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Published:
2021-09-19 12:46:25 -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 Cyn, who volunteers as a co-chair for our Volunteers & Recruiting Committee.

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

I currently wear three hats: Translation Staff, Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) Staff and being one of VolCom’s co-chairs. I’m also a former Tag Wrangler, Open Doors Staffer, and Support Staffer.

VolCom staff ensure all volunteers have access to the necessary tools and resources needed to complete their work efficiently and effectively. We also process any volunteer onboardings (adding tools as needed) and volunteer departures (ensuring all tools are removed). One of our key responsibilities is to work with chairs of other committees to facilitate the administrative aspects of our monthly recruitment so that all roles in our organization are appropriately staffed. Since the OTW runs on the energy of volunteers who have decided to give their time and resources to it, I consider VolCom to be a key part of ensuring the OTW continues to operate smoothly. VolCom also works on long-term projects that affect the organization as a whole, such as the implementation of new tools, auditing tool access or developing a chair training plan that covers OTW-specific skills as well as more general leadership and management skills.

As one of VolCom’s co-chairs, I supervise staff to make sure everyone has tasks to work on, recruit and train newbies, ensure goals and tasks listed in our committee’s roadmap are being worked on, ensure documentation of our processes and projects is up to date and help other chairs with resolving Code of Conduct violations.

The Translation Committee helps coordinate the OTW’s efforts across the organization to translate site pages, news posts, AO3 FAQs, and more. In my role as a Translation staffer, I am mostly involved with volunteer management which includes such things as assigning tasks to translators, running interviews and training chats, and handling any hiatus requests. I also help other committees if they need something translated, such as helping Policy & Abuse and Support with getting any tickets they may need to be translated that they can’t translate themselves.

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

Every week in VolCom is different so I may work on any of the following:

  1. Welcoming and adding access to tools for new volunteers or removing a volunteer’s tool access if they are leaving the OTW.
  2. Updating our internal volunteer database of who is starting or returning from a hiatus.
  3. If a volunteer requests a name and/or email change, updating our internal volunteer database and any tools the volunteer has access to.
  4. Processing requests to give a volunteer access to a tool.
  5. Responding to general volunteering queries.
  6. Working on one of our long-term projects.
  7. If VolCom recently recruited new volunteers, I might spend some time during the week following up with them about their progress and/or walking them through our different tasks.

One of the more regular tasks I work on is processing requests for recruitment. If recruitment is 1-2 weeks away, I’ll deliver feedback to chairs on their recruitment documentation and training plan, set up the website application form, make the advertising post to give to Communications to send out when recruitment begins, and document which role is being recruited for our internal volunteer database. If we’re in the middle of recruitment I’ll organize the applications we received and, once recruitment is over, send the apps to committee chairs.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I see my volunteering as my way to give back to fandom since I’m a huge reader but not much of a writer. Although I’ve been reading fanfic for many years, I didn’t really stop to consider who ran the Archive of Our Own until one day when I happened to see the post looking for volunteers to join the Tag Wrangling Committee. That got me curious about who ran the Archive so I read more about the OTW and its projects. I loved that it was a non-profit organization run by and for fans so I decided to apply.

After joining the OTW as a wrangler, I was able to learn even more about the OTW’s projects and what goes on internally to keep everything running. I joined the Open Doors Committee to help save at-risk archives before learning more about VolCom from another volunteer who was on both the Open Doors and VolCom Committees. I thought the type of tasks VolCom did were the types of things I really enjoyed doing in my day job, so when I was asked if I was interested in joining I said yes and here we are!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had are the projects VolCom works on. Our projects can require a lot of time, research, and prior knowledge in related fields, and sometimes it's not clear until we’re in the middle of a project what needs to get done or what pathway to follow to carry a project out.

Another challenge I have is balancing my workload and communicating with VolCom staffers during busy periods. My day jobs have taken up a lot of time this year, so I’ve had to work on rebalancing real life and my volunteer commitments. Luckily one of my jobs is flexible and I usually have time to answer questions from VolCom staff or other volunteers during work hours. If I don’t have time during the day, then I work on volunteering when I should be sleeping (who needs sleep?).

