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2022-09-21 16:43:13 UTC

A red banner by Sharky with slanted white stripes on either side that reads “15th Anniversary Celebration.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in the festivities for the OTW’s 15th anniversary! We’re so inspired by your creativity and enthusiasm. We’d also like to recognize that the Archive of Our Own reached five million registered users on September 15th, which is a wonderful milestone to occur during a month celebrating the fan-made achievement that is the OTW.

Today, we’re pleased to announce the 15 winners of our anniversary trivia and fanworks challenge prize drawing. The following fans are the trivia winners:

Alex C

We also randomly selected the following five fanworks on AO3 as winners of the fanworks prize drawing:

ThisFiniteLife - The Warden of the Sierra Madre
Boss_duck - Another 15 Minute Sketch
DaybreakOverRain - Birthdays
Helen_scram - For All Time
TheTimeTraveler24 - Dear Bianca

Later today, we’ll email all of our winners, who will have 72 hours to provide us with a mailing address to send their prize to. If you are a winner and do not see our email in your inbox or your spam folder within the next 24 hours, please contact the Communications Committee to let us know.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the OTW15 | OTW 15th Anniversary Fanwork Challenge tag on AO3, Francesca Coppa’s Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said post, Constance Penley’s Guest Post, and our newly updated OTW History infographics.

It’s also not too late to join the Stub September challenge on Fanlore, which is ongoing until September 25!

The answers to all 15 trivia questions are listed below.

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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2022-09-05 16:53:44 UTC

A red banner by Candice with red and black text that reads “It’s Our Anniversary: Celebrate 15 Years of the OTW.” The text is displayed in front of two black speakers on either side, each of which has the red OTW logo in its center.

Today, the Organization for Transformative Works turns 15!

Since its foundation in 2007, the Organization for Transformative Works has strived to provide access to and preserve the history of fanworks and fan culture, and it’s been an honor to do so through all of our projects for these last 15 years. Some of our major milestones over the last four years are shown below. For a look at more from our earlier days, visit the freshly-updated infographics on our website.

An infographic titled “A Brief History of the Organization for Transformative Works: Arrival Phase.” Under 2019 are the following milestones: In May, Open Doors completes its 50th archive import. In August, AO3 wins the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work. In October, Open Doors launches the Yahoo Group Rescue Project. In November, Fanlore reaches 50,000 published pages. Under 2020 are the following milestones: In January, the OTW celebrates the end of its first ever strategic plan. In December, AO3 reaches seven million posted works. Under 2021 are the following milestones: In January, Fanlore reaches one million edits. In March, TWC releases its 35th issue. In August, AO3 reaches four million registered users. In October, Open Doors completes its 75th archive import. Under 2022 are the following milestones: In March, AO3 reaches nine million posted works. In May, AO3 canonizes its 50,000th fandom tag. In August, Open Doors launches the AO3 Fanzine Scan Hosting Project.

We’re incredibly grateful to all of the fans, volunteers, and OTW members who have brought our projects to life and made this work possible. We look forward to continuing our mission in the years to come, and we hope you’ll follow us as we do so! You can track updates to our projects through our news posts, project websites, and social media channels.

In the meantime, we’d like to invite you to join us this month in celebrating our 15th anniversary! Here’s how you can get involved and have the chance to win some OTW swag:

Trivia Game

Answer questions about our organization’s history for a chance to win OTW goodies! Here’s how it works:

  1. Starting today, we’ll post a new trivia question about the OTW on Twitter each day for the next 15 days. To find the answers, you’ll need to explore the OTW’s project and news pages. We hope you’ll learn a little more about the OTW and how it works along the way!
  2. By 15:00 UTC on September 21 (what time is that for me?), please submit all 15 of your answers to our Communications Committee. (Put “OTW Trivia” in the subject line of your message.)
  3. Let us know in that message what name or pseudonym you’d prefer we use when we announce the winners.

Please do NOT post your answers publicly.

We’ll randomly select 10 winners from the list of people who correctly answer all 15 questions. If we do not receive enough correct responses to qualify for the prizes, we will include entries with 14 correct answers, or 13 correct answers, etc. until we have 10 winners.

