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 Nrandom, who volunteers as a staffer in our Policy & Abuse and Tag Wrangling Committees.
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
As a member of the Policy & Abuse Committee, I respond to tickets sent in by users about issues like plagiarism, harassment, non-fanworks (works like prompt lists, fic searches, requests for a beta, or roleplay ads), as well as other violations of the Terms of Service. As a team, we do our best to help users with any issues they have while also ensuring that the values AO3 was founded on are upheld. I also get to do a lot of work with the Accessibility, Design, & Technology Committee (AD&T), particularly in situations like last year, when the archive was experiencing a spam epidemic.
In addition to Policy & Abuse, I volunteer for the Tag Wrangling committee. This involves organising and linking tags together for easier filtering, often working with a team to get everything done. It’s a lot of fun to work with the other wranglers, and it’s always interesting to see how people are tagging their works! I get quite a few fic recommendations from this - my “Marked for Later” list is always substantially longer after a couple of hours spent wrangling. I also serve as a volunteer manager for the Tag Wrangling committee and complete some of the administrative tasks, such as training new wranglers and writing new guidelines and documentation where needed.
In general, I love that I can help the OTW behind the scenes through my work with the Tag Wrangling Committee, but that I also get the chance to work with our wonderful user base as a Policy & Abuse Volunteer.
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
When I’m working on things for the OTW, I tend to start curled up in a blanket with a laptop, a cat, and a cup of tea. If I’m working on P&A cases, first I’ll check if there were any updates in my ongoing cases, before perusing the ticket queue and grabbing a few to work on that day. Each case is investigated and weighed equally, regardless of the number of tickets sent in, so we always have plenty to do. The P&A team is very friendly and collaborative, it’s a pleasure to work together to help users and to maintain the archive as a space where creators can post a variety of fanworks.
On days I’m working on wrangling tasks, I check my to-do lists to see if I have any tasks in progress or if there are any I would like to pick up, before choosing a couple of fandoms to work on and opening AO3 to look at new tags. I’m lucky enough to be on teams with other volunteers for some of the fandoms I wrangle, and it’s always fun to chat about everything as we work.
What made you decide to volunteer?
I started volunteering 2 years ago when I saw an advertisement for Tag Wrangling on the AO3 homepage, realised that I had the time, and thought it might be fun to help with the archive I frequented so often. Little did I know what a difference that decision would make in my life today. I’ve met some of my closest friends while volunteering, and have found an amazing fannish community to be a part of. A year ago I joined Policy & Abuse as well, drawn to the committee by the chance to be able to interact with and help users directly. Through that I’ve learned a lot about fandom, but I’ve also had the chance to work with a great team and develop customer service skills.
What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?
I absolutely love the community of volunteers. In addition to our volunteer work, we often do things together like play games, share recs, and just generally flail about fannish things. I’ve made so many amazing friends.
Before I joined I never really engaged in fandom, but since joining I’ve learned quite a bit about fandom and the people in it. It’s exciting to be a part of a fannish community, and to be able to do my little part in keeping AO3 running.
What fannish things do you like to do?
I’ve always been primarily a reader of fanfic, which is what drew me, like many others, to AO3 in the first place. Some of my frequent fandoms are Harry Potter, Marvel, Yuri!!! On Ice, and Star Wars, but I tend to jump from fandom to fandom quite frequently. I joined fandom in 2013 and have since enjoyed learning about its history, from where a lot of current fandom practices have come about. Recently, I have also started recording podfics and subsequently flailing at fandom friends while editing.
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.