Archive of Our Own
Our first goal is to create a new, free, open-source software package to allow fans to host their own robust, full-featured archives, which can support even an archive containing hundreds of thousands of stories and which has the social networking features to enable fans to connect to one another through their work.
Our second goal is to use this software to provide a noncommercial and nonprofit central hosting place for fanfic and other transformative fanworks, where these can be sheltered by the advocacy of the OTW and take advantage of the OTW’s work in articulating the case for the legality and social value of these works. Unlike other archives, the Archive of Our Own isn’t run by individuals whose interest in fandom may wax and wane, but by a nonprofit organization run by an elected rotating board of committed fans. We hope that this will lead to more permanence and stability than some other archives or services.
No one, including the OTW as an organization, makes money from the archive or its content; in fact, the opposite is true because the OTW pays to host the archive. Advertising is not shown. Instead, we hold public radio-style pledge drives to ask for support from our users. No donation will ever be required to use the archive or any of its tools.
Building the kind of archive the OTW envisions is not a simple process. We’re not just setting up an archive using existing software, but building new open-source archive software designed around fans’ needs, that can be easily maintained and easily reused, and that can handle potentially millions of stories from hundreds of thousands of simultaneous users.
This work is being done by a group of volunteers, including a group of trainees learning how to write and maintain code, to help build the fannish community of coders. This is a group of people who can help to maintain the archive software in future. In other words, we’re not just building the Archive, we’re building the builders.
We have also taken the time to develop comprehensive and fan-friendly policies with as much input from fans as possible; you can see our resulting Terms of Service on the Archive of Our Own.
This is taking a little while to do, but we absolutely believe it’s worth the time. You can follow the progress of the Archive’s development in our newsletters and our blog. To get involved, contact the Volunteers committee.
No. In fact, we hope that other fans will use our archive software, which will be open-source and free to use and modify, to build their own archives.
In the Archive of Our Own, we hope to create a multi-fandom archive with great features and fan-friendly policies, which is customizable and scalable, and will last for a very long time. We’d like to be fandom’s deposit library, a place where people can back up existing work or projects and have stable links, not the only place where anyone ever posts their work. It’s not either/or; it’s more/more!
The Archive of Our Own entered open beta in November 2009. To create an account, you need an invitation. We’re using the invitation code system so that the Archive can grow in a controlled manner. We need to add new users gradually so that our account numbers don’t grow beyond what our hardware, bandwidth, help and support can cope with. This helps us ensure that everyone using the Archive gets the best possible experience. Once you receive an invitation email, click the link provided in the email to go to the account creation page. If you’ve been provided with an invitation link by another user, clicking this link should take you to the right place.
Fanlore is a wiki—a multi-authored website—that any fan can contribute to. Our goal is to record both the history and current state of our fan communities—fanworks, fan activities, fan terminology, individual fans and fan-related events. For more information, see the Fanlore About page and the Fanlore FAQ.
The scope of Fanlore includes all fandoms and transformative works of all kinds. We seek to host contributions from a diverse range of fans as they share experiences about the histories of their fannish communities.
All fans and interested persons are invited to contribute to Fanlore by creating articles or adding information to existing pages. Anything you can contribute towards the preservation of fannish history is welcome!
We’re always excited to welcome new editors to Fanlore, and we have lots of resources to get you started. Start with our Tips for Browsing Fanlore and the Basic Editing Tutorial, and then make sure to browse our more detailed help pages. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with our policies.
Once you’ve started editing, the Fanlore Editing Cheatsheet is an invaluable resource – as is this list of templates that are frequently used around the wiki. If you need further assistance, you can always contact our gardeners for editing help. Short and/or introductory pages are always welcome!
Fanlore has an identity protection policy which ensures that fans can keep their pseudonymous fan identities separate from their real names if they wish to. Additionally, the Organization for Transformative Works as a whole is committed to protecting the privacy of fans, whether they are users of our services or not. If an edit has been made to the wiki which connects your real-life and fannish identities without your consent, please contact Fanlore and we will work with you to resolve the issue.
