December 2008 Newsletter, vol. 24

Welcome to the last issue of the OTW Newsletter for this year! As of December 19, the OTW committees will be taking a brief break over the holidays, then reconvening after the New Year to start back to work, so we thought we’d take a chance to do an end-of-term roundup for the various committees, focusing on what we’ve done over the past year and a half.

Committee Updates!

Academic Journal Update from Karen Hellekson

The academic journal had a great year! We put out our first issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, a peer-reviewed online-only academic journal about fan and media studies, and we released it on time to good buzz.

But we did far more than put out an issue: we had to build it up from scratch. We recruited editorial and production staff, put together our stellar advisory board, found peer reviewers, and worked closely with many authors and their drafts all the way through copyediting and proofreading. On top of that, we had to build the journal’s infrastructure: we chose open source software to house the journal and traffic manuscripts through production (OJS), obtained an ISSN number, deposited a printout of the first issue with the Library of Congress, signed up for the DOI program so we could make the URLs persist, and figured out how to get the journal into indexes so people can become aware of it.

We’re currently at the tail end of obtaining content for No. 2, a special Games issue guest edited by Rebecca Carlson, which will go into production in January for release on March 15, 2009. It looks to be pretty fabulous and we are very excited about it. We recruited some new proofreaders for the production team and some new editorial staff for the Review and Symposium sections. We want to create an Interview team, so if anyone is interested, please contact us! Journalists are especially encouraged to apply.

Putting all these together with all-volunteer labor that requires some pretty serious specialties in arcane areas. We have academics, students, teachers, librarians, copyeditors, production editors, HTML wizards, and proofreaders on the team, and we’re delighted to be able to provide useful on-the-job training about putting a journal out to so many people. It’s amazing how many steps there are to putting out a peer- and editorially reviewed journal. We remain excited about the mission of bridging fans and academics, and providing a rigorous yet accessible forum for thought-provoking scholarship about fans and fandom.

Accessibility, Design, and Technology Update from black_samvra

This year AD&T launched the Beta version of the Archive of Our Own. The Archive currently has 179 users who are busy uploading stories and providing valuable feedback on what works well and what doesn’t.

This is an incredible coordination effort between volunteers designing the Archive, writing the code, testing the new code and associated fixes, deploying the code to our servers (our servers!), Beta testing the Archive, coordinating the feedback and all of the tasks that make the project possible.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who have given their time, knowledge and enthusiasm! We look forward to achieving more in the New Year.

Board Update from naominovik

It’s hard to even know where to begin. The summaries from the individual committees describe better than anything I can say about how much we accomplished, and how hard everyone has worked.

We on the Board have learned a whole lot, mostly about how the fannish community is even more awesome than we had realized. In the space of a year (and a piece, but who’s counting!), we’ve seen the volunteers in this organization build an archive and a wiki and a website, put out the first issue of a spectacular new academic journal, begin the work of preserving fannish projects and history, and create relationships with other organizations and work with them towards protecting the rights of fan creators.

And together we’ve built this organization itself: an official nonprofit corporation, run by volunteers, accountable to its members, funded by their donations and not by advertising. An organization that will keep chugging away long after all of our founding Board members have stepped down, and that provides an infrastructure we ourselves own and control for the projects we have already begun and may add on in the future.

It’s been a long hard road and an amazing one. I especially want to add our thanks to our two retiring Board members, Cathy Cupitt and Misha Tepper, and to the two new Board members stepping up in their place, Rachel Barenblat and Sheila Lane, and to all the volunteers who have seen this long first term of the organization to its end, and to all those who are signing on for another or coming on board now.

We have a lot of plans and ideas for making our next term even better, for strengthening the organization, improving our communication both within the org and with our members and the wider world, and advancing all our projects, and we can’t wait to start in on our new term. After we have all slept for a week. *g*

Community Relations Update from femmequixotic

Over the past seventeen months Community Relations has been busy working with the Board and the other OTW committees to make sure you know what’s been going on behind the scenes here! Through our twice-monthly newsletter and posts on the various journaling services, the OTW blog, Twitter, and emails, our goal has been to keep fandom up-to-date with the progress of our projects and to provide answers to your questions to the best of our ability. We’ve designed flyers and bookmarks that we’ve handed out at various cons attended by OTW members, run a few panels at those events to give con-goers a chance to discuss the organization in person, and even thrown an online con to celebrate the OTW and its goals. We’ve appreciated all the comments and debate and suggestions we’ve received from fandom over the course of this first year, and we hope you continue to throw ideas our way in the coming year!

Content Policy Update from Rebecca Tushnet

The Content Policy committee worked all year, with the help of volunteer focus groups and commenters, to develop human-readable and fair terms of service for the Archive of Our Own, along with a useful FAQ. We received fabulous, thoughtful suggestions, and had a lot of debates that clarified what we want the Archive to do. Now that the Archive is in beta, we are working on some of the more exotic policies, (fannish next of kin, for example). We continue to welcome feedback on the terms of service, and in the new year we anticipate developing more detailed internal policies for enforcing the terms of service.

