AO3 News

Troubleshooting: Common Problems When Logging In

Published: 2014-09-13 19:41:56 -0400

One of the most frequent problems Support deals with is when users are unable to log in to the Archive. While there are many possible causes for login issues, we've created a list of some of the most common and easiest to resolve.

If you're having trouble logging in to the Archive, here are some places to start your troubleshooting:

Have you activated your account by following the link provided in your registration confirmation email?

If you've recently signed up to the Archive and are having trouble logging in, make sure you've activated your account! Within 24 hours of signing up, you should have received a registration confirmation email from do-not-reply@archiveofourown.org, asking you to activate your AO3 account using the included link. The activation email usually arrives right after creating your account, but some email providers can considerably delay the delivery.

Once you've activated your account, you should receive an activation confirmation email from the same email address: do-not-reply@archiveofourown.org. Sometimes, these emails can get lost in spam filters, so make sure you check these as well! If you can't find either your activation request or an activation confirmation email, and it's been over 24 hours since you registered, you can contact Support asking for your account to be activated by an administrator.

Are you trying to log in with your username (not an email address), and is it spelled correctly?

You can only log in to the Archive with your account username; an email address won't work. If you’ve forgotten your username, or aren't sure if you're spelling it correctly, you can have it emailed to you by requesting a password reset on the New Password page. In addition to a temporary password, the email will include the username associated with the given email address, highlighted in red. Please note that this solution will only work if the email address associated with your account is current, so make sure you always keep your account's contact information up-to-date!

Is your browser or a password manager automatically entering your username/password?

If you're using your browser's auto-complete or a password manager to log in to the Archive, there's a chance the saved username/password combination could be incorrect. To check, delete the pre-filled login information and re-type your username and password manually. Remember to update the auto-complete/password manager entry with the working combination later, to prevent this problem from reoccurring.

Have you tried deleting your browser’s cookies?

Sometimes, login issues can be caused by misconfigured or corrupted cookies. This is particularly likely if you don't get a traditional error message when your login attempt fails. To make sure your cookie settings aren't keeping you from accessing the Archive, check that your browser is set to accept cookies from AO3 and clear your cookies before attempting to access the Archive again. Instructions for managing cookies differ by browser and browser version, but here are some links to get you started:

Have you tried disabling browser extensions/add-ons?

Sometimes, browser extensions or add-ons can interfere with the login process. To ensure your browser settings are not preventing you logging in, disable any additional software associated with your browser by following the links below.

Have you tried logging in using a different browser or device?

If you successfully log in to AO3 using alternative means, the problem you're encountering is most likely a problem with your browser or device, rather than your account. If this is the case, we encourage you to let us know of such issues by contacting Support, so that we can investigate further. Please remember to include details about the browser(s) and device(s) you've tried, as well as the problem itself.

Have you tried everything above, and still find yourself unable to log in?

If you’ve tried all these steps and are still having trouble logging in, please let Support know, so that we can look into this for you. As always, please remember to include as much detail as possible about the specifics of your problem, such as error messages received and your browser/device configuration, so that we can troubleshoot most effectively. Also include which of the above steps you have tried, so we can rule those issues out!

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Release 0.9.20: Improvements to our search index code!

Published: 2014-09-09 16:43:05 -0400

Credits

  • Coder: Elz
  • Code reviewers: Enigel, james_
  • Testers: Ariana, Lady Oscar, mumble, Ridicully, sarken

Overview

With today's deploy we're making some changes to our search index code, which we hope will solve some ongoing problems with suddenly "missing" works or bookmarks and inaccurate work counts.

In order to improve consistency and reduce the load on our search engine, we'll be sending updates to it on a more controlled schedule. The trade-off is that it may take a couple of minutes for new works, chapters, and bookmarks to appear on listing pages (e.g. for a fandom tag or in a collection), but those pages will ultimately be more consistent and our systems should function more reliably.

You can read on for technical details!

The Problem

We use a software package called Elasticsearch for most of our search and filtering needs. It's a powerful system for organizing and presenting all the information in our database and allows for all sorts of custom searches and tag combinations. To keep our search results up to date for everyone using the Archive, we need to ensure that freshly-posted works, new comments and kudos, edited bookmarks, new tags, etc. all make it into our search index practically in real time.

As the volume of updates has grown considerably over the last couple of years, however, that's increased the time it takes to process those updates and slowed down the general functioning of the underlying system. That slowness has interacted badly with the way we cache data in our current code: works and bookmarks seem to occasionally appear and disappear from site listings and the counts you see on different pages and sidebars may be significantly different from one another.

