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Published:
2020-05-24 12:36:26 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Jessie Casiulis, who volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I currently have three hats in the OTW: Board Director, Translation Staff, and Volunteer Tag Wrangler.

On the Board of Directors, my role is to help run the Organization. My fellow directors and I approve projects, make financial decisions, and ensure the OTW's compliance with legal obligations. We also work hand-in-hand with committees and chairs, to support them through their day-to-day work and to plan for the Organization's long-term goals.

As Translation staff, I mostly do volunteer management, with a side of document handling. Translation staffers assign tasks, handle hiatus requests, run interviews, check-ins, and training chats, and generally provide all kinds of help for translators. We also proof-read documents for translatability and coordinate updates when previously translated documents get modified.

Last but not least, as a Tag Wrangler, I contribute to ensuring that tags are properly sorted and hooked, so that AO3 users can use our search filters accurately and efficiently.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

There’s no real typical week for me as a volunteer: different weeks provide different challenges depending on the workload I have for each committee. I usually work a couple of hours each day, but my hours go wild occasionally. If there’s a fire to deal with, none of us count our hours until the problem we have is solved. Similarly, time-intensive events, such as recruitment or check-ins, will see me glued to my computer a lot more often, be it because of meetings, note-taking, or general information monitoring. Not to mention on-call weeks for Translation.

It can be tiring at times, but everyone tries to be really considerate of everyone else. We support each other through difficult weeks, and try to keep an eye out for potential burn-outs. No one will ever make you feel bad for asking for help, or for needing a week off occasionally.

Board members hold the only elected positions in the OTW. What made you decide to run?

People! Being in the OTW means being part of a community of people who uplift you and help you see the best in you, be it with praise, constructive criticism, or good-natured ribbing. I was interested in Board work, but I was on the bench about running. The people I spoke to about it convinced me to try, and supported me through the election process. Without them I don’t think I would have had the confidence to run.

Board members have to have volunteered in the OTW for some time before they can serve on the board. What are some of the things you’ve worked on before in the OTW?

I started in the OTW as a French translator. I joined up at the same time as some super-energetic and invested peeps who are still in the OTW, being awesome humans. Together, we had a lot of fun updating French policies, reviewing translations, and translating often challenging documents.

Then, I joined the Support Committee where I helped AO3 users with technical issues, answered their questions, and forwarded their feedback to the relevant committees. My inner tinkerer was happy to discover the scaffolding behind AO3, and all of its lesser-known features. I encourage anyone with an interest in the tech parts of AO3 and an interest in customer service to apply to Support!

And finally, I was already a tag wrangler when I joined Board.

What fannish things do you like to do?

What fannish things don’t I like to do? I write and read -- which reminds me that I should write more if I ever hope to finish my current WIP. I draw badly, and craft even worse, but I always enjoy it. I sometimes cosplay. I DM homebrew versions of role-playing games set in my players’ and my favorite universes, and moderate some Discord servers. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve come across a fannish activity I didn’t enjoy... including sports, as my combat-ready lightsabers can attest to.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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On Thursday, May 21 (UTC), we'll be doing some server work that includes changing the IP address we use to send emails. As a result of this change, we're anticipating a large number of undelivered emails while email providers get used to our new IP address. To help smooth the transition, we're going to disable both the invitation queue and account creation for a few days.

We send over one million emails per day. With that many emails coming from a new IP address, it's likely some providers will treat the messages as spam at first. We want to make sure invitation and account activation emails don't get lost in the shuffle, leading to frustration for new users and extra work for our Support volunteers.

However, invitation and activation emails are not the only types of emails that may be affected. Other emails such as comment, kudos, and subscription notifications; challenge assignments; and copies of deleted works may also go undelivered beginning on Thursday, May 21. (Edit 08:55 UTC 19 May: Undelivered emails are rejected by your email provider and never make it to your inbox or spam folder.)

Unfortunately, we cannot resend any missing emails. Because of this, we strongly recommend that you do not delete works or send challenge assignments during this time.

We'll turn invitations and account creation back on once we've determined that most major email providers no longer consider us spam. Until then, what this means is:

  • Effective as of this post, you will not be able to add your email address to our invitation queue until we turn the queue back on. Invitations will not be sent out, since the queue will be empty.
  • Beginning Thursday, May 21, you will not be able to use an existing invitation to sign up until we re-enable account creation.
  • A notification banner will be displayed on all AO3 pages as long as account creation is disabled.

