AO3 News

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2018-06-09 12:40:25 -0400

Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages

I. The GDPR is here!

If you visited the Archive of Our Own any time after May 25th, you ran into a pop-up requiring your consent to our updated Terms of Service (TOS). This notice was probably only one of hundreds of such requests you received from organizations worldwide over the past few weeks since the European Union’s new regulation on data protection, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect. We’ve been working very hard to bring the OTW into compliance with the GDPR’s strict rules on data privacy and transparency. You can learn more about the GDPR’s impact on the OTW and how we use your data in our AO3, the GDPR and You post. Thanks to Board, Accessibility, Design & Technology, Development & Membership, Fanlore, Open Doors, Systems, Support, Tag Wrangling, Translation, TWC, Volunteers and Recruiting, and Webs for helping with this massive project! Special thanks and kudos to Board, Legal and committee chairs for preparing the updated TOS and a summary of the changes.


The Archive of Our Own reached 1.5 MILLION registered users on May 25th! Thanks so much to everyone who visits the site--you've helped it become what it is today. \o/

During May, Accessibility, Design & Technology was extremely busy dealing with some server issues caused by a combination of the ongoing Elasticsearch upgrade process and some GDPR-related changes, which briefly brought down AO3. Kudos to them for managing a huge month! For real-time updates on AO3, remember to follow @AO3_Status on Twitter.

AO3 Documentation added a new tutorial on importing text-based works, and updated several FAQs including Comments & Kudos, Your Account, Invitations, and Posting & Editing. These updates include information about gift works, our spam filters, what happens when you delete your account, and more.

Open Doors completed the imports of The Spooky Awards, a collection including X-Files fanfiction submitted to the Spooky Awards in 2003, 2004, and 2005, and Firefly's Glow, a collection of fanfiction from the Firefly fandom.

Policy and Abuse received over 800 tickets this month, up slightly from 700 tickets the previous month. By contrast, Support completed a second month with 1300 tickets, down from previous months.

III. Elsewhere at the OTW

Elsewhere at the OTW in May, Systems dealt successfully with a number of hardware failures, including a server failure that briefly took down the TWC site. [log?] Systems are currently putting things back together, as well as working on some improvements to our monitoring setup to reduce the chance of a repeat occurrence.

Legal's advocacy work didn't stop in the face of GDPR-related work. In preparation for submitting Comments to the Canadian Government as part of Canada’s review of its Copyright Act, Legal put out a call for Canadian stories about how fans have benefited from fanworks, fan communities, and fair dealing laws. Canadian fans responded with dozens of powerful, moving, and very helpful stories. Legal sends a huge thank you to everyone who sent in stories!

IV. 2018 Elections

The 2018 election will be held August 10-13. Some key dates coming up in June: The membership deadline to be eligible to vote is June 30, and candidates running for the Board of Directors will be announced on June 18. Check out Elections’ Twitter and Tumblr for updates throughout the election season.


As of 23 May, the OTW has 662 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below:

New Committee Chairs: briar_pipe (Elections) and Jenny McDevitt (Elections)
New Committee Staff: 1 Development & Membership staffer

Departing Committee Chairs: Araise Solace (Elections)
Departing Committee Staff: Genevieve Marshall (Development & Membership) and 1 other Development & Membership staffer, Connie Pini (Volunteers & Recruiting), Cryllia (Tag Wrangling), Sammie Louise (Translation), 1 Communications staffer, 1 Policy and Abuse staffer, 1 Tag Wrangling staffer
Departing Communications Volunteers: 1 Communications volunteer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: aethel, CirqueDuCinq, IPutTheSassInAssassin, pearwaldorf, Perydot, plantpun, ShayBriar, Trixxster103 and 27 other Tag Wrangler volunteers
Departing Translation Volunteers: someplacelikebolivia and 3 other Translation volunteers

For more information about the purview of our committees, please access the committee listing on our website.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.


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2018-06-08 12:24:53 -0400

Banner by Erin of a spotlight shining the OTW logo behind the text spotlight on legal issues

OTW Legal has been busy working on three advocacy projects around the world--in Canada, Australia, and the European Union. We want to thank you for your help in Canada, and let you know what’s happening and what you can do to help in Australia and the European Union.


