Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today’s post is with James Kruk, who volunteers as an AO3 Support Staffer.
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
I volunteer with the AO3 Support Committee, which has the responsibility of answering any questions about how to use the site. Really, it’s about making AO3 as accessible to as many as people as possible, and helping them get the most out of the Archive.
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
AO3 Support has a fairly steady rhythm day-to-day. When people send in a request for technical support and feedback, it generates a support ticket, where it will be claimed or assigned to a Support volunteer. From there, we figure out what the response should be, or whether it needs to be passed along to another group, such as the AO3 Abuse Team (who deal with questions related to the Terms of Service), or to our translation team. Sometimes we get inundated with tickets (such as whenever the Archive goes offline for a few minutes), or when major events like Yuletide come along. And while it’s never entirely quiet, some weeks are smoother than others.
Some tickets can be answered in a manner of minutes, but many require some research, testing, and consulting with other volunteers. The questions users come to us with really can be about anything, so every week usually involves tinkering with something new. One week it’s figuring out if AO3 is compatible with the Tor Browser, the next, it’s figuring out how Google Chrome renders combining diacritics.
What made you decide to volunteer?
Way before I applied to volunteer, I’d been preaching the benefits of AO3 to everyone in my writing circles, trying to convey to them just how awesome of a platform it was. I found I really enjoyed showing off all the neat things you could do with the site, and I loved to tout its policy of maximum inclusiveness.
Eventually, I realized that my enthusiasm could maybe be made to actually help the Archive itself. With AO3 Support, I’ve found I’ve been able to directly improve people’s experiences of using the Archive, helping them enjoy it the same way I do. And that has been incredibly rewarding.
What’s the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?
Helping authors publish their fics the way they want them to appear. Sometimes that involves showing writers how to embed images in a work, how to right-align text, how to format line breaks or add in a hyperlink. You can do a ton of cool things with HTML to get your story to look just how you imagine, and helping authors with the finishing touches is extremely rewarding.
What fannish things do you like to do?
I write fanfiction as regularly as I’m able to. I remember typing up Star Wars adventures on my computer when I was maybe ten years old, and I don’t believe that the bug ever really left me. I began publishing in earnest around 2013, and soon made AO3 my home for all my works. I used to stick primarily in one or two fandoms and wrote mostly in the same genre, but I’ve grown much more comfortable experimenting over the years, both in terms of style and subject. I crossed the half-million word mark not too long ago, and have no plans to stop now!
Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you’d like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.