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Published:
2018-02-23 16:49:40 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 Cosette, who volunteers as a coder for the Accessibility, Design, and Technology (AD&T) Committee.

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

As an AD&T coding volunteer, I work with the open-source code that powers AO3. Coders are recruited to fix bugs, write tests, and develop features. We also work side by side with testing volunteers, to ensure the changes we've made to the code won't cause anything to catch fire.

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

AD&T uses a project management tool to track issues (bugs, improvements, new features, tests, etc). So it typically goes like this:

  • Check the planning board for issues I think I can solve
  • Try to solve them
  • Sometimes: cry and dramatically shut my laptop
  • Most times: submit the solution

Other responsibilities include:

  • Creating issues for newly discovered bugs (things that aren't working as intended), improvements (things that could work better), new features (things that don't exist yet but will in the future), tests (automated tests that ensure the website behaves as intended), and so on.

  • Communicating with other members of the AD&T committee about my progress, and keeping up to date with their progress and plans as well.
  • Whenever questions come up, AD&T staff is always helpful in answering them! Also, there's usually some off-topic conversation in the chat room, which is fun.

    Do you have other roles in the OTW besides being a coder?

    Yeah, I also volunteer for Webs, which is the committee that maintains the OTW's website as well as the Elections and Open Doors websites. This mainly consists of fighting WordPress. Since I’m a liaison to Communications, I must also keep them up to date with any problems or changes to the website, and provide answers when they have questions or need a bit of help. Additionally, Webs offers technical assistance to other committees wherever they may need it.

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

    The community. There's a lot of socialising that goes on in the OTW and you can always find someone with a common interest. I've never been a part of a working community that was entirely comprised of fans. In theory, you'd think that would be awesome, and in practice, it is.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    Writing fanfiction!! Translating manga. And browsing fan art. Encouragement is everything so, when I see something I like, I tell the creator how much I love it. Also, brainstorming headcanons and AUs with friends. The existence of fandom is a pillar in my life and I want to do my part in protecting it and contributing to it; that's why I volunteer for the OTW.


    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:
    2018-01-19 16:36:40 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 participation in Copyright Week, today's post is with Betsy Rosenblatt, who volunteers as Chair of our Legal Committee.

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

    As chair of the Legal Committee, I have a dual role. Part of my work focuses on legal advocacy, education, and other interactions with the outside world. I help guide the advocacy and education missions of the organization by setting advocacy priorities, writing governmental submissions and informational posts, answering fan questions about law & fanworks, coordinating with allies, responding when the OTW’s projects face legal challenge, and being a representative of the organization in advocacy settings, academic settings, and fandom settings.

    The other part focuses on internal work within the OTW -— helping other committees with legal questions and advising the organization on internal legal matters, much the way a legal department of a company would advise the company.

    I don’t do any of these things alone, of course -— the legal team is full of wonderful, smart, hard-working experts and we work closely together on each of these tasks.

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

    I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical week! Most weeks involve answering fan queries, responding to questions from other OTW committees, and monitoring legal developments. I also participate in frequent phone conferences with allied organizations to talk about current legal issues and projects.

    Beyond that, there’s a lot of variation! Sometimes we’re researching and drafting submissions to governmental organizations or preparing for hearings; sometimes we’re helping review contracts and terms of service; sometimes we’re writing about developments in the law; sometimes we’re doing legal research to help the OTW make legal decisions. We’re always dealing with new things along with our steady maintenance work.

    What would the world look like if there was no longer any need for the OTW's Legal Advocacy project?

    Utopia? Actually, I’m not sure that such a world could exist. Although there are lots of specific challenges that we face now around the world, the OTW’s legal advocacy project isn’t only about fixing particular problems—it’s about building and maintaining a delicate balance in a dynamic world. As technologies for creation and distribution of media and fanworks continue to grow and change, there will always be new challenges for fans.

    I would love to see a world in which noncommercial fanwork creation and distribution were protected from legal challenge and exploitation, and fanworks were readily available to all -— that’s the sort of world we’re working toward —- but law and society are constantly changing each other, so legal advocacy for important causes will always be necessary.

