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Published:
2020-07-19 11:15:39 -0400
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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 Julia Santos, who volunteers as a Tag Wrangling staffer.

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

As a Tag Wrangling volunteer, I help sort through and organize tags so it is easier for users to find what they want to read or filter out what they don’t want to read! This means making tags canonical (filterable), connecting tags to already existing canonicals, checking on the growing number of tags that express the same fandom concept, and discussing the best formats to canonize tags. \o/ Wranglers always try their best to make tags intuitive so Archive users have an easy time browsing through fics and finding what they are looking for.

As a Tag Wrangling supervisor, I also help with recruitment and training of new Tag Wrangling volunteers, check in on progress, and lend a hand and/or help coordinate other Wrangling projects when needed.

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

I’m usually able to wrangle 2-3 days a week, so I like to divide my time: one day for fandoms I wrangle alone, one day for co-wrangled fandoms, one day for megafandoms as they get lots of tags! I’m usually listening to podcasts while I wrangle so that makes wrangling even more fun. Weeks when recruitment is on, or check-ins need to be conducted, means one of my days is dedicated to that work instead of checking on my fandom bins.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I had just graduated from university and was looking for something to keep me occupied until I found a job. I've always loved reading fic and, at the time, was modding a couple of fic rec blogs so I was very used to browsing endless tags on AO3. I came across the recruitment post on Tumblr and it seemed like the perfect way to 1) give back to the community that has been one of my major sources of entertainment for years and 2) keep myself busy.

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

Interacting with people from all over the world, who are just as excited about and invested in fandom as me! My fellow volunteers are some of the kindest, sweetest, and funniest people I’ve met online. They’re all wonderful to work with and are always up to exchanging recs or flailing about new fandom content. I’ve discovered so many new TV shows/books/movies/podcasts through our talks and my life is definitely better for it.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I read all the fic in about 20 different fandoms and I love yelling about them whenever I can. I’m also a fic writer and have written fics for Teen Wolf, How To Get Away With Murder, and MCU and have also participated in and helped run a few fandom challenges. I’m currently in my feelings about MDZS/CQL, where I cry about the characters every day and write soft Wangxian fics to soothe my heart.


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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Published:
2020-06-23 15:07:35 -0400
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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 Amy2, who volunteers as a Development & Membership staffer and graphic designer.

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

Owning the servers and lack of advertising are both key parts of the OTW’s mission, but to do that, we rely on user donations. The Development & Membership committee (DevMem) is responsible for the fundraising efforts, which are largely focused around the April and October drives. My job is to make the graphics—drive headers, member icons, designs for donation gifts, etc. -- as well as some membership data work. (The latter is mostly moving spreadsheet columns around, and updating donors’ addresses and donation gift requests.)

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

At the beginning of the week, I go through the DevMem inbox to make sure that we’ve answered all the donor questions. We have a meeting midweek, and if it’s time to send out a batch of donation gifts, I get in touch with everyone who needs to confirm their address with us. (Or: I’m sending follow-up emails to the people I haven’t heard back from.) My tag wrangling bins are fairly slow — shoutout to those of you dabbling in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology! — so I usually only check on those once a week or so as well.

If we’re a couple of months out from a drive or election (i.e. about 50% of the time,) I’ll have graphics to work on. Once those are ready, it’s pretty quiet for me until the drive starts up, at which point we try to have as many hands on deck as possible to answer emails.

I’m currently in training for the Volunteer & Recruitment Committee, so I don’t know what a typical week there is yet! But right now, for me, it’s tutorials.

You started out as a graphic designer and later added the role of membership data specialist, as well as joining Tag Wrangling and Volunteers & Recruiting. What made you decide to expand your volunteering into other parts of the organization besides graphics?

When I joined DevMem, we only had one person doing pretty much all membership data work — they’re a hero and should be honored as such — and when it got to the point that that really wasn’t working anymore, a couple of us were trained on the database so we could help take the load off. I volunteered for that because I had the fewest responsibilities outside of drive season, so it seemed like a good way to be helpful.

