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Published:
2021-11-23 11:52:26 -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 Mirissa, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Kyrgyz.

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

My role in the OTW community is just the same as the other translators. I translate news and other OTW documents to help the community grow and make the experience for other people more comfortable. When I applied to be a translator for the Kyrgyz language there was no Kyrgyz language on the list of the application form. I wasn’t extremely surprised, because this language is not very well known, but it really is similar to Kazakh. It’s funny how long it took me to realize that I was the only translator on the team.

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

My week as a volunteer isn't that unusual. Honestly, I am the type of person to procrastinate and do all the work at the last minute. But with my translation assignments, I take my time on them and try to make them the best way possible. I’m mostly on time, but sometimes I might face some technical issues, so my assignments might be overdue. Not only do I translate different documents, but since I am the only person on the Kyrgyz language team I also act as a beta.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I’ve been reading fanfics on AO3 for a long time after finding a really well-written work 3 years ago. As I got signed up for it and went through news posts I noticed a post saying that they needed translators. I got really interested in it and filled in the application form. At first I didn’t know which language team I should volunteer for, because I know Russian pretty decently as well, so it took me some time to figure out that I wanted to share my native language with the community.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

In the beginning, I was trying my best to get used to the system of how this role worked. Eventually, I got used to everything until the time to translate the membership drives came. I did understand the condition to finish it in 5 days, so I thought “Why not do it?” Maybe I had some challenges because the language I’m translating into might be a bit confusing for non-native speakers. So, I had to confirm something with the staff. I’m glad it all turned out well in the end.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I do not really stand out in the area of fannish stuff. Just like everyone, I do read fanfics and I also write my own fanfics on AO3. Well, I also do aesthetic journaling, but not that often since it really does take me a lot of time. I also watch videos of my favorite anime and Japanese voice actors, who doesn’t do that? I think that’s all I do as a fan (I’m thinking I sound really boring, don’t I?).


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 the 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:
2021-10-26 12:38:16 -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 Effie, who volunteers as a TWC Outreach and Communications editor.

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

My role is fairly new! Originally, I applied to be an editor of Transformative Works and Cultures’ Symposium section. However, during my interview with Kristina and Karen I ended up discussing ideas for outreach and communications at length. This eventually led to the creation of my role: Outreach and Communications Editor. My main focus is on the journal’s social media presence, namely Tumblr and Twitter, though I also make sure that any calls for papers are posted around the Internet as well. I am hoping to scale up TWC’s outreach so that an even wider breadth of scholars (and fans!) feel confident submitting to the journal. Additionally, as I continue on with the role, I will take over most of the outward facing communications including press releases. This takes the task off the editors’ desks, which enables them to focus on what they do best, and allows for a more uniform tone across the journal’s communications.

I’ve been with OTW for years, though! I began volunteering on Fanlore back in 2018 and am still a member of the Fanlore social media team, though I have taken more of a backseat in that role.

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

My weeks are pretty atypical and dependent on what (if anything) is coming out of TWC – not to mention that, this being a new role, I’m still trying to find the right rhythm for our social media. Moving forward, I think the weeks surrounding an issue release will be busiest, as I intend to get a few social media posts out leading up to the release and then, of course, focus on the release on the day of but also for a few weeks afterward! I think the opportunity to have a stronger presence on social media is one that we shouldn’t miss out on and I’m eager for the journal’s presence to be felt! On quieter weeks, I intend to remind followers of our upcoming calls for paper, as well as highlight pieces from recently released issues.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have quite a lot of editorial experience and it’s something I love to engage in. I actually run my own young adult literary journal and have been on staff at AGNI literary journal for over half a decade. Social media is a big part of what I do in both of those roles, so I’ve become fairly confident in that area. At first, when I applied to be a Symposium editor, I did so because I enjoy editing but also because I think the Symposium section of TWC is wonderful. It offers authors and readers opportunities to start discussions on a variety of topics but, perhaps even more importantly, it’s a space for fan meta. But in the conversation/interview for that role, I got really carried away with what appears to be a passion of mine: outreach and communications. When Kristina and Karen offered me this new role, I was really pleased. I’m a devout reader of TWC and have felt, for a while now, that the work it produces needs to be read by more people! So I’m really thrilled to be part of the process in getting this work into people’s hands, so to speak!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

The biggest challenges I’ve found, in both my Fanlore work and in this new role at TWC, are (1) understanding the scope of OTW and the systems it has in place and (2) project planning. For the first challenge, I think it’s really easy to be a user of one, or many, of the OTW’s resources and not realize the amount of work that goes into each aspect of this massive organization. The Fanlore team alone, between social media staffers, graphic designers, gardeners, etc is made up of at least a couple dozen volunteers. TWC is also made up of a large group of volunteers and these are only two of the many projects under the OTW umbrella. At first, it is a little overwhelming to grasp who all does what and how! I still found this to be the case when I moved into my new role, despite being on Fanlore for so many years!

