AO3 News

Post Header

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


Accessibility, Design, & Technology (AD&T) deployed releases that made changes to user accounts, admin accounts, our testing environment, and more. Notable in these releases were changes to how kudos are recorded and stored, in order to ensure that we don’t run out of room for the Archive’s 640 million and rising kudos. A side effect of this work was the removal of duplicate kudos from works, but as AD&T explained, the only kudos removed were duplicates from the same user: no unique kudos from unique users were removed.

The Archive of Our Own saw some bumpy traffic this month, with AD&T reporting a drop in page views at the beginning of the month, shortly after users in China became unable to access the site. This was followed by a rise near the end of the month to levels not seen since our usual “busy” January period, with 279 million page views the week of March 17 to March 22.


AD&T wasn’t the only committee that noticed an effect from the AO3 outage in China. Legal helped users and committees respond to related queries, and Communications staffers were busy this month due to a rapid number of interview requests. As a result, Communications has added a number of OTW mentions to our Press Room. Special shoutout to our two Weibo account moderators, who have done an amazing job wading through tens of thousands of messages and serving as an invaluable interface for the OTW with Chinese fans.

The Board of Directors kept busy with an open house on March 8 that invited users to ask questions about who Board is and what they do. With help from committee chairs and from Communications, Board also released a news post detailing how volunteers and their work for the OTW may be affected by COVID-19, and encouraging fans to explore the OTW’s projects, keep creating, and stay safe.

TWC’s guest-edited issue No. 32, “Fandom and Politics,” came out on time on March 15. TWC and Communications also released an interview, Five Things Kristina Busse Said, that received a great response from fans who learned more about aca-fandom.

Systems had to get our vendor to replace some CPUs in our new servers (they’d delivered the wrong ones), which delayed things somewhat. They’ve also been working on some new firewall infrastructure and improving their monitoring.


In February, Tag Wrangling wrangled approximately 250,000 tags in 36,100 fandoms, and Support received about 1,850 tickets—twice the number of tickets Support received in February 2019. A third of these tickets were taken care of with the help of Translation. Meanwhile, Policy & Abuse had received about 1,300 tickets so far in March at the time of this writing.


From 22 February to 22 March, Volunteers & Recruiting received 91 new requests, and completed 95, leaving us with 9 open requests (including induction and removal tasks listed below).

As of 22 March the OTW has 829 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Chairs: Marion McGowan and Emma Lloyd (both Elections)
New Committee Staff: 1 AO3 Documentation staff, Rivka (Webs)
New Communications Volunteers: Amelie N and 1 other volunteer
New Translation Volunteers: Ayati, bel_thorne, chimyatta, Julija, Link, Lora, Melmëyen, Nira, V. T. Holmes, Yohanna, Zala and 3 other volunteers

Departing Committee Chairs: Michelle Dong (Open Doors)
Departing Committee Staff: buckwicks (Communications), HelmetParty (Development & Membership), 1 Policy & Abuse staffer, Michelle Dong (Open Doors and Volunteers & Recruiting)
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: HazelDomain, Kaylie and 1 other volunteer
Departing Translation Volunteers: soumyaa and 1 other 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.


Post Header

2020-04-01 12:30:16 -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'

Would you like to help your fellow fans use the AO3? Would you like to help translate OTW/AO3 news posts? The Organization for Transformative Works is recruiting!

We're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Support Staff - closing 08 April 2020 at 23:59 UTC
  • Translation News Volunteer - closing 08 April 2020 at 23:59 UTC

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist our email address 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.

Support Staff

If you've spent time figuring out how to make the Archive dance (or are willing to press the button to see what happens), are patient in the face of strange questions, can self-motivate, and are interested in helping your fellow fans, we would love to hear from you! The Support team is responsible for handling the feedback and requests for assistance we receive from users of the Archive. We answer users’ questions, help to resolve problems they’re experiencing, and pass on information to and from coders, testers, tag wranglers and other teams involved with the Archive. We are especially looking for volunteers who are fluent in Chinese and English, helping to provide support to our growing overseas userbase!

Applications are due 08 April 2020

Translation News Volunteer

Would you like to help translate OTW/AO3 news posts? We are looking for volunteers of native or near-native fluency in their target languages, who can translate or beta news posts within five-day deadlines. If you enjoy working collaboratively, if you're fluent in a language other than English, if you're passionate about the OTW and its projects, and want to help us reach more fans all around the world, working with Translation might be for you!

