Support Committee

Who we are

The Support team serves as the main line of communication between Archive of our Own users and the various other teams involved with running and managing the Archive. The Support team helps to resolve technical problems experienced by users, answers their questions about the Archive, passes on users’ feedback and feature requests to coders and designers, testers, and tag wranglers, and forwards other questions and feedback to the relevant committees.

We are an all-volunteer team, with members located in many different countries. All of our communication with users and one another is by written text. If we don’t have a Support volunteer who speaks the language a user contacts us in, we will work with the Translation Committee so that we can reply to them in their preferred language. Currently we tend to receive anywhere between 1000 to 2000 tickets a month.

A graph of Support's monthly ticket count from August 2011 to June 2020, showing an increase over time with occasional large spikes

Our principles

Our guiding principles are responsiveness, transparency, and confidentiality. This means that we aim to respond to users in a helpful and timely manner, to be as open as possible with both users and other committees, and to respect user privacy when handling sensitive or confidential information. As part of our role, we may have access to confidential information, but we will not reveal a user’s identity or contact information, even internally with other committees, unless that information is necessary for helping to resolve an issue. We will not discuss the contents of specific tickets publicly, although we may release aggregate information such as overall number of tickets or general trends.

We take a report from a single user as seriously as inquiries from dozens of users. Please be aware that additional reports of the same issue, unless you have new information to add, are not necessary, and indeed may only slow our work by increasing the number of tickets we need to reply to. If you resolve your issue on your own before we are able to reply, however, it’s fine to submit a new ticket to let us know!


What we do (and do not do)

On a daily basis, users send in reports of problems using the Archive of our Own, questions about the site’s features, and requests for future development. Support’s team receives all of these tickets via our tracking software, and our volunteers self-assign the tickets they will respond to, depending on their available time, familiarity with the feature or issue in question, or language skills. All tickets will ultimately be replied to, unless the user requests otherwise, but we do not always handle tickets in the order in which we receive them. Some issues may be able to be answered very quickly, while others might require more time to diagnose the cause of the problem, run tests, or communicate with other teams involved. Some issues may have high priority (such as reports of site-breaking bugs) while others might be less urgent (requests for eventual additional features). Response times may also vary depending on the current ticket load and team members’ availability. Each reply is normally reviewed by at least one other staff member who serves as a “beta” to catch any errors, omissions, or typos, before the reply is sent out.

Other than technical support issues, we also receive questions about Archive policies and procedures, such as questions about the type of content that is permitted on the site, or inquiries about how tags are wrangled. For issues related to specific tags, we will communicate with the Tag Wranglers as necessary in order to answer the question or resolve the problem. While we can answer general questions about the Terms of Service, we cannot address issues that are more properly handled by the Policy and Abuse committee, such as reports of possible Terms of Service violations (harassment, plagiarism, mistagged works, etc.), problems requiring identity verification such as regaining control of a lost account, or issues concerning control of orphaned works. If we receive such issues, we will ask the user to contact the Policy and Abuse team instead. Questions about donation drives, OTW membership, and premium gifts should be directed to the Development and Membership committee.

Aside from answering tickets, we also perform several other functions. We keep the Known Issues page updated. We create internal documentation on bugs and feature requests, and often assist in testing bug fixes or new features. We consult with other committees in order to provide input on issues that relate to Support’s areas of expertise, such as providing input to the Documentation committee on common user questions that might be good to add or clarify in the FAQ. Support chairs also handle recruitment of new members to the team, training, and management of committee members.

We do not maintain or monitor the AO3_Status twitter account, although we do recommend that people check there for news of any major outages or issues with the site prior to contacting Support. Likewise, we do not actively monitor comments on news posts for questions, although if one of our volunteers happens to notice one, they may choose to reply to it, or to direct the user to contact Support directly.


Contact us

If you want to learn more about the work of the Support committee, or are interested in volunteering with us, or if you have any other questions, please contact us — we will be happy to hear from you.