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2018-04-28 11:17:20 -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 Rachel Bussert, who volunteers as a staffer in our Volunteers & Recruitment Committee.

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

The mission of any organization is driven by the people who dedicate their time and resources to it. Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) is very central to that for OTW. Throughout the year, we handle recruitment for all the positions needed, which readers may see regularly in our announcement posts. Below is a chart of OTW’s volunteer numbers over time. As you can see, the number of folks involved in the organization have increased over time to accommodate the work of each committee, and Volunteers & Recruiting is the first step in making sure those staffing needs are being met.

Our work doesn’t stop with recruitment. Volunteers & Recruiting keeps track of the service of each volunteer in the organization, such as the number of years they've been with us and which roles they've held. We coordinate all of the account permissions and tool access that people need to do their work and interact with other volunteers. We also process the turnover as people depart the OTW or as they move into different positions. We report all these changes each month in the OTW newsletter.

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

There tends to be an ebb and flow of work throughout the year, so there’s not necessarily a single answer to that. A given week might include any or all of the following:

  • Discussing committee needs for personnel with their chairs and reviewing role requirements
  • Processing applications for various recruitment campaigns
  • Induction or retirement of volunteers
  • Updating information on volunteers going on or coming off of hiatus
  • Editing tools and resources when a volunteer’s name or email changes
  • Updating organization wide tools and training
  • Work on various internal projects

Did anything take you by surprise when you began volunteering for the OTW or your committee?

Two things, though I think both of them speak more to OTW as an organization rather than just VolCom. The first thing was how well organized everything is overall. Most of the non-profits I’ve had experience partnering with tend to be a little bit haphazard for a variety of reasons, so I was pleasantly surprised by how clear onboarding and training was, and how much effort various committees put into working together for a common goal.

The other thing was just the sheer enthusiasm there is all the way around. Every time we recruit for a role, I’m floored by how many people apply because they want to get involved. That’s not to mention within the organization. There are a lot of really amazing people who put their heart and soul into this.

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

Fandom has given me so much. I was kind of a lonely kid, and getting into writing fanfiction was the first time I really found people who felt like my people. A couple of my closest friends are folks I met because they commented on my writing, or because we happened to be in the same fandom chat, and so fandom in general is really special to me. I also gravitate pretty strongly towards non-profits in general, so OTW is just this really natural fit.

I think what is most rewarding for me is that with VolCom, I’ve had the opportunity to take some of the skills I’ve developed in my day job, and turn them towards supporting a cause I have so much love for.

What fannish things do you like to do?

All of them? In all seriousness though, I have a lot of fannish interests. In terms of content creation, I write a lot. I’ve been teaching myself art via photomanipulation as well and having a great time with it. I’m mostly in the Captain America fandom these days, but I dip back into Doctor Who and Fullmetal Alchemist now and again. I also cosplay competitively sometimes and get really absurdly excited about documentation and screen accuracy.

I’m pretty serious about giving back to the community that’s given so much to me, so I also tend to get really involved behind the scenes. In addition to OTW, I am on the team that runs two of the writing/art events in my current fandom, I run one of my city’s cosplay meetup groups, and I’m the co-chair for the cosplay masquerade at a local convention.

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.


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2018-04-27 15:29:58 -0400

For a while now, our Support team has been receiving reports from users who have been logged out of their accounts and are unable to log back in. While our coders have been unable to determine the exact cause of this issue, Support has found a workaround that should allow you to log in.

If you have been redirected to the Forced Logout page -- also known as the Lost Cookie page -- and are unable to log in using the Log In option at the top of the page, please go directly to the Log In page at From there, you should be able to access your account.

We're very sorry if you've run into this issue! We have added this information to our Known Issues page and will be adding it to the Forced Logout page while our coders continue to look for a fix.


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2018-04-26 13:24:00 -0400

Outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement

A few months ago, we learned that someone had registered the domain name and copied the front page of Archive Of Our Own at that url; they even included a login screen that mimicked the AO3 login.

We immediately went to GoDaddy--the registrar of the domain name--and asked them to remove the website, because it violated their bar on phishing (that is, tricking someone into giving away login or other personal information). GoDaddy's Terms state that they will not allow a site to impersonate "a legitimate, trustworthy site" by tricking "visitors into providing them sensitive information like logins." However, GoDaddy never responded and did not take the site down.

Therefore, in January, the OTW Legal Committee initiated a proceeding with the World Intellectual Property Office with the goal of stripping the domain name from the infringers. In April, after the infringers had failed to respond, the WIPO Panel ruled in our favor. The panel held that Bradley Binkley of Chicago, who had registered the domain name, had "in all likelihood... registered the disputed domain name with the aim of exploiting and profiting from the Complainant’s mark, through the impersonation of the Complainant in furtherance of a fraudulent phishing scheme." As a result, the panel voided Binkley's registration of the name, and the OTW is currently in the process of setting up the domain name to point to the main Archive of Our Own page.

One important takeaway from this situation is that you should never enter in your AO3 login information unless you are completely sure that you are on the real site. While we also own the domain names and they redirect you to, and that is the only site where you should enter your AO3 login information. And if you go to any site and find yourself needing to login when you thought you were already logged in, it's possible that you're on a phishing site rather than a genuine site--double check the URL to make sure!

