AO3 News

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2020-12-31 13:06:48 UTC

The OTW is thrilled to announce that AO3 has reached seven million fanworks! That averages out to around 1700 fanworks a day since AO3 first went online on November 14, 2009. AO3 hit its first million fanworks only seven years ago, on February 15, 2014, and since then it’s grown exponentially, hitting three million fanworks on April 28, 2017, and five million fanworks on July 20, 2019.

AO3 also recently hit three million registered users on November 26, 2020.

We could not be more grateful for all the users and creators who make this possible. Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful fanworks with us!


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Adobe is ending support for the Flash plugin next year. As a result, the AO3 will no longer be supporting the Dewplayer MP3 player to present audio playback. In the near future, we will convert the code in existing works to use the HTML5 <audio> tag.

While we can automatically make this change for works using Dewplayer, other works may also be affected by the end of Flash. If you have works with audio or video content, we strongly encourage you to change your existing works to use the <audio> or <video> tags as well, or to use updated code from your audio or video hosting site.

What is "Flash" and when does support end?

Flash is an Adobe program that was used to play audio and video on websites across many platforms since the late 1990s. However, it has a history of security vulnerabilities, and technology has provided new ways to do many things that once required Flash.

Many mobile browsers have not supported Flash for several years now, and Adobe has announced they will stop updating and distributing the software after December 31, 2020. They will also block it from playing any content after January 12, 2021.

For more information, please refer to Adobe's Flash Player End-of-Life Information Page.

How does that affect the AO3?

The Dewplayer plugin, a Flash-based mp3 player that we have used for podfic and other audio fanworks, will no longer function. Some older embed codes provided by other audio or video hosting sites will also stop working. For example, YouTube videos embedded before they switched to <iframe> tags in 2017 may stop working.

If you have any works with embedded audio or video, we recommend checking to make sure the audio or video still plays after January 12, 2021. If it doesn't, please make sure you are using the latest embed code from your hosting site, or consider switching to the audio or video HTML tags.

What happens to existing works using Dewplayer?

We will in the near future run a process on the AO3 to find works posted using the Dewplayer plugin and automatically convert the relevant HTML to use the <audio> tag.

Can I still use Dewplayer after December 31?

No, Adobe expects that major browsers will disable Flash after this date, so Dewplayer will be non-functional. We will eventually be removing our copy of the Dewplayer code entirely. We are also developing a change to the HTML sanitizer that will strip out any new attempts to use Dewplayer and replace it with HTML <audio> tags.

Can I fix my works myself?

You can manually edit the code yourself.

  1. Navigate to the work and select Edit.
  2. In the HTML view, look for the section of code that says
    <embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" flashvars="mp3=AUDIO_URL" src="" width="200" height="27" allowscriptaccess="never" allownetworking="internal"></embed>
  3. Copy the AUDIO_URL part. This will be a full URL that ends in ".mp3".
  4. Delete the code and paste in
    <audio src="AUDIO_URL"></audio>
  5. Replace the AUDIO_URL with the link you copied in step 3.
  6. Repeat this for any other embedded audio tracks in the work and select Update at the bottom of the page.

You can also use more complicated attributes and settings that are listed in the Embedding with the Audio and Video Tags news post.

How do I post new audio or video content now?

If you are using embed code from your video or audio hosting site, you should be able to paste it in using the HTML editor. If your embed code comes from a site not listed at "What sites can I use for hosting multimedia files?", please contact Support regarding getting your site added to the permitted list.

If you would like to use HTML <audio> or <video> tags, you can do so using the information and settings listed in the Embedding with the Audio and Video Tags news post.

If I have any questions?

You can get more information on using these elements and their attributes in these articles from Mozilla Developer's Network:

If you need more help, please submit a Support request.


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2020-12-27 16:04:58 UTC

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 Novic, who volunteers as a tag wrangler. This post was originally released in Chinese on the OTW's Weibo account and contained a little extra information. It is presented here in its original form as well as an English translation (thanks to our Weibo moderators!)