Around that point I started getting more involved in the social side of the OTW, where I learned more about what other people were doing, and what work looked interesting to me.* One of the best parts of being an OTW volunteer is the other volunteers, who can always be counted on to enable encourage you to push yourself and try new things.

*This also put me in the path of evangelizing tag wranglers.

What’s your favorite task or project that you have worked on for the OTW?

This is a hard one! I’d probably have to say the Hugo Award merchandise. The weeks after we won were obviously an exciting time for the AO3 community, and it was very special to help mark that occasion. It was also the first time I had the chance to design a donation gift, so it was gratifying to see how popular they were — though they may have had to excavate our premiums specialist out from under the piles of stickers.

I also really enjoyed making the April 2020 drive banner and member icon: they include favorite tags from nearly all of our translation teams, which was a neat glimpse into what tropes and turns of phrase are popular in the non-English speaking parts of AO3. It was fun to watch people on Twitter find their languages’ tags.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Read fic, write fic, make book covers for fics, ramble about books and media that I love at one in the morning on tumblr dot com... the usual. Lately I’ve been learning InDesign by formatting my favorite fanfics and having them printed in book format: if this lockdown lasts much longer, I may end up with a dedicated fanfiction shelf in my bookcase.


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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Published:
2020-05-24 12:36:26 -0400
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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 Jessie Casiulis, who volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors.

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

I currently have three hats in the OTW: Board Director, Translation Staff, and Volunteer Tag Wrangler.

On the Board of Directors, my role is to help run the Organization. My fellow directors and I approve projects, make financial decisions, and ensure the OTW's compliance with legal obligations. We also work hand-in-hand with committees and chairs, to support them through their day-to-day work and to plan for the Organization's long-term goals.

As Translation staff, I mostly do volunteer management, with a side of document handling. Translation staffers assign tasks, handle hiatus requests, run interviews, check-ins, and training chats, and generally provide all kinds of help for translators. We also proof-read documents for translatability and coordinate updates when previously translated documents get modified.

Last but not least, as a Tag Wrangler, I contribute to ensuring that tags are properly sorted and hooked, so that AO3 users can use our search filters accurately and efficiently.

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

There’s no real typical week for me as a volunteer: different weeks provide different challenges depending on the workload I have for each committee. I usually work a couple of hours each day, but my hours go wild occasionally. If there’s a fire to deal with, none of us count our hours until the problem we have is solved. Similarly, time-intensive events, such as recruitment or check-ins, will see me glued to my computer a lot more often, be it because of meetings, note-taking, or general information monitoring. Not to mention on-call weeks for Translation.

It can be tiring at times, but everyone tries to be really considerate of everyone else. We support each other through difficult weeks, and try to keep an eye out for potential burn-outs. No one will ever make you feel bad for asking for help, or for needing a week off occasionally.

Board members hold the only elected positions in the OTW. What made you decide to run?

People! Being in the OTW means being part of a community of people who uplift you and help you see the best in you, be it with praise, constructive criticism, or good-natured ribbing. I was interested in Board work, but I was on the bench about running. The people I spoke to about it convinced me to try, and supported me through the election process. Without them I don’t think I would have had the confidence to run.

Board members have to have volunteered in the OTW for some time before they can serve on the board. What are some of the things you’ve worked on before in the OTW?

I started in the OTW as a French translator. I joined up at the same time as some super-energetic and invested peeps who are still in the OTW, being awesome humans. Together, we had a lot of fun updating French policies, reviewing translations, and translating often challenging documents.

Then, I joined the Support Committee where I helped AO3 users with technical issues, answered their questions, and forwarded their feedback to the relevant committees. My inner tinkerer was happy to discover the scaffolding behind AO3, and all of its lesser-known features. I encourage anyone with an interest in the tech parts of AO3 and an interest in customer service to apply to Support!

