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OTW April 2017 Membership Drive

At the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), a lot has happened in the past few months. Here's a look at some of the many new and interesting things the OTW has been accomplishing thanks to your support.

Our Systems team have been busy bees this semester! The number of fanworks on the Archive of Our Own is growing, as is the number of users and visitors. We need more space to store those fanworks, and more bandwidth to serve everyone. We also need faster computers that can search through the works quickly and answer more queries at the same time. Your donations help Systems purchase the machines we need to keep our projects running for fans like you! You can find a breakdown of our expenses for 2017 below. (For more specific information on the OTW's finances, please refer to the 2017 budget.)

Expenses by program: Archive of Our Own: 75.7%. Open Doors: 0.5%. Transformative Works and Cultures: 1.5%. Fanlore: 2.7%. Legal Advocacy: 1.2%. Con Outreach: 1.8%. Admin: 8.4%. Fundraising: 8.2%.

Several other teams have also been hard at work recently! The Legal committee has continued its work responding to fan questions and has filed amicus briefs in new cases, including Cross v. Facebook, “against overreaching right-of-publicity laws”. Meanwhile, the Archive of Our Own (AO3) reached 1 million registered users in October 2016 and is passing 3 million fanworks this month, another milestone!

Plus, Transformative Works and Cultures has released No. 23, a special issue all about Sherlock Holmes fandom, guest edited by Roberta Pearson and Betsy Rosenblatt. The issue includes articles on fan art and gender disparities in the fandom, as well as reviews of Sherlock-themed books. It even has special cover art! Transformative Works and Cultures, like all of the OTW’s projects, relies on your donations to publish these academic articles for current and future researchers!

It’s your help that makes all of this possible. To add your support to the important work that these teams do, please donate today!


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Image with red ballot reading Organization for Transformative Works on first line, Elections news on line below, and Make Your Voice Heard on the last line with a check mark next to the text

The OTW Elections committee is pleased to announce that the timeline for the 2017 election has been posted!

There are some changes to the timeline this year. In order to avoid conflicts with other OTW events, the election has been moved to earlier in the year. This change started last year, with the election taking place in late September, and this year it's moving to August, where it should stay for the foreseeable future.

Specifically, this year's election will be held August 11-14.

This means that the deadline to become a member and be eligible to vote has also moved up. Like the election time, this date will be the same every year. The election membership deadline is now June 30. If you're interested in voting, please make sure your membership is active as of that date.

You can find out how to become a member on the Elections website, or if you're familiar with the process, you can donate here!

If you want to know more about the election process in general, you can check out the Elections Policies.

We’re looking forward to an active election season with ample communication between candidates and voters, and we hope you’ll be a part of it. Don’t forget to follow the Elections committee on Twitter and Tumblr to keep up to date with the latest news!

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact Elections.


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2017-04-12 12:15:49 -0400

OTW recruitment banner by Erin

Can you code in Python (or learn to do so)? Would you like to wrangle AO3 tags? Are you good at administrative tasks or working with people? The OTW is recruiting for new personnel!

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Abuse Staff and Elections Staff. Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Elections Staff: Voting Process Architects - Closing 19 April 23:59 UTC
  • Tag Wrangling Volunteers - Closing after 50 applications or 19 April 23:59 UTC
  • Volunteers and Recruiting Staff - Closing 19 April 23:59 UTC

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.

Elections Staff: Voting Process Architects

Are you a coder/software engineer? Do you know Python, or can you learn it quickly? Do you want to help the OTW by making sure its elections are secure and accurate? Then come join the Elections team!

The Elections Committee is responsible for running OTW Board elections; we ensure the fairness, timeliness, and confidentiality of the process. We are currently looking for Voting Process Architects (coders) to monitor the election itself and run the results. Applicants must know or be able to learn Python and basic data security practices.

Applications are due 19 April 23:59 UTC.

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, please read Introduction to Tag Wrangling to find out more about what wranglers do, then access the job description and application form on the volunteering home page.

Please note: due to (amazing!) interest in wrangling, we’re currently looking for wranglers for specific fandoms only. See the application on the volunteering home page for which fandoms are in need.

