May 2023 Newsletter, Volume 178

I. BOARD OF DIRECTORS UPDATES

The Board knows that it needs to improve its internal and external communication about updates on ongoing work and we have published an update on the commitments we’ve made in 2020 to combat racism in our platforms. We completely understand that it’s often frustrating for volunteers and fans alike when various discussions and projects take a long time to move forward. The Board will do its best to provide ongoing updates on these projects.

We have also scheduled a public meeting on the 2nd of July at 20:00 UTC (What time is that for me?), where anyone present will be welcome to ask any questions you may have. The meetings are held in the OTW Board’s Discord server.

On the topic of AI, we’ve published a news post clarifying our current stance on AI and data scraping, as well as the actions we’ve taken regarding data scraping of AO3 works so far. At the moment, the Archive’s Terms of Service do not forbid works created (fully or partly) with the use of AI tools. In December 2022, the AO3 development team deployed code disallowing Common Crawler, the scraper for datasets used to train ChatGPT and others, from collecting data on the Archive. Please access AI and Data Scraping on the Archive to read more about this topic.

On the subject of efforts towards combating harassment, racism and bigotry on our website and organization, last year, the Board recruited a Diversity Consultant Research Officer, with the task of gathering information on the OTW’s requirements for a Diversity Consultant, contacting prospective companies that are suitable for our characteristics as an organization, and presenting candidates for the Board to select. The officer is currently interviewing OTW volunteers and making a list of likely firms for the OTW to approach.

Another ongoing process towards this same goal is a review of AO3’s Terms of Service, which started in 2020. While the review is still in progress, the Policy & Abuse and Legal teams have agreed on some changes about harassment in general, and about works created with the clear intent of making AO3 unwelcoming, which we believe will be valuable in protecting fans of color against racist harassment in the future.

II. AT THE AO3

In May, Open Doors completed the import of Viggorli Secret Santa, a Lord of the Rings RPS fanfiction gift exchange focused on the Viggo Mortensen/Orlando Bloom pairing. Open Doors also announced the import of The Weir/McKay Fanfiction Archive, a Stargate Atlantis fanfiction archive.

Policy & Abuse received “just” 1999 tickets in April! We like nice, even numbers, but 1999 is a nice number, too. At the time of this writing, Support’s tickets were trending a little bit lower in May, with a projected total of around 1500 seeming likely.

Meanwhile, in April, Tag Wrangling wrangled more than 472,000 tags across more than 57,000 fandoms, more than a thousand tags per active wrangler!

III. FANLORE OUTREACH

May was a busy month for Fanlore. Its editing chat in its Discord server, focused on link archiving, was a big success. Thanks to everyone who took part! Also in May, Fanlore celebrated Comics Month across its social channels. Check out the pages highlighted on the Fanlore Tumblr page.

It’s not too late to join in Fanlore’s recent activities! Its annual Fanlore Bingo Challenge is in full swing from Monday, June 5, to Sunday, June 18, and the theme is Fruits & Veggies! Any Fanlore visitors and editors, new and old alike, are invited to participate.

Fanlore also has a brand new help page, Help:Professional_Fanworks.

IV. BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION

Elections is busy preparing for the 2023 election season! The Board of Directors approved an update to Elections’ eligibility requirements in May to specify that all candidates must be 18 at the time they declare their candidacy.

If you’d like to vote this year, the deadline to become a member is June 30th. To be eligible for membership, you must make a donation of at least $10 USD between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, and check the Yes box to specify you want to become a member. If your donation receipt indicates you checked No to membership, you can still get in touch with the Development & Membership committee via our contact form and request your donation record be updated so you can vote this year!

V. ELSEWHERE AT THE OTW

Development & Membership is starting convention outreach work. Its first outing this year was at Eurocon in Sweden on June 8-11.

Legal worked with Communications to draft the June edition of the OTW Signal, focused on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the fair use case of Goldsmith v. Warhol. While the case did not come out the way that the OTW advocated for, its holding is limited and unlikely to have an impact on fanworks, especially noncommercial fanworks.

Finally, TWC recently announced a new special issue on AI and Fandom – submissions close Jan 1, 2024. TWC is also still accepting submissions for its special issue on Centering Blackness in Fan Studies until July 1, 2023.

VI. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

From 25 April to 24 May, Volunteers & Recruiting received 85 new requests, and completed 68, leaving us with 73 open requests (including induction and removal tasks listed below).