Fandom is international, and we welcome contributions from fans all over the world. At this time, Fanlore is an English-language resource, although editors are absolutely encouraged to document fandoms, fanworks, and fan communities that may have originally been conducted in languages other than English. If you would like advice on or assistance with documenting aspects of non-English-language fandoms, or are interested in working with Fanlore to improve the international scope of the wiki, please contact us.
In a fiscal sense, no one; OTW is a nonprofit organization, so any revenue the organization takes in goes into the organization’s coffers to support the work the organization does. The OTW does not currently have any paid staff and is run by volunteers. Our official conflict-of-interest policy is the one recommended by the IRS for nonprofits.
The OTW is incorporated in the state of Delaware, in the United States.
The OTW uses funds to purchase goods and services that cannot be provided by its volunteers, such as expenses related to operations and certain administrative costs. Such operational expenses include the purchase of software and server space to create and maintain the archive. Administrative expenses include a variety of items typical to a nonprofit organization, such as insurance, payment processor fees, and tax preparation and auditing services.
The Board is ultimately responsible for these decisions as part of its fiduciary obligation. The Board treasurer is specifically responsible for the creation and implementation of the OTW’s budget, but the Board must vote to approve the budget, as well as any unplanned expenditures. For smaller transactions, the Board will delegate responsibility to OTW’s committees to determine what goods and services may be necessary.
Our payment processor will not reveal credit card or bank account numbers to the OTW. Personal checks received by mail will necessarily have account information on them, but that information will not be retained.
Yes, in the United States. The IRS has approved OTW’s tax-exempt, nonprofit status. One of the benefits of our nonprofit status is that any donation that you make to the organization, including your US$10 OTW membership fee, is now tax-deductible in the United States! Even better, your past donations are also tax-deductible, back to our date of incorporation: September 5, 2007.
Please note that if you are located outside the US, your contribution may or may not be tax-deductible. You should consult with a tax adviser and see whether a gift to a US 501(c)(3) qualifies for a tax deduction under your local laws.
The OTW must collect certain information (such as name, address, etc.) from donors to comply with IRS regulations. Given the prevalence of fans using pseudonyms in their fannish life, this information will be held closely by the OTW and is only available to the OTW’s treasurer and members of the Development and Membership committee. Completely anonymous donations can only be made in cash.
The OTW is a nonprofit corporation, subject to laws and regulations dictating its fiduciary responsibilities to conduct activities in a manner that upholds the public trust. The OTW will be scrutinized not only by its members and fans outside the organization, but also by the IRS and the State of Delaware, our incorporation state.
There are a number of additional safeguards in place. Misuse of OTW funds constitutes fraud and could be subject to prosecution. This operates as a solid deterrent. Distribution of the OTW’s funds will follow generally accepted accounting principles with regard to oversight and authorization of expenditures. The OTW’s financial information is also audited by an independent third party CPA firm every fiscal year. Finally, the OTW is required to file Form 990 with the IRS each year to report the organization’s financial activities.
Copyright is intended to protect the creator’s right to profit from her work for a period of time to encourage creative endeavor and the widespread sharing of knowledge. But this does not preclude the right of others to respond to the original work, either with critical commentary, parody, or, we believe, transformative works.
In the United States, copyright is limited by the fair use doctrine. The legal case of Campbell v. Acuff-Rose held that transformative uses receive special consideration in fair use analysis. For those interested in reading in-depth legal analysis, more information can be found on the Fanlore Legal Analysis page.
Fair use is the right to make some use of copyrighted material without getting permission or paying. It is a basic limit on copyright law that protects free expression. “Fair use” is an American phrase, although all copyright laws have some limits that keep copyright from being private censorship.
Fair use favors uses that (1) are noncommercial and not sold for a profit; (2) are transformative, adding new meaning and messages to the original; (3) are limited, not copying the entirety of the original; and (4) do not substitute for the original work. None of these factors is absolutely necessary for fair use, but they all help, and we believe that fanworks like those in the archive easily qualify as fair uses based on all these factors.