What fannish things do you like to do?

Other than volunteering, I love to read fanfic, listen to podfics or watch fanvids. I’ve been reading fanfic since the very early 2000s when I started reading Sailor Moon fanfic on A Sailor Moon Romance. I then moved to Fanfiction.net looking for more fics and realized there were a lot more fandoms with fics I could read. I eventually wandered my way over to AO3 and I’ve been reading in many different fandoms ever since. I’m currently reading fics in 9-1-1, MCU, The Witcher, and Yuri on Ice with many more to come I’m sure.


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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Published:
2021-08-29 12:20:29 -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 lydia-theda, who volunteers as a Policy & Abuse staffer.

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

The Archive of Our Own was created to protect and preserve transformative fanworks of all kinds. As a fanwork archive, we believe in maximum inclusiveness of content: if you’ve created a fanwork—whether fiction or meta; derivative or original work; fanfic, fanart, fanmix, podfic, or fanvid—then regardless of the subject matter, your fanwork is welcome on AO3.

You’ll need to choose an appropriate rating, warning, fandom, and language, but (with the exception of language) you don’t have to be specific. When it comes to the Archive’s required tags, using the “Not Rated” rating, “Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings” warning, and “Unspecified Fandom” or “Undisclosed Fandom” fandom tags is like saying Here be dragons, and that’s perfectly fine and valid. Of course, you’re also welcome to pick the more specific ratings and warnings, and/or get really detailed in your fandom, character, relationship, and additional tags.

Currently, AO3 hosts approximately 8 million works, created by 4 million users and tagged with over 16 million tags. As a tag wrangler, I help sort and connect all those tags so that users can more easily find—or avoid—particular content. And as part of the Policy & Abuse committee (PAC), I investigate reports about content and behaviors that violate the AO3 Terms of Service. (If you didn’t know, the Report Abuse link is located at the bottom of every AO3 page.)

We only need one report in order to investigate any given case, and the more details about the user and their works or comments you include in that report, the better. A minimum of two real human beings review every single report we receive, to ensure that we are interpreting the Terms of Service consistently and that we only act when the reported user isn’t following the rules.

If the content doesn’t violate the Terms of Service, then the report is rejected and the fanwork remains on the Archive.

But if you post things that aren’t fanworks (like fic searches, prompts, or social media posts), mention anything about making money from your work, reproduce someone else’s work without permission, harass other users, or otherwise violate the Terms of Service, then we may send you an email warning you that what you did isn’t allowed on AO3, and explaining exactly what you need to do to fix the issue and what will happen if you don’t.

All reports are confidential, and all user communication occurs via email, whether that’s the email address associated with your AO3 account or the one you entered into the form when making a report. Please make sure your email is correct and that you check it (and your spam folder) regularly!

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

Every day, I receive hundreds of email/mobile notifications about the latest reports, updates to active cases, and other messages. As a volunteer, I do what I can, when I have the time and spoons to do it. So, if I only have a few minutes here and there, or if I’m on my phone, I’ll do little things: reviewing drafts for typos, reading and contributing to ongoing discussions, browsing through and claiming tickets, or making notes on incoming reports to help whoever eventually takes the case.

When I have a larger block of time, I’ll work on some of the tickets I picked up earlier. For any given case, the first thing I do is collect, organize, and verify all of the relevant information in order to determine whether there’s been a violation and how to handle it. If the case is borderline or particularly complicated, I may need to bring it to the team for discussion or consult with other committees, such as AD&T, Support, Translation, or Legal. Once I’ve decided what the appropriate action should be, I’ll draft all necessary responses and ask another team member to review my work and (if they didn’t find any errors) sign off on the case. If any of my responses need to be translated, I’ll get that done before sending the emails out. If I gave a user a deadline to do something, I’ll follow up after the deadline has passed to see if they did the thing. If they did, great; if not … well, that depends on the case.

On top of all that, I try to do a bit of wrangling every week, whether that’s checking the fandoms I’m assigned to for new tags, evaluating if my fandoms’ existing tags meet current guidelines, or working on large-scale projects with other wranglers. Once a month or so, I help AD&T test the latest releases, which mostly amounts to poking things they’ve coded to make sure they work right (and occasionally finding out that they don’t).

