AO3 News

Post Header

Published:
2022-04-20 16:57:42 UTC
Tags:

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 Juliane Cassidy, who volunteers on our Strategic Planning Committee.

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

I volunteer with the Strategic Planning Committee. We draft the strategic plan, a document of goals that will guide the OTW over a three year period. Working with committees throughout the organization, we select goals that will help make the OTW stronger internally and more impactful with fans, volunteers, academics, and more. In the three years between plans, we help committees complete the steps within the strategic plan so the OTW can reach our goals.

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

Right now, we are drafting the next strategic plan, and a week will usually involve a meeting with the rest of the team to check in on our progress and plan next steps. Throughout the week, I might have tasks like research, talking with other committees, drafting sections of the plan, or editing.

What made you decide to volunteer?

When I first started volunteering, I was working in nonprofits, so I was very familiar with creating strategic plans. I also was an avid fanfic reader on AO3. When I logged on one day and saw the recruitment ad, it felt like a good fit. I was not really aware of all the amazing work the OTW was doing beyond AO3 at that time, and it has been wonderful to learn more about all the ways the OTW supports its mission.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

I’ve always loved the brainstorming and ideas that can come from a group of people, but prior to working with the OTW, I had only ever done that in person and synchronously. The communication styles are vastly different in a volunteer-run organization that has volunteers spread throughout the world. Learning how to connect with members of my committee and other volunteers across the organization, figuring out the best communication styles, and how to collaborate so that everyone can contribute was a challenge, and definitely one I’m still working on.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’ve written a few fics here and there, but mostly I’m reading fanfiction. While I am in school, fanfic is about the only reading I can stand to do outside of schoolwork and I always have half a dozen fics saved on my e-reader. I also cosplay and have done a lot of Disney, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and period drama cosplays over the years.


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 the 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.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2022-03-22 17:02:13 UTC
Tags:

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 Julie Bozza, who volunteers as an Open Doors administrative volunteer.

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

I work with the Open Doors Committee “to protect and preserve at-risk fanworks of all kinds”, which fits neatly into the OTW’s interest in “providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms”.

Technology changes, corporations are at cross-purposes with fandom, apps come and go -- but the OTW is here for the long haul, and Open Doors can help if your fanwork archives need a safe new home.

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

We have an informal online meeting once a week to work together and catch up on shared projects. Our committee crosses several time zones, which can make things tricky! I’m in Australia, so the meeting tends to fall on my Sunday mornings. Coffee is an essential part of the process!

There is a lot to learn, and every incoming archive is different, so we use the meeting to ask questions and share our knowledge and experience. We often learn from each other by walking through a new task in tandem with a more experienced colleague.

I tend to devote the rest of my Sunday to Open Doors work, and then if anything urgent pops in during the week, I give it what time I can.

Typical tasks include working with archive owners (via email), answering queries from creators whose works are being imported, organising data about an archive’s fanworks and tags (via spreadsheets) -- and occasionally performing actual imports!

Some of our imports are semi-automated, with the hard work done by our technical team to adapt the archive’s database into something we can upload directly to the AO3. But other archives need to be manually imported, which involves a lot of copying-and-pasting. The archivists and their friends are usually responsible for that task, but our team pitches in and helps when we can, with any part of these processes.

My favourite day job involved working as a technical writer, so it’s great to now use those skills for the benefit of Open Doors, in helping to document our processes. I generally do that outside of meeting times, so I can concentrate!

What made you decide to volunteer?

I love the AO3, and have been posting my fanworks to it since 2010. I decided to post some of my earlier works, too, for the sake of preservation. It was an interesting process, to see what had changed and what had stayed the same in my writing. It was also great to revisit some old fannish loves! I finished that process in early 2020 -- and happened to notice that Open Doors was recruiting.

I’d been a bit shy of applying to volunteer for the OTW before, but this seemed like perfect timing. Having just “protected and preserved” my own fanworks, and finding it a useful task, I figured why not help do that on a larger scale for fandom…?