Applications are due 19 April 23:59 UTC, or when we have received 50 applications (whichever comes first).

Volunteers & Recruiting Staff

Do you enjoy administration, writing documentation and training materials, or working with people? Volunteers & Recruiting has openings for new personnel to join our small team!

We serve as the managers of the volunteer program for the Organization for Transformation Works. Our tasks include the onboarding and retirement of all personnel, coordinating recruitment for new personnel, training on organization-wide tools through tutorials or requests for information, handling inter-personnel complaints in a confidential and impartial manner, and providing advice and other assistance to committees on documentation.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, check out our position description and apply to be Volunteering & Recruiting Staff!

Applications are due 19 April 23:59 UTC.

Apply at the volunteering page!


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2017-04-09 13:40:38 -0400

Five things an OTW volunteer said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Madoc, who volunteers as a translator.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I’m part of Team Welsh, which is part of the Translation committee. What I do is translate any and all OTW content that is able to be translated to make it accessible to Welsh speakers. This can range from translating the website to translating Abuse and Support messages.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

Normally I wake up, have breakfast and translate for a good few hours before lunch, normally whilst listening to Welsh or Swedish radio. Right now, Team Welsh is going through a review so that more material online can be made available in Welsh, so my mornings are often spent spell-checking and rejigging some previous Welsh translations. Outside the review, the time is normally split between translating and having my nose stuck in a dictionary.

After that, I eat, then focus on my university work, writing notes and going to lectures. My evenings are either filled with dance lessons, choir or doing fannish things like writing fanfiction or knitting a fannish craft. I also find some time to teach myself Swedish!

What sorts of OTW content have you worked on?

Since Team Welsh is a new team and consists entirely of me, not much! I’ve worked mainly on translating the main site of the OTW, but I’m also available to assist with Welsh Abuse and Support queries.

I’m hoping that once Team Welsh gets a little bigger we’ll be able to handle bigger, more time sensitive things like news posts, and also be able to finish translating the main site and expanding to other OTW projects.

What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

As much as I love the feeling of contributing to the cause, the most fun thing to do is speaking to other translators. I’m a massive fan of any and all languages, and chatting to other translators is always a barrel of laughs. It also gives us an opportunity to commiserate over how weird English is as a second language -- the mishmash of different word etymologies makes English a very difficult language to learn!

What fannish things do you like to do?

I love to write fanfiction, but more than that I love to worldbuild! Making something robust out of scraps of canon is absolutely my favourite thing to do, be it creating an alien culture from scratch or adopting a minor character and fleshing them out. One of my favourite fanworks involved extending an alien conlang! (I never seem to get enough of languages, it seems!)

I also knit and make fannish toys and other crafts. Currently I’m the very proud owner of Kelas Parmak the Cardassian chameleon, two knitted Newt/Hermann dolls from Pacific Rim, Hedwig the snowy owl, and a yet-to-be finished patchwork blanket with several fannish patches already made for it.

Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.


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2017-04-07 12:18:32 -0400

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


Transformative Works and Cultures published Volume Number 23: Sherlock Holmes, Fandom, Sherlockiana, and the Great Game, this month. It was guest edited by Roberta Pearson and Betsy Rosenblatt, it includes 19 articles, and it has special cover art by Laurie Fraser Manifold. Volume Number 24, Queer Female Fandom, will come out in June 2017.


Accessibility, Design & Technology deployed 6 batches of code this month, 5 of which were summed up in the Change Log for Releases 0.9.181 - 0.9.185. Following this release, the Translation committee began translating several automated user emails to make AO3 more internationally friendly!

While users were running into site slowness and issues with posting and editing works for a while before, things came to a head on March 17 with a few hours of unplanned downtime. Our incident report explained all the details on the underlying problems and what solutions were devised.

Also, AO3 was unblocked by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine this month! Archive pages will once again be stored for people to peruse.

AO3 Documentation uploaded a new Comments and Kudos FAQ this month, as well as a new question to the Bookmarks FAQ. There's lots of great information in the FAQ, so if you're having trouble figuring out how to do something on AO3, be sure to check it out!