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

Everyday, large numbers of fanworks from every corner of the world, in different languages get uploaded to AO3 and they can be of any fandom, pairing and characters. AO3 is like a huge library that’s growing day by day and there must be a system to organize the works. We tag wranglers are just like librarians, using tags as the tools to categorize and manage the works published by the creators to make it easier for users to search and allow everyone to find the work they want to read easily. As a bilingual(English/Chinese) volunteer, I also translate Chinese tags into English to make it easier for other English volunteers to check.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
我管理着大大小小十几个作品圈,不过并没有固定的工作时间和时长,学校比较忙的时候就周末抽时间出来工作,碰到wrangling party还可以一边工作一边和其他志愿者讨论;如果不太忙,每天晚上都会看一看有没有新的tag需要处理。之前假期负责了一个比较活跃的中文圈子,刚接手的时候有上千个tag需要翻译和整理,那个时候几乎每天都会匀出一小时以上的时间来工作。不过总的来说标签管理员的工作还是很灵活的,而且可以自由调整工作量,不会有什么压力。

I assigned myself to a dozen fandoms of different sizes but there is no set work schedule. When I am busy with school, I will use my weekend time to do some wrangling work. When there is a wrangling party, I can also work while chatting with other volunteers. When it is not too busy, I will check in every evening to see if there are any new tags that need to be sorted. Last time I was off from school I was responsible for a hit Chinese fandom. In the beginning there were thousands of tags needing to be translated and wrangled. At that time I spent about an hour or more to work on that fandom. Overall, work as a tag wrangler is very flexible and I can adjust how much work I take on. There's not much pressure.

What made you decide to volunteer?

Before I became a volunteer, I was a reader and writer on AO3. I've always known the tagging system is very convenient but I never thought about how it all worked and didn't know about the existence of the tag wranglers. I gradually learned more systematically about the tags after OTW had a Weibo presence. I was very grateful for and admired the volunteers. I also believe, as a fan, working on things I enjoy can be a joyous experience, so I applied immediately when I saw the recruitment post.

What do you feel is the most often misunderstood part about your role as tag wrangler or tags on AO3 in general?

I think some users have some misconceptions of how tags work: they believe tags are rules and policies imposed by the site. In reality, tags are a tool for AO3 to be useful to the users, and the end goal is to make searching easier for us. With this goal in mind, there are suggestions on how to use the tags (like the tutorials posted by the Weibo mods for Chinese users). They are not compulsory, since tags are a part of the fanwork, technically there isn't the "right way" or the "wrong way" to tag, but there are ways to tag that "can better spread your work" and "make the searching experience better for fellow fans". I hope everyone can enjoy AO3 and other projects supported by OTW.

What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?
有很多,最惊喜的是我发现OTW志愿者是一个很多样的庞大组织,在志愿者交流平台上能认识很多很有趣的其他志愿者,我们会建各种各样的频道来聊天,网球、手工、音乐剧、数学、会计……从正经到不正经,从小清新到重口味,什么都能聊。但同时大家又有着一个最大的共同点,这也正是所有志愿者相识的契机,那就是大家都分享着对同人的喜爱,我们会讨论各地的同人/饭圈新闻,会分享优秀的同人作品,会分享funny tags,甚至有的还会线下聚会等等。成为志愿者之后真的接触到了很多一样又不一样的可爱的人。

There are lots! The most wonderful surprise is that I learnt the OTW volunteer base is such a huge network and I met a lot of interesting volunteers through our communication platform. We have chatrooms for all sorts of topics, tennis, craft, musicals, mathematics, accounting... You name it. From professional topics to hobbies, from art and literature related topics to things not appropriate for a young audience, we chat about everything! We are connected by our love for fanworks and the community and it's how we met. We talk about fandom news from around the world, share fanworks we like, the funny tags we saw, and sometimes even meet up in real life. I got to know a lot of lovely people after becoming a volunteer.

What fannish things do you like to do?

That would be reading fanfics. I read more works because of my volunteer work now. When I see an interesting tag when wrangling, I would click in there and read the whole story. (I often can't stop myself from reading a long story and totally forget I'm supposed to be working. XD) I sometimes write fanfics as well and enjoy brainstorming plots with friends.

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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2020-12-22 18:22:02 UTC

OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

Since we began in 2007, the Organization for Transformative Works' core mission has included working to promote fan-friendly copyright law. For years, we've submitted testimony and comments to governments, filed briefs in court, and helped mobilize fans to have their voices heard by lawmakers around the world. Recently, one of our big legal advocacy projects has been testifying and submitting comments to the U.S. Senate about the way U.S. Copyright works online under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis has released proposed legislation that would be bad for the AO3 and bad for fans. OTW Legal will fight for fans against this proposal, and you can help.

Sen. Tillis's proposal is awful. Among other things, it would dismantle safe harbors in the DMCA that protect the AO3 and other fan sites. It would put fanworks at greater risk of being taken down, and make it harder for new fan sites to get started. But here's the good news: it's just one Senator's wish list. Although Sen. Tillis's office has released a proposal, it's not even a bill yet--and if we remember our Schoolhouse Rock, becoming a bill is only the first step on a long, winding road that can involve lots of changes and may go nowhere. And before it starts on any road, the OTW (and you!) will have opportunities to have our voices heard and make a difference in what (if anything) might go in a bill.