There is a distinction between plagiarism (the unacknowledged use of someone else’s words claimed as one’s own), fanfiction (the acknowledged or obvious borrowing of story elements to tell a new story in the fanfiction writer’s words), and quotation (the acknowledged or obvious use of small excerpts of another’s work).
By “obvious” we mean that even if a fan writer didn’t put a disclaimer on her story, readers know that she did not invent Wonder Woman or Voldemort, or the phrase “Use the Force, Luke.”
Plagiarism is deceitful and prevents the original author from receiving credit for her own original work. Fanfiction and quotation are important fair uses which acknowledge the original author and her work. The OTW does not support plagiarism; we do support fanfiction and quotation.
No. While case law in this area is limited, we believe that current copyright law already supports our understanding of fanfiction as fair use.
We seek to broaden knowledge of fan creators’ rights and reduce the confusion and uncertainty on both fan and pro creators’ sides about fair use as it applies to fanworks. One of our models is the documentary filmmakers’ statement of best practices in fair use, which has helped clarify the role of fair use in documentary filmmaking.
The OTW’s Legal committee is consulting with the Stanford Fair Use Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The mission of the OTW is first and foremost to protect the fan creators who work purely for love and share their works for free within the fannish gift economy, who are looking to be part of a community and connect to other fans and to celebrate and to respond to the media works that they enjoy.
These fans create vibrant and active communities around the work they are celebrating, tend to spend heaps of money on the original work and associated merchandise, and encourage others to buy also. They are not competing with the original creator’s work and if anything help to promote it.
While some transformative works legitimately circulate in the for-profit marketplace — parodies such as The Wind Done Gone (the retelling of Gone with the Wind from the perspective of a slave), critical analyses that quote extensively from an original, “unauthorized guides,” etc.—that really isn’t what fanfic writers and fan creators in general are doing, or looking to do. We just want to enjoy our hobby and our communities, and to share our creative work, without the constant threat hanging overhead that an overzealous lawyer at some corporation will start sending out cease & desist notices, relying not on legal merit, but on the disproportionate weight of money on their side.
Not at all. The OTW does not oppose the derivative works right that allows copyright owners to authorize a mass-market film adaptation, for instance, or allows a writer to authorize a specific individual (such as the author’s son or daughter) to publish sequels commercially. The founding Board Chair of the OTW is Naomi Novik, herself a professional novelist, whose work is under copyright and who has a stake on both sides.
We are absolutely willing to help if we can find someone with the necessary legal knowledge. Fortunately, our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are making a major effort to develop global legal expertise, and we plan to call on them in such situations. In any situation, US or non-US, we’ll see what we can do based on the facts and our resources.
We have no plans for a test case. We are focusing on building relationships with legal advocacy groups like the EFF and developing legal resources of our own.
One of the most exciting and helpful developments in copyright of late has been the development of “best practices,” principles and procedures establishing what constitutes fair use in the judgment of a community of creative users. Best practices can successfully defend fair use rights even without litigation—see the statement of best practices in fair use. It is our position that, at a minimum, noncommercial, transformative fanworks are fair use, and the OTW will defend that position, just as the documentary filmmakers are using their best practices to make films and do business without litigation.
No. Profit matters, and the degree of transformative quality matters: telling stories around a campfire, freely sharing nonprofit fanfiction, summarizing plot in a book review, or making a documentary film about fans is not the same as a major commercial derivative enterprise like making a major TV miniseries out of a novel.
Most countries have exceptions to copyright rights for various purposes. In Europe, the more common term is “fair dealing.” Countries differ in their treatment of the scope of copyright and exceptions.
For example, in Canada, parody is not a specifically recognized defense to copyright infringement, although it can be fair dealing in appropriate circumstances. Australia has limited protections regarding the freedom of communications. The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property in the UK is expected to bring about changes in UK laws regarding parody and transformative use.
In other words, it’s complicated. And it’s ever-changing.