And finally, I was already a tag wrangler when I joined Board.

What fannish things do you like to do?

What fannish things don’t I like to do? I write and read -- which reminds me that I should write more if I ever hope to finish my current WIP. I draw badly, and craft even worse, but I always enjoy it. I sometimes cosplay. I DM homebrew versions of role-playing games set in my players’ and my favorite universes, and moderate some Discord servers. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve come across a fannish activity I didn’t enjoy... including sports, as my combat-ready lightsabers can attest to.


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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Published:
2020-04-19 12:34:24 -0400
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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 Alex Xanthoudakis, who volunteers as a Fanhackers project staffer on the Communications Committee.

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

I’m a Fanhackers volunteer, so I help run all the Fanhackers accounts! Our mission is to help make fan studies scholarship more accessible to people, which feeds into the OTW’s larger mission of providing access to and preserving the history of fan culture in its myriad forms, and providing the broadest possible access to fannish activity for all fans. A lot of this stuff—-recorded histories, really cool analyses, various legitimizing works—-is found in books and articles that are very often behind a paywall or university firewall. My job as a Fanhackers volunteer requires me to read things, pull out what I think is important or interesting, and share the educational wealth, so to speak!

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

Reading, reading, reading! I read fan studies scholarship and then post about it, whether that be a quote, a quote and explanatory text, or just something I found interesting about an article. I work with two really amazing other volunteers; we’ve staggered our posting schedule throughout the week, so I’ll usually read over the weekend and draft my post in time to post for Monday afternoon/evening. Right now, I’m also in charge of monitoring the Fanhackers Tumblr, so any questions directed to that platform will probably be answered by me!

What made you decide to volunteer?

The OTW has been instrumental to my fan experience, primarily through AO3, but also through Fanhackers and a lot of the outreach they do. Because of this, I really wanted to help keep the Organization up and running in any small way I could.

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

Meeting new people! It’s been so fun to get to work with other like-minded fans—-and the fact I’m part of a group trying to make scholarship more accessible is also pretty rad!

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’m a huge fan of fic and am a fic writer; I started about 13 years ago and haven’t looked back since! I’ve also tried my hand at fanart (it was a disaster, but incredibly fun), and when the mood strikes, like making gifs. On the visual side of things, though, my favourite thing has to be organizing and designing zines. I’ve been lucky enough to work on two and seeing participants’ creativity, as well as being able to hold a physical copy of all that hard work, is extremely inspiring and satisfying!


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

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Published:
2020-02-21 12:27:29 -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 Kristina, who volunteers as co-editor of the OTW's project Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC).

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

Karen Hellekson and I were tasked from the beginning with representing the academic arm of the OTW. We had been discussing the need for an academic fan studies journal around the same time as the first discussions for an archive began, and we started laying the foundations shortly after the OTW was founded. We found an open access platform, defined our policies, picked an editorial board, and put out the first call for papers. We published the first issue of Transformative Works and Cultures a little over a year after in September 2008.

In order to gain and retain our academic credentialing as a journal, we needed the editorial side to be clearly separate from the OTW organization side. Our connection to the OTW is crucial but also fairly specific: our staff are OTW volunteers and we report to the board, but all editorial decisions are made independently by double-blind peer reviewers who are experts in fan studies.

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

We publish one general issue and one or two special issues a year, and essay submissions come in year-round, with rushes of work around deadlines. I am responsible for screening all submissions to see if they adhere to our requirements, and I will reject submissions that do not fit journal guidelines (length, genre, topic). Every other essay gets sent to peer reviewers. I communicate with reviewers and authors until the essay is ready to be accepted and sent to production. So my typical week is writing a lot of emails and fairly regularly reading and reviewing essays. I used to solicit a lot in the early days, and I still joke that I beg, bully, barter, and bribe friends and acquaintances to submit material and/or peer review for TWC.

What were the early days of TWC like?