Winners will be notified by email and have 72 hours to provide us with a mailing address for us to send their prize to. We will ship internationally, so everyone can participate. But if we do not hear back from you within that 3 day time frame, we will be randomly choosing another winner in your place. (Please check your spam folders!)

Check our Twitter account later today for the first question. Happy hunting!

Fanworks Challenge

If you’re a creator, you have another chance to win by joining us in creating 15-themed fanworks for the next 15 days! This can include any of the following:

  • 15-sentence fics
  • 15-minute fanart
  • 15-minute (or less) podfics
  • 15-item fanmixes
  • 15-second fanvids

Tag your fanworks OTW15 | OTW 15th Anniversary Fanwork Challenge on AO3 or #OTW15 on social media, and we just might feature one of them on our social media accounts! We will be reblogging, retweeting, and reccing a selection of 15th anniversary fanworks for the next 15 days. We’ll also randomly select 5 fanworks posted to AO3 using the tag OTW15 | OTW 15th Anniversary Fanwork Challenge to receive prizes! If you do not want to be considered for a prize, please say so in the author’s notes of your work on AO3.

Fanlore Stub September Challenge

Fanlore’s annual Stub September challenge runs September 12-25, and in honor of the OTW’s 15th anniversary, this year’s theme is birthday/anniversary celebrations! Anyone is welcome to create a Fanlore account and help create or edit “stubs” – empty or short Fanlore articles – to win merit badges that you can show on your Fanlore user page or anywhere else. If you have any questions about how to get started as an editor or want to chat with fellow editors during the challenge, check out the official Fanlore Discord server.

News Posts

Get ready for some special interviews in our Five Things and Guest Post series! This month, we’ll be interviewing OTW cofounder Francesca Coppa, as well as Professor of Film & Media Studies and slash fandom acafan Constance Penley. In these news posts, you’ll learn more about studies of women in fandom and the early days of the OTW.

Your participation in the OTW has shaped it at every stage of its 15-year journey, and we hope that you feel the same pride and excitement that we do in reaching this milestone. Please take the time to get involved with our celebrations and – to all of our participants – good luck!


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2021-09-05 21:29:05 UTC

Celebrate our 14th Anniversary: OTW

Break out the party hats, the Organization for Transformative Works is 14 today! We are delighted to celebrate another anniversary with you all.

The OTW's mission since we launched has been to protect fan history and culture in all its forms. All of our projects work towards this goal. Over the past 14 years, OTW volunteers have rescued hundreds of fanworks from threatened platforms and archives; acted as a voice for fans regarding copyright legislation around the world; published 35 journal issues' worth of peer-reviewed fan studies scholarship; built and supported a fan culture wiki that our users have edited over 1 million times; and developed an archive that now contains over 8 million fanworks.

As always, we would be unable to do any of this without the support of our members, users, and the massive number of volunteers who keep the OTW running and we would therefore like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We intend to continue our important work for many years to come. If you'd like to follow us as we do, you can keep track of changes to the AO3 via our news posts and can find updates on our other projects on our project websites and social media channels. And if you would like to get even more closely involved you can keep track of our volunteer openings on our webpage, too!

We hope that our projects will continue to be a beacon of enjoyment even in the present interesting times. If you have found yourself soothed or entertained by fanworks lately, why not pay the good feelings forward and leave a kudos or comment for a fanworks creator today? However you choose to celebrate, we would love for you to join us in marking this milestone amongst your social circles and fandom communities.

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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2020-09-05 20:58:54 UTC

Celebrate the OTW 13th Anniversary

The OTW is finally a teenager! Or to put it another way, we’re old enough to have an AO3 account of our own. We’re glad to celebrate this birthday with all of you.

Thirteen years ago today, the OTW was launched with the mission to provide access to and preserve the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms. Since then, we have advocated for fans in legal and government settings; have imported numerous archives at risk of being lost to platform stagnation and deletion; have developed a fan-generated wiki in which fans have contributed over 50,000 articles; have published 33 issues of our fan studies journal; and we now provide access to nearly 6.5 million fanworks.