Thanks to the many amazing stories we received from Canadian fans, we submitted a comment to the Canadian Parliament’s copyright law review about the power and benefit of laws that allow and promote transformative works. You can find our submission here.


Now we’re working on a submission for Australia! The Australian government is evaluating Australian copyright law and is considering expanding fair dealing provisions or adopting a fair use standard. OTW Legal is writing in support of these changes and would love your help. If you’re Australian and have expressed yourself, gained skills, been part of creative communities, or otherwise experienced the benefits of being able to create transformative works that would benefit from flexibility in Australian copyright law, we’d love to hear your stories. Please send them by June 25 by using our contact form. (Feel free to use a pseudonym if you don't want us to share your personally identifying information.)

European Union

OTW Legal and our allies have been active in fighting on fan-unfriendly legal proposals in the EU. Since these proposals were introduced in 2016, OTW Legal has submitted comments opposing them and has joined in calls for action against them. We’ve managed to hold them off so far and encourage some revisions, but a key vote will be happening in the European Parliament’s JURI committee on 20/21 June that could have a significant impact on the Internet and fan sites. In particular, two provisions of the current proposal would be bad for fans. Article 11 would impose a "link tax" that would make it more expensive for many websites to operate, and Article 13 would impose mandatory content-filtering requirements on websites that host user-generated content. These provisions have been hotly debated and revised a bit since the last time we reported on them. (For more on recent revisions and debates, see these discussions by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Hogan Lovells Firm) But despite revisions, they’re still bad deals for fans. Importantly, they don’t preserve the "safe harbors" that websites rely on to operate, and they don’t include user-generated content exceptions.

Without safeguards for user-generated content, Article 13 would require your favourite websites to implement systems that monitor user-generated content and automatically remove any content that could potentially infringe upon copyright, giving publishing giants the power to block your online expression. Sites like YouTube, Tumblr, GitHub, Soundcloud, etc., could be required to block the upload of content based on whether it has been "identified" by big corporations, rather than based on its legality. The law is still being debated, and it is difficult to predict how it would impact the OTW’s projects, including the Archive of Our Own, if it is passed. Regardless of how this vote comes out, the OTW will work as hard as we can to keep the Internet fan-friendly. But we need your help. The most effective thing you can do right now is contact your Member of European Parliament. You can use one of these tools to e-mail your MEP or call your MEP to tell them that having user-generated content on the internet is important to you.

Here’s what you can tell them: Without safe harbors for user-generated content, Article 13 of the Copyright Directive would stifle free expression on the Internet. We don’t want mandatory filtering. Algorithms don’t understand limitations and exceptions to copyright like parody, public interest exceptions, fair use, or fair dealing, and we don’t want our non-infringing videos, website posts and art blocked because of a biased algorithm created by big corporations. We want the law to protect user-generated works, not harm them.

OTW Legal will keep fighting for fan-friendly laws!


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2018-06-06 13:00:03 -0400

OTW Recruitment banner by Erin

Would you like to help your fellow fans use the AO3? Do you like planning events? Are you passionate about organization or love fandom in general? The Organization for Transformative Works is recruiting!

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

  • Communications Staff – Event Coordinator - closing Wednesday 13 June 2018 23:59 UTC
  • Fanlore Graphics Designer Volunteer - closing Wednesday 13 June 2018 23:59 UTC
  • Support Staff - closing Wednesday 13 June 2018 23:59 UTC
  • Tag Wrangling Volunteer - closing Wednesday 13 June 2018 23:59 UTC or at 80 applications

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist our email address in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.

If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Communications Staff – Event Coordinator

Do you enjoy event planning? Have you ever celebrated International Fanworks Day? OTW Communications is looking for someone to help coordinate events large and small.

The Communications committee is the central information distribution arm of the OTW, responsible for the distribution of information internally to OTW personnel and externally to the general public, the media, fans, and other fannish organizations. Usually, that information is news-related, but sometimes it's celebration-related. The Event Coordinator is responsible for planning and executing organization-wide events throughout the year. Larger events include International Fanworks Day and the OTW's anniversary. Smaller events include single-day celebrations such as SysAdmin Day.

