AO3 News

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2014-12-31 15:03:14 UTC


  • Coders: Ariana, Daniel Erenrich, Enigel, james_, Marie Markwell, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, Elz, james_, Scott
  • Testers: Erialeduab, hele, Lady Oscar, mugenmine, mumble


Works & Stats

  • We have updated the text of the emails that go out (to existing AO3 users as well as creators who don't have an account yet) when an archive mod or site owner imports someone's work through our Open Doors project. (See what the team has accomplished this year in our News posts about Open Doors!)
  • On the Statistics page, reversing the sort order for Date, Kudos, Comment Threads, Hits etc. would not update the corresponding graph title. It now properly says "Oldest" or "Bottom Five By [Kudos/Comment Threads/Hits etc.]" when displaying the reverse sort results.
  • Drafts of a related work, e.g. fanart for another user's fic, were showing up in the author's sidebar, e.g. Related Works (1), even though the work draft was still invisible to anyone but the artist. Now the number in the sidebar only increments when the work has been posted.
  • The code responsible for deleting drafts one month after their creation was not working properly in some cases, resulting in the drafts still being listed on the user's draft page despite being deleted/inaccessible. It should be working properly now.
  • The big chunk of code responsible for handling works and work-related actions had become unwieldy and messy over time. It has now been refactored--cleaned up and reorganized--to adhere to best practices.

Collections & Challenges

  • When changing the settings for a challenge (Moderated, Closed, Unrevealed, Anonymous), the challenge blurb, e.g. on the main Collections index, would not be updated to reflect the change. This has been fixed!
  • If you posted a work to fulfill a challenge assignment and your recipient deleted their account, you would then be unable to edit your work (getting an error 500 instead of the editing form). This has been fixed!
  • In tag sets, the option for adding a chunk of relationship tags at once ("batch loading") wasn't working. Now it is.


  • Our tag cloud was displaying only a few very popular tags in large font size, with all the other tags being more or less the same size. It now calculates tag counts and display size differently, making the cloud more useful and easier to parse.
  • When selecting a tag from the dropdown menu to browse the AO3 News, but leaving the language selection blank, trying to get to the next page of results would lead to an Error 500. This was because the code expected a language selection - we now explicitly set the default language to English, so this error won't happen anymore.
  • In preparation for further work on a translatable interface for the Archive, we removed all lingering code related to a previous translation project.
  • Switched our Rails memcached client to Dalli, which is better maintained and should make pages load slightly faster.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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Official banner from the Ink Stained Fingers archive, of spilt ink

Ink Stained Fingers, a haven for Harry Potter slash and femslash fan fiction and fan art, is moving to the Archive of Our Own (AO3). In this post:

Background explanation

The Ink Stained Fingers archive was created at a difficult time in fandom. had just outlawed explicit slash, and several Harry Potter fandom archives had to impose strict limitations on stories allowed to their sites because of their host’s regulations. Open archives were also receiving Cease & Desist letters from publishers and closing. At the same time, writers in the HP fandom were expanding their horizons with stories featuring mpreg, non-con sex, BDSM, kink, bestiality, and explicit slash and femslash. A decision was made on the Snape-slash mailing list to locate a host platform that would accept a no-holds-barred slash archive, and to create that archive for everyone to use. Over the next 10 years, over 3,300 stories would be uploaded to this archive.

Fast-forward to 2014, when the web-world is much different. Small and medium single-fandom sites with less accessible search capabilities are giving way to large multi-fandom sites where every kind of story and pairing is allowed and searching is easy. Fandom itself is more accepting of stories that push the edge. During the last year, only 2 stories have been uploaded to ISF, primarily due to the age of the posting interface and the lack of new readership. It was either time for a face-lift, or time to move our stories elsewhere. After polling the readership, it was agreed that moving the collection to AO3 was the way to best serve the Harry Potter fandom, to preserve these stories for the future, and even lure in new readers.

Open Doors will be working with Diana Williams to import the Ink Stained Fingers archive' into a separate, searchable collection with its own identity. We will begin manually importing works from Ink Stained Fingers to the AO3 collection in January 2015.

What does this mean for creators who have work on Ink Stained Fingers?

This is the part where we ask for your help!