If you visited and entered your login information there, you should change your password on AO3, as well as any other sites where you use the same username/password combination, and run a virus-checker on your computer. We attempted to review the code from the phishing site to see if there was anything malicious; we didn't see anything obvious but it's better to be safe than sorry.

If you have more questions about the work done by the all-volunteer Legal Committee at the OTW, you can visit the Legal Advocacy page on our website.


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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 19-23, 2018

As our April fundraising drive comes to a close, we at the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) are once again humbled by your support. Your generous donations, representing 4799 donors from 80 countries, have helped us raise US$130,084.00 over the past few days, surpassing our goal of US$100,000!

We hope that during this drive you have learned more about the many ways in which your donations can make a difference. All of our projects depend on your continued support to thrive, so thank you.

And don't forget, even though the drive is over, you can still support the OTW. We accept donations year round!


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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 19-23, 2018

Check it out: Brand new this month, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) presents some awesome new project-themed merch, available when you make a donation today!

Shed some light on your appreciation for transformative works! Get an LED keychain flashlight stamped with an OTW project logo and show off your support for any of the following:

  • The Archive of Our Own (AO3), a hub for transformative fanworks such as fanfiction, fanart, fan videos and podfic
  • Fanlore, a wiki-based community project that preserves fan history
  • Fanhackers, a blog created to help make fandom research more accessible
  • Legal Advocacy, a dedicated legal team that works to protect fanworks and defend the rights of the fans who create them
  • Open Doors, a project that preserves and maintains fannish voices by importing at-risk content to AO3 or even rescuing actual physical artifacts
  • Transformative Works and Cultures, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal dedicated to promoting scholarship in the field of fan studies

Can't pick just one? You can also get a set of our brand-new stickers featuring all of these projects, plus the OTW logo as well! As with all of our thank-you gifts, don't forget that you can always set up a recurring donation to save up for your favorite item.

Collection of the logos for the Organization for Transformative Works, Fanlore, Fanhackers, Legal Advocacy, Open Doors, the Archive of Our Own, and Transformative Works and Cultures

None of the work these projects do would be possible without you. Support the OTW today!


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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 19-23, 2018

Have you ever gone back to look for a fic you read years ago and found out it's disappeared from the internet? We've all been there. As fandom grows and years go by, countless thousands of fanworks disappear every day—entire archives go offline every month, and with them treasures are forever lost to fandom and future generations of fans.

That's where Open Doors comes in! Open Doors is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), dedicated to preserving and archiving fannish voices. It works with the Archive of Our Own (AO3) to protect your old favorites from other places around the web. Your donations give us the resources we need to continue this work. In 2017 alone, Open Doors was able to preserve almost 43,000 fanworks thanks to your support!

When an at-risk fanwork archive asks for help, Open Doors works with that archive's owners to preserve its fannish content on AO3. But that's not all! The project also helps preserve physical artifacts of fan culture like zines, crafts, and flyers through a partnership with the University of Iowa. Plus, Open Doors has worked to save fannish content from Geocities pages that would have been lost forever when Geocities closed down! We thank you for the donations that help us preserve all of this unique history.

Some numbers: The Open Doors project has imported a total of 40 archives so far, with another 20 in progress right now. That makes over 87,000 fanworks imported, with another 21,000 still to come! If you'd like to learn more, check out the project's year-end roundup posts from 2016 and 2017.

It's thanks to you that we're able to pay for things like the servers that host the at-risk fanworks that Open Doors works so hard to save. You can check out our latest budget post for more information on how your donations are being used and what we're hoping to accomplish with them in the near future!

Open Doors is only one of the many projects you can support with a donation. All the work the OTW does relies entirely on your support! Donate today!


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At long last, we have upgraded our search engine, Elasticsearch, from version 0.90 aaaaaaall the way to 6.2, which had obviously been long overdue. A lot of other emergencies kept cropping up over the years, and there were never enough volunteers around to handle such a massive code rewrite while also managing the day-to-day upkeep of the Archive. With the help of our contractors (thanks to your generous donations!), we are now getting ready to deploy these changes to the Archive.

For a short period of time, the new search will only be available to a few volunteers for some final testing; everyone else will still see the current search and filtering interface. You might experience some issues in the days before we switch everyone over, as we had to tweak our old code a bit to get both versions of Elasticsearch running. Please bear with us, this will be temporary.

Once we are ready, we will move all accounts to the new system in batches, while monitoring how it holds up under increasing pressure. We currently expect this process to take at least a week, and longer if we run into any problems we have to stop and fix.

As always, we will keep you updated on progress here and through our @AO3_Status account on Twitter. (We'll have a bigger post with more details coming, but you can find a tiny preview below.) Many, many thanks to all the coders and testers who helped carry this over the finish line!

