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Published:
2022-11-15 16:38:49 UTC
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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 V Snow, who volunteers on our Support Committee.

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

I volunteer for AO3 Support. We are the team users can contact if they are having technical issues with the Archive. We deal with a very wide range of issues, but a lot of it is helping users when they are having a hard time activating accounts, changing passwords, etc. Our work helps users get back to using the site when they have a problem. This fits in with the OTW’s goals because, well, without Support a lot of users wouldn’t be able to access the Archive at all.

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

We have no set schedule or required workload in Support so it varies. Mostly it's keeping an eye on the reports coming in and grabbing ones I can answer. When I have some spare minutes I will write responses and approve others' responses so they can be sent.

One of the things I appreciate about Support is that there is a lot of flexibility in the workload. If I’m feeling especially motivated I can grab a more complicated ticket, which may require internal consultation and multiple back and forths with the user. But if I am not up to a lot of work, I can pick out some easier tickets and/or beta other responses.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I was trying and failing to find work at the time and people kept telling me to volunteer to add to my resume. Nowhere in person worked for my situation or wanted my help. I'd been a fan and user of the Archive for years and the work Support does interested me. So when Support applications opened up, I figured why not!

Of course, I ended up getting a job before I even settled in with Support or had a chance to put this on my resume. But it wasn’t even a question of continuing to volunteer because I realised how much I enjoyed it.

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

Probably the technical aspects. Because Support deals with bug reports we often work with the Accessibility, Design & Technology Committee (AD&T) to discuss reports. My coding knowledge is minimal and a lot of the technical details go over my head, but just through osmosis I have learned a whole bunch about how the site works from a technical perspective.

The other main challenge was the sheer amount of knowledge. Knowledge of how the site works (and the issues people encounter) was one thing, but also learning how the organization works and who to ask for what was also a challenge. The OTW is a huge and complicated place with a long history. It took a bit to figure it all out and start to feel like I belong.

With all these challenges I am glad I took the time to get through them, as the work is all the more rewarding now.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I would say my main fannish activity is beta reading/editing for various fandoms. I do also do some writing myself, but betaing is what I love. I participate in and help run a variety of Big Bangs. This brings me a lot of joy, to get to plan and organize things and watch the fandom come together to create content. Of course, I also read fic and spend inordinate amounts of time discussing headcanons with my 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 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:
2022-10-20 15:15:14 UTC
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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 Alicia, who volunteers as a Social Media & Outreach volunteer on our Fanlore Committee.

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

I’m a member of Fanlore’s Social Media and Outreach team! Our team drafts posts and makes graphics for our social media pages to promote Fanlore, the OTW’s fan-run and fan-authored wiki.

Being on the social outreach team fits into the OTW’s mission of “preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms,” which is something I’m super proud of! Since all of Fanlore’s pages are written and maintained by fans, we’re always looking for ways to welcome newcomers and invite a variety of perspectives. I like to think of us as the wiki’s megaphone, especially for newer fandoms whose fans might not know we exist, or that they can contribute their own experiences.

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

I try to write at least one post a week, sometimes more if we’re doing a themed month (like this year’s Femslash February). I also attend one of our bi-weekly meetings, either with the rest of the outreach team or with the larger Fanlore committee. I tend to be a lurker in the meetings, but it’s always interesting to see how the discussions unfold.

I also help out with some of the organizational tasks, like delivering feedback to our graphic designers and moving things around on our virtual corkboard. I’m a big fan of checking boxes and making things nice and tidy, so I enjoy the behind-the-scenes work as much as I do writing posts!

What made you decide to volunteer?

I think how I got started at the OTW is similar to how a lot of other volunteers did—I’d been an AO3 user for a while before I somehow found my way to the OTW’s main page. There, I learned about the archive’s purpose, as well as why it and OTW existed—not just to share fic, but to preserve and protect fandom at large.

After some digging into why the OTW was established, I realized how fragile online fandom spaces really were. It blew my mind that if I’d gotten into online fandom pre-OTW, there was a good chance all the work I’d done—like posting my fics or building relationships with other fans in comments sections—might’ve gotten swept away by time, corporate buyouts, purges, etc. The OTW strives to give fans the resources and infrastructure to preserve their work/communities/histories, and I wanted to be a part of their mission.