1. If you already have an AO3 account and have posted your ISF works there, please contact Open Doors with your ISF pseud(s) and e-mail address(es), so that we won’t import your stories. (For instructions on mass-adding stories to the new collection on the AO3, InkStainedFingers, please see the Open Doors website.)

2. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one to import your stories yourself, please contact Open Doors with your ISF pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (For instructions on importing works and adding them to the InkStainedFingers collection, please see the Open Doors website.)

3. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one, as well as assistance importing your works, please contact Open Doors with your ISF pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Once your account is set up, let us know your AO3 name, and we can transfer your works to you.)

4. If you would NOT like your works moved, please contact Open Doors with your ISF pseud(s) and e-mail address(es) so that we will not add them. (If you would not mind them being preserved but do not want your name attached to them any longer, please let us know that too—we can orphan your works instead of leaving them behind to be deleted.)

All works archived on a creator’s behalf will be attributed with the creator’s name in the byline of the work. As we import works, we will e-mail notifications to the address associated with the work.

All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly-viewable if you choose. After 3 months, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors.

If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your Ink Stained Fingers account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the stories elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's great; if not, we will work with Diana to confirm your claims.)

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ page, contact the Open Doors committee, or leave a comment on this post and we'll respond as soon as we can.

We'd also love it if fans could help us preserve the story of Ink Stained Fingers on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask the Fanlore Gardeners for tips.

Ink Stained Fingers has been delighted to serve the Harry Potter slash community and looks forward to a future as part of the AO3--and we're equally delighted to welcome this archive aboard!

- The Open Doors team


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Banner by Ania of various fanworks including cosplay, text, and visual art

International Fanworks Day will take place on February 15, 2015! The OTW is making plans to celebrate, but we also want to know what you will be doing!

What is International Fanworks Day?

A day to promote fan creativity in all of its forms, all over the world. Whether in text, image, audio or multimedia, and whatever their nation or language of origin, we use fanworks to express love for our fandoms and forge our own communities and traditions. On International Fanworks Day (IFD), we want fans everywhere to show how important fanworks are to them.

So how do we celebrate it?

Here are some ideas -- and we'd love to hear more from you!

  • Post a fanwork to the International Fanworks Day tag at the Archive of Our Own or add the tag to wherever else you host your work.
  • Participate in the drabble challenge we'll be holding across our OTW News sites.
  • Link to five fanworks where you've left feedback in comments to our IFD post on February 15th.
  • You tell us!

Look for further announcements as we get closer to February 15!


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2014-12-14 08:41:24 UTC


  • Coders: Ariana, james_, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Elz, james_, Lady Oscar, Sarken
  • Testers: Anika Kabit, Lady Oscar, legalizemavin, mumble, Priscilla del Cima, Runt


  • When a user attempted to change their username to one that was less than three characters or more than forty, the error message they received would tell them which characters are allowed in user names. Now it will tell them how long a username must be.
  • A user who had archivist privileges and wanted to import their own works from another site would receive an error message incorrectly preventing them from importing their work. They will no longer receive this error message, allowing them to import their works.
  • The admin interface for creating translations of news posts had a dropdown menu that let translators choose which of the recent posts the translation corresponded to. However, our translators are awesome and want to translate some older news posts, so we changed from a dropdown menu with a limited number of posts to an autocomplete that will let them choose any news post they like.
  • In our previous release, we tidied up the margins on tags in work blurbs, but we also introduced a bug that moved the tags closer together. We've fixed the typo that caused the problem and tags are properly spaced out once again.
  • We made some minor improvements to the code used for manual imports, in particular to turn names listed on a line starting with "Characters:" into tags where possible.
  • When a logged out user tried to access an FAQ using an old URL (e.g. one ending with archive_faqs/30), they would get a 404 error telling them the page could not be found. Now they should be redirected to the new URL (e.g. one ending in /faq/ao3-internal-tools?language_id=en) just like logged in users are.
  • In works and site documentation, <h4> headings were hard to distinguish from the main text. Now text in <h4> tags will be bold to make it stand out more.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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

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


It’s been a very active month for Legal's advocacy mission. In the beginning of November, they filed petitions with the U.S. Copyright Office to renew the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemption that the OTW helped win in 2009 and 2012. This made it legal for fan video makers to rip DVDs and online sources in order to make noncommercial fan video. In addition to seeking renewal, Legal has asked the Copyright Office to expand the exemption to include ripping Blu-Ray discs for the same purposes. The petition is only the first step. Over the coming months they will be submitting evidence and providing further arguments to support the need for the exemption. Legal thanks everyone who helped them with stories and information so far.