What made you decide to volunteer?

One day I stumbled upon one of the AO3 news posts which was asking for tag wranglers. I had no idea what that was, but it seemed like an interesting way to contribute to fandom, so I applied.

I joined PAC about a year later, after talking with a few friends who were on the team and thinking that the type of work PAC does and the kind of people they are sounded exactly like it’d fit with my interests and personality. While I don’t think I would have had the courage to apply to PAC from the start, I’m very glad I’m here now.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

Particularly in the last year or so, there’s been a huge increase in site traffic. More users means more content, and more content means more tags to wrangle and more reports to process. On both of my committees, we’ve had to take steps to try and keep up with the higher workload.

I’m just one of over a thousand volunteers from around the world, all of whom are devoting our free time to the OTW’s various projects. Everything we do—research, testing, discussion, coordination, documentation, recruitment, training, policy decisions, procedural changes, guideline reviews, normal day-to-day work—takes time and effort, and not everyone has those to spare on any given day. Misunderstandings are going to happen, so patience and kindness are crucial. Apologize when you mess up, try to figure out where you went wrong, and commit to doing better in the future.

What fannish things do you like to do?

While I will occasionally create fanart or beta fics for friends, I wouldn’t have discovered AO3 if I didn’t read fic, and I read fic nearly every day. Nowadays I get most of my recs from wrangling and reports, lol. I also spend a lot of time chatting with other OTW volunteers, whether about our work, the fandoms we’re in together, interesting things we found online … plus, I’ll never say no to a cute cat pic ^_^


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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Published:
2021-07-22 13:15:38 -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 Fiona M, who volunteers as an AO3 Documentation staffer.

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

I’m an AO3 Documentation Committee staff, so I’m part of the team that writes the AO3 FAQs and any other documentation you might find on the Archive, like tutorials.

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

My weeks vary a lot depending on what kind of tasks I’ve taken on, and what stage the document is at. Some weeks I put in a lot of hours, and some weeks I don’t put in a ton of time.

Usually I start at the beginning of the week by filling out our check-in and catching up on what the other staff are working on. I also check to see if any documents have been moved to the open (“free-for-all”) beta read stage, so I know if I need to make time for a beta read during the week.

Then, I work on the tasks I have assigned to me. That might be drafting a new document, or beta-reading someone else’s document. I might be testing out new archive features and taking notes so I can write about them, discussing grammar and phrasing issues with other staff, checking HTML code, or any of the other various steps needed to take an FAQ document from the beginning of drafting to the end point of uploading new/updated documents to AO3.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I really wanted to be able to give back to the organization that has given me so much. I am super passionate about the importance of fanfic, both in my personal life, and as an art form in general. Transformative works have been quite literally transformative for me. I’ve read legitimately life-changing fics, as well as made some wonderful friends through reading and writing fic.

I had been keeping my eye on volunteer postings for a while, and the kind of work that Docs does aligned well with my skills. I’ve now been a volunteer for almost two years, and I love getting to have a hand in helping others understand how to use the site.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

I’ve had to learn a lot about Archive features that I didn’t know how to use! When you’re suddenly testing all the instructions on how to run a Prompt Meme, for example, first you have to quickly learn what a Prompt Meme is! But that’s been a wonderful challenge that I enjoy very much. Being an AO3 Docs staffer has made me so much more knowledgeable about all the features the site offers and everything that users can do.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I write a lot of fanfic, mostly for sitcom fandoms. I read fanfic almost every day as well, whether I’m rereading old favourites, or looking for new fics. I also run a tiny Tumblr blog where I rec fics, write meta and just in general discuss my favourite characters.


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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Published:
2021-06-22 13:00:38 -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 Jenny McDevitt, who volunteers as a co-chair and communications specialist in our Elections Committee.

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

I’m a Co-Chair and Communications Specialist for the Elections Committee. We run the annual elections where OTW members elect who sits on the OTW’s Board of Directors. We work hard to ensure all the seats on the Board are full, preferably by holding contested elections so that our Board is made up of members who represent the interests of OTW members. The process involves recruiting candidates, ensuring both OTW staff and OTW members know the details of the election process, running election events like Q&A and chats, and setting up the election software itself.