Lastly, Abuse received about 500 tickets this month.


Fanlore opened a brand new Tumblr blog! It joined our Fanlore Twitter account (one of our most popular social media accounts) just in time for April Showers. You can check out the full list of the OTW and AO3's social media accounts and news mirrors on our Where to Find Us page.

In March, Legal helped a number of fans with legal questions, including several with queries about their rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. If you have questions about how you can use the DMCA if your fanwork is posted without your consent, or about what to do if your fanwork is taken down in response to a DMCA takedown notice, OTW Legal is here to help, so contact them today!


As of the 27th of March, the OTW has 612 volunteers. ( We finally broke 600!) \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Chairs: Lauren Hanna (Communications Co-Chair)
New Committee Staff: Genevieve Marshall (DevMem), 1 Abuse, 2 Fanlore
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Claire P. Baker, Morgan Drake, Mandy Gooch, Keri Klimchok, TC, Sarah Crocker, RebelRebel, SapphiraBlue, CharmPoint, Julianna, Emily Sherman, memorde, Gillian Webster, intheinterim, CaitieCat, EstelRaca, torisaurusrex, McBangle, Abigail Jyrkila, Tari, Noah Budgor, TamaraAnn, Newtype Kit, InterdictedKai, Nicky, Van W., Liselot, Slothful, and Jazz
New TWC Volunteers: 1

Departing Committee Chairs: Matty Bowers (Internationalization & Outreach Acting Chair)
Departing Committee Staff: Kathryn Soderholm (Internationalization & Outreach), Firey (AO3 Docs)
Departing AD&T Coder Volunteers: 3 volunteers
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 2 volunteers
Departing Translator Volunteers: Issay, 5 Volunteers

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


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Least Expected header

Least Expected, a J.R.R. Tolkien slash fanfiction archive, is being imported to the Archive of Our Own (AO3).

In this post:

Background explanation

In order to preserve the fannish history of Tolkien fandom as best as possible, the Least Expected archive will be recovered from storage and preserved as a collection on the Archive of Our Own. Least Expected was the first Tolkien fanfiction archive that welcomed slash fanfic, and was associated with the email list tolkien_slash ( It was active from September 1999 through February 2002, and many of the stories in its archive don't exist anywhere else.

Open Doors will be working with Amy Fortuna to import Least Expected into a separate, searchable collection on the Archive of Our Own.

We will begin importing works from Least Expected to the AO3 after April.

What does this mean for creators who have/had work(s) on Least Expected?

We will send an import notification to the e-mail address we have for each creator. We'll do our best to check for an existing copy of any works before importing. If we find a copy already on the AO3, we will invite it to the collection instead of importing it. All works archived on behalf of a creator will include their name in the byline or the summary of 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 30 days, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors.

Please contact Open Doors with your Least Expected pseud(s) and e-mail address(es), if:

  1. You'd like us to import your works, but you need the notification sent to a different email address than you used on the original archive.
  2. You already have an AO3 account and have imported your works already yourself.
  3. You’d like to import your works yourself (including if you don’t have an AO3 account yet).
  4. You would NOT like your works moved to the AO3.
  5. You are happy for us to preserve your works on the AO3, but would like us to remove your name.
  6. If you have any other questions we can help you with.

Please include the name of the archive in the subject heading of your email. If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's great. If you don't, we will work with the moderator to confirm your claims.

Please see the Open Doors Website for instructions on:

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ, 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 Least Expected on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask Fanlore for tips.

We're excited to be able to help preserve Least Expected!

- The Open Doors team and Amy Fortuna


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Organization for Transfomative Works: 2017 budget

2016 was a busy year for the OTW's Finance team, and we're hard at work improving the organization's bookkeeping and financial policies. Budgeting is another area where we've improved in the past few months—especially with regards to collaborating with our various teams to project their likely expenses and accounting for unexpected changes.