The second challenge, which is perhaps a more personal one, is more focused on project and time management. Being a volunteer for such a large organization means that you are responsible for ensuring you pull your weight within the role, or else other aspects might be delayed. It also requires pre-planning and recognizing that dedicated time must be set aside for your tasks. As a PhD student, I am aware of this to a degree but I think when we take on service/volunteer roles, there’s a danger of not giving it the importance it should hold. I will admit, this was something I had to adapt to (mentally) when I came on to the Fanlore team and, again, as a part of TWC, I am re-adjusting to ensure that I accomplish what I want to within the role. Luckily, the teams and communities that make up the OTW are incredible. During my time as a volunteer, I have encountered nothing but encouragement, support, and kindness from everyone I’ve interacted with. It’s truly wonderful being part of the team.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I often feel like a fraud when I say this but…the only fannish thing I do is read fanfiction! But fanfiction is a cornerstone of my life and has been for almost 25 years. In fact, it’s so crucial to who I am that I’m pursuing a PhD in media studies with a dissertation focused on fanfiction, storytelling, and new media platforms!


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:
2021-09-19 12:46:25 -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 Cyn, who volunteers as a co-chair for our Volunteers & Recruiting Committee.

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

I currently wear three hats: Translation Staff, Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) Staff and being one of VolCom’s co-chairs. I’m also a former Tag Wrangler, Open Doors Staffer, and Support Staffer.

VolCom staff ensure all volunteers have access to the necessary tools and resources needed to complete their work efficiently and effectively. We also process any volunteer onboardings (adding tools as needed) and volunteer departures (ensuring all tools are removed). One of our key responsibilities is to work with chairs of other committees to facilitate the administrative aspects of our monthly recruitment so that all roles in our organization are appropriately staffed. Since the OTW runs on the energy of volunteers who have decided to give their time and resources to it, I consider VolCom to be a key part of ensuring the OTW continues to operate smoothly. VolCom also works on long-term projects that affect the organization as a whole, such as the implementation of new tools, auditing tool access or developing a chair training plan that covers OTW-specific skills as well as more general leadership and management skills.

As one of VolCom’s co-chairs, I supervise staff to make sure everyone has tasks to work on, recruit and train newbies, ensure goals and tasks listed in our committee’s roadmap are being worked on, ensure documentation of our processes and projects is up to date and help other chairs with resolving Code of Conduct violations.

The Translation Committee helps coordinate the OTW’s efforts across the organization to translate site pages, news posts, AO3 FAQs, and more. In my role as a Translation staffer, I am mostly involved with volunteer management which includes such things as assigning tasks to translators, running interviews and training chats, and handling any hiatus requests. I also help other committees if they need something translated, such as helping Policy & Abuse and Support with getting any tickets they may need to be translated that they can’t translate themselves.

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

Every week in VolCom is different so I may work on any of the following:

  1. Welcoming and adding access to tools for new volunteers or removing a volunteer’s tool access if they are leaving the OTW.
  2. Updating our internal volunteer database of who is starting or returning from a hiatus.
  3. If a volunteer requests a name and/or email change, updating our internal volunteer database and any tools the volunteer has access to.
  4. Processing requests to give a volunteer access to a tool.
  5. Responding to general volunteering queries.
  6. Working on one of our long-term projects.
  7. If VolCom recently recruited new volunteers, I might spend some time during the week following up with them about their progress and/or walking them through our different tasks.