Exciting and crazy! We started everything from scratch, and it was great but also exhausting. We were learning procedures as we were creating them, and everything was mostly held together with spit and goodwill and a lot of effort, mostly on Karen’s and my part. Neither of us was affiliated with any university, the journal was online only, and we published fan studies research, so to ensure credibility it was really important to publish sound academic research that was professionally edited. In line with OTW’s basic philosophy, it was important that the journal be open access, so that all fans, regardless of affiliation or access, could read the research.

Karen and I were (and to a degree still are) the last line, and that meant that there were a lot of panicked phone calls and picking up slack, especially in the first few years. We have published every issue on time for the past 10 years and over 30 issues! That has meant, however, that Karen is copyediting and coding and proofreading essays the night before we go live, because a volunteer had not done her assignment; or it means I am interrupting my family holidays to email authors on my phone on crappy hotel Wi-Fi.

Today, the journal has a solid reputation and we get a good number of unsolicited submissions. Many of our procedures have been documented, and of course we follow standard academic journal workflow, but so much of what we've done, we’ve learned to do through trial and error. Karen and I are both looking forward to passing our editor batons to new scholars in the next few years.

What is your professional life like outside of your TWC work? Any projects you'd like to talk about?

I am an adjunct professor at my local university, and I’m pretty adamant to be identified as an independent researcher. Just like with OTW and TWC, I think it’s important for fans and fan studies scholars to come together. Karen and I were editors of the volume Fan Fiction and Fan Studies in the Age of the Internet (2006), which I’m proud to say helped create a whole new generation of fan studies scholars, and my own book, Framing Fan Fiction, came out last year.

I was also part of the group that created the first fan studies conference in the United States/North America, the Fan Studies Network: North America, which had its second annual conference at DePaul University in Chicago in October 2019. In what might have been the strangest work I’ve ever done, I became an expert witness in a plagiarism trial centering around Omegaverse tropes.

I try to go to one academic conference a year, mostly to see friends, meet new people in the field, and solicit for TWC, but I happily travel if invited (and supported). This spring I’ll be giving a talk on TWC and OTW with Karen Hellekson and Francesca Coppa at Berkeley, and I’m very excited! Finally, I am writing a new book on Fan Fantasies and the Politics of Desire with my friend (and early TWC volunteer) Alexis Lothian.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I started as a reader (and lurker) in the late 1990s, and fan fiction has remained the center of my fannish interest and my academic work. I used to say that talking about fandom is my fannish thing to do, back when I wrote a lot of meta and helped organize and run things. But after starting TWC (and especially the last three years when I was on the OTW board), that has mostly eaten up all my fannish energies. I still read fanfic and listen to podfic and talk to people one-on-one about stories, but changes in fannish interactions and changes in myself (maybe) have made me be much less public and much less vocal.

I also haven’t really felt like I’m actively part of a fandom since, probably, Stargate Atlantis or maybe Teen Wolf. I still read a lot of fic, but I’m also reading a lot of m/m and other romance. At the moment, I am about all things The Witcher (game, TV show, books, fanfic), but by the time this is published, I may have fallen for something else. Following the phrase of a dear (and now departed) old friend: I am a fannish butterfly!


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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Published:
2020-01-20 11:12:41 -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 Stacey Lantagne, who volunteers as member of OTW's Legal Advocacy project. It's posted today to highlight the celebration of Copyright Week

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

As a volunteer for the Legal Committee, I work on behalf of OTW's mission to protect and nurture fanworks as a legitimate creative activity. The Legal Committee monitors legislation in the United States as well as internationally, and provides comments on behalf of the interests of fan creators. For instance, recently the Legal Committee provided comments in response to New Zealand's request for input on its review of its Copyright Act (with help from New Zealand AO3 users!). We also join briefs in legal court cases that have fanwork implications, as well as review internal procedures and policies to ensure compliance.