That's understandably alarming to anyone who encounters it, and fixing it has been our top priority.

The First Step

We are making some major changes to our various "re-indexing" processes, which take every relevant change that happens to works/bookmarks/tags and update our massive search index accordingly:

  • Instead of going directly into Elasticsearch, all indexing tasks will now be added to a queue that can be processed in a more orderly fashion. (We were queueing some updates before, but not all of them.)
  • The queued updates will then be sent to the search engine in batches to reduce the number of requests, which should help with performance.
  • Cached pages get expired (i.e., updated to reflect new data) not when the database says so, but when Elasticsearch is ready.
  • Updates concerning hit counts, kudos, comments, and bookmarks on a work (i.e. "stats" data) will be processed more efficiently but less frequently.

As a result, work updates will take a minute to affect search results and work listings, and background changes to tags (e.g. two tags being linked together) will take a few minutes longer to be reflected in listings. Stats data (hits, kudos, etc.) will be added to the search index only once an hour. The upside of this is that listings should be more consistent across the site!

(Please note that this affects only searching, sorting, and filtering! The kudos count in a work blurb, for example, is based on the database total, so you may notice slight inconsistencies between those numbers and the order you see when sorting by kudos.)

The Next Step

We're hoping that these changes will help to solve the immediate problems that we're facing, but we're also continuing to work on long-term plans and improvements. We're currently preparing to upgrade our Elasticsearch cluster from version 0.90 to 1.3 (which has better performance and backup tools), switch our code to a better client, and make some changes to the way we index data to continue to make the system more efficient.

One big improvement will be in the way we index bookmarks. When we set up our current system, we had a much smaller number of bookmarks relative to other content on the site. The old Elasticsearch client we were using also had some limitations on its functionality, so we ended up indexing the data for bookmarked works together with each of their individual bookmarks, which meant that updates to the work meant updates to dozens or hundreds of bookmark records. That's been a serious problem when changes are made to tags, in particular, where a small change can potentially kick off a large cascade of re-indexes. It's also made it more difficult to keep up with regular changes to works, which led to problems with bookmark sorting by date. We're reorganizing that, using Elasticsearch's parent-child index structure, and we hope that this will also have positive long-term effects on performance.

Overall, we're continuing to learn and look for better solutions as the Archive grows. We apologize for the bumpy ride lately, and we hope that the latest set of changes will make things run more smoothly. We should have more improvements for you in the coming months, and in the meantime, we thank you for your patience!

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OTW Supports Net Neutrality

Published: 2014-09-09 12:12:24 -0400

This is the battle for the net. Team Cable is spending millions to destroy the open internet. Stop them.

The OTW supports a number of issues surrounding users' digital rights as part of our commitment to the right of fans to create and share fanworks. While our efforts focus primarily on copyright law, the ability to access works can be affected by a variety of different laws and regulations by governments around the world.

Given the history of the Internet’s development, decisions in the United States tend to have a broad impact on access even for non-U.S. residents. Any law affecting internet access may also have an impact on works hosted by AO3, information available on Fanlore, and our day-to-day work of preserving fan works and supporting fan culture. That is why the OTW feels that the current battle to preserve net neutrality is an important one for both our organization and individual fans to be involved in.

Tomorrow, September 10th, a number of organizations and online sites will be showing their support for net neutrality by displaying a banner with a symbolic "loading" image in order to promote a call to action. Participating organizations are asking their users in the U.S. to send comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House, saying that they don't support the effort by cable and telecom companies to treat internet content differently depending on where it's coming from or going to.

The Internet Slowdown starts at 04:00 UTC on September 10th and runs until 03:59 September 11th (what time is that in my timezone?) When you see the “loading” banners, please be aware that we are not affecting site performance as part of this protest. However, we do still have existing issues with site indexing which may cause works or bookmarks to temporarily disappear from listings.

If you have questions, please leave them as comments here so that we may be able to share those replies with other users. And if you are a U.S. resident, please contact your representatives and let them know you want them to support net neutrality.

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Looking for AO3 Documentation Volunteers

Published: 2014-09-08 13:34:29 -0400

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

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Translation Volunteers and Elections Voting Process Architect. Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • AO3 Documentation Volunteer - closing 15 September 2014 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.

AO3 Documentation Volunteer

AO3 Documentation is the team that writes and updates AO3 FAQs and tutorials. We're looking for people who love the Archive of Our Own and who have experience with writing and proofreading user help documentation. If you enjoy helping your fellow fans learn how the AO3 works, please click through to read the full details and apply to join the Docs team! Applications are due 12AM 15 September 2014 UTC

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August 2014 Newsletter, Volume 83

Published: 2014-09-06 12:55:44 -0400

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.

