • The Error 500 page was displaying a sad little Archive mascot juggling Error 502 messages before, which was misleading. It is now merely sad.
  • As our temporary donation page (created for the last Membership Drive) will be in use a while longer, we adjusted some wording and links to avoid confusion.
  • The help text for the "Apply to make public" option for Site Skins was advising to use CSS comments for attribution and notes. However, due to the way we currently sanitize CSS, the comments are getting stripped out. The help text now tells you to use the Description field. Note: We are currently not reviewing submitted Site Skins, and are thinking of better ways to handle skins in general.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


Urgent Anti-Spam Measures

Published: 2015-01-04 07:58:30 -0500

To combat an influx of spam works, we are temporarily suspending the issuing of invitations from our automated queue. This will prevent spammers from getting invitations to create new accounts and give our all-volunteer teams time to clean up existing spam accounts and works. We will keep you updated about further developments on our Twitter account. Please read on for details.

The problem

We have been dealing with two issues affecting the Archive, both in terms of server health and user experience.

  • Spammers who sign up for accounts only to post thousands of fake "works" (various kinds of advertisements) with the help of automated scripts.
  • People who use bots to download works in bulk, to the point where it affects site speed and server uptime for everyone else.

Measures we've taken so far

We have been trying several things to keep both problems in check:

  • The Abuse team has been manually banning accounts that post spam.
  • We are also keeping an eye on the invitation queue for email addresses that follow discernible patterns and removing them from the queue. This is getting trickier as the spammers adjust.
  • We delete the bulk of spam works from the database directly, as individual work deletion would clearly be an overwhelming task for the Abuse team; however, this requires people with the necessary skills and access to be available.
  • Our volunteer sysadmin has been setting up various server scripts and settings aimed at catching spammers and download bots before they can do too much damage. This requires a lot of tweaking to adjust to new bots and prevent real users from being banned.

Much of this has cut into our volunteers' holiday time, and we extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who's been chipping in to keep the Archive going through our busiest days.

What we're doing now

Our Abuse team needs a chance to catch up on all reported spamming accounts and make sure that all spam works are deleted. Currently the spammers are creating new accounts faster than we can ban them. Our sysadmins and coders need some time to come up with a sustainable solution to prevent further bot attacks.

To that end, we're temporarily suspending issuing invites from our automated queue. Existing account holders can still request invite codes and share them with friends. You can use existing invites to sign up for an account; account creation itself will not be affected. (Please note: Requests for invite codes have to be manually approved by a site admin, so there might be a delay of two to three days before you receive them; challenge moderators can contact Support for invites if their project is about to open.)

We are working hard to get these problems under control, so the invite queue should be back in business soon! Thank you for your patience as we work through the issues.

What you can do

There are some things you can do to help:

  • When downloading multiple works, wait a few moments between each download. If you're downloading too many works at once, you will be taken to an error page warning you to slow down or risk being blocked from accessing the Archive for 24 hours.
  • Please don't report spam works. While we appreciate all the reports we've received so far, we now have a system in place that allows us to find spam quickly. Responding to reports of spam takes time away from dealing with it.
  • Keep an eye on our Twitter account, @AO3_Status, for updates!

Known problems with the automated download limit

We have been getting reports of users who run into a message about excessive downloads even if they were downloading only a few works, or none at all. This may happen for several reasons that are unfortunately beyond our control:

  • They pressed the download button once, but their device went on a rampage trying to download the file many times. A possible cause for this might be a download accelerator, so try disabling any relevant browser extensions or software, or try downloading works in another browser or device.
  • They share an IP address with a group of people, one of whom hit the current download limit and got everyone else with the same IP address banned as well. This can be caused by VPNs, Tor software, or an ISP who assigns the same IP address to a group of customers (more likely to happen on phones). Please try using a different device, if you can.

We apologize if you have to deal with any of these and we'll do our best to restore proper access for all users as soon as possible!


