Archive FAQ > About the Archive

What is the Archive of Our Own?

The Archive of Our Own (AO3) is a noncommercial and nonprofit central hosting site for transformative fanworks such as fanfiction and, in the future, other transformative works such as fanart, fan videos, and podfic. (In the meantime non-text media can be embedded in a work on the Archive. Refer to the Posting and Editing FAQ for more details.)

The AO3 is built on open-source archiving software designed and built by and for fans. The open-source software for AO3 is currently hosted at GitHub. The servers are owned by the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) and funded entirely by donations. Users don't pay and there are no advertisements on the site.

The OTW and AO3 are committed to preserving and providing access to transformative works. For details of our position on transformative works, please refer to What We Believe: point 2 and Content Policy: Section IV D in the Terms of Service.

What is the Organization for Transformative Works?

The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is the parent organization of Archive of Our Own (AO3). The OTW is a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms.

The OTW was created to work toward a future in which all fanworks are recognized as legal and transformative, and accepted as legitimate creative activity. We're interested in all kinds of transformative works, but our priority is to support and defend the types of works posted on AO3, and the fans who create them.

You can find out more about the OTW on our main website in the About the OTW page and the FAQ.

Who created the Archive?

The Archive was entirely designed and created by volunteers from fandom working within the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW). Many of our volunteers started out with no knowledge of coding, design, or documentation and learned their skills on the project. We think it's a pretty amazing achievement! If you'd like to join in, please volunteer via the OTW's Volunteer page.

How is the Archive funded? Can I donate money?

The Archive is funded entirely by donations to the Organization for Transformative Works. Users don't have to pay to use the site, and we don't host ads. If you'd like to support the Archive, please make a donation.

We very much appreciate donations, which help pay for our servers, hosting costs, and bandwidth, and also support other OTW projects such as Fanlore and Open Doors. Donating US$10 or more also gives you membership of the OTW and allows you to vote in OTW elections, so you can help shape the future of the organization.

Is the Archive available in languages other than English?

Not yet, although it's definitely on our Archive Roadmap! We are absolutely dedicated to translating the Archive interface (that is, everything from the "Post New" button to error messages) into as many languages as possible. Our goal is a multilingual archive that, for example, native Bulgarian speakers can use as easily as native English speakers.

Please understand that this will take a while, though. Like everything on the Archive, the translation tools are being hand-coded, and all translators are volunteers dedicating their free time. If you would like to help us make it happen or have any questions or suggestions, please let us know by contacting Support.

You can already post in languages other than English (refer to Can I post in languages other than English?) and our translation volunteers are in the process of translating all our FAQs as well. To find out if the FAQs are available in your language, go to the FAQ page and select your language from the menu at the top of the page. If your language doesn't appear in this menu, then no FAQs have been translated into that language at this time. To find out what languages our Translation committee is currently able to translate into or to get involved yourself, you can refer to the Translation committee info page on the Organization for Transformative Works site.

What are you doing to make the Archive accessible?

We aim to keep the Archive compatible with the current releases of commonly-used desktop browsers, e-readers, screen readers, and the default browsers of most iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices.

Some Archive features will not work without JavaScript enabled. If you're having difficulties, you should check that JavaScript is enabled. One of our top priorities is ensuring that people without JavaScript still have access to essential features; however, please be aware that for some secondary features, this won't be possible.

There are a number of publicly available skins, or you can write your own CSS to change the way the Archive is displayed to you according to your needs or preferences. Please refer to our Skins and Archive Interface FAQ for more information.

There are public skins available specifically for accessibility, some of which are listed below. To select one of these skins, navigate to the desired skin's page (by browsing from the publicly available skins index or selecting the links below) and then select the "Use" button to apply the skin.

Low Vision Default skin
This skin aims to maximise space and font size to aid those who have low vision. Please see the skin description for full details.
Reversi skin
This is a reverse contrast skin, which displays light font on a dark background.

We attempt to be accessible to the widest range of users possible. If you encounter any problems, please don't hesitate to contact Support.

Are you going to make an app for mobile devices?

Many people have asked if we will make an app for mobile devices. While this is something we definitely want to do, resources just aren't available for us to create and maintain mobile apps at this time.

Before we can have apps for the various mobile platforms, we need to have a public Application Program Interface (API). Without an API, no app would be able to access the Archive database in any useful way.

Whilst creating an API is on our roadmap, it's still several major releases away. In order to have an API, we need to have stable code that is only infrequently changed or updated, otherwise our coders (who are all volunteers) would need to update the API every time they made a change to the site, and they're making changes all the time!

In the meantime, we have a mobile skin that should make it possible for you to navigate the Archive with your device's browser. You don't need to select this skin to make use of it; it's automatically applied based on browser dimensions. You can also download works to access offline with an e-reader or similar app.

On a security note, if a third-party app or website requests your AO3 login information, please proceed cautiously and be aware that you are providing this information at your own risk. Please be sure to change your password if you believe your account may have been compromised at any time.

You can find more details at our news post on the subject: On AO3 Mobile Apps. For more information on downloading works, refer to our Downloading Fanworks FAQ.

The logo for the Archive was designed in 2009 by coder volunteer Bingeling with input from Accessibility, Design, & Technology committee members. Fun fact: it was originally intended as an interim design until a permanent logo design could be created, but everyone liked it so much that it stayed.

It combines the characters A, O, and 3 with arms raised in celebration, symbolizing the joy of fannish creation on the Archive. The acronym "AO3" comes from the initials of the English site title Archive of Our Own–an A and three O's.

What are the relationship category icons? How did you choose them?

The images that depict the different relationship category options on the Archive are based on astronomical symbols:

The Female/Female relationship category icon is the symbol for Venus on a pink background. The Venus symbol is commonly used in Western culture to represent a woman.
The Female/Male relationship icon contains the symbols for Venus (female) and Mars (male) with a common circle on a purple background.
The General (no romantic or sexual relationships, or relationships which are not the main focus of the work) icon is the symbol for Sun on a green background.
The Male/Male relationship icon is the symbol for Mars on a blue background. The Mars symbol is commonly used in Western culture to represent a man.
The Multi (more than one kind of relationship, or a relationship with multiple partners) icon is a square divided into quarters that are colored, clockwise from top left, green, purple, blue, and pink. These colors were chosen because they're the background colors applied to the F/F, F/M, Gen, and M/M symbols and therefore represent all four.
The Other relationships icon is the symbol for Uranus on a black background. The Uranus symbol has been used in Western culture to represent concepts such as non-conformity and flexibility. The design team felt this made it a good symbol to represent relationships which didn't fit into the other categories.

Where can I get more information if my question isn't answered here?

Some frequently asked questions about the Archive are answered in other sections of the Archive FAQ, and some common terminology is defined in our Glossary. Questions and answers about our Terms of Service can be found in the Terms of Service FAQ. You may also like to check out our Known Issues. If you need more help, please submit a Support request.