Applications are due Wednesday 13 June 2018 23:59 UTC

Fanlore Graphics Designer Volunteers

Would you like to help Fanlore reach more fans and get new editors? Do you have graphic design skills and enjoy creating social media content? If so, we need your help! The Fanlore team needs designers to create graphics and banners for Tumblr posts, tweets, and other Fanlore announcements, to help us reach more fans and potential editors. We have a lot of amazing fan history content, but we need your help to help others find out about it. If you think you might enjoy that, come and join us!

Applications are due Wednesday 13 June 2018 23:59 UTC

Support Staff

If you've spent time figuring out how to make the Archive dance (or are willing to press the button to see what happens), are patient in the face of strange questions, can self-motivate, and are interested in helping your fellow fans, we would love to hear from you! The Support team is responsible for handling the feedback and requests for assistance we receive from users of the Archive. We answer users’ questions, help to resolve problems they’re experiencing, and pass on information to and from coders, testers, tag wranglers and other teams involved with the Archive.

Applications are due Wednesday 13 June 2018 23:59 UTC

Tag Wrangling Volunteer

The Tag Wranglers are responsible for helping to keep the millions of tags on AO3 in some kind of order! Wranglers follow internal guidelines to choose the tags that appear in the filters and auto-complete, which link related works together. (This makes it easier to browse and search on the archive, whether that’s Steve/Tony with tentacles or g-rated Rose/Kanaya fluff.)

If you’re an experienced AO3 user who likes organizing, working in teams, or excuses to fact-check your favorite fandoms, you might enjoy tag wrangling! To join us, click through to the job description and application form.

Please note: You must be 18+ in order to apply for this role. Additionally, we’re currently looking for wranglers for specific fandoms only, which will change each recruitment round. Please see the application for which fandoms are in need.

Applications will be accepted until Wednesday 13 June 2018 23:59 UTC or until 80 submissions have been received.

Apply at the volunteering page!


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Our previously announced search engine upgrade will not only provide some much-needed stability improvements, but also bring exciting changes to the way you search, filter, and browse for works and bookmarks on the Archive! These changes range from making current functionality more user-friendly to adding new options and overhauling existing features. We hope you enjoy these improvements to the way you find new things to read or look at or listen to!

Work search and filtering

Over the years, you've sent us a lot of suggestions for enhancing work search and filters, and as fellow Archive users, we're excited to finally implement some!


Preview of the new work filters.

Detail of the new work filters, focusing on tag exclusion, crossover handling, completion status, and word count. The full screenshot (linked) shows the whole list of tag types to include or exclude, and additional options such as a date range and work language.


  • Exclusion filters: Now you can filter things out of work listings the same way you filter them in: just enter their names in the "Other tags to exclude" field or choose them from a list of the most popular tags. This might have been our most requested feature, and we think our solution combines familiarity, flexibility, and accessibility. The new fields are only available in the filters for now, but you can keep using the old tag exclusion method on the Work Search page -- we'll be updating that interface soon!

  • Crossovers: You can now search for crossovers, or choose to exclude them. Crossovers are defined here as works with at least two unrelated fandom tags, as determined by how tags are wrangled.

  • Work Status: Previously, you could opt to show completed works only. Now you can also search specifically for works in progress, if you're into that kind of thing.

  • Date Updated: To limit your results to works posted or updated in a particular time period, the filters now include a date picker to help you choose start and end dates for your query.

  • Word Count: Lastly, we've added a simple way to look for works in a particular word count range. \o/

Everything you select in the filtering sidebar will continue to narrow down your set of results (i.e. AND filtering), as opposed to including more works that might have one or more of your selected tags (i.e. OR filtering).

Bookmark search and filtering

With the old bookmarking code, wrangling changes to large tags could put a strain on the Archive's servers. Thankfully, Elasticsearch 6 provides a much better way to handle our over 74 million (!) bookmarks, so we've given the code an extensive rewrite. However, in addition to giving bookmarks shiny new exclusion filters, we've had to make some changes to searching, browsing, and filtering bookmarks.


