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Published:
2021-01-21 15:36:05 UTC
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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. As part of our celebration of Copyright Week, today's post is with Casey Fiesler, who volunteers in our Legal Committee.

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

I am part of the OTW Legal Committee. We provide guidance for other parts of the OTW when legal issues come up, provide information for fans when they have questions, and do advocacy work to give a policy voice for the interests of fan creators. This last part especially I think is critical to the mission of OTW, which has always been to serve the interests of fans, and copyright-related advocacy is a huge part of that.

As it says in our vision statement, "We envision a future in which all fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative and are accepted as a legitimate creative activity." I'd love to help us get there! For example, when I first joined the team in 2009 (!) as I was finishing up at law school, I helped with the very first DMCA exemption for noncommercial remix videos. We often partner with organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but I think it’s wonderful to be able to advocate for the specific interests of fan creators.

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

The work that I do with OTW is so highly variable! Some weeks it might be nothing outside of reading some emails, and others there might be a lot to do depending on what we're up to and what my particular role in it is. For example, I recently worked on a Terms of Service revision for AO3, which also included some lengthy conversations with volunteers across the OTW. There are also a lot of fun one-offs; recently I was on a panel about DMCA abuses with representatives from Public Knowledge and EFF, along with video essayist Lindsay Ellis.

What benefits can celebrating Copyright Week bring?

I think that it’s great for fans to both advocate for themselves when it comes to copyright policies that might be less than ideal and to celebrate the parts of copyright law that allow for transformative works! It’s easy to think of copyright as being a form of restricting creativity, but it should also encourage it. Drawing attention to the awesomeness that fair use cultivates (especially fanworks!) serves as a reminder for how important it is to have copyright policies that support remix. I also think that the more you understand about copyright law, and especially fair use, the more confident you can be about the legitimacy of your fanworks.

How does your day job relate to your work for the OTW?

The other academics on the Legal Committee are all law professors, but I'm actually faculty in an information science department. Not all of my research these days is about fandom, but some of my favorite work I've done was about the design of Archive of Our Own, and most recently, about platform migration in fandom. I also really love public scholarship--writing and talking about my research outside of academia! This is one reason I have a YouTube channel, and the most fun thing I've done so far was about fair use and the omegaverse lawsuit. Though this video had nothing to do with my role on OTW Legal, it sparked some great questions and conversations about fandom and fair use! I also taught an Online Fandom class for one semester, which was super fun.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I confess, I’m not as fannish as I used to be -- though I just checked my AO3 stats and I wrote 503,409 words of fanfiction between 2002 and 2012! So I am definitely a fanfiction writer at heart, even though I don’t write as much anymore. As much as I love AO3, I’m very nostalgic for the glory days of LiveJournal. But some of the fannish friends I made during that time are still some of my very best friends! Fandom has been such a positive and important part of my life for decades.


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:
2020-12-27 16:04:58 UTC
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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 Novic, who volunteers as a tag wrangler. This post was originally released in Chinese on the OTW's Weibo account and contained a little extra information. It is presented here in its original form as well as an English translation (thanks to our Weibo moderators!)

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
AO3每天会收到大量来自世界各地、各种语言的同人作品,涉及到各种可能的作品圈、配对、和角色。AO3就像一个藏书量每天都在增长的巨大图书馆,必定需要一套整理系统,而我们作为标签管理员就像是图书管理员,以标签(tag)为工具将作者们发布的同人作品进行分类、管理,目的是让网站更便于用户检索,让大家能轻松看到自己想看到的作品。作为一名中英志愿者,还需要把中文标签翻译成英文,方便其他不会中文的志愿者查看。

Everyday, large numbers of fanworks from every corner of the world, in different languages get uploaded to AO3 and they can be of any fandom, pairing and characters. AO3 is like a huge library that’s growing day by day and there must be a system to organize the works. We tag wranglers are just like librarians, using tags as the tools to categorize and manage the works published by the creators to make it easier for users to search and allow everyone to find the work they want to read easily. As a bilingual(English/Chinese) volunteer, I also translate Chinese tags into English to make it easier for other English volunteers to check.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
我管理着大大小小十几个作品圈,不过并没有固定的工作时间和时长,学校比较忙的时候就周末抽时间出来工作,碰到wrangling party还可以一边工作一边和其他志愿者讨论;如果不太忙,每天晚上都会看一看有没有新的tag需要处理。之前假期负责了一个比较活跃的中文圈子,刚接手的时候有上千个tag需要翻译和整理,那个时候几乎每天都会匀出一小时以上的时间来工作。不过总的来说标签管理员的工作还是很灵活的,而且可以自由调整工作量,不会有什么压力。

I assigned myself to a dozen fandoms of different sizes but there is no set work schedule. When I am busy with school, I will use my weekend time to do some wrangling work. When there is a wrangling party, I can also work while chatting with other volunteers. When it is not too busy, I will check in every evening to see if there are any new tags that need to be sorted. Last time I was off from school I was responsible for a hit Chinese fandom. In the beginning there were thousands of tags needing to be translated and wrangled. At that time I spent about an hour or more to work on that fandom. Overall, work as a tag wrangler is very flexible and I can adjust how much work I take on. There's not much pressure.