Even once this server work is done, please keep in mind that emails may sometimes take up to 72 hours to reach you. (In certain cases, they may not be delivered at all.) Please allow a few days and check your spam folder before you contact our Support team about a lost email.

Updated at 02:25 UTC Thursday, May 28: Invitation requests and account creation are back on, but we're still experiencing delays and lost emails with some providers, notably Yahoo and AOL. We've reached out to Yahoo multiple times at their request, but were unable to obtain any help in resolving this issue or information about when they'll start accepting our emails again. Therefore, if you're still not receiving emails from the Archive, you may want to consider changing the email associated with your AO3 account. (Depending on your provider, you may be able to set up your new address to forward messages to your old email.)

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The OTW Elections committee is pleased to announce that the timeline for the 2020 election for new members of the Board of Directors has been posted!

This year's election will be held August 14-17. This means that the deadline for staff to declare their candidacy is June 19.

As usual, the election membership deadline is June 30. If you're interested in voting, please make sure your membership is active as of that date.

You can find out how to become a member on the Elections website, or if you're familiar with the process, you can donate here!

If you want to know more about the election process in general, you can check out the Elections Policies.

We're looking forward to an active election season with ample communication between candidates and voters, and we hope you'll be a part of it. Don't forget to follow the Elections committee on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news!

If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact Elections.

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Published:
2020-05-16 17:47:58 -0400
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Recently, you may have received an email informing you that Disney has updated its terms of use. Or you may have seen discussion about Disney's terms of use and statements on Twitter around the #maythe4th hashtag. So what's going on? Our Legal team can't give you advice, but here's what they have to say about what Disney's terms mean for fans and fanworks.

Disney's terms of use can be found here. (The direct English-language link is here). They govern the use of various (unidentified) Disney "products" such as websites, software, applications, contests, and services. What does that mean? Well, although this scope is broad, Disney can't use terms of service to govern what people do out in the world -- they can only govern what people do in Disney's own platforms, (such as Disney's websites, apps, software, and contests). Even if Disney would like to control what people do outside of those spaces, they just don't have that power: out in the world, the usual rules of copyright, trademark, and fair use law apply.

The part that has attracted the most attention in fandom circles has been Section 7: Submissions, User Generated Content, DMCA Takedown Notices. So what does this term mean?

First, 7A asserts that you have no expectation of compensation for any ideas or materials submitted to Disney. This is an important rule of thumb: Always be careful when submitting ideas or materials to anyone, not just Disney!

7B then goes on to discuss user generated content ("UGC"). It defines UGC as content by users that Disney "asks for" or "allows." This refers to be content uploaded to Disney's platforms, sites, and such. What do Disney's terms mean when they say they cover content uploaded to third-party platforms "integrated" with Disney? This seems to refer to Disney platforms that you can get through various devices and tools such as Xbox, Apple iOS, or Android. Of course, we can't promise that Disney won't try to assert these terms over content posted elsewhere--but the law limits their ability to succeed in that sort of broad assertion.

Disney's terms appear to refer to two categories of UGC made available via these platforms:

(1) If the UGC is entirely your own original work, then the terms state that you grant Disney a non-exclusive, royalty-free worldwide license to do what it wishes with the UGC. This license means Disney can use the UGC in a variety of ways, without attribution or compensation. Non-exclusive, royalty-free worldwide licenses are fairly common in the UGC world. Indeed, these licenses are often necessary for social media and other UGC websites to function (otherwise, they might not be able to display your content at all, which generally isn't what people want when they post something!). However, the license purportedly taken by Disney in its terms of use is somewhat unusual in its breadth and duration. Again, the extent to which Disney can assert its terms of use over UGC posted to third-party websites, apps, and platforms is limited, but please be aware of this term when interacting with any of Disney's platforms.

(2) The other type of UGC referenced in the terms is UGC that Disney has "authorized" users to post, upload, distribute, display, or perform that incorporates Disney's copyrighted works. Although we can't be sure, this probably refers to works that Disney has invited or challenged users to create and post. In that situation, Disney asserts that it has granted a license for that use of its copyrighted works within the UGC, with the condition that all rights in the resulting derivative work UGC is assigned back to Disney. The terms go on to state that a refusal to assign the rights in the derivative work to Disney would result in Disney revoking the license to use its copyrighted works in the UGC. Like the first category, this term is unusual in its breadth.