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

Probably just restraining myself from doing too much! A personal trait which I’m not very good at managing, especially when working remotely.

But I haven’t found anything in the OTW challenging in a bad way. The Open Doors team are a delight to work with, and colleagues on other committees have been friendly and helpful. (I think it makes a difference that we all actually want to be here.) Our processes are well documented, and we make good use of various apps. I’ve had to learn new stuff, but that’s a good thing! A challenge, but not too challenging, if you see what I mean. The kind of challenge I appreciate.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Mostly I’m a writer, and have the fanfic to prove it! Back in pre-Internet days I also enjoyed editing and publishing fanzines, and I do miss that aspect of fandom. I enjoy updating Fanlore, if I find any empty spots I can usefully fill. And I have a couple of fannish websites, one about my favourite actor, and another about filming locations for a certain TV show.

Otherwise, I read books, and watch TV and film. I don’t think I’ve ever done that passively. I’ve always approached these things in fannish ways -- actively engaging with content in that enthusiastic way, so that it serves as a source of inspiration and imagination. It’s a way of life! It’s definitely part of my identity.

Which makes me happy to be a small part of the OTW. No doubt we are a hugely diverse bunch -- but we are, if I may be so bold, my kind of people.


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 the 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.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2022-02-25 16:55:17 UTC
Translations:
Tags:

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 Akima Ras, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Persian.

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

One of the missions of the OTW is to make fannish content and community more accessible for people around the world. By volunteering as a translator for Team Persian, and the Translation Committee as a whole, I believe that we’re helping to make everything feel easier and simpler to use. In the future, it can become a space that might feel closer to home for those who, for a variety of reasons, don’t or can’t live in their home countries anymore. Aside from that, I’m also a staffling for our Webs Committee, who fights WordPress alongside other Webs staff to maintain OTW’s website and tries to get it to behave when other committees need technical assistance.

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

Due to my mostly nonexistent schedule, I don’t really have a typical week. When I actually manage to sit down unbothered behind my laptop, in the early hours of the morning, I tackle a variety of responsibilities based on my mood and how nigh the due date is. It’s usually the translation task I’m assigned, followed by doc managing ones collecting dust 90% of the time. That means preparing around three or so dozen docs for translation, which can sometimes seem like a daunting project to tackle. To mix things up sometimes, I check OTW’s main website and its relatives to see if they require updates, then switch to our internal task boards to do some housekeeping.

What made you decide to volunteer?

It seems like such a long time ago, [laughs], but when I first decided to volunteer, I actually noticed the recruitment post on AO3 for the very first time. I usually didn’t pay that part of the page much heed, and if I did, it was no more than a cursory glance, but for some reason, it caught my eye that time, and I clicked the link. That somehow led me to the Translation Committee world map, and I noticed that there are no peeps from my country nor any who translate from English to Persian.

That was the reason. The realization that it felt like giving back to the community that had given so much to me, in a way, came later. In the beginning, seeing that map and noticing that there was no team Persian somehow made me wonder if OTW would want to have their site translated to my mother tongue. I contacted our Volunteers & Recruitment Committee, I assume, asking if they would be interested in that, and to my utmost surprise— because there were no translator recruitments back then — they said yes. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

Actually, the experience has been so new, exciting, and rewarding that I can’t come up with a response for this one. I mean, I can talk about how difficult it is to find the equivalent of pinch-hitter (a term for a stand-in writer in challenges) in the Persian language (there are none); or I can talk about the untamable navigation menus of OTW’s website which, regardless of one’s tinkering method, remain three lines long and overflowing with random pages with long, long names. But it’s all part of volunteering for OTW.