Of course, there is always more work to do. The OTW exists for and because of our members and we look forward to hearing from (and working with) more of you as we continue to preserve and advocate for fanworks and their creators. You can keep track of changes to the AO3 via our news posts and can find updates on our other projects on our project websites and social media channels.

With that in mind, we would like to take this anniversary as an opportunity to thank the fans and volunteers whose creativity and support have kept the OTW alive, even through the unprecedented times in which we have found ourselves in this, our thirteenth year. We have an anniversary graphic to commemorate our birthday and we hope that you’ll join us in celebrating the milestone amongst your own social circles and fandom communities.


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10 Years of AO3

Michele Tepper’s contribution is the final post in our series celebrating 10 years since the launch of the Archive of Our Own. Michele was a founding member of the OTW and helped create much of AO3’s “look” in her role as head of design in the early days. Her contribution provides a nice conclusion to the series, emphasizing the importance of working together in order to make such a big project a success.

I got involved with the OTW because I knew some of the other founders already. I had designed a discussion board for Buffy fans ( a few years earlier, and so I had an understanding of the challenges of working with a remote team of volunteers on a project for a fan community. Also, I was working for a digital product design studio, where I saw the wave of commercialization around "user-generated content", and I liked the idea of doing something that helped keep transformative works in the hands of the creators. So I told Naomi Novik I was interested in helping out, and that's how I ended up as a founding board member for the OTW!

What I remember most about the early days of the Archive was the collaboration. Naomi, cmshaw, and I spent long hours coming up with the core functions of the archive; technologists and user experience designer collaborating to find the best solution. We built out a roadmap that saw the Archive through its earliest years, as well as an experience that people point to as exceptional, and I'm proud of that.

My favorite thing about AO3 is the tagging and the tag wranglers. I have the tag page for "feels" as a bookmark on my phone, and when I need an emotional boost, I go and look at all the different ways people have tagged for feels, all listed out and merged by the wranglers. It makes me ridiculously happy every time.

I don't pretend to know what the OTW's future will be, because I couldn't have predicted its past! Fanworks are much more accepted in the mainstream than they were 10 years ago, and the OTW and the Archive are a big part of the reason why.

So that’s all for our series from behind the scenes at the AO3. We are so appreciative of all our contributors, as well as the other volunteers who have been working hard since the OTW was founded to make the Archive a haven for fanworks of all types. We agree with Michele that fanworks and fan culture are much more widely accepted than they were 10 years ago and we are proud to think that the OTW and the AO3 have contributed to that. Cheers to 10 years of AO3!


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10 Years of AO3

Today’s post in the Archive of Our Own’s 10th anniversary series is from Matty, who has been with the AO3 since it launched. You’ll read in her contribution about the many departments she has been part of since she began volunteering with us 10 years ago. There have been a lot of long work hours, particularly for the volunteers who were with the OTW in the early days, and we are so grateful for Matty and all of the others who contributed their time to help us make AO3 a reality.

I joined the Organization for Transformative Works as a tag wrangler back in 2009. I had been following the development of the OTW and the Archive since their inception and was thrilled to be able finally to help in a concrete way.

Tag wrangling in those days was both exciting and nerve wracking! One wrong push of the button could cause havoc. Early wranglers may remember the frantic searching when we repeatedly lost the Justin Timberlake tag, the terror of sharing a single spreadsheet that tracked all the fandoms on the Archive and the volunteers who wrangled them (and the screaming when someone sorted the sheet while others were trying to type), and the many, many, many long discussions that took place on our mailing lists while we tried to write our policies.

After Tag Wrangling I moved to Support, before sliding over to the Policy and Abuse committee (PAC). It is funny to compare how much things have changed between now and then. For the first few years PAC received less than 50 tickets a year. Now we sometimes receive 50 tickets in an hour, or more! The types of reports we receive have also changed. Initially, the vast majority of reports were about plagiarism. These days we see more reports about non-fanworks (such as RP ads, fic searches, etc). The size of the committee has also grown enormously; when I joined we had 3-4 active volunteers and now we have over 40! While the work can be overwhelming at times, it has also been incredibly rewarding.