As of 24 May 2023, the OTW has 916 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Chairs: Claudia Rebaza & Eskici (Communications)
New Development & Membership Volunteers: Elsinore (Convention Specialist)
New Finance Volunteers: Monica Barraclough (Financial Analyst)
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Aletheran, Ali F, AlienOnTheRun, AllisonT, Ann-ul-Haq Leghari, B. Raven, daydreamorama, Evan, Felipe, Fir D, Grimsleigh, Isha, Izzy Wellert, juniverse, Jyka, Kanna, LadyOrpheus, lianneder, Lility, Linacs, Loth, lifeisyetfair, mblematic, Meep Linger, Mello, Montserrat, Monty, Morgan, OldScoil, PhaedraDB, Raiynn, Ranthy, RedRowan, Riella, Saturnina, Severyn, Skye, Solarium, Toffee, Wax and 1 other Tag Wrangler
New Translation Volunteers: Eskici (Volunteer Manager)
New TWC Volunteers: 1 Proofreader

Departing Committee Chairs: Jess Hindes & Kirsten Korona (Communications)
Departing Open Doors Volunteers: Francesca Coppa and 1 other Import Assistant
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Ohsodeluded and 4 other Tag Wranglers
Departing Translation Volunteers: Mirissa and 4 other Translators

For more information about the purview of our committees, please access the committee listing on our website.


The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

Newsletter
  1. EchoEkhi commented:

    Hi! You have recruited for two support volunteer positions in May, but your personnel movements list does not mention Support at all. Is that an intended omission?

    • Claudia Rebaza commented:

      Hello EchoEkhi —

      This is due to the time lag between when newsletter reports are submitted and when the newsletter goes out. It will usually be several weeks before candidates are selected from applications and interviews, and our Volunteers & Recruitment committee will then only report on new volunteers once the paperwork has gone through. In addition the newsletter this month is being released about a week later than usual, which adds to the lag. —

      Claudia Rebaza,OTW Communications

  2. omgtabby commented:

    “At the moment, the Archive’s Terms of Service do not forbid works created (fully or partly) with the use of AI tools.”

    Considering AI tools are trained almost entirely on content scraped without permission of the creators, you’re basically saying plagiarism is allowed on AO3.

    • Vedun commented:

      If you think AI generation is plagiarism, then your definition of plagiarism must be broad enough to include any fanworks set in preexisting intellectual property not owned by the creator of said fanwork. In which case, yes, that’s the point of Ao3

    • Tina commented:

      under the current definition of US law? no. and i imagine the otw is going to be cautious about arguing against it because giving an argument that includes ai generated work but excludes fanwork will be a tight one to walk (probably hinged on “human involvement”, but then what about fanworks that use machine-trained translators like deepl?).

    • Susi commented:

      The bigger issue is that OTW/AO3 probably does not want to get into enforcing AI-generated works. Tools meant to detect whether AI was used to create a work are ~incredibly inaccurate~. There are slews of horror stories online of innocent artists being accused of using AI to generate their works when they have the documents/files to show they did not. At a certain point, it would become a witchhunt. Nobody needs or wants that.

  3. Belton Yawn commented:

    I’d love to see what kind of logical acrobatics led AO3 to the conclusion that plagiarism is totally fine as long as it’s ChatGPT doing it.

    • Vedun commented:

      I’d love to see what kind of logical acrobatics led you to the conclusion that ChatGPT is doing plagiarism.

    • tina commented:

      the otw tends to adhere to american law, and they currently do not define stuff like chatgpt as plagiarism. pretty simple.

  4. No AI on AO3 commented:

    AI-generated “works” should only be allowed if the poster can prove it was trained only on public domain works and works whose authors have consented to have their stuff scraped. Otherwise, the poster should be required to credit every single source the “work” copypastes from or be banned for plagiarism. Oh, that’s not possible? Then learn how to write instead of just typing prompts and pretending you created something.

    • Vedun commented:

      AI-generated works do not “copypaste” from any work in the dataset. Please educate yourself before talking, lest you embarrass yourself by exposing your ignorance.

      • Vedumb commented:

        JFC, AI stans are tiresome. AI is trained on other people’s work. It steals from actual content creators. Go back to your STEMbro circlejerk on Twitter or Reddit.

        • Vedun commented:

          If you call training a model “stealing” then either your definition of that word is contradictory and therefore useless or you believe all fanworks must honor every whim of the IP’s property, fair use notwithstanding.

    • Susi commented:

      Sounds like a witchhunt. Sounds terrible and awful. AI detection tools suck. The only thing that would happen is people will hurt other people with accusations.

  5. Punk commented:

    How many seats will be up for the Board of Directors election?

    • Claudia Rebaza commented:

      Hello Punk — There will be 4 seats to fill in the upcoming Board election. Just editing to add that the fourth seat is a partial term of two years. The candidate who places fourth will be elected to serve that partial term. — Claudia Rebaza, OTW Communications

  6. Rogue is still disappointed. commented:

    Once again you really clarified nothing on your stance in Ai, other than to say you consider Ai generated slop “””fanwork””” and worth archiving despite the fact is blatantly created through stealing actual writers work, it is a form of plagiarism.

    You haven’t done nearly enough.

    You also haven’t addressed why your legal chair and official representative of Ao3 to the *US Government* is spouting pro Ai drivel. She needs to resign or there is still going to be a lack of trust from your users from here on out.

