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Published:
2011-12-22 20:55:33 -0500
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The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee oversees technology-related projects within the OTW. Currently we are responsible for designing and building the Archive of Our Own. Our regular meeting updates keep you informed about developments on the AO3!

This was our final meeting of the year: the OTW takes an end-of-year break during which committees dissolve and are reformed, and committee members take a well-earned rest! We've had an action-packed year, so we're all ready for a break (from meetings at least - a lot of our work goes on as usual). We'll resume in January - we don't take on any new volunteers during our hiatus, so if you volunteer between now and then (and we hope you will - as you can see below, there are several areas we're really keen to build up), you'll have to wait a little while to get started.

Meeting highlights!

Fandom landing pad!

AD&T co-chair and senior coder Elz has been working for a while on improvements to browsing on the Archive. One thing she's been working on is a new 'fandom landing pad' so that browsing to a fandom will give you the option to browse to some important areas relating to that fandom. In this meeting we previewed her new design - going to a fandom landing page will give you a list of pairings and relationships in the fandom, and a list of authors and artists who have created work in that fandom, along with some basic information about the canon source. It's not quite ready for primetime yet, but it's looking very nifty!

Issues for Love!

Issues for love are the requests submitted by users via Support. We try to work through a few of these each meeting: we're working on ways of making it easier for people to see what has been suggested and what has been decided about the suggestions, but for now we'll include a round-up of our discussions in our meeting updates. Note that a decision to implement something does not necessarily mean it will be implemented soon - we have many issues to work on and a limited number of coders! If you want to see the full (and lengthy!) list of things logged for coders to work on you can check out our Google Code Issues. If you'd like to adopt an issue, we welcome new coders!

  • Request to add a setting to prompt-meme challenges to disallow anonymous prompts. This seemed like a handy extra feature without too much coding complexity, so we have logged it as an issue for a coder to work on.
  • Request to add an option to hide 'Share' buttons on works to reclaim screen real estate. It's already possible to disallow use of the share button on your own works, but you still see the button. We sympathise with the desire to reclaim the screen real estate, but we decided that added a user preference to hide the buttons would add too much complexity (the more user preferences there are, the more complicated it becomes for people to figure out what they can set in preferences, so we try to limit the options to things where there is a lot of demand for a setting). Instead, we added some extra code to our buttons so that they can be selected with CSS, so that people can build skins which hide the 'Share' button (or indeed any other button).
  • Suggestion for a 'challenge calendar' listing opening and closing dates for challenge sign-ups, and dates for assignments due, works revealed, authors revealed, etc, which can be opted in when a mod creates the challenge. We loved this idea, but it is fairly complex to implement. Our lovely co-chair Amelia has volunteered to put together a design, so this is something we'll introduce in the future - but probably not for a while.
  • Request for a way to mark WIPs as abandoned, and a way to offer abandoned WIPs up for 'adoption' so that someone can finish them. We all agreed it would be really nice to have a quick way to flag that a WIP would never be finished, so we've logged that as an issue for a coder to implement. The idea of offering works up for adoption seems like it might have more limited appeal, so we agreed that for now, it would be better to leave this as something which people can simply indicate in the tags they use, if so desired (you can add 'Adopt this story' or indeed any other tag you wish as an additional tag to your work).
  • Reflecting on Release 0.8.9

    As most of you reading this will know, we had a big release of new code at the beginning of November. This release included a lot of exciting new stuff; unfortunately, it didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped. In this meeting we reflected on problematic areas and ways that we can improve in future:

    • We combined two big new features: the redesign of our front-end code and the new tag sets code for challenges and collections. We had decided to combine the two because the tag sets needed some front-end work anyway, and at the time we made the decision it made sense to roll the two things into one. However, the tag sets code was time sensitive: because it offers a new system of challenge nominations which significantly reduces the pressure on tag wranglers, we wanted to implement it in time for the big holiday challenges such as Yuletide. This meant that when we combined the two features, we had a lot more stuff to get ready within a set amount of time, which made everything more difficult. When we decided to merge the two, it didn't seem as if this was going to be a problem - but one thing we've learnt is that any deploy can bring unexpected hitches, so in the future if there's a time-sensitive feature we'll be trying to keep that as separate from other code as possible.
    • This was a big visual change, which meant that it had an impact on a large number of users: visual bugs tend to be encountered by lots of users, and even if there are no bugs, people still have lots of feedback about visual changes. We were aware of this; however, given the scale of the response to this deploy we realise we weren't prepared enough. We'll be doing more testing of interface changes in future, and exploring ways of beta-testing them with more users.
    • Since one thing about visual changes is that lots of people just prefer the design they are used to, one thing we could have improved on was providing a way of going back to the old default design. We tried to provide for this with the One Point Faux option, but it had quite a few problems. So, in future this is something we'll be paying more attention to: if we introduce a big change, we'll try to provide ways of opting out. The good news is that going forward, this will actually be easier, because the new skins system is much more lightweight and it should be easier to provide some backwards compatibility (one reason this was problematic this time is because the underlying code for the old system was less than ideal, so everything had been completely rewritten).
    • We didn't have as much support documentation and information as we really needed for this deploy. In particular, we needed much fuller documentation on the new skins features so that people could try them out more easily and our Support team could point to useful information when helping people. There were several factors which led to a lack of documentation: crucially, several of the team who would normally take care of this were dealing with RL issues which limited the amount of time they could spend on it. In order to help avoid problems like this in future, we're building a deploy checklist which includes documentation, to make sure that we've considered whether we need additional documentation regardless of who is available to work on any given deploy. We're also aiming to build up a proper documentation team so that this work is less likely to fall through the cracks: if you're interested in being involved in this team, get in touch with our Volunteers and Recruitment Committee and let them know. We'd love to welcome new people to the team!
    • We also needed more documentation on the new features for testers, so that it was clearer what people needed to test and what they should expect it to do. This is an ongoing aim - we're working to improve our documentation across the board. Improving documentation for testers will also help us to address another issue, which was that feedback from testers got a bit scattered - having clear docs to start with would have helped us make it clearer what feedback needed to go where. Again, we're working on building up our testing procedures generally - if you're interested in getting involved with testing, let us know!