Legal also got some good news this month based on some work they did back in April in the case of Garcia v. Google. In April, Legal filed a brief in support of Google’s request that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals re-hear the case. And we succeeded! On November 12, the court declared its original ruling void, and set a schedule for re-hearing the case. So on November 25, Legal filed another brief, explaining why we thought the previous result would promote online censorship and harm free speech.

Legal also did some informational work in November by helping to create some educational materials about transformative works and U.S. fair use law. Their post on “The Case Against Licensing Fanworks" sparked some lively discussion on AO3 News.

Finally, in November Legal also continued work on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s multi-stakeholder project to improve the functioning of the DMCA notice and takedown process, and responded to several queries from fans. As always, they welcome your queries!


Accessibility, Design and Technology had two code deploys in November — (Releases 0.9.33 and 0.9.34) — and are currently working on a third, with the help of shiny new testers from our last recruitment round! Accessibility, Design and Technology handled a security concern related to our development data by upgrading our encryption method and asking users to change their passwords (via AO3 News post and targeted emails).

Tag Wrangling helped Support resolve tag-related tickets, fixed some broken links in the Tag Wrangling FAQ, and held special-topic training sessions for beginning and intermediate wranglers.

Abuse handled roughly 270 tickets in November, with more constantly streaming in. Please do remember that our team does not need multiple reports sent in; one report per case is all that is required for us to investigate. Most cases are dealt with in less than a week, while trickier cases could take up to two weeks to handle. Abuse is also working with coders to create a way to help better track Fannish Next of Kin requests.

AO3 Documentation sent the first five new FAQs to other committees for revision. This is the last step in their drafting workflow, which means that the first new FAQs are finally almost done! They've also welcomed a new volunteer, and started working on the required documentation to transition into a full committee, while also creating a committee roadmap for 2015.


Systems made some changes to the OTW's internal email architecture to better handle future OTW membership drive emails so that they won't affect the delivery of our internal emails. Meanwhile, Content Policy began revisions to Open Doors' FAQ, with that committee's assistance.

Open Doors announced the pending import for Chains (available in multiple languages thanks to Translation!). They are also receiving much appreciated assistance from Accessibility, Design and Technology on a solution for a second archive import, and have been making progress on two other pending archives. Translation focused on internal documentation and future-planning, including revamping workflows for news posts. Translation chairs are hard at work on chair training documentation and a roadmap for 2015.

The Web Strategy, Design & Development Committee resolved the problem with the OTW website that had been causing frequent downtimes. And Journal is finishing up obtaining final versions of manuscripts for the first two Transformative Works and Cultures issues of 2015, which will go into copyedit in January.


Elections wrapped up the 2014 elections period with a final OTW news post containing transcripts of the three public chats with candidates. They are now writing a roadmap for 2015 and are contacting other committees for feedback on that process.

Strategic Planning drafted an initial plan from the list of strategic goals that was brainstormed in October and presented it to all staff and volunteers for review, input, and discussion of specific implementation steps.

They then hosted two organization-wide chats to review the goals with any personnel who wished to attend. Additionally, each committee chair was contacted individually to solicit input on implementation the specific goals involving their committees. Once the feedback is received, the plan will be revised and reviewed again.

Strategic Planning also welcomed new staff members who will be helping to refine the Strategic Plan, as well as finish up survey reports for each committee and workgroup.

Development & Membership worked with the Board to create a post on the OTW's financial future following our record-breaking drive. The committee also had a lengthy "what we learned" document put together. Because of our technical difficulties with the OTW website, there were some snags in premium fulfilment for donors. But the committee has a good handle on it now, and things are should be smoother going forward.

In addition, Development & Membership announced that the OTW is taking part in the Amazon Smile program so that fans making purchases at Amazon can automatically donate to the OTW. They are also developing business cards and stationary for organizational use.


