October 2008 Newsletter, vol. 19

Welcome to the first October issue of the OTW Newsletter! We’re constantly on the lookout for ways to keep fandom up-to-date and informed about what’s going on behind the scenes here at OTW, so twice a month, Community Relations compiles updates about what the various committees are working on and we share them here.

All issues of the newsletter will be tagged accordingly, so you can follow our progress chronologically.

Academic Journal Update from mafaldastasi

No. 1 of Transformative Works and Cultures, the academic journal, which came out on September 15, 2008, is being extremely well received. Here are some links where TWC gets mentioned:

– http://www.ohindustry.com/2008/09/alotr-in-journal-of-transformative.html

– Jonathan Gray’s Extratextuals Blog, September 17, 2008:
http://www.extratextual.tv/2008/09/journal-births-and-blog-birthdays/

– Henry Jenkins’s blog, September 19, 2008:
http://henryjenkins.org/2008/09/aca-fen_raise_their_banners_hi.html

– Nancy Baym’s blog, September 25, 2008:
http://www.onlinefandom.com/archives/first-issue-of-transformative-works-and-cultures/

No. 2, which will be released on March 15, 2009, released its call for papers. This special issue will focus on Games. The TWC editorial team is actively looking for submissions.

Accessibility, Design, and Technology Update from black_samvra

AD&T are working on Tag Wrangling right now: the tags like ‘Fandom,’ ‘Character,’ and ‘Pairing’ that rename themselves, merge and move around – that’s our Beta tag wranglers hard at work! We’re also planning the next wave of new functionality and working through the awesome feedback you gave us.

We’re planning on putting out updates to the archive software on a weekly basis, so look for bugfixes and new features to roll out in a batch. Our first one will most likely be this Friday.

Board Update from kellyannbessa

The Board continues to focus on the newly launched projects, and also the rapidly approaching election.

Community Relations Update from femmequixotic

Community Relations continues to help Elections with the upcoming elections process, as well as get the word out about the beta version of the archive and the soft launches of both the website and Fanlore.

Content Policy Update from ainsley

Content Policy continues to do what it does best: writing policy with which we hope people will be content–more of which will be unveiled very soon!

Development and Membership Update from ignazwisdom

We’re gearing up for our big donations drive, which is starting very, VERY soon! You can donate to the OTW at any time, but next week we’re going to making a push for contributions, including new memberships. As a reminder, if you want to participate in the OTW Board election next month, you must have paid your annual membership dues of US $10 by October 19.

Elections Update from eponis

The first deadline for candidacy for the Board came and went, and two members declared their candidacy, as many as the number of seats opening up on the Board. As detailed in our FAQ, this means that the deadline was extended a further two weeks, and this week is the final opportunity to declare candidacy. Once we have a final count, we look forward to announcing the candidates and, if necessary, gearing up for an election. Even if we don’t end up holding a contested election, we will still publicize details about the candidates and hold a public chat with them, so our membership can get to know the new Board members!

Financials from sandersyager

Due to the failing economy, FinCom is placing our campaign of shark references on hold for this newsletter. What we have instead is a brand spanking new volunteer, Sanacrow who has come on board as our official OTW accountant, taking over duties previously shared between the wonderful Susan and Celli. Sanacrow has joined us just in time to continue work on the 2009 budget and take part in last round of triumphant FinCom “dancing” over having official 501(c)3 status for OTW. By dancing we, of course, mean studying spreadsheets and discussing the season premieres, reaffirming that one can be a shark *and* a fangirl.

Legal Update from killalla

Recently, the Legal Committee has been discussing and advising on licensing options for the archive software, while continuing to support other committees with diverse matters. And as always, we try to respond promptly to queries from members of the public as they arise.

Open Doors Update from Francesca Coppa

Open Doors is continuing to work with ADT on an “import”/”hoover” feature for older stories and is also researching libraries to house fannish artifacts of various kinds.