As a Communications Specialist, I write templates for internal and external newsposts and coordinate with the Translation and Communications committees to post election news every year. As a Co-Chair, I support the rest of the committee in their work, do administrative paperwork, and help recruit new Elections Committee members (my favourite part of the year!)

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

“Typical” really depends on what time of year it is! Before the election, we decide on the election dates, coordinate the posting schedule, get all our posts for the season ready to go, and update the Elections website with new deadlines. During the election season, I show up when it’s time to publish newsposts, lend support to our Candidate Liaisons, sometimes moderate chats if we need an extra hand, am present when we open and close the election, and am generally on-call in case something needs attention.

After the election, we collect feedback from other committees and from the candidates to help us make our roadmap for the next year. We try to improve the election process for everyone every year. This is also when we recruit new committee members! From there, our workload is quieter while we make those changes in response to feedback, and then the whole cycle starts over with the lead-up to the election.

What made you decide to volunteer?

It was 2014 when I first started volunteering, which seems like a lifetime ago. I remember being excited to make some friends, give back to fandom, and get a useful CV line while doing it, and I’ve certainly been able to do those things. I value my Elections Committee colleagues, especially those I’ve been working with for years, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I’d also never heard about the OTW election process at the time, and I felt that we should try to improve our visibility, as well as work to maintain the integrity of the election process. I’m really proud of the work we’ve been able to do in that regard.

What part of your work do you find most interesting?

I love meeting the candidates every year and helping them through the process of running in the election. We get such a wide range of people from around the OTW and the world, and it’s always interesting to read about their accomplishments as OTW volunteers and hear their opinions during the Q&A and chats we run. That answer might be cheating, though—everyone can meet our candidates by following the election.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’m first and foremost a fic reader and writer, but I love consuming podfic, vids, and art as well! I’ve been primarily writing in Men’s Hockey RPF for the past few years, but I also livetweet Critical Role religiously every week and have recently succumbed to the relentless charms of BTS. I’m always reading in many fandoms, and I’m a huge multishipper—I’ll read almost anything, but I have a soft spot for pairings no one else is paying attention to. I’ve been the first to post a fic in more than one rarepair tag and written the primers to convince people to join me to varying success.


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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Published:
2020-11-16 10:58:41 -0500
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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 Paula, who volunteers as a staffer in AO3's Support Committee.

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

I’m Support Staff and a tag wrangler. As a Tag Wrangler, I wrangle tags. I make sure you can find your MPREG and Fluff. We’ve had plenty of awesome tag wranglers explain it better than I ever could so, I’ll skip to my other role. As Support staff, I help people who use the site to…well...use the site LOL. When you contact Support about not being able to get your account set up, that’s me. When your work doesn’t post with the correct date or is acting otherwise wonky? I’m your girl.

We also do quite a bit of bug hunting. When someone reports a weird site behavior we’re on the job. We help our Accessibility, Design, & Technology Committee figure out if it’s a problem with the site, a browser issue, or just a one-time gremlin we can’t track down. We also look for trends in what’s being reported so that we can let the people who need to know that there’s a problem, know that, well, there’s a problem.

I’ve volunteered with the Support Committee for two years now. It’s fascinating to see the issues and feedback ebb and flow over time. What was once an immediate "in your face" issue two years ago isn’t anymore, and new issues pop up that we never could have dreamed of then. We also work with the Translation Committee to translate incoming tickets and translate our response. They’ve often been able to add a cultural context to a ticket that helps immensely in answering the question or figuring out what’s going on. (Love my translation peeps!)

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

The nice thing about Support is that while it is a decent chunk of work, it’s the kind of work you can do in between other things. I usually wake up in the morning and briefly browse the mobile app for the ticket tracking program we use. (Rather than, you know, rolling out of bed to get ready for work… this is more fun.) Sometimes I’ll claim tickets right there, especially if it’s something for which I can tell right away what the issue is.