We particularly need people for Afrikaans, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Filipino, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Marathi, Persian, Portuguese-PT, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Welsh—but help with other languages would be much appreciated.

(Please note that our Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Swedish teams are not accepting new members at this time.)

Applicants may be asked to translate and correct short text samples and will be invited to a chatroom interview as part of the selection process. More information about us can be found on the Translation committee page.

Applications are due 08 April 2020

Apply at the volunteering page!

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.


Post Header

The Archive has seen a marked uptick in traffic during March, with weekly page views increasing from 262 million to 298 million in just two weeks. We expect this trend to continue, and in order to keep the site running, we need to take emergency measures. The quickest, most helpful change we can make is caching the works we serve to logged out users. Unfortunately, this means that starting immediately, logged out users may experience a delay in work updates, and hits from logged out users will no longer be included in works' hit counts.

Why is this happening?

The increased traffic is putting a strain on our database servers, which receive dozens of requests every time someone loads a work. (We plan to order new hardware to help with this strain, but first we need to finish some ongoing server maintenance and determine which hardware to order. Delivery and installation of servers ordinarily takes a few months, and there may be unexpected delays due to the pandemic.)

Serving cached copies of works to logged out users will drastically reduce the number of database requests we make. Caching means we don't have to ask the database for the latest information every time someone visits a certain page in a given period of time. Instead, one of our front end servers gives everyone the exact same copy of that page. After about an hour, that copy is updated.

What changes will I notice?

Starting immediately, you may notice the following changes:

  1. When a new chapter is posted, logged out users will only be able to access it by direct link until the cache updates, which will happen about once every 60 minutes. Other changes to the work (e.g., edits made by the creator or new comments or kudos that have been left) may also not be visible to logged out users until the cache is updated.
  2. Because work pages need to be identical for all logged out users, we've had to stop automatically filling in guests' names and emails on the comment form. (You can request an invitation and create an account if you'd like the form to remember you!)
  3. Logged out users will see the adult content warning on every work rated either Mature, Explicit, or Not Rated. This is temporary and will be fixed as soon as possible.
  4. New hits from logged out users will not be added to works' hit counts. (Existing hits will not be lost.) The code that increases hit counts lives on our application servers, so it will not run when the front end servers hand out cached copies of works.

(This section was updated at 00:25 UTC April 1.)

Will hit counts be fixed?

We are exploring options that will allow us to resume counting hits from logged out users, but it may take some time to find and implement a viable long term solution. We'll work as quickly as we can, but we ask for your patience -- our volunteers may need to prioritize additional performance improvements or their own wellbeing in these stressful times.

We will keep you updated on any significant progress or setbacks here on AO3 News and on our @AO3_Status Twitter feed.

Updated 11:00 UTC April 24: We have deployed new code that allowed us to resume counting hits from logged out users, along with some general changes to how hits are being measured.


Post Header

2020-03-27 12:56:46 -0400

Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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

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

I'm a co-chair of the committee responsible for the development and maintenance of the Archive of Our Own codebase. The Archive provides a home for over five million fanworks, which supports the OTW's goals of preserving and providing access to fanworks.

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

AD&T operates in release cycles, which generally last more than a week, but it's not uncommon to start the week by finishing a release: ensuring all of the changes have been tested, polishing the release notes, and letting other committees know about any changes that might affect their work before the new code is deployed to the Archive.

Once that's done, we wait about a day before putting the next round of code changes onto our staging site, where volunteers from AD&T and other committees test the changes. I usually help coordinate that work in addition to doing some testing myself.

While that's going on, we're also looking ahead to future releases. That involves prioritizing issues and making sure someone is available to write or review the code.

There are a lot of other tasks that might come up during a given week, too, such as handling requests for database work, consulting with Support, making bug reports, or updating documentation. If we're having a widespread issue like slowness or downtime, we also have to communicate the problem to users, which sometimes involves quickly drafting a news post, but almost always involves tweeting. (If someone is tweeting from @AO3_Status, there's a good chance it's me or my co-chair mumble!)

Once those tasks are handled, then I get to write some code!

What made you decide to volunteer?

