August 2011 Newsletter, Volume 52

Archive of Our Own

The Support committee has been busy, busy, busy! On average, we receive around 30-40 support tickets per week. About half are bug reports; the other half are feature requests, plus random bits of squee and occasional questions. Probably our most reported issue is still the 1,000-work limit, which is understandable — of course users want to read ALL the things on AO3 (coders are working on a solution)! 😀 We’ve also been updating the Archive FAQs and have added a new one on Kudos. Support can always use more help; if you or someone you know is interested in joining the team, please contact Volunteers & Recruiting.

The Content Policy committee is about to seek comment on a draft image policy. Expect it soon!

The Accessibility, Design, & Technology committee (AD&T) is gearing up for a big code update. They’re currently testing some performance fixes and hope to release those soon — we’re hoping these will help tackle the recent site slowdowns. We know lots of people have been encountering the sadface 502 page on the Archive lately — thanks for your patience while we make these improvements! If you’d like more details on the latest technical developments on the AO3, check out the posts on the August 7 and August 21 AD&T meetings.

Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) has been working with various committees to offer monthly training sessions. This month Jenny S-T, training lead for AD&T, led a session on coding for AO3, challenge code, and challenge moderation. Transcripts of the coding training and of last month’s testing training are now available.

Around the OTW

The Organization for Transformative Works is now listed as a company on professional social network LinkedIn. Staffers and volunteers who wish to do so can list their work with the OTW on their LinkedIn profiles. (Note: Listing the OTW on your LinkedIn profile will not link your legal identity with the name you use to volunteer within the OTW [unless you volunteer under the same name], and you can list it on your profile regardless of whether you volunteer under a pseudonym or your legal name.)

The Journal committee is in the middle of production for the next issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, to be released on September 15. The Webmasters and Systems committees have outfitted the TWC site with a security upgrade and new anti-spam measures.

Finally, a warm welcome to our newest staffers: Claudia Rebaza and Kitsunegari in Communications, megcwalsh in Finance, and Yshyn in Support.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to contact us anytime with questions or suggestions.

July 2011 Newsletter, Volume 51

Welcome to our July newsletter!

Fandom in the news

Communications has been working hard behind the scenes to make sure that fandom is well represented in the mainstream press during the sudden interest in fandom due to the end of the Harry Potter film series. We worked with Lev Grossman of Time magazine on The Boy Who Lived Forever, a feature article on fanfiction, and contributed to two NPR pieces, one on Pottermore and one on fanfiction.

Archive of Our Own

Accessibility, Design, & Technology (AD&T) did a major deploy and then a smaller one with some important bugfixes. We passed 200,000 works on the Archive, and users have already set up 21 prompt-based challenges! We’re continuing to work on training, performance improvements, browsing, challenge nominations, translations, art hosting, and many other projects. In addition, coders are currently running Bug Count Bingo, which has been a fun way to get everyone active in sorting through and working on our existing known bugs.

The Content committee is starting work on art hosting policies. Suggestions are welcome; expect a discussion draft policy sometime soon.

Legal

Legal continues to respond to various queries from fans. We also worked with Australian fans and lawyers to submit comments protesting Australia’s most recent attempts to censor the Internet.

Transformative Works and Cultures

The Journal team is working hard to put two issues through production: a general issue, to be released on September 15, 2011, and a combined special issue on Textual Echoes and Race & Ethnicity in Fandom, due out on November 15, 2011. The Symposium Blog continues its regular posting schedule.

We recently issued calls for papers for two special issues: “Transnational Boys’ Love Fan Studies” and “Appropriating, Interpreting, and Transforming Comic Books.” Submissions for both issues are due in April 2012.

Meanwhile, the Webmasters and Systems committees have been working behind the scenes to upgrade the TWC website. We’ve fixed a bug that was causing the page layout to break in some browsers, and we’ve increased the default font size to make the journal a bit easier on the eyes.

Vidding

The Vidding committee are reorganizing much of our project into a broader “Fan Video” category. New web pages including a fan video bibliography, evaluations of hosting/streaming sites, directions for streaming on your own site, and how to add translations and captions to your video will be available soon!

Volunteers & Recruiting

Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) is planning for the end-of-term evaluation process: this year, we’re planning on conducting the Still Willing to Serve process via a web-based survey, which will be faster for staffers to respond to (tickyboxes!) and give VolCom information in a format that’s consistent and easy to analyze. (This process was formerly conducted via e-mail.) VolCom met with International Outreach to discuss adapting their internal survey of translators for this purpose, and is working with committee chairs to devise questions that are relevant to each committee’s needs. In similar news, at the request of Tag Wrangling, we are planning to send a re-enlist email to current tag wrangling volunteers, to check that our records are up to date on who is active.