P.S. In hindsight, maybe the latter can actually qualify as a challenge. Those hours and days that I believed that I had broken the site by fixing the ones for our three or so dozen languages were very stressful.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’ve always loved stories and books, so reading fanfiction is a favorite pastime. I’m also an avid consumer of fanart on Tumblr and Deviant Art, and fanvids from the fandoms I’m interested in. That said, whenever my muses grace me with their presence, and real life allows, I write fics to give back to the fandom, appreciate other writers, give gifts to friends, and pen stories that I’d like to read.


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 the 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.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2021-12-29 16:18:17 UTC
Tags:

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 Frost the Fox, who volunteers on our Systems Committee.

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

As a volunteer for the Systems committee, we’re responsible for all of the OTW’s IT infrastructure, including our physical equipment such as our firewalls/routers, switches, and servers, as well as the many different software components that make up the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, and our internal services that our committees use to conduct their business. Just like business IT departments, we provide and maintain the technical infrastructure to allow other committees to achieve their goals, and thus, the OTW’s goals.

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

A typical week for Systems starts with our weekly meeting where we share our progress on any committee work we’re doing, bring up any important tasks that need to be done, and just generally catch up. Throughout the week we usually receive at least a couple of tickets for updates to some of our internal tools, which are usually pretty quick to take care of. Beyond this, things are different every week depending on what arises!

Sometimes we’ll have projects, requests from committees, or software updates that require changes to our configuration. In this case, we’ll use our configuration management system to implement the changes, and have them reviewed by at least 1 other person in the committee for sanity before deploying them. And of course, all infrastructure has its problems here and there. When there’s an outage on the AO3 or any of our other projects/tools, we respond and investigate the cause of the problem. We’ll identify the problem and liaise with other committees as needed to work towards a solution, and once we have one, implement it and monitor to ensure that things recover as expected.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have a number of years of experience in the IT field ranging from generic help desk type work, to programming, to system administration. Having already been a part of the organization, I knew that there was a lot of infrastructure to maintain, and that there was not a huge amount of people to do so. I have a lot of fun working with technology, and volunteering with the OTW elsewhere had been very rewarding for me, so when I saw that Systems was recruiting, I knew I would be doing a disservice to myself if I didn’t apply.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

My work in my career in IT has been mostly focused towards general business operations which is focused a lot on internal services, as opposed to the OTW, which has more public services. While the basics of server operating systems, virtualization and the like transferred over, there were a lot of other technologies I wasn’t so familiar with that I had to learn, particularly those surrounding the Archive. Getting used to any organization and how their IT systems connect also takes some time. I wasn’t familiar with the configuration management software in use, so that in and of itself was a major learning curve for me, but once I became familiar with it, it made understanding what specific machines do so much easier.

There’s also the nervousness that many people have felt when deploying something to their production environment, except here it’s on a much larger scale than I’d ever dealt with before!

What fannish things do you like to do?

Recently I’ve gotten back into a bit of a writing mood, and I’ve been doing some work on an original story I played around with over a year ago. While that’s not something I’m likely to put on the Archive, it’s gotten the creative juices flowing, and I have some potentially fun ideas for some of my fandoms that I’ll be exploring! I mostly read fic so it’ll definitely be a new experience for me to put something out there for others to enjoy.

Speaking of reading, I’ve been doing a lot of that whenever my schedule permits. Some of that has been in my original fandoms such as Black Lagoon, Final Fantasy, Red Rising & Zootopia, and some in a couple of new fandoms like Hitman. I’m also working on finishing a couple of series and playing some different games that might also lead to new fandoms for me later on. In general I’m always bouncing around between different fandoms looking for something fun to read!


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 the 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.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2021-11-23 16:52:26 UTC
Translations:
Tags:

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 Mirissa, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Kyrgyz.

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

My role in the OTW community is just the same as the other translators. I translate news and other OTW documents to help the community grow and make the experience for other people more comfortable. When I applied to be a translator for the Kyrgyz language there was no Kyrgyz language on the list of the application form. I wasn’t extremely surprised, because this language is not very well known, but it really is similar to Kazakh. It’s funny how long it took me to realize that I was the only translator on the team.

