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Published:
2019-04-21 11:02:35 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with 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.

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Published:
2019-04-13 13:09:24 -0400
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Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages

I. LEGAL ADVOCACY

It was a busy month for the OTW's Legal team, beginning with a post to mark Fair Use/Fair Dealing week, which ran this year from 25 February to March 1. The week is coordinated by the Association of Research Libraries and celebrates the laws that permit fans to create transformative works based on copyrighted content.

Unfortunately, the rest of the month was less celebratory as EU lawmakers voted on March 26 to pass the "Digital Single Market Directive," which contains fan-unfriendly proposals related to the use of copyrighted material. The good news is that AO3, as a non-profit, will not be affected by the legislation; but other platforms may have to make more adjustments. Legal wrote a post for the OTW blog, which explains the ruling and its implications in detail.

The OTW is committed to advocating for the rights of fan creators, and the Legal team also took action this month to make sure that our voice is heard as part of these debates. They joined the Horizon 2020 European Advocacy coalition, which will conduct research and advocacy in Europe, and submitted a comment to the US Copyright Office regarding the definition of "commercial."

II. NEW ISSUE OF TRANSFORMATIVE WORKS AND CULTURES

The latest issue of the OTW's scholarly journal, Transformative Works and Cultures, was published on March 15 . This issue, themed on "Fans of Color, Fandoms of Color," was edited by Abigail De Kosnik and andré carrington. It features articles on the Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and How to Get Away with Murder fandoms, amongst others, as well as reviews of a number of recent fan studies publications. As always, the journal content is free to read and download.

III. AT THE AO3

Policy & Abuse received approximately 1000 tickets this month. Support received 1118 tickets, 188 of which were translated by Translation. In February, Tag Wrangling wrangled over 201,000 tags.

IV. GOVERNANCE

OTW users, members, and volunteers were able to pose questions to the Board at an open Q&A session on March 14. If you missed out, don't worry - there will be another Q&A in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned for more information!

The Board also approved the 2019 Budget, which is now available to view online.

V. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

As of 26 March, the OTW has 755 volunteers. Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Staff: Erlkoenig, Frost The Fox, Irina, Jen S, Metro, JessicaLovesSocks2658, Ranowa (all Policy & Abuse) and 5 other Policy & Abuse staffers
New Communications Volunteers: Szabó Dorottya
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Aprilcake, ArianaR, August, Aya, Bianca, bookscorpion, ellimac, erinaconyx, faultystart, GloriaRoies, Hoang C., Jazelock, Jessz, JoJo, JSaintJ, Karma, KeepCalmAndPlayDumb, LizS, mammaria, Marisa Poulsen, Mierke, mimi, Mimo, molars, Novic, raunchyandpaunchy, Rebeccaheather, Rebecca Snyder, romanticallyinept, Sarah Konersmann, Seas, Summers, Sunshijne, Tirnisse, Vokova, woyo, Zerovirus, Zixin Zhang and 1 other volunteer
New Translation Volunteers: Upasana Das and 6 other volunteers

Departing Committee Staff: Rebecca Snyder (Translation) and 1 other Translation staffer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: c_doves, DebetEsse, JanOda and 9 other volunteers
Departing Translation Volunteers: 1 volunteer
Departing TWC Volunteers: Mara Greengrass

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Published:
2019-04-10 12:02:01 -0400
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OTW recruitment banner by Erin

Would you like to help translate OTW/AO3 news posts? The Organization for Transformative Works is recruiting!

We're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Translation Committee News Volunteer - closing 17 April 2019 at 23:59 UTC

We have included more information on the role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist our email address in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.

If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Translation Committee News Volunteer

Would you like to help translate OTW/AO3 news posts? We are looking for volunteers of native or near-native fluency in their target languages, who can translate or beta news posts within five-day deadlines. If you enjoy working collaboratively, if you're fluent in a language other than English, if you’re passionate about the OTW and its projects, and want to help us reach more fans all around the world, working with Translation might be for you!

We particularly need people for Arabic, Bengali, Croatian, Czech, Filipino, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Latvian, Malay, Marathi, Persian, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Welsh—but help with other languages would be much appreciated.

(Please note that our Dutch, Finnish, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, European Portuguese, Russian and Spanish teams are not accepting new members at this time.)

