I. VOLUNTEER PRIVACY AND DATA SECURITY UPDATES
In light of the malicious email attacks against OTW volunteers that took place in early May, teams across the OTW have been working to improve our internal processes to protect volunteers' privacy and secure sensitive data. The Board of Directors has been continually liaising with committees, including Legal, to deal with the ongoing aftermath of these attacks. Likewise, the Board discussed with Strategic Planning integrating data security into the OTW's upcoming Strategic Plan. A draft of the proposed new strategic plan has been sent to all chairs for review and feedback, and Strategic Planning is working on incorporating the feedback it has already received into the plan draft. The vision statement for the plan is still in the works for posting to the OTW’s website with the help of Communications and Translation. Stay tuned!
The Board also worked with Elections to prepare for the upcoming Board of Directors election, including giving feedback on proposed measures to protect candidates' privacy. As such, Elections will only be publicly posting the legal names of elected or appointed Board Directors. If you are an OTW member, you will receive your voting instructions email on July 23, and this correspondence will include candidates' full names. Similarly, candidates' full legal names will appear on the ballot, and everyone is still running under their legal name! Elections Chairs have also reviewed its security precautions for the upcoming election and will make any changes that are required to ensure volunteers, candidates, and members can safely engage with the election process.
Elections has also begun updating some historical posts on its website to remove personally identifiable information provided by former candidates. This can only be done at the direction of the candidate themselves. If you're a former candidate and you are concerned about the information you have shared on Elections' website, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the Elections Committee.
Meanwhile, also due to the attacks, Volunteers & Recruiting cancelled its recruitment cycles for the months of May and June, and external recruitment remains frozen until further notice. However, Volunteers & Recruiting has been doing its best to provide all of the OTW's volunteers with as much support and information as possible and will keep on working to make sure that everyone's private data are safe within the OTW.
Translation has been reviewing many of its policies on data retention in the past couple of months, particularly anonymising and destroying older records. It has also started testing a new password manager and secure document storage solution. Similarly, Tag Wrangling finalized some updates to internal tools to implement new security guidelines. While Systems provided some advice and support to Board and other chairs, Communications has resumed news posting after a delay, and various OTW committees have begun responding to the backlog of tickets that accumulated during the attacks.
These are only some of the measures that the OTW has taken in the last few weeks to protect its volunteers. The OTW’s investigation is ongoing as the Board and Legal Committee continue working with all relevant authorities.
II. AT THE AO3
In May and June, Accessibility, Design & Technology had three deploys culminating in the release of comment blocking! It also started testing a release of miscellaneous issues with code from a number of new contributors. Elsewhere, Open Doors is delighted to announce that it has completed the imports for Thin Line and The Snape/Weasley Archive, both Harry Potter fic archives (with some art).
As the day-to-day operations of Policy & Abuse and Support continue to be impacted by the effects of the email attacks, user reports are taking longer than usual to address. For Support in particular, April was a normal month with just over 1450 tickets, but May saw Support's highest number of tickets (over 1900) since April 2020. However, new volunteers on both committees are slated to soon begin or resume their training to help with this increased workload.
In June, Tag Wrangling made some improvements to its procedures for finding cowranglers for larger fandoms. This is especially needed because we now have more than 50,000 canonical fandoms in the archive!
III. LEGAL ADVOCACY
In addition to dealing with the attack and responding to user queries, Legal did quite a bit of advocacy in May and June. In May, Legal submitted comments in response to a U.S. Copyright Office inquiry regarding “technical measures” or detecting and preventing copyright infringements under section 512 of the DMCA. In June, Legal chair Betsy and committee member Stacey attended a series of roundtable meetings with the U.S. Copyright Office, also regarding technical measures. In both proceedings, they provided input from the point of view of fans, Internet creators, and small Internet providers. They urged the Copyright Office to remember that many service providers, like AO3, do not receive many copyright-related complaints, and they opposed any suggestion that the Copyright Office endorse or impose technical filtering measures on online service providers. They explained that there is no one-size-fits-all way of applying technology to questions of copyright infringement, that current technologies do not exist that would allow service providers (like the OTW) to distinguish between infringing and non-infringing material, and that there is no existing technology that could replace human evaluation of copyright fair use.
Legal also joined its ally Electronic Frontier Foundation in filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Warhol v. Goldsmith, arguing that a broad and flexible fair use test is essential and relying on fanvids as examples to urge the Supreme Court to reaffirm its prior fair use holdings. Here’s what EFF wrote about it.
At the end of June, Legal chair Betsy attended a copyright policy roundtable with participants from a variety of library, technology, public policy, and creator advocates to discuss copyright policy proposals and strategies. Legal also communicated with two apps that were using OTW/AO3 trademarks in confusing ways.
It has been a very busy two months for Elections, which is very happy to announce that the 2022 OTW Board Election will be contested - there are five candidates and three open seats. You can read Elections' Candidate Announcement post and the candidates' Bios & Platforms on the Elections website. You can keep checking the Election Timeline for news of other upcoming events, including Q&A posts and Candidate Chats.
Development & Membership also collaborated with Elections to prepare for the OTW's annual voting membership drive, as June was the last chance for anyone who would like to vote in the 2022 election to attain membership.
V. ELSEWHERE AT THE OTW
Fanlore's annual Bingo Challenge took place in June and was a great success -- thanks to everyone who took part, ticked off their Bingo cards, and earned loot in the form of shiny pirate-themed badges! Fanlore's social media and graphics teams are now busily planning content for their Fandom in Color themed month, which will be taking place in July. Elsewhere, Fanlore has been discussing improvements to its Help page guidance on page naming conventions and formulating a set of guidelines for page names where the original canon is in a language other than English to better support editors in documenting a wide variety of fandoms on Fanlore!
TWC is preparing to go into production next month for general issue No. 38 (to be released September 15, 2022) and is working with authors for the editorial push for No. 39, a special issue guest edited by Jennifer Duggan and Angie Fazekas on trans fandom (to be released March 15, 2023).
As Systems' contractor has been making good progress on modernising the OTW's email infrastructure, the committee has been getting ready to bring new hardware online. Finally, Development & Membership has been hard at work sending out the many, many card decks requested as donation gifts!
VI. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS
From 25 April to 24 June, Volunteers & Recruiting received 187 new requests, and completed 147, leaving us with 78 open requests (including induction and removal tasks listed below).
As of 24 June 2022, the OTW has 963 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.
New Committee Chairs: Heleen (Translation), Priscilla (Translation)
New Open Doors Volunteers: Schnikeys (Import Assistant), 1 Volunteer, and 3 other Import Assistants
New Support Volunteers: DumplingSquids, Harold Liu, Kawm, Marianne, Marlene, MxCK, Saagarika Verma, Sushishin, Uschi, and 9 other Support Volunteers New Translation Volunteers: Amanda Kassis, CassieLiu, CSancora, gigic, Hao, Ida D, LPCollins, MariaCJ, mushrooom, nire, Polyxeni Foutsitsi, V. Bosmans, and 6 other News Translators
Departing AO3 Documentation Volunteers: alsaurus, Cheyenne Bingham, MixyStyx
Departing Communications Volunteers: Emily Rogan (Chair-Track Volunteer)
Departing Fanlore Volunteers: 1 Volunteer
Departing Open Doors Volunteers: Luz Villarreal (Administrative Volunteer)
Departing Policy & Abuse Volunteers: 2 Volunteers
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Alexandria, Ink_Herder, itsmyusualweeb, mithrel, Sofia and 14 other Volunteers
Departing Translation Volunteers: 1 Volunteer
For more information about the purview of our committees, please access the committee listing on our website.
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.