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OTW Elections 2020: are you ready?

It's almost election time! Being a member of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) means being able to vote for its Board of Directors. This helps affect how projects such as the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, and Transformative Works and Cultures are run now and going forward. This year, our election for the Board of Directors will be held from August 14 to August 17. (Access the full Elections Timeline for 2020.)

In order to vote, you need to be a member of the OTW by midnight UTC on June 30, 2020 (What time is that for me?). That means that you have to have made a donation of US$10 or more between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, AND have chosen the "membership" option. If you're unsure whether this applies to a donation you've made, please contact our Development & Membership team.

If you participate in this voter registration drive, you will receive a specially designed icon, only available during this drive. Thank you for your support of the OTW! Register to vote today!

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In recent weeks, there have been intense conversations about long-standing issues with racism in fandom, as well as the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) and Archive of Our Own (AO3)'s roles in this problem. We have received valid criticism for not showing our commitment earlier and numerous requests to clarify our position. We would therefore like to take a moment to address our users and fandom at large.

The OTW stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. We apologize to anyone who has suffered from our inaction in making the OTW and AO3 a better environment for Black fans and fans of color. And we apologize especially to users who, due to this very inaction, have felt unwelcome on AO3. We also apologize to the scholars whose work we cited out of context, leading to their harassment and distress.

We have heard your voices and feedback; we vow to do better in the future, as outlined in our initial response plan below.

Upcoming AO3 changes

AO3 was designed specifically with maximum inclusivity of content in mind, and we remain committed to that principle. When it comes to which fanworks are allowed on AO3, there will always be significant tension between maximum inclusivity of content and making the Archive a welcoming space for all fans.

We can, however, do a better job of helping users curate their own experience on AO3 and avoid works they do not wish to see. We can also implement more tools to prevent and combat harassment. In the coming months, we plan to prioritize our ongoing work on several changes to give users greater control of their AO3 experience:

  • Providing work creators more control over comments on their works by offering the ability to freeze specific comment threads or turn off comments entirely. The option to turn off comments will be on the posting and editing forms for individual works and on the Edit Multiple Works page, alongside the existing options to turn off guest comments and/or turn on comment moderation.
  • Improving collection searching and filtering to make searching collections by fandom return collections that include bookmarks in the specified fandom. This will help users build and locate curated spaces within AO3 using the collections feature.
  • Improving admin tools behind the scenes to facilitate investigations by our Policy & Abuse team.
  • Reviewing our Terms of Service and potentially drafting revisions that will allow our Policy & Abuse team to address different types of harassment not covered under the current Terms of Service.
  • Reassessing current warnings and discussing the possibility of implementing others in the future. This is an extremely complex issue in terms of definition, implementation, and sustainable enforcement. It is not one that will be quickly or easily addressed, but we are discussing all possibilities in detail.
  • We will also continue our design work on additional features like user muting and blocking and explore other possibilities like saved searches to filter out certain works, tag muting, or taking user-added bookmark tags into account with filtering.

The above list is by no means comprehensive—we are committed to continuing to develop features that will improve our users' experience of the Archive and put them in control.

Upcoming OTW changes

Ongoing conversations have brought to light a need for us to reconsider the way we recognize and deal with issues that some of our volunteers may experience. To ensure that all voices are heard, we have opened new channels to allow for more open, honest feedback from our volunteers, and will use this feedback to identify areas in which the OTW most urgently needs to do better.

From this, we hope to build a long-term strategy that will include specific internal goals and structural improvements, which can be further divided into clear, actionable steps that we can incorporate into our upcoming Strategic Plan. As part of this, we will be considering various avenues including, but not limited to, reaching out to an external contractor or partnering with an advocacy group, and will be actively researching credible resources in the coming months.

We recognize that this careful approach will take time as we need to make sure any steps are taken responsibly and with a clear scope and objective, while also keeping up with the other duties and obligations of OTW governance. However, we believe that it is an important step to take in creating a stronger OTW for all.

Next steps

We realize that these issues and ideas are not new. We have heard these criticisms before and failed to meet many fans' expectations. We also understand that these measures are only small steps. Unfortunately, this is a complex issue with no easy answers and no simple solutions. This means that it isn't something we can fix with funding alone. We must be mindful when implementing any features or policies to consider their ramifications carefully, so that changes do not end up compounding existing problems.

Even in cases where we can't meet particular requests due to practical considerations, we will listen and consider them, and assess whether we can accomplish the same goals via other means.