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

My week as a volunteer isn't that unusual. Honestly, I am the type of person to procrastinate and do all the work at the last minute. But with my translation assignments, I take my time on them and try to make them the best way possible. I’m mostly on time, but sometimes I might face some technical issues, so my assignments might be overdue. Not only do I translate different documents, but since I am the only person on the Kyrgyz language team I also act as a beta.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I’ve been reading fanfics on AO3 for a long time after finding a really well-written work 3 years ago. As I got signed up for it and went through news posts I noticed a post saying that they needed translators. I got really interested in it and filled in the application form. At first I didn’t know which language team I should volunteer for, because I know Russian pretty decently as well, so it took me some time to figure out that I wanted to share my native language with the community.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

In the beginning, I was trying my best to get used to the system of how this role worked. Eventually, I got used to everything until the time to translate the membership drives came. I did understand the condition to finish it in 5 days, so I thought “Why not do it?” Maybe I had some challenges because the language I’m translating into might be a bit confusing for non-native speakers. So, I had to confirm something with the staff. I’m glad it all turned out well in the end.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I do not really stand out in the area of fannish stuff. Just like everyone, I do read fanfics and I also write my own fanfics on AO3. Well, I also do aesthetic journaling, but not that often since it really does take me a lot of time. I also watch videos of my favorite anime and Japanese voice actors, who doesn’t do that? I think that’s all I do as a fan (I’m thinking I sound really boring, don’t I?).


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 the 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.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2021-10-26 16:38:16 UTC
Tags:

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 Effie, who volunteers as a TWC Outreach and Communications editor.

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

My role is fairly new! Originally, I applied to be an editor of Transformative Works and Cultures’ Symposium section. However, during my interview with Kristina and Karen I ended up discussing ideas for outreach and communications at length. This eventually led to the creation of my role: Outreach and Communications Editor. My main focus is on the journal’s social media presence, namely Tumblr and Twitter, though I also make sure that any calls for papers are posted around the Internet as well. I am hoping to scale up TWC’s outreach so that an even wider breadth of scholars (and fans!) feel confident submitting to the journal. Additionally, as I continue on with the role, I will take over most of the outward facing communications including press releases. This takes the task off the editors’ desks, which enables them to focus on what they do best, and allows for a more uniform tone across the journal’s communications.

I’ve been with OTW for years, though! I began volunteering on Fanlore back in 2018 and am still a member of the Fanlore social media team, though I have taken more of a backseat in that role.

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

My weeks are pretty atypical and dependent on what (if anything) is coming out of TWC – not to mention that, this being a new role, I’m still trying to find the right rhythm for our social media. Moving forward, I think the weeks surrounding an issue release will be busiest, as I intend to get a few social media posts out leading up to the release and then, of course, focus on the release on the day of but also for a few weeks afterward! I think the opportunity to have a stronger presence on social media is one that we shouldn’t miss out on and I’m eager for the journal’s presence to be felt! On quieter weeks, I intend to remind followers of our upcoming calls for paper, as well as highlight pieces from recently released issues.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have quite a lot of editorial experience and it’s something I love to engage in. I actually run my own young adult literary journal and have been on staff at AGNI literary journal for over half a decade. Social media is a big part of what I do in both of those roles, so I’ve become fairly confident in that area. At first, when I applied to be a Symposium editor, I did so because I enjoy editing but also because I think the Symposium section of TWC is wonderful. It offers authors and readers opportunities to start discussions on a variety of topics but, perhaps even more importantly, it’s a space for fan meta. But in the conversation/interview for that role, I got really carried away with what appears to be a passion of mine: outreach and communications. When Kristina and Karen offered me this new role, I was really pleased. I’m a devout reader of TWC and have felt, for a while now, that the work it produces needs to be read by more people! So I’m really thrilled to be part of the process in getting this work into people’s hands, so to speak!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