When I have time at work or grad school, I’ll check again and see what’s coming in (or maybe tag wrangle a bit on my phone). The Support staff also works quite collaboratively on tickets. Sometimes I’ll assist another Support staffer to troubleshoot a quirky issue. I’ll also "beta" a few tickets during the day as well. (That’s exactly what it sounds like -- proofreading and double-checking the solutions on another staffer’s tickets).

Later in the evening, or even the next day, I’ll go through the tickets I’ve assigned myself and write responses. I’ll send tickets to the Translation Committee to check for meaning, or translate an answer into a user's language. I’ll talk to the appropriate committee to get the information I need to solve a problem. Sometimes I’ll edit our internal documentation to account for things like Gmail updating their interface or a new iOS upgrade. That way we can make sure we’re giving people the correct instructions to fix things like caching issues or email being sent to spam.

There are days when real life is just too busy, so at most I can help other Staffers with solutions or check in with another committee.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I see volunteering for the OTW as my contribution to fandom. I’ve never been much of a writer. I’m more a voracious fic reader and fandom nerd. I used to roleplay on Livejournal and Dreamwidth back in the day. I started as a Tag Wrangler. I don’t know why that role appealed to me but it just seemed like FUN.

Later, as I got to know the people involved and just what happens behind the scenes, I realized I’d really like Support. I’ve always been a tech nerd. I work at a computer lab for my day job. Even before I was Support, I found myself helping other volunteers with their tech issues. I liked the people involved and it seemed like a natural fit.

What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

There are two things I really love about volunteering for the OTW. The first is the community. This is an amazing group of people. I’ve made real-life friends and had meetups with volunteers offline. I took an international study trip for grad school and there were OTW people half a world away to meet with! We joke that you can go anywhere in the world and find a person from the OTW that you’d be able to have coffee with (if not crash on their floor).

Because we’re so international I’ve learned so much about other cultures and countries just by hanging around and squeeing about Robert Downey Jr. or Assassins Creed or even sharing pictures of our cats because cats are liquid and adorable and bleps and mlems!!! The support the OTW volunteer community gives each other through thick and thin is nothing short of amazing...especially lately.

The other thing is the feeling you get from being a part of something bigger than yourself. I’m continually amazed that we do what we do. It’s incredible to see something you’ve worked so hard on flourish. To see that fix for a bug you discovered, and helped test, go live. To know that your work (even when it drives you absolutely insane) is helping fannish communities all over the world…it’s a bit of a rush.

What fannish things do you like to do?

This is where I confess I’m a huge Robert Downey Jr. fangirl. So, stare lovingly into his eyes? Read Endgame fix-it fics?

Ok, I’m mostly joking there. As I’m not much of a writer I read a ton of fic. I joined fandom way back in the day on Usenet! I’ll skim Tumblr or go to my favorite fic finder community and see if I like something. Why a fic finding community? My theory on that is, if it was good enough to stick in someone’s mind so that they want to read it again? Chances are it’s a good fic!

Lately, my fandom has mostly been existing with other fans! Doing meetups or talking meta...once conventions resume I’m looking forward to getting into that aspect of fandom!


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 although, if it's a question about AO3 you need help with, please use the Support form so that our volunteers can work together in addressing your problem. 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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Published:
2020-10-26 11:22:20 -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 Laure, who volunteers in the Translation Committee.

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

I'm one of the volunteers managing the Translation Committee, and I'm also a French translator! So I get to participate in the organisational and administrative side of things, and I still translate or proofread documents sometimes.

Although many people think that Translation works on fanfic, we don’t translate them (it would be nice but there are so. many. of them!). What we work on is a lot of the information and news content that’s produced by the OTW and its projects — like the FAQs, news posts, and some of the homepages. We’re trying to make it all as accessible as possible to fans who don’t speak English!

At the moment there are more than 250 translators for 45 languages, and it’s been amazing to get to work and chat with people from so many different cultures.

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

It really depends on the week, it can vary a lot! We have plenty of different types of tasks, some can be done individually, some require group work, and some are even cross-committee efforts. Most of the time we each decide what we work on, it’s quite flexible, but it also requires a lot of self-determination. That part is difficult for me, so teaming up with colleagues and having their support has helped a lot.