VolCom has been working with several other committees to develop and test a new internal forum to encourage cross-committee brainstorming and socializing among volunteers and staffers; this will be rolling out in stages soon.

VolCom is continuing to work with other committees to offer monthly training sessions the hour before org-wide meetings. This month, Kylie, testing lead for AD&T, led a session on introductory-level testing.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to contact us anytime with questions or suggestions.

June 2011 Newsletter, Volume 50

Welcome to the 50th issue of the OTW newsletter!

Fandom in the news

Lev Grossman of Time magazine is writing a feature article about the cultural and legal issues surrounding fanfiction. See this post for details: Fanfiction Writers! Want To Be Interviewed for Time? Thank you to the many fans who have taken the time to talk with Mr. Grossman about their experiences.

Board member Francesca Coppa was recently interviewed by NPR’s All Things Considered for a segment on Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s new website, in which she talks about how “more” is central to the fannish ethos.

Archive of Our Own

The Accessibility, Design, and Technology committee (AD&T) is hard at work preparing for the next AO3 code deploy, tentatively scheduled for the weekend of July 2. Check out the recent AD&T update post for highlights of the upcoming deploy and lots more AO3 news. AD&T is thrilled to welcome some wonderful new and returning coders and testers who are jumping in and starting to contribute. (Ever wondered what’s involved in making code contributions? Check out Enigel’s post on a day in the life of a coder.)

Systems has upgraded the webdev server, which was running out of memory. Webdev is where the coders work on individual instances of the AO3 software before merging their changes into the master code repository — since coders don’t have to set up and maintain the full site on their own machines, it allows more people to get involved more easily.

The Tag Wrangling committee has finished the FAQ revisions and sent them on to Support to be included in the Archive’s updated documentation. They also clarified the wrangling policy for original characters, discussed holding open houses for the public to make wrangling more transparent for non-volunteers, and also discussed instituting office hours for staff to be more available to our wrangling volunteer base.

Fanlore

The Wiki committee has been collecting feedback about Fanlore’s category structure, and recently posted a revised category proposal incorporating public input.

Fanlore is currently holding a What’s Hot Now challenge to encourage the chronicling of recent fanworks. Check out the challenge tag on the Fanlore Dreamwidth community to see all the past challenge prompts.

TWC and Symposium

The Journal committee continues its one-two punch of prepping copy for Transformative Works and Cultures (next issue out September 15!) and blogging regularly at the Symposium Blog. Symposium recently welcomed a new contributor, Andrea Horbinski, who is a manga and anime fan and a historian. Andrea’s intro post is here.

Vidding

The Vidding committee has drafted a number of new web pages in preparation for reorganizing fan video resources on the OTW website; we also expect to go live with a number of additional resource pages as part of that reorganization. Many of the Vidding staff are also continuing to work on the Fan/Remix Video issue of TWC, whose submission deadlines have now passed. Vidding chair Francesca Coppa was also recently on a plenary panel at the International Communication Association with Berkman Center fellow Jonathan Zittrain and Critical Commons’ Steve Anderson to talk about the OTW, our DMCA exemption, and the continuing need for stable fair-use video hosting for fan video; we are currently still in conversation with Critical Commons about what services they may be able to offer transformative video remix artists.

Volunteers and Recruiting

Volunteers and Recruiting (VolCom) welcomes its newest staffer, Helka Lantto!

VolCom is conducting a mid-term staff check-in with all committee chairs to ensure that the staff roster and records are up to date. They’re also planning how to conduct staff evaluations; getting staff feedback was previously done as part of the Still Willing To Serve process, and the goal of the evaluations is to make it easier for staff to submit information. The evaluations will be kept confidential to VolCom and would keep VolCom up to date on staffers’ strengths, weaknesses, and potential for serving as chairs in the future. VolCom is also testing a message board/forum that will serve as an asynchronous social and brainstorming space for OTW volunteers and staffers.

VolCom is continuing to induct new staffers and volunteers as needed, and has recently worked with AD&T and Tag Wrangling to streamline the induction processes for those committees. They also brainstormed ideas for recruiting more Support staffers and ways to reach invested AO3 users and encourage them to volunteer with the OTW.

Finally, VolCom is continuing to work with other committees to offer monthly training sessions in the hour before org-wide meetings. Last month, aethel, Wiki co-chair, led a session on Fanlore that received so much interest that popular demand brought her back to lead another session this month. The transcript of the first session is available here.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to contact us anytime with questions or suggestions.