Releases 0.9.37 - 0.9.39: Change Log

Published: 2014-12-31 10:03:14 -0500


  • Coders: Ariana, Daniel Erenrich, Enigel, james_, Marie Markwell, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, Elz, james_, Scott
  • Testers: Erialeduab, hele, Lady Oscar, mugenmine, mumble


Works & Stats

  • We have updated the text of the emails that go out (to existing AO3 users as well as creators who don't have an account yet) when an archive mod or site owner imports someone's work through our Open Doors project. (See what the team has accomplished this year in our News posts about Open Doors!)
  • On the Statistics page, reversing the sort order for Date, Kudos, Comment Threads, Hits etc. would not update the corresponding graph title. It now properly says "Oldest" or "Bottom Five By [Kudos/Comment Threads/Hits etc.]" when displaying the reverse sort results.
  • Drafts of a related work, e.g. fanart for another user's fic, were showing up in the author's sidebar, e.g. Related Works (1), even though the work draft was still invisible to anyone but the artist. Now the number in the sidebar only increments when the work has been posted.
  • The code responsible for deleting drafts one month after their creation was not working properly in some cases, resulting in the drafts still being listed on the user's draft page despite being deleted/inaccessible. It should be working properly now.
  • The big chunk of code responsible for handling works and work-related actions had become unwieldy and messy over time. It has now been refactored--cleaned up and reorganized--to adhere to best practices.

Collections & Challenges

  • When changing the settings for a challenge (Moderated, Closed, Unrevealed, Anonymous), the challenge blurb, e.g. on the main Collections index, would not be updated to reflect the change. This has been fixed!
  • If you posted a work to fulfill a challenge assignment and your recipient deleted their account, you would then be unable to edit your work (getting an error 500 instead of the editing form). This has been fixed!
  • In tag sets, the option for adding a chunk of relationship tags at once ("batch loading") wasn't working. Now it is.


  • Our tag cloud was displaying only a few very popular tags in large font size, with all the other tags being more or less the same size. It now calculates tag counts and display size differently, making the cloud more useful and easier to parse.
  • When selecting a tag from the dropdown menu to browse the AO3 News, but leaving the language selection blank, trying to get to the next page of results would lead to an Error 500. This was because the code expected a language selection - we now explicitly set the default language to English, so this error won't happen anymore.
  • In preparation for further work on a translatable interface for the Archive, we removed all lingering code related to a previous translation project.
  • Switched our Rails memcached client to Dalli, which is better maintained and should make pages load slightly faster.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


Ink Stained Fingers is Coming to the AO3

Published: 2014-12-20 13:07:03 -0500

Official banner from the Ink Stained Fingers archive, of spilt ink

Ink Stained Fingers, a haven for Harry Potter slash and femslash fan fiction and fan art, is moving to the Archive of Our Own (AO3). In this post:

Background explanation

The Ink Stained Fingers archive was created at a difficult time in fandom. had just outlawed explicit slash, and several Harry Potter fandom archives had to impose strict limitations on stories allowed to their sites because of their host’s regulations. Open archives were also receiving Cease & Desist letters from publishers and closing. At the same time, writers in the HP fandom were expanding their horizons with stories featuring mpreg, non-con sex, BDSM, kink, bestiality, and explicit slash and femslash. A decision was made on the Snape-slash mailing list to locate a host platform that would accept a no-holds-barred slash archive, and to create that archive for everyone to use. Over the next 10 years, over 3,300 stories would be uploaded to this archive.

Fast-forward to 2014, when the web-world is much different. Small and medium single-fandom sites with less accessible search capabilities are giving way to large multi-fandom sites where every kind of story and pairing is allowed and searching is easy. Fandom itself is more accepting of stories that push the edge. During the last year, only 2 stories have been uploaded to ISF, primarily due to the age of the posting interface and the lack of new readership. It was either time for a face-lift, or time to move our stories elsewhere. After polling the readership, it was agreed that moving the collection to AO3 was the way to best serve the Harry Potter fandom, to preserve these stories for the future, and even lure in new readers.

Open Doors will be working with Diana Williams to import the Ink Stained Fingers archive' into a separate, searchable collection with its own identity. We will begin manually importing works from Ink Stained Fingers to the AO3 collection in January 2015.

What does this mean for creators who have work on Ink Stained Fingers?

This is the part where we ask for your help!

1. If you already have an AO3 account and have posted your ISF works there, please contact Open Doors with your ISF pseud(s) and e-mail address(es), so that we won’t import your stories. (For instructions on mass-adding stories to the new collection on the AO3, InkStainedFingers, please see the Open Doors website.)

2. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one to import your stories yourself, please contact Open Doors with your ISF pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (For instructions on importing works and adding them to the InkStainedFingers collection, please see the Open Doors website.)

3. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one, as well as assistance importing your works, please contact Open Doors with your ISF pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Once your account is set up, let us know your AO3 name, and we can transfer your works to you.)

4. If you would NOT like your works moved, please contact Open Doors with your ISF 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 instead of leaving them behind to be deleted.)

All works archived on a creator’s behalf will be attributed with the creator’s name in the byline of the work. 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 Ink Stained Fingers account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the stories elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's great; if not, we will work with Diana 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.

