Yuletide treasure on the AO3!

We’re pleased to officially announce that the popular multi-fandom holiday fanfiction exchange Yuletide is coming to the Archive of Our Own! As those of you who follow our AD&T meeting reports will know, this is something we’ve been working towards for a while, and we’re excited to finally have the code written and everything in place! \0/

The Yuletide mods will be running the challenge for 2009 on the AO3. Some time after posting closes for this year, they’ll also be uploading the existing Yuletide archive (all the stories from previous years). This means that if you are participating in Yuletide, or have participated in the past, you will be offered an Archive account \0/. (If you already have an account, you’ll be able to link uploaded stories to that existing account.)

Yuletide 2009 will be the first outing for our shiny new Collections and Challenges code, which will be enhanced and expanded in future. It’s a great test case for us, because Yuletide mod astolat is one of our senior coders and has done most of the heavy lifting for this new code (which has meant VERY good communication between challenge mods and coders!). The Yuletide challenge is also fairly large and complicated to run, which gives us a good starting baseline of features for other fic-exchange-style challenges. Another reason we chose Yuletide first is that the Yuletide archive is at risk: the challenge has outgrown its existing code, and the mods needed to find another home or take the archive down altogether. We know it’s one of the most popular multi-fandom challenges out there, and we’re really pleased to be able to ensure that fandom can continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

This is the very first version of Collections and Challenges on the AO3 and lots of enhancements are planned for the future. Feel free to let us know your thoughts about the design and any future features you’d like to see via our Support and Feedback form.

Although Yuletide will be hosted on the AO3, it is still elynross and astolat’s party! (We just built the dancehall.) If you have questions about Yuletide itself (how it will work on the AO3, what to do if your story is late, etc), please drop over to [info]yuletide_admin. Lots of common questions are answered on their Yuletide on the AO3 info post. They have also posted detailed Instructions for Uploading Your Story to AO3.

We hope that this will be the first of many challenges to run on the Archive of Our Own. We’re looking forward to welcoming lots more fandoms to the Archive and enjoying even more fannish creativity \0/.

Archive TOS update

The OTW’s Content Policy is pleased to put the following updates to the Archive’s Terms of Service forward for two weeks of public discussion. The full Terms of Service can be found linked on the archive page, but for clarity, all emendations and new policy items are listed below the cut.

Summary of Changes: aka: the Bottom Line!
The TOS updates are based on a revision and clarification of the system for ratings and warnings on the Archive (Section IV.K), and the expansion of policy on Collections in response to new functionality (Section V.A). In particular, we are trying to make the warnings more intuitive in response to user feedback, though we remain committed to the basic policy that creators get to decide whether and how they want to use warnings. For more information on the new system and how it will affect users, please see our post on Changes to the Archive Warnings System.

These TOS changes are not yet final: we are currently offering them for a comment period of at least two weeks before the board votes on them, as per section I.A.2 of the TOS. We are soliciting feedback during this time. Comments must be received by January 1, 2010.

Section IV.K.1.b. Revision to wording about warnings and tags, to reflect the new system on the Archive.

By default, all users will see the archive warnings and tags the creator has selected. Any logged-in user who wishes to avoid archive warnings and tags may set preferences to hide them by default. Logged-in users who set their preferences to hide information are proceeding at their own risk and may be exposed to content they would otherwise wish to avoid. Such users may change their preferences, or reveal information for specific stories, at any time.

Section IV.K.2.b. Removing definitions on Ratings, to allow for user discretion.

The Archive uses the following ratings:

  1. General audiences.
  2. Teen and up audiences.
  3. Mature.
  4. Explicit.
  5. Not rated.

Section IV.K.3. Revision to information on warnings, reflecting wording changes on the Archive.

  1. General description:

    There are two components to warnings on the Archive.