But it is important to note that not all uses of Disney's copyrighted works in UGC require a license from Disney. You do not need a license to create any derivative work that would be protected by fair use, and it is the OTW's position that noncommercial fanworks are creative and transformative works protected by the fair use doctrine. Therefore, Disney's terms grant your UGC a license on the condition that you assign all of your rights to Disney; but not all UGC requires that license in the first place. In that case, revoking the license would just mean that ordinary copyright law, including fair use, governs the UGC.

What's the tl;dr here? If you post something on a Disney platform (website, app, service, etc.), Disney's terms are likely to be enforceable. However, we do not believe Disney's one-sided assertion of control over anything it "allows" is broadly enforceable. If you post something on a non-Disney platform without doing anything to agree to Disney's terms, then copyright and trademark law, including fair use, provides the rules.


The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2020-05-12 17:43:49 -0400
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As you may already know, we've been busy here at the OTW over the last few months: usage of AO3 has risen significantly since much of the world went into lockdown (you can learn more about it in this stats post). With that in mind, it's not surprising that we've hit our next major milestone. Yes, that's right! We now host six million fanworks on the Archive of Our Own!

The AO3 launched in November 2009. It took 54 months - or four and a half years - before we reached the first million fanworks, in February 2014. The gaps between the milestones have been decreasing ever since; we hit two million in December 2015 (22 months), three million in April 2017 (16 months), four million in July 2018 (15 months), and five million in July 2019 (12 months). And now here we are just 10 months after that, celebrating our six millionth fanwork. Any bets on when we'll reach seven million?!

Six million is a huge number - so big that it's hard to conceptualise. But every individual fanwork is the product of somebody's time, thought, and imagination. We're so grateful to all of you, the fan creators and fanworks consumers who continue to make the Archive such a lively, enjoyable community. And if you'd like to celebrate by recommending one (or six!) of your favourite fanworks in the comments, we'd love to hear about them!

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As pandemic-related social distancing measures and lockdown orders have increased, we've received a lot of questions about whether use of the Archive has been affected. Has traffic gone up as people turn to fanworks for comfort? Are creators posting more works? Are people leaving more comments as they search for a sense of community? From a glance, it looks like the answer to these questions is yes!

The numbers

We've been keeping track of daily page views since the beginning of the year, and have also pulled some numbers from our database about works, chapters, comments, and kudos added every day for the past year. As always, we're watching our weekly traffic numbers and how they compare to the years before.

You can find all available data in this spreadsheet:

📈 AO3 Stats 2020 on Google Sheets

(This file reflects site usage up to April of 2020, and won't be updated going forward. Any interesting new numbers might be shared in future posts.)

Since Google's chart options are limited, feel free to use this data to make your own cool visualizations and share them in the comments!

Daily traffic

A chart showing daily traffic in 2020. Lowest records are around 35 million, highest around 50 million.
Chart: Daily page views for each month, with days of the week lined up to show the consistent traffic pattern. Hills represent the weekends, with a clear Sunday spike, valleys correspond to the middle of the week.

For the most part, our usual traffic pattern of busy Sunday spikes and slower days in the middle of the week has been holding. However, the hills and valleys have smoothed out into gentler waves, since the concept of weekends has become a bit blurry for some of us. There's also a lot more traffic overall.

Unfortunately, we lost a considerable chunk of our user base when the Archive became inaccessible in China around February 29. In the chart, this is reflected by the yellow line running well below the January and February spikes for about two weeks. Traffic increased again in mid-March, when many places in the U.S and elsewhere in the world began implementing social distancing policies (e.g. closing schools and restaurants and cancelling events) and issuing stay-at-home orders.

Table: Daily page views in millions for the six weeks between February 24 and April 5.

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
Feb 24 - Mar 01 39.4 38.3 37.9 38.2 37.0 40.2 42.8
Mar 02 - Mar 08 38.1 38.0 36.4 36.1 35.4 38.6 40.7
Mar 09 - Mar 15 37.9 37.4 37.7 34.9 34.7 38.4 41.5
Mar 16 - Mar 22 38.9 37.7 39.3 39.5 39.1 41.1 43.0
Mar 23 - Mar 29 41.7 41.8 41.6 41.7 41.7 43.7 45.9
Mar 30 - Apr 05 43.9 45.2 46.7 47.1 46.7 49.1 54.1

Comments and kudos

A chart showing increases in daily comments and weekly traffic in the past year. Comments between 60 thousand and 70 thousand for the most part, most recently above 100 thousand. Traffic going from 230 million to 270 million, then jumping to 330 million and up.
Chart: Daily number of comments as well as weekly traffic from May 1, 2019, to May 1, 2020. The comments create a zig-zag line (more comments on the weekends!) which rises sharply in mid-March. The weekly page views are a series of dots following roughly the same trend, but reaching not quite as high at the end.

