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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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Published:
2020-07-19 11:15:39 -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 Julia Santos, who volunteers as a Tag Wrangling staffer.

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

As a Tag Wrangling volunteer, I help sort through and organize tags so it is easier for users to find what they want to read or filter out what they don’t want to read! This means making tags canonical (filterable), connecting tags to already existing canonicals, checking on the growing number of tags that express the same fandom concept, and discussing the best formats to canonize tags. \o/ Wranglers always try their best to make tags intuitive so Archive users have an easy time browsing through fics and finding what they are looking for.

As a Tag Wrangling supervisor, I also help with recruitment and training of new Tag Wrangling volunteers, check in on progress, and lend a hand and/or help coordinate other Wrangling projects when needed.

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

I’m usually able to wrangle 2-3 days a week, so I like to divide my time: one day for fandoms I wrangle alone, one day for co-wrangled fandoms, one day for megafandoms as they get lots of tags! I’m usually listening to podcasts while I wrangle so that makes wrangling even more fun. Weeks when recruitment is on, or check-ins need to be conducted, means one of my days is dedicated to that work instead of checking on my fandom bins.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I had just graduated from university and was looking for something to keep me occupied until I found a job. I've always loved reading fic and, at the time, was modding a couple of fic rec blogs so I was very used to browsing endless tags on AO3. I came across the recruitment post on Tumblr and it seemed like the perfect way to 1) give back to the community that has been one of my major sources of entertainment for years and 2) keep myself busy.

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

Interacting with people from all over the world, who are just as excited about and invested in fandom as me! My fellow volunteers are some of the kindest, sweetest, and funniest people I’ve met online. They’re all wonderful to work with and are always up to exchanging recs or flailing about new fandom content. I’ve discovered so many new TV shows/books/movies/podcasts through our talks and my life is definitely better for it.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I read all the fic in about 20 different fandoms and I love yelling about them whenever I can. I’m also a fic writer and have written fics for Teen Wolf, How To Get Away With Murder, and MCU and have also participated in and helped run a few fandom challenges. I’m currently in my feelings about MDZS/CQL, where I cry about the characters every day and write soft Wangxian fics to soothe my heart.


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:
2020-06-23 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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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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Published:
2020-04-19 12:34:24 -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 Alex Xanthoudakis, who volunteers as a Fanhackers project staffer on the Communications Committee.

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

I’m a Fanhackers volunteer, so I help run all the Fanhackers accounts! Our mission is to help make fan studies scholarship more accessible to people, which feeds into the OTW’s larger mission of providing access to and preserving the history of fan culture in its myriad forms, and providing the broadest possible access to fannish activity for all fans. A lot of this stuff—-recorded histories, really cool analyses, various legitimizing works—-is found in books and articles that are very often behind a paywall or university firewall. My job as a Fanhackers volunteer requires me to read things, pull out what I think is important or interesting, and share the educational wealth, so to speak!

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

Reading, reading, reading! I read fan studies scholarship and then post about it, whether that be a quote, a quote and explanatory text, or just something I found interesting about an article. I work with two really amazing other volunteers; we’ve staggered our posting schedule throughout the week, so I’ll usually read over the weekend and draft my post in time to post for Monday afternoon/evening. Right now, I’m also in charge of monitoring the Fanhackers Tumblr, so any questions directed to that platform will probably be answered by me!

What made you decide to volunteer?

The OTW has been instrumental to my fan experience, primarily through AO3, but also through Fanhackers and a lot of the outreach they do. Because of this, I really wanted to help keep the Organization up and running in any small way I could.

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

Meeting new people! It’s been so fun to get to work with other like-minded fans—-and the fact I’m part of a group trying to make scholarship more accessible is also pretty rad!

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’m a huge fan of fic and am a fic writer; I started about 13 years ago and haven’t looked back since! I’ve also tried my hand at fanart (it was a disaster, but incredibly fun), and when the mood strikes, like making gifs. On the visual side of things, though, my favourite thing has to be organizing and designing zines. I’ve been lucky enough to work on two and seeing participants’ creativity, as well as being able to hold a physical copy of all that hard work, is extremely inspiring and satisfying!


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:
2020-03-27 12:56:46 -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 Sarken, who volunteers as co-chair of the Accessibility, Design, & Technology Committee.

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

I'm a co-chair of the committee responsible for the development and maintenance of the Archive of Our Own codebase. The Archive provides a home for over five million fanworks, which supports the OTW's goals of preserving and providing access to fanworks.

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

AD&T operates in release cycles, which generally last more than a week, but it's not uncommon to start the week by finishing a release: ensuring all of the changes have been tested, polishing the release notes, and letting other committees know about any changes that might affect their work before the new code is deployed to the Archive.

Once that's done, we wait about a day before putting the next round of code changes onto our staging site, where volunteers from AD&T and other committees test the changes. I usually help coordinate that work in addition to doing some testing myself.

While that's going on, we're also looking ahead to future releases. That involves prioritizing issues and making sure someone is available to write or review the code.

There are a lot of other tasks that might come up during a given week, too, such as handling requests for database work, consulting with Support, making bug reports, or updating documentation. If we're having a widespread issue like slowness or downtime, we also have to communicate the problem to users, which sometimes involves quickly drafting a news post, but almost always involves tweeting. (If someone is tweeting from @AO3_Status, there's a good chance it's me or my co-chair mumble!)

Once those tasks are handled, then I get to write some code!

What made you decide to volunteer?

In 2011, Elz -- one of the AD&T co-chairs at the time -- saw some of the site skins I'd made and asked if I'd like to volunteer. I'd been a fan of the Archive ever since astolat made her "An Archive of One's Own" post in 2007, so it was an easy yes.