We once again apologize for our shortcomings and remain, as always, open to hearing from you. We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all those who have taken the time to discuss this issue and contact us about it, and we welcome all feedback, now and always. The OTW is made by fans for fans, and we are always open to hearing fans' thoughts on what we're doing and how we could do better.

The OTW Board of Directors
OTW Chairs & Leads

The OTW Board of Directors can be reached for direct feedback and further suggestions via email.

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Published:
2020-06-24 13:39:57 -0400
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In this batch of fixes, we rewrote large parts of the code that updates work and bookmark listings when a tag is wrangled (e.g. made canonical or added as a synonym of another tag). Now the process is much less error-prone and we have some shiny new troubleshooting tools in case anything goes wrong. \o/ We also fixed several issues concerning hit counts and notification emails, improved our automated test suite, and generally tidied up a bit around the place.

Special thanks to new contributors J, Stephen Burrows, and Tyme!

Credits

  • Coders: Alix R, cosette, dlhardin, DreamSea, J, james_, redsummernight, Sarken, Stephen Burrows, teyla, ticking instant, Tyme
  • Code reviewers: bingeling, james_, redsummernight, Sarken, ticking instant
  • Testers: Alyndra, Booksarelife, C. Ryan Smith, Chelsea Eidbo, cosette, Danielle Strong, GoldenFalls, james_, lydia-theda, mumble, Paula, QED, Qem, Rebecca Sentance, redsummernight, Sammie Louise, Sarken, teyla, ticking instant

Details

0.9.286

Focus on hit counts and automated tests, deployed on April 22.

  • [AO3-4622] - The hit count preferences hadn't been working properly for many years, so we removed them.
  • [AO3-5905] - We've rewritten the hit count code so we can count hits while caching works. Check out our post Guest hit counting is coming back for more information on hit counts.
  • [AO3-4750] - We added a link to work blurbs that will take you to a work's latest chapter.
  • [AO3-5757] - We've updated the gem that runs our feature tests.
  • [AO3-5338] - In many of our automated tests, we use factories to create test data. The most frequently used work factory turned out to be creating drafts, not posted works, which wasn't great: in most cases, we want to know how our code interacts with the latter. We've updated the factory and the tests to run on works unless we specifically need to test drafts.
  • [AO3-5921] - Some of our automated tests would occasionally fail due to timing issues, so we made some changes to make them less flaky.

0.9.287

Focus on tag wrangling and filtering, deployed on May 28.

The always wonderful ticking instant -- who you may remember as the coder responsible for the massive speed improvements for gift exchange matching in 2016 -- rewrote some of the code responsible for making sure works and bookmarks are included in the proper tag listings.

The previous version of the code was subject to race conditions, so sometimes (e.g. during periods of heavy load) changes to the way a tag was wrangled wouldn't affect which listings a work (or bookmark) with that tag was included in. ticking instant has rewritten the code so it won't be subject to those race conditions and provided new troubleshooting tools in case something else goes wrong.

  • [AO3-5617], [AO3-4965], [AO3-3830] - Works would sometimes not appear in the tag listings after synning a tag to canonical, or making a tag into a canonical. Now they do.
  • [AO3-5618] - When an admin syns a canonical to another canonical (decanonizing the first canonical in the process), all of the connections (e.g. fandoms) from the formerly canonical tag are supposed to move to the new canonical. They were just vanishing, though. Now they'll transfer correctly.
  • [AO3-3768] - When a wrangler makes a tag into a synonym, the syn is supposed to pick up information from the canonical tag (e.g. a synned fandom tag should acquire the canonical fandom's media tag). It wasn't always doing that, but now it should be.
  • [AO3-4077] - If a wrangler removed a subtag from a metatag that had its own metatag, the works from the subtag would still stick around in the work listing for the metatag's metatag. Now the works will disappear, since the relationship between the two tags no longer exists.
  • [AO3-5343] - Wranglers would get an error when adding a metatag to a tag that had two levels of subtags. Now they can do that.
  • [AO3-5432] - Decanonizing a tag without first removing its metatags would sometimes fail to remove the formerly canonical tag's works or bookmarks from the metatag's listings. Now the works are removed.
  • [AO3-5433] - In certain cases, if an admin attempted to edit an external work to simultaneously add and remove a tag, the external work's bookmarks would stay on in the listing for the old tag and not appear in the listing for the new one. Now the bookmarks go where they're supposed to.
  • [AO3-5507] - Imagine, if you will, a tag tree structured thusly: a metatag (e.g. Animals) with the direct subtags A and B (e.g. Cats and Dogs), and then another subtag of subtag A (e.g. Ragdoll Cats). Now imagine posting a work tagged with both Dogs and Ragdoll Cats, making it appear in the Animals tag. But then, one day, a wrangling change comes! We remove Ragdoll Cats as a subtag of Cats. And like magic, our work vanishes from the listings for the Animals tag. Except we don't want magic here: our work is still tagged with Dogs, which is still connected to our Animals metatag. We've put an end to these sorts of disappearing acts, and made any works affected by this bug reappear in their proper place.
  • [AO3-5508] - Let's say we have the metatag Foods with the two subtags Fruits and Vegetables, and the tag Tomatoes is subtagged to both Fruits and Vegetables. Then, one day, we decide vegetables are not food (just kidding, veggies, we love you! 🥦), and we remove the Vegetables subtag from the Foods metatag. Furthermore, we decide tomatoes are not vegetables, and we remove the Vegetables metatag from the Tomatoes subtag. During all this wrangling, we were losing the connection between the Tomatoes tag and the Foods tag, which would keep new works with the Tomatoes tag from appearing in the Foods tag. Now we've made sure that connection stays intact, so anything posted with the Tomatoes tag will -- in our hypothetical scenario -- appear in the Foods tag as well (because Tomatoes are still Fruits). We've also fixed the problem on any existing works.
  • [AO3-5945] - Systems updated some settings to make sure users who were browsing the insecure version of the Archive wouldn't get bumped to the secure version.
  • [AO3-5783] - We removed an old rake task.
  • [AO3-5943] - We've told the tool that informs us about code style violations that there are some things we'd like it not to complain about.
  • [AO3-5927] - Some of our automated tests for the autocomplete would occasionally fail because the animation effect took too long to fire, meaning the autocomplete options weren't fully expanded by the time the tests started looking for them. We've disabled the animations to prevent these failures.