We'd also love it if fans could help us preserve the story of Ink Stained Fingers on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask the Fanlore Gardeners for tips.

Ink Stained Fingers has been delighted to serve the Harry Potter slash community and looks forward to a future as part of the AO3--and we're equally delighted to welcome this archive aboard!

- The Open Doors team


International Fanworks Day is Coming

Published: 2014-12-15 12:40:57 -0500

Banner by Ania of various fanworks including cosplay, text, and visual art

International Fanworks Day will take place on February 15, 2015! The OTW is making plans to celebrate, but we also want to know what you will be doing!

What is International Fanworks Day?

A day to promote fan creativity in all of its forms, all over the world. Whether in text, image, audio or multimedia, and whatever their nation or language of origin, we use fanworks to express love for our fandoms and forge our own communities and traditions. On International Fanworks Day (IFD), we want fans everywhere to show how important fanworks are to them.

So how do we celebrate it?

Here are some ideas -- and we'd love to hear more from you!

  • Post a fanwork to the International Fanworks Day tag at the Archive of Our Own or add the tag to wherever else you host your work.
  • Participate in the drabble challenge we'll be holding across our OTW News sites.
  • Link to five fanworks where you've left feedback in comments to our IFD post on February 15th.
  • You tell us!

Look for further announcements as we get closer to February 15!


Release Notes 0.9.36: Change Log

Published: 2014-12-14 03:41:24 -0500


  • Coders: Ariana, james_, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Elz, james_, Lady Oscar, Sarken
  • Testers: Anika Kabit, Lady Oscar, legalizemavin, mumble, Priscilla del Cima, Runt


  • When a user attempted to change their username to one that was less than three characters or more than forty, the error message they received would tell them which characters are allowed in user names. Now it will tell them how long a username must be.
  • A user who had archivist privileges and wanted to import their own works from another site would receive an error message incorrectly preventing them from importing their work. They will no longer receive this error message, allowing them to import their works.
  • The admin interface for creating translations of news posts had a dropdown menu that let translators choose which of the recent posts the translation corresponded to. However, our translators are awesome and want to translate some older news posts, so we changed from a dropdown menu with a limited number of posts to an autocomplete that will let them choose any news post they like.
  • In our previous release, we tidied up the margins on tags in work blurbs, but we also introduced a bug that moved the tags closer together. We've fixed the typo that caused the problem and tags are properly spaced out once again.
  • We made some minor improvements to the code used for manual imports, in particular to turn names listed on a line starting with "Characters:" into tags where possible.
  • When a logged out user tried to access an FAQ using an old URL (e.g. one ending with archive_faqs/30), they would get a 404 error telling them the page could not be found. Now they should be redirected to the new URL (e.g. one ending in /faq/ao3-internal-tools?language_id=en) just like logged in users are.
  • In works and site documentation, <h4> headings were hard to distinguish from the main text. Now text in <h4> tags will be bold to make it stand out more.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


November 2014 Newsletter, Volume 86

Published: 2014-12-06 14:41:50 -0500

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

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


It’s been a very active month for Legal's advocacy mission. In the beginning of November, they filed petitions with the U.S. Copyright Office to renew the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemption that the OTW helped win in 2009 and 2012. This made it legal for fan video makers to rip DVDs and online sources in order to make noncommercial fan video. In addition to seeking renewal, Legal has asked the Copyright Office to expand the exemption to include ripping Blu-Ray discs for the same purposes. The petition is only the first step. Over the coming months they will be submitting evidence and providing further arguments to support the need for the exemption. Legal thanks everyone who helped them with stories and information so far.

Legal also got some good news this month based on some work they did back in April in the case of Garcia v. Google. In April, Legal filed a brief in support of Google’s request that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals re-hear the case. And we succeeded! On November 12, the court declared its original ruling void, and set a schedule for re-hearing the case. So on November 25, Legal filed another brief, explaining why we thought the previous result would promote online censorship and harm free speech.

Legal also did some informational work in November by helping to create some educational materials about transformative works and U.S. fair use law. Their post on “The Case Against Licensing Fanworks" sparked some lively discussion on AO3 News.

Finally, in November Legal also continued work on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s multi-stakeholder project to improve the functioning of the DMCA notice and takedown process, and responded to several queries from fans. As always, they welcome your queries!


Accessibility, Design and Technology had two code deploys in November — (Releases 0.9.33 and 0.9.34) — and are currently working on a third, with the help of shiny new testers from our last recruitment round! Accessibility, Design and Technology handled a security concern related to our development data by upgrading our encryption method and asking users to change their passwords (via AO3 News post and targeted emails).

