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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 19-23, 2018

Check it out: Brand new this month, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) presents some awesome new project-themed merch, available when you make a donation today!

Shed some light on your appreciation for transformative works! Get an LED keychain flashlight stamped with an OTW project logo and show off your support for any of the following:

  • The Archive of Our Own (AO3), a hub for transformative fanworks such as fanfiction, fanart, fan videos and podfic
  • Fanlore, a wiki-based community project that preserves fan history
  • Fanhackers, a blog created to help make fandom research more accessible
  • Legal Advocacy, a dedicated legal team that works to protect fanworks and defend the rights of the fans who create them
  • Open Doors, a project that preserves and maintains fannish voices by importing at-risk content to AO3 or even rescuing actual physical artifacts
  • Transformative Works and Cultures, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal dedicated to promoting scholarship in the field of fan studies

Can't pick just one? You can also get a set of our brand-new stickers featuring all of these projects, plus the OTW logo as well! As with all of our thank-you gifts, don't forget that you can always set up a recurring donation to save up for your favorite item.

Collection of the logos for the Organization for Transformative Works, Fanlore, Fanhackers, Legal Advocacy, Open Doors, the Archive of Our Own, and Transformative Works and Cultures

None of the work these projects do would be possible without you. Support the OTW today!

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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 19-23, 2018

Have you ever gone back to look for a fic you read years ago and found out it's disappeared from the internet? We've all been there. As fandom grows and years go by, countless thousands of fanworks disappear every day—entire archives go offline every month, and with them treasures are forever lost to fandom and future generations of fans.

That's where Open Doors comes in! Open Doors is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), dedicated to preserving and archiving fannish voices. It works with the Archive of Our Own (AO3) to protect your old favorites from other places around the web. Your donations give us the resources we need to continue this work. In 2017 alone, Open Doors was able to preserve almost 43,000 fanworks thanks to your support!

When an at-risk fanwork archive asks for help, Open Doors works with that archive's owners to preserve its fannish content on AO3. But that's not all! The project also helps preserve physical artifacts of fan culture like zines, crafts, and flyers through a partnership with the University of Iowa. Plus, Open Doors has worked to save fannish content from Geocities pages that would have been lost forever when Geocities closed down! We thank you for the donations that help us preserve all of this unique history.

Some numbers: The Open Doors project has imported a total of 40 archives so far, with another 20 in progress right now. That makes over 87,000 fanworks imported, with another 21,000 still to come! If you'd like to learn more, check out the project's year-end roundup posts from 2016 and 2017.

It's thanks to you that we're able to pay for things like the servers that host the at-risk fanworks that Open Doors works so hard to save. You can check out our latest budget post for more information on how your donations are being used and what we're hoping to accomplish with them in the near future!

Open Doors is only one of the many projects you can support with a donation. All the work the OTW does relies entirely on your support! Donate today!

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At long last, we have upgraded our search engine, Elasticsearch, from version 0.90 aaaaaaall the way to 6.2, which had obviously been long overdue. A lot of other emergencies kept cropping up over the years, and there were never enough volunteers around to handle such a massive code rewrite while also managing the day-to-day upkeep of the Archive. With the help of our contractors (thanks to your generous donations!), we are now getting ready to deploy these changes to the Archive.

For a short period of time, the new search will only be available to a few volunteers for some final testing; everyone else will still see the current search and filtering interface. You might experience some issues in the days before we switch everyone over, as we had to tweak our old code a bit to get both versions of Elasticsearch running. Please bear with us, this will be temporary.

Once we are ready, we will move all accounts to the new system in batches, while monitoring how it holds up under increasing pressure. We currently expect this process to take at least a week, and longer if we run into any problems we have to stop and fix.

As always, we will keep you updated on progress here and through our @AO3_Status account on Twitter. (We'll have a bigger post with more details coming, but you can find a tiny preview below.) Many, many thanks to all the coders and testers who helped carry this over the finish line!