OTW's legal advocacy team is on the case. We've been submitting responses and objections to Congress and the Senate, meeting with Sen. Tillis and other lawmakers, and doing everything else we can to continue to support free expression and fair use, promote copyright safe harbors that make it possible for the AO3 to exist, and protect fans from having their works unfairly taken down or commercially exploited by others.

We're optimistic that this wish list will not become law! But we have a lot of work ahead of us, and if you live in the United States, you can help. As things go forward, we'll know more about what specific actions will make a difference, but for now the biggest thing you can do is stand up and be counted. If you are interested in staying informed or getting involved, let us and our allies at the Re:Create Coalition know!.

OTW Legal is here to help! To find out more about the OTW's Legal Advocacy work or how to contact us, visit our Legal Advocacy 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.


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Yahoo-Geddon Project Banner - Colored woodcut of an ancient port, surrounded by burning buildings. Boats in the harbor are safe, but helpless. The logos for Verizon and Yahoo! Groups are superimposed in the top center and lower right corner, respectively.

Today, after 20 years of service to fannish and wider internet communities, Yahoo! Groups was shut down. The decision was announced by Verizon earlier this year on October 14.

Yahoo! Groups was a combination discussion board and mailing list that launched in 1999 and quickly became a hub of fannish activity. Yahoo! Groups and similar services allowed fans to customize and control their experiences in fandom to then-unprecedented degree, and fannish Groups ranged in scope from genre, to fandom, to ship, to individual characters.

While Yahoo! Groups was immensely popular in its heyday in the 2000s, over time it started to lose users. Yahoo started putting less work into maintenance, and a lot of functionality was lost. Most notably, you may recall Verizon's announcement on October 16, 2019 that all archived messages and files from Yahoo! Groups would be deleted on December 14, 2019, and that Yahoo! Groups would continue to exist only as mailing lists without retaining any records of messages and files posted to the lists.

With so little time left to save almost 20 years of posts, images, and other irreplaceable content, fans, preservationists, and moderators swiftly organized and took action. The Archive Team took the lead on preservation efforts for the Internet Archive, with a handful of volunteers writing code to download content and dozens more joining groups by the thousands so that their content could be saved. In parallel, the fandom community quickly formed the Yahoo-Geddon project and, with the help of 200 volunteers, began focusing on archiving fandom groups using tools developed by the Archive Team and PG Offline and communicating via a centralized Discord and Tumblr. They, along with other preservation groups like the Yahoo Groups Crusade, spread information, reached out to journalists, and asked for volunteers to help both the Archive Team's and Yahoo-Geddon's parallel group preservation efforts. Meanwhile, the OTW's Open Doors Committee created the Yahoo Groups Rescue Project to spread the word and assist moderators who needed help archiving their groups on the Archive of Our Own, and wrote an Open Letter to Verizon asking them to postpone the content purge.

The speed and numbers behind the fandom community’s organization had a secondary benefit: They were able to direct the Archive Team’s focus on preserving public fandom Yahoo groups in a way that many other communities were not able to, securing greater representation for the community. In turn, Yahoo-Geddon volunteers supported the Archive Team's broader preservation efforts, helping them save cooking groups, genealogy groups, non-English language groups, and many more.

These efforts were not entirely in vain: Verizon extended the deadline to January 31, 2020; the Archive Team was able to preserve over 1 million groups; the Yahoo-Gedden team saved around 300,000 fandom-themed groups; hundreds or thousands more were saved by users or moderators alerted to the purge by collective outreach efforts; and several of these groups will be adding their fannish content to the AO3 as Open Doors projects! However, this pales in comparison to the estimated over 10 million groups that were lost—equivalent to the estimated 90% of films made before 1929 that are lost forever because no one thought they were worth preserving.

Digital preservation takes time and money, and the large companies that currently house so much of our data do not value it enough to invest in preservation efforts. However, this is history -- our history -- and we will fight to keep it from disappearing without a trace. We hope that you will join us.

Image Attribution: The Fire of Alexandria, woodcuts by Hermann Göll, 1876, composition by the Yahoo-Geddon Project Team


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In the next few days, we'll be making a small change to the way images are displayed in fanworks. To make the Archive friendlier for smaller screens, we're updating the default display of images to ensure they won't be any wider than the full width of your screen.

Before and after: A work with the AO3 logo partially cut off on the right side, and with image resized so the full image fits on screen.