The biggest challenges I’ve found, in both my Fanlore work and in this new role at TWC, are (1) understanding the scope of OTW and the systems it has in place and (2) project planning. For the first challenge, I think it’s really easy to be a user of one, or many, of the OTW’s resources and not realize the amount of work that goes into each aspect of this massive organization. The Fanlore team alone, between social media staffers, graphic designers, gardeners, etc is made up of at least a couple dozen volunteers. TWC is also made up of a large group of volunteers and these are only two of the many projects under the OTW umbrella. At first, it is a little overwhelming to grasp who all does what and how! I still found this to be the case when I moved into my new role, despite being on Fanlore for so many years!

The second challenge, which is perhaps a more personal one, is more focused on project and time management. Being a volunteer for such a large organization means that you are responsible for ensuring you pull your weight within the role, or else other aspects might be delayed. It also requires pre-planning and recognizing that dedicated time must be set aside for your tasks. As a PhD student, I am aware of this to a degree but I think when we take on service/volunteer roles, there’s a danger of not giving it the importance it should hold. I will admit, this was something I had to adapt to (mentally) when I came on to the Fanlore team and, again, as a part of TWC, I am re-adjusting to ensure that I accomplish what I want to within the role. Luckily, the teams and communities that make up the OTW are incredible. During my time as a volunteer, I have encountered nothing but encouragement, support, and kindness from everyone I’ve interacted with. It’s truly wonderful being part of the team.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I often feel like a fraud when I say this but…the only fannish thing I do is read fanfiction! But fanfiction is a cornerstone of my life and has been for almost 25 years. In fact, it’s so crucial to who I am that I’m pursuing a PhD in media studies with a dissertation focused on fanfiction, storytelling, and new media platforms!


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.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2021-09-19 16:46:25 UTC
Tags:

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 Cyn, who volunteers as a co-chair for our Volunteers & Recruiting Committee.

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

I currently wear three hats: Translation Staff, Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) Staff and being one of VolCom’s co-chairs. I’m also a former Tag Wrangler, Open Doors Staffer, and Support Staffer.

VolCom staff ensure all volunteers have access to the necessary tools and resources needed to complete their work efficiently and effectively. We also process any volunteer onboardings (adding tools as needed) and volunteer departures (ensuring all tools are removed). One of our key responsibilities is to work with chairs of other committees to facilitate the administrative aspects of our monthly recruitment so that all roles in our organization are appropriately staffed. Since the OTW runs on the energy of volunteers who have decided to give their time and resources to it, I consider VolCom to be a key part of ensuring the OTW continues to operate smoothly. VolCom also works on long-term projects that affect the organization as a whole, such as the implementation of new tools, auditing tool access or developing a chair training plan that covers OTW-specific skills as well as more general leadership and management skills.

As one of VolCom’s co-chairs, I supervise staff to make sure everyone has tasks to work on, recruit and train newbies, ensure goals and tasks listed in our committee’s roadmap are being worked on, ensure documentation of our processes and projects is up to date and help other chairs with resolving Code of Conduct violations.

The Translation Committee helps coordinate the OTW’s efforts across the organization to translate site pages, news posts, AO3 FAQs, and more. In my role as a Translation staffer, I am mostly involved with volunteer management which includes such things as assigning tasks to translators, running interviews and training chats, and handling any hiatus requests. I also help other committees if they need something translated, such as helping Policy & Abuse and Support with getting any tickets they may need to be translated that they can’t translate themselves.

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

Every week in VolCom is different so I may work on any of the following:

  1. Welcoming and adding access to tools for new volunteers or removing a volunteer’s tool access if they are leaving the OTW.
  2. Updating our internal volunteer database of who is starting or returning from a hiatus.
  3. If a volunteer requests a name and/or email change, updating our internal volunteer database and any tools the volunteer has access to.
  4. Processing requests to give a volunteer access to a tool.
  5. Responding to general volunteering queries.
  6. Working on one of our long-term projects.
  7. If VolCom recently recruited new volunteers, I might spend some time during the week following up with them about their progress and/or walking them through our different tasks.