Preview of new bookmark listings.

A truncated list of bookmarks, all of the same work, listed under the Veronica Mars tag. The full screenshot (linked) shows the five most recent bookmarks of the work, with bookmarker's notes and tags, and a link to access all bookmarks.


  • Redesigned bookmark listings for tags and collections: No more scrolling past hundreds of bookmarks for the same popular work or series when you're browsing bookmarks in a collection or tag -- each bookmarked item will now be listed only once, with the details of its five most recent bookmarks beneath it. (If an item has more than five bookmarks, there will be an "All Bookmarks" link so you can check out the rest.) User bookmark pages and Bookmark Search results will continue to list bookmarks the way they always have.

  • Bookmarker's tags: With the new code, using the "Angst" tag on a bookmark will no longer add that item to the bookmark page for "Angst," nor will the item be included in the results when filtering a list of bookmarks for the Additional Tag "Angst." Now if you want to see everything bookmarkers have tagged with "Angst," you'll need to use the "Bookmarker's tags" field on the Bookmark Search page.

    If you use the tags for a personal rating system or reminders to comment on a bookmarked work, for example, you can still filter your bookmarks just as before! There will also be "Bookmarker's tags" checkboxes and autocomplete fields on the bookmark pages for collections and tags.

  • Searching bookmarks: While it's still possible to search bookmarks, the performance improvements we've made required us to divide the search into two fields: one for information on bookmarked items (e.g. work tags, titles, and summaries) and another for information on the bookmarks themselves (e.g. bookmarkers' tags and notes).


Preview of new bookmark filters.

Detail of new bookmark filters, showing exclusion options for tags on the work and tags added by the bookmarker. Further options include search fields for work and bookmark information, and checkboxes to only look for recs or bookmarks with notes. The full screenshot (showing all filterable tags) is linked.

People search

You can now search for fellow users who have created works in your favorite fandoms! \o/ The new "Fandom" field in our People Search form suggests canonical tags as you start typing, so you don't have to worry about getting the name of your fandom exactly right. The more fandoms you put in, the more you'll narrow down the set of results.


Preview of the new people search.

The new People Search form, focusing on a search by fandom. The pseud testy has 970 works and 66 bookmarks, including 1 work for the fandom in question. Additionally, one can also search by username or profile content.


To make your pseud stand out in the search results, you can follow these instructions on editing pseuds to add a little blurb and user picture. (You can also add links and information about yourself, your fannish history, transformative works policy, or social media presence to your account profile, as laid out in our Profile FAQ.)


Since even a state-of-the-art search engine like Elasticsearch suggests some gentle limits to the number of search results displayed (by throwing an error after a point), you will only be able to sift through 5,000 pages at a time, which means 100,000 works or bookmarks.

Keep in mind, however, that the Work Search form lets you change how results are sorted. So if you want to access the oldest works in a fandom -- something that wouldn't show within the first 100,000 results in a big fandom -- you can sort by Date Updated in Ascending order to make sure you get the results you’re looking for! (To sort a filtered list of works, use sort:>posted in the "Search within results" field.)

Some things to try

Once the new search is enabled for everyone, here are a few suggestions for getting to know the new options:

  • Rating: For a list of works rated General Audiences or Teen and Up, don't select a rating to include -- instead check "Explicit", "Mature", and "Not Rated" to be excluded, and all your results should be safe for work! (You can reverse this for your bedtime reading.)

  • Word Count: To get all the actual drabbles in your chosen fandom, enter 100 in both the "From" and "To" fields. (#DrabblePurist)

  • Crossovers: Are you a big fan of canon-verse fic? You can eliminate all AUs by excluding the "Alternate Universe" tag, and crossovers or fusions by selecting the "Exclude crossovers" option.

  • Date: Working on your list of favorite podfics of 2017? Go to the Podfic tag and put 2017-01-01 and 2017-12-31 in the "From" and "To" fields under "Date Updated", to refresh your memory!

  • Status: You've consumed all the completed works for your shiny new OTP? You have skipped the works in progress, because you needed a happy ending now? Nothing left to read? Well, gird your loins and check the "Only incomplete works" ticky to take a second look at those!