Snapshot of the new work filtering bar, showing the possibility to exclude tags, such as particular warnings

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Organization for Transformative Works: 2018 budget

2017 was another busy and productive year for the OTW’s Finance team! We’ve continued to improve the efficiency of the organization’s financial policies and adherence to standard accounting practices. We started our first ever audit of financial statements, which concluded in early 2018. You can check out our audited financial statements for 2015 and 2016 on the OTW Finance page. We're now preparing for the audit of our 2017 financial statements, which should start within a few weeks.

Without further ado, here's our budget for 2018 (download the budget spreadsheet for more detailed information):

2018 Expenses

Expenses by program: Archive of Our Own: 75.1%. Open Doors: 0.4%. Transformative Works and Cultures: 0.8%. Fanlore: 1.4%. Legal Advocacy: 1.4%. Admin: 13.5%. Fundraising: 7.4%.

Archive of Our Own (AO3)

US$13,334.02 spent; US$252,698.05 left

  • US$13,334.02 spent so far out of US$266,032.07 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • 75.1% of the OTW’s expenses go towards maintaining the AO3. This includes the bulk of our server expenses—both new purchases and ongoing colocation and maintenance—website performance monitoring tools and various systems-related licences (access all program expenses).
  • This year's projected AO3 expenses include US$100,000 in contractor costs. We're quite pleased with our contractor’s work on the Archive's Rails and Elasticsearch upgrades and look forward to continuing to work with them on other projects.
  • In addition to contracting costs, AO3 expenses include a significant server overhaul to the tune of around US$96,000 in total. This overhaul focuses on new database servers for AO3 works, comments, and other activities, as well as a new server rack for them to live on. The new servers should also increase our colocation expenses, while the old machines will be repurposed as application servers, which generate the Archive's pages and serve them to users.

Fanlore

US$257.44 spent; US$4,640.53 left

  • US$257.44 spent so far out of US$4,897.97 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • Fanlore expenses are mostly its allocation of server purchase, maintenance and colocation costs, in addition to related licenses and Fanlore web domains (access all program expenses).

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC)

US$418.81 spent; US$2,575.18 left

  • US$418.81 spent so far out of US$2,993.99 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • Transformative Works and Cultures’ expenses are its allotment of server costs, as well as the journal’s publishing and storage fees (access all program expenses).

Open Doors

US$94.16 spent; US$1,162.95 left

  • US$94.16 spent so far out of US$1,257.11 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • This year’s expenses for Open Doors are hosting, backup and domain costs for archives imported by Open Doors (access all program expenses).

Legal Advocacy

US$1,500.00 spent; US$3,500.00 left

  • US$1,500.00 spent so far out of US$5,000.00 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • Legal’s expenses consist of filing fees and travel expenses for conferences and hearings. US$1,500 was spent in January to file a WIPO Dispute fee because someone else registered a domain address too similar to AO3’s. (access all program expenses).

Fundraising

US$1,751.46 spent; US$24,383.54 left

  • US$1,751.46 spent so far out of US$26,135.00 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • Our fundraising expenses consist of transaction fees charged by our third-party payment processors for each donation; thank-you gift purchases and shipping; and the tools used to host the OTW’s membership database and track communications with donors and potential donors (access fundraising expenses).

Administration

US$2,023.59 spent; US$45,799.81 left

  • US$2,023.59 spent so far out of US$47,823.40 total this year, as of February 28, 2018.
  • The OTW’s administrative expenses include hosting for our website, trademarks, domains, insurance, tax filing, and auditing, as well as communication and accounting tools (access all admin expenses).

2018 Revenue

OTW revenue: April drive donations: 36.6%. October drive donations: 42.6%. Non-drive donations: 18.3%. Donations from matching programs: 2.4%. Interest income: 0.1%.