One of the more regular tasks I work on is processing requests for recruitment. If recruitment is 1-2 weeks away, I’ll deliver feedback to chairs on their recruitment documentation and training plan, set up the website application form, make the advertising post to give to Communications to send out when recruitment begins, and document which role is being recruited for our internal volunteer database. If we’re in the middle of recruitment I’ll organize the applications we received and, once recruitment is over, send the apps to committee chairs.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I see my volunteering as my way to give back to fandom since I’m a huge reader but not much of a writer. Although I’ve been reading fanfic for many years, I didn’t really stop to consider who ran the Archive of Our Own until one day when I happened to see the post looking for volunteers to join the Tag Wrangling Committee. That got me curious about who ran the Archive so I read more about the OTW and its projects. I loved that it was a non-profit organization run by and for fans so I decided to apply.

After joining the OTW as a wrangler, I was able to learn even more about the OTW’s projects and what goes on internally to keep everything running. I joined the Open Doors Committee to help save at-risk archives before learning more about VolCom from another volunteer who was on both the Open Doors and VolCom Committees. I thought the type of tasks VolCom did were the types of things I really enjoyed doing in my day job, so when I was asked if I was interested in joining I said yes and here we are!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had are the projects VolCom works on. Our projects can require a lot of time, research, and prior knowledge in related fields, and sometimes it's not clear until we’re in the middle of a project what needs to get done or what pathway to follow to carry a project out.

Another challenge I have is balancing my workload and communicating with VolCom staffers during busy periods. My day jobs have taken up a lot of time this year, so I’ve had to work on rebalancing real life and my volunteer commitments. Luckily one of my jobs is flexible and I usually have time to answer questions from VolCom staff or other volunteers during work hours. If I don’t have time during the day, then I work on volunteering when I should be sleeping (who needs sleep?).

What fannish things do you like to do?

Other than volunteering, I love to read fanfic, listen to podfics or watch fanvids. I’ve been reading fanfic since the very early 2000s when I started reading Sailor Moon fanfic on A Sailor Moon Romance. I then moved to Fanfiction.net looking for more fics and realized there were a lot more fandoms with fics I could read. I eventually wandered my way over to AO3 and I’ve been reading in many different fandoms ever since. I’m currently reading fics in 9-1-1, MCU, The Witcher, and Yuri on Ice with many more to come I’m sure.


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:
2021-08-29 12:20:29 -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 lydia-theda, who volunteers as a Policy & Abuse staffer.

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

The Archive of Our Own was created to protect and preserve transformative fanworks of all kinds. As a fanwork archive, we believe in maximum inclusiveness of content: if you’ve created a fanwork—whether fiction or meta; derivative or original work; fanfic, fanart, fanmix, podfic, or fanvid—then regardless of the subject matter, your fanwork is welcome on AO3.

You’ll need to choose an appropriate rating, warning, fandom, and language, but (with the exception of language) you don’t have to be specific. When it comes to the Archive’s required tags, using the “Not Rated” rating, “Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings” warning, and “Unspecified Fandom” or “Undisclosed Fandom” fandom tags is like saying Here be dragons, and that’s perfectly fine and valid. Of course, you’re also welcome to pick the more specific ratings and warnings, and/or get really detailed in your fandom, character, relationship, and additional tags.

Currently, AO3 hosts approximately 8 million works, created by 4 million users and tagged with over 16 million tags. As a tag wrangler, I help sort and connect all those tags so that users can more easily find—or avoid—particular content. And as part of the Policy & Abuse committee (PAC), I investigate reports about content and behaviors that violate the AO3 Terms of Service. (If you didn’t know, the Report Abuse link is located at the bottom of every AO3 page.)

We only need one report in order to investigate any given case, and the more details about the user and their works or comments you include in that report, the better. A minimum of two real human beings review every single report we receive, to ensure that we are interpreting the Terms of Service consistently and that we only act when the reported user isn’t following the rules.

If the content doesn’t violate the Terms of Service, then the report is rejected and the fanwork remains on the Archive.

But if you post things that aren’t fanworks (like fic searches, prompts, or social media posts), mention anything about making money from your work, reproduce someone else’s work without permission, harass other users, or otherwise violate the Terms of Service, then we may send you an email warning you that what you did isn’t allowed on AO3, and explaining exactly what you need to do to fix the issue and what will happen if you don’t.

All reports are confidential, and all user communication occurs via email, whether that’s the email address associated with your AO3 account or the one you entered into the form when making a report. Please make sure your email is correct and that you check it (and your spam folder) regularly!