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Outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement

You may have heard that the European Union's new regulation on data protection, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is coming into effect on May 25. It has effects on sites and organizations all around the world, including Archive of Our Own.

The GDPR's primary focus is on data privacy and transparency, and on giving users more control over what their data is used for. The AO3 team has been working hard to comply with all GDPR requirements, and to make more information available on how we use your data across the site. Here's what you need to know about upcoming changes.

Terms of Service

We've recently updated our Terms of Service. In this update, among other changes:

  • We added more explicit information about how we use the data you provide to offer certain features—such as keeping track of where you've already left kudos—and to display the content you provide in your works, comments, and profile pages.
  • We added a new Age Policy (more on this below).

A summary of all changes and a link to the full document can be found in the Terms of Service update announcement. Everyone who uses AO3 will be required to agree with the new Terms.

Age Policy

We have created a new Age Policy, which is described in our updated Terms of Service. This restricts how old you must be in order to create or own an AO3 account.

While the general minimum age to create an AO3 account remains at 13 years old, there are specific requirements for those who reside in the EU. If you are under 16 years old and live in the European Union, please check your country's current age of consent for data processing.

You must be of age to give us consent to use your data in order to use the Archive, or else we can't legally, for example, store your kudos or comments (even as a guest). Our Policy & Abuse team will contact users if there are reasons to believe that they are under their country's age of consent for data processing, and may delete their accounts as needed. Now is a good time to review your profile and works for any outdated information about your age!

We're sorry for any inconvenience this causes any European users who will now be under the age of consent in their country. We'll be glad to welcome you back when you're of age to use AO3 once again!


Starting soon, a banner will pop up requesting that you accept our new Terms of Service. It will highlight some important aspects of the data processing we do here on AO3 regarding your works, comments and so on. That way, everyone can provide informed consent when they accept the new Terms.

An important note about this: According to the GDPR, information about personal relationships, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and sexual orientation is defined as "Special Categories of Personal Data". We know our users can sometimes mention information related to this in their profiles, works, notes, tags, comments, bookmarks, and so on. Please be mindful of your privacy when entering this information in publicly-accessible pages. Any information you publish in openly accessible spaces will be publicly available to everyone.

Above all, AO3 remains dedicated to being a place to preserve and share fanworks. We're proud to offer this service by fans and for fans, in a format that is free and lets you retain full control of your works. We don't display ads or monetize user data in any shape or form and don't ever intend to.

Learn More

For more information on the GDPR, please check out The European Commission's Rights for Citizens or Wikipedia's information on the GDPR.

If you'd like to know more about how AO3 and the nonprofit behind it, the Organization for Transformative Works, have prepared for GDPR, please contact the OTW Legal team. If you have any specific questions on how these changes affect you or the AO3, or if your native language isn't English and you need some assistance to understand the changes we've made, please feel free to get in touch with our Policy & Abuse committee.

If you have any questions about these upcoming changes, please feel free to leave them in a comment below.


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2018-05-18 16:19:38 -0400

Following our May 10 deploy, the Archive experienced a number of issues stemming primarily from increased load during the Elasticsearch upgrade process.

As we noted in our March downtime post, the Archive hasn't been running at full strength due to this upgrade. Compounding the issue, it has taken significantly longer than planned to get the new code deployed to production, and we are now entering one of the more active times of the year. (Our daily page views for a Sunday -- our busiest day -- are over 29 million, and the normal load on our database servers is over a million queries per minute.)

You can find more details on the current state of the Archive's servers below, along with a rough timeline of the issues we experienced between Thursday, May 10, and Monday, May 14. However, the main takeaway is these issues are likely to continue until the Elasticsearch upgrade is completed and our network capacity is increased. We're very grateful for the support and patience you've shown, and we look forward to finishing our upgrades so we can provide you with a stable Archive once more.

Background: Server state

We normally have five Elasticsearch servers, but late last year we turned one of our front end machines into an Elasticsearch server, allowing us to divide these six machines into two groups: one three-machine cluster for the production site, and another for testing the upgraded code.