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

    Feeling like I -— and more importantly, fans -— have a voice in law and policy.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    I’m an old-school Sherlockian, which means I am involved with (pre-Internet, oh my!) organizations like the Baker Street Irregulars and the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes. I attend Sherlockian events and write about the Sherlock Holmes canon in the style of the "Great Game."

    I also blog about TV. And I go to cons -— I love speaking on panels, working at booths, and walking the floor at San Diego Comic Con. And really, I’ve so integrated fandom into my life as a professor and scholar that it seems like most of what I do is just a little bit fannish!


    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:
    2017-12-15 16:33:43 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 Mandy Gooch, who volunteers for the Strategic Planning Committee.

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

    As a Strategic Planning (SP) committee member, I am involved in helping to grow and develop the OTW as an organization through implementation of its strategic planning goals. We do this work so that the OTW can keep focused on particular things we want to have happen in the future, and so that we'll have the guidelines and tools we need to help that happen.

    Some of the ways we'll do this is to make sure volunteers understand their roles and how to do them, to make sure our board and the leaders of our committees can hand their roles on to others when they need to change their positions or move on, and to make it as easy and clear as possible to do the different tasks that the OTW, as a non-profit, needs to do to be accountable to its users and supporters. My committee doesn't come up with these plans so much as it helps all the different parts of the OTW come up with them. We help them decide what's truly important for both their committee and the OTW as a whole, and then help make sure that progress is getting made by all parts of the organization since some groups are farther along in some details than others. Because Strategic Planning's mission is about the future, we work most closely with the Board and the chairs of the OTW committees who will guide us there, and help them think about what's coming when they're usually busy dealing with today's problems.

    I am also a Tag Wrangling volunteer, which is where I get to dabble in the fandom side of things a bit more. It's a lot of fun and is a way that I can be more connected to fandom without actually creating fanworks. It's also a really great way to find new authors in AO3, which is fantastic on the one hand...and also dangerous on the other since my To Read list keeps growing and growing!

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

    I typically put in a few hours each week for Strategic Planning -- between 3 to 5 hours depending on what is happening in the committee. I usually meet for two hours each week with everyone in the committee to keep up-to-date on our current projects and discuss future goals. Right now SP Staffers are very involved in the implementation of the Strategic Plan. This involves at least two SP committee members signing up to be implementation monitors during a month; we call ourselves ImpMons (yep, just like the Digimon). As an ImpMon I am usually communicating with other committees about upcoming goals, tracking their progress, assisting committees in understanding a goal or meeting a deadline, and updating Board about the OTW's overall progress. ImpMons also host Open Office Hours for our staff/volunteers to attend each month in our internal chat channel. It is a great way for committees to learn more about upcoming or current goals and to get feedback.

    Outside of ImpMon duties, my week may include meetings for projects the Strategic Planning committee might be working on -- we have to meet the goals of the Strategic Plan, too, so we work on our committee's goals at the same time as monitoring implementation. It might sound like a lot of meetings, but honestly it flies by since the work is rewarding and my other Strategic Planning staff are so much fun to work with on projects!

    I also try to fit in a few hours each week for wrangling tags in my fandoms and working on a wrangling project for MCU.

    January will mark the one-year anniversary of the Strategic Plan. What will that mean for the OTW?

    I think it means we've hit a great milestone and made some real strides into completing our Strategic Plan. I'm so excited to see our one year mark coming up! The OTW is moving forward and growing even stronger as an organization and this is thanks to all of the hard work every committee has put into completing their goals.

    I honestly have to say that when I first started in the Strategic Planning committee about 2.5 years ago, I was pretty intimidated when thinking about the implementation process for this plan. However, that was newbie!me being nervous. Working with everyone on this has been a great adventure and I've learned so much about strategic planning, volunteering, and working in an international organization. Everyone here is so dedicated and passionate about what they do in the OTW and it is really inspiring to see that level of commitment! Personally, I think reaching one year has been a great time to reflect on where we were, where we are, and where we are going. I am very glad I can take part in all of this.