I. TAKE PART IN STUB SEPTEMBER!

The Wiki Committee is organizing Stub September again this year, which encourages newcomers and seasoned Fanlore editors alike to pick a stub and expand on it. A stub is an article on Fanlore that is under-developed and missing important information. Right now, there are over 1600 existing pages on Fanlore that are identified as stubs. You’re invited to use the list to find a page where you know something about the topic and edit the page to add your new information.

To help newcomers get started, the Wiki Committee will be organizing an editing party on Sunday, September 14th at 19:00 UTC (what time is that in my timezone?) in the Fanlore chat room, where you can come and ask questions, or just work on entries alongside other people.

II. COMING AROUND AGAIN

Fan Video & Multimedia is once again working with our Legal Committee as well as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to petition for a DMCA exemption granting vidders, AMV makers, and other creators of noncommercial remix video the right to break copy protection on media files. In 2010, we won the right to rip DVDs; in 2012, we got that exemption renewed and expanded to include digital downloads (iTunes, Amazon Unbox, etc.). In 2015, we'll be pushing to add Blu-Ray. Right now we're in the data-gathering stage: asking fan video makers to talk with us about how they get Blu-Ray source and why Blu-Ray is important.

In August, Legal also responded to several legal queries from fans and continued its work with the USPTO Green Paper DMCA working group, and responded to a claim from an alleged rights holder.

Open Doors has been working on documentation, in-progress imports, and closing (or re-opening!) old cases, while Journal is in the last stages of production on issue 17, which will be published on September 15. They're also working on the two special issues for March and June 2015, which are on 'Performance and Performativity' and 'European Fandoms and Fan Objects,' respectively. Meanwhile, editor Karen Hellekson was an academic keynote speaker at WorldCon 72 in London.

III. OVER AT THE AO3

Accessibility, Design and Technology have squeezed three more deploys into August, a somewhat slower month than usual. However, user activity at AO3 has not been slow at all! On August 10, we recorded our first Sunday (always the busiest day of the week) with over 10 million page views, an average of roughly 7,000 page views per minute.

To go along with all that activity, Abuse received 198 reports in the last month. All but 18 have been resolved! Support also had a busy, busy month: 458 tickets and counting as August came to a close. They also held a multilingual live chat to assist users with the help of Translation. Support will be recruiting in October, so if you'd like to help users at AO3, keep an eye out for their announcement next month.

Tag Wrangling Staff helped out the Support team on some complicated tag-related tickets, and thanks the AD&T team for their advice on working around server restrictions and bugs.

IV. GOVERNANCE & OPERATIONS

Development & Membership had personnel changes with the departure of former chair Lesann and the addition of Aja and Dan as new co-chairs in her stead. New staffer James Baxter will be working on graphic design as part of the October Drive. Development & Membership also coordinated an OTW presence at Nine Worlds and LonCon 3, and collaborated with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others at Dragon Con as part of Project Secret Identity.

Systems is happy to report that their efforts to spin different functions off onto different virtual machines has kicked off with the move of the OTW's Vault platform, and they're continuing to work on a mail server and a new RT server, which will include improvements to benefit Support and Abuse. Additionally, staffer James has been hard at work applying our new wildcard SSL certificate to secure various sites on transformativeworks.org subdomains, while Sidra is undertaking the daunting task of looking into long-needed Vault improvements.

Board had a relatively quiet month while our directors continued to hold weekly Office Hours and plan for their October retreat along with Strategic Planning. Strategic Planning has been working on some internal training sessions about non-profit organizations and structures while continuing to survey and write reports for a variety of committees.

V. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

Translation is busy interviewing and training their many new recruits from their successful call for volunteers. They kept Volunteers & Recruiting busy co-ordinating recruitment. Besides inducting and retiring personnel, Volunteers & Recruiting has been answering internal requests, finishing up their database audit, and gearing up for the annual Still Willing to Serve, and releasing their 2013 Annual Report.