Finally, and for a much simpler reason—I wanted to give back to the organization that has been such a bright spot in my life all these years! Fandom has pulled me through some rough times, especially more recently with the pandemic, and I’m so grateful for it. And much like writing fic or any other fannish activity, volunteering is also a fun way to meet new people and do work I feel good about doing.

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

My biggest challenge has probably been understanding that the organization is always learning and growing. There are almost a thousand volunteers now (woot!), and millions of fans worldwide who contribute to the OTW’s many projects. This means that there are a lot of different perspectives to take into consideration when it comes to policy making, and that it’s not always easy to find solutions.

But regardless of the difficulties, I’ve found that others are usually willing to sit down and talk things out. It helps me to remember that the OTW and fandom at large are just groups of people coming together over things we love—and that at the end of the day, we’re all here to help each other out.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’ve dabbled in drawing fanart and writing meta, but ultimately fic is the name of the game for me! I read, write, and bookbind fic. I’m an avid commenter—since I know how happy I feel when someone comments on one of my own fics, I try to do it for others as often as possible. I also tend to leave long, rambling comments about what parts of the story I liked, what I was doing while I was reading, which lines made me laugh/cry, and so on. The AO3 comments section is one of my favorite places to connect with other fans, and I’ve met some of my best fandom friends there.

I also bookmark nearly everything I read! I’ve found some of my favorite fics in other users’ bookmarks and consider an extensive bookmark collection to be one of the greatest gifts one can bestow upon a reader (especially a reader who, say, just got into a new pairing and spent several consecutive nights exhausting all the available rec lists they could find and still needs more. Not that I would, ahem, know anything about that).

Finally, I’m also a member of Renegade Publishing, a collective of fannish bookbinders! Since most of my primary fandoms are animanga fandoms, I tend to read and bind a lot of animanga fics. Folks in Renegade bind for a variety of reasons, but for me personally it’s about building community, preserving fannish works and history, and making authors feel as loved as possible. (As well as hoarding pretty paper like a dragon.)


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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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

This month the Organization for Transformative Works turns 15! As part of the celebrations, we're publishing a special 5 Things post with one of our founders, Francesca Coppa. In this post, you can read Francesca's memories about the early days of the OTW, and the challenges that the organization has faced since then. We're also hosting a trivia contest (available only in English) and a fanworks challenge. If you'd like to know more, please visit the English version of the OTW's anniversary post.


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.

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

I have had so many different roles in the OTW since we started in 2007. Before we were even an organization, I was in charge of organizing all the many, many fans who declared that they were willing to volunteer. Then I was five years on the Board during which I did Communications, helped to set up Open Doors, and worked on Fan Video and Multimedia.

I got drafted to keep track of the wireframes of the archive back when we were still working on designing the user experience of AO3; that was fun and something outside my normal expertise! Nowadays I work more on the aca-legal end of things; I write arguments (e.g. I worked on the Dr. Seuss/Star Trek case) and give testimony when OTW Legal needs me to, and I also work with Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), scouting out papers and reviewing. Communications also knows that I'm around if needed, and I still do interviews and give background on fandom to journalists so that they're oriented. (Though so many journalists are themselves fans now, which helps so much!)

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

The work I do is much more seasonal than weekly. TWC continues to put out two (and sometimes three!) peer-reviewed issues a year which is just incredible; as I always point out, there are university funded journals with paid staff that don't have that kind of track record! Most journals last only a couple of years and then peter out, but we're still going strong. The aca-legal side is very deadline-focused; things come up and need fast responses. (Shout out to the continuing amazing OTW Legal as well, who really ensure that we have a voice in legal issues that affect us.)

When you look back to the OTW's beginning, what surprises you the most about where the OTW is now?

That there are some people--even people who love us--who don't realize that the OTW is a fannish project, not a business! That it was cooked up by a bunch of fans who'd had enough of being screwed over by market forces! I guess a lot of fans now honestly don't remember the pre-capitalist internet; they assume that anything on the web is a business. And the OTW's nonprofit model might be confusing to some--because fandom does pay to keep it running, just not everyone pays.

