When you fill in the AO3 support form and press ‘Send feedback’, your message wends its way to our trusty Support team, who answer questions from users of the Archive of Our Own. They provide help and support on all aspects of using the Archive, and provide a bridge between Archive users and our coders so that bugs get fixed and new features get coded! They are an awesome and dedicated team who love making sure that users have a good experience on the AO3.
What questions do Support answer?
All kinds of things relating to the AO3! If users discover that something is broken, or they want help figuring out how something works, or they’d like to ask for a new feature, all those questions come to Support. Sometimes users will send in broader questions about the OTW as a whole, or about fannish issues in general, and Support will also answer those or pass them on to someone who can (if you have questions that are not AO3-specific, you can also ask those via the OTW Communications webform).
What do Support do when they get a ticket?
The first thing a Support member does when a ticket arrives is to take a look and figure out what kind of question it is. Some kinds of questions are common – for example, we are often asked why they can only view 1000 works in a fandom (answer: to save our servers, but we’re working on a better solution that will make it unnecessary) – and in these cases Support can quickly send out a reply. If it’s not such a common question, the Support member might do a bit of testing to see if they can reproduce a bug, or consult with other teams: for example, they work with Coders and Accessibility, Design and Technology for technical bugs and feature requests, Tag Wrangling for tag questions, Content for issues about what kind of things can be posted on the Archive, and Legal for questions relating to the legality of fanworks.
This sounds like a lot! Do Support members have some kind of special skills?
They have the skill of beng awesome! But other than that, there are not too many specific qualifications for being a Support staffer. Most importantly, Support need to enjoy problem-solving and be able to communicate clearly and effectively. At present, we only do Support in English (this is something we hope to expand as the Archive grows), but you don’t need to be a native English speaker, as long as you are fluent in English – one of our most longstanding and dedicated staffers, Anne-Li, is a native Swedish speaker. Support staffers also need to know the Archive pretty well, although they tend to pick up some of the nitty-gritty as they gain experience. Several Support staffers also serve on other committees, so they can contribute additional knowledge to the team, and thanks to the efforts of staffer Yshyn, Support are also building up an awesome knowledge base on our internal wiki.
What does the future hold for Support?
This is an exciting time for Support – they’ve just taken on some new staff members and are now working and planning for the transition to a Support Board integrated into the Archive. This will be a public-facing board where users as well as staffers can offer advice (along the lines of LJ or DW) – we think this will be great for transparency and for helping more people get involved in a more informal manner. However, it will be quite a radical change, so Support are now beginning work on some of the policies and strategies which will be needed to make that a success.
This all sounds awesome – can I join?!
Support aren’t recruiting right now, as they have just taken on a bunch of new people and are readying themselves for a new model of working. However, the OTW does welcome volunteers across other projects – if you’d like to try tag wrangling or testing, or some other area of the OTW, get in touch with our Volunteers Committee. And of course, when the new Support Board becomes a reality, you’ll be able to contribute more informally. Once we make this switch, there’ll be more Support staffer opportunities in future, so watch this space!