For example, I can have a quiet week where I attend our monthly committee meeting, take minutes for it if it’s my turn to do so, and then change our internal documentation if decisions have been taken. Or I can have a very busy week, with several new documents to prepare for translation; discussing with my colleagues to decide which teams we need to recruit for; taking notes for the annual interviews we hold with almost all our translators; and then beta an urgent translation. And that's to cite only a few things that can happen!

We also have the on-call week, which all the Translation managers do on rotation. It means that every two months or so, I’m the one in charge of replying to emails; assigning documents to translate or beta; helping translators if they have any issues; or other kinds of tasks. I love this part of my role because it’s when I get to interact with other volunteers the most.

It can all get very busy when we have special events going on, like the membership drive, the elections, recruitments or when we organise individual check-ins with the translators -- which I also enjoy a lot. I’m not here only for the chatting I promise!

What made you decide to volunteer?

It happened a bit by chance, to be honest. I'd been reading fics on AO3 for years, but I never really had the time and energy to check what happened behind the scenes. Then last year I saw on the homepage that French translators were needed, and I happened to have time at that moment, so I applied!

I thought it was a good opportunity to give back to AO3 for all the time I spent on the site. I also wanted to translate again. I studied translation but it didn’t become my day job, so it’s really nice to use this skill in a fandom context.

Then another Frenchie encouraged me to apply for the manager role, and the more I learn about how the OTW works, the more I want to discover. It’s a far bigger machine than I imagined, it’s really interesting to see how complex it is.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

The biggest challenge has been letting go of my bad reflexes from previous jobs. I’ve worked in companies that relied a lot on punishing and guilting employees for mistakes, and it really leaves a lasting impression. It’s also really bad management in my opinion! Guilt doesn’t work as a lasting motivation (and is also bad for your health, don’t do this at home).

So when I arrived in the Translation Committee and I found kind management I was very wary, and it took me some time to de-stress and trust that I wouldn’t be punished for the smallest mistake. It’s human to make mistakes, and when that happens we try to see what went wrong in the process, and how we can help so that it doesn’t happen again. And now that I’m also a volunteer manager, I’m striving to keep that up.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Mostly reading! The amount of reading material on AO3 always blows my mind. I could spend all my time reading (I wish) and never run out of good stories to discover. I’m amazed and very grateful for writers who share their works. And the same for fanart and any fanworks actually, I’m not shutting any enjoyable doors.

Also about that, lately I've had the motivation to start writing again. I haven’t in ages so it’s tough to get it rolling again. I’m going to participate in a mini bang soon to get some motivation!

I also started translating a fanfic from English into French, as I’m hoping to get more French friends to read it. It’s easy to forget that everyone doesn’t read and/or speak English when we’re so often chatting in this language. Translation is still a great and necessary accessibility tool, especially if it’s for accessing Transformers fanfics!


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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Published:
2020-09-23 10:56:35 -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 memorizingthedigitsofpi, who volunteers for Fanlore.

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

I'm a volunteer with Fanlore, which is a wiki all about fandom and fandom history. It's a place where the people who are involved in fandom can chronicle our stories about ourselves and our works. As a wiki, it's open for editing and there's a Plural Point of View policy that encourages documentation of all sides of any particular issue. Fandom is a diverse place full of diverse people and opinions, and it's important that we have a record that allows all of those points of view to have space.

I'm one of the graphics designers on the team, and in that role I create banners for social media posts and badges for events like Stub September. I'm also involved in conversations around how we can reach out to our fellow fans to encourage them to contribute to the wiki, as well as conversations about the wiki itself.

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

How busy I am varies week to week, because I'll have more on my plate in the run up to an event. Typically, we have a bi-weekly meeting on Saturdays where we discuss what work needs to be done and who will do it. I'll draft however many graphics I've taken on and share them out with the group of other designers and the social media team, and they'll give me feedback. I'll make any edits and we'll go back and forth a bit sometimes. Then I'll wait for the post to go live and get a big grin on my face when I see my work posted for everyone to see.