In 2011, Elz -- one of the AD&T co-chairs at the time -- saw some of the site skins I'd made and asked if I'd like to volunteer. I'd been a fan of the Archive ever since astolat made her "An Archive of One's Own" post in 2007, so it was an easy yes.

I'm also a tag wrangler, which is a role I volunteered for specifically to improve my understanding of how the wrangling features are used. That knowledge comes in handy when working on the wrangling code, plus it makes it easier to communicate with the Tag Wrangling committee about bugs and feature requests.

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

The people! My team is terrific, and I really enjoy getting to talk to and work with people from other committees. There are people I talk to almost every day who I wouldn't have met without volunteering, and my life would be poorer for not knowing such kind, talented people.

Coding itself is a pretty close second, though. It's extremely satisfying to hunt down the cause of a bug, and nothing quite beats the "ah-ha!" moment when you finally solve it. Of course, that moment usually gets ruined pretty quickly by the realization you still need to write tests for your new code...

What fannish things do you like to do?

I've made a few vids and recorded some podfic, but my main fannish activity outside the OTW is writing fic. I mostly write het and femslash, or at least I try to write het and femslash -- about half of those attempts end up being gen.

And whenever I can, I love to leave long comments on fanworks I've enjoyed. You never know when you'll make someone's day, and sometimes you just might make a new friend.

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.


Post Header

The Organization for Transformative Works is staffed by volunteers located around the world. We work from home, in libraries and coffee shops, and even during downtime in our other jobs. This means that, as more and more of us need to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, how we work won’t actually change much, but our time commitments will. Some of us will have extra time to devote to the OTW and will get more done than we ever anticipated. Others will have family or personal commitments that will cut down on the amount of time we can donate to keep things running smoothly. And some of us may need to spend more time enjoying AO3's vast collection of fanworks and less on building its infrastructure for the sake of our mental health. Please keep this in mind if you experience delays in responses when reaching out to us.

In the meantime, consider exploring our projects. Discover a new fandom on AO3, and record your fannish experiences on Fanlore. Learn about how to save and protect fanworks and fan history with Open Doors and Legal Advocacy. Go down a research hole with Transformative Works and Cultures, and connect with other researchers through Fanhackers.

Times may be a little distressing right now, but we can get through this together. Keep creating. Keep researching and recording. Keep leaving comments and kudos. And above all else, please, stay safe.

And if you have time to share a few recs, please do! We could all use some amazing fanworks to get us through the day.

Note: Due to the potential dangers of misinformation on this topic, we reserve the right to remove comments containing non-factual statements about COVID-19.


Post Header

2020-03-18 19:16:03 -0400

Our latest releases include improvements for new users, site admins, creators of anonymous or unrevealed works, and the kudos database table.

A special thank you to our first-time contributor Morrgani!


  • Coders: cosette, james_, Morrgani, redsummernight, Sarken, Tal Hayon, ticking instant
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, james_, redsummernight, Sarken, ticking instant
  • Testers: Arcadion, C. Ryan Smith, Capi, Danielle Strong, GoldenFalls, hel, james_, lydia-theda, MagnusIsMyRock, Matty, Paula, redsummernight, Sammie Louise, Sarken


User Accounts

  • [AO3-5723] - We've tweaked the text of the email you receive when you create a new account. It will now be more consistent with our usual way of wording things.
  • [AO3-5316] - When you first activate a new AO3 account, you're supposed to get a success message. That message wasn't working, which led users to follow the activation a second time, which also didn't display a message it was supposed to display. Both of those messages should turn up now, hopefully leading to less confusion and fewer Support tickets.


  • [AO3-5676] - The script that we use to handle GDPR data requests from users used to write to a file, which was slightly annoying to get to. We've made it write to standard output, a.k.a. the screen that the admin running the script is looking at.
  • [AO3-5863] - We also updated the GDPR data requests script to handle some changes we made when we moved the logging in process to Devise.
  • [AO3-3547] - Our Policy & Abuse team has always been able to add notes to user accounts when giving warnings or suspensions, but sometimes they wanted to make a note without doing either of those things. We've given them that ability.
  • [AO3-4205] - To help with spam and abuse, we let admins see the IP address of the user who posted a work. However, we forgot to record that information on works imported using the "Post without previewing" option, so there was nothing for admins to see. We've now corrected that oversight.