Snapshot of the new work filtering bar, showing the possibility to exclude tags, such as particular warnings


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Organization for Transformative Works: 2018 budget

2017 was another busy and productive year for the OTW’s Finance team! We’ve continued to improve the efficiency of the organization’s financial policies and adherence to standard accounting practices. We started our first ever audit of financial statements, which concluded in early 2018. You can check out our audited financial statements for 2015 and 2016 on the OTW Finance page. We're now preparing for the audit of our 2017 financial statements, which should start within a few weeks.

Without further ado, here's our budget for 2018 (download the budget spreadsheet for more detailed information):

2018 Expenses

Expenses by program: Archive of Our Own: 75.1%. Open Doors: 0.4%. Transformative Works and Cultures: 0.8%. Fanlore: 1.4%. Legal Advocacy: 1.4%. Admin: 13.5%. Fundraising: 7.4%.

Archive of Our Own (AO3)

US$13,334.02 spent; US$252,698.05 left

  • US$13,334.02 spent so far out of US$266,032.07 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • 75.1% of the OTW’s expenses go towards maintaining the AO3. This includes the bulk of our server expenses—both new purchases and ongoing colocation and maintenance—website performance monitoring tools and various systems-related licences (access all program expenses).
  • This year's projected AO3 expenses include US$100,000 in contractor costs. We're quite pleased with our contractor’s work on the Archive's Rails and Elasticsearch upgrades and look forward to continuing to work with them on other projects.
  • In addition to contracting costs, AO3 expenses include a significant server overhaul to the tune of around US$96,000 in total. This overhaul focuses on new database servers for AO3 works, comments, and other activities, as well as a new server rack for them to live on. The new servers should also increase our colocation expenses, while the old machines will be repurposed as application servers, which generate the Archive's pages and serve them to users.


US$257.44 spent; US$4,640.53 left

  • US$257.44 spent so far out of US$4,897.97 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • Fanlore expenses are mostly its allocation of server purchase, maintenance and colocation costs, in addition to related licenses and Fanlore web domains (access all program expenses).

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC)

US$418.81 spent; US$2,575.18 left

  • US$418.81 spent so far out of US$2,993.99 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • Transformative Works and Cultures’ expenses are its allotment of server costs, as well as the journal’s publishing and storage fees (access all program expenses).

Open Doors

US$94.16 spent; US$1,162.95 left

  • US$94.16 spent so far out of US$1,257.11 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • This year’s expenses for Open Doors are hosting, backup and domain costs for archives imported by Open Doors (access all program expenses).

Legal Advocacy

US$1,500.00 spent; US$3,500.00 left

  • US$1,500.00 spent so far out of US$5,000.00 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • Legal’s expenses consist of filing fees and travel expenses for conferences and hearings. US$1,500 was spent in January to file a WIPO Dispute fee because someone else registered a domain address too similar to AO3’s. (access all program expenses).


US$1,751.46 spent; US$24,383.54 left

  • US$1,751.46 spent so far out of US$26,135.00 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • Our fundraising expenses consist of transaction fees charged by our third-party payment processors for each donation; thank-you gift purchases and shipping; and the tools used to host the OTW’s membership database and track communications with donors and potential donors (access fundraising expenses).


US$2,023.59 spent; US$45,799.81 left

  • US$2,023.59 spent so far out of US$47,823.40 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • The OTW’s administrative expenses include hosting for our website, trademarks, domains, insurance, tax filing, and auditing, as well as communication and accounting tools (access all admin expenses).

2018 Revenue

OTW revenue: April drive donations: 36.6%. October drive donations: 42.6%. Non-drive donations: 18.3%. Donations from matching programs: 2.4%. Interest income: 0.1%.

  • The OTW is entirely supported by your donations—thank you for your generosity!
  • We receive most of our donations each year in the April and October fundraising drives, which together should account for about 79% of our income in 2018. We also receive donations via employer matching programs, Amazon Smile, and PayPal Giving Fund, which administers donations from programs like Humble Bundle. If you'd like to support us while making purchases on those websites, please select the Organization for Transformative Works as your charity of choice!
  • Given your generosity in previous years, we have a healthy amount in reserves, which we plan to keep in store for a rainy day. Thanks to this, we can explore alternative revenue sources to supplement your donations. The Finance team and the OTW board have decided on a conservative investment portfolio for a small portion of our funds to start with, which will not place the initial investment in any risk. This move is long overdue, and we're glad to have a solid policy regarding investment and usage of our reserves in place.
  • The reserves also help bolster us in years when we’re planning larger than usual purchases. As mentioned previously, we have plans to replace old server hardware over the next few months, which significantly bolster our expenses for this year. Our current projected expenses for this year exceed estimated 2018 revenues by roughly US$30,000. The additional amount may be withdrawn from reserves on an as-needed basis during the year.
  • US$12,668.54 received so far (as of February 28, 2018) and US$315,631.46 projected to be received until the end of the year.

US$12,668.54  donated; US$315,631.46 left

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the budget or the OTW's finances, please contact the Finance committee. We will also be hosting an open chat to answer any questions you may have. This chat will take place in our public chatroom on April 21 from 8 to 10PM UTC (what time is that in my timezone?).

[Edit:] The chat has now ended. Thanks to those who came by and asked questions!

To download the OTW’s budget for 2018 in spreadsheet format, please follow this link.


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