One of the more regular tasks I work on is processing requests for recruitment. If recruitment is 1-2 weeks away, I’ll deliver feedback to chairs on their recruitment documentation and training plan, set up the website application form, make the advertising post to give to Communications to send out when recruitment begins, and document which role is being recruited for our internal volunteer database. If we’re in the middle of recruitment I’ll organize the applications we received and, once recruitment is over, send the apps to committee chairs.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I see my volunteering as my way to give back to fandom since I’m a huge reader but not much of a writer. Although I’ve been reading fanfic for many years, I didn’t really stop to consider who ran the Archive of Our Own until one day when I happened to see the post looking for volunteers to join the Tag Wrangling Committee. That got me curious about who ran the Archive so I read more about the OTW and its projects. I loved that it was a non-profit organization run by and for fans so I decided to apply.

After joining the OTW as a wrangler, I was able to learn even more about the OTW’s projects and what goes on internally to keep everything running. I joined the Open Doors Committee to help save at-risk archives before learning more about VolCom from another volunteer who was on both the Open Doors and VolCom Committees. I thought the type of tasks VolCom did were the types of things I really enjoyed doing in my day job, so when I was asked if I was interested in joining I said yes and here we are!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had are the projects VolCom works on. Our projects can require a lot of time, research, and prior knowledge in related fields, and sometimes it's not clear until we’re in the middle of a project what needs to get done or what pathway to follow to carry a project out.

Another challenge I have is balancing my workload and communicating with VolCom staffers during busy periods. My day jobs have taken up a lot of time this year, so I’ve had to work on rebalancing real life and my volunteer commitments. Luckily one of my jobs is flexible and I usually have time to answer questions from VolCom staff or other volunteers during work hours. If I don’t have time during the day, then I work on volunteering when I should be sleeping (who needs sleep?).

What fannish things do you like to do?

Other than volunteering, I love to read fanfic, listen to podfics or watch fanvids. I’ve been reading fanfic since the very early 2000s when I started reading Sailor Moon fanfic on A Sailor Moon Romance. I then moved to Fanfiction.net looking for more fics and realized there were a lot more fandoms with fics I could read. I eventually wandered my way over to AO3 and I’ve been reading in many different fandoms ever since. I’m currently reading fics in 9-1-1, MCU, The Witcher, and Yuri on Ice with many more to come I’m sure.


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.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2021-08-29 16:20:29 UTC
Tags:

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 lydia-theda, who volunteers as a Policy & Abuse staffer.

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

The Archive of Our Own was created to protect and preserve transformative fanworks of all kinds. As a fanwork archive, we believe in maximum inclusiveness of content: if you’ve created a fanwork—whether fiction or meta; derivative or original work; fanfic, fanart, fanmix, podfic, or fanvid—then regardless of the subject matter, your fanwork is welcome on AO3.

You’ll need to choose an appropriate rating, warning, fandom, and language, but (with the exception of language) you don’t have to be specific. When it comes to the Archive’s required tags, using the “Not Rated” rating, “Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings” warning, and “Unspecified Fandom” or “Undisclosed Fandom” fandom tags is like saying Here be dragons, and that’s perfectly fine and valid. Of course, you’re also welcome to pick the more specific ratings and warnings, and/or get really detailed in your fandom, character, relationship, and additional tags.

Currently, AO3 hosts approximately 8 million works, created by 4 million users and tagged with over 16 million tags. As a tag wrangler, I help sort and connect all those tags so that users can more easily find—or avoid—particular content. And as part of the Policy & Abuse committee (PAC), I investigate reports about content and behaviors that violate the AO3 Terms of Service. (If you didn’t know, the Report Abuse link is located at the bottom of every AO3 page.)

