March Drive – Spotlight on International Membership and Community!

In this last spotlight post of our March Membership Drive we want to talk about the importance of international diversity, and how central that diversity is to the organizational vitality and inclusive mission of the OTW. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re in a fandom that uses English as its lingua franca. With many EFL (English as a foreign language) fans “passing” as native speakers, there’s often the default assumption that everyone is US-American. But as anyone who was surprised to discover that their favourite author is actually from Israel, or Argentina, or Malaysia knows: that assumption is only true on the surface.

The OTW was conceived in this same international, English-speaking space. And because the organization is incorporated in the USA and is shaped by US laws, the misleading assumption doubly applies. But like the fandoms we call home, we have always been global. We are OTW members, supporters, coders, translators, volunteers. We are Australian, Dutch, Polish, Brazilian. We are not tokens. We are not ornamental. We are, and have always been, at the heart of the OTW: right here in this international, virtual space.

We’ll let volunteers’ individual voices speak for themselves below:
Celebrating FandomInfrastructure & PreservationInternational Collaboration

Why Diversity?

International diversity, like any other form of diversity, enriches us. Variable points of view make every step we take stronger, because that variation ensures that we have looked at the potential impacts of our actions. Diversity of all sorts isn’t a buzzword for us — it’s real and powerful. It has a valuable effect on our projects that we see in real-time, as we gain feedback throughout every process. It’s something we think is worth actively pursuing in our membership, in the users of OTW projects including the AO3 and Fanlore, and in our volunteers. The effects are better feedback, improved accessibility, better overall products, and a stronger mission. Without that, we are less. Without that, we weaken our chance at succeeding. We are international — and we’re determined to become even more so.

We’re not going to pretend that the organization is not US-dominated. It is! But not as much than you may think, as we hope we can show with this post. You’re not any less welcome, or your perspective and experiences any less important. We’re listening. Join us, and add your voice to the OTW.

Celebrating Fandom

With members hailing from 37 countries, the OTW is amazingly international. Even with a membership so diverse, there’s still one thing we can all agree on: fandom – in its myriad realizations – is deeply important to our lives, and being part of the OTW is one way to express this.

L’année dernière, en l’espace de quelques mois, je me suis créé un compte Dreamwidth, j’ai délurké, j’ai commencé à poster des fanarts et à m’inscrire à toutes sortes de challenges. Je me suis faite des amies extraordinaires en ligne et dans la vraie vie. J’étais prête à crier mon amour du fandom sur tous les toits!
Me joindre à l’équipe de l’OTW était inévitable. Quelle autre organisation représente aussi merveilleusement la créativité, l’entraide et le potentiel innovateur immense des communautés de fans? Xen, Canada

Last year, in the space of a few months, I created a dreamwidth account, I delurked, I started posting fanarts and signed up for all manners of challenges. I made amazing friends both online and in real life. I wanted to scream my love for fandom on every rooftop!
Joining the OTW was inevitable. What other organization can represent the amazing creativity, support and innovation potential of fan communities?

OTW: Why So Awesome — Xenakis, with instant translation by Yue

Tranformatiivisten teosten järjestö (OTW). Faneilta faneille. Meidän oma järjestömme, joka ajaa meidän asiaamme. Eikö siinä ole jo tarpeeksi syytä olla kiinnostunut OTW:sta? Minulle OTW on ennen kaikkea yhteisö, joka vaalii meidän kultturiamme ja joka edistää faniuden ymmärtämistä niin akateemisella kuin laillisella tahollakin. OTW tekee töitä niiden asioiden eteen, joihin minä haluan muutosta. Haluan, että lainsäätäjät ottavat huomioon fanien tarpeet, kun he säätävät lakeja. Haluan, että faniutta ymmärrettään syvemmällä tasolla. Haluan, että fandom omistaa serverit. Haluan olla osa tätä yhteisöä. Siksi olen OTW:n vapaaehtoinen. Helka, Finland

Organization for Transformative Works. By fans for fans. Our own organization that works with our concerns. Isn’t that reason enough to be interested in OTW? For me, OTW is above all a community that preserves and celebrates our culture and that furthers knowledge about fans in both academic and legal contexts. OTW works for those issues in which I want to see change. I want the legislators to take into account fans’ needs when they draft laws. I want fannishness to be understood on a deeper level. I want fandom to own the servers. I want to be part of this community. That’s why I’m an OTW volunteer.

¿Un proyecto soñado, ideado y llevado adelante completamente por mujeres?, ¿orientado a proteger nuestro derecho a ser creativas y disfrutar de la creatividad de otras mujeres sin por ellos ser consideradas delincuentes? La pregunta realmente, debería ser, ¿cómo no interesarme?
La OTW representa todo aquello que amo del fandom: la solidaridad, la creatividad, el esfuerzo en común y el idealismo.
Cuando surgió la oportunidad de ayudar, de involucrarme a través del equipo de traducción, no lo dudé ni por un instante. Porque quiero ser parte de la esto. Me enorgullece ser parte de esto.
Mujeres de todo el mundo, creando juntas un espacio nuevo. ¿Orgullosa?
¡Pueden apostarlo! birggitt, Argentina

A project dreamed, conceived and carried out entirely by women?, designed to protect our right to be creative and enjoy other women’s creativity without being criminalized? The question really should be, how could I not to be interested?
The OTW represents everything I love in fandom: solidarity, creativity, common effort and idealism.
When the opportunity arose to help, to get involved through the translation team, I did not hesitate, not for a moment.
Because I want to be part of this. I am proud to be part of it. Women around the world, creating a new space together.
Proud? You bet it!

