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Published:
2018-10-07 11:30:29 -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 Lex deLeon, who volunteers as a Support staffer and tag wrangler, and was recently elected to the OTW's Board of Directors.

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

As a member of the Support and Tag Wrangling teams, I feel I provide two different aspects of user to volunteer interaction with the Archive. As a tag wrangler, I take loose ideas that people use to describe their stories in the Character, Relationship or Additional Tags fields on their works and make them synonymous with common tags that many people use for searching. There are far too many examples for this, but it is basically like taking fandom ideas and making them make sense to someone who isn't in fandom. The thought process can be the same at times! There can be a lot of research associated with this, especially when someone likes to use fanon specific nicknames. It is a largely invisible, but invaluable task.

As a member of the Support team, I reply to tickets that are sent in by users of the site. This may be as simple as "I can't log in", which is a common complaint to any site with login capability. Those of you out there who have suffered this, you are not alone! Or it could be more complex questions, such as "how do I post a new work". It is always important to me to respond with the utmost of professionalism and respect, as I was once one of those users who didn't know a slash (/) from an ampersand (&). Hint: the first means a romantic or sexual relationship, the second means friendship or platonic.

Overall, I feel my work in the OTW is something that allows me to contribute in a generally positive way to the larger fandom communities that are out there.

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

Generally, any work as a volunteer starts the same way -- caffeine. I will openly admit to being a thorough and unashamed addict, whether it be coffee or energy drinks. Then I will typically peruse new tags that have come in and send them to the appropriate locations as needed. On Support days, I will begin by selecting a ticket which I am comfortable tackling given my level of energy or time -- if a ticket is one which I know will require an hour of research or time, I will not begin working on it when I have ten minutes free. Much of my work as a volunteer is essentially time and resource (read: my own energy levels) management.

My father taught me a crucial lesson as a child: the only normal day was yesterday. Being willing and able to accept this kind of variability has been a huge help to my work as a volunteer.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I had wanted to volunteer for a while but had never happened upon the application at the right time. One day, I came to the Archive to peruse new femslash and saw it -- a shining beacon of a new News post, heralding "Volunteers needed!" I applied and the rest, as they say, was history. The mission of the OTW at large aligns with what I believe we as a fannish culture at large should be striving for -- not just a space for us to post out stories and pictures and videos, but a place that actively strives to protect our rights to do so.

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

Of all of the things I have learned and experienced during my time volunteering, the most rewarding thing has been discovering that I am not alone. I am not the only one who sees this rare ship, I am not the only one who sees the need for this fight, and I am not the only one who thinks that Certain Female Characters Were Robbed! While this is something I have also received from my other friends who do not volunteer, it is not always easy to yell into the void of my own fannish tumblr. I wish to discuss these things, to work out my thoughts and find a cohesive narrative from the frequently broken and half baked ideas that we are presented with from canon. The friendships I have made, and the relationships I have forged are ones which I hope are ones which stay with me for a long time.

Other than that, I'd have to say learning about new fandoms. I have SO MANY NEW SHIPS.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I have been writing since roughly 1992, though almost all of my early work is gone. I have never stopped writing, though I have taken hiatuses over the years for personal reasons. I have spent countless hours perusing fan manipulations, fan mixes, fan vids -- but my heart remains with fanfic. Whether reading or writing, that is where my main focus has always been.

I've drifted between fandoms over the years -- oh, the fond memories I have of the long dead Popular mailing list! -- though I do have to admit all of my fandoms have one thing in common. It is a failing, perhaps, or a strength. All of my fandoms have invariably been femslash. It has become a running joke amongst my friends, though additionally an advertisement, that I will invariably know of or be in the fandom for a lot of fandoms that have femslash.

Of everything I do in fandom, remembering what has come before and continuing to work toward allowing others the space and freedom to explore their own fannish tendencies is the thing I am most proud of. It is akin to the classic quote frequently misattributed to Voltaire but which is from Evelyn Beatrice Hall: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say 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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Published:
2018-04-30 16:49:41 -0400
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We recently received reports about one or more Tumblr accounts posing as "AO3 consultants" and contacting other users about their works on the Archive. In those messages, users are asked to take down their works "due to reports of abuse" or else have their works deleted by AO3 admins.

These messages are in no way sanctioned by the AO3 Policy & Abuse committee, who will never contact users via social media. All messages you receive from our Support and Abuse teams will be signed by the volunteer contacting you, and will reference specific abuse reports, requests for technical support, or other matters pertaining to your account.

Please keep your email address up to date, as this is our only way of getting in touch with you. To check, follow these instructions for changing the email address associated with your account. (If you go to that page and don't see a place to enter your password, that's a known issue, sorry! You can work around it by following these steps to change your password.)

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Published:
2016-06-02 12:