The OTW fundraises so that those who can pay support those who can't, on the model of U.S. public TV or radio, and everyone can use our projects regardless of whether they can afford to. But I think there are people who honestly can't believe that something this big and successful (and I mean all of OTW, not just AO3 but also TWC and OTW Legal, writing amicus briefs and being recognized by the government as an important body etc.) operates outside the market. We pay for (and actually own) the servers, but all the labor is donated by fandom, from the Board on down. And to be honest, the labor is what's priceless, not just economically (though economically!) but also in terms of the passionate investment that fandom makes in the org. The OTW is something that a lot of people wished into being and worked to make happen; it's a boat we built ourselves and it only works because new people continue to step up and work to make it work.

What makes you feel the proudest about your own accomplishments in the OTW?

The looks on my students' faces when they learn that I was involved in forming the OTW. All of a sudden, I'm a rockstar! They all have AO3 accounts. I can remember a past when I was worried about people finding out about my involvement in fandom, and now my college promotes it as a feature: The AO3 won a Hugo!

What thing (or set of things) has been the most challenging about the OTW's development?

Oh jeez. There were and still are challenges. When your labor is donated, there's always a tension between what needs doing and what people like to do, want to do, or are good at doing. And not surprisingly, a lot of people don't want to volunteer using the same sort of skills they use in their day job; they want a break from work! But there's an old saying that the gardener plays piano for fun, and the pianist gardens. I've always thought that fandom is a lot like that, and the OTW, too.

I'm sincerely moved by what the OTW team does, that so many people turn up and make things happen. I think the talent and the responsiveness of the OTW is actually pretty astounding for an organization where nobody gets paid. And fandom knows it, too--we do better in my opinion than most if not all for-profit sites, and we're more professional than most not-for-profit sites. (Not that we're perfect, far from, but people who complain never point at who's doing it better, because nobody is: some problems are just hard problems.)

That said, now that we're so big, when I think about the future...like, in my opinion, the next level up for us isn't a "little" more money than we're raising, it’s magnitudes more money, a whole other scale of money. It's a little like (some of you reading this will know what I mean) when someone asks you what you want for your birthday, and you're like, "Nothing" but what you really mean is, "Nothing you could give me for my birthday--I need, like, a couch. I need to have the house repainted. I need a new transmission for the car."

And even if we were to raise that kind of money, well--as the great Cyndi Lauper wisely noted, "Money changes everything." If we had an OTW with a lot of paid employees that we could order to do things, it wouldn't be the same kind of organization. So, I don't know, but we've done really really well so far by any reasonable metric (she says with intense pride) and that there's no reason we won't continue to do well. Fandom re-imagines, regenerates, and invents; it's what we do!

What fannish things do you like to do?

Fandom is honestly less things that I do and more like the place that I live; I settled here and I've lived here now for, like, forty years? It's my town! Fans are my neighbors, and I've known some of them for decades, and sometimes new people move in and others move out. So, I mean--yes, sure, I still read and write and beta fic, and I watch vids in fandoms that interest me, but I also feel like a citizen of fandom, sitting on my front porch, watching what's happening without always having to do it myself. I take an interest, is what I'm saying; I want to know what the big fandoms are, I want to get the jokes, speak the language: I want to recognize all the blorbos even if I'm not fannish about those shows.

I think I'm drawing the line at TikTok though. (Sigh...but I've said that before, so, you know: never say never.)


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:
2022-08-21 17:10:03 UTC
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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 Alba, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Catalan.

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

Like other Translation teams, Team Catalan translates a variety of documents related to the OTW and its projects. Doing this makes them more accessible to even more people and creates a feeling of inclusion. My experience as a fan has been largely through English, and it is only now that I have to incorporate many common fannish terms to the translations to Catalan, that I realise that I need to change and adapt things. Thus, I believe every translation team’s work contributes to recognise the variety of cultures that come together in Fan Culture, as well as to a global enrichment of all of those. I like thinking that by means of translation we also make place for Fan Culture in our own languages. Is this too much to say? Perhaps, but it is a nice thought I hope to be realising.

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

Study, work and make the most of my free time to watch something, read and complete OTW’s tasks. I think it is quite ordinary, not that much different from how it used to be before volunteering: I simply adapt the division of time to what I want or have to do. I would love to say that I organize my time efficiently and have a well-established routine, but the truth is I do everything along the way as I get the deadlines. I admit to being a terrible procrastinator, so OTW’s tasks are the perfect excuse to postpone things with less of a guilty feeling. I also recently fixed a couple of days a month to revise which documents need uploading so as to avoid them building up. Improvements in the organising field are a work in progress.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I had been fatally charmed by fanworks, fan activity and the space that fandom offered long ago. I spent great times thanks to AO3 and their creators, so I wanted to be involved somehow. I came across an OTW recruiting post for Translation and signed up without further thinking. I was sure it was a great opportunity to learn more about fan culture and improve my skills as a translator.