Development and Membership Update from ignazwisdom

We’re very happy with all the work we did in the last year: building the OTW’s donation protocols from scratch, defining and distinguishing between members and donors, creating policies for corporate gifts and third-party fundraisers, establishing a monthly giving program and an Amazon widget, and running two major fundraising drives, which brought in over $13,000 and 500 OTW members in more than 15 different countries. It’s been a great first year, and we’re looking forward to Year 2!

Elections Update from cordelia_v

Elections worked hard this year to create a clear set of policies and guidelines that will result in a fair, transparent, and democratic process for choosing new Board members. We wrote an FAQ (which you can find on the organization’s website) that described how the elections process would work, and identified an outside polling vendor who could ensure a technically smooth, reliable, and secret online voting process for our voters, which would allow them to cast votes while preserving their anonymity. We made sure that our proposed policies were seen and commented on by other committees who were involved in elections, as well as the staff as a whole, before revising them for Board approval. We recruited candidates for the Board elections, although in the end only two did declare a candidacy, so no contested election was necessary. We hosted two public chats for members and staff to get to know the new Board members: we’re confident that they’re going to provide new ideas and energy for the Board in the term to come.

Financial Update from sanders

In the past year, the sharks of FinCom have faired better than Wall Street. We know where every single penny of the generous donations from OTW members have been spent because we’ve paid the bills, balanced against the budget, filed tax form after tax form (and shook our fins at the IRS website in much frustration), ensured compliance with our state of incorporation and federal 501(c)3 regulations. We’ve also recruited a volunteer accountant to oversee the tax filing for 2008 and had one of our, Ms. Sheila Lane, elected to the OTW board. At the moment, we’re working hard to survive the holiday crunch, finish those last minute gift purchases and fic exchange projects, and looking forward to 2009.

Legal Update from Rebecca Tushnet

The legal committee is generally responsible for any legal issues that come up. As we have hoped, it’s been a quiet year. The most prominent issue coming up is likely the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s request to the Copyright Office for an exemption from the DMCA for noncommercial clips from DVDs. For an explanation of the request, and why it’s important, see the EFF’s announcement. You can also read the request itself here. We plan to file reply comments in support of the request early next year. We would love to talk to any vidders who have questions or are interested in the process.

Open Doors

No update at this time.

Public Relations Update from jacquez

The Public Relations committee had a year of ups and downs! We worked hard on developing structure and content for multiple versions of the website, and then transitioned responsibility over to the Web committee. We developed and finalized the organization’s key messages, trained board members in dealing with the media, fielded lots of interview requests, and created promotional materials for the OTW. On a sadder note, we had some PR volunteers who had to leave us for personal reasons, and we have missed their input. As the new year arrives, we are looking forward to closing out the PR committee and seeing what the new Communications committee will bring to the table.


No update at this time.

Translations Update from logovo

Wow, what a great first year at Translation! Our awesome volunteers translated several documents, such as the membership drive, elections FAQs, and tested out and worked with the translating interfaces of the OTW site and the Archive. In 2009 we look forward to even more languages joining those currently represented!

Volunteers and Recruiting from kellyannbessa

It’s been a very long and busy term for Volunteers & Recruiting, and we are looking forward to the break! Over the last 18 months, we’ve put over 600 people in our volunteers database, moved nearly 200 staffers and volunteers through the Org, and searched for people to fill dozens of different positions on various committees and projects. We’ve also set up induction documents, created reference materials, and drafted guidelines and procedures for everything from adding a single volunteer to creating an entire committee.

We thank you all for the fabulous response to our calls for help, and your patience when serving as guinea pigs as we created and tested new procedures. See you in 2009!

Webmasters Update from juniperphoenix

The Webmasters committee formed in April and had a busy summer learning the ins and outs of Drupal (an open-source content management system) and building the new OTW website. We launched the site on October 1 complete with a shiny new blog, multilingual content (nine languages and counting), and improved back-end processes to help committees add and update content. Since the launch, we’ve been maintaining the site, writing documentation, and researching ways to offer new features as requests arise from our fellow committees.

Wiki Update from angstslashhope

Mid-December marks the 1 year anniversary of the Wiki Committee’s formation! In a year we have achieved a lot. Much of the year was spent developing a robust set of policies to support and guide the wiki, though of course our most exciting moment was Fanlore going live in September.

Since then Fanlore has come forward in leaps and bounds – we have around 500 registered users who have created almost 2000 articles and carried out over 23,000 edits! In the past few months since we soft launched, while all this has been occuring, we’ve had the opportunity to test the policies in action, recruit a team of dedicated Gardeners and make more developments according to user needs.

We’re very much looking forward to the steady growth of Fanlore in years to come, and would like to thank all the enthusiastic (and often quite usefully challenging!) fans for making our soft launch such a success.

Thanks for all your support this year! We hope 2009 is just as productive as the last!

–femmequixotic, bethbethbeth, ciderpress, mirabile_dictu, shrift, svmadelyn
Community Relations Committee


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