Applicants may be asked to translate and correct short text samples and will be invited to a chatroom interview as part of the selection process. More information about us can be found on the Translation committee page.

Applications are due 17 April 2019

Apply at the volunteering page!

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Published:
2019-04-10 08:40:41 -0400
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In the last few code updates, we deployed a couple of fixes for downloads, took care of some issues with our various forms and menus, and updated several pieces of our infrastructure.

Credits

  • Coders: Angela Wilson, cosette, james_, redsummernight, Sarken, Tal, ticking instant
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, james_, redsummernight, Sarken, Scott, ticking instant
  • Testers: Claire P. Baker, GoldenFalls, james_, Lady Oscar, Natalia Gruber, Qem, redsummernight, Relle, Sarken, Taylor Clossin

Details

Downloads

  • [AO3-5630] - If there was an error when generating a download, the files used to create the download would linger in our tmp folder, causing us to run out of space. We've tweaked the code to make sure the files get deleted.
  • [AO3-5631] - If multiple people tried to download the same work in the same format at the same time, the download would error. We've fixed that.
  • [AO3-5634] - We added some whitespace to the work information in AZW3, EPUB, and MOBI files.

Misc. Fixes

  • [AO3-5592] - When posting a new work and failing to enter a title, a little message would appear, telling you that "We need a title! (At least 1 characters long, please.)" We have removed that superfluous s, making the plea much more grammatical.
  • [AO3-4195] - On the form to request more invite codes, we require all fields to be filled out; however, this wasn't made sufficiently clear. Now all fields are explicitly marked as required.
  • [AO3-5182] - On several of our forms, there's a field that allows for multiple categories to be entered (e.g. M/M and M/F); however, it was labeled "Category", implying a single option. Now it's all pluralized.
  • [AO3-5611] - When we upgraded our database and changed text fields to support the UTF8MB4 character set, some of them lost their default values of empty string. We added those back.
  • [AO3-4377] - Form fields on the login page had the same ids as the corresponding fields in the header login form, which messed with accessibility. Now you can target all the labels and have it put the focus on the correct text field or checkbox.
  • [AO3-5604] - The login page links to an AO3 News post with some troubleshooting tips, in case the login attempt fails. We have updated that link to point to the freshest information available.
  • [AO3-4881] - For Archive admins, we moved the "last edited" information on a tag's edit page to the top for more visibility.
  • [AO3-4977] - On the FAQ page, the Language menu wasn't properly associated with its label. Now clicking or tapping the Language button correctly puts the focus on the dropdown, making it navigable by arrow keys.
  • [AO3-5196] - When posting or editing an FAQ item, there used to be a checkbox labeled "Notify Translation Committee of changes you made in this FAQ category?", which was never really used. (The Docs and Translation teams communicate through other means.) So now all the associated code has been removed. \o/
  • [AO3-5457] - We also removed a tag_list method from the works-related code. It just didn't spark joy!
  • [AO3-5250] - On the bookmark form, the button now says "Update" (not "Edit") when saving changes to a bookmark while on a work or series, because that just makes more sense.
  • [AO3-3556] - Selecting a prompt meme claim on the posting form wouldn't add the work to the claim's collection, even though the claim would count as filled. Now it's added to the proper collection as well!
  • [AO3-4699] - We got rid of a lingering error message that was falsely implying you couldn't edit a chapter if you weren't explicity listed as a co-creator on that chapter. You can, though.
  • [AO3-5603] - We fixed an issue that made it theoretically possible, for example, to add yourself as a coauthor to someone else's work.

Tests and Infrastructure

  • [AO3-5638] - The automatic test for DeviantArt imports was failing due to a change in the image URL. We've adjusted the URL, so now it's working again!
  • [AO3-5621] - We updated the version of Elasticsearch that was used for running automated tests on our CI services to 6.6.1.
  • [AO3-5641] - We also updated the god and unicorn gems. They are really called that.
  • [AO3-5646] - The Devise gem, which powers our login system, was updated for security reasons, so we installed that update right away, too!
  • [AO3-5642] - We added a gem that logs the database queries generated by Rails in the development environment, which is useful for debugging.
  • [AO3-5643] - We are now running Rails 5.1.6.2.

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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 4-8 2019

Good news, everybody: we did it! The April membership drive has come to an end, and together we surpassed our fundraising goal of US$130,000. In fact, 9966 donors from 86 countries helped us raise a grand total of US$245,655.00. This is our most successful membership drive ever, and we are stunned and grateful for your support. Thank you so much!