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

    Meeting new people and learning more about what everyone does in the OTW. It takes me a little while to open up in a group and I think volunteering for the OTW has really helped me grow in that area. I've made some great friends in my time here. It's also really interesting to learn about each committee and how they contribute to the organization. Strategic Planning has a very different process compared to, say, Tag Wrangling or Systems. Every committee contributes a lot to the functionality of the OTW and understanding how everyone works together has not only been important as an SP volunteer, but also as someone who appreciates and strives for collaboration.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    I read a lot of fanfiction in my spare time and years ago I used to write a little here and there. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or motivation to write fanfiction right now, so I consume a lot to make up for it. I also enjoy conventions and cosplay. Creating costumes has been a passion since I was a kid and I really enjoy making a costume and interacting with other fans at conventions.


    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:
    2017-11-10 16:24:30 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 Raquel E. who volunteers as a translator.

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

    I’m a beta reader and translator for the OTW European Portuguese team. The Translation Committee focuses on making content accessible to non-English speaking fans; that’s our main goal and includes working on news posts and notices. We also collaborate on work that committees do, such as with AO3 Abuse, Tag Wrangling and Support. We’re a multitasking bunch. I also volunteer for the Support roster and evaluate samples from people who apply to volunteer with the European Portuguese team.

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

    I don’t really have a routine. Is that bad to admit? Our European Portuguese team works very hard to go through the amount of content, and I must say we do it quite nicely. We’re handed tasks as they come, and even though sometimes it’s hard to come together as a group because of our different routines, we get by because we get along well :)

    What sorts of OTW content have you worked on?

    I’ve worked on all sorts of content, since we translate documents related to every OTW project!

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

    For me, it’s how rewarding volunteering is. Not only do I have a blast learning new things while translating all manners of documents -- be it legal, news posts or FAQs -- I also feel happy and fulfilled knowing my small contribution is helping other people by making our content accessible to them. I believe the mission of the OTW is an important one and being part of it is a blessing.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    I’m going to be very predictable and go with ‘I read a lot of fanfic’! Even before I volunteered, I was already religiously using AO3 to bookmark my favourite fics. Besides reading it, I also write it sometimes, along with meta (mostly about Mass Effect and Dragon Age). I blog a lot on Tumblr, and I run a fan blog focused on Mass Effect. I also adore beta reading any fanfiction my friends send my way, and I love discussing plot ideas with them. My favourite thing in the world is talking about my favourite videogames and any assorted nerdery I happen to be into.


    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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    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 10th anniversary celebrations, we have a special retrospective Five Things this month. Today's post is with Naomi Novik, one of the founders of the OTW, a past board member, and a current staffer with the Accessibility, Design, & Technology Committee. The following is an interview transcript which has been edited for length and clarity.

    What was the first year of the OTW like? What do you remember most from it?

    I don't remember the high points as well, I find that over time what I remember are the problems. In the beginning there was a lot of work we had to do to reassure people about what we were trying to do, such as that they weren't going to get into [legal] trouble, that there would be ways to give people control over their stories. The other piece that first year is that some people expected to see something 5 minutes after we formed! You know, where is the Archive? But it all takes time, there were a lot of growing pains you have when you're putting things together from scratch that the OTW has been left with. But my philosophy is to do the thing if you have the momentum, and it's better to have done something that was not perfect than to not have anything done at all.

    There were certain ways in which a sustainable organization doesn't work on passion, at the same time that you want to be able to harness passion. I think we were struggling a bit with how to get an organization running but at the same time have it grow. A lot of the details are gone for me now -- I have a terrible memory for this sort of thing because once something is no longer my problem, I forget about it, it's just gone.

    One example is figuring out Communications and what it was going to be like [for the OTW and as a committee]. [The early volunteers] were all on LiveJournal, and so regarding communications I thought that it would be just the newsletters we have, and then people from the organization posting on their journals and talking to other fans on an individual level. And it didn't work very well, and I wasn't involved myself, but I remember frustration that we weren't being very successful at doing what we wanted to do there.

    I was more involved on the technical level, which we had plenty of disagreements about too. Because the question was do you design it first, to have everything the way you want it, and then you build it or do you just start building? And I feel very very strongly that we ended up doing it the right way. We really did just dive in and start building. Overall, I'm quite happy with the success of that strategy, and then later, we know it's imperfect and there's things it doesn't do, so that unfortunately you haven't served everyone as well as you could have. It's a trade-off to having an archive.