Volunteers & Recruiting spent November diving into internal committee work after closing out all external recruiting campaigns for 2014. They've made huge leaps forward on an internal audit of all OTW-wide tools, started a revision of recruitment documentation to help improve our recruiting services in 2015, continued to assess and revise committee internal documentation and procedures, and worked on feedback for the recently released draft of the Strategic Plan.

New Committee Chairs: jsparc (Wiki), Curtis Jefferson (Volunteers & Recruiting)

New Committee Staff: Nerine Luna Cyran (Tag Wrangling), ragingrainbow (Tag Wrangling), Nary (Tag Wrangling), theteapot (Translation), Kirsten Korona (Communications), Ridicully (Support), Kenna McKay (Support), LilyC (Support), Sparrow Rubin (Support), Amy Shepard (Strategic Planning), FeminineBrain (Strategic Planning), 3 other Communications staffers, 2 other Tag Wrangling staffers, 3 other Support staffers, 1 other Strategic Planning staffer, and 1 Systems staffer

New Workgroup Members: Amalia Blondet (AO3 Documentation)

New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1 Tag Wrangling volunteer

New Tester Volunteers: mugenmine, Anika Kabit, twofingerpost, pendrecarc, nightmarefluff, Agwen, and 6 other testing volunteers

New Translator Volunteers: 1 Translator volunteer

Departing Committee Staff: Priscilla Del Cima (Development & Membership), Camden (Communications)

Departing Workgroup Members: EnthusiasmGirl (AO3 Documentation), 3 other AO3 Documentation volunteers

Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 11 Tag Wrangling volunteers

Departing Translator Volunteers: Nothorse and 1 other Translator volunteer


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2014-12-05 17:19:52 UTC

graphic by James Baxter with the words 'thank you' and hearts'

Since 1985, the United Nations has designated the 5th of December as International Volunteer Day, a day to celebrate and honour volunteerism around the world. We would like to take today to thank all the dedicated volunteers who keep this organisation running.

Today, the OTW is made up of 479 active volunteers and volunteer-staff, who run 20 committees and 2 workgroups. They keep AO3 and Fanlore online and functioning; edit Transformative Works & Cultures; preserve fansites through Open Doors; and protect and defend fanworks from commercial exploitation and legal challenge as well as do many, many internal tasks that are unseen by fans.

The OTW's staffers and volunteers put countless unpaid hours toward the organisation's mission of providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan cultures. Whether you've joined us recently or have been with us since the beginning--seven years ago!--we are grateful for the fantastic work you have done. To all the thousands of volunteers, past and present, who have helped move us forward in our work, thank you!


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2014-12-02 20:25:44 UTC


  • Coders: Emily E., Lady Oscar, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: james_, Sarken, Scott
  • Testers: Agwen, Lady Oscar, legalizemavin, LtFoxYee, mumble, nightmarefluff, pendrecarc, Runt, Sara Heins, twofingerpost


Tag Wrangling & Tag Sets

  • When a tag wrangler attempted to create a tag containing certain restricted characters (i.e. , ^ * { } = ` \ %), the error message they received was incomplete and confusing due to the way the ^ character is interpreted by our code. We switched to using the numeric character reference for ^ and now a full, clear error message will be given.
  • When a user attempted to nominate a tag or create a tag set using restricted characters (e.g. giving it a title with * or ^ in it), the error message they received was similarly incomplete. These issues have been fixed as well!
  • The Wrangling Tools page (visible to logged-in wranglers) previously contained only a few links to the Wrangling Guidelines and the OTW-internal wiki. Now it includes a more detailed set of links to various pages of documentation and updated contact information for the committee staff.


  • Attempting to import a work from a LiveJournal community or journal marked as containing adult content would instead import the contents of LiveJournal's support page. We adjusted the importing code so it will bypass the adult content warning and import the work itself.
  • The "Post New Work Instead?" link on the import page was only reloading the import page. Now it will take you to the page for posting a new work.