  • [AO3-5851] - In a previous release, we added a column to the kudos table to store the user (rather than the pseud) that left kudos. Now we've gone back and filled in this information for existing kudos.
  • [AO3-5869] - We have around 640 million kudos on the Archive, so the database table we keep them in was getting rather full. We moved them to a larger table that will be able to hold 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 kudos (yes, really!). The new table also has a uniqueness constraint that was missing from the old one, so now any duplicate kudos that sneak past our code will also be rejected by the database.
  • [AO3-5868] - When a logged in user leaves kudos on a work, we used to check to make sure the user's default pseud hadn't previously left kudos on the work. Now we check that the user hasn't left kudos on that work before.
  • [AO3-5873] - When we moved all the kudos to their new table, some works experienced a change in their kudos counts due to duplicate kudos being removed. We've made sure the kudos counts for those works are updated in our search engine.


  • [AO3-5874] - A few months ago, the hardware for our staging environment went belly up, so we began temporarily using a cloud service. While we were using this temporary setup, our heroic sysadmin james_ went and got the broken hardware from its facility, repaired it, drove it back to the facility, and plugged it back in. Shortly afterwards, we updated our configuration to put the newly repaired hardware back into service.
  • [AO3-5875] - In January, we started using a gem to password protect our staging site. We've switched to a different form of password protection and removed that gem.
  • [AO3-5872] - We've reorganized our automated tests to match the structure RSpec automatically assumes we're using. This will help make sure all of our tests are actually being run.


  • [AO3-5857] - We restored the default Dutch translations that got lost when we updated our translation tool.
  • [AO3-4139] - In Reversi, we've changed the color of the little footnotes on required fields to make them more readable. Goodbye, dark grey text on a slightly less dark grey background!
  • [AO3-4836] - In the unlikely scenario you were trying to approve all the moderated comments on a work you didn't own, you'd get a 500 error. Now you'll get redirected to the homepage with an error message.
  • [AO3-5028] - If you add your work to a collection and the moderators later make the work anonymous or unrevealed, you'll now receive an email letting you know about that change and reminding you how to remove your work from the collection if you're not okay with the change. (Please note that you'll get this email even if you have your preferences set to disallow emails from collections.)
  • [AO3-5879] - We -- or more accurately, the friendly bot who lets us know about security issues with gems -- upgraded the version of the nokogiri gem we're using.
  • [AO3-5807] - There was a column in the support ticket database table that we weren't using and thus wanted to get rid of. This worked out quite well because it let us test a method of modifying database tables that we wanted to use for our work on the kudos table.
  • [AO3-5888] - We got the new Elasticsearch servers we've been waiting for! 🎉 This allowed us to repurpose some old servers, which required us to update our deploy script.


Post Header

We're making a few behind-the-scenes changes to kudos to make sure the Archive can continue to handle the tremendous number of them (659 million and counting!) that users and guests have left over the years. Kudos will continue to work the same, but there will be a new check in the database to make extra certain duplicate kudos can't be left. This will result in a one-time drop in kudos on works that already have duplicates.

Previously, we relied on the kudos code to make sure a single user or guest could only leave kudos on a given work one time. This worked just fine in most cases, but sometimes a slow connection or quick double press of the kudos button could lead to multiple kudos being recorded.

We'll be adding a constraint at the database level that should prevent this from happening. However, this change will also make any existing duplicates invalid and remove them from the database. This means that if you have received multiple kudos from the same user or guest on one of your works, your kudos total will go down when we deploy this change. For example, if your work has three kudos from the same user, the total number of kudos on the work will drop by two.

We plan to make our changes on Monday, March 16, and we expect some brief downtime at the end. We can't predict for certain what time it will be, but we will do our best to give a heads up on the @AO3_Status Twitter before it happens.


Post Header

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


Legal had an active month this February! In response to an outpouring of concern from AO3 users about unofficial AO3 reader apps, Legal answered a number of user queries and released a public news post about apps monetizing fanworks or monetizing access to works posted on the AO3 without the authors' consent, helping creators understand their own copyrights and helping them unravel what they could do to prevent this sort of activity if they didn’t approve of it.