    While the problems we had with this deploy did highlight a number of areas where we need to work to improve, it's not all doom and gloom! There were also a number of things that went right with this deploy - we were able to fix critical bugs within 48 hours of the deploy, the Support team did a wonderful job keeping up with the many Support requests, and there was a huge amount of awesome code in the deploy itself. One reason the site is still in beta is that we're still learning the best processes for development (as well as because our code is new and rapidly changing): in the last four years we've gone from being a tiny group working on coding a 'closed' site (i.e. for the first two years we were just writing the code and testing, we didn't have any real users) to being a much larger group catering for a site of over 28800 users! So, we're still figuring things out - objects may still shift in transit! We're pleased that we've been able to keep the site up and running, and everything largely functional, even though we've had the odd bump along the way. Thanks to everyone who has worked hard to make this true!

    Next deploy

    We're hoping to get one last deploy in before the end of 2011! It will include some updates to our HTML parser, some improvements to our static pages for collections and challenges, and Atom feeds for fandom tags! (YEAY!)

    News from our sub-committees

    • Coders have been working on polishing off the issues to go in the next deploy. We're particularly excited about the forthcoming addition of Atom feeds for fandom tags - having tested this out for a good while now on the F/F tag, we think we can implement feeds without too much additional strain on the servers, and since this is a very popular request we're excited about launching it!
    • Testers have been testing the issues for next deploy, and discussing how they'd like to see the subcommittee develop next year. There have been some great discussions on what worked and what didn't this year, how we can build a stronger testing community, and how we can support our testers.

    News from our sister committees

    • Support have continued to work amazingly hard keeping up with a high number of tickets. Looking forward, they're also thinking about our documentation needs and places we need more information for users.
    • Tag wranglers have been discussing needs for next year with AD&T - the two committees will be meeting in the new term to talk over technical needs for tag wrangling. They've also been surveying all tag wrangling volunteers about their experiences this year, with a view to figuring out what works well and what can be improved on.

    If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering (we won't be taking on new volunteers until the new term, but you can get in touch now to let us know you're interested), or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

    This meeting round-up by Lucy

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Published:
2011-11-25 14:56:54 -0500
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The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee oversees technology-related projects within the OTW. Currently we are responsible for designing and building the Archive of Our Own. Our regular meeting updates keep you informed about developments on the AO3!

AD&T and our associated committees and subcommittees have been very busy recently working towards our latest deploy and then working on issues arising from that. This one didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped (understatement!); we knew that there would be bugs revealed by practical use that didn't appear in testing, though there were more than we had anticipated and we have been working hard to fix the immediate issues. We're happy to say that we were able to fix the most pressing problems within 48 hours; a week on from the deploy we've been able to address quite a few more, so those fixes will be deployed soon. We're really grateful to everyone who worked hard on this deploy and on addressing the issues subsequent to it. We are planning to do a thorough review of the deploy and think about the lessons learned and ways we can improve. This week, however, we focused on working through some outstanding business and outlining the tasks we need to complete before the end of the year.

Meeting highlights!

Goals for the rest of the year

We're drawing close to the end of the 2011 term, so we started to think about what our priorities are for the rest of this year. On December 16th all the OTW committees officially dissolve and we take a break before reforming in January (although in practice many members of AD&T tend to do quite a bit of work during the hiatus, heh). So, we talked about a few things we'd like to get done before then:

