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 Solovei, who volunteers as a staffer in our Tag Wrangling Committee.
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
Tag Wrangling volunteers make sure that readers can find the works they're looking for, while also being able to tag their works however they want! We've seen just about every variation of a ship name you can think of. Usually with tagging systems, it's either a free-for-all or a strict set of allowed tags, and Ao3 has somehow managed to find a very interesting medium in between those two! I think the tagging system on Ao3 is amazing - I have yet to see something like this work anywhere else.
On top of my regular wrangling work, I am also a Tag Wrangling staffer, which means I do a lot of the administrative tasks that are required for other wranglers to do their work: everything from looking at incoming applications, scheduling and conducting training and regular check-ins, to processing hiatus and retirement requests.
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
It really varies! Tag Wrangling opens up recruitment several times a year, and those are usually busy periods for staff. The tags themselves go through phases, with fic exchanges and events usually happening around the holidays. I really enjoy my work, so sometimes I'll sit down intending to only wrangle for a little bit and then realize that several hours have passed!
What made you decide to volunteer?
The year was 2015. I had just finished my Master's in Library and Information Studies and was having trouble finding work, so I needed something to occupy my brain during the job search slog. I had gotten back into writing fanfic some months before after being too busy for it for a few years, when I saw that the OTW had opened applications for tag wrangling. I really loved cataloging and information management classes in library school, so this seemed like the perfect thing to satisfy my love for fiddly organization and make use of some obscure fandom knowledge.
What’s the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?
The other volunteers! I honestly cannot imagine what my life would be like if the OTW suddenly wasn't a part of it anymore. I've met some truly wonderful people as a result of my volunteer work (both online and in person). It's also great to have a built-in community of people who are are willing to listen when I want to flail about some new fandom I've gotten into!
What fannish things do you like to do?
I primarily read and write fanfic, though these days it seems that my to-read list is just getting longer and longer... I've been writing fic since the mid 2000's, so I've been in fandom for a while! I also used to participate in roleplaying communities on LiveJournal, and I've been known to make an OTP fanmix or two. My fandoms are many and far-ranging, from obscure webcomics to very popular video games and anime. A friend had recently introduced me to Star Trek, so I'm diving into that fandom headfirst.
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.