    1. Archive warnings: Creators can select from a list of archive warnings. The list also allows creators to select “choose not to use archive warnings” and “none of these warnings apply,” or equivalent text as specified on the creator upload form.
    2. Secondary (optional) tags, including warnings: Creators can define their own tags, as seriously or as humorously as they like. These can include specific content warnings. The warnings policy only covers archive warnings.
  2. As a rule, the creator controls the warnings.

    Selecting “choose not to use archive warnings,” or the equivalent text as specified on the creator upload form, satisfies a creator’s obligation under the warnings policy. If a fanwork uses this option, we will not sustain any failure-to-warn complaints. If the abuse team receives a failure-to-warn complaint in other circumstances, the abuse team may decide the absence of a specific archive warning is misleading. In such cases, the creator may be asked to add a warning or to select the choose not to warn option. If the creator declines or fails to respond, the abuse team may set the warning to indicate that the creator has chosen not to warn. The abuse team’s authority extends only to changing a warning to “choose not to use archive warnings” or equivalent text, not to selecting any other warning.

  3. The meaning of “choose not to use archive warnings” or equivalent text:

    The fanwork may contain any of the subject matter on the archive list. Users who wish to avoid specific elements entirely should not access fanworks marked with “choose not to use archive warnings.” A creator can select both “choose not to use archive warnings” and one of the archive warnings in order to warn for some but not all of the archive warnings.

Section IV.K.4. Consequence of failure to use an appropriate rating or archive warning:

In general, failure to use an appropriate rating or archive warning is not a violation of the abuse policy.

It is our policy to defer to creators’ categorizations, but we reserve the right to recategorize a fanwork in two situations. (1) When we determine that a complaint about a “general” or “teen and up” rating is valid, we may change the rating to “not rated.” (2) When we determine that a complaint about a failure to warn for content on the archive warning list is valid, we may add “choose not to use archive warnings” or equivalent text. The abuse team will not pick a more specific rating or warning for a fanwork.

Section V.A. Expansion of policy on Collections, to reflect new functionality.

Collections, Challenges, and Exchanges

  1. Archive users may create collections and encourage other users to submit fanworks to those collections. The collection maintainer can set any constraints she or he wants on the collection, including rules about anonymous works (see A.4 below) but must otherwise follow the content policy (e.g., if the collection content is explicit, it should be marked as “explicit” or “choose not to rate”). The collection maintainer may be able to ask users for suggestions for new fanworks (“prompts”), collect prompts, match participants with prompts (including contacting them via the contact information provided to the Archive or to the collection maintainer), and show the prompts on the Archive, following the general rules governing works on the Archive. Where collection rules allow, prompts may be anonymous or limited-visibility, as detailed in A.4 and A.5 below.
  2. To be part of a collection, the fanwork creator has to affirmatively submit the fanwork to the collection. The collection maintainer will be able to remove the fanwork from the collection, but not from the Archive.
  3. If the collection maintainer has specified in advance in the collection rules that submissions cannot later be removed from the collection, the user who submitted the fanwork will not be able to delete it, but will be able to orphan it so that the user’s identity is no longer associated with the fanwork.
  4. In order to implement certain types of collections, the Archive may allow works to be posted without making the creator generally visible (which we call anonymous works).
    1. Anonymous works are not orphan works, though they can be orphaned.
    2. The creator’s pseudonym will not be publicly associated with the story while the anonymity is in place. For non-orphaned works, the creator’s pseudonym will be visible to administrators (including members of the abuse team for purposes of resolving complaints), co-creators (if any), and the maintainers of any collection of which the work is a part.
    3. If the collection of which a work is a part specifies rules regarding anonymity, such as a designated time for revealing authorship, the collection maintainer may be able to control the work’s anonymity consistent with those rules. In other situations, creators may be able to choose anonymity.
  5. In order to implement certain types of collections, the Archive may allow works to be posted which will not be generally visible until a time set by the collection maintainer.
    1. Once posted, the work will be visible to administrators (including members of the abuse team for purposes of resolving complaints), co-creators (if any), and the maintainers of any collection of which the work is a part.
    2. If the collection of which a work is a part specifies rules regarding time of general visibility, the collection maintainer may be able to control the time at which a work becomes generally visible to archive users.
  6. In the absence of an independent violation of the abuse policy, the Archive will not intervene in decisions by the collection maintainer.