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

Well, I already unveiled my not being the most organised person in the planet. Thank you staff for your patience! I am really shy and sometimes struggle to engage or voice my thoughts, so I can be rather passive. However, I ended up becoming co-coordinator of the Catalan team. In order to ensure we keep going in the right direction, improving our translations and helping the team become more comfortable in general, I am trying to do better in this too.

To be honest I was particularly surprised by the close and humane interactions between members of the team as well as the organization as a whole. Thus, despite my struggles I feel like I want to reciprocate, so I hope to be able to implement little by little everything the OTW is teaching me in the management of the team and future projects.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I keep a low activity profile at the moment, as I am not involved in any particular project. When I know enough, I would love to help with fansubbing. On another note, I love parody and dubbing videos I find around social media. So funny and creative! I also discovered recently an interest for Fan Studies and studies of transformative works, which I hope to pursue in the future. Thanks to all fanfic creators who helped me discover it. I hope I can keep reading your amazing stories for a long time!


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:
2022-07-20 16:23:01 UTC
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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 DZ, who volunteers as a Policy & Abuse staffer.

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

Archive of Our Own is the fanwork hosting subset of the OTW. From original works to microbial art, all kinds of fanworks are welcome on the Archive as long as they comply with the ToS. Every committee in the OTW is fully run by volunteers and I signed over my time to the Archive's Tag Wrangling and Policy & Abuse committees.

As a wrangler, I sort and connect the tags people put on their works. If you ever wonder why a fic tagged "Not your grandma's abo" appears under Non-Traditional Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics" when you filter, I am one of the people making sure that happens. Every tag is seen and sorted by a real person eventually. One of my favorite things to do as a wrangler is to create fandom-specific tags.

As a part of the Policy & Abuse committee (PAC), I investigate reports for content believed to break the Terms of Service. While that tends to be the bulk of my PAC duties, I also answer questions and help clear up any confusion about policy. If someone is uncertain if something is allowed on the Archive; confused why their work seems to be missing or deleted; or wondered why their account is suspended, they can submit a question using the "Policy Questions & Abuse Reports" link found on the bottom of every page.

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

For wrangling, I tend to do that whenever I have free time and extra spoons. So my schedule varies a bit, I often sneak in a bit of wrangling before I leave for work in the morning once or twice a week. If I'm busy, I try to scan the fandoms I've assigned myself to and see which ones need more attention.

As for my PAC duties, I have what I call a "PAC week" which spans four days of the week. I do a different mix of tasks each of those days such as investigating reports, drafting letters, or following up on any of the cases I'm handling during this time. I regularly beta-read drafts for other team members. Every case is reviewed by at least two staff members. There's always a lot to do. Outside of this time, I avoid any time-intensive or spoons-heavy task -- often any PAC task in general.

I find that having a schedule is useful for PAC since I find it harder to pause in the middle of doing a task and pick it back up again -- sometimes this is because the task can't be broken up and sometimes this is just because of how my brain works. Different volunteers have different preferences. I know some do a little each day or pick one day out of their week to do everything so I guess I am in the middle.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have always been the kind of fan who was terrible at not getting more involved once I really got into something. When I was into K-Pop, I moderated forums. When I was really into D&D, I was very involved in helping others create Homebrew and edit their homebrew.

I actually tried to join Tag Wrangling 3 years in a row but the app always closed before I had time to fill it out. Then, one day in 2020 I checked again on a whim and saw that the position was open. I later decided to join PAC because my involvement bug bit again.

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

What do you call work-life balance but for volunteering?

The Archive grew a lot in the past year and continues to grow. More users means more tags, more people who report violations, and more questions about what's allowed on the Archive. Neither committee requires that I make it my part-time job, but with so much to do I can feel a bit overwhelmed, and like I'm falling behind even though I decide how much I do.