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

Every day, I receive hundreds of email/mobile notifications about the latest reports, updates to active cases, and other messages. As a volunteer, I do what I can, when I have the time and spoons to do it. So, if I only have a few minutes here and there, or if I’m on my phone, I’ll do little things: reviewing drafts for typos, reading and contributing to ongoing discussions, browsing through and claiming tickets, or making notes on incoming reports to help whoever eventually takes the case.

When I have a larger block of time, I’ll work on some of the tickets I picked up earlier. For any given case, the first thing I do is collect, organize, and verify all of the relevant information in order to determine whether there’s been a violation and how to handle it. If the case is borderline or particularly complicated, I may need to bring it to the team for discussion or consult with other committees, such as AD&T, Support, Translation, or Legal. Once I’ve decided what the appropriate action should be, I’ll draft all necessary responses and ask another team member to review my work and (if they didn’t find any errors) sign off on the case. If any of my responses need to be translated, I’ll get that done before sending the emails out. If I gave a user a deadline to do something, I’ll follow up after the deadline has passed to see if they did the thing. If they did, great; if not … well, that depends on the case.

On top of all that, I try to do a bit of wrangling every week, whether that’s checking the fandoms I’m assigned to for new tags, evaluating if my fandoms’ existing tags meet current guidelines, or working on large-scale projects with other wranglers. Once a month or so, I help AD&T test the latest releases, which mostly amounts to poking things they’ve coded to make sure they work right (and occasionally finding out that they don’t).

What made you decide to volunteer?

One day I stumbled upon one of the AO3 news posts which was asking for tag wranglers. I had no idea what that was, but it seemed like an interesting way to contribute to fandom, so I applied.

I joined PAC about a year later, after talking with a few friends who were on the team and thinking that the type of work PAC does and the kind of people they are sounded exactly like it’d fit with my interests and personality. While I don’t think I would have had the courage to apply to PAC from the start, I’m very glad I’m here now.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

Particularly in the last year or so, there’s been a huge increase in site traffic. More users means more content, and more content means more tags to wrangle and more reports to process. On both of my committees, we’ve had to take steps to try and keep up with the higher workload.

I’m just one of over a thousand volunteers from around the world, all of whom are devoting our free time to the OTW’s various projects. Everything we do—research, testing, discussion, coordination, documentation, recruitment, training, policy decisions, procedural changes, guideline reviews, normal day-to-day work—takes time and effort, and not everyone has those to spare on any given day. Misunderstandings are going to happen, so patience and kindness are crucial. Apologize when you mess up, try to figure out where you went wrong, and commit to doing better in the future.

What fannish things do you like to do?

While I will occasionally create fanart or beta fics for friends, I wouldn’t have discovered AO3 if I didn’t read fic, and I read fic nearly every day. Nowadays I get most of my recs from wrangling and reports, lol. I also spend a lot of time chatting with other OTW volunteers, whether about our work, the fandoms we’re in together, interesting things we found online … plus, I’ll never say no to a cute cat pic ^_^


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:
2021-07-22 13:15:38 -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 Fiona M, who volunteers as an AO3 Documentation staffer.

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

I’m an AO3 Documentation Committee staff, so I’m part of the team that writes the AO3 FAQs and any other documentation you might find on the Archive, like tutorials.

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

My weeks vary a lot depending on what kind of tasks I’ve taken on, and what stage the document is at. Some weeks I put in a lot of hours, and some weeks I don’t put in a ton of time.

Usually I start at the beginning of the week by filling out our check-in and catching up on what the other staff are working on. I also check to see if any documents have been moved to the open (“free-for-all”) beta read stage, so I know if I need to make time for a beta read during the week.

Then, I work on the tasks I have assigned to me. That might be drafting a new document, or beta-reading someone else’s document. I might be testing out new archive features and taking notes so I can write about them, discussing grammar and phrasing issues with other staff, checking HTML code, or any of the other various steps needed to take an FAQ document from the beginning of drafting to the end point of uploading new/updated documents to AO3.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I really wanted to be able to give back to the organization that has given me so much. I am super passionate about the importance of fanfic, both in my personal life, and as an art form in general. Transformative works have been quite literally transformative for me. I’ve read legitimately life-changing fics, as well as made some wonderful friends through reading and writing fic.