These funds will play a vital role in supporting the OTW and all its projects—Fanlore, Legal Advocacy, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and AO3—allowing us to continue our mission to preserve fanworks, fan culture and fan history. Your support is enormously important, and we are so grateful to every person who donated, signal boosted, and cheered us on. You’re the best!

If you missed the drive but would still like to contribute, we accept donations year-round.

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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 4-8 2019

The Archive of Our Own, recently announced as a 2019 Hugo Award finalist, is the OTW's largest project. With more than 31,000 fandoms, 4.5 million works, 1.8 million registered users, and countless guests, there's a lot to take care of. With the help of your donations, we work hard to make the Archive the best it can be.

In the past six months alone, AO3 has had several updates to improve both user experience and behind-the-scenes workings.

All of this is possible because of your donations. Your support allows us to continue to maintain and improve the Archive.

And don't forget, if you'd like to support the OTW on a continuing basis, you can set up a recurring donation. You can choose any donation amount for as often and as long as you want, and save up for one of our thank you gifts!

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The OTW's central mission is to preserve and promote fanworks and fannish histories of all sorts. At a time when other platforms are restricting and hiding user-generated content, this mission is more important than ever. We keep this mission alive through the work of our strong volunteer force and the support of your generous donations.

How does the OTW work to preserve fanworks and fannish histories? Here are a few examples:

Our Open Doors project is dedicated to preserving at-risk fannish content. Through the Online Archive Rescue Project, digital archives are imported and their content hosted at the Archive of Our Own. In 2018, Open Doors completed the import of 11 archives. For non-digital fanworks, there's the Fan Culture Preservation Project, a joint venture between the OTW and the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa, which preserves fanzines, fan art, and other physical documents.

Fanlore is a fandom wiki dedicated to documenting all aspects of fannish history. All its content is created by a variety of fans from around the world. Documenting things on Fanlore—whether fan communities, fannish discussions, individual fanworks, or anything else—ensures that they will be remembered, even if the originals are lost.

The OTW's Legal Advocacy project helps protect fanworks from commercial exploitation. Our Legal team helps obtain Fair Use exemptions from copyright laws for fanworks, allowing fans to create and share content without it being monetized or taken down by corporations. They submit policy comments and letters to governments around the world, advocating for fans and fanworks during the creation of laws. They also create educational materials about developments in fandom-related law, such as last year's news post explaining how changes to Tumblr's Terms of Service affect fanworks.

Without your support, none of this would be possible. As our recent budget post shows, our projects require funding for things like servers, software, and legal fees. Please donate today to help us continue our work.

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Organization for Transformative Works: 2019 Budget

2018 was another productive and busy year for the OTW Finance team. We continue to work in the background to make sure that the bills are paid, the record keeping is accurate, and standard accounting procedures are met. Preparations for the 2018 financial statements and audit are also underway!

And now, we present the budget for 2019 (access the 2019 budget spreadsheet for more detailed information):

2019 Expenses

Expenses by program: Archive of Our Own: 81.2%. Open Doors: 0.2%. Transformative Works and Cultures: 0.4%. Fanlore: 1.3%. Legal Advocacy: 1.0%. Con Outreach: 0.1%. Admin: 9.8%. Fundraising: 6.1%.

Archive of Our Own (AO3)

US$12,242.60 spent; US$405,861.47 left

  • US$12,242.60 spent so far out of US$418,104.06 total this year, as of February 28, 2019.
  • 81.2% of the OTW's expenses go towards maintaining the AO3. This includes the bulk of our server expenses—both new purchases and ongoing colocation and maintenance—website performance monitoring tools, and various systems-related licenses (access all program expenses).
  • This year's projected AO3 expenses include US$110,000 in contractor costs for upgrades and security testing.
  • Additionally, AO3 expenses include a significant server overhaul and expansion of roughly US$177,000. New virtualisation servers will replace the current equipment, making testing and deployment of code for the Archive much smoother. The old servers will be repurposed as storage for the new servers. Other new servers will expand the Archive's capacity to serve pages and search results to users with fewer connection issues.
  • Other anticipated costs include US$33,000 for a Systems contractor, who will do some work for the Archive's hardware infrastructure.