Having only three Elasticsearch servers meant the site experienced significant issues, so on April 11, we reprovisioned one of our old database servers, which had been producing web pages, as an Elasticsearch server in the production cluster.

In addition to the ongoing Elasticsearch upgrade, our Systems team recently completed a major overhaul intended to help with our long term stability and sustainability. Between November 2017 and March 2018, they reinstalled all the application servers, web front ends, and new Elasticsearch systems with a new version of the Debian (Stretch) operating system using FAI and Ansible. This meant rewriting the configuration from the ground up, since we had previously used FAI and CFEngine. They also upgraded various other packages during this process, and now all that's left to upgrade for the Archive are the database servers.


May 10

16:25 UTC: We deploy the code update that will allow us to run the old and new Elasticsearch code simultaneously. (We know the new version still has a few kinks, and we expect to find more, so we're using a Redis-based system called rollout to make sure internal volunteers get the new code while everyone else gets the old version.) Because this is our first deploy since the application servers have been reinstalled, the deploy has to be done by hand.

16:56 UTC: We turn on the new Elasticsearch indexing.

21:03 UTC: We notice -- and fix -- some issues with site skins that resulted from doing a manual deploy.

May 11

05:00 UTC: We see large amounts of traffic on ao3-db06, which is both the Redis server we use for Resque and the MySQL server responsible for writes. We mistakenly believe the traffic is caused by the number of calls to rollout to check if users should see the new filters.

05:36 UTC: We increase the number of Resque workers.

10:06 UTC: The Resque queue is still high, so we increase the number of workers again.

21:00 UTC: We no longer believe the increased traffic is due to rollout, so we turn the new indexing off and schedule 45 minutes of downtime for 06:15 UTC the following morning.

May 12

06:15 UTC: In order to mitigate the extra traffic, we move Redis onto a second network interface on ao3-db01. However, routing means the replies return on the first interface, so it is still overwhelmed.

06:42 UTC: We extend the downtime by 30 minutes so we can change the new interface to a different network, but replies still return on the wrong interface.

07:26 UTC: Since we've used up our downtime window, we roll the change back.

After that, we spend large parts of the day trying to figure out what caused the increase traffic on ao3-db06. With the help of packet dumps and Redis monitoring, we learn that indexing bookmarks on new Elasticsearch is producing a large number of error messages which are stored in Redis and overwhelming the network interface.

May 13

Our coders spend most of Sunday trying to determine the cause of the Elasticsearch errors. We look at logs and try a number of solutions until we conclude that Elasticsearch doesn’t appear to support a particular code shortcut when under load, although it's not clear from the documentation why that would be.

20:45 UTC: We change the code to avoid using this shortcut and confirm that it solves the issue, but we do not resume the indexing process.

23:45 UTC: The Resque Redis instance on ao3-db06 freezes, likely due to load. As a result, some users run into errors when trying to leave comments, post works, or submit other forms.

May 14

06:30 UTC: We restart Redis, resolving the form submission errors. However, we begin to receive reports of two other issues: downloads not working and new works and bookmarks not appearing on tag pages.

16:25 UTC: To help with the download issues, we re-save our admin settings, ensuring the correct settings would be in the cache.

16:34 UTC: Now we look into why works and bookmarks aren't appearing. Investigating the state of the system, we discover a huge InnoDB history length (16 million rather than our more normal 2,000-5,000) on ao3-db06 (our write-related MySQL server). We kill old sleeping connections and the queue returns to normal. The server also returns to normal once the resultant IO has completed.

16:55 UTC: Bookmarks and works are still refusing to appear, so we clear Memcached in case caching is to blame. (It's always -- or at least frequently -- caching!)

17:32 UTC: It is not caching. We conclude Elasticsearch indexing is to blame and start reindexing bookmarks created in the last 21 hours.

17:43 UTC: New bookmarks still aren't being added to tag listings.

17:54 UTC: We notice a large number of Resque workers have died and not been restarted, indicating an issue in this area.

18:03 UTC: We apply the patch that prevents the bookmark indexing errors that previously overwhelmed ao3-db06 and then restart all the unicorns and Resque workers.

