AO3 News

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Did you know you can post and browse works in over 70 languages on the Archive? In fact, AO3 is home to roughly 400,000 fanworks in languages other than English, with more posted every day! To help everyone find works in their preferred language, we've made some small changes to posting and searching.

Previously, the "Choose a language" field on the posting form was set to English by default, which made it easy to accidentally post a non-English work with the language set to English.

To fix this, we've updated the "Choose a language" field so English is no longer the default. Instead, everyone will need to select the correct language when posting a new work. If you forget, don't worry -- we've also added a friendly error message to remind you.

We've also made it a little easier to search or filter for works based on language! While we provide a "Language" field on our various search and filter forms, sometimes it's not enough -- for example, if you want works in either Spanish or Italian.

A search like that used to require knowing some numerical codes unique to the Archive. Now you can use these standard language codes with the search operators described in our cheatsheet. For example, to find works tagged with "Friendship" in either Italian or Spanish, you would enter language_id: es OR language_id: it in the "Search within results" field on the work listing for the "Friendship" tag. (The old numerical codes will continue to work, so there's no need to update bookmarks or links.)

We hope these changes will make the Archive a bit better for everyone, regardless of which languages you use for creating and consuming fanworks. And as always, if you notice a work with the wrong language, you can contact our Policy & Abuse team and they will help correct any mislabeled works.

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Published:
2019-11-15 18:54:27 -0500
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Over the last few weeks, you may have noticed a few brief periods when the Archive has been slow to load (or refusing to load at all). This is because our Elasticsearch servers are under some strain. We've made some adjustments to our server setup, but because this is our busiest time of year, we expect the problems to continue until we're able to have new servers delivered and installed in a few months.

We've been planning this server purchase for a while now, but the machines we wanted -- AMD's Epyc Rome CPUs, which have an increased core count and are cheaper than the Intel equivalent -- didn't come on the market until August. Now that they've been released, we're working on finding the best price to help us make the most of your generous donations. We expect to order them very soon.

While we're waiting for our new servers, we plan to upgrade the Elasticsearch software to see if the newer version offers any performance improvements. We hope this upgrade and the changes to our server setup will keep things from getting much worse during our end-of-year traffic influx.

Thank you for your patience, and for all the donations that allow us to buy new hardware when these situations arise!

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10 Years of AO3

Michele Tepper’s contribution is the final post in our series celebrating 10 years since the launch of the Archive of Our Own. Michele was a founding member of the OTW and helped create much of AO3’s “look” in her role as head of design in the early days. Her contribution provides a nice conclusion to the series, emphasizing the importance of working together in order to make such a big project a success.

I got involved with the OTW because I knew some of the other founders already. I had designed a discussion board for Buffy fans (buffistas.org) a few years earlier, and so I had an understanding of the challenges of working with a remote team of volunteers on a project for a fan community. Also, I was working for a digital product design studio, where I saw the wave of commercialization around "user-generated content", and I liked the idea of doing something that helped keep transformative works in the hands of the creators. So I told Naomi Novik I was interested in helping out, and that's how I ended up as a founding board member for the OTW!

What I remember most about the early days of the Archive was the collaboration. Naomi, cmshaw, and I spent long hours coming up with the core functions of the archive; technologists and user experience designer collaborating to find the best solution. We built out a roadmap that saw the Archive through its earliest years, as well as an experience that people point to as exceptional, and I'm proud of that.

My favorite thing about AO3 is the tagging and the tag wranglers. I have the tag page for "feels" as a bookmark on my phone, and when I need an emotional boost, I go and look at all the different ways people have tagged for feels, all listed out and merged by the wranglers. It makes me ridiculously happy every time.

I don't pretend to know what the OTW's future will be, because I couldn't have predicted its past! Fanworks are much more accepted in the mainstream than they were 10 years ago, and the OTW and the Archive are a big part of the reason why.

So that’s all for our series from behind the scenes at the AO3. We are so appreciative of all our contributors, as well as the other volunteers who have been working hard since the OTW was founded to make the Archive a haven for fanworks of all types. We agree with Michele that fanworks and fan culture are much more widely accepted than they were 10 years ago and we are proud to think that the OTW and the AO3 have contributed to that. Cheers to 10 years of AO3!