Fanlore

US$329.34 spent; US$6,409.63 left

  • US$329.34 spent so far out of US$6,738.97 total this year, as of February 28, 2019.
  • Fanlore expenses are mostly its allocation of server purchases, maintenance and colocation costs, in addition to Fanlore's web domain renewals (access all program expenses).
  • The new virtualisation servers mentioned above will also serve Fanlore pages and store Fanlore wiki backups.

Transformative Works and Cultures

US$275.00 spent; US$1,558.00 left

  • US$275.00 spent so far out of US$1,833.00 total this year, as of February 28, 2019.
  • Transformative Works and Cultures' expenses are the journal's website hosting, and publishing and storage fees (access all program expenses).

Open Doors

US$91.82 spent; US$844.35 left

  • US$91.82 spent so far out of US$936.17 total this year, as of February 28, 2019.
  • Open Doors' expenses consist of hosting, backup, and domain costs for imported fanwork archives (access all program expenses).

Legal Advocacy

US$0 spent; US$5,000.00 left

  • US$0 spent so far out of US$5,000.00 total this year, as of February 28, 2019.
  • Legal's expenses consist of filing fees and travel expenses for conferences and hearings (access all program expenses).

Con Outreach

US$0 spent; US$500.00 left

  • US$0 spent so far out of US$500.00 total this year, as of February 28, 2019.
  • Budgeted expenses include US$100 for printing flyers and US$400 for other convention outreach activities on behalf of the OTW (access all program expenses).

Fundraising

US$2,296.25 spent; US$29,163.75 left

  • US$2,296.25 spent so far out of US$31,460.00 total this year, as of February 28, 2019.
  • Our fundraising expenses consist of transaction fees charged by our third-party payment processors for each donation, thank-you gift purchases and shipping, and the tools used to host the OTW's membership database and track communications with donors and potential donors (access fundraising expenses).

Administration

US$2,785.99 spent; US$47,685.81 left

  • US$2,785.99 spent so far out of US$50,471.80 total this year, as of February 28, 2019.
  • The OTW’s administrative expenses include hosting for our website, trademarks, domains, insurance, tax filing, and annual financial statement audits, as well as communication and accounting tools (access all admin expenses).

2019 Revenue

OTW revenue: April drive donations: 31.0%. October drive donations: 35.8%. Non-drive donations: 28.6%. Donations from matching programs: 4.5%. Interest income: 0.1%. Royalties: <0.1%.

  • The OTW is entirely supported by your donations—thank you for your generosity!
  • We receive most of our donations each year in the April and October fundraising drives, which together should account for about 67% of our income in 2019. We also receive donations via employer matching programs, royalties, Amazon Smile, and PayPal Giving Fund, which administers donations from programs like Humble Bundle and eBay for Charity. If you'd like to support us while making purchases on those websites, please select the Organization for Transformative Works as your charity of choice!
  • Given your generosity in previous years, we have a healthy amount in reserves, which we plan to keep in store for a rainy day. Thanks to this, we can explore alternative revenue sources to supplement your donations. The Finance team has made progress in its search for a suitable investment method for a small non-profit organization like the OTW and aims to fully set up a low-risk, conservative investment portfolio by the end of 2019.
  • The reserves also help bolster us in years when we’re planning larger than usual purchases. As mentioned previously, we have plans to replace old server hardware over the next few months as well as purchase new server hardware, which significantly increase our expenses for this year. Some of the forecasted expenses outlined in this budget may not take place before the end of the year, due to various constraints. To account for this uncertainty, even though all expenses we anticipate are described in the budget spreadsheet, we have projected a withdrawal of US$96,000 from our reserves to cover the amount corresponding to the less likely expenses. This additional amount may be withdrawn from reserves on an as-needed basis during the year. Our budget update, which will be published in October, will contain more precise information about which expenses will take place in 2019.
  • US$23,840.99 received so far (as of February 28, 2019) and US$419,475 projected to be received by the end of the year.

US$23,840.99 donated; US$395,634.01 left

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the budget or the OTW's finances, please contact the Finance committee. We will also be hosting an open chat to answer any questions you may have. This chat will take place in our public chatroom on April 6 at 8pm UTC(what time is that in my timezone?).

Here is the link to the chatroom! Come chat with us, and bring your questions!

To download the OTW's 2019 budget in spreadsheet format, please follow this link.

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