In 2020, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) made a commitment to our users, members, and volunteers that we would work towards making our organization and our projects more welcoming and inclusive to fans of color, and preventing and combating racist harassment on our platforms.
Today, we’d like to provide an update on what steps we have taken so far to accomplish those goals, and what still needs to be done. But first, we have a duty to acknowledge that this work hasn’t been nearly as prompt as we had hoped, and that the main victims of our delayed progress are the people of color who continue to suffer due to harassment and slow action. In May, fans organized a campaign against racism in the OTW, and we want to take a moment to thank everyone who participated. We hear and appreciate the people who continue to reach out to us, to share their ideas and their concerns, and to hold us accountable.
What We’ve Done So Far
Since the posting of our original plan in 2020, we have completed or made significant progress on a series of goals to help protect our users and volunteers against harassment:
- We implemented the ability to freeze comment threads and turn off comments on your works entirely, giving you more control to moderate interactions on your AO3 fanworks.
- User muting was introduced to help you avoid encountering works, bookmarks, or comments from specific users when browsing the Archive.
- We have implemented comment blocking to prevent specific logged-in users from commenting on your works entirely.
- You can now opt out of receiving gifts on AO3, as well as opt out of allowing your works to be invited to collections.
- We have improved admin tools to facilitate investigations by our Policy & Abuse team.
- Internally, we have updated our Code of Conduct to make it explicit that discrimination based on caste is not tolerated in the OTW.
- We also implemented methods for volunteers to contact and submit feedback to the Board anonymously by introducing a separate feedback form.
We are still committed to working towards giving you more control over how you experience the Archive going forward. To that end, we will be expanding blocking features to cover more user interactions, and further limiting how guest users can interact with you on the Archive.
What We’re Working On
We have been reviewing the Archive’s Terms of Service to help the Policy & Abuse team address different types of harassment. This review is still ongoing, but we hope to complete it soon. Once concluded, any planned changes to the Terms of Service will be made available for public comment in a dedicated news post.
Alongside this review, the Policy & Abuse team continues to improve and calibrate their internal policies about harassment and hate speech in icons, user names, and other non-story elements. The team strives to remain vigilant and flexible in order to respond appropriately to new harassment vectors as needed.
Internally, back in 2021 the OTW opened recruitment for a Diversity Consultant Research Officer (DCRO). They began their work in 2022, contacting internal stakeholders and researching firms. The DCRO hopes to finish their internal studies by September, and has already begun to investigate potential contractors.
We will keep you updated on how these projects are progressing. Please continue reading to learn more about how we plan to communicate these updates.
One of the areas the OTW has been working to improve in is transparency in communication. We know how important these topics are to our users, and we will be trying to better keep you informed about what we’re doing to combat and prevent racism in the OTW and on AO3.
One change we have already implemented is to provide quarterly updates on our diversity work during OTW Board of Directors public meetings. These meetings take place on Discord and can be attended by anyone. There are a few ways you can know when a meeting is coming up:
- Keep an eye on the OTW’s Twitter account—every meeting is announced at least one week in advance.
- Join our Discord server—as soon as a meeting is scheduled, a notification will appear in the meeting channel.
- Subscribe to the Board Calendar so that new meetings will show directly on your personal calendar.
Additionally, we will be making an effort to include all information discussed in these meetings in the OTW’s monthly newsletter. The newsletter will also provide smaller updates between meetings whenever possible.
We understand how frustrating these delays have been, and we deeply apologize. We remain committed to making our spaces more welcoming and safe for all users. We sincerely thank you for sticking with us as we strive to improve. Your feedback on this and any other matters is welcome and valued, always.
The OTW Board of Directors can be reached for direct feedback and further suggestions via email.