Tag Wrangling helped Support resolve tag-related tickets, fixed some broken links in the Tag Wrangling FAQ, and held special-topic training sessions for beginning and intermediate wranglers.

Abuse handled roughly 270 tickets in November, with more constantly streaming in. Please do remember that our team does not need multiple reports sent in; one report per case is all that is required for us to investigate. Most cases are dealt with in less than a week, while trickier cases could take up to two weeks to handle. Abuse is also working with coders to create a way to help better track Fannish Next of Kin requests.

AO3 Documentation sent the first five new FAQs to other committees for revision. This is the last step in their drafting workflow, which means that the first new FAQs are finally almost done! They've also welcomed a new volunteer, and started working on the required documentation to transition into a full committee, while also creating a committee roadmap for 2015.


Systems made some changes to the OTW's internal email architecture to better handle future OTW membership drive emails so that they won't affect the delivery of our internal emails. Meanwhile, Content Policy began revisions to Open Doors' FAQ, with that committee's assistance.

Open Doors announced the pending import for Chains (available in multiple languages thanks to Translation!). They are also receiving much appreciated assistance from Accessibility, Design and Technology on a solution for a second archive import, and have been making progress on two other pending archives. Translation focused on internal documentation and future-planning, including revamping workflows for news posts. Translation chairs are hard at work on chair training documentation and a roadmap for 2015.

The Web Strategy, Design & Development Committee resolved the problem with the OTW website that had been causing frequent downtimes. And Journal is finishing up obtaining final versions of manuscripts for the first two Transformative Works and Cultures issues of 2015, which will go into copyedit in January.


Elections wrapped up the 2014 elections period with a final OTW news post containing transcripts of the three public chats with candidates. They are now writing a roadmap for 2015 and are contacting other committees for feedback on that process.

Strategic Planning drafted an initial plan from the list of strategic goals that was brainstormed in October and presented it to all staff and volunteers for review, input, and discussion of specific implementation steps.

They then hosted two organization-wide chats to review the goals with any personnel who wished to attend. Additionally, each committee chair was contacted individually to solicit input on implementation the specific goals involving their committees. Once the feedback is received, the plan will be revised and reviewed again.

Strategic Planning also welcomed new staff members who will be helping to refine the Strategic Plan, as well as finish up survey reports for each committee and workgroup.

Development & Membership worked with the Board to create a post on the OTW's financial future following our record-breaking drive. The committee also had a lengthy "what we learned" document put together. Because of our technical difficulties with the OTW website, there were some snags in premium fulfilment for donors. But the committee has a good handle on it now, and things are should be smoother going forward.

In addition, Development & Membership announced that the OTW is taking part in the Amazon Smile program so that fans making purchases at Amazon can automatically donate to the OTW. They are also developing business cards and stationary for organizational use.


Volunteers & Recruiting spent November diving into internal committee work after closing out all external recruiting campaigns for 2014. They've made huge leaps forward on an internal audit of all OTW-wide tools, started a revision of recruitment documentation to help improve our recruiting services in 2015, continued to assess and revise committee internal documentation and procedures, and worked on feedback for the recently released draft of the Strategic Plan.

New Committee Chairs: jsparc (Wiki), Curtis Jefferson (Volunteers & Recruiting)

New Committee Staff: Nerine Luna Cyran (Tag Wrangling), ragingrainbow (Tag Wrangling), Nary (Tag Wrangling), theteapot (Translation), Kirsten Korona (Communications), Ridicully (Support), Kenna McKay (Support), LilyC (Support), Sparrow Rubin (Support), Amy Shepard (Strategic Planning), FeminineBrain (Strategic Planning), 3 other Communications staffers, 2 other Tag Wrangling staffers, 3 other Support staffers, 1 other Strategic Planning staffer, and 1 Systems staffer

New Workgroup Members: Amalia Blondet (AO3 Documentation)

New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1 Tag Wrangling volunteer

New Tester Volunteers: mugenmine, Anika Kabit, twofingerpost, pendrecarc, nightmarefluff, Agwen, and 6 other testing volunteers

New Translator Volunteers: 1 Translator volunteer

Departing Committee Staff: Priscilla Del Cima (Development & Membership), Camden (Communications)

Departing Workgroup Members: EnthusiasmGirl (AO3 Documentation), 3 other AO3 Documentation volunteers

Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 11 Tag Wrangling volunteers

Departing Translator Volunteers: Nothorse and 1 other Translator volunteer


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