For our traffic stats, we don't differentiate between users accessing a work, search results, or someone's dashboard, so we can't make any claims as to actual fanwork consumption habits. However, it's probably safe to assume that increased traffic means people are reading, watching, and listening to more fanworks (and, going by the numbers, also posting more of their own)!

Commenting behavior is a little easier to track, as we can count the number of new comments added each day. Interestingly, the sharp increase in comments starting mid-March seems to outpace even the increase in site traffic in the same time: while April traffic was up 24% from February, comments were up a staggering 42%!

Kudos haven't experienced quite the same level of growth as comments, although they have kept pace with traffic, going up 23% compared to February. The database now lovingly houses over 685 million kudos, with plenty of room for more thanks to our recent kudos migration.

Table: Average number of new works, chapters, comments, and kudos added to the Archive every day in 2020, broken down by month.

Average Daily Works Average Daily Chapters Average Daily Comments Average Daily Kudos Average Daily Page Views
January 3,749 10,233 71,278 557,248 39.0 million
February 4,237 11,003 71,016 567,513 38.9 million
March 3,928 11,535 76,621 573,369 39.8 million
April 4,551 13,731 100,916 697,047 48.2 million

Yearly developments

A chart showing weekly traffic year by year. Around 17 million mid-2012, 130 million mid-2016, 270 million in early 2020, and over 335 million in April 2020.
Chart: Archive traffic, as measured in weekly page views, broken down by year starting in 2012. Traffic has consistently increased every year, meaning each new dotted line starts higher than the one from the year before. In 2020, the general pattern of gentle ripples abruptly changes mid-March, as the dots shoot up into the sky.

The Archive has seen consistent growth throughout the years, both in terms of site traffic as well as number of accounts, fandoms, and fanworks. We currently have about 2.5 million registered users and almost 6 million works in over 36,700 fandoms. In the last week of April, we registered 340 million total page views.

Table: Weekly page view numbers (in millions) for the first weeks of January, April, July, and November, for each year from 2012 to 2020.

1st week of Jan 1st week of Apr 1st week of Jul 1st week of Nov
2012 16.7 20.3
2013 27.6 31.5 36.5 41.4
2014 49.5 53.6 62.2 66.0
2015 84.6 87.0 89.2 97.8
2016 119 128 132 128
2017 158 152 164 158
2018 189 180 188 179
2019 219 213 236 233
2020 281 331

Over the years, there have been times when the servers couldn't quite keep up with the increased site usage, and the coders, testers, and sysadmins had to scramble to keep the Archive from falling over. (Sometimes, it fell over for a bit.) While it can still be a challenge to manage a site as big as the Archive on volunteer power alone, knowing that fandom will have our back when it comes to server purchases and contract work makes it a little easier to plan ahead. We've come a long way from the first couple of machines to the 32 servers that currently house all the various parts of the Archive.

Of course, all the hardware wouldn't mean anything without people using the site. It's been heartening to see fandom come together and handle the ongoing worldwide crisis as a virtual community of artists, writers, cheerleaders, readers, listeners, bookmarkers, reccers, and lurkers. We are proud that you have made the Archive your home, and we thank you for all your support over the years. ❤️

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Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages

I. THANK YOU!

Our April membership drive, "Finding Community in Isolation," was a roaring success! Soaring above our target, donations to the Organization for Transformative Works totaled US$458,501 from 14,905 donors in 96 countries. That's US$328,501 and 253% more than our goal amount.

Thank you to Development & Membership for coordinating the drive and to Communications and Translation for their help publicizing the drive with two news posts translated into 36 languages. And special thanks to everyone who donated, signal boosted, and otherwise supported us through the drive - we're so incredibly grateful for all your generosity!

To learn more about where your donations go, check out the OTW's 2020 budget recently published by Finance. Finance also held a public chat on April 25 inviting users to ask questions about the budget.