Public Relations Update from jacquez

After prepping like mad in case the press noticed our soft launches, the Public Relations Committee took a short break. Next, we’ll be back to working on our strategic direction for the upcoming year!

Systems

No update at this time.

Translations Update from logovo

We’re celebrating seeing all our hard work up on the OTW page! Plus, additional languages are still pending beta and upload.

On the Elections front, we’ve finished up and uploaded Spanish and German translations of the Elections FAQ and timeline, and we’re shooting for having other languages done this week, as volunteer time allows.

Also, other committees have work heading our way (*waves to Elections*) so we’re looking forward to getting our hands on the next project.

Volunteers and Recruiting from kellyannbessa

Volunteers is doing a lot of work in preparation for the organization’s upcoming second term.

Webmasters Update from juniperphoenix

The new website officially launched on October 1! (See our welcome post for details.) Thank you to everyone who has sent us feedback; it is greatly appreciated.

At the moment we’re getting settled into our new maintenance rotation and continuing to document technical info and procedures. Since so many OTW projects have launched recently and information about them is changing quickly, we are also reaching out to our fellow committees to encourage them to check their website content and make any necessary updates.

Wiki Update from angstslashhope

The Wiki Committee is proud to announce the soft launch of the Fanlore wiki: since last week the wiki is open for a its beta phase, which means we’re still testing how everything works in practice as well as responding to queries, suggestions and general feedback. In the process, Fanlore is growing rapidly as contributors add content and their practices are formed, while we alter and develop structures and supporting material as needed. It’s an exciting time and we’ve been thoroughly swept off our feet!

To give you an idea, here are a few fun numbers. Since the soft launch last Monday, we have seen
– About 100 new articles per day;
– Approaching 10,000 edits altogether;
– By over 300 registered editors.

Discussion pages are lively, as editors get their hands dirty on the tricky issues that come hand-in-hand with the early days of a project such as this, and the Wiki Committee is all hands on deck as we keep up with it all. We’ve also set up a Fanlore chat room to talk with contributors who seek assistance, inspiration or just company in real time. The room is open whenever any member of the Committee is available, and a notice on the front page of the wiki indicates whether it’s open or closed at any given time. Don’t hesitate to come in if you see the light!

Now let’s look forward: we are compiling, prioritizing and gradually tackling issues and bugs as they occur, but obviously, there’s only so much a little committee can do! So, following our grand plan, we will in the near future gather together a team of gardeners to help us keep track of all the edits and assist with wiki basics, and we will set them loose upon Fanlore to roam and help you. If you’re interested in becoming a gardener, you can leave your name on the Gardeners page: we might not answer right away but we take every name under consideration, of course. In the meantime, gardener-in-waiting or not, do not hesitate to jump in and start contributing! We look forward to seeing you there.

What details would you like to know? Please give ComRel a helping hand and let us know! Email us at comrel @ transformativeworks.org.

–femmequixotic, bethbethbeth, ciderpress, mirabile_dictu, shrift, svmadelyn
Community Relations Committee

Edited Financial blurb at committee’s request to correct the accountant’s name.

Website Status Report

We are working to address a problem some users have experienced with getting 404 errors to pages which clearly exist (like blog links from the RSS feed, or menu items.) The temporary solution is to choose a language from the language switcher (even if it’s English) and reload the page.

We are testing a solution now, but please, feel free to report any errors you experience. It is particularly helpful if you let us know

  • the page you were on before you got the 404 error
  • the page you were trying to access when you got the 404 error
  • whether you were logged in to the website or not
  • whether you had selected a language through the language switcher
  • whether you have set preferred languages in your browser, and, if so, which languages
  • your browser and operating system (including version numbers)

A first look at the Archive Of Our Own!

Want a first look at the Archive Of Our Own? Come browse!

While we’re still very much a work in progress, with many of our most exciting features still in development, you can now go to http://archiveofourown.org and browse for stories!!

(Please note that this early version of the archive only works/looks right with the Firefox browser.)

(Read on for many more exciting details!)

