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Published:
2019-02-24 10:51:43 -0500
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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 Lona, who volunteers as a translator.

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

I am a translator, beta, uploader and team coordinator for the Dutch translation team. This way I help make the OTW just a little bit more accessible to the people out there who don't speak English.

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

It sounds like a horrible cliché, but there is no such thing as a typical week. I can however let you know a bit more about the way our team works! It starts with receiving the English news source texts that need translating or checking for errors, depending on whether you’re the translator or beta reader for that specific text.

The source text can be very easy and straightforward, but sometimes you’ll be presented with trickier phrases and terms. If it’s a term or phrase that we suspect will get used more often, we’ll discuss it with the team. The interesting thing here is that the Dutch team is a mix of Dutch and Belgian peeps, so opinions on what translations to use sometimes vary wildly. Especially if it’s between two terms that are both technically correct, but one is more ‘Dutch-Dutch’ and the other is more ‘Belgian-Dutch’. Please don’t ask me about ‘Contacteer’.

As a coordinator we (I and my other teammate, who is also a coordinator) try to make the team run as smoothly as possible. To give one example, this means that we plan meetings to discuss new terms and we add the new terms to our language’s “cheatsheet”, which is like our knowledge base or dictionary.

After new terms have been discussed and decided on, and the texts have been translated and checked, we upload the translated documents to the site for the world to see!

What made you decide to volunteer?

That’s a very uninspiring story, I’m afraid. I was a secretary between jobs in 2015 and bored out of my mind. My husband was out of the country during the week and I desperately needed something to do. Something fun. So of course I turned to fic reading and had recently stumbled on the AO3 where a ‘We’re looking for translators’ post caught my eye. I figured ‘Why the heck not, my English and Dutch skills are both decent and I need something to do anyway’ and applied. That’s when I discovered that I really love translating! So much, in fact, that I made it my career by now.

And of course, after becoming a translator it was only a short and slippery slope to also become a volunteer for the Policy & Abuse Committee. The OTW became my home in a very short time.

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

The people. As much fun as translating is, it really can’t hold a candle to the awesome and great people that make up the OTW. I have never before met so many open minded and fantastic peeps as here. Quite a few of them are no longer just ‘fellow volunteers’ but actual friends. We watch movies and series together, we write fic for each other and together, we discover new fandoms through and with each other.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I love to read and write. I started out with fanfiction in a paper journal in highschool, writing about DragonBall Z. Then I migrated to Fanfiction.net for my Pirates Of The Caribbean stories before I found my place at the AO3 where I write about DragonAge, Teen Wolf and Mystic Messenger.

I’m also a gamer, so you can probably find me behind my computer with my face plastered to the screen as I’m levelling one of my many World of Warcraft characters. Or discovering that the cake is a lie in Portal. Or going after Darkspawn in DragonAge.


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.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.