Because the OTW and its servers are based in the US, we believe that US law applies to content in the Archive of Our Own, even if the author is a resident or national of a different country. However, different countries make different claims about the reach of their laws. Your country of origin’s laws are likely to apply to you. It is possible that some sections of the OTW policies are broader, or perhaps more restrictive, than a specific jurisdiction’s laws.
Other organizations that serve an international audience are dealing with the varying legal regimes under which their users live, work and play. Creative Commons, for example, has developed a multi-step process to “port” their licenses internationally by “both linguistically translating the licenses and legally adapting them to particular jurisdictions.”
Ideally, we would like to develop a similar process within the OTW, but for the time being, we are happy to work with our friends at EFF when engaging in legal advocacy outside the United States. If you would like to work on non-US legal issues or education, please contact the Volunteers Committee.
This is essentially a personal decision. If it will upset you to read, view, or watch fanworks based on your works, then don’t.
Authors are sometimes advised to avoid reading or acknowledging fanfiction transforming their own work, as it is in theory possible that an author could read a story, go on to write something similar, and face a claim by the fan that they copied the fan’s work. There are many reasons to discount this risk, the least of which is that U.S. case law is all in the first author’s favor: no court is going to be receptive to a claim that a later work by the first author in the same universe infringes the fanwork. Among other things, when people begin with similar premises, it isn’t at all surprising that they will end up with similar ideas — but U.S. copyright law protects the specific expression of an idea, not ideas. Even if a fan work is similar to a later work in the same universe, similarity of ideas (say, how wand magic works in Harry Potter) isn’t sufficient for a copyright claim.
However, not being able to win doesn’t erase the possibility that someone could threaten to sue. The real issue is that it doesn’t take a fanwork to generate a threat! If an author reads fan mail or online reviews, they might encounter a fan’s ideas about what should happen with the characters; if they read other books, they might encounter a storyline or character similar to a storyline or character they might later use. In fact, the typical author-versus-author infringement case involves claims that one work copied another, apparently unrelated work.
The OTW’s mission includes explaining the difference between ideas and expression. A lot of people may have the same idea about what should happen on the next season of House; but if they each write different stories expressing the idea differently, then those stories don’t infringe each other.
Donations and Membership
Yes, if you’re a United States resident. Unfortunately, we cannot accept checks from outside the US at the moment. Please fill out our donation form, select the “I will send payment by check” option, and send your check to:
Organization for Transformative Works, Inc.
228 Park Ave S #18156
New York, New York 10003-1502
Check donations may take up to 3 weeks to be deposited. If you have any questions, please contact the Development & Membership team.
Yes, if you donate in US dollars, but cash and money orders will only be accepted as a non-membership donation. For membership purposes, we need to be able to connect your payment with a bank account or credit card so that we can verify that you’re a real person and an individual when we hold elections.
To donate, send the money to:
Organization for Transformative Works, Inc.
228 Park Ave S #18156
New York, New York 10003-1502
If you have any questions about this, please contact the Development & Membership team.
Yes, you can make donations online using our donation form. (Please note that we cannot accept cash or check donations in currencies other than US dollars.) When you donate using our online form, you will be asked to specify the donation amount in US dollars on the form; afterwards, you can complete the payment using a credit card or PayPal.
Please contact the Development & Membership team or PayPal support for further assistance.
Yes, in the United States. The OTW is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all donations made to us are tax-deductible. Our Employer Identification Number is 38-3765024; it will also be included in your donation receipt for your records.
Please note that if you are located outside the US, your contribution may or may not be tax-deductible. You should consult with a tax adviser and see whether a gift to a US 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization qualifies for a tax deduction under your local laws.
Please contact the Development & Membership team if you have further questions about this.
For membership donations, we need to link each donation to a specific individual for legal purposes, in order to avoid one person giving multiple times and having the right to several votes. (Read Why do you require a membership fee to give someone the right to vote in OTW elections? below to know more.)
