Welcome to our July 2010 newsletter. Get the updates on our activities — including changes to committees, a legal victory, and software improvements — just beneath the cut!
We released our mid-year report!
AD&T have been working hard on projects designed to help ensure the long-term stability and performance of the Archive. Our brilliant team of volunteers have been hard at work extending our suite of automated tests: as well as helping us keep an eye out for anything that breaks in the future, this work will enable us to make improvements to our existing code. It will also facilitate our upcoming upgrade to Rails 3, which we think will make our code much more efficient. In the midst of all this, we’ve been talking to the Board and Finance about our budget in the medium term, and are developing a plan for expanding our servers!
Design-wise, we’ve been discussing some major improvements to the Archive interface that (we hope) will make browsing and navigation much better. As part of this, we’ve been working with International Outreach to develop ideas for improving multi-language support and other international features. We won’t be making any of these changes until after our Rails upgrade, but we’re excited about the plans.
We also waved a fond goodbye to our Tag Wrangling Subcommittee, who have spread their wings and become a full committee in their own right. We’re proud to see how they have grown, and look forward to working closely with them in future.
The Board is celebrating the fantastic work being done all over the OTW, and is proud to help make it all happen — the recently announced DMCA exemption for vidders is the most visible achievement. We’ve worked with Tag Wrangling to help them become a full committee, and are working closely with the chairs of several committees to incorporate the amazing work done over the years by the Documentation team into their purview. We have also continued to liaise with our individual committees and to make sure that chairs have the personnel and resources they need.
The Communications team has been answering mail and dealing with the media over our DMCA exemption victory and also working with Legal to answer fans’ private legal queries on fannish matters. We are also thrilled to be collaborating with DevMem to build up our Public Relations arm: our new Press Room, featuring press releases and media mentions, and an increasingly beefed up presence on social network sites.
Content Policy is revising the Archive FAQ and thinking ahead to art policies.
Development & Membership:
We’ve been busy this month, and it’s all been the good, productive, and exciting kind of busy! We wrote and submitted two applications for Creative Commons Catalyst Grants, instituted honoree and memoriam donation capability on all OTW website donation forms, saw our social media presence grow in both influence and effectiveness, and collaborated with the Vidding and Legal Committees to create and distribute the press release announcing the Library of Congress ruling in favor of a DMCA exemption for vidders and other remix artists. We’re field testing the extreme-alpha version of our in-person OTW outreach kit by equipping an Otakon-attending OTW staffer with flyers, buttons, and hints on talking about OTW projects to help people find out about us, get excited, and get involved! We’re also starting plenty of new initiatives, including exploring new ways to reach out, working to implement membership expiration reminders, and applying for more grants to support all OTW projects. Finally, we’re excited to welcome a new committee member: jjtaylor, who most recently served with Docs, will join us beginning in August!
Our work here is done: Docs was originally created to get the OTW’s internal documentation up and running on an internal wiki, and we’ve reached a point where the other committees are using it to their best advantage. \o/ So it’s time for the Documentation Committee members to say a sad farewell to our beloved Docs, and move on to other things. Margie is stepping down from any formal role as she takes a break, while Amy, carpet_diemon, and JJ put their talents to work directly on other committees. Our thanks to everyone — it’s been an amazing ride. <3 Finance:
FinCom would like to wish everyone a happy Shark Week! We continue our swim through, ah, bill-infested waters, and are making progress on budgeting and capital project planning.
This month, we’ve had an exciting meeting with the AD&T design experts to talk about multi-language browsing in the archive. (We advise, they come up with clever solutions. It’s a great arrangement if you ask us!)
We also had some input on the archive’s forthcoming diversity statement and continue to do other behind-the-scenes work that we hope to report on in the next newsletter.
The TWC team is beginning work our sixth issue even as we put the finishing touches on work for our fifth, which entered production this month. Calls for papers for several guest-edited special issues have been released and are on TWC’s web site.
Legal and Vidding are thrilled at the OTW’s victory in obtaining a DMCA exemption for fan vidders and other noncommercial remix artists. See our blog posts for more details. The Legal committee has also been working behind the scenes to advise fans who have legal concerns.
We’ve had an exciting month! We’re super happy to welcome two new staffers aboard: Anne-Li and hermitsoul. Both are already making awesome contributions, including helping us go over our volunteer and staff induction procedures so we can give Volunteers & Recruiting accurate and up-to-date lists with an eye towards how induction will work come the Support Board.
We’re also RIDICULOUSLY excited for the new Tag Wrangler committee and have been discussing how the sister committees will be working together in the near future. The chairs of AD&T, Support, and Wrangling will be meeting next month to discuss in depth how the three committees will work together on the Support Board.
And speaking of the board (as we do, constantly), we’re reviewing some broad policies right now to make sure we get it right; we’re also focusing on separating our dreams of how the Board will work into the essentials and the things we would merely love super hard. These lists will be passed on to coders to help make their job easier (we love you!). So close!
And as always we continue to answer tickets. We love you guys!
Your Systems Monkeys have been setting up new monitoring software, which will help us (& AD&T) get more information about how the systems are running, and make better decisions for future expansion/purchases; we’re working on core Drupal updates (a seemingly never-ending task); and the back-up server is now backing up all databases, offloading that load from the main servers, and its disk space will soon be upgraded so it can back up files as well.
Tag Wrangling is thrilled to be a brand-new fully powered committee! We’ve existed as a subcommittee within AD&T for a while now, but with 133 volunteer Wranglers working around the world to organize (what was at last count) 99,666 tags, we outgrew subcommittee status! We’ll continue to be a sister committee to AD&T, working closely together with the coders, testers, and designers building the AO3, as well as continuing our strong relationship with the Support committee. In the past two weeks, we formed as a team, settled into our new organizational tools, met with other committees, and began to develop plans for the remainder of the term. We’re excited at our new role, and ready to forge ahead!
The Vidding and Legal committees are celebrating their triumph in the DMCA exemption for vidders and noncommercial remixers! We are also in the process of putting together proposals on the Dark Archive and the Torrent of Our Own for the Board.
Volunteers & Recruiting:
VolCom have been tightening up our committee procedures and examining our workflow this month. A few incredibly productive meetings have charged us up to research new options for a better, more intuitive volunteers database; to eliminate duplicated tasks, unnecessary bottlenecks, and confusing processes; and to comb through our records to make certain they are consistent and up to date. We’re also documenting what we do and why we do it, with an eye to training new committee members in the future, keeping our work, and that of the OTW, sustainably staffed. We’ll soon be taking on the administration of the OTW’s internal documentation wiki, a knowledgebase for which we’re indebted to the Documentation Committee. This month, at the direction of the Board, we created a new committee — Tag Wrangling — and equipped them to do the work necessary to their goals. We also, of course, continue to do the rewarding day-to-day work of welcoming new volunteers to the organization, and to brainstorm ways to remove barriers to donating time and effort to the OTW.
The Webmasters are focused on wrapping up ongoing projects and performing software upgrades to prepare for the busy season ahead. We recently installed some new software to help with translation workflow and version control, which we hope will make life easier for our friends in International Outreach. We’ve also created a new Press Room page to showcase media mentions of the OTW.
The Wiki committee welcomed a new member, Amy, who will be our much needed tech guru. Work continues on category refinement, the FAQ, and the templates for the new Image policy. We’ve also added a “Wish list” to the menu on the front page. This is a running list of things that need work on the wiki, which we hope will provide some prompts or ideas for people who want to contribute but aren’t sure where to start.