New Committee Chairs: Aja (Development & Membership), Dan (Development & Membership), Kiri Van Santen (Communications)
New Committee Staff: James Baxter (Development & Membership)
New Workgroup Members: Jenny McDevitt (Elections) 2 (Elections); Lady Oscar (AO3 Documentation) and 1 other AO3 Documentation member.
New Translator Volunteers: MagdaC, Quarby, DeeCharlotte, sevenwonders, GreenFug, convincle, Eimry, Lextiel, Kyanite, Keito, Hayyu Anshary, Jáchym Fitris, Iristiel, chocochino, Amalia Blondet, Artmetica, Sanni L., A Walker, firebreathing, Magdalena A, and 14 others

Departing Committee Chairs: Lesann (Development & Membership)
Departing Workgroup Leads: Matty Lynne (AO3 Documentation)
Departing Committee Staff: Lesann (Development & Membership), vtn (Tag Wrangling), Sherry (Abuse), girlmarauders (Support), Nikibee (Support), Jenn Calaelen (Tag Wrangling), Ellen Fleischer (Web Strategy, Design & Development), Kit Paige (Translation), victoriajm (Translation), Charlotte (Translation), lisaa35 (Abuse) and 2 other Abuse Staffers.
Departing Workgroup Members: Richard Davie (AO3 Documentation)

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OTW Celebrates its 7th Anniversary

Published: 2014-09-05 13:20:22 -0400

graphic by Rachel G announcing our 7th anniversary

From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

Today's post is by Flourish Klink, who has a broad perspective on fandom. Among her accomplishments she is Chief Participation Officer for The Alchemists, a franchise content company; was a co-founder of FictionAlley; and has lectured at MIT, teaching classes in transmedia storytelling, fan culture, and media studies.

Why does the OTW matter?

Not so many years ago, cease and desist letters sent to fans were a regular cost of doing business. Today, they're a scandal. Not so many years ago, fanfic was a closely guarded secret. One didn't simply let one's professional identity become tainted by one's fanworks. Now, a growing number of fans don't see it as problematic to use their professional names and identities at all. (I'm one of them.) Not so many years ago, it was “common knowledge” that fanfic was illegal. Now, few people would try to make that (unsubstantiated) argument.

Mashups are an expected part of your workout mix. Jezebel writes about knotting. The Big Bang Theory brings nerd culture to prime time TV. Diane Von Furstenberg designs Google Glass frames, and all our favorite celebrities read fanfiction about them aloud and joke about it in interview upon interview. Your cousin sends you “Closer,” which he found on Reddit, and even seems to get what it's about. This is the future; geek is chic; remixes are expected; who needs the OTW?

I do. And you do. And, although they might hate to admit it, the entertainment industry does.

The OTW's work in creating and maintaining a vidding exemption from the DMCA is a perfect example. Though the entertainment industry long ago left behind personalized, combative cease and desist letters, YouTube takedowns produce the same chilling effect–and we no longer have the ability to speak to real humans about those takedowns, at least not easily. We are stuck in computer hell. Without the OTW's work and the work of other similar organizations, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we as fans would be at the mercy of corporations, whose only goal is profit.

I'm not trying to say that there's something inherently wrong with profit. I'm a partner in my company, myself, and I like profit as well as the next capitalist. But when you build a conglomerate with thousands of employees in every division, it doesn't matter that the folks who run social media are saying “let the fans do their thing; fans are our bread and butter!” The lawyers don't know the people who run social media, and the lawyers' job is to be as conservative as possible, to assert the company's intellectual property rights as strongly as possible. And fandom, for all that we are vocal, is still a small percentage of the total viewership of movies like Guardians of the Galaxy or shows like Teen Wolf. We need to organize. We need to legitimize ourselves in their eyes. We need to speak their language. The OTW does that wonderfully well.

Of course, the OTW's work goes far beyond just fighting for fans' rights. We could talk about Transformative Works and Cultures, which as an open-access journal can be read by anybody–including the fans that the articles in it are about. We could talk about Fanlore and the Archive of Our Own, sites which are transparently run and which guarantee that the fanworks stored in them won't be repurposed for someone else's profit. We could talk about the incredible task of preserving and cataloging zines.

These are crucial projects, any one of which would be a tremendous contribution to fandom. But the fact that a single organization is behind them means that they're worth more than the sum of their parts. And the fact that many different fandoms are represented in the OTW's projects and the OTW's concerns is even more powerful. Fandoms that are newer, smaller, or less organized can, through the OTW, benefit from the power of large and well-established fandoms. It's a similar concept to the one that inspired labor unions. And if there's one thing Hollywood understands, it's unions.

What's funny is that as the entertainment industry is changing, Hollywood needs to understand its fandoms–in all their various complexities–more than ever. The traditional methods of financing television, especially, are beginning to collapse, and the industry is searching for new metrics that almost always privilege active audiences–that privilege fandom. For instance, Variety is beginning to publish audience engagement ratings, and I can't count the number of times someone has told me “we're seeking to build a fandom for our show...” But unless fan voices are not just heard but listened to, it's not likely that these efforts will be effective. They might even spell a worse environment for fans and fandom, as the rush to monetize fan culture begins.