I'm also a tag wrangler, which is a role I volunteered for specifically to improve my understanding of how the wrangling features are used. That knowledge comes in handy when working on the wrangling code, plus it makes it easier to communicate with the Tag Wrangling committee about bugs and feature requests.

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

The people! My team is terrific, and I really enjoy getting to talk to and work with people from other committees. There are people I talk to almost every day who I wouldn't have met without volunteering, and my life would be poorer for not knowing such kind, talented people.

Coding itself is a pretty close second, though. It's extremely satisfying to hunt down the cause of a bug, and nothing quite beats the "ah-ha!" moment when you finally solve it. Of course, that moment usually gets ruined pretty quickly by the realization you still need to write tests for your new code...

What fannish things do you like to do?

I've made a few vids and recorded some podfic, but my main fannish activity outside the OTW is writing fic. I mostly write het and femslash, or at least I try to write het and femslash -- about half of those attempts end up being gen.

And whenever I can, I love to leave long comments on fanworks I've enjoyed. You never know when you'll make someone's day, and sometimes you just might make a new friend.


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:
2020-02-21 12:27:29 -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 Kristina, who volunteers as co-editor of the OTW's project Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC).

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

Karen Hellekson and I were tasked from the beginning with representing the academic arm of the OTW. We had been discussing the need for an academic fan studies journal around the same time as the first discussions for an archive began, and we started laying the foundations shortly after the OTW was founded. We found an open access platform, defined our policies, picked an editorial board, and put out the first call for papers. We published the first issue of Transformative Works and Cultures a little over a year after in September 2008.

In order to gain and retain our academic credentialing as a journal, we needed the editorial side to be clearly separate from the OTW organization side. Our connection to the OTW is crucial but also fairly specific: our staff are OTW volunteers and we report to the board, but all editorial decisions are made independently by double-blind peer reviewers who are experts in fan studies.

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

We publish one general issue and one or two special issues a year, and essay submissions come in year-round, with rushes of work around deadlines. I am responsible for screening all submissions to see if they adhere to our requirements, and I will reject submissions that do not fit journal guidelines (length, genre, topic). Every other essay gets sent to peer reviewers. I communicate with reviewers and authors until the essay is ready to be accepted and sent to production. So my typical week is writing a lot of emails and fairly regularly reading and reviewing essays. I used to solicit a lot in the early days, and I still joke that I beg, bully, barter, and bribe friends and acquaintances to submit material and/or peer review for TWC.

What were the early days of TWC like?

Exciting and crazy! We started everything from scratch, and it was great but also exhausting. We were learning procedures as we were creating them, and everything was mostly held together with spit and goodwill and a lot of effort, mostly on Karen’s and my part. Neither of us was affiliated with any university, the journal was online only, and we published fan studies research, so to ensure credibility it was really important to publish sound academic research that was professionally edited. In line with OTW’s basic philosophy, it was important that the journal be open access, so that all fans, regardless of affiliation or access, could read the research.

Karen and I were (and to a degree still are) the last line, and that meant that there were a lot of panicked phone calls and picking up slack, especially in the first few years. We have published every issue on time for the past 10 years and over 30 issues! That has meant, however, that Karen is copyediting and coding and proofreading essays the night before we go live, because a volunteer had not done her assignment; or it means I am interrupting my family holidays to email authors on my phone on crappy hotel Wi-Fi.

Today, the journal has a solid reputation and we get a good number of unsolicited submissions. Many of our procedures have been documented, and of course we follow standard academic journal workflow, but so much of what we've done, we’ve learned to do through trial and error. Karen and I are both looking forward to passing our editor batons to new scholars in the next few years.

What is your professional life like outside of your TWC work? Any projects you'd like to talk about?

I am an adjunct professor at my local university, and I’m pretty adamant to be identified as an independent researcher. Just like with OTW and TWC, I think it’s important for fans and fan studies scholars to come together. Karen and I were editors of the volume Fan Fiction and Fan Studies in the Age of the Internet (2006), which I’m proud to say helped create a whole new generation of fan studies scholars, and my own book, Framing Fan Fiction, came out last year.

I was also part of the group that created the first fan studies conference in the United States/North America, the Fan Studies Network: North America, which had its second annual conference at DePaul University in Chicago in October 2019. In what might have been the strangest work I’ve ever done, I became an expert witness in a plagiarism trial centering around Omegaverse tropes.

I try to go to one academic conference a year, mostly to see friends, meet new people in the field, and solicit for TWC, but I happily travel if invited (and supported). This spring I’ll be giving a talk on TWC and OTW with Karen Hellekson and Francesca Coppa at Berkeley, and I’m very excited! Finally, I am writing a new book on Fan Fantasies and the Politics of Desire with my friend (and early TWC volunteer) Alexis Lothian.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I started as a reader (and lurker) in the late 1990s, and fan fiction has remained the center of my fannish interest and my academic work. I used to say that talking about fandom is my fannish thing to do, back when I wrote a lot of meta and helped organize and run things. But after starting TWC (and especially the last three years when I was on the OTW board), that has mostly eaten up all my fannish energies. I still read fanfic and listen to podfic and talk to people one-on-one about stories, but changes in fannish interactions and changes in myself (maybe) have made me be much less public and much less vocal.

I also haven’t really felt like I’m actively part of a fandom since, probably, Stargate Atlantis or maybe Teen Wolf. I still read a lot of fic, but I’m also reading a lot of m/m and other romance. At the moment, I am about all things The Witcher (game, TV show, books, fanfic), but by the time this is published, I may have fallen for something else. Following the phrase of a dear (and now departed) old friend: I am a fannish butterfly!


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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