  • Coding! Several people have code in-progress which they'd like to do some serious work on and hopefully finish by the end of the year. Site navigation, bookmarks improvements and a refactoring of our works code (important for tons of other improvements) are high on this list!
  • Revising our roadmap. We have a longterm plan for what features we'd like to implement on the Archive and when. However, we don't always implement things in exactly the order they are in on the roadmap: we have to be flexible and adapt according to a range of things including the pressing needs of the Archive at a given time, the coding expertise available, the level of difficulty involved in a specific project (this is not always as anticipated), and a bunch of other things. We also add new things to out to-do list based on feedback from other fans. So, we have to review our roadmap regularly to ensure it reflects our capabilities at any given time: right now it's out of date, so we'd like to get it updated to help shape plans for the coming year.
  • Completing our archive import code and rescuing some at-risk archives! Coder Naomi is currently putting the final touches to the code which will allow us to rescue archives which are no longer able to exist independently. Our immediate priority is the Smallville Slash Archive, which was hosted by the late, great Minotaur: several fans have worked hard to preserve this bit of fannish history, but it can't hold out much longer, so we want to help them out by the end of the year. We talked about the various things we need to do to make that a reality - stay posted for more news on this soon.
  • Reviewing our testing procedures: One area we'd like to improve and develop more support is in our testing team, where a very small number of people do very dedicated work. Our testing lead Kylie will be hosting a meeting for current testers to think about what works well and what can be improved, to make sure they can continue to work well into the future.
  • Exploring our tag wrangling options. The Tag Wrangling Committee and the big team of wranglers they manage do an amazing job at keeping the many, many user-generated tags on the Archive in order. However, we're growing at a massive rate and their job has become significantly bigger over a very short space of time. So, we want to talk to the TW Committee now to see if there are technical improvements that could make their lives easier, if the current system is still right for us, and whether there is anything else to think about from a tech point-of-view.

Issues for love!

As part of our recent drive to address features requests and feedback via support more quickly, we had a big drive in this meeting to burn through some of the 'issues for love' which are awaiting committee discussion before they can move on to the next step. A few of the things we discussed:

  • Improving bookmarks: We get lots of support requests asking for more sorting and filtering of bookmarks, and our Support team wanted to know how our plans on this were progressing. We're happy to say this is being actively worked on and we hope to have it out by the beginning of next year.
  • Donate to the Archive: We also get quite a few Support requests asking how to donate time or money to the Archive. We've long been meaning to make this much clearer on the site itself, and we're happy to say that the code for a page with this information has now been submitted by our new intern, Firewolf. If you're wondering in the meantime, both these things are handled via our parent Organization for Transformative Works: get in touch with our Volunteers and Recruitment Committee if you're interested in helping out with the Archive, or make a donation to the OTW to help fund the site. Since the committee term for this year is coming to an end and we'll be taking a break, we won't be welcoming any new people to our teams until we reconvene in January, but we still welcome expressions of interest now!
  • Adding more than one related work: A couple of users had contacted Support to say they had works inspired by more than one other work and couldn't figure out how to show this. It is actually possible to add more than one related work - however, due to an oversight you have to add one, post the work, and then edit the second one in. This is clearly not very intuitive, so we're fixing it - and in the meantime we're adding some help text so people can find the workaround while we look at the more complex bit of the code.

Next deploy

The next deploy is scheduled for some time in the next week (depending on the availability of our team, several of whom have holiday celebrations this week). It will include a fix for the rich text editor (currently completely broken for some people), some fixes for oddities in skins, and a fix for index pages on subcollections (currently not showing up!).

News from our sub-committees

  • Coders worked crazy hard to get our last deploy up and running, and then to fix some bugs arising afterwards. They did an awesome job of coming up with quick solutions to some of the bugs that showed up once we were on the real Archive - thanks to everyone for their hard work! More generally, they have been focusing on getting lots more projects out of the door before the end of the year. They are cooking up some exciting stuff, including navigation improvements and importing, so we're looking forward to having these see the light of day.
  • Testers have been super active lately! They tested the latest deploy in all sorts of situations and configurations, and then did more urgent testing to help fix the things that slipped through the cracks. The testing team is small and they do amazing work - thanks lovely people!

News from our sister committees

  • Support have also been working very, very hard dealing with all the tickets arising from our recent deploy. Every new deploy produces an uptick in tickets, because new code inevitably means some new bugs (this is why whenever big companies release a new OS, it's usually followed shortly after by a bunch of updates!). This deploy produced more tickets than usual - a lot more! - but Support have been doing a sterling job keeping up. If you do find they are a little slower than usual, then rest assured they will get to you as soon as possible.
  • Tag wranglers have been awesome helping Support deal with tag-related tickets. The Tag Wrangling Committee gave AD&T some initial feedback on where tag wrangling stands at the moment, pending a meeting when we'll talk in more detail about tech needs for wrangling.

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Lucy.

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Published:
2011-10-25 18:49:17 -0400
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The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee oversees technology-related projects within the OTW. Currently we are responsible for designing and building the Archive of Our Own. Our regular meeting updates keep you informed about developments on the AO3!

This is a busy time for AD&T, because we're coming closer to our big deploy! We've been working on some major changes and they are almost ready to go onto the main Archive - this means lots of testing and bugfixing and general activity!

OTW October Drive!

Everyone has been working so hard that this already feels like a long time in the past, but we can't post without mentioning the great success of the OTW October Membership Drive! It was the most successful drive ever, raising a whopping US$21,456! This money will help to support the Archive as it grows, along with the rest of the OTW's projects. We're totally awed at the generosity of fandom (you can read more about the details of the drive at DevMem's October Drive Wrap-up.) We'd also like to give a big shout-out to Megan and the rest of the DevMem team, who worked really hard to make this drive the success it was. Kudos to everyone involved!