    I do think, fundamentally, it was the right call, and we are not, by far, the first organization that had to make that call. There are many different ways to make that call and we could have done it in a better way. Now the cost of that strategy has to be paid over a long time. But what matters most to me is that we made something. And the work is being done to get it to a sustainable place. At the beginning there was a very propulsive sort of drive to establish something and to get it running.

    What do you see as the major turning points of the OTW during its ten years?

    We had a huge advantage at the beginning, which is that we started with a small group of people who mostly all knew one another. Me, [current OTW Legal staffer] Rebecca Tushnet and [current Transformative Works & Cultures staffer] Francesca Coppa knew each other, and the other first Board members were in relatively close geographical proximity to one another, so we could get together face to face and discuss things. That was a big help. But we also had enormous expertise in the early group -- legal, academic, pro writing, technical experts. The people on the first board were the lynch pins of their respective committees. So it was a small group that could work together closely and develop things quickly in their own areas.

    For a while in the middle of the OTW's growth we fell away from that. Being on the Board is a tough job and it takes an enormous amount of time to do the work well. I have done it well and have also done it poorly. It's not entirely, but is largely, based on how much time you have to offer, as well as the people you work with, and whether you can communicate with them effectively and whether there's a level of personal trust among you.

    I feel there was a terrible low point that we went through. There was a middle wave; there's been research done on this process among non-profits that shows that what the OTW went through is a common pattern. There is a visionary founder, or team of founders, who bite off much more than they can do. That approach leaves a lot of loose ends. The people who are then recruited and pulled in because of the vision that the founders established see the problems with what was done or with what is happening, but they feel frustrated because they may not have the access to the founders or to ways of solving the problem. So then things turn antagonistic on either a personal or organizational level. So the OTW then had lots of people running for the Board being against what was happening to the Board.

    So while things aren't going well and the Board isn't doing everything great, at the same time the people on the Board know a lot about what's going on in the organization because there have already been discussions and arguments that led up to that point, they've been there, and know the reasons for why things are happening. But there's no trust anymore and the Board as a group has gotten dysfunctional. And we have had several dysfunctional Boards.

    Then you have the third wave who are happy doing their thing within the OTW and don't necessarily want to be on the Board. But they've seen the problems, they've come up in the organization and have seen what is going on at the top. And even though they'd rather just be able to keep doing the work that they've been doing, they feel they have to step up and fix this situation we've found ourselves in. That's the kind of Board we have now, and that's a good place. The OTW got through those growing pains, which is important because there are a lot of organizations who don't make it through that period, through those transitions.

    In the beginning the contrast was, we had lots of disagreements but it was a foundation when everyone knew each other and respected each other's skills and knew of one another before ending up on the Board. That can be good but it also creates insularity. Those first few years were about just vrooom -- anything you wanted to try, you just tried. There wasn't anything that stopped you. There was nothing there yet so you just created something.

    So in the beginning you didn't have people already doing things a certain way that then would all have to be changed -- you can't do that to people and disrupt their work and processes in that way. Especially on the coding side, that's an enormously creative period in the beginning where you're just creating. And in general, many people like to build new things and do not like to maintain old things, technology-wise. So at the beginning it's much easier. We all got our hands dirty. None of us had ever worked on anything the scale of what the OTW is now and we were just figuring it all out. For some people it is stressful having to start something, but for others it also is to maintain and grow it.

    During your time with the OTW, what have you personally achieved that you feel the most proud of?

    The Archive of Our Own is there, just, it exists. On a meta level, when I first made the post about building an archive, I wasn't thinking of it as something I would do. I even said it was something we needed and if someone else would do it then I would help them. But then I saw that no one was volunteering, and I had a moment, I remember this moment, knowing that setting this project in motion would be an enormous time sink, and an emotional sink, and that it would have opportunity costs for the rest of my life. But I did it anyway.