What made you decide to volunteer?
在成为志愿者之前也是一名AO3的读者和作者,一直觉得AO3的tag系统非常方便强大,但是当时没有想过背后的运作原理,也不知道有标签志愿者这个工作,后来OTW在微博开博之后才系统地了解到了tag的作用,一方面觉得很感谢和佩服志愿者们,另一方面作为一名同人爱好者觉得能为自己喜欢的事物工作也是一件很开心的是事情,所以之后看到招募信息就毫不犹豫地申请了。

Before I became a volunteer, I was a reader and writer on AO3. I've always known the tagging system is very convenient but I never thought about how it all worked and didn't know about the existence of the tag wranglers. I gradually learned more systematically about the tags after OTW had a Weibo presence. I was very grateful for and admired the volunteers. I also believe, as a fan, working on things I enjoy can be a joyous experience, so I applied immediately when I saw the recruitment post.

What do you feel is the most often misunderstood part about your role as tag wrangler or tags on AO3 in general?
你觉得大家对标签管理员或者AO3上标签最常见的误区是什么呢?
我认为可能一部分的用户误解了标签的作用,认为标签是网站的规定/规则,但事实上它是AO3为用户服务的一个途径,最终的目的是为了让大家更方便检索,在这一目的的作用下,会有一些标签的建议使用方法(比如OTWComms发布的教程),但他们都不是强制的,因为标签也是同人作品的一部分,是大家可以尽情发挥想象力和创造力的地方(尤其是附加标签),因此标签管理员是不会也不能对任何标签进行修改的。严格来说并没有“正确”或“错误”地使用标签的方法,但确实有“能与更多人分享你的作品”和“让同好更方便检索”的方法,希望所有人都能很开心地使用AO3和OTW的其他项目。

I think some users have some misconceptions of how tags work: they believe tags are rules and policies imposed by the site. In reality, tags are a tool for AO3 to be useful to the users, and the end goal is to make searching easier for us. With this goal in mind, there are suggestions on how to use the tags (like the tutorials posted by the Weibo mods for Chinese users). They are not compulsory, since tags are a part of the fanwork, technically there isn't the "right way" or the "wrong way" to tag, but there are ways to tag that "can better spread your work" and "make the searching experience better for fellow fans". I hope everyone can enjoy AO3 and other projects supported by OTW.

What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?
有很多,最惊喜的是我发现OTW志愿者是一个很多样的庞大组织,在志愿者交流平台上能认识很多很有趣的其他志愿者,我们会建各种各样的频道来聊天,网球、手工、音乐剧、数学、会计……从正经到不正经,从小清新到重口味,什么都能聊。但同时大家又有着一个最大的共同点,这也正是所有志愿者相识的契机,那就是大家都分享着对同人的喜爱,我们会讨论各地的同人/饭圈新闻,会分享优秀的同人作品,会分享funny tags,甚至有的还会线下聚会等等。成为志愿者之后真的接触到了很多一样又不一样的可爱的人。

There are lots! The most wonderful surprise is that I learnt the OTW volunteer base is such a huge network and I met a lot of interesting volunteers through our communication platform. We have chatrooms for all sorts of topics, tennis, craft, musicals, mathematics, accounting... You name it. From professional topics to hobbies, from art and literature related topics to things not appropriate for a young audience, we chat about everything! We are connected by our love for fanworks and the community and it's how we met. We talk about fandom news from around the world, share fanworks we like, the funny tags we saw, and sometimes even meet up in real life. I got to know a lot of lovely people after becoming a volunteer.

What fannish things do you like to do?
应该是看同人文了吧哈哈哈,也因为做志愿者的关系看了更多的文章,有时候整理tag的时候看到有意思的tag就会点进去看完全文(经常看长篇看上头,然后忘了自己本来在工作XD)。然后自己偶尔也会产粮,也喜欢和朋友聊梗啊什么的。

That would be reading fanfics. I read more works because of my volunteer work now. When I see an interesting tag when wrangling, I would click in there and read the whole story. (I often can't stop myself from reading a long story and totally forget I'm supposed to be working. XD) I sometimes write fanfics as well and enjoy brainstorming plots with friends.


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 15:58:41 UTC
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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 15:22:20 UTC
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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 14:56:35 UTC
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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 14:37:57 UTC
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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 15:15:39 UTC
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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 19:07:35 UTC
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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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