It didn't help that I joined during the pandemic. So I had a lot more free time to spend on wrangling, and by the time I joined PAC, doing OTW stuff daily was just my normal. I enjoy wrangling and doing PAC work but I'm trying to remember to leave more time to do other stuff I enjoy.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Beyond squeeing and finding things to become a fan of? I write fic. Well, I plan fic -- writing tends to go much, much slower. I also dabble in meta and gif making occasionally. I even tried to learn how to create podfic a while back. I like to think of myself as a fannish jack of all trades, master of none. I have a lot of enthusiasm but I may not be the most skilled in any of it. I'm having fun.


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:
2022-06-29 15:05:27 UTC
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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 Rosa, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Swedish.

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

I translate news posts and other types of documentation for the OTW from English to Swedish. That means I help to make the work the OTW does more accessible for people and spread the information about transformative works outside of the English-speaking world. Most Swedes are fluent in English and don’t expect things on the internet to be available in Swedish, but having access to things in your native language still helps create a global community of fans.

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

As a translator, I’m assigned tasks to either translate a document from English to Swedish or to beta an already translated one from one of my teammates. (Team Swedish is a pretty big team for such a small language, and we use a two-beta system, which means every post we put out has been betaed twice.) So when I get a task, I look at it, do a quick time estimate and then make a mental slot in my schedule of when to do it. The deadlines (and possibility for extensions) vary depending on what type of task it is, and how long it is. When I sit down to do the work, it’s very straightforward. The documents we’re assigned are very structured and easy to work with. Hats off to the people doing the prep-work!

A few times per week, I also log onto the OTW chat system to see if a) a tag wrangler has encountered some Swedish tags they need help wrangling (rarely happens, but when it does it’s so much fun!) or b) Staff has an ad hoc translation/update that needs to be done quickly.

I’m also signed up to help out with translating Support tickets and Policy & Abuse tickets, but so far, none have come my way. I have a feeling most Swedes send in their tickets in English.

What made you decide to volunteer?

Not to sound overly dramatic, but in the fall of 2019 I was feeling very adrift and looking for a purpose (as one does, from time to time). I saw a post on Tumblr about the OTW looking for volunteers and thought that this could be a purpose. Giving back to the fannish community could be a purpose!

I’m still so excited I was picked to do this work!

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

...updating the Cheatsheet. No, the Cheatsheet (the team glossary where the language teams decide on how to translate fannish and OTW-related words/terms like ‘ship (verb)’ and ‘ship (noun)’ or ‘anti-circumvention provisions’) is a lifesaver! It is one of those things we translators love to hate, because some words/terms are very hard to translate in ways that make sense. Particularly, legal terms relating to a legal system that may not have an equivalence outside of the country where the law exists.

This does relate to my biggest challenge, though, or what I’ve struggled with the most, and that’s scrutinizing and reevaluating how I use both English and my native Swedish, especially when it comes to where the languages intersect. So many fandom terms only exist in English (for me). I learned these words and terms through English in English spaces, and finding ways to speak about them in Swedish has been difficult at times.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I mostly write and read fanfiction. And talk endlessly with friends who, for some reason, never grow tired of me even though some of us aren’t in the same fandoms anymore. Nothing feeds the plot bunnies as much as bouncing ideas with other fans. I’m very open about my fannish life outside of fandom, which has made me the go-to person for everyone at work when they need to have a fannish moment, even if I don’t have any/limited knowledge of the source material. It’s the best! I’ve learned so much about Star Wars, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who, and James Bond over cups of coffee in the breakroom.

I also spend some time making sure the Swedish pages on Wikipedia for the OTW and AO3 are updated. (I still haven’t made a single edit on Fanlore, which I’m greatly ashamed of.)


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:
2022-04-20 16:57:42 UTC
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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 Juliane Cassidy, who volunteers on our Strategic Planning Committee.

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

I volunteer with the Strategic Planning Committee. We draft the strategic plan, a document of goals that will guide the OTW over a three year period. Working with committees throughout the organization, we select goals that will help make the OTW stronger internally and more impactful with fans, volunteers, academics, and more. In the three years between plans, we help committees complete the steps within the strategic plan so the OTW can reach our goals.

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

Right now, we are drafting the next strategic plan, and a week will usually involve a meeting with the rest of the team to check in on our progress and plan next steps. Throughout the week, I might have tasks like research, talking with other committees, drafting sections of the plan, or editing.

What made you decide to volunteer?