If you wish to donate without providing an address, you can make a non-membership donation using cash or money order (only in US dollars). Please refer to Can I donate via cash or money order? above.
Please contact the Development & Membership team if you have further questions.
A membership donation makes you an OTW member: you can vote in our annual elections for the Board of Directors. For more information about our elections process, please visit the OTW Elections website or contact the Elections team.
A non-membership donation, while greatly appreciated, does not make you an OTW member and confers no voting benefits.
Like many nonprofits, the OTW uses a membership fee as a straightforward and easy-to-check requirement to ensure that each member is a single individual. Otherwise one person could create multiple membership accounts to have multiple votes in our elections.
These fees also go to help support the OTW—to pay the operating costs for both the organization and all of our projects, so that we do not need to use advertising or charge fees to users. We intend to keep our minimum donation low to ensure that it is not a barrier to entry for anyone who cares about the organization, but we hope that most members will give more if they can!
To ensure that all voting members of the OTW are in fact real individuals in order to hold fair elections, we cannot allow gift memberships. You’re welcome to make donations in honor of others through our form, but these donations will not confer membership status upon them.
No. OTW memberships and AO3 accounts are not linked in any way. To get an AO3 account, please join the invitation queue. Donations to the OTW help us keep the Archive running, so we welcome your support, but we are committed to offering AO3 as a free service for everyone. There is no connection between individual donations and accounts on the Archive.
If you have questions about AO3 invitations, please contact AO3 Support.
Your membership lasts for one year counting from your most recent donation. If your donation is received by the “Record Date” for an election or vote, you’ll be eligible to vote in that election, and you’ll receive email notifications with more information about an election or vote when it occurs. The “Record Date” for an election or vote will be 30-60 days before an election ends, and the date(s) of any election period will be publicized at least 14 days before the Record Date.
If you’re not sure when you last donated, please contact the Development & Membership team.
Your donation supports the OTW’s operations and its projects. We’re an all-volunteer organization, so the bulk of our expenses goes towards our projects’ upkeep.
To learn more about our recent expenses and prospective budget, check out the following:
- Recent budget posts, with information on expenses and goals;
- Our Annual Reports, which include balance sheets for the last fiscal year and information on our projects’ progress;
- Our recent tax filings.
If you have any more questions, please contact the Development & Membership team.
There’s currently no way of earmarking donations for a single OTW project or expense. There are several expenses that are non-project-specific and related to the organisation as a whole: for instance, the software that our volunteers use to host meetings and make plans; the server hosting that works for both our internal documentation and AO3 content; and the firewall that protects Fanlore, the Archive and our internal storage. Donations go towards the upkeep of all these and other OTW projects.
Thank-you gifts are optional items that you may choose to receive if you donate over US$40. The list of gifts available changes regularly. Please visit our donation form to know what the current selection is.
Yes! Please contact the Development & Membership team and let us know which gift you’d like. When you reach that donation total, we’ll send the gift to you.
Visit our Recurring Donations form to make a recurring donation.
If you select the membership option, recurring donations will count towards membership.
To cancel your recurring donation, select your last contribution in PayPal and go to “Manage payments for …,” or go to the Payments tab on your PayPal Settings page. Recurring donations cannot be edited. If you wish to change your recurring donation, you must first cancel it and then set up a new one.
To change the credit card used in a donation, you will need to alter the PayPal transaction details. Please refer to PayPal help for more information about this, and contact PayPal support for assistance.
No. Providing an email address for the ‘In Honor of’ section of the donation form is optional and does not generate any notification, although the honoree will receive any general emails sent to all donors.
All our currently open positions are listed on the Volunteer page. If a position you are interested in isn’t listed there at this time, check the page again later, and keep an eye out for new openings. We always publish information about new positions on OTW news outlets.
The Open Doors project of the Organization for Transformative Works is dedicated to preserving fanworks for the future. Our goal in particular is to preserve those fannish projects that might otherwise be lost due to lack of time, interest, or resources on the part of the current maintainer.
Organization for Transformative Works
The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms.