I had been keeping my eye on volunteer postings for a while, and the kind of work that Docs does aligned well with my skills. I’ve now been a volunteer for almost two years, and I love getting to have a hand in helping others understand how to use the site.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

I’ve had to learn a lot about Archive features that I didn’t know how to use! When you’re suddenly testing all the instructions on how to run a Prompt Meme, for example, first you have to quickly learn what a Prompt Meme is! But that’s been a wonderful challenge that I enjoy very much. Being an AO3 Docs staffer has made me so much more knowledgeable about all the features the site offers and everything that users can do.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I write a lot of fanfic, mostly for sitcom fandoms. I read fanfic almost every day as well, whether I’m rereading old favourites, or looking for new fics. I also run a tiny Tumblr blog where I rec fics, write meta and just in general discuss my favourite characters.


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:
2021-06-22 13:00:38 -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 Jenny McDevitt, who volunteers as a co-chair and communications specialist in our Elections Committee.

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

I’m a Co-Chair and Communications Specialist for the Elections Committee. We run the annual elections where OTW members elect who sits on the OTW’s Board of Directors. We work hard to ensure all the seats on the Board are full, preferably by holding contested elections so that our Board is made up of members who represent the interests of OTW members. The process involves recruiting candidates, ensuring both OTW staff and OTW members know the details of the election process, running election events like Q&A and chats, and setting up the election software itself.

As a Communications Specialist, I write templates for internal and external newsposts and coordinate with the Translation and Communications committees to post election news every year. As a Co-Chair, I support the rest of the committee in their work, do administrative paperwork, and help recruit new Elections Committee members (my favourite part of the year!)

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

“Typical” really depends on what time of year it is! Before the election, we decide on the election dates, coordinate the posting schedule, get all our posts for the season ready to go, and update the Elections website with new deadlines. During the election season, I show up when it’s time to publish newsposts, lend support to our Candidate Liaisons, sometimes moderate chats if we need an extra hand, am present when we open and close the election, and am generally on-call in case something needs attention.

After the election, we collect feedback from other committees and from the candidates to help us make our roadmap for the next year. We try to improve the election process for everyone every year. This is also when we recruit new committee members! From there, our workload is quieter while we make those changes in response to feedback, and then the whole cycle starts over with the lead-up to the election.

What made you decide to volunteer?

It was 2014 when I first started volunteering, which seems like a lifetime ago. I remember being excited to make some friends, give back to fandom, and get a useful CV line while doing it, and I’ve certainly been able to do those things. I value my Elections Committee colleagues, especially those I’ve been working with for years, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I’d also never heard about the OTW election process at the time, and I felt that we should try to improve our visibility, as well as work to maintain the integrity of the election process. I’m really proud of the work we’ve been able to do in that regard.

What part of your work do you find most interesting?

I love meeting the candidates every year and helping them through the process of running in the election. We get such a wide range of people from around the OTW and the world, and it’s always interesting to read about their accomplishments as OTW volunteers and hear their opinions during the Q&A and chats we run. That answer might be cheating, though—everyone can meet our candidates by following the election.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’m first and foremost a fic reader and writer, but I love consuming podfic, vids, and art as well! I’ve been primarily writing in Men’s Hockey RPF for the past few years, but I also livetweet Critical Role religiously every week and have recently succumbed to the relentless charms of BTS. I’m always reading in many fandoms, and I’m a huge multishipper—I’ll read almost anything, but I have a soft spot for pairings no one else is paying attention to. I’ve been the first to post a fic in more than one rarepair tag and written the primers to convince people to join me to varying success.


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:
2021-05-07 11:10:19 -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 Zixin, who volunteers as a staffer in the Communications Committee.

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

I first joined the OTW as a Tag Wrangler. Our duty is to categorize user-created tags on the AO3, making it more convenient for readers to search for tags and fics. When the first Chinese wrangling recruits finished their training, I also helped other wranglers translate Chinese tags into English, participated in the Chinese fandom tag project, and discussed proper tag translation with other Chinese volunteers.

Later on, I joined the Policy and Abuse Committee, whose main duty is to deal with user complaints according to AO3’s Terms of Service and its FAQ. We also assist users with their Fannish Next of Kin requests. Of course, as one of the few Chinese staff in the committee, my work also includes helping with tickets about Chinese works. I also translate English emails into Chinese so Chinese users could better understand them.