Meeting highlights!


Site redesign

We will soon be rolling out a redesign for the site. Visually, it won't be changing dramatically, but the front-end code underneath is changing a lot. It's now more flexible, easier to understand, and - crucially - more accessible. This has been a big job, but we think it will make the Archive much more usable and maintainable going forward.

Skins changes!

The overhaul of the site CSS and HTML has allowed us to make some major changes to our skins features. When we launched skins, users were super happy - but we know that they were not quite as flexible as you might like. With the new site CSS, you will no longer have to use the dreaded !important all the time. Even cooler, the new design allows you to have multilayer skins, so that you can combine several skins to get the site exactly how you want it. Most importantly, this means that if we change the site design again in future, you can make the old design a 'parent' for the skin you're using so that it doesn't break (similar to the way you can use S1 and S2 styles on Livejournal.)

The only downside of the new skins system is that your existing skins may break - we're doing our best to make sure this doesn't happen, but as there are a lot of user-designed skins we can't be 100% certain. We're currently testing the new system and figuring out exactly what the implications are for existing skins - we'll keep you posted on what to expect and how best you can prepare for the change.

Our Feature Requests process

We spent some time discussing our process for dealing with feature requests from users. Our lovely Support team receive lots of requests for new features or enhancements from users, and until recently these were logged on our internal wiki to await review by AD&T, who decide whether we can make a change and how it fits into our overall plans for the Archive. However, things were not getting off that page and onto the AD&T agenda as fast as we'd like, so we've been looking for a new process for a while now. Support have come up with a new proposed process which will involve putting new requests directly onto the AD&T agenda, so we don't overlook anything and deal with it more swiftly. Anything AD&T approve will be put into the pool for coders to work on; we'll also be keeping a clearer list of things which we decide we won't implement, with the reasons why. We're hoping this will help us be much more efficient and more responsive to users (it will certainly make Support's life a whole lot easier!). We're also thinking about ways of making the whole feature request process more visible to users, so you can see a bit more of the decision-making that goes into building the Archive.

Next deploy

The next deploy is scheduled for as soon as we can get it all working and tested. It includes some big changes, including the new site design, new skins features, tag sets for challenges, and much more - this is awesome but it means we want to be EXTRA sure we have picked up any problems (although no doubt some will sneak through the net).

News from our sub-committees


Coders

Coders are working away like busy busy bees, fixing things and writing new code. Rebecca ran some awesome training on automated testing tool RSpec, which will help us write some nice speedy tests so we don't fall asleep while we're waiting for tests to run - thanks, Rebecca! We are working on building up more and more coder training sessions, to share our skills and help people develop.

Testers

Testers are also busy, getting the new code tested and making sure it is all up-to-scratch. They work quietly in the background, but they are all absolutely awesome and without their hard work the Archive couldn't exist - thanks, testers! Longtime tester hill has also been working on automated testing using Watir - this replicates testing in different browsers, cutting down on the amount of manual testing needed and thus saving the testing team to work on the things that really need the human touch. Thanks, hill! We always welcome volunteers, and our awesome testers are particularly in need of backup - if you're interested in joining the team, get in touch via Volunteers and Recruiting.

News from our sister committees


Support

The Support team have maintained their great work keeping up with tickets - right now there is not one single unassigned ticket! We're pleased to welcome Anna and arithilim to the team - it's great to see them already getting stuck in with tickets! We'd also like to give a big shout-out to Yshyn, who has been doing awesome work developing Support's documentation and building up a knowledge base, and to Sam, who has ventured into the thorny wilds of the old Feature Requests page to carve out overlooked ideas!

If you're interested in what Support do, check out the recent Spotlight on Support - and remember, Support are always happy to answer your questions on all aspects of the Archive - just get in touch via the Support & Feedback form.

Tag wrangling

The Tag Wrangling Committee ran a very successful Open House in which we talked a bit about how wrangling works and walked through some wrangling. If you missed it, a transcript should be up on the OTW website soon! We are planning more sessions like this in future \0/ - keep an eye out for future news posts.

Wranglers also provided information for a number of support requests. In response to one of them, we have added the metatag Anthropomorphism above Anthropomorfic, with them both being canonicals (canonicals can be used to filter search results). This lets users who consider their works part of the “-fic” tradition to use this tag, while encouraging works of different types of media. We've left the subtags of Anthropomorfic as they are for the moment, with the exception of Fandom (Anthropomorfic)- since some of the works under this tag were not related to anthromorphism, but rather inspired by fandom itself, Fandom – Fandom was canonized as well under Other Media, and Fandom (Anthropomorfic) was subtagged under it as well as Anthropomorphism. We’ll be keeping an eye on fandom usage and adapt if necessary. If you’ve got further input to this, or other wrangling issues, please let us know by filing a Support request or tweeting us @ao3_wranglers.