  • The OTW is entirely supported by your donations—thank you for your generosity!
  • We receive most of our donations each year in the April and October fundraising drives, which together should account for about 79% of our income in 2018. We also receive donations via employer matching programs, Amazon Smile, and PayPal Giving Fund, which administers donations from programs like Humble Bundle. If you'd like to support us while making purchases on those websites, please select the Organization for Transformative Works as your charity of choice!
  • Given your generosity in previous years, we have a healthy amount in reserves, which we plan to keep in store for a rainy day. Thanks to this, we can explore alternative revenue sources to supplement your donations. The Finance team and the OTW board have decided on a conservative investment portfolio for a small portion of our funds to start with, which will not place the initial investment in any risk. This move is long overdue, and we're glad to have a solid policy regarding investment and usage of our reserves in place.
  • The reserves also help bolster us in years when we’re planning larger than usual purchases. As mentioned previously, we have plans to replace old server hardware over the next few months, which significantly bolster our expenses for this year. Our current projected expenses for this year exceed estimated 2018 revenues by roughly US$30,000. The additional amount may be withdrawn from reserves on an as-needed basis during the year.
  • US$12,668.54 received so far (as of February 28, 2018) and US$315,631.46 projected to be received until the end of the year.

US$12,668.54  donated; US$315,631.46 left

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the budget or the OTW's finances, please contact the Finance committee. We will also be hosting an open chat to answer any questions you may have. This chat will take place in our public chatroom on April 21 from 8 to 10PM UTC (what time is that in my timezone?).

[Edit:] The chat has now ended. Thanks to those who came by and asked questions!

To download the OTW’s budget for 2018 in spreadsheet format, please follow this link.

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Published:
2018-04-13 12:32:42 -0400
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spotlight on legal issues

Lately, OTW Legal has received many queries and concerns about recent U.S. legislation known as FOSTA/SESTA. We want to reassure you that the law as it currently stands does not apply to fiction, and therefore should have no impact on the Archive of Our Own.

The term “FOSTA/SESTA” refers to legislation that has been passed by U.S. Congress and the Senate, purporting to combat what it describes as “sex trafficking.” The legislation would make it a crime to operate an interactive computer service “with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.” (That is, the exchange of sex for money.) Under the law, sites that “knowingly assist[], support[], or facilitate[]” prostitution can be held liable for user-posted material.

President Trump signed FOSTA/SESTA into law two days ago. Some sites, including Craigslist, preemptively changed policies in anticipation of the legislation becoming law, and in response to the FBI’s seizure of Backpage.com, a classified-ad site that was often used to advertise personal services including sex work, and which the FBI has allegedly linked to illegal sex trafficking.

Once the law goes into effect, it may not last. Many have argued that it is unconstitutional for a number of reasons, including that it effectively makes it illegal to facilitate promotion of services that are legal in some U.S. states. Many have also argued that it violates the First Amendment, and that it may make it harder for legal sex workers to maintain their personal safety and for U.S. law enforcement to identify and pursue victims of illegal sex trafficking. But unless and until it faces legal challenge in the courts, FOSTA/SESTA will probably be law.

What does this mean for fans?

FOSTA/SESTA is about promotion of personal services—prostitution—and not about fiction, art, or any other sort of fanwork.

Some sites may voluntarily decide to change their policies regarding pornography or other adult-themed material in response to the law, but those changes would not be required by the law. The only policy changes that the law requires are changes that have to do with promotion and facilitation of prostitution.

It is also possible that some particularly overzealous law enforcement members may try to stretch the law to argue that fiction, art, or other expressive works that discuss prostitution constitute “support” of prostitution. The OTW believes, however, that any such interpretation would be a gross misreading of the law, and would be a clear violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. With that in mind, FOSTA/SESTA could make sexually explicit material more vulnerable to challenge, especially if it’s material that law enforcers do not understand—but it will not make such material illegal, and it will not make hosting such material illegal.

What does it mean for the Archive of Our Own?