OTW was created to work toward a future in which all fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative, and accepted as legitimate creative activity.
Our mission is to be proactive and innovative in protecting and defending our work from commercial exploitation and legal challenge, and to preserve our fannish economy, values, and way of life by protecting and nurturing our fellow fans, our work, our commentary, our history, and our identity, while providing the broadest possible access to fannish activity for all fans.
A transformative work takes something extant and turns it into something with a new purpose, sensibility, or mode of expression.
Transformative works include but are not limited to fanfiction, real person fiction, fan vids, and fan art. The OTW is interested in all kinds of transformative works, but our priority will be to support and defend the types of works hosted in our archive, and the fans who create them.
The term transformative was specifically chosen to highlight in the nonprofit organization’s name one of the key legal defenses for fanworks of all kinds (including real person fiction): that they are transformative of original source materials.
A transformative use is one that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, “adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the [source] with new expression, meaning, or message.” A story from Voldemort’s perspective is transformative, so is a story about a pop star that illustrates something about current attitudes toward celebrity or sexuality.
The courts have also analyzed “right of publicity” claims against creative works by using the transformative use test from copyright law, so this also applies to one of the main legal issues real person fiction faces. Because one of our primary goals is to defend the right of fanworks to exist, having a key defense for them in our name is important to the organization.
The OTW neither wants to nor can speak for all of fandom: fandom is huge, no matter how you define it. Right now, the OTW wants to provide a useful, searchable, reliable and stable home for all fanfiction regardless of rating or fandom, and in the longer term expand to other fanworks. In order to do that, we’re trying to set up a stable, defensible infrastructure—that’s the OTW.
We welcome all fandoms in the OTW’s projects, including the Archive of Our Own, the Transformative Works and Cultures journal, and the Fanlore wiki. All of us engaged in making transformative fannish works face a common set of legal issues; we’d like to help fellow fans fight off pointless cease & desist letters, or find legal help if they’ve got a good case and want to pursue it.
We are trying to find allies and make connections before there’s any trouble, while also explaining to the world why there shouldn’t be trouble, because fans are loyal customers.
The OTW has its roots in a fan community with a decades-long history as a community made up mostly of women. Today, due to the internet and new technology, that community and its interests are rapidly growing in various ways and intersecting with other fan communities with different histories. We are excited and hopeful about the way our community is expanding and meeting with other varieties of remix culture, and we welcome anyone who wants to do what we’re doing. At the same time, it is still important to us to acknowledge that this particular creative community is a place created and shaped so strongly by the tastes of women, because that is historically a pretty rare and amazing thing.
OTW values all fans, and the contributions made by fans of all genders. As the Organization grew out of a practice of transformative fanwork historically rooted in a primarily female culture, we also specifically value that history of women’s involvement, and the practices of fandom shaped by women’s work.
Many organizations, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, focus on issues and interests related to fandom; the OTW is specifically focusing on issues relating to transformative works of fanfiction, fanvids, and fanart.
OTW is an organization created by fans, for fans. It’s run by a board of directors. See About Us for more information.
The 2007-2008 Board was appointed to get the OTW up and running. All subsequent boards are elected by OTW members. It is the Board’s responsibility to organize committees, make final decisions, keep financial records, handle compliance, and so on.
Board members are asked to serve three-year terms. One-third of the Board is elected every year. The Board is elected from among members in good standing who have served at least one term on a committee. Every member of the OTW gets one vote in the election, regardless of how much they contribute. If you are interested in running for the Board, please contact Elections staff. For more information about our elections process, please visit the OTW Elections website.
The Board determines which committees should be organized, then appoints chairs to those committees and approves committee members chosen by the chairs. The initial committee members were chosen from people who responded to the first public “Willing to Serve” call for volunteers.
You might also be interested in Fanlore, the OTW’s fandom preservation wiki, and helping add information there. (A good place to start is the Fanlore wishlist, where current editors post where they’d like assistance).
For more information, please visit our Volunteering FAQ.