    You need to do better by the users that make up the archive. By the fans FOR the fans remember?

    • Vedun commented:

      Why do you want corporations to have a tighter grasp on copyright and use that grasp to squeeze fan spaces out of even more???

      • Vedun commented:

        Immaturity from the anti-AI crowd? Why, yes, that is very predictable!

    • tina commented:

      hey friend, you’re not talking for all users or fans here, so maybe change the wording of your comment a bit. plenty of users and fans understand that the opinion of one person doesn’t equal the opinion of a non-profit with thousands of members, and that ai law is going to be tricky because a lot of the arguments for ai being straight up copyright infringment also apply to fanworks or have hard to draw lines (what about a writer using deepl to translate their fics or sentences within it, for example).

      • V commented:

        You do realize deepl is not only incapable of creating an accurate translation, but is actively pushing real translators out of their jobs and leaving the few left to correct it’s ramblings for barely a fraction of their previous pay and with no benefits left to speak of bc they’re now considered “independent contractors”, right? That is absolutely not a case of AI being used responsibly.

      • Rogue says Ai can suck my left nut commented:

        You and Vedun need to get a fucking a life. Vedun is clearly some Ai tech bro dick suckered, and while I understand that you can’t ACTUALLY suss out what is Ai generated without harming actual writers that does not mean that A03 needs to keep around a legal chair as their official representative to the US Government that gleefully supports it, or have the fucking gall to say to users that they ci aider Ai legit fanwork that needs to be preserved. You are putting an awful lot of words in people’s mouths with all your shitty little replies here. Don’t hey friend me when I know damn well that what I’m saying is supported by the majority of people who have been leaving comments on these news letters and speaking on the subject on other platforms.

        No one wants Ai, your opinion and Veduns opinions are the unwanted minority here.

        • Vedun commented:

          So you don’t want to be informed, you want to hate people for no reason, got it

    • V commented:

      I completely agree. It’s incredibly disheartening to see the archive siding with a source of plagiarism and devaluation of the arts over its own devoted writers and readers. They claim to be against data scraping, then allow the tool using that data to invade real writers and artists space. I never thought AO3, which has always claimed to support and protect fanworks, would devalue them like this. It’s sickening.

      • Vedun commented:

        If you think AI-generated works are “plagiarism”, your definition of plagiarism is either contradictory and therefore useless or so vague that fanworks set in intellectual property not owned by the fanwork creator also falls under that definition. Pick your poison

        • Rogue says Vedun is a bootlicking bitch or a paid tech shill commented:

          Fanworks are creates by humans using actual thought and creativity. Ai generated work is a program using what amounts to predictive text to slop stolen text together (stolen from ao3, stolen from published authors, stolen from people who have posted original free to read stories online) and can’t even manage to do that coherently half the time. The Ai isn’t going to fuck you, because it’s not actually intelligent.

          • Vedun commented:

            Who do you think operates AI? Aliens?
            Besides, if your definition of theft is vague enough to include AI generation, it is necessarily also vague enough to include any kind of fanwork set in the universe not owned by the fanwork’s creator

  7. a commented:

    Does the reason you’re considering AI transformative instead of ephemeral or spam content have anything to do with you dissolving your Content committee into Legal and thus under Betsy Rosenblatt? The same legal committee that can’t be voted on? Whose chair has publicly voiced support for AI, and given fairly pro- AI arguments to the US copyright office? When is there going to be transparency about this?

    • Vedun commented:

      It’s much simpler. The reason they’re considering AI transformative is because it is by the very nature of its function transformative.

      • a commented:

        Please stop responding to people’s fair questions with asinine responses. Thank you.

        • Vedun commented:

          I am answering with the fair answers. Sorry that the truth hurts.

          • anon commented:

            the word calculator isn’t gonna fuck you, Vedun

          • Vedun commented:

            Immaturity from the anti-AI crowd? Why, yes, that is very predictable!

      • Vedun commented:

        Immaturity from the anti-AI crowd? Why, yes, that is very predictable!

  8. Bell commented:

    Really not sure why you want to consider AI generated stuff a fan work when it’s roughly the equivalent of a spam email. Why bother letting it clog up the servers?

    • Vedun commented:

      It’s not even close to spam emails.

      • Vedun commented:

        Immaturity from the anti-AI crowd? Why, yes, that is very predictable!

  9. yesmissjane commented:

    I do not want AI generated works *welcomed* to our archive. The question of whether or not it is possible to definitively detect them is secondary to the question of whether or not they belong here. Large Language Models are not fans. Their output are not fanworks. I would appreciate a change in the Terms of Service that reflects that understanding.

    • Vedun commented:

      Do you think LLMs operate themselves? You’re akin to boomers who rally againt digital art claiming it not to be real art. Or, if we wanna delve into history, you’re akin to snobs rejecting photography, despite whom dadaist art prospered.