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

It depends on what's going on! Sometimes I'm working on a specific project, like the New Zealand comments, or checking the nonprofit regulations of all fifty states as they apply to the OTW. Sometimes I'm getting ready to be a guest at a con or speak on a panel at a conference about fannish legal issues. Sometimes I'm assisting in efforts to communicate about major legal changes, like the EU's recent new regulations. Sometimes I'm just helping to respond to the many emails that come in weekly, whether asking questions about works on AO3 or asking questions about personal fan projects people are working on. The Legal Committee can't give legal advice, but we strive to provide relevant legal information.

What did AO3's Hugo win in 2019 mean for OTW's Legal Team?

For the Legal Team, as I think for everyone involved with the OTW, the Hugo win felt like a huge recognition of the validity and importance of fanworks in creativity. At the same time, we recognize that it's not the end of our work. But it was incredibly inspiring to watch all those people at the Hugos speak up for how much fanworks have played a part in their lives. We at the Legal Committee were waving along at home!

Why do you think Copyright Week is an important event?

Copyright isn't just a law for Disney; it's a law for all people who create, and that's most people! Copyright Week is important because it raises awareness of how much copyright is there for all of us. A lot of the narrative we hear about copyright is in terms of piracy and media conglomerates but copyright is out there protecting all of those stories you scribble or doodles you draw, just to make yourself happy! It also has protection built in to make sure the rest of us have some freedom to engage with the behemoth copyright properties, and Copyright Week reminds us of that.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I am a voracious consumer of all things fannish. I wish I could draw, because I'm in awe of fan artists, but I'm a writer myself. Catch me on a perfect weekend curling up with a 150K coffee shop AU.


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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Published:
2019-12-12 10:46:00 -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 Anhaita, who volunteers with the Translation Committee.

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

As a volunteer, I'm part of the Translation Committee. Our main objective is making the site and its content available in different languages for easy accessibility and understanding to all those whose first language isn't English. We help in cross lingual communications with other Committees as well! (Support and Abuse, for example).

Translation is also subdivided into smaller language teams, so no matter what language you wish to communicate in, we most likely have someone to make sure the message gets interpreted correctly. As the OTW is geared towards fans from various communities and cultures, our goal is to make sure people can access our website in languages they feel comfortable with.

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

As I'm part of a very small team (literally, it's just two of us here), we mainly have a large number of documents to sort through and translate. So usually, I spend the week translating a document, perhaps a webpage for the OTW site, like the FAQs or a News post. At times, I may get contacted to help translate a text-image, or fic-tags in my language, for a different Committee -- we are kind of the go-between here!

Translating some words into my language, Marathi, can be pretty tough, and sometimes hilarious even. We have to figure out how sentence structures have to be changed to fit a text, or the closest possible translation is used. Fun fact: Fanvid is literally translated to mean "Western Picture Gallery" in Marathi (because that's a word English totally dreamt up one day and refused to inform the other languages).

On the whole, it's a pretty relaxing workload, and is easily managed side by side with university life (with some good time management skills; seriously, if it's one thing I've learnt as a volunteer, it's that!).

What made you decide to volunteer?

I've always wanted to, I think. On some level, I wanted to give back to the community that has been there for me in little ways, throughout my formative years, providing encouragement and companionship when I needed it. And volunteering for the OTW was a way to do that, to be a part of something that allows fans to have a wholesome and positive environment to exercise their creativity in! It also allowed me to actively support the site that I'd grown so fond of!

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

The sense of community! Seriously, imagine hundreds of people with like minded interests and passion for fannish activities -- it's a wonderful feeling. Another thing I've really enjoyed is taking part in the annual International Fanworks Day celebration -- hosting games and interacting with people who've come to enjoy this site so much. It's lovely to see how this site has brought fans together!

What fannish things do you like to do?

Oh, a myriad of things! I've read, written and even beta-read many fanfictions over the years. I've taken part in and helped organise a couple of fanwork challenges, and I love browsing through the truly wonderful fan art created by artists out there!

But mainly, reading (devouring) fanfiction has become a very integral part of my life. I've officially read more fanfiction than books by now!


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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