Accessibility, Design and Technology Committee update – June 2011

We’ve had a busy month in AD&T! There have been several exciting code developments, and because life events for our team have prevented us sticking to our planned monthly deploy schedule, we’ve built up an impressive 98 issues for our next deploy! This is giving our testers plenty to work on!


Prompt memes

There’s been tons of work going on getting our new prompt memes feature ready for primetime. Cesy, who has been coding the feature, has been hard at work polishing it up and fixing bugs. Our trusty team of testers have been trying out the feature on our Test Archive and finding all the little glitches, and our valiant volunteer Seph took on the task of writing a tutorial on the new feature. \0/ If you’re curious about the kind of work that goes into creating a feature like this, check out Cesy’s post on Coding prompt memes. We’re really exciting about launching this feature!

Training and mentoring

We’ve been working on our training and mentoring procedures to make it easier for volunteers to join in and develop their skills. Cesy has been leading setup sessions for beginners, helping people get to grips with the tools we use and starting them out on a few bugs. We’ve embarked on a new series of training events focusing on different aspects of coding: Ana kicked off last Saturday with a fantastic introduction to XHTML, CSS and Javascript. We’re also considering ways of enabling more one-to-one mentoring for coders.

The great work of our training team is already bearing fruit: new coders Tel, Laura and karen88 have been getting stuck in! We always welcome new volunteers, and the great work of our training team makes now a great time to get involved. If you’re wondering how our coders go about their work, check out Enigel’s post on the Day in the life of a coder.

Support board!

After lots of work by the Support team brainstorming requirements and putting together a design, senior coder Sidra has begun work on a dedicated AO3 Support board! Currently we use a third-party tool, 16bugs, to manage our Support requests, but it doesn’t have the functionality we’d like. The new Support board will be entirely hosted on the AO3 and will enable all users to post responses to bugs – taking some of the pressure off our regular team when it comes to common problems – as well as providing a whole bunch of tools to help us manage the bugs. Now that we have such a big and active userbase, it’s difficult for Support to keep up, so we’re all REALLY excited about the new functionality.

Translation and internationalisation

Lots of work is going into making the Archive more usable to international users! Rebecca has been working closely with International Outreach and Translators as she continues to develop the functionality for translating the Archive interface – this is one of our core aims for the Archive and we’re really pleased to see it finally coming into being. Meantime, new coder Tel has been working on improving the functionality for translated works and bookmarks of translated works on the Archive. Stay tuned for these improvements in the coming months!

Next deploy

The next deploy is scheduled for the weekend of 2 July (all being well). It will include prompt memes, a new autocomplete, the trial version of RSS subscriptions to tags (we’re trying it out on the F/F tag to see how much load it places on the site), and lots of bug fixes!

News from our sub-committees

  • Coders have been working hard committing code for the forthcoming GIANT deploy! They’ve also been running and participating in our new training sessions – everyone is learning a lot!
  • Testers are busy on the epic task of testing out all the new code for the forthcoming deploy. They’ve been especially busy testing out the new prompt memes feature and giving feedback to improve it – challenges functionality is particularly hard to test because it involves so many different components (setting up a challenge, having people sign up, filling prompts, etc). Prompt memes include some anonymity features which need to be tested especially thoroughly – we want to be sure that anon features behave predictably for users.

News from our Sister committees

  • Support have been working like heroes on keeping up with the steady stream of support requests. They’ve also been working with AD&T to finalise the plans for the forthcoming new Support Board – everyone is VERY excited about this!
  • The Tag Wrangling committee has been working on the tag-related FAQs for the Archive, with the aim of making it easier for users to use tags and clearer how wranglers work on tags in the background. These changes will be reviewed and updated on the Archive soon. They’ve also been discussing how to handle original characters and fanon names for unnamed canon characters. If you are interested in wrangling, check out the list of fandoms without a wrangler to see if there’s anything you can help with. Unassigned fandoms right now include Merlin RPF, Weiss Kreuz, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

If there are things you’d like to do or say, please share them in comments, via the AO3 support and feedback form, by volunteering, or in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Everyone is welcome to this party!

This meeting round-up by Zooey

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