Without further ado, here's our budget for 2017 (download the budget spreadsheet for more detailed information):

2017 Expenses

Expenses by program: Archive of Our Own: 75.7%. Open Doors: 0.5%. Transformative Works and Cultures: 1.5%. Fanlore: 2.7%. Legal Advocacy: 1.2%. Con Outreach: 1.8%. Admin: 8.4%. Fundraising: 8.2%.

Archive of Our Own (AO3)

US$7,013.49 spent; US$206,325.51 left

  • US$7,013.49 spent so far out of US$213,339 total this year, as of February 28, 2017.
  • 75.7% of the OTW’s expenses go towards maintaining the AO3. This includes the bulk of our server expenses—both new purchases and ongoing colocation and maintenance—website performance monitoring tools and various systems-related licences (access all program expenses).
  • Starting last year, we've conducted a search for companies that could work with us on upgrades to AO3's infrastructure. We've collaborated with two companies so far on preparing for our much-needed Rails upgrade, and look forward to expanding our contracting projects this year.


US$312.61 spent; US$7,174.89 left

  • US$312.61 spent so far out of US$7,487.50 total this year, as of February 28, 2017.
  • Fanlore expenses are mostly its allocation of server purchase, maintenance and colocation costs, in addition to related licenses and Fanlore web domains (access all program expenses).

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC)

US$400.04 spent; US$3982.96 left

  • US$400.04 spent so far out of US$4,383 total this year, as of February 28, 2017.
  • Transformative Works and Cultures’ expenses are its allotment of server costs, as well as the journal’s publishing and storage fees (access all program expenses).

Open Doors

US$60.80 spent; US$1,475.67 left

  • US$60.80 spent so far out of US$1,536.47 total this year, as of February 28, 2017.
  • This year’s expenses for Open Doors are hosting, backup and domain costs for archives imported by Open Doors (access all program expenses).

Legal Advocacy

US$0 spent; US$3,500 left

  • US$0 spent so far out of US$3,500 total this year.
  • Legal’s expenses consist of filing fees and travel expenses for conferences (access all program expenses).

Con outreach

US$0 spent; US$5,000 left

  • US$0 spent so far out of US$5,000 total this year, as of February 28, 2017.
  • Our convention outreach expenses consist of preparing and shipping promotional material related to the OTW and its projects for volunteers to share with other fans at conventions, as well as potentially organizing spaces of our own during conventions (access all con outreach expenses).


US$ 1,573.52 spent; US$21,486.48 left

  • US$1,573.52 spent so far out of US$23,060 total this year, as of February 28, 2017.
  • Our fundraising expenses consist of transaction fees charged by our third-party payment processors for each donation; thank-you gifts purchase and shipping; and the tools used to host the OTW’s membership database and track communications with donors and potential donors (access all fundraising expenses).


US$977.15 spent; US$22,683.68 left

  • US$977.15 spent so far out of US$23,660.83 total this year, as of February 28, 2017.
  • The OTW’s administrative expenses include hosting for our website, trademarks, domains, insurance, tax filing, as well as project management, communication and accounting tools (access all admin expenses).

2017 revenue

OTW revenue: April drive donations: 32.4%, October drive donations: 42.2%. Non-drive donations: 24.3%. Donations from matching programs: 1.1%.

  • The OTW is entirely supported by your donations—thank you for your generosity!
  • We receive most of our donations each year in the April and October fundraising drives, which together should account for about 75% of our income in 2017. We also receive donations via employer matching programs and Amazon Smile.
  • The OTW Finance team is investigating options for a sustainable plan to invest the OTW's current reserves; our forecasted income should be enough to cover this year's expenses without requiring emergency withdrawals from our reserves.
  • US$6,839.56 so far (as of February 28, 2017) and US$308,500 projected until the end of the year.

US$6,839.56 donated; US$301,660.44 left

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the budget or the OTW's finances, please contact the Finance committee. We will also be hosting an open chat to answer any questions you may have. This chat will take place in our public chatroom on April 9 from 5 to 7PM UTC (what time is that in my timezone?).

This post will be updated with a chatroom link a few hours before the appointed time. Come chat with us, and bring your questions!