We welcome everyone who wishes to discuss sources (shows, bands, sports players, anime, etc.) and fandom; we welcome everyone who creates or enjoys fanfiction, vids, fanart, and other kinds of transformative works.
OTW translators work in two tiers: Translation staff and the language teams. Staff coordinates translation assignments and liaises with the other committees. Language teams vary in size (with at least one translator and one beta reader) and consist of volunteers who are either native speakers, or fluent in a language other than English.
This site is being translated by volunteers in their free time. We decided to release core information in your respective language as soon as it was ready, even though the full site translation has not been completed yet. We are working on eventually making all content available to you, but please understand that this takes time.
Please contact us with your question and we’ll be happy to answer it.
Transformative Works and Cultures
The journal is meant to provide a space for academic analysis of individual transformative works and the larger culture of fandom from which they come, helping to demonstrate the social, educational, and aesthetic value of fandom and fannish works.
A successful journal will also help fans who happen to be interested in engaging in fandom in a more theoretical and academic way to share their scholarship more widely, improving communication between fans and academia, as well as provide a theoretical background for OTW’s mission of explaining and preserving fandom and transformative fanworks. The journal will also explain the context of particular works to help establish fanworks as creative art in their own right.
Transformative Works and Cultures comes out twice a year, on March 15 and September 15.
Detailed online submission guidelines are available at the Transformative Works and Cultures website.
We welcome submissions from everyone as long as the contribution complies with Transformative Works and Cultures‘s focus and scope.
Transformative Works and Cultures prints peer-reviewed academic articles about transformation, broadly conceived, about fan engagement with various sorts of texts, and about fan communities; editorially reviewed meta articles and personal essays; book reviews; and interviews.
Beginning with TWC No. 25, essays are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For an explanation of the journal’s reasoning, see the September 15, 2017, editorial, Copyright and Open Access.
This license permits both noncommercial and commercial use with attribution. For that reason, entities, such as presses, who wish to reprint articles (even for commercial purposes) do not need to obtain copyright release paperwork.
TWC Nos. 1 through 24 are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. For Nos. 1 through 24, TWC, not the author, retains copyright. Anyone seeking to reproduce content for profit, including authors, must obtain permission from TWC. Such permission is routinely granted for free.
Because Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) is a multimedia journal that publishes screen shots, embeds videos, and uses hyperlinks, the journal must appear online. PDFs are unable to adequately duplicate the interactive experience of the journal.
Further, because TWC copyrights under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, fans may wish to transform the journal by creating PDFs of content and making it generally available. As long as the document provides the URLs of the original source, and as long as the poster does not charge money, this activity is perfectly acceptable under the terms of the CC license. In fact, TWC encourages such transformative fan activity.
Finally, TWC is bucking the importance the academy places on print media. If we created official PDFs, these documents, not the online versions, would be treated as authoritative merely because of the privilege print is provided in the academic publishing industry—and yet the PDF will always be a second-rate static snapshot of an interactive document.
The OTW is an all-volunteer organization, so everyone serving is doing so on voluntary basis. At the same time, our roles have differing levels of responsibility and commitment, which we distinguish by using the terms volunteer and staff.
Generally, a volunteer serves as part of a pool (e.g. tag wranglers, coders, testers, translators) or a workgroup with specific and focused tasks to complete. Pool volunteers typically are not required to attend meetings; workgroup volunteers may be expected to do so. Volunteers do not hold a vote within their respective committee unless they also serve as committee staff.
Staff serve on an OTW committee, are expected to attend meetings, and actively participate in committee business and projects. The time required of staff is often higher than for volunteers. Also, after nine months of service as staff, an individual is eligible to run for a seat on the Board of Directors.
Yes; many OTW staffers dedicate their time to multiple roles. However, we ask that you seriously consider the time demands involved in the roles you’re interested in and the time you have to give to the organization. It can be valuable to both our volunteers and the OTW when people serve in multiple roles, but we also want to make sure we don’t overload people with too much responsibility. All of our new position descriptions give an estimated time requirement for the role to help with managing expectations. It is also suggested that volunteers discuss taking on extra roles with their committee chair.