I am so incredibly proud of the Organization and its volunteers for making our projects so successful. While there have been some growing pains over the years, we've built something amazing that we all should feel proud of!


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10 Years of AO3

When asked to write up a few words about his time with the OTW and AO3 in particular, james_ had so much to say that he had trouble sticking to the word count. (He’d like to thank Priscilla for helping him to edit!) Below you can read about some of the tougher times that james_ has seen during his time as a member of the Systems and Accessibility, Design and Technology committees. You can also hear about the rewards he’s gained from his hard work to keep our vision clear and our morale high. As you can see below, james_ was amongst the staffers who accepted the Hugo Award for Best Related Work on behalf of AO3.

Volunteering for the OTW in the early days was exciting, stressful, exhausting, and demoralising, but also worth it. At that time we were working with five servers and we were constantly adjusting the load between the few systems we had. We reached out to our friends at Dreamwidth (thanks, Mark) and they helped us. We were learning even as the tsunami of growing AO3 traffic beat down upon our shore.

While there are always people willing to try and pull you down, they are greatly outnumbered by those supporting us and buoying us up. I am grateful to each person who donates to the OTW. Your donations mean that we can afford the machines that keep the Archive running stably, and that nowadays I rarely get woken in the middle of the night due to unexpected downtime.

Something else that has had a significant impact in my volunteering life were the recurring conflicts both my committees had with previous iterations of the OTW Board of Directors. These were a source of great frustration and I even contacted the Legal committee to see how OTW members could call the board to account. After the resignation of the entire 2015 board, things have been much better. No organization is perfect, but I believe everyone in the OTW is very much happier today. I hope this will continue and believe the best way to do that is to ensure that every election is properly contested; I stood for election myself in 2016 and would do so again if necessary to make sure that there were enough candidates.

Our successes have been external as well as internal. This year, I had the pleasure of standing on the stage at Worldcon as AO3 won a Hugo Award and it was such a joy.

james_ holding the AO3’s Hugo award

As for the future, I believe that we will need to raise significantly more than we do today in order to hire paid employees. We cannot sustainably run forever on purely volunteer labor. We get roughly 5% of Wikipedia's pageviews and our budget is about one-third of one percent of theirs.


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10 Years of AO3

Rebecca Sentance is the chair for Fanlore, a staffer for Docs, and a layout editor for Transformative Works and Cultures. We’re hearing from her as the second part in our five-part series celebrating ten years since the launch of AO3. Whilst she hasn’t been at the OTW quite as long as our previous poster, Francesca Coppa, Rebecca has made a big name for herself as an OTW volunteer involved in many of our different committees. Here is what she has to say about her experiences working for us:

I first became involved with the OTW as a volunteer in 2015, but I’d wanted to volunteer for years before that. A combination of being a full-time student and always just missing the window for recruitment kept me from doing it until the summer after I’d finished my Masters degree. I’d finally decided to get serious about volunteering, and had set up an alert on the OTW Volunteering page to monitor it for any changes. The first committee that opened recruitment after I did that was the AO3 Documentation Committee (Docs for short). I applied, and the rest is history!

Being one of the people responsible for drafting and editing AO3’s help documentation (FAQs and tutorials) has given me an exciting front-row seat to some of our big coding changes over the years. My proudest moment so far as an OTW volunteer – apart from when AO3 won a Hugo Award! – is having been involved in testing the massive upgrade to AO3’s searching and filtering that was released last year, and getting my name in the release notes. I am also fond of the Unofficial Browser Tools FAQ, which I had to beta for my first task as a Docs committee member. It gave me the opportunity to download and play with a lot of fun userscripts and tools.

When I created my AO3 account in 2011, I was mainly attracted by the tags, and the way that users could create new fandoms and relationships just by tagging them. I was proud to publish one of the first fics in the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides fandom! Nowadays, I write a lot of fic for a small podcast fandom, and there’s still no greater joy than creating a tag that’s never been used before.


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