Throughout the week, I'll read the conversations happening back and forth amongst the other Fanlore volunteers and if I have questions or suggestions I'll join in. Otherwise, I'm just keeping up to date on what's going on.

I'm also new to wiki editing, so when I can I practice formatting by working on my Fanlore user page or editing parts of the larger wiki.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I've been in and out of fandom spaces for the last 20 years or so. Sometimes I just lurk and read all the fic and look at all the art, etc. Sometimes I find a canon that I just can't get out of my head and I end up creating fics and art of my own.

I was slowly leaving my most recent active fandom creator role because I was falling out of love with canon. But I was still in love with the fandom I was in because the people were so wonderful. In trying to find ways to stay in fandom without being a creator, I started up a tumblr blog called ao3commentoftheday. That's what got me interested in being more involved in fandom as a whole instead of just for one particular show or book at a time.

I realized that I loved the people in fandom and the things we do, and I wanted to be involved in helping fandom happen. In my opinion, OTW is the best place for that.

Is there anything in particular you've worked on that you found challenging or memorable?

This year, I was involved in the process of creating Fanlore's new logo! My design wasn't the one that was picked, but I'm so happy with the one that was chosen. It was an amazing experience getting to try my hand at designing one and seeing all of the other ideas from the rest of the team. I've also never gotten feedback from a group that big before or on a number of designs that large, so the logistics of figuring it out were also a learning experience.

I got to be a part of fandom history, and I can't think of anything more memorable than that!

What fannish things do you like to do?

I write fic -- mostly smut and comedy but with other things thrown in there too. I'm not posting very much lately, but I'm still writing almost every day. These days, I'm writing more RP style -- co-creating fic-like roleplaying threads with my fandom bestie. We aren't posting them anywhere, but we're having a lot of fun.

I also create fanart. In my most recent fandom, I learned how to do photo manipulations, but I also do text-based graphics, edits, and banners. I like to create them for both myself and for other people in my fandom. I've recorded a few podfic and made a few fanvids, and I'd like to do more of both someday. At one point, I co-ran a fic rec blog on tumblr, too.

These days, most of my fannish time outside of the OTW is spent running the ao3commentoftheday blog on tumblr. I do my best to answer questions about writing, fandom, AO3 and the OTW in an unofficial capacity. I first fell in love with Fanlore because it was (and is!) a major reference I use when people ask questions about fandom tropes and terms. It's definitely a passion project for me, and one I'm so glad I stumbled into. I've learned more about my fellow fans and other fandoms in the last few years than I ever would have otherwise.


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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Published:
2020-08-29 10:37:57 -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 Matthew Vernon, who volunteers as chair of our Systems Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
I am the Chair of Systems, which is the committee responsible for managing hardware and IT infrastructure for the OTW as a whole (not just AO3!) We work closely with a number of other OTW committees, particularly AD&T who manage the software design and development of AO3.

As Chair I do a range of things -- I run our weekly meetings, manage our volunteers, liaise with the OTW Board and Chairs of other committees, keep an eye on our ticket queue, and do quite a lot of code review.

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

The one constant is our weekly meeting (on a Sunday evening in UK time), when we catch up as a team, talk about where we're up to and plan the week ahead. Beyond that, it depends a bit on what needs doing, and how much free time I have! I review some merge requests for our configuration management system almost every week, and correspondence with some other part of the OTW is also a regular feature.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I became aware of the OTW through Yuletide, the annual rare fandoms gift exchange. Some friends of mine were running writing parties, and it seemed like fun! That introduced me to AO3. When OTW advertised for some sysadmins, it seemed like an obvious way to give something back to the OTW, since I'm a sysadmin in my day job.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for Systems?

Systems do a lot of work with not a lot of people-power. That's really good, but it means there is also often quite a lot going on, and it can sometimes be hard to keep up with the important but less immediately urgent tasks. Being Chair means I don't do much direct technical work myself these days, too!

What fannish things do you like to do?

Covid-19 lockdown has given me more time at home, so I've been re-watching some of my favourite shows. I'm also really looking forward to this year's Yuletide, and the joy people get from my distinctly average writing :)


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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