The AO3 already prohibits advertising and commercial promotion. Therefore, any promotion or facilitation of prostitution that would violate FOSTA/SESTA would already be prohibited on the AO3. For that reason, in keeping with the AO3’s ongoing commitment to maximum inclusivity, any changes in the AO3’s terms of service or associated FAQ as a result of FOSTA/SESTA would be for purposes of clarification, not policy change.

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

I. NEW VOLUME OF TRANSFORMATIVE WORKS AND CULTURES

TWC has published the 26th volume of Transformative Works and Cultures, Social TV Fandom and the Media Industries, on March 15th. Edited by Myles McNutt (Old Dominion University), this issue studies the myriad challenges of social media and the production and consumption of television through an editorial, 9 articles, 4 book reviews, and an interview with Flourish Klink of Chaotic Good Studios.

Watch for the next issue of TWC, “Tumblr and Fandom,” out in June 2018.

If you're interested in contributing to Transformative Works and Cultures, you can view the calls for papers on their announcement page.

II. FAIR USE / FAIR DEALING WEEK

The OTW participated in the Fifth Annual global Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week February 28th through March 2nd. The OTW was one of 153 organizations (and many individuals!) celebrating, promoting, and explaining the Fair Use and Fair Dealing exceptions to copyright internationally. As part of these activities, OTW's Legal committee, with the assistance of Communications, made a post on Why Fanworks are (Usually) Fair Use.

Communications also posted a related guest post with the EU-based Ioana Pelehatăi and Alex Lungu, whose webseries "Copy Me" looks at myths of copyright and copying.

Rounding out the OTW's participation in 2018 Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, Legal Chair Betsy participated in a panel discussion, "Exploring the Role of Fair Use in Fan Culture" at the University of Michigan Law School.

III. AT THE AO3

Behind the scenes at the Archive of Our Own, things continue to be incredibly busy with a variety of ongoing infrastructure improvements. The Accessibility, Design and Technology committee has been working hard on some upcoming changes, and Systems has been diligently managing servers to make sure everything can run smoothly.

In March, Open Doors announced the upcoming import of VinXperience, a multifandom Vin Diesel fanfiction archive.

Tag Wrangling wrangled 548,000 tags in February. Policy & Abuse received over 900 tickets in March, up slightly from February’s over 800. Support received close to 1,600 tickets in March, including about 450 on one day due to some system upgrade-related bumpiness. Thanks to users for being patient and understanding as we continue to make infrastructure improvements! Follow @AO3_Status on Twitter for real-time updates on AO3.

IV. ELSEWHERE AT THE OTW

In Finance-related news, the OTW wrapped up the audit of its 2015 and 2016 financial statements this month, with the independent third-party auditors issuing the opinion that the OTW's financial statements are accurate, reliable, and adhere to U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. The OTW's Audited 2015-2016 Financial Statements can be found on the Reports and Governing Documents page of our website.

Legal also continued its advocacy work in March, joining allies in making several legal filings in ongoing matters, including Reply Comments to U.S. Copyright Office exemptions to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, and an amicus brief seeking rehearing of a case (TVEyes v. Fox), based on the provision of news broadcast clips for purposes including criticism and commentary as Fair Use. All of the OTW's legal filings can be found on the Legal Advocacy page of our website.

V. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

As of the 28th of March, the OTW has 662 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below:

New Committee Staff: Kate Flanagan (Fanlore), shadowkeeper (Fanlore), Jessica Doble (Fanlore) and 1 other Fanlore staff
New Translator Volunteers: 1 volunteer

Departing Committee Staff: Carli Anderson (Elections), stellal (Tag Wrangling), Kiri Van Santen (Communications), and 1 Policy & Abuse staffer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Tsukiko
Departing Translation Volunteers: IshaTagore, Kenyan-Girl, and 1 other volunteer

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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Published:
2018-03-31 05:52:48 -0400
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For the past several weeks, the Archive has been experiencing brief, but somewhat frequent, periods of downtime due to our search engine becoming overwhelmed. This is because we're working on upgrading from Elasticsearch 0.90 to 6.0, so only half of the servers we'd typically use to power the Archive's search engine are available -- the others are running the upgraded version so we can test it.