18:43 UTC: Once everything is restarted, new bookmarks and old works begin appearing on the tag pages as expected.

19:05 UTC: The site goes down. We investigate and determine the downtime is related to the number of reindexing workers we restarted. Because we believed we had hotfixed the issue with the reindexing code, we started more reindexing workers than usual to help with the indexing process. However, when we started reindexing, we went above 80% of our 1 Gbit/sec of ethernet to our two MySQL read systems (ao3-db01 and ao3-db05).

19:58 UTC: After rebalancing the traffic over the two read MySQL instances and clearing the queues on the front end, the indexers have stopped, the long queues for pages have dissipated, and the site is back.


  • We will either need multiple bonded ethernet or 10 Gbit/sec ethernet in the very near future. While we were already expecting to purchase 10 Gbit networking in September, this purchase may need to happen sooner.
  • Although it has not been budgeted for, we should consider moving Redis on to a separate new dedicated server.

While we are running with reduced capacity in our Elasticsearch cluster and near the capacity of our networking, the reliability of the Archive will be adversely affected.


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2018-05-17 12:42:48 -0400

Spotlight on Legal Issues

Are you Canadian? OTW Legal wants your stories about being a fan!

Over the years, OTW Legal has spoken for fans and fanwork creators in comments to governments around the world including the U.S., the E.U., Canada, Australia, and South Africa. And we want your help to keep doing that! The Canadian government is currently conducting a review of the Canadian Copyright Act. The Parliamentary Committee responsible for the review has already received some comments complaining about fan-friendly laws like the 2012 expansions to fair dealing and the User-Generated Content exception to copyright infringement. OTW Legal wants to show Parliament the other side of the story: the important value that Canadian fanwork creators get from being able to create transformative works.

Are you Canadian and have you expressed yourself, gained skills, been part of creative communities, or otherwise experienced the benefits of being able to create transformative works--works that are legal to create in Canada because of fair dealing and the UGC exception? If so, OTW Legal would love to hear your stories. We need to submit our comments soon, so please send our Legal Advocacy team your stories about how being able to create fanworks and belong to fan communities has helped you, by the end of May. (Feel free to use a pseudonym if you don't want us to share your personally identifying information.) We’ll use your stories to support our legal advocacy work in Canada and worldwide.



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2018-05-13 11:13:36 -0400

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 Claire Baker, who volunteers as a member of the OTW Board.

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

The OTW's current Board members tend to wear many hats, and I am no exception. I co-chair the AO3 Documentation Committee (call us Docs!), wrangle tags in a handful of fandoms, do layout editing for Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), and also serve on our Board of Directors.

Docs and Tag Wrangling are both AO3 committees: Docs writes FAQs, tutorials, and other user-facing help documentation, and Tag Wrangling sorts the tags users put on their works so that all the works about the same topic (fandom, character, pairing, etc) can be easily found. With TWC, I'm on the production team: my job is to take articles that have been written and copyedited, and add html formatting.

The Board of Directors oversees everything, though this oversight works best when we have direct communication with those who will be affected by our work. As such, we end up meeting either synchronously or asynchronously with chairs and committee members on a regular basis. We're aiming to build strong connections between us and each part of the OTW. And if we're not, I hope the committees can lead us to understand how we better can do our job!

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

Like many people say in these Five Things posts, there's no such thing as a typical week within the OTW. However, I do have a schedule that I like to follow when I can.

I often try to start my OTW day with some tag wrangling. This may involve sorting through new tags, spreadsheeting older ones, or double-checking that canonical tags for my fandoms are all in order.

After that, I'll do some work for Docs. As a chair, this usually means looking at AO3 FAQs or tutorials that have recently been drafted, or documents that have completed our editing cycle and are almost ready for upload. Ideally, I'd look at one or more of these a day, but generally it's a little less than that. We chairs rotate between regular administrative tasks, so I may also send out our weekly check-in or a reminder to our sister committees that works are open for external betaing. Chairs attempt to meet weekly and talk asynchronously around that, so in a typical week I've been in contact with both of my co-chairs, and we've likely discussed or done work on a bigger administrative task as well.