External Works

  • When a user bookmarks an external work, they are asked to provide information about that work based on the work's headers. However, the field for providing the work's category (i.e. F/F, F/M, Gen, M/M, Multi, or Other) was presented as a dropdown menu, which would only let the user choose one category tag. The options are now presented as checkboxes, so the user can select all categories that apply.
  • Admins were unable to access the form for editing external work information due to a conflict with the "Hide my work from search engines when possible" preference. We've fixed the conflict so admins can access the page once again.


  • The "Totals" section on a user's Statistics page lists how many users are subscribed to them as a work creator. It was previously labeled "Author Subscriptions," but because we have more than written works on the Archive, we changed it to "User Subscriptions."
  • A work posted on or backdated to 31 December would not be included in the user's statistics for that year (or any other year). Now it will be listed in the correct year and any word counts, kudos, comments, hits, or subscriptions for that work will also be included in that year's totals.


  • In work blurbs, the first tag in a line of text was aligned differently based on whether it started on that line of text or had wrapped from the previous line. Now the tags will always align the same, creating a tidier margin on the left side of the tag section of the blurb.
  • If a form's HTML provides certain information, most browsers will place keyboard focus on an input (e.g. a checkbox or text field) when a user interacts with its label. To improve usability and accessibility, we've added that information to the form on the reset password page, so the field will correctly receive focus.
  • We recently changed the code for the pop-up search suggestions in the header (e.g. tip: lex m/m (mature OR explicit)) on most site pages. However, because our error pages use different code than the rest of the site, the search tip was always displaying there, not just when using the search field. The error pages have been updated and will now work the same as all other pages.
  • The chapter number at the top of a chapter was supposed to be a link in Chapter-by-Chapter mode and plain text in Entire Work mode, but caching would sometimes result in the the wrong format being used in a given mode. Now the chapter number will always be a link, regardless of which mode is in use.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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2014-12-02 17:41:39 UTC

banner by caitie of chat-related words and emoticons in chat bubbles'

AO3 Support staffers are the people who receive your tickets through the Support and Feedback form and try to respond as soon as possible to register your feature suggestion, pass your bug report on to our coders, or do their best to help you out with a problem. However, when it comes to explaining how to do things or why something doesn't seem to be working right, the formal back-and-forth emails of a Support request aren't always ideal.

So Support will be holding an Open Chat session in our public chat room.

They'll be available on Sunday, December 7, 00:00 UTC to 04:00 UTC (what time is that in my timezone?). Volunteers will be available to answer inquiries in English, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. If you can't make it to this one, keep an eye out for future chat announcements.

If you're having a problem using the Archive, want help trying something new, or would like an explanation of one of our features, please drop in and talk to us in person!

Some guidelines from Support, just to keep things running smoothly

We don't have a fancy presentation or material prepared--there are plenty of FAQs, tutorials, and admin posts for that. The point of live chat is to talk with you, not at you. We're happy for you to drop in and say "hi", but it's even better if you drop in and say, "Hi, what's up with my work that won't show as complete even though it is?!"

As Support, our function is to help users with bugs and issues, and pass reports on to our Coders and Systems team, who actually keep the place running. This means that policy questions are way over our pay grade. (Just kidding--none of us get paid!) So, if you have questions or comments about AO3 or OTW policies, good or bad, Support Chat isn't the right place for them. If you do want to talk to someone about policy issues (meta on the Archive, philosophical issues with the tagging system, category change, etc.) we can direct you to the appropriate admin post or contact address so you can leave feedback directly for the people dealing with the area of your concern.

Additionally, if a question looks like it might violate a user's privacy to answer (if it needs an email address or other personal information, for example) we may not be willing to work with it in chat. In those cases, we'll redirect a user to the Support Form so we can communicate via email.

So, now that that's out of the way, what kind of things are we going to talk about?

Live chat is best for questions of a "How do I...?" or "Why does it...?" nature. For example, you might have been wondering:

  • I'd like to run a challenge, but I'm not sure how to do what I want.
  • For that matter, where did my work submitted to an anonymous challenge go?!
  • I want to post using formatting the Rich Text Editor won't give me. How do I do it using a work skin?
  • I want to add a lot of my older works to the AO3 -- what would be the easiest way to do that?

We'd be happy to help you with any of these questions, and anything else you're having trouble doing or would like to try doing with the Archive.


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