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10 Years of AO3

Today’s post in the Archive of Our Own’s 10th anniversary series is from Matty, who has been with the AO3 since it launched. You’ll read in her contribution about the many departments she has been part of since she began volunteering with us 10 years ago. There have been a lot of long work hours, particularly for the volunteers who were with the OTW in the early days, and we are so grateful for Matty and all of the others who contributed their time to help us make AO3 a reality.

I joined the Organization for Transformative Works as a tag wrangler back in 2009. I had been following the development of the OTW and the Archive since their inception and was thrilled to be able finally to help in a concrete way.

Tag wrangling in those days was both exciting and nerve wracking! One wrong push of the button could cause havoc. Early wranglers may remember the frantic searching when we repeatedly lost the Justin Timberlake tag, the terror of sharing a single spreadsheet that tracked all the fandoms on the Archive and the volunteers who wrangled them (and the screaming when someone sorted the sheet while others were trying to type), and the many, many, many long discussions that took place on our mailing lists while we tried to write our policies.

After Tag Wrangling I moved to Support, before sliding over to the Policy and Abuse committee (PAC). It is funny to compare how much things have changed between now and then. For the first few years PAC received less than 50 tickets a year. Now we sometimes receive 50 tickets in an hour, or more! The types of reports we receive have also changed. Initially, the vast majority of reports were about plagiarism. These days we see more reports about non-fanworks (such as RP ads, fic searches, etc). The size of the committee has also grown enormously; when I joined we had 3-4 active volunteers and now we have over 40! While the work can be overwhelming at times, it has also been incredibly rewarding.

I am so incredibly proud of the Organization and its volunteers for making our projects so successful. While there have been some growing pains over the years, we've built something amazing that we all should feel proud of!

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10 Years of AO3

When asked to write up a few words about his time with the OTW and AO3 in particular, james_ had so much to say that he had trouble sticking to the word count. (He’d like to thank Priscilla for helping him to edit!) Below you can read about some of the tougher times that james_ has seen during his time as a member of the Systems and Accessibility, Design and Technology committees. You can also hear about the rewards he’s gained from his hard work to keep our vision clear and our morale high. As you can see below, james_ was amongst the staffers who accepted the Hugo Award for Best Related Work on behalf of AO3.

Volunteering for the OTW in the early days was exciting, stressful, exhausting, and demoralising, but also worth it. At that time we were working with five servers and we were constantly adjusting the load between the few systems we had. We reached out to our friends at Dreamwidth (thanks, Mark) and they helped us. We were learning even as the tsunami of growing AO3 traffic beat down upon our shore.

While there are always people willing to try and pull you down, they are greatly outnumbered by those supporting us and buoying us up. I am grateful to each person who donates to the OTW. Your donations mean that we can afford the machines that keep the Archive running stably, and that nowadays I rarely get woken in the middle of the night due to unexpected downtime.

Something else that has had a significant impact in my volunteering life were the recurring conflicts both my committees had with previous iterations of the OTW Board of Directors. These were a source of great frustration and I even contacted the Legal committee to see how OTW members could call the board to account. After the resignation of the entire 2015 board, things have been much better. No organization is perfect, but I believe everyone in the OTW is very much happier today. I hope this will continue and believe the best way to do that is to ensure that every election is properly contested; I stood for election myself in 2016 and would do so again if necessary to make sure that there were enough candidates.

Our successes have been external as well as internal. This year, I had the pleasure of standing on the stage at Worldcon as AO3 won a Hugo Award and it was such a joy.

james_ holding the AO3’s Hugo award

As for the future, I believe that we will need to raise significantly more than we do today in order to hire paid employees. We cannot sustainably run forever on purely volunteer labor. We get roughly 5% of Wikipedia's pageviews and our budget is about one-third of one percent of theirs.

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10 Years of AO3

Rebecca Sentance is the chair for Fanlore, a staffer for Docs, and a layout editor for Transformative Works and Cultures. We’re hearing from her as the second part in our five-part series celebrating ten years since the launch of AO3. Whilst she hasn’t been at the OTW quite as long as our previous poster, Francesca Coppa, Rebecca has made a big name for herself as an OTW volunteer involved in many of our different committees. Here is what she has to say about her experiences working for us:

I first became involved with the OTW as a volunteer in 2015, but I’d wanted to volunteer for years before that. A combination of being a full-time student and always just missing the window for recruitment kept me from doing it until the summer after I’d finished my Masters degree. I’d finally decided to get serious about volunteering, and had set up an alert on the OTW Volunteering page to monitor it for any changes. The first committee that opened recruitment after I did that was the AO3 Documentation Committee (Docs for short). I applied, and the rest is history!