Finally, we're pleased to welcome lots of new wranglers, including welfycat, Niko, Sossity, melodiousb, Pax, foxinthestars and Rodo! If you're interested in wrangling, check out the list of fandoms without wranglers - the Marvel Universe is particularly in need of love right now, and could use several co-wranglers who can work together on the various different parts! Please note that wrangler signup will close for the year on 1st November, so visit the volunteers page now to join the team!

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Lucy.

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Published:
2011-10-05 17:23:25 -0400
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The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee oversees technology-related projects within the OTW. Currently we are responsible for designing and building the Archive of Our Own. Our regular meeting updates keep you informed about developments on the AO3!

This was a nice busy meeting - 11 of our 14 staffers were able to attend! Managing different timezones and meeting times, as well as other commitments, means that it can be challenging for everyone to attend every meeting, so it's nice when lots of us make it (although some of us were off celebrating birthdays *looks about shiftily*).

Meeting highlights!

Improving our code commits and deploy process

This is an important subject to us, although one that isn't immediately apparent to our users! When a coder writes some new code, they 'push' it to our code repository and then submit a 'pull request' to ask for it to be included in the main project. Another coder then looks at the code and (if they don't spot any problems) merges it into the main project; when we have a few changes to that, we put all the code on our Test archive for testers to work on. Ideally, this whole process should be pretty quick - it's nice for coders to have their code accepted quickly (or sent back for changes) and it's nice for users if we get new code tested quickly and thus out onto the live site!

Right now, this process isn't as fast as we'd like it to be. Unfortunately, our automated tests currently take a significant amount of time to run, and that causes a bit of a chain reaction: coders run the tests as they work, run all the tests before they push their code out, run all the tests before they approve somebody else's code, and have a job set up on our development server to run all the tests every day and email the whole team with any failures. While we work on making the tests faster, we're hoping to do some reshuffling, where we reduce some of the duplication and the time required to merge in code, while doing more manual review. We'll be aiming to get code merged in and out to our testers on a quicker and more regular basis, so that ultimately users will have faster access to fixes and new features.

Mentoring

Ana and Jenny have been working on some ideas for improving mentoring for coders. We have lots of informal mentoring - one of the great things about coding with the OTW is that people on the project are so generous with their time, and are happy to answer questions and support new people. However, sometimes people feel awkward about asking for help at busy times, or they want some more intensive one-to-one mentoring to help work out a big project or get over a specific learning 'hump'. It can be challenging for us to provide this kind of mentoring, because we have such a small number of developers, all of whom are volunteers and many of whom are also learning this stuff as they go! The new plans are designed to make it a bit easier, and to make people more comfortable about asking for a specific mentor if that's what suits their style.

Front-end changes

We're continuing to work on changes to the HTML and CSS of the site. lim has been radically reworking the CSS to make it more flexible and much much easier to skin. Meanwhile, we have been working through front-end issues logged in our Google code issues project to identify old issues which still need attention, and close the ones which are now obsolete. Thanks to everyone who has been working on this!

Latest deploy

We deployed Release 0.8.8 this weekend, which included performance fixes, lots of JavaScript changes, and a fix for the annoying '500 error on download' issue. You can see the full list of changes in our release notes.

As most of you will have noticed, this deploy did not go as smoothly as we'd have liked! One of the problems with performance enhancements in particular is that they are very hard to test, since there's no way of reproducing the exact conditions of the live site. So, we were alarmed when after our big deploy (full of performance enhancements) the load on the site went UP instead of down. A whole lot of investigation and work later, our wonderful Systems team were able to get everything under control. The site went up and down quite a few times while all this work was going on, but the good news is that the server load is now lower than it has been for the past six months! The site is running correspondingly faster. We have a list of additional changes to make - one of the useful side-effects of the problems was that they highlighted some things we could improve - but we're really happy to see the 502s banished at last! A million thanks to Sidra and james_ who did a LOT of work to fix everything!

News from our sub-committees

  • Coders did lots of last-minute work to get everything ready for the deploy, then the senior coders and Systems staff worked like CHAMPIONS to resolve the issues that showed up during the deploy.
  • Testers also worked like champions getting this deploy ready for primetime. Jenn, Kylie, Seph, Tai, Weimar, xparrotx and Zebra, you all deserve a special shout-out after the hard work you put into sorting out this monster deploy!

News from our sister committees

  • Support continue to keep up with tickets after their amazing work overcoming the backlog. They are happy to answer all kinds of questions about the Archive, whether you think you've found a bug or you just want clarification on something - please don't feel shy about asking if there's something you'd like to know!
  • Tag wranglers will be holding an open house on Saturday 15th of October at 22:00 UTC. This will be a drop in session where you can find out about volunteering as a wrangler, ask about tags, help out with fandoms we don’t have wranglers for yet, or just have a chat about what we do. It will be held in the OTW Public Discussion Room - if you've ever been curious, drop by and find out more!

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Lucy.

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Published:
2011-09-20 20:31:21 -0400
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The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee oversees technology-related projects within the OTW. Currently we are responsible for designing and building the Archive of Our Own. Our regular meeting updates keep you informed about developments on the AO3!