The good news is the downtime should stop once our upgrade is complete and all servers are running Elasticsearch 6.0. While we can't estimate when that will be, we're working hard to wrap up our testing and fix any remaining bugs as quickly as possible, and we'll have more information on the upgrade coming soon.

We've made some minor adjustments to minimize the downtime, although you may notice some slowness, and downtime may still occur during particularly busy periods. Please rest assured we have systems in place to alert our volunteers of the issue, and it will generally be resolved within 30 minutes.

For now, we offer our sincerest apologies, and we'll continue to monitor the situation and make whatever adjustments we can to improve it. As always, you can follow @AO3_Status on Twitter for updates.

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Published:
2018-03-22 11:41:30 -0400
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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 Nikki Bird, who volunteers as a staffer in our Finance Committee.

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

I am part of the Finance Committee, which handles the money things for OTW. We are responsible for the bookkeeping of the organization, as well as tax preparation, budgeting, and any other fun and exciting financial related matters that come up. Basically, we make sure a lot of the administrative stuff is taken care of for the OTW to keep running.

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

My weeks range from calm and quiet, with ample sleeping, eating, reading, and writing (although those have been rare and I’m probably just dreaming that this is even possible) to insane and crazy (the normal standard of my life now). I work full time (is there something more than full time?), am enrolled in online graduate-level accounting classes, and my significant annoyance needs occasional attention like watching TV together or epically competitive Monopoly games (I never knew I was so competitive). So I fit in my volunteer work as much as I can in the evenings and on the weekends.

And no week is the same for the Finance Committee, it really depends on what is going on. We have meetings once a week on the weekends and update each other on what’s happening, although we frequently chat in between meetings, discussing things that are going on as they happen. Some weeks are fairly quiet in terms of what needs to get done, others are jam packed with all kinds of things that it’s hard to know what to work on first. Lately, the main focuses have been the budget for 2018 and 2017 year end, as well as learning the bookkeeping system.

What experiences have you had that you found helpful for your volunteer work?

I am a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state I live in and work full time in the accounting department of a non-profit with prior experience as an auditor. So I have experience and education in non-profit accounting that translates really well into my role in the Finance Committee. And conversely, since joining the Finance Committee, I have learned and experienced things with OTW that I then take back to my work since the organizations have different focuses and operations. With OTW operating all online, it’s shown me some different tools and methods for operating more efficiently and in a paperless way that I then am trying to incorporate at my work.

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

I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to help OTW with the accounting. Non-profit accounting has some different rules and quirks than a for-profit company would have and I like being able to share my knowledge in a helpful way. As I progress in my career, I hope to become an expert in non-profit accounting, so my volunteering with OTW is helping me tremendously by gaining experience that I don’t have access to at my work, again just because it’s two very different organizations.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I stumbled into the fandom world at the end of 2016 thanks to looking online to decide if I wanted to read the next series in a fandom and discovered my OTP was canon (and at the time had no clue what that meant and didn’t even realize I had an OTP). That led me to fan fics and art on Tumblr, which lead to my discovery of Ao3, which led to me eventually trying to write my own stuff. I’m sad I didn’t discover this treasurer trove of online community sooner, although my school and work productivity is thankful (productivity definitely took a sharp nosedive for a few months as I consumed fics like oxygen and they were necessary for my very survival).

But I really enjoy being a part of the various fandoms I like, even if I’m not a super active participant. I like seeing other people’s headcanons, reading fics, seeing art. I just love consuming it all and feeling connected to other people based on our interests. Nothing is better than screaming nonsense with others about how great something is and how much you love it and all the feels that come with it.

I would love to actively write more often, but life has been too busy for that to be a regular focus. As I have little bits of time I’m slowly working away, maybe someday I’ll be able to post it.


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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