II. AT THE AO3

The Archive of Our Own has been experiencing significantly increased traffic due to the ongoing global pandemic. To help our servers cope with this increase, Accessibility, Design, & Technology began caching works for logged-out users. This resulted in temporary issues with both guest hit counts and the adult content warning, so AD&T worked on those issues as well as some problems with the Terms of Service prompt the GDPR requires us to show to all users. Hits are now counted a bit differently, but visits from logged out users do make the counter go up again!

In March, Tag Wrangling handled more than 260,000 tags across 36,400 fandoms. At the time of this writing, Policy & Abuse had received about 1,300 tickets so far in April, while Support was expecting to blow past 2,000 tickets, particularly after receiving about 800 tickets in roughly 5 minutes when the Archive experienced a short disruption on April 22.

Finally, Open Doors was proud to announce the completion of 4 archive imports in 2019. Thank you to everyone for their kind words on the announcement post!

III. ELSEWHERE AT THE OTW

The pandemic shutdown across the globe has led to other effects for OTW committees. Communications has had media contacts about AO3 activity, since many people are turning to fanworks during this time. Some of the resulting articles may be coming to the OTW's Press Room. Meanwhile, the creativity being seen as people shelter in place has led Legal to work with allies on legal advocacy related to the copyright lessons being learned from it.

IV. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

From 23 March to 15 April, Volunteers & Recruiting received 45 new requests, and completed 43, leaving us with 17 open requests (including induction and removal tasks listed below).

As of 15 April the OTW has 870 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Staff: anotherone674, Bethanyw, Masha, serkestic, Tamara Jerée (all Fanlore); Alex Clark, Amy2, Darcy Lindbergh (all Volunteers & Recruiting)
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: abhorsen, AkiJ, BabelGhoti, Cia, cinnamonandtea, Corbae, dytabytes, Echuro, Eithe, Eliromie, EllipsisObsessed, Emily Fowl, Eri, Giles, Gracie, haru, Jacks, Jae Nguyen, Laula, Level4Chaos, MaoMao, Mika, MissMinnow, Myrtle, Mystikel, Nenya, Oniondip, pan2fel, Peaches, Ping, pyrrhuloxia, QED, Rhine, serkestic, Singy, snuffles, Thendal, UnderOrange, Wadeye, wick, Yonah and 1 other Tag Wrangler

Departing Committee Staff: memorizingthedigitsofpi (AO3 Documentation)
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 4 volunteers

For more information about the purview of our committees, please access the committee listing on our website.


The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2020-05-06 12:45:22 -0400
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Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter's arm with an OTW logo on it and the words 'OTW Recruitment'

Do you want to rescue at-risk fan archives? Would you like to assist AO3 users by resolving complaints? The Organization for Transformative Works is recruiting!

We're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Open Doors Staff - closing 13 May 2020 at 23:59 UTC or after 30 applications
  • Policy & Abuse Staff - closing 13 May 2020 at 23:59 UTC

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist our email address in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.

If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Open Doors Staff

Are you interested in the rescue and preservation of fanworks? Enjoy coordinating projects and liaising with people? Still guiltily--or not so guiltily--love the first fanwork that opened your eyes to fandom?

Open Doors is a committee dedicated to preserving fanworks in their many native formats, and is looking for staffers to support this goal. The work we do preserves fan history, love, and dedication to fandom: we keep online archives from going down, divert fanzines from the trash, and more.

If you're interested, click on through for a fuller description of what we're looking for and the time commitment.

Please note: You must be 18+ in order to apply for this role.

Applications are due 13 May 2020 at 23:59 UTC

Policy & Abuse Staff

The AO3 Policy & Abuse Committee is dedicated to helping users deal with the various situations that may arise. We also handle any complaints that come in about content uploaded to the Archive of Our Own. The team determines if complaints are about legitimate violations of the Terms of Service, and what to do about them if they are; our major goals are to adhere to the TOS, to make our reasoning and processes as clear and transparent as possible, and to keep every individual case completely confidential. We work closely with other AO3 related committees such as Support and Content.

We are seeking people who are self-motivated, are patient in rephrasing explanations, can make and document decisions, cooperate within and outside of their team, and ask for help when it's needed. Staffers need to be able to handle complex and sometimes-disturbing content, and must be able to commit a sufficient amount of time to the team on a regular basis.

Policy & Abuse staffers are required to spend at least 10-15 hours a week handling committee work, though it often tends to be more. Please be sure you can handle the workload before applying.

Please note: You must be 18+ in order to apply for this role.

Applications are due 13 May 2020 at 23:59 UTC

Apply at the volunteering page!

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