    That original discussion generated a certain momentum, and we needed to build on it right away. There's one moment when you can take an idea to the table, and if you miss it, it's going to collapse, it's not going to be a thing at all. At the time I made that post I did it because I was mad and I believed it, I believed we had to do something. It's that whole cliche 'You have to be the change you want to see in the world.' And so I went to Rebecca and Francesca and said 'we're going to do it, but I can't do this without you.' And they said 'alright, we're in.' We'd had conversations before about the problems we wanted the OTW to address and this was the time to do something.

    What do you see as the role of the OTW now and do you think that's changed since it began? How might it change in the next 10 years?

    The #1 thing that I feel like the OTW has now that it didn't at the very beginning was the role of maintaining things, such as keeping the AO3 up and functioning. And now the Archive, and Fanlore too, but Fanlore is much easier to keep up. It's not easier to grow it, but just to keep it from falling down it's easier. Even the AO3 is hard to grow over the next 10 years just because you need to bring it up to a modern technical level. There should be discussions going on, and I expect there are, about version 2.0 of the Archive. But the AO3 should not look the same 10 years from now, and we need to start thinking about that plan [of how to get there] now rather than later.

    We took a responsibility on and I know that -- even during the darkest moments of the Board where I literally thought that the entire tech staff would quit and there would be no one to run AO3 -- that what kept people on [as volunteers] even though there wasn't any kind of good resolution to the problems, it was the inertia of not wanting to drop the ball. There can come a time where there can be too high a personal cost in continuing to work on our projects, but if it requires me [personally] to keep working on it then it's not going to survive anyway. I could not be the one responsible at that stage of my life to continue the maintenance and development of what we had started. I had a small child, my life was changing. And I actually had tried to have conversations with the Board, which was difficult, that if you don't trust the staff to know what to do and to have the room to make those things happen then the project isn't going to survive. There's just a few people keeping it up, and there still are only a few people doing that work, but now there are contractors involved to help move us forward and a process for making the Archive more maintainable.

    We all need to gracefully agree and also gracefully fail. And there can be a day when the lights don't come on. There could be a day when we can't afford to keep it running but we keep the stories available for download and provide the data so that someone else can take it on. It's the same thing that Open Doors is trying to save us from, that there are sites that just shut their doors, bye, all your work's gone. [The website] iMeem did that to [fans who were] vidding. Just one day, oh we're not going to host vids anymore. I feel very strongly that we have an obligation not to do that, that's the mission, that the #1 thing the OTW has to do. And I feel that it's happening [that we're keeping things going and maintaing them] so I'm happy with that.

    I also feel that legally we're in a better place than we were which is great, and I'm really proud of everything that the Legal Advocacy team has accomplished. It's been amazing to see their victories. I feel like the OTW has done a good job of preserving things too through Open Doors, that's something I'd like to see more focus on, preservation work. But the major thing to work on is also the next generation. Fandom is much larger now than it used to be so we don't need to get everybody, to have the OTW be something to every fan out there. But you do need to be in a place where the kids are at, there's not enough engagement with Wattpad for example. So I think we have people come to the Archive and want and expect things of it, and then go away without quite understanding what it's supposed to be.

    One thing I don't want the OTW to do is to try and become hip and trendy and reinvent ourselves in order to try and do that. We want to be the library, the boring place but the one that everyone knows about, and it's there if you need it.

    What has been the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

    Building the AO3. I love coding, I think it's enormously fun, just building and coding something. I love that, that's the best.


    Now that one of our founders has said five things about what they've done, it’s your turn to add one more thing! How long have you known about the OTW? Do you use the different projects? How long have you been in fandom?

    You can also check out earlier Five Things posts by some of our other volunteers.

    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:
    2017-08-17 16:23:17 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 Chien, who volunteers as a translator.

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

    As part of the Chinese translating team I assist in putting together Chinese versions for anything the OTW posts online, from AO3 guidelines to write-ups of amicus briefs. Basically I'm part of the bridge of communication that connects the OTW to the Chinese-speaking fannish community, helping to reach out to more people who might be interested in what we do!