This change will apply to both new and existing works, and it's being done using CSS. That means it only affects how the image is displayed on the Archive -- the image files themselves are not being modified.

If you're an artist and you'd like to make it easier for others to view your art in a larger size, we recommend providing a link to the full size image. Our FAQ describes how to make a link with HTML, or you can use the link button on our rich text editor.

Art lovers who'd like to view an image at full size, your browser can probably help! The directions will vary depending on your device and browser, but generally, you can right-click (or your device's equivalent) on an image to open a menu, which should have an option for opening the image in another tab or copying the image's web address, which you can then visit. For more detailed instructions, we recommend going to your favorite search engine and searching for "open image in another window" and the name and version of your browser, operating system, or device.


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Spotlight on Open Doors

Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives and I Will Remember You Marathon Archive (2005-2009), two Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel archives, are being imported to the Archive of Our Own (AO3).

In this post:

Background explanation

Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives was established in 2003. After many years of hosting stories from many talented writers, the archivists have decided to move these collections to Archive of Our Own so that they may continue to be enjoyed by readers for many years to come.

Open Doors will be working with MrsGordo, GraceNM, and Chrislee to import Octaves of the Heart and I Will Remember You Marathon Archive (2005-2009) into separate, searchable collections on the Archive of Our Own. As part of preserving the archives in their entirety, all fanfiction currently in the Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives and the I Will Remember You Marathon Archive (2005-2009) will be hosted on the OTW's servers, and embedded in their own AO3 work pages.

We will begin importing works from Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives and the I Will Remember You Marathon Archive (2005-2009) to the AO3 after November.

What does this mean for creators who had work(s) on Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives and the I Will Remember You Marathon Archive (2005-2009)?

We will send an import notification to the email address we have for each creator. We'll do our best to check for an existing copy of any works before importing. If we find a copy already on the AO3, we will invite it to the collection instead of importing it. All works archived on behalf of a creator will include their name in the byline or the summary of the work.

All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly-viewable if you choose. After 30 days, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors. We will then permanently close down the site.

Please contact Open Doors with your Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives and the I Will Remember You Marathon Archive (2005-2009) pseud(s) and email address(es), if:

  1. You'd like us to import your works, but you need the notification sent to a different email address than you used on the original archives
  2. You already have an AO3 account and have imported your works already yourself.
  3. You’d like to import your works yourself (including if you don’t have an AO3 account yet).
  4. You would NOT like your works moved to the AO3.
  5. You are happy for us to preserve your works on the AO3, but would like us to remove your name.
  6. You have any other questions we can help you with.

Please include the name of the archive in the subject heading of your email. If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives and the I Will Remember You Marathon Archive account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's great; if not, we will work with the Octaves of the Heart and I Will Remember You Marathon Archive mods to confirm your claims.)

Please see the Open Doors Website for instructions on

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ, or contact the Open Doors committee.

We'd also love it if fans could help us preserve the story of Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives and I Will Remember You on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask the Fanlore Gardeners for tips.

We're excited to be able to help preserve Octaves of the Heart: Sublime Archives and the I Will Remember You Marathon Archive (2005-2009)!

- The Open Doors team and MrsGordo, GraceNM, and Chrislee


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2020-12-08 15:06:47 UTC

The last two deploys included a Rails upgrade and a variety of bug fixes and code cleanup. (Life has been turbulent enough, so we're keeping it very boring for us and our users. You're all welcome!)

A special thank you to our first-time contributors, ahiijny and translatorzepp!


  • Coders: ahiijny, Alix R, Cesy, cosette, Elz, Enigel, james_, redsummernight, Sarken, Stephen Burrows, ticking instant, tlee911, Tom Milligan, translatorzepp
  • Code reviewers: james_, redsummernight, Sarken, ticking instant, tlee911
  • Testers: Aline, bingeling, Claire, cosette, GoldenFalls, Harlow, james_, Jennifer D, lydia-theda, Matty, mumble, Nary, Nat, Paula, QED, Qem, redsummernight, Runt, Sammie Louise, Sarken, Taylor Clossin, tlee911



Upgrade to Rails 5.2, deployed on October 1st.