To download the OTW’s updated budget for 2017 in spreadsheet format, please follow this link.


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2017-03-24 16:11:18 -0400

We've fixed CSV downloads for gift exchange sign-ups, corrected fandom counts in collections, and made a whole heap of behind-the-scenes changes, test improvements, and other minor fixes.


  • Coders: Ariana, Cesy, cosette, cyrilcee, David Stump (Littlelines), DNA, james_, potatoesque, redsummernight, Sammie Louise, Sarken, Scott, tickinginstant
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, bingeling, james_, Naomi, potatoesque, redsummernight, Sarken
  • Testers: Betsy, Lady Oscar, mumble, Rebecca Sentance, redsummernight, Runt, Sammie Louise

Special thanks to redsummernight, who has contributed their first pull request as an AD&T volunteer and completed their training!


Bug Fixes & Enhancements

  • [AO3-4844] - We've started using the Devise gem to handle admin logins.
  • [AO3-4834] & [AO3-4835] - In our tag set code, we had two places where users would get a 500 error instead of the nicer, more specific message we meant to give them. Now they'll get a "What Tag Set did you want to look at?" error instead.
  • [AO3-4877] - Following a recent release, it was no longer possible to download gift exchange sign-up CSVs. We've fixed that, and we've also added some tests that will hopefully keep it from happening again.
  • [AO3-4808] - Editing a work and removing its fandom used to save the work, but return a 500 error, resulting in an invalid work and a confused user. Trying to save a work without a fandom will now not save the work and show the user an error message instead.
  • [AO3-4045] - If your chapter was over 500,000 characters long, you'd get an error message that included the oh-so-helpful suggestion, "Maybe you want to create a multi-chapered work?" Since you were already trying to do that, we removed that from the error message.
  • [AO3-2431] - A lot of collections were showing fandom counts that were higher than the actual number of fandoms in that collection. We realized that was because the code was also counting meta tags, so we made it stop doing that.
  • [AO3-4858] & [AO3-4922] - As detailed in Issues With Posting Works (And What We're Doing to Solve Them), we deployed some new caching code to help speed up work posting. Unfortunately, the code didn't work and we had to revert it.


  • [AO3-4883] - A security vulnerability was discovered for one of the gems we use, so we quickly updated to the patched version. (We only use the gem for our automated tests and don't believe we were at risk, but better safe than sorry!)
  • [AO3-4895] - The tool we use to check our code style and syntax was giving us suggestions that only worked in a newer version of the Ruby language than what we're currently using. We changed the tool's settings so it will only suggest things for the version of Ruby we're using.
  • [AO3-4780] & [AO3-4782] - We've added strong parameters to FAQ categories and invitation requests.
  • [AO3-4918] & [AO3-4920] - In order to deploy the caching changes for AO3-4858, we temporarily amended our deploy script so the deploy process would take less time, but require us to briefly put the Archive into maintenance mode. After we were done, we reverted those changes.
  • [AO3-4825] - We had some help files that were outdated and no longer in use, so we removed them.
  • [AO3-4851] & [AO3-4933] - We updated the database schema file in our repository, since recent changes to our database structure meant it was out of date.
  • [AO3-4443] - We've updated our version of Pry, a gem that provides a number of development tools.
  • [AO3-4856] - We had some unused code in the tag set nominations controller, so we deleted it.


  • [AO3-4830], [AO3-4897], [AO3-4908], [AO3-4901] - We've extended the automated tests for tag sets to cover more lines in the controller and more use cases. We've also reorganized the tests into smaller files in their own directory.
  • [AO3-4726] - We've brought test coverage of the comments controller up from 71% to almost 94%.
  • [AO3-4914] - We now have tests to cover all the types of tags you can use on a bookmark of an external work.
  • [AO3-4887] - We've begun improving the test coverage of the challenge assignments controller.
  • [AO3-4810] - Our test coverage for the prompts controller is now at 93%, which is much better than the 65% it started at.
  • [AO3-4889] - The series controller now has 96% of its lines covered by automated tests.
  • [AO3-4916] - We've added more tests for the external authors controller.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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