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

    I joined the OTW right before my last year of high school and now I'm preparing for my UEC certificate exams in October, so generally my week is similar to that of any typical Chinese independent school student -- except I use Google Drive a lot more often! I live in the school dorms too, which (gasp) don't have any WiFi amenities, so I normally make my task for the week available offline and use my smartphone app during the week, then hand it in when I'm home for the weekend to save data charges XD. I also handle the occasional "do you get paid for your work?" from curious dormmates, but overall my work is like a de-stressing pastime for me.

    What sorts of OTW content have you worked on?

    Other than pages for the AO3 site and legal write-ups, I've done news posts and election manifestos too. I also dip into the Tag Wranglers' chat room to help out with fandom tags. And when I'm 18 in two months I'll apply for Abuse tickets too, because all experience is good experience, no?

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

    Fandom tags are really great fun, especially when a familiar series pops up every so often (I was so hyped when the first Chinese tags for Yuri!!! on Ice came in.) It also keeps my mind on its toes as I jump back and forth between two languages, and I've always had a thing for linguistics, haha! Plus I've learned more legal terms in the past year than I have in my entire life, which could be a good conversation starter if I need one.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    I made my FanFiction.net account when I was twelve, then moved to AO3 after getting into Free! My Tumblr blog is basically a collection of art reblogs from whatever fandoms I'm into, which could be anything from Steven Universe to Game of Thrones. I occasionally rant about issues in the fandom too, when I'm struck by the fancy. Then there's headcanons with fellow fans too, which may or may not be turned into NSFW fics on AO3.


    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.

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    Published:
    2017-07-09 17:37:14 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 Rachel G., who volunteers as a graphics volunteer for the Communications Committee.

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

    As a volunteer graphic designer for the Communications Committee I create graphics that are used across multiple platforms to promote OTW events and materials. I primarily work on graphics for OTW tumblr events such as the Fandom First Friday. These F3 graphics are used to announce the monthly theme of the tumblr multi-fandom discussions and posting events each month.

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

    My work as a volunteer depends on the committee’s needs and/or the time of the month. Since I have a full time job as a designer at an ad agency, my OTW activities are generally constrained to the weekends. Communications has been great about giving me long lead times on projects so that my volunteer work doesn’t become overwhelming.

    I spend most of my time working on the Fandom First Friday graphics. I usually spend an hour or two conceptualizing how to visually represent the F3 theme (sometimes longer for the more abstract themes) and then take a few more hours to putting together the final graphic on the weekend before each month's Fandom First Friday.

    What is your favorite graphic that you've made?

    I’ve enjoyed all of the F3 graphics that I’ve made over the years but there are so many that I’d be hard pressed to choose one. Instead, I'd say that my favorite graphics have to be the OTW anniversary graphics. I'm partial to the 8th anniversary graphic in particular.

    (Editor's note: Rachel is also at work on content for our anniversary this year. Stay tuned for some fun announcements in September!)

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

    Seeing things that I’ve created out in fandom and how people receive them has to be one of the most fun aspects. The creation process is pretty solitary for me so it is rewarding to know that my graphics are leading people to OTW events and discussions where they can interact with other fans.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    I’m a huge fan of fanfiction and I’ve been engaging with fandom through it for the last 15+ years. As you can imagine I’ve been in and out of quite a few fandoms over the years (LoTR and Ronin Warriors were the start). I’ve used fanfic archives, Yahoo Groups, LiveJournal, Fanfiction.net, AO3, and tumblr among others so I know just how important what OTW does is for fandom. I’ve seen the good (even great), bad, and ugly that can from fandom and I still keep coming back for more. I can’t get enough of seeing and reading other fans' passion for the things that I love.


    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.

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    Published:
    2017-06-11 17:08:08 UTC
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    5 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 Ely, who volunteers as a translator.

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

    The mission of the OTW is to “provide access to and preserve the history of fanworks and fan cultures”; I reckon that, as a volunteer translator, my role fits primarily with the part where we “provide access”.

    Even though, in the 21st Century, more and more people use English online, there are still many users who don’t feel confident enough in a language that is not their own. What we do in Translation is try to reach as broad a public as possible by translating content that otherwise would be inaccessible to many.