So let's celebrate the OTW on its anniversary! Here's to another seven years of free thinking, of using transformative works for critique and celebration! And here's to fan culture, built by fans and for fans!

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Release 0.9.18: Change Log

Published: 2014-08-28 17:09:45 -0400

Credits

  • Coders: Ariana, hill, james_, Marie, sarken, Scott, Stephanie Smith
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, Elz, james_
  • Testers: Lady Oscar, mumble, sarken

Details

  • The experimental "Hide my work from search engines when possible." preference was not properly applying the necessary markers to individual works. Now it does.
  • When a user tried to access a page that didn't exist, we previously displayed an error message and redirected the user to a more general page. We now properly show the 404 error page with a helpful hint about what content couldn't be found.
  • When trying to remove the name from a collection, you'd get an ugly error 500; now a proper error message is displayed that asks you to enter a name.
  • Rewrote the live validation code used for various error messages across the site, e.g. if you click into and then out of a comment field without typing anything, to make it more maintainable. (This was deployed as Release 0.9.17.)
  • Optimized the code we use to make sure usernames and passwords have the proper length when creating a new account or changing the password.
  • The label and input on the bookmark filters are now properly associated in the HTML, which is important for accessibility.
  • Fixed some mark-up in our header and footer code in preparation for more work on site translation.
  • Some mark-up on the "New Tag" page (accessible to wranglers) was wonky; now it's not wonky anymore.
  • Fixed various broken bits in our automated testing suite.

Known Issues

We are currently dealing with indexing and caching issues which mean works might suddenly go "missing" from a tag listing, or a user's own works page. The work is still in the database, but the search index is intermittently losing track of it. Please bear with us as we work to solve these problems!

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

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Chat with Support (in multiple languages!)

Published: 2014-08-26 12:26:48 -0400

Banner by caitie with 'otw chat' at its center and emoticons and other symbols in word bubbles surrounding it.

AO3 Support staffers are the people who receive your tickets through the Support and Feedback form and try to respond as soon as possible to register your feature suggestion, pass your bug report on to our coders, or do their best to help you out with a problem. However, when it comes to explaining how to do things or why something doesn't seem to be working right, the formal back-and-forth emails of a Support request aren't always ideal.

So Support will be holding an Open Chat session in our public chat room.

They'll be available on Saturday, August 30, 13:00 UTC to 19:00 UTC (what time is that in my timezone?). Volunteers will be available to answer inquiries in Chinese, English, Finnish, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. If you can't make it to this chat, keep an eye out for the next time as Support will be doing other chats later this year.

If you're having a problem using the Archive, want help trying something new, or would like an explanation of one of our features, please drop in and talk to us in person!

Some guidelines from Support, just to keep things running smoothly

We don't have a fancy presentation or material prepared--there are plenty of FAQs, tutorials, and admin posts for that. The point of live chat is to talk with you, not at you. We're happy for you to drop in and say "hi", but it's even better if you drop in and say, "Hi, what's up with my work that won't show as complete even though it is?!"

As Support, our function is to help users with bugs and issues, and pass reports on to our Coders and Systems team, who actually keep the place running. This means that policy questions are way over our pay grade. (Just kidding--none of us get paid!) So, if you have questions or comments about AO3 or OTW policies, good or bad, Support Chat isn't the right place for them. If you do want to talk to someone about policy issues (meta on the Archive, philosophical issues with the tagging system, category change, etc.) we can direct you to the appropriate admin post or contact address so you can leave feedback directly for the people dealing with the area of your concern.

Additionally, if a question looks like it might violate a user's privacy to answer (if it needs an email address or other personal information, for example) we may not be willing to work with it in chat. In those cases, we'll redirect a user to the Support Form so we can communicate via email.

So, now that that's out of the way, what kind of things are we going to talk about?

Live chat is best for questions of a "How do I...?" or "Why does it...?" nature.

For example, you might have been wondering:

  • I'd like to run a challenge, but I'm not sure how to do what I want.
  • For that matter, where did my work submitted to an anonymous challenge go?!
  • I want to post using formatting the Rich Text Editor won't give me. How do I do it using a work skin?
  • I want to add a lot of my older works to the AO3 -- what would be the easiest way to do that?

We'd be happy to help you with any of these questions, and anything else you're having trouble doing or would like to try doing with the Archive.

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