Being one of the people responsible for drafting and editing AO3’s help documentation (FAQs and tutorials) has given me an exciting front-row seat to some of our big coding changes over the years. My proudest moment so far as an OTW volunteer – apart from when AO3 won a Hugo Award! – is having been involved in testing the massive upgrade to AO3’s searching and filtering that was released last year, and getting my name in the release notes. I am also fond of the Unofficial Browser Tools FAQ, which I had to beta for my first task as a Docs committee member. It gave me the opportunity to download and play with a lot of fun userscripts and tools.

When I created my AO3 account in 2011, I was mainly attracted by the tags, and the way that users could create new fandoms and relationships just by tagging them. I was proud to publish one of the first fics in the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides fandom! Nowadays, I write a lot of fic for a small podcast fandom, and there’s still no greater joy than creating a tag that’s never been used before.

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10 Years of AO3

We're beginning our 10th anniversary celebration series about the AO3 by hearing from Francesca Coppa. Francesca is a founding member of the OTW and its longest-running board member (serving for five years). She is still with the OTW today.

Francesca was very enthusiastic about contributing to this series! Here’s what she had to say:

I have been in school nearly all my life and the OTW has been, hands down, the best school I ever went to: like they say, “everything I really needed to know I learned in the OTW!” I have such fond memories of those early days in the summer of 2007, after the call for an Archive of Our Own. The meetings lasted for hours! Naomi Novik and Michele Tepper were evaluating technological tools and drawing up user experience blueprints, and Rebecca Tushnet and Susan Gibel were working on our nonprofit paperwork and creating the legal and institutional structures governing our existence. (I think Susan is the unsung hero of the early OTW.)

Meanwhile, I was organizing our volunteers into committees. We'd asked those who were “Willing to Serve” to tell us about their skills and interests, and it was the most impressive and moving thing: we had lawyers, coders, public relations professionals, database analysts, professional fundraisers, sysadmins, journalists, management consultants, accountants, and technical writers; just so much expertise and so many kinds of expertise, and all of it offered to us out of love.

That is the thing that stays with me, and the thing I think most about now: that the OTW and the AO3 are about the collective, the network of fandom with its strong ties (“I would die for you”) and its looser ties (“Hey, we were in a fandom together once”), and then just the ties of shared identity (“you have once loved a thing as I have loved a thing!”) that make us recognize each other when we see a t-shirt, a sticker or an open tab. All of us are pulling together toward a common goal. We are what the web was meant to be: a network of people coming together to build something and keep it going.

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10 Years of AO3

When the Organization for Transformative Works was founded in 2007, the AO3 was just an idea. In July this year, we reached 5 million fanworks and 2 million registered users and on 14th November this year, we will be celebrating the AO3’s tenth anniversary. We have chosen to mark the occasion with a series of posts from long-time members and founding volunteers, sharing a glimpse into what the archive looks like from the inside.

So prepare yourselves for a series of posts over the next two weeks. We have five big contributors from the OTW’s long list of volunteers, and they won’t be holding back! We asked each of them to share some stories about what things were like in the early days of the AO3, their experiences as a volunteer with the OTW, and where they think the organization may be headed in the future.

In the upcoming days, you’ll hear from Francesca Coppa and Michele Tepper about the collaboration and the range of skills that were necessary to launch AO3 and the OTW’s other projects. You’ll also hear from one of our long-time staffers Rebecca Sentance about how she came to volunteer for the AO3, from james_ about what it was like to accept a Hugo award onstage, and from Matty about wrangling the AO3’s very first tags.

We hope that these posts will give you some insight into the history and day-to-day operation of the AO3, and that you are as excited as we are by what the site has become. We are proud of everything the AO3 represents as an open and inclusive place for fans to host their work, and we can’t wait to see how it develops and grows over the next ten years and beyond.

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