Yay! How do I get an account?

Account creation is coming soon! We’ve started with OTW staffers and testers because they couldn’t get too mad at us if everything broke. 😀 Now with this read-only launch, we are hopefully going to get some information about how the archive performs with lots of people reading. Once we see our performance results (and fix or speed up the slowest things), we will start up an invite system where archive admins and current users can send out a small number of invite codes.

(This invite system is not intended to exclude anyone, it’s just to let us control how many new accounts we get during these early beta stages. Once the archive is out of beta, anyone will be able to create a new account at any time.)

Remember, we’re totally still a work in progress, and things may break, change suddenly, or not perform as expected. Plus many of our coolest features–like subscriptions and communities–are yet to come! So when you get a beta account, please do be prepared for occasional bugs!

Oh my god, it looks totally broken on my screen!

Did we mention it was optimized for Firefox?? The Archive is currently optimized for FIREFOX USERS ONLY! Eventually, the Archive will work with most browsers, including the dreaded IE (boo, hiss!) but that’s going to be some of the last coding we do; for now, it’s Firefox only. However, Firefox is an awesome browser that you should totally be using anyway, and its available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and can be downloaded here.

What features are currently available for users with accounts?

A user with an account can set up a profile, add different pseudonyms, upload new stories and port over stories from existing URLs. They can make some stories visible only to other users. They can bookmark stories and create rec lists.

Wait! Where is feature x? Where is feature y? You said–!

We’re working on it, we swear! This Beta version is functional, but does not yet have all the features that the Archive will eventually have. In particular, the subscription feature (coming soon!) is likely to change how you use the archive; users will be able to subscribe to particular tags, meaning particular authors, fandoms, kinds of stories, etc. But for now, you can use full-text search or browse from our “people” page or our “works” page, you can browse and filter search results with tags, and sort by spiffy things like wordcount.

We will eventually also offer a more customizable experience vis a vis fonts and interface displays; for now, these things are standard. Icons will be coming too; for now, you’ll see only placeholders.

That being said, we really want user feedback and opinions on what we’ve got in place so far. What works for you? What doesn’t work so well? Does everything work as expected? We can’t promise to change/fix everything immediately, and we won’t be able to please everyone, but as the coders keep coding, we want to get some feedback from real users. Please write to us and tell us about your experience searching, browsing, and reading.

There is a feedback form on the site linked on every page in the footer; please talk to us! Exact descriptions of problems are helpful; screenshots are awesome.

Hey, is there anything in particular I can help you with?

Glad you asked!

Giving us feedback and reporting the inevitable bugs will be a huge help all on its own. If you find yourself giving a lot, and you’d be interested in getting more involved, we can always use more volunteers for our awesome team of official testers, who go over user feedback and pass bugs up to the coding team, and who check to make sure the bugs are actually fixed.

And if you are a coder or play one on TV or even just would like to someday play one on TV, you can also contribute to the archive code! We are always looking for volunteers, so if you find a bug and feel like helping to fix it yourself, please get in touch with us through volunteers@transformativeworks.org.

If you are into web design or graphics, we’re currently working on our browsing and searching interfaces extensively, trying to come up with the best way to cram in as much information as possible about a story or a user or a bookmark, while keeping results compact (so we can fit a lot on a screen), and making it all accessible for users with disabilities or limited computer setups. We would really really love any sketches and design proposals you might come up with — please send them to us at feedback@archiveofourown.org!

And as our interfaces firm up, we will also be needing translation volunteers to help us actually put in the translations (we’ve got the infrastructure built for translation, as you’ll see on the site, but haven’t actually been adding translations yet while everything has been changing so fast). If you’d be able to help, please contact us through volunteers@transformativeworks.org and let us know what languages you can help with!

Thanks so much for checking out the archive, and in conclusion, YAY! \o/

Brought to you by the Accessibility, Design, & Technology committee & all the fabulous OTW coders and testers! Contact us at adt@transformativeworks.org!