0.9.288

Focus on miscellaneous bug fixes and infrastructure updates, deployed on June 17.

  • [AO3-4874] - We were stripping HTML and paragraph breaks out of summaries in subscription emails, which could make them hard to read. We've stopped doing that.
  • [AO3-5332] - If a co-creator who was added only to one or more chapters (and not as co-creator of the whole work) removed themselves from the last chapter they co-created, they would still be co-creator for the whole work, with editing permissions. That clearly needed to be fixed, so we did.
  • [AO3-5721] - It wasn't possible to delete a challenge from a collection unless you had JavaScript enabled. We've made it work if you have JavaScript disabled.
  • [AO3-5938] - In the line of stats (words, comments, kudos, etc.) in a bookmark blurb, the links had lost their bottom border, making it impossible to tell that they were links. We've added some room for the borders, making the numbers pop again.
  • [AO3-5736] - When you create an account and try to log in before you have confirmed your email address, you now receive a more helpful error message, i.e. "Please check your email for the confirmation link."
  • [AO3-5266] - We now enforce HTTPS for embeds from Vidders.net.
  • [AO3-5940] - To prevent failures when sending out notifications, we are now making sure that all necessary information has been committed to the database (and not merely saved by the user, possibly needing a second to make its way into the system) before we put the email together and add it to the mailer queue.
  • [AO3-5965] - When a request comes in from a user with an expired session, we respond with an error, but we didn't do this for all possible request types. That caused errors on our end, especially due to the requests going to the hit counter. We're handling those in the proper manner now.
  • [AO3-5948] - All our cookies now last a maximum of one year.
  • [AO3-5828] - We have added the ability to safelist IP addresses so they won't be affected by restrictions (e.g. on the number of database requests per minute) that we impose through the Rack::Attack gem.
  • [AO3-5936] - On the actual Archive, we use a type of caching that we weren't using in our automated tests. Because we want our tests to resemble our actual set up as closely as possible, we've started using that sort of caching there as well.
  • [AO3-5960] - We updated the actionpack-page_caching gem to version 1.2.2.
  • [AO3-5971] - We updated the websocket-extensions gem to version 0.1.5.
  • [AO3-5422], [AO3-5423], [AO3-5425], [AO3-5426] - We removed unused code from a number of places. Yay, tidying!

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Published:
2020-06-23 15:07:35 -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 Amy2, who volunteers as a Development & Membership staffer and graphic designer.

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

Owning the servers and lack of advertising are both key parts of the OTW’s mission, but to do that, we rely on user donations. The Development & Membership committee (DevMem) is responsible for the fundraising efforts, which are largely focused around the April and October drives. My job is to make the graphics—drive headers, member icons, designs for donation gifts, etc. -- as well as some membership data work. (The latter is mostly moving spreadsheet columns around, and updating donors’ addresses and donation gift requests.)