If TWC has a new issue coming up, I'll spend a couple of days applying html to articles in order to get them publication ready, but that's not necessarily in a typical week; my job is only needed a couple of times per year.

And then there's my Board work. The most regular part here is voting. As soon as a request comes in, we will look into the issue, discuss it as needed, and vote. Voting happens asynchronously, and we are usually able to respond within 48 hours. Meetings are very much of a Board reality, and so chances are that I've scheduled or am scheduling one during any given week. (And on the weeks when Board does not meet, I will likely have a meeting scheduled with one of my other committees.) Outside of that, I try to put in an hour on Board documentation somewhere in my day —- either looking over existing pages, or drafting missing documentation. I've still got a lot to learn, but I'll keep on studying, asking questions, and working with others to build a deeper understanding for myself, and hopefully a better OTW for everyone.

Board members hold the only elected positions in the OTW. What made you decide to run?

The short answer is that I'm a nerd who loves the OTW and wants to see it become the best it can be. The long answer's a little more complicated, if no less heartfelt.

I fell in love with the concept of the OTW the moment that I was introduced to it in 2012. I fell in love with the people when I started volunteering in 2014. I was happy to do various tasks and to lend an opinion when needed, and I built a reputation of being a good person with strong leadership skills somewhere along the line. Meanwhile, I was witnessing transition: Docs went from a workgroup to a committee, the OTW adopted a new internal communication platform, and the Board itself went through a changing of the guard. Through all of that, I learned how great (and complicated) the OTW could be, and how much I valued it as a place of work.

By 2017, I was the third-longest serving member in Docs, and had gained a breadth of experience through mentoring new staff, taking on new roles within the OTW, and generally being an active participant in our volunteer community. When Elections and the Board started running opportunities to learn more about candidacy, I found myself participating there too.

In all honesty, I originally expected to wait one more year to have that much more knowledge under my belt, and so I could run alongside a friend who didn't quite qualify for candidacy. However, there was a need for more candidates for a fair, contested election, and I knew I had the time and skill set needed to serve the OTW well, so I put my name up for consideration.

Now, I wouldn't take back that decision for anything. I work alongside people I think of as great role models, and learn more from them every time we talk. I've gained a lot of knowledge about the OTW as a whole as well, and really do enjoy both the joys and challenges that come with helping the entire organization move forward smoothly. My hope now is that I can help foster the next generation of people to join our ranks, whether as new volunteers or new board members, and make the OTW an even better place for the fan community at large.

What are things you think fans probably do and don't understand about the OTW Board?

When I was new to the OTW, there was a lot of wariness about Board, and a pretty strong Them vs. Us mentality. We're working on breaking this down, but it takes a lot of time and effort to build, earn, and maintain trust.

The Board exists to make sure that we're all on the same page, and that we're doing what we need to still be around for years to come. If there's something coming up that we need to be prepared for, like GDPR, we'll make sure that the necessary conversations are happening. If AO3 needs more servers, we're here to make sure that those needs are acknowledged and met. Otherwise, we're happy to talk about our favourite characters and ships and take part in a wide variety of fannish activities, just like everyone else here.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I'm a cosplayer. I entered competitions in my first few years of cosplay, and won an award or two, but have since found that I prefer doing it a little more casually. I also run panels at conventions, and often end up coordinating panel and cosplay schedules alike for the group that I'll be attending with. Really, there's nothing better than spending a weekend with your friends, talking about your favourite fandoms while you're all dressed as characters from them. It's a lot of fun, and well worth the effort.

I also write fanfic and RP, and love sharing headcanons with my friends. Somehow this led to becoming a regular beta for a few of them, which I love. Being able to look at their works before anyone else is an absolute treat, and if I can help make their works stronger before they're published, all the better.

Most of my writing these days is for gift exchanges. I have a habit of running three or four small gift exchanges simultaneously, and participating in several more. I'm also a serial pinch hitter, and will do my best to make sure everyone has something to look forward to when gifts are revealed.

My other love is for the academic side of fandom. I'm building up a small library of books related to the subject, and would love to get a Masters or PhD in fan studies one day. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my time as an independent scholar.

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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