It's been noses to the grindstone for AD&T since our last meeting, with staffers working hard on the forthcoming deploy and on their own personal responsibilities (alas for the necessity of working for a living).

Archive downtime and performance issues

We had a period of downtime on the AO3 on September 18th between roughly 1pm-3pm UTC, and another one on September 20th between about 10am-12 noon UTC. The issues originated in two different servers. We weren't able to identify the cause of the first problem, but after that outage our Systems team installed some tools which are helping us identify a solution for the second outage.

The outage on 18th September did cause a few other issues; most noticeably for users, it caused a temporary glitch with notification emails which resulted in some people receiving kudos notifications for other people's works. This was a very short-term issue and should only have affected a handful of people - apologies for the confusion!

More generally, we are struggling with performance at the moment - we know that people are seeing a lot of 502 errors. We have some improvements coming in the next deploy, but there is one issue that we're finding difficult to pin down, so we're not sure yet whether this deploy will banish the 502s altogether! Thank you for your patience while we figure things out (and if you're an experienced systems admin with spare time on your hands, then do consider volunteering with us!).

Don't forget, you can get the latest status updates from our Twitter @AO3_Status, which is mirrored on Dreamwidth and Livejournal.

Beat the 1000 limit - how to browse and search on the AO3!

One of the parts of the Archive where we'd like to make some major improvements is search and browse. In particular, we'd love to come up with a solution that would allow us to remove the 1000 limit on search results, which we put in to avoid exploding the servers. We're working on this, but it's tricky! In the meantime, the lovely X-parrot, who serves on the Tag Wrangling Committee and is tag wrangling liaison with AD&T, has written a fantastic tutorial on Browsing & Reading on the AO3 which includes loads of brilliant tips on how to find the works you want.

Meeting highlights!

Deploy planning

We spent much of the meeting discussing issues relating to our forthcoming deploy, which we're keen to have on the Archive as soon as possible. It will include the much-needed performance improvements and the new tag sets for challenge nominations, among a lot of other nommy stuff. We're currently trying to ensure that we've tested everything thoroughly enough - we have lots of JavaScript improvements, but as different browsers react slightly differently to JavaScript we need to be extra-careful that we've tested thoroughly. We're particularly in need of testers who can test in Internet Explorer - if you think you might be interested then do volunteer!

Open Video conference

Our co-chairs Elz and Amelia attended the Open Video conference in NYC, where they picked up lots of tips about tools that might be useful to us. Popcorn.js looks particularly exciting - it's a tool for synchronizing html5 video with actions elsewhere on a webpage, with JavaScript and CSS. Full of nifty potential, even if we don't have an immediate use for it on the Archive!

Next deploy

The next deploy is scheduled for as soon as we can complete the testing we need to do! It will include lots of exciting things, but right now we're most excited about the performance improvements!

News from our sub-committees

  • Coders are helping out with some testing and fixing bugs which come up in the process. Coder astolat is working hard to get the new code for tag sets finished, so that it can be used for the Dark Agenda challenge, whose request inspired this feature in the first place!
  • Testers are working really hard on getting the new code ready for deploy. They are few in number but extremely awesome - thanks, testers!

News from our sister committees

  • Support EXCELLED themselves in their ticket party, dealing with ALL THE TICKETS. The number of unassigned tickets went from 99 to 0 in 24 hours! The backlog of old tickets had been delaying response times for a while now, so we're thrilled to be all caught up and able to deal with tickets in a more timely fashion. Major kudos to the Support team!
  • Tag wranglers are currently focusing on small fandoms in need of wranglers - very small fandoms may only need a small amount of wrangling work and are easy for new volunteers to get up to speed with. Some of the small fandoms without wranglers include Bái Fà Mó Nǚ Zhuàn | Bride with White Hair (1993), Never Gonna Give You Up (Music Video), Alarm für Cobra 11, and Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving, which have just one work each on the Archive! And of course, Tag Wrangling Committee member X-Parrot wrote the fab tutorial on Browsing & Reading on the AO3 \o/.

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Zooey.

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Published:
2011-09-08 12:06:26 -0400
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The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee oversees technology-related projects within the OTW. Currently we are responsible for designing and building the Archive of Our Own. Our regular meeting updates keep you informed about developments on the AO3!

This meeting was the last on the current timetable. We've been alternating between two times on a Saturday and Sunday, but as new members join the committee and the schedules of the existing members change, we have to review from time-to-time, and we're switching to some new slots that suit our current membership better. With committee members from Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, Romania, the UK and the USA, it can be tricky to find a time that suits everyone! Kudos to the members who stay up insanely late or get up super early in order to make the meetings!

Meeting highlights

Collections and Challenges

Our taskforce met up to discuss the ongoing development of collections and challenges. Coder astolat is almost finished with the new tag sets functionality, which will allow users to create sets of tags for use in challenges - this will mean that nominations for multifandom challenges can take place on the Archive. Once this work is done we'll be reviewing the collections and challenges code to make it faster, prettier and simpler. We already have some major functionality - gift exchanges and prompt memes - but we want to refactor the code so it works better and make it easier for us to add other challenge types in the future (Big Bangs are definitely on our to-do list)!