When I first started volunteering, I was working in nonprofits, so I was very familiar with creating strategic plans. I also was an avid fanfic reader on AO3. When I logged on one day and saw the recruitment ad, it felt like a good fit. I was not really aware of all the amazing work the OTW was doing beyond AO3 at that time, and it has been wonderful to learn more about all the ways the OTW supports its mission.

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

I’ve always loved the brainstorming and ideas that can come from a group of people, but prior to working with the OTW, I had only ever done that in person and synchronously. The communication styles are vastly different in a volunteer-run organization that has volunteers spread throughout the world. Learning how to connect with members of my committee and other volunteers across the organization, figuring out the best communication styles, and how to collaborate so that everyone can contribute was a challenge, and definitely one I’m still working on.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’ve written a few fics here and there, but mostly I’m reading fanfiction. While I am in school, fanfic is about the only reading I can stand to do outside of schoolwork and I always have half a dozen fics saved on my e-reader. I also cosplay and have done a lot of Disney, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and period drama cosplays over the years.


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:
2022-03-22 17:02:13 UTC
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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 Julie Bozza, who volunteers as an Open Doors administrative volunteer.

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

I work with the Open Doors Committee “to protect and preserve at-risk fanworks of all kinds”, which fits neatly into the OTW’s interest in “providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms”.

Technology changes, corporations are at cross-purposes with fandom, apps come and go -- but the OTW is here for the long haul, and Open Doors can help if your fanwork archives need a safe new home.

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

We have an informal online meeting once a week to work together and catch up on shared projects. Our committee crosses several time zones, which can make things tricky! I’m in Australia, so the meeting tends to fall on my Sunday mornings. Coffee is an essential part of the process!

There is a lot to learn, and every incoming archive is different, so we use the meeting to ask questions and share our knowledge and experience. We often learn from each other by walking through a new task in tandem with a more experienced colleague.

I tend to devote the rest of my Sunday to Open Doors work, and then if anything urgent pops in during the week, I give it what time I can.

Typical tasks include working with archive owners (via email), answering queries from creators whose works are being imported, organising data about an archive’s fanworks and tags (via spreadsheets) -- and occasionally performing actual imports!

Some of our imports are semi-automated, with the hard work done by our technical team to adapt the archive’s database into something we can upload directly to the AO3. But other archives need to be manually imported, which involves a lot of copying-and-pasting. The archivists and their friends are usually responsible for that task, but our team pitches in and helps when we can, with any part of these processes.

My favourite day job involved working as a technical writer, so it’s great to now use those skills for the benefit of Open Doors, in helping to document our processes. I generally do that outside of meeting times, so I can concentrate!

What made you decide to volunteer?

I love the AO3, and have been posting my fanworks to it since 2010. I decided to post some of my earlier works, too, for the sake of preservation. It was an interesting process, to see what had changed and what had stayed the same in my writing. It was also great to revisit some old fannish loves! I finished that process in early 2020 -- and happened to notice that Open Doors was recruiting.

I’d been a bit shy of applying to volunteer for the OTW before, but this seemed like perfect timing. Having just “protected and preserved” my own fanworks, and finding it a useful task, I figured why not help do that on a larger scale for fandom…?

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

Probably just restraining myself from doing too much! A personal trait which I’m not very good at managing, especially when working remotely.

But I haven’t found anything in the OTW challenging in a bad way. The Open Doors team are a delight to work with, and colleagues on other committees have been friendly and helpful. (I think it makes a difference that we all actually want to be here.) Our processes are well documented, and we make good use of various apps. I’ve had to learn new stuff, but that’s a good thing! A challenge, but not too challenging, if you see what I mean. The kind of challenge I appreciate.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Mostly I’m a writer, and have the fanfic to prove it! Back in pre-Internet days I also enjoyed editing and publishing fanzines, and I do miss that aspect of fandom. I enjoy updating Fanlore, if I find any empty spots I can usefully fill. And I have a couple of fannish websites, one about my favourite actor, and another about filming locations for a certain TV show.

Otherwise, I read books, and watch TV and film. I don’t think I’ve ever done that passively. I’ve always approached these things in fannish ways -- actively engaging with content in that enthusiastic way, so that it serves as a source of inspiration and imagination. It’s a way of life! It’s definitely part of my identity.

Which makes me happy to be a small part of the OTW. No doubt we are a hugely diverse bunch -- but we are, if I may be so bold, my kind of people.


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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