New change to the AO3’s “Archive Warning” system

We choose that you can no longer choose to choose not to warn for–wait, I’ll come in again.

Based on your feedback, we’ve decided to eliminate one of our previous Archive Warnings: “Choose Not To Warn for Some Content.” While it was meant to give users additional flexibility, feedback revealed that it was just too confusing. So there will now be only one opt-out tag, represented by a new icon, (which combines and clarifies two previous ones): “Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings.”

But what are Archive Warnings exactly? There are two answers to this question.

1) There are six in all. Four designate particular content: major character death, underage, rape/noncon and graphic violence; the other two are “No Archive Warnings Apply” and “Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings”. All stories in the AO3 must carry at least one of these descriptions.

2) They are enforceable; that is, if a story in the AO3 features major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence without being labeled as such (or without you being told that the author has chosen not to warn for these tropes in this story), you can report that story to Abuse.

So why this system? To allow users to roam the AO3 with reasonable confidence that they will not encounter these four things if they don’t want to. (But click on a story labeled “Author has Chosen Not To Use Archive Warnings” at your own risk!)

More Info Under The Fold! (Full post)

Q & A:

“How does this affect stories I’ve already posted to the Archive?”
If you warned for Rape/Non-Con, Graphic Violence, Major Character Death or Underage, then those warnings will stay exactly as they are. If you chose Choose Not To Warn or Choose Not To Warn For Some Content, these will be merged into Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings. We hope this makes the choice easier for the author and more comprehensible to the reader; we also hope that it makes clear that this field doesn’t represent all warnings: just the four the AO3 enforces.

“Why these four “Archive Warnings” and not others?”
We chose those four for a mix of practical, historical, and technical reasons, but the bottom line is enforceability. The AO3 allows for an infinite number of customizable warnings through additional tags, which allow users to search for content they want and avoid content they don’t want. But Abuse can’t be responsible for the accuracy of all those tags. By limiting the number of Archive Warnings to four–major character death, underage, rape/noncon, and graphic violence–we can provide broad categories of content for people to seek out or avoid. We think it’s better to have four than none, since we can’t have all warnings be Abuse-enforceable.

“And if I don’t want to warn for anything?”
We’ve got you covered: you can choose “Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings” when you post. Readers who absolutely must know if a story contains major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence might avoid your story.

“What if I don’t have major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence in my story?”
Choose “No Archive Warnings Apply.” Please note that this doesn’t mean that the story is “safe” or that there’s nothing to be warned for. It just means that there are no Archive-enforceable warnings: i.e. no major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence. But there could be additional author-added warnings in the tag field, or listed in the summary or notes of the story, or there could be something else that offends or squicks you. But there shouldn’t be major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence; if there is, please report the story to Abuse.

“I want to warn for something beyond those four things.”
Please do! You can add any other warning you want to any story, either in additional tags or in the summary or notes. We also encourage everyone to develop their own warning (or “don’t wanna warn”) policy and post it to their profile page.

“What about dubcon?”
Dubcon, or dubious consent, is probably the number one additional warning requested by users, and while we’ve discussed it many times, we just don’t think it’s enforceable. The label “dubcon”, by definition, is applied to dubious cases and blurry situations, and we don’t think it’s possible for Abuse to judge if a story fits the criteria. That being said, a story’s author tends to know if her own story is dubcon, and so we encourage authors to warn for dubcon when appropriate through the tag system. Readers can also use bookmarks, or comment to the author, But we don’t feel comfortable potentially subjecting the author to a penalty over the definition of dubcon.