Last year, I joined the Communications Committee and became one of the Weibo moderators for our OTW account. As a Weibo mod, I interact with users and answer their inquiries via Direct Messages and other channels; I post OTW-related news; and I follow updates about Chinese fandom.

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

Mostly, I do volunteer work during the small gaps in my day: translating Chinese tags while queuing, answering Weibo messages before sleep, or checking the complaint updates while in the company of Josie (my beloved kitty). I also often use large blocks of time during weekends and holidays for some "serious business" like cleaning up unwrangled tags, which may require more research and discussion.

Of course, not every week is a typical week! When Chinese fannish platforms tighten up their censorship, we always receive more Chinese tags than usual, and when disputes emerge over certain work(s) in a fandom, Policy & Abuse tends to get more tickets. Last spring, AO3’s connectivity issue in China brought an unimaginable workload for Weibo mods. But in general, I do enjoy the sense of satisfaction and realization of personal value my work brings me.

What made you decide to volunteer?

Though I had been an AO3 user for years, I didn’t know about the existence of OTW from the very beginning. But then I accidentally clicked the “About Us” menu link on AO3 and learned so much about the OTW and its projects, its founding history and development. It amazed me that there can be such an open and friendly place for all fan communities, all run by volunteers who devote their time and effort because of their love for fandoms and fan communities.

When I learned about the volunteering opportunity for the OTW Weibo account, I applied without a second thought. After joining the OTW as a Chinese volunteer, I realized that AO3 and other OTW projects mean so much more than what I thought to the Chinese fandom. I hope that I can widen the bridge between the OTW and Chinese fandom with my own effort. That’s the reason why I joined Policy & Abuse and the Weibo Team.

What's are the biggest challenges you face?

The biggest one is definitely the series of incidents caused by the cutoff of AO3’s connection to Mainland China, which happened in late February last year. During the first few days, I devoted all my time (except eating, attending lectures and a bare minimum amount of sleep) to my OTW work. I checked and replied to tens of thousands of Weibo Direct Messages; assisted our AD&T Committee by checking website connectivity; introduced the Government Firewall to non-Chinese volunteers; discussed work arrangements for Mainland Chinese volunteers with committee chairs; learned suicide intervention techniques; and located professional resources for suicidal users contacting us. I would like to thank my chairs, my fellow Chinese coworkers, and every volunteer and user who went through the hardship with us. Without your encouragement and support, I don’t think I could have overcome such mental pressures.

While the crisis has mostly died down now, the mission to widen the bridge between OTW and Chinese fandom is ongoing. Offering service to fans all over the world has been OTW’s mission, and to realize it non-English speaking fans are always needed.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Reading fics, reading fics, and reading fics! I would be an entirely different person had I not read the piles of fanfiction I devoured over the years. Besides, I occasionally translate my favorite fics from English to Chinese or write some short fics and drabbles that I’ll probably just keep to myself. Recently I’ve been diving into the good ol’ DMBJ (The Grave Robbers' Chronicles) fandom and crying about Pingxie (my OTP).


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:
2021-04-19 13:09:03 -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 Kate Sanders, who volunteers as a staffer for the Strategic Planning Committee.

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

I have volunteered for several years with the Strategic Planning Committee. Our work has been to synthesize the needs of the OTW as best possible into the first strategic plan to guide some internal improvements, then to help implement the goals from that plan by working with committees across the OTW, and now to draft a second strategic plan to continue setting goals for the OTW to aspire to and achieve collectively.

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

As a volunteer, I will have a to-do (or a few) assigned during the week to accomplish and our meeting each Saturday. These to-dos could be simple updates to wiki pages or drafting goals or somewhere in-between.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have been an avid reader of fanfic since college, and several years back, I found myself between school and jobs, needing an outlet for my time and wanting to give back to the fanfic community I lurked in. I applied for the Strategic Planning Committee and found both people and a mission that I have enjoyed supporting since.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

Perhaps a challenge for me has been remembering that everyone volunteers differently: people have different amounts of time to contribute, varied interests and commitments, different ways of participating especially in a chat-based medium, etc. It is wonderful that so much is accomplished with everyone contributing in different ways.

What fannish things do you like to do?

While I enjoy perusing Transformative Works and Cultures, my first and deepest love is burying my nose in a wide swath of fanfics on AO3. I read whatever appeals to me and the well never runs dry. I truly appreciate all the wonderful authors out there!


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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