FAQ improvements

The Archive FAQ is long and detailed - but it's not very easy to find what you want in it! We're planning some improvements to go along with our new Support Board so that our users can get the information they need.

CSS revamp

Front-end coder lim is currently working on a massive overhaul of the way CSS works on the site. The new structure will make it much easier for people to write skins (skins creators, you'll be able to bid a not-so-fond farewell to all those !importants). We're planning some very intensive testing to be sure the new design works in most browsers.

JavaScript revamp and testing

Our awesome coder Enigel has worked hard replacing the JavaScript library Prototype with JQuery. This should make our JavaScript less buggy and will help make it easier to design more accessible JavaScript which degrades nicely for people who don't use it. Now her work is done, we're faced with the massive job of testing it all. The changes affect most areas of the site, so our intrepid testing team have a big job on their hands!

Open Video Conference

AD&T chairs Amelia and Elz will be attending the Open Video Conference in New York this coming weekend. They're hoping to pick up some ideas for how we might progress with our plans for hosting videos on the AO3 - this functionality is still some way off, but we're really excited about the possibilties.

Fanart is coming!

In preparation for hosting fanart on our servers, our Content Policy team are revising our Terms of Service and FAQ to cover images. They are currently inviting feedback on the draft policy - our aim is to make our Terms of Service as clear and fan-friendly as possible, so please do raise any questions or concerns.

Technical preparations for fanart are also continuing. Our plans for a revamped 'post new work' form include more features for multimedia, and we'll be introducing ways of tagging different media so they can be easily filtered for.

Site performance and the invitations queue

The number of people waiting for an invitation now stands at over a thousand - we seem to have arrived! Many users will have noticed a corresponding increase in site slowness, especially at peak times when a large number of our 21793 users are trying to use the site all at once! The good news is that we have some performance enhancements in our forthcoming deploy which should help ease the site slowdowns so that you no longer run into the sad 502 page. The bad news is that the high demand means that we still need to manage the number of users signing up to the site at any given time, so we'll continue to use the invitations system for sign-up for the forseeable future. We're sorry that we can't give excited fans accounts immediately, but everyone who requests an account is given one. If you have added your email address to our invitations queue you can check that page to see when your invitation will arrive - if the date passes with no invitation, please get in touch with our Support team and let them know, as sometimes they do get caught in spam filters.

Tag tutorial

Ever wondered about how tags work on the Archive, or what the best way is to tag your work? Our awesome Tag Wrangling Committee have put together a Tags Tutorial explaining how everything works and what goes on behind the scenes! Thanks to the wrangling volunteers who gave feedback on the draft tutorial (and for all their hard work wrangling). If you have a specific question or comment about tags, you can contact the Tag Wrangling Committee directly via Twitter @ao3_wranglers or send a message via our Support team.

Next deploy

We're working hard to get the next deploy out as soon as possible. This deploy is a big one, and needs some heavy duty testing - because we've changed the JavaScript across the site, we need to do a full regression test to check everything is still working as it should. As soon as we're sure nothing is broken, we'll be putting the new code on the site - this deploy includes important performance enhancements as well as lots of other lovely stuff, so we're keen to get it out in the world as soon as possible!

News from our sub-committees

  • Coders are continuing to tackle our issues list and working hard fixing bugs identified in the new code.
  • Testers are working hard on the regression test for the new deploy - testing ALL the things. We always need new testers, so if you're someone who likes banging on the site and finding out how things work, please do get in touch with our Volunteers Committee and let them know you're interesed in testing. No special skills required, just a spirit of enquiry and a certain tenacity!

News from our sister committees

  • Support welcomed two more new staffers to the team - Oaktree and lionpyh! They are planning a ticket party later in the week to tackle ALL the tickets (or at least quite a few of them!). They've also been updating the FAQs - thanks to Cybel for adding the new Kudos FAQ.
  • Tag Wranglers are reviewing their membership to make sure that everyone on the list of volunteers still wants to wrangle. New volunteers are always welcome - check out the list of fandoms currently in need of a wrangler to see if there is an area you could help. The Tag Wrangling Committee has also recently revised some tag-related FAQs, and they have just posted their brand new Tag Tutorial! \o/

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Zooey.

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Published:
2011-08-26 17:46:46 -0400
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This was a well-attended meeting - after a few meetings where real life took various members of the committee away, most of us were back together this week.

Meeting highlights!


Upcoming design changes

We've got various sections of the site queued up for design work - navigation, the home page, fandom landing pages and news posts, among others. Some of these have been on the back burner for a while, but we're making progress and some of the designs are almost ready for the committee to review. We're pretty excited about the new designs, which should make the site a lot more usable as well as prettier!

Challenges and Collections

Our Collections and Challenges task force recently met up to work on plans to improve all the stuff we learnt from Yuletide 2009, Remix, Yuletide 2010, Final Fantasy Exchange and other challenges. Maybe this year will finally be the year there won't be any panic in the run-up to a big challenge? (We can dream!) Work on tag sets for challenges is progressing - this will make it possible to run nominations for multifandom challenges on the Archive.