We only need one report in order to investigate any given case, and the more details about the user and their works or comments you include in that report, the better. A minimum of two real human beings review every single report we receive, to ensure that we are interpreting the Terms of Service consistently and that we only act when the reported user isn’t following the rules.

If the content doesn’t violate the Terms of Service, then the report is rejected and the fanwork remains on the Archive.

But if you post things that aren’t fanworks (like fic searches, prompts, or social media posts), mention anything about making money from your work, reproduce someone else’s work without permission, harass other users, or otherwise violate the Terms of Service, then we may send you an email warning you that what you did isn’t allowed on AO3, and explaining exactly what you need to do to fix the issue and what will happen if you don’t.

All reports are confidential, and all user communication occurs via email, whether that’s the email address associated with your AO3 account or the one you entered into the form when making a report. Please make sure your email is correct and that you check it (and your spam folder) regularly!

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

Every day, I receive hundreds of email/mobile notifications about the latest reports, updates to active cases, and other messages. As a volunteer, I do what I can, when I have the time and spoons to do it. So, if I only have a few minutes here and there, or if I’m on my phone, I’ll do little things: reviewing drafts for typos, reading and contributing to ongoing discussions, browsing through and claiming tickets, or making notes on incoming reports to help whoever eventually takes the case.

When I have a larger block of time, I’ll work on some of the tickets I picked up earlier. For any given case, the first thing I do is collect, organize, and verify all of the relevant information in order to determine whether there’s been a violation and how to handle it. If the case is borderline or particularly complicated, I may need to bring it to the team for discussion or consult with other committees, such as AD&T, Support, Translation, or Legal. Once I’ve decided what the appropriate action should be, I’ll draft all necessary responses and ask another team member to review my work and (if they didn’t find any errors) sign off on the case. If any of my responses need to be translated, I’ll get that done before sending the emails out. If I gave a user a deadline to do something, I’ll follow up after the deadline has passed to see if they did the thing. If they did, great; if not … well, that depends on the case.

On top of all that, I try to do a bit of wrangling every week, whether that’s checking the fandoms I’m assigned to for new tags, evaluating if my fandoms’ existing tags meet current guidelines, or working on large-scale projects with other wranglers. Once a month or so, I help AD&T test the latest releases, which mostly amounts to poking things they’ve coded to make sure they work right (and occasionally finding out that they don’t).

What made you decide to volunteer?

One day I stumbled upon one of the AO3 news posts which was asking for tag wranglers. I had no idea what that was, but it seemed like an interesting way to contribute to fandom, so I applied.

I joined PAC about a year later, after talking with a few friends who were on the team and thinking that the type of work PAC does and the kind of people they are sounded exactly like it’d fit with my interests and personality. While I don’t think I would have had the courage to apply to PAC from the start, I’m very glad I’m here now.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

Particularly in the last year or so, there’s been a huge increase in site traffic. More users means more content, and more content means more tags to wrangle and more reports to process. On both of my committees, we’ve had to take steps to try and keep up with the higher workload.

I’m just one of over a thousand volunteers from around the world, all of whom are devoting our free time to the OTW’s various projects. Everything we do—research, testing, discussion, coordination, documentation, recruitment, training, policy decisions, procedural changes, guideline reviews, normal day-to-day work—takes time and effort, and not everyone has those to spare on any given day. Misunderstandings are going to happen, so patience and kindness are crucial. Apologize when you mess up, try to figure out where you went wrong, and commit to doing better in the future.

What fannish things do you like to do?

While I will occasionally create fanart or beta fics for friends, I wouldn’t have discovered AO3 if I didn’t read fic, and I read fic nearly every day. Nowadays I get most of my recs from wrangling and reports, lol. I also spend a lot of time chatting with other OTW volunteers, whether about our work, the fandoms we’re in together, interesting things we found online … plus, I’ll never say no to a cute cat pic ^_^


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.

Comment


Pages Navigation