Legal also got a great result in February: Last year, Legal joined allies to file an amicus brief in the case of Smith v. Drake. In that brief, we argued that a use should be considered transformative under the fair use doctrine whenever it uses an underlying work to convey a different meaning or message than the underlying work, and need not provide a direct critique or commentary. The OTW also argued that the transformative use of substantial amounts of source material is legally permissible under the fair use doctrine. In February, the court ruled in that case, and our arguments won!

Legal team member Rebecca Tushnet testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Her testimony focused on how the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA work for small organizations like the OTW, how they advance creative expression by making sites like the Archive of Our Own possible, and how they provide the legal flexibility necessary for a diverse Internet to survive. Her testimony also addressed the failure of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions and the work the OTW has done in creating exemptions that protect vidders and similar creators from those provisions’ overreach.

Finally, Legal addressed a cease and desist letter defending a fanwork from allegations of infringement.


On February 15, the OTW celebrated its sixth International Fanworks Day! Communications kept busy with 29 hours of party games in our public chatroom, an #IFDrabble challenge with the prompt ‘characters discovering fanworks about themselves,' and a Feedback Fest that invited fans to post recs, leave kudos, and drop comments online. Communications also asked fans to respond to the question: ‘What’s your favourite fanwork trope?’ To see contributions to the various IFD festivities, check out the #IFD2020 tag on Tumblr and Twitter, the International Fanworks Day 2020 tag on AO3, and the content created by participants during the Games and Fan Chat under the AO3 pseud MODEliot.

Fanlore also participated in the celebration with its third annual IFD Fanlore Challenge featuring daily editing challenges throughout the week leading up to IFD. Each participant who completed each day's challenge received a badge that they could display on their Fanlore user page.

Board plans to host an open house on Campfire on March 8 at 20:00 UTC (What time is that for me?). This open house is open to all to ask questions and learn more about who Board is and what they do! To participate, look for a tweet with a link to the chatroom about an hour before the meeting.


Open Doors was excited this month to begin getting back in touch with moderators of Yahoo Groups about importing the fanworks and meta discussions from their groups to the AO3. If you previously contacted Open Doors about importing your group and would like to know the status of your request, please contact them to check your group's position in the queue. Moderators who managed to save a backup of their group before the Yahoo Groups mass deletion are also welcome to contact Open Doors to start the import process.

Accessibility, Design, & Technology deployed releases, most notably making updates to performance and Elasticsearch-related slowness. Systems contributed a lot of work to reduce that slowness and prevent users from disconnecting from the AO3 due to Elasticsearch load. Systems also is starting to commission the OTW's new virtual machine servers and is looking at improving the VPN some staffers use to access the OTW's infrastructure.

Meanwhile, other AO3 committees have been setting record-high numbers at the beginning of the year. In January, Tag Wrangling handled more than 260,000 tags across more than 35,600 fandoms, and Support received almost 1,400 tickets, a 15% increase from the previous January. At the time of this writing, Policy & Abuse had received about 1,000 tickets in the month of February.


From 15 January to 21 February, Volunteers & Recruiting received 163 new requests, and completed 162, leaving us with 13 open requests (including induction and removal tasks listed below).

As of 21 February the OTW has 819 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Chairs: Natalia Gruber (Translation)
New Committee Staff: Cyn (Translation), 1 Communications staffer
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: adastra03, Alex of the Winter, Anne Apocalypse, aoglic, axelmania, bde3y, Bean II, blackelement7, Briar, CB, Cedar, Clock, conifer, dark14, Denali, Diana Sakharova, El, Felix Engler, flamethrowr, g33k_magnet, Glassea, HazelDomain, Jacinta Klein, jeansprout, Jingyuan, Joey, Kali, Kyrstin, leonyxx, Lourie, Naphyla, Nexidava, Ngil, Piano, Rae Friedenson, Rin A, Riz, Scatteringmyashes, Shan, SmudgeInktopus, Stellae, ValerieZA, Wendy, Wintersheir, Yveslyn, YZ Koh and 1 other volunteer
New Translation Volunteers: vasilymo

Departing Committee Staff: Erlkoenig, Natalia Gruber, Nrandom (all Policy & Abuse), Sable (Support) and 3 more Support staff
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1 Volunteer
Departing Translation Volunteers: Zane Valule

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.


Pages Navigation