Site security

Our security task force gained a new member and is reviewing ways of improving site security. One area where we're planning improvements is site login - we've asked our Systems team to get us an https certificate so we can introduce https secure logins.

Coding Open House!

Have you ever fancied coding for the OTW or wondered what it is we do? AD&T member Jenny will be hosting a public chat on coding, introducing Ruby on Rails and the setup for our coders. All are welcome! The chat will be held on Saturday, 27 August at 04:00 UTC (what time is it in my timezone?) in OTW's public chatroom on Campfire. The chatroom can be accessed at https://fanarchive.campfirenow.com/e79cc.

Next deploy

We're working towards another deploy, which will take place as soon as we can get it ready. It will include more accessible Javascript (yay for jQuery) and several performance improvements that should reduce the number of 502 errors, as well as the usual list of minor bug-fixes.

News from our sub-committees


  • Coders have been working like crazy! Enigel has done awesome work updating all the JavaScript on the site and replacing uses of the Prototype library with another library, JQuery. This work will help fix some niggling problems, and lays the foundations for some accessibility improvements - soon, users without JavaScript will be able to delete!
  • Testers: There's tons to test in this deploy - particular thanks to Kylie for organising parties, and X-Parrot for testing so much.

News from our sister committees



  • Support are still working hard at keeping up with tickets, and providing feedback on the new Support Board as coder Sidra works on it. They are pleased to welcome new staffer Yshyn to the team!
  • Tag Wranglers keep a-wrangling! They are always pleased to welcome new wranglers - fandoms currently in need of love include Weiß Kreuz, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter – Laurell K. Hamilton and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Jenny S-T & Zooey

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Published:
2011-08-17 18:01:13 -0400
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AD&T had a quiet meeting, as quite a few of our members were off on holiday (yeay!) or dealing with various other commitments. This meant that we made it through our agenda in record time, i.e. within the two hours actually scheduled for the meeting. (This is probably only exciting to us, but take our word for it it's a red letter day.)

Meeting highlights!

Site expansion - hello to our new members!

We've seen another increase in new members recently - welcome to all our new members! We know that the recent DDoS attacks on Livejournal have made many fans eager to back up their fanworks with us (as well as bringing lots and lots of readers!), and we're very glad that we're able to provide fans of all varieties a home! We like to think that groovy site features such as downloads and reading history have also played their part in increasing our popularity - our coding team is constantly working on site improvements.

Performance improvements

One of the key areas our coding team is focusing on at the moment is site performance. As the site expands and we welcome more and more users, optimum code performance becomes ever more important. You may have noticed some site slowdowns and occasional 502 errors recently; in addition to tweaking our server setup as particular issues arose, our coders have been working on longer-term improvements. The forthcoming deploy will include a number of things designed to improve site performance and reduce the number of 502s you encounter.

Shoutout to vidders!

As we enjoy the vids which premiered at Vividcon, this seems like a great time to give AO3 vidders a shoutout! At the moment, we can't host vids (although we will introduce this option in the longer term), but you can embed vids hosted on other sites. Currently, video embeds are supported from Youtube, Vimeo, blip.tv, Dailymotion, Viddler, Metacafe, 4shared CreativeCommons, ning and vidders.net. If you use a site which is not currently supported, then drop our support team a line and let us know you'd like it added. You should also feel free to include download links in your vid posts. We're working on a new interface which will allow you to say what medium your fanwork is in, but right now you can just add a tag in the 'Additional tags' field to let people know your work is a vid (or fanart, or a filk, or whatever else you'd like to post!).

Vividcon vidders, you may wish to add this year's vids to the Vividcon 2011 collection, or archive your older vids in Vividcon 2010 and Vividcon 2009.

Farewell to Eylul and Ira

We bid a sad farewell to two committee members, Eylul and Ira, who are stepping down to devote more time to other things. We're really grateful for all the hard work and energy they've devoted to the project.

Next deploy

The next deploy is scheduled for the end of August. It will include a bunch of performance enhancements, improvements to our prompt meme feature, many JavaScript enhancements, and a fix for the very annoying issue causing downloads to fail on the first try!

News from our sub-committees

  • Coders launched Code Issue Bingo! Courtesy of coder Rebecca, coders can generate a custom bingo card linking to our Google code issues - the cards help us blitz some older issues, and also bring a strange sense of personal satisfaction. :D
  • Testers waved goodbye to former test lead Eylul - we're really grateful to her for all her work. They're gearing up to test our forthcoming deploy.

News from our sister committees

  • Support recently welcomed a couple of new members: mumble and Sam Johnsson have both dived in and are proving a great addition to the team. Support requests remain high, but the extra staff are making a big difference!
  • Tag wranglers have been reviewing the wrangling rosters to confirm how many wranglers are still active, and gathering wrangler feedback on the new tag autocomplete so coders can improve it. They also have plans for a wrangling open house - more news coming soon!

If there are things you'd like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Zooey.

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