  • [AO3-5765] - In order to stay current with Rails, we had to upgrade from Rails 5.1 to 5.2. A lot of the work involved upgrades to associated gems and fixes for deprecated features that will be removed in Rails 6. A million thanks to everyone who helped out with testing almost every aspect of every single Archive feature (and there are a lot) to make sure everything was still working correctly! An extra special shoutout to Sarken, Nary, and lydia-theda, who went above and beyond to become the top 3 testers in our sprawling spreadsheet. <3!
  • [AO3-3908] - Trying to simultaneously reject and remove a work from a collection would give an Error 500. It's now possible to do both at the same time, as it should be.
  • [AO3-4829] - Changing the default skin (i.e. look of the Archive) would lead to a loss of all styling (i.e. a naked looking Archive) for all users. Now it's possible for admins to designate another skin as the AO3 default.
  • [AO3-4551] - Changes to parent skins would not update the child skin. This has been fixed!
  • [AO3-6033] - We upgraded our code coverage gem from version 0.1.14 to 0.2.0. (As you can see on our GitHub page, 90% of our codebase is currently covered by automated tests that are run whenever someone commits a fix or enhancement!)
  • [AO3-6049] - A few of our tests would sometimes fail for no reason. We fixed them so they should now reliably pass if there are no actual issues.
  • [AO3-6014] - We are now able to specify different robots.txt rules for different Archive installs depending on the full domain name associated with each, so nothing gets erroneously overwritten anymore.


Bug fixes and behind-the-scenes work, deployed on December 8th.

  • [AO3-6083] - We've started using HTML5 data-* attributes for our autocomplete code instead of some old invalid custom attributes.
  • [AO3-5833] - On iOS devices, the autocomplete didn't generally offer suggestions -- it usually just told you it was looking for some. We've tweaked it to make it more likely to provide help.
  • [AO3-5357] - If Creator A listed an anonymous work by Creator B as the inspiration for one of their works, when someone went to Creator B's Related Works page, they would see the anonymous work there... even though the point of anonymous works is to prevent folks from knowing who created them. To preserve anonymity, only Creator B will be able to see their anonymous works on their Related Works page.
  • [AO3-5861] - The "Works in Collections" button on any user's dashboard takes you, rather fittingly, to all of that user's works in collections (save for the anonymous ones, obviously). It's also a way to find all your own works in collections (including the anonymous ones). When accidentally trying to access this page for a nonexistent user, you are now greeted by a 404 page instead of an Error 500.
  • [AO3-6079] - By manipulating the HTML of the bookmark form, it was theoretically possible to change a work's tags. We've changed it so that's no longer possible.
  • [AO3-5168] - If you neglected to fill in a required field when bookmarking a new external work, the rating and category tags you selected would be cleared out and you'd have to reenter it. We've made sure it will be preserved.
  • [AO3-5924] - The Donate or Volunteer page had the browser page title "Donate Home", which didn't make a lot of sense. Now it is "Donate or Volunteer".
  • [AO3-6000] - We renamed the fields on the guest comment form to reduce the chances your browser will helpfully autofill the form with your non-fannish name.
  • [AO3-5925] - The guest comment form didn't mention that you can use HTML in comments, so we added some information about that to the form.
  • [AO3-6007] - Unlike a pseud's works and bookmarks pages, its series page didn't indicate which pseud it belonged to or how many series it contained. Now the header on the page will say "(#) Series by pseud (username)" instead of just "Series by username".
  • [AO3-6006] - Dashboards had a similar problem, in that they'd display only the pseud at the top of the page, but not the associated username. Now the Dashboard also follows the "pseud (username)" convention.
  • [AO3-5820] - When updating the status of items in your inbox, you have to tick a checkbox for the items you want to select. This checkbox was very small and could be hard to select, so we added a label to it to increase the area you can click or tap to tick the box.
  • [AO3-5952] - The text in table headers in right-to-left languages (e.g. Arabic) was left-aligned. We've made it right-aligned instead.
  • [AO3-5987] - The "Share" button on bookmark pages was set up so that all of the sharing options are rendered and embedded in the page, which meant that our servers were performing extra work and referrer information was being sent to Twitter and Tumblr each time a bookmark page was loaded. We've improved performance by not rendering share options until the "Share" button gets pressed, and we've improved privacy by using different buttons that don't track the user or load third party JavaScript.
  • [AO3-5950] - We tweaked the settings on the homepage Twitter widget to disable Twitter's tracking and to return it to its original size.
  • [AO3-6056] - The confirmation pop-up for prompt memes claims' "Drop Claim" option used wording that wasn't consistent with other confirmation pop-ups. We've adjusted it.
  • [AO3-6016] - Now that the option to disable comments has gone live, we removed an unnecessary database column and related code.
  • [AO3-6020] - Removed some other unused code.
  • [AO3-6021] - Removed even more unused code! 🧹
  • [AO3-6082] - One of the services we used for running automated tests began charging, and it would've cost a small fortune for us to keep using it. We've switched to GitHub's built-in option, which doesn't charge us anything (at least for now).


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