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

At the beginning of the week, I go through the DevMem inbox to make sure that we’ve answered all the donor questions. We have a meeting midweek, and if it’s time to send out a batch of donation gifts, I get in touch with everyone who needs to confirm their address with us. (Or: I’m sending follow-up emails to the people I haven’t heard back from.) My tag wrangling bins are fairly slow — shoutout to those of you dabbling in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology! — so I usually only check on those once a week or so as well.

If we’re a couple of months out from a drive or election (i.e. about 50% of the time,) I’ll have graphics to work on. Once those are ready, it’s pretty quiet for me until the drive starts up, at which point we try to have as many hands on deck as possible to answer emails.

I’m currently in training for the Volunteer & Recruitment Committee, so I don’t know what a typical week there is yet! But right now, for me, it’s tutorials.

You started out as a graphic designer and later added the role of membership data specialist, as well as joining Tag Wrangling and Volunteers & Recruiting. What made you decide to expand your volunteering into other parts of the organization besides graphics?

When I joined DevMem, we only had one person doing pretty much all membership data work — they’re a hero and should be honored as such — and when it got to the point that that really wasn’t working anymore, a couple of us were trained on the database so we could help take the load off. I volunteered for that because I had the fewest responsibilities outside of drive season, so it seemed like a good way to be helpful.

Around that point I started getting more involved in the social side of the OTW, where I learned more about what other people were doing, and what work looked interesting to me.* One of the best parts of being an OTW volunteer is the other volunteers, who can always be counted on to enable encourage you to push yourself and try new things.

*This also put me in the path of evangelizing tag wranglers.

What’s your favorite task or project that you have worked on for the OTW?

This is a hard one! I’d probably have to say the Hugo Award merchandise. The weeks after we won were obviously an exciting time for the AO3 community, and it was very special to help mark that occasion. It was also the first time I had the chance to design a donation gift, so it was gratifying to see how popular they were — though they may have had to excavate our premiums specialist out from under the piles of stickers.

I also really enjoyed making the April 2020 drive banner and member icon: they include favorite tags from nearly all of our translation teams, which was a neat glimpse into what tropes and turns of phrase are popular in the non-English speaking parts of AO3. It was fun to watch people on Twitter find their languages’ tags.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Read fic, write fic, make book covers for fics, ramble about books and media that I love at one in the morning on tumblr dot com... the usual. Lately I’ve been learning InDesign by formatting my favorite fanfics and having them printed in book format: if this lockdown lasts much longer, I may end up with a dedicated fanfiction shelf in my bookcase.


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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The Organization for Transformative Works is pleased to announce the following candidates for the 2020 Election (in alphabetical order by given name):

  • Alex Tischer
  • Jess White
  • Kati Eggert
  • Nicole Abraham
  • Tyme LaDow
  • Zoë Tucker

Edited July 26: Per an announcement, Tyme Ladow withdrew from the ballot.

Because we have 3 seats to be filled and 6 candidates, the 2020 election will be contested – that is, the members of the OTW will vote on which candidates fill the seats.

The Elections Committee is excited to introduce the candidates to all of the members of the OTW! Included in this post are links to short Bios and Platforms written by the candidates. This post also marks the beginning of our Q&A period, during which we invite the public to submit questions for the candidates. Additionally, we will be holding a series of live chats – dates and times for those are to be announced based on candidate availability. Information on the voting period and how to vote will also be posted shortly.

In the meantime, there is a timeline of Elections events available here for your reference. Read on to learn more about our candidates and how you can submit questions for them!

Platforms and Bios

We asked each candidate to provide us with a Bio that sums up their professional and fannish experience, as well as to write a Platform about their goals for their term on the Board by answering the following questions:

  • Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?
  • What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
  • Choose one or two goals for the OTW that are important to you and that you would be interested in working on during your term. Why do you value these goals? How would you work with others to achieve them?
  • What is your experience with the OTW’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Try to include a range of projects, though feel free to emphasize particular ones you have experience with.
  • How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the OTW, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?

You can read both the candidates’ answers to these questions and their bios by following the links below.

Question & Answer (Q&A)

Candidates will also answer questions from the public. Anyone may submit questions via the Elections form. Please submit all questions by 11:59pm UTC on June 29 (what time is that where I live?). All candidates will answer each question submitted, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Questions can be a maximum of 50 words long.
  • Questions must not be repeats of questions from the Platforms. This is to allow candidates to spend their time answering new questions.
  • Similar questions will be grouped together so candidates don’t have to repeat themselves. Elections staff will decide which questions are similar enough to group.
  • If you have a follow-up to a Platform question, please specifically mention that it is a follow-up so it isn’t treated as a repeat.

