OTW Signal

OTW Signal, January 2021

Every month in OTW Signal we’ll take a look at stories that connect to the OTW’s mission and projects, including legal, technology, academic, fannish history, and preservation issues that are important for fandom, fan culture or transformative works.

In the News

Recently the podcast Pod on the Suit interviewed Open Doors staffer Acts of Tekla about the project’s work. The discussion covered both the digital imports of archives to AO3 and physical material preservation, as well as various details of the OTW’s workings, from how the Translation Committee operates to what you need to look for if you’re thinking about orphaning your works on AO3. Open Doors’ ability to preserve as well as its limitations were explained to listeners, as well as some of the inside details of working on the project.

There are varying degrees of automation that we can apply to imports, and we do try to focus them on the larger archives. But if an archive is no longer online, and it’s small, and it would be more trouble than it’s worth to write the code to put it into the format that could then be plugged into the AO3 Importer backend…then we do a fully manual import — which is basically the same thing as when you are adding your own fics to AO3…We actually have a process for working with the moderators, based on the structure and whatever the tags were or tagging-like elements that were available in the original archives, to create a list of tags and their AO3 equivalents. But we do not necessarily require the works to be tagged with the AO3 canonicals. It’s also to help the tag wranglers send those tags so that they show up in the right, with the right tagsets later.

Asked about rare finds to check out as a result of Open Doors’ work, Acts of Tekla mentioned memorial collections.

I think one of the coolest things we’ve done through Open Doors is actually set up a number of memorial archives for writers who passed away, and who fortunately had fandom friends who they left in charge of their works, and who could organize their import to the AO3, so that they would be preserved and stay up so that people could keep enjoying them. If you go to the Open Doors page on Fanlore, on the index you can see a list of Memorial Archives set up with the assistance of Open Doors.

The podcast also discussed how fans can plan for the future of their own works through the Fannish Next of Kin feature at AO3. Fans have found various ways to remember loved ones using fandom formats over the years. In addition to Open Doors’ work and AO3’s option, the OTW enables fans to create pages on Fanlore for fellow fans who are gone.


The OTW has received a request from a Ph.D. student in the Department of English, at The University of Utah. Maria Alberto has received an IRB exemption form from her university to perform a Tolkien Fanfiction Survey, and is asking for fans to take part and help her with her research. The survey is planned to run until Spring 2021, and results are planned for publication on the website of co-investigator Dawn Walls-Thuma. This will most likely take place sometime after April or May, as they write up a formal report of their findings.

More information can be found by clicking on the above survey link. You can also visit accounts set up for the survey on Twitter @TolkienSurvey and on tumblr @tolkien-fanfiction-survey.

OTW Tips

Ever wanted to see what relationships have been created for your favorite fandom character on AO3? The first step is to determine what the canon name for your fandom is on AO3 by doing a tag search and marking the “Canonical” checkbox. For example, fans of the Merlin series on the BBC ending in 2013 would find out that the canonical name is Merlin (TV).

Then you can go to that fandom’s Relationships by Character page. Just type in https://archiveofourown.org/fandoms/(Canonical Fandom name). Once there you can see all the existing friendships or romantic relationships, as well as which characters haven’t been paired with anyone. Maybe you can be the first to create a work for them!


We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or news story you think we should know about, send us a link. We are looking for content in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in an OTW post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.