The OTW can only accept volunteering applications from people aged 16 years and over. Specific roles and committees may have required qualifications that limit participation to individuals 18 years of age or older.
All of the OTW’s volunteers work online, so you don’t need to be in any particular location. As long as you have access to an internet connection, you’re in the right place (and you’ll get to work with people from all over the world).
Absolutely! We very much welcome volunteers from around the world and from all backgrounds. As an organization that serves an international community, we have users and members whose first language is not English, and several of our committees and projects benefit from volunteers who have a background in more than one language. English is the ’lingua franca’ for the organization as a whole, so you will need to be able to work in English (but it doesn’t have to be perfect!). If you have specific concerns about applying for an open role, let Volunteers & Recruiting know, and they’ll put you in touch with the committee chair.
You will need stable access to the Internet, as we use web-based software and email to communicate. Some roles may require access to different websites or software. Access to these tools is free or paid for by the OTW.
The Organization for Transformative Works uses several third-party online tools, such as Basecamp and Campfire, that may not work well with some assistive technology. Our work is largely text-based, and some roles are extremely fast-paced, and require immediate online social interaction in the form of text-based chat.
If you have questions about a specific area of concern, please contact us and we will do our best to help.
We are currently only accepting applications for the listed roles. Part of our process is to only recruit for roles which are accepting new volunteers and are ready to train and bring them on board. However, we encourage you to keep your eye on the volunteer page and OTW News for the role you are interested in to be available. If you have more specific questions regarding roles, you can contact Volunteers & Recruiting.
While we welcome volunteers looking to gain a new experience, some of our roles do require certain skills and experience. Our ability to take on beginners for a particular role may also vary depending on how many experienced volunteers are available to train them. The experience and time requirements for each position are stated in the position’s description.
We encourage you to continue to check the volunteer page for open roles that match your qualifications. If you have questions regarding the requirements for a role, feel free to contact Volunteers & Recruiting.
You are welcome to use whichever name you would like when you volunteer. Some volunteers like to tie their work to their fandom identity and others prefer to use their legal name, especially if they plan to use their volunteer service on their resume or CV. You are welcome to do either, or to choose a completely new name to use.
If you are accepted to volunteer as a Tag Wrangler but do not wish to tie your wrangling to your existing account, your chairs can provide you with an invitation to set up a separate account for wrangling purposes. If you want to use your existing account, it does not need to match your OTW name, but please be aware that your OTW name may be linked with your AO3 name in the course of your wrangling work.
Please note: A limited number of roles do require you to use your legal name, as they involve work with outside organizations. This will always be noted in the position description or the application.
This depends on the type of role you’re interested in. After you press submit, the page will display information about what happens next, and you’ll be sent an automated confirmation message.
For roles which have a lot of positions available (e.g. a volunteer pool, like translation or tag wrangling): Volunteers & Recruiting will send on applications to the chair of the relevant committee and/or to the leads of the volunteer pools. The chair will then interview prospective applicants to see if they’d be a good fit. We’ll let everyone know the results of their application as soon as we can.
For roles which are only looking for a specific number of people (e.g. a staff role): Volunteers & Recruiting will save everyone’s applications and send them to the relevant chair at the end of the recruitment period. The chair will then interview prospective applicants to find the person who best fits the open roles. We’ll let everyone know the results of their application as soon as we can.
All applications should receive an auto-reply that explains the next steps in the process. To ensure it is delivered, we ask that you whitelist e-mails from *@transformativeworks.org.
If you have not received the auto-reply within 48 hours, check your spam filters and then please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the position you applied for and the name you used on the application.
No, no one in the Organization for Transformative Works receives monetary compensation for their work.
Contact Volunteers & Recruiting via the contact form and we’ll be more than happy to answer them for you, generally within 1 week. (If sending a question in a language other than English, a response may take up to an additional week.)