The posting date for answers will be chosen depending on the number of questions received. Posts will be spread out, arranged by topic, to make it easier for voters to read all the answers.

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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. FANLORE BINGO CHALLENGE

In May, Fanlore ramped up the preparations for their June Bingo Challenge with some fun themed social media posts. The Bingo Challenge is an annual two-week challenge taking place in the first two weeks of June. Challenges are presented on 3x3 bingo cards, with each square containing a different editing challenge. Complete the editing tasks, achieve Bingo! or even Blackout, and win unique badges to show off and display on your Fanlore User page. There are both Beginner and Expert level challenges for newbie editors and seasoned pros. The Bingo Challenge is taking place until June 14: come and take part!

II. AT THE AO3

The Archive of Our Own hit a major milestone this past month, reaching a total of 6 million fanworks posted to the Archive on May 12! Communications commemorated this achievement with a public post which noted that it only took 10 months for the total posted fanworks on the AO3 to jump from 5 million to 6 million.

The speed with which we reached the 6 million mark can partly be attributed to the increased traffic to the Archive since many regions entered lockdown due to the current pandemic. Accessibility, Design, & Technology discussed the recent increases in traffic, posted fanworks, kudos, and comments in a statistics post.

Systems has been busy moving virtual machines onto our new VM hosts and bringing our new firewalls into service. They're also in the process of replacing some of their older servers with newer ones that draw less power. Together with Accessibility, Design, & Technology, Systems changed the IP address the AO3 uses for outgoing mail. They expected this to cause mails from the archive to be delayed or even rejected by email providers, so account creation and invitations were temporarily disabled. That way, the respective emails didn't get lost without ever reaching their recipient.

In May, Policy & Abuse received about 1,000 tickets, and Support received about 1,200 tickets. In April, Tag Wrangling wrangled approximately 343,000 tags — the largest number in any month since the Archive’s creation - keeping up with the substantial increase in tagging that accompanied the recent surge in traffic.

III. ELSEWHERE AT THE OTW

The 2020 Board of Directors election is fast approaching! Elections, Communications, and Translation collaborated to post the Elections Timeline and additional details about membership and the elections process. If you want to vote in this year's election, the last date to become a member is June 30. The deadline for OTW volunteers to declare their candidacy is June 19, and candidates will be announced on June 21.

May brought some very public new developments in the terms of Disney’s apps and platforms. Legal wrote an educational post explaining what those terms of service mean for fans and why they don’t change anything about the AO3. Legal has also been hard at work on some copyright law advocacy projects for the coming months.

IV. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

From 15 April to 23 May, Volunteers & Recruiting received 124 new requests, and completed 118, leaving us with 23 open requests (including induction and removal tasks listed below).

As of 23 May the OTW has 886 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Staff: Ace, Indigo, Kelli Randoja, Miss Sycamore, Pangxiuluojun, petricores, Re_Tails, TC, yufei, Zoey, Zurich Z and 9 other Support Staffers; Zoey (Communications); Erlkoenig (Policy & Abuse), 1 Fanlore staff
New Translation Volunteers: CelinaK, Ines, Sima Cass and 7 other volunteers

Departing Committee Staff: Kelly Gritten & Scylle (AO3 Documentation); 1 Elections staffer; Chai (Tag Wrangling)
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Dia, Elanya and 1 other volunteer
Departing Translation Volunteers: 2 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:
2020-06-03 13:26:45 -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'

Are you fluent in a language other than English? The Organization for Transformative Works is recruiting!

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

  • Translation Volunteer - closing 10 June 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.

Translation Volunteer

If you enjoy working collaboratively, if you're fluent in a language other than English, if you’re passionate about the OTW and its projects, and want to help us reach more fans all around the world, working with Translation might be for you!

Translation volunteers help make the OTW and its projects accessible to a wider global audience. We work on translating content by the OTW and its projects from English to other languages, such as site pages, news posts, AO3 FAQs and AO3 Support emails. (However, we do not translate fanworks.)

We really need volunteers who speak Afrikaans, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Estonian, Filipino, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Macedonian, Marathi, Persian, Romanian, Slovenian, Thai and Welsh—but help with other languages would be much appreciated. If you're interested in starting a team for a language we don't have yet, you're very welcome to!

(Please note that our Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese-BR, Portuguese-PT, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese teams are not accepting new members at this time.)

Applicants may be asked to translate and correct short text samples and will be invited to a chatroom interview as part of the selection process.

More information about us can be found on the Translation committee page.

Applications are due 10 June 2020

Apply at the volunteering page!

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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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