Infrastructure & Preservation

Even though the Archive of Our Own and Open Doors projects are currently only available in English, it is one of our clear goals to make this valuable infrastructure available to local, monolingual communities as well as to our bilingual users. And bilingual users we have: while US users reigned supreme in February 2010, more Russian than Australian readers accessed the AO3, followed by Canada, the UK, Germany, Finland, New Zealand and Poland – overall, our stats show access from more than 60 countries.

Das deutsche Fandom steckt noch in den Kinderschuhen; viele Fans sind noch relativ jung und außer zwei, drei großen Archiven gibt es keine nennenswerte Infrastruktur. Das liegt sicherlich auch daran, dass viele Fans, sobald sie älter sind, ins englische Fandom abwandern; vielleicht, weil ihre Lieblingsshows nur in Amerika oder Großbritannien laufen oder weil sie dort ein größeres Publikum haben. Ich denke, die OTW hat durch ihr Archiv die einmalige Möglichkeit, jüngere und ältere deutsche Fans wieder zusammenzubringen und gerade die jüngeren für Fragen zu interessieren, die über das Posten und Kommentieren von Fanfictions hinausgehen. Sevil, Germany

German fandom is still relatively young; the average age of fans is 14-17 years (my own estimation) and there is no infrastructure beyond two or three big archives. It might have to do with German fans leaving for English fandom once they are comfortable enough with the language – maybe because their favourite shows are only shown in America or Britain or maybe because they find a larger audience for their works. I believe that through their archive, the OTW has the power to reunite younger and older German fans, awaking an interest in fannish things beyond posting and commenting in younger fans and renew the older fans’ interest in “the German part of things”.

L’OTW est une organisation composées de fans, à propos des fans et leurs réalisations. Elle nous offre une voix.
En tant que lurkeuse, lectrice, auteur, fanartiste, et bien d’autres encore en tant que fan je supporte le droit de chacun de pouvoir créer et recréer des oeuvres. L’audace, la créativité et la diversité des voix des fans méritent d’être entendues et préservées. Yue, Canada

The OTW is an organization of fans, about fans and their creations. It gives us a voice.
As a lurker, reader, author, graphic artist, fanartist, and more – as a fan – I support everyone’s right to create and recreate and transform works. The audacity, creativity and diversity of fan voices are worth being heard and preserved.

OTW Gives Us A Voice — Yue, with instant translation by Xenakis

International Collaboration

The volunteer force behind the OTW’s projects is a world in microcosm. One of the first things new AO3 Tag Wranglers get in their training materials, for example, is a recommendation for a time zone converter — so that they can have an idea of when other Wranglers may be around — and that brings home the importance of accessibility, international and otherwise, in a very practical and personal sense. That’s true throughout the OTW: we’re an organization that stretches past the horizon in all directions.

One of the most interesting things I’ve been part of as an OTW volunteer is the tag wrangler discussions of and resource building for consistent transcription for fandoms with sources in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Russian etc. OTW volunteers have some amazing language skills, come from so many places and are quite awesome. Vera, Australia

Durch meine Entdeckung des internationalen Fandoms tat sich mir die Welt auf. Trotz sprachlicher Probleme und irrwitzig abweichender Zeitzonen fand ich Freunde in Kanada, in Neuseeland, in Singapur. Ich durfte erfahren, wie viel ich mit all diesen Menschen gemeinsam hatte, obwohl sie so weit von mir entfernt lebten. Ich lernte – oft ganz nebenbei – Dinge über ihre Heimatländer und Kulturen, die ich sonst nie gehört hätte.
Fandom profitiert von der Vielfältigkeit seiner Mitglieder. Deswegen engagiere ich mich bei der OTW: Ich will helfen, kulturelle und sprachliche Schwellen überwindbar und unsere Projekte für jeden Fan zugänglich zu machen. Sabeth, Austria

My discovery of international fandom opened up the world for me. Despite linguistic difficulties and crazily divergent time zones I made friends in Canada, in New Zealand, in Singapore. I learned how much I had in common with all these people despite their living so far away. I was told – often in passing – things about their native countries and cultures that I would never have learned otherwise.
Fandom benefits from the diversity of its members. That’s why I got involved with the OTW: I want to help make cultural and linguistic hurdles conquerable. I want our projects to be accessible to every fan.

I’m from the UK, and I love working with the mix of timezones in the org – it means there’s always someone awake and in chat, whether the rest of my country are awake or not. I like the mix of talk about AO3 work and talk about fannish stuff – a detailed debate on code easily turns into a squee-fest about a common fandom, and back again. It means that getting stuff done is also fun. Cesy, UK

OTW Member Home Countries

Australia – Austria – Bangladesh – Belgium – Brazil – Canada – Chile – Czech Republic – Denmark – Estonia – Finland – France – Germany – Greece – Hong Kong – Ireland – Israel – Italy – Japan – Lithuania – Malta – Mexico – Netherlands – New Zealand – Philippines – Poland – Romania – Russian Federation – Serbia – South Africa – Sweden – Switzerland – Timor-Leste – Turkey – United Kingdom – United States – Uruguay

Support the diverse voices of the OTW — donate, join us, and help keep us strong.


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