    Knowing that, thanks to our work, people get to feel part of the wonderful community that is the OTW makes it one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever volunteered to do.

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

    I am part of the Italian Team, which is one of the teams with the highest number of volunteers, and we don’t get new tasks daily since we have completed all the main ones already. Therefore, I don’t think we have a “typical” week, every day varies greatly according to the tasks we’re given. But that doesn’t mean that our week is anything but exciting!

    When I am given a new document to translate, I draft a rough rendition of the translation as quickly as possible. Then, I put it away for a day or so before I get back to what I’ve written with a fresh mind and work properly on it. It usually takes me four to five days before I feel confident enough to send it back.

    We have a two-beta system and I very much enjoy being the first beta. Being the first beta means that I can point out what I would change but I get to hear what other people think of my changes before anything is set in stone. I love to discuss grammar and stylistic choices with my fellow teammates –- yes, I am that nerdy. The second beta wraps up any comment and marks the doc as “Ready”.

    Sometimes, the teams are given new terms whose translations they need to discuss before adding them to each team’s cheat sheet. Everybody writes what they believe would be the most accurate translation and we discuss and vote the terms that are the toughest to find a solution to. Don’t be fooled! This is a hard task that can take days if not weeks.

    We also take surveys about our work as volunteers; once a year, we chat privately with our Chairs; we have regular Translation meetings on Slack (that I regularly miss due to personal schedule conflicts!); and when there is a Drive or other time sensitive posts to translate… well! That’s when things get hectic!

    What sorts of OTW content have you worked on?

    I have worked on all sorts of OTW content: AO3 and OTW FAQs, News posts, Election posts, Abuse and Support messages, Open Doors tutorials, Drives, Video Subtitles, Annual Reports, and the recruitment samples.

    My favourite tasks to work on are the Abuse and Support emails, though, because the role of the translator is essential –- not that it usually isn’t -– and, without our mediation, the Abuse and Support volunteers wouldn’t be able to communicate with non-English-speaking users seeking practical help.

    Alas! My least favourite tasks are legal documents; I am pants at translating all that technical vocabulary and, when I get one of those, it’s usually accompanied by an apology from our Translation Chairs –- who totally understand and share my grief.

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

    Being a language graduate from the University of Venice, and having worked as a freelance translator and interpreter for years, one of the most fun things for me is working on the translations themselves. Some of them are a field day, some others are much more byzantine, but it is always rewarding when the document is finally ready and you know you gave all you have to do a good job. Plus, you get to know about what’s going to happen on the Archive before everyone else (when you have News posts to translate)!

    Another fun aspect of my work as a volunteer is to meet other nerdy people that share my passion about fandom, and to chat with them about their fanworks and their own involvement with AO3. I am always interested to see the similarities and differences between other users’ experiences and my own, and I am often surprised to see how much I share even with people that have very different interests from my own.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    I like to do all sorts of fannish things! (Who doesn’t?)

    Primarily, when I have time, I love to write. I am an author (and have been one for 14 years, now) for the Harry Potter fandom (my one and only fandom), and I love to pen long, plot-driven, multi-chaptered stories about my OTP (Lily Luna Potter/Hugo Weasley). When I feel particularly inspired by a prompt, I participate in the occasional fest on LiveJournal (which usually cross-posts on AO3, nowadays).

    I love to read, and I absolutely adore to leave long and detailed feedback that makes other writers and artists squeal in delight. I am also a mod for Crack Broom, a reccing community on LiveJournal, and I love to rec those stories that leave me a gooey mess.

    I am artistically impaired, but I am a junkie for fanart, and I always marvel at how good other people are. I commission the occasional drawing, too, just for the pleasure of my eyes and to support those wonderful artists out there.

    I take part in-fandom discussions on LiveJournal, read meta-essays, enjoy fandom stats, beta-read Italian fan-fictions, cheerlead my fellow writers when they need help, and study articles on Transformative Works and Cultures. In fact, I used one of the articles from TWC as a source to write my plagiarism essay for my university induction last year.

    Fandom is such a big part of my life; the one place where I always come back. It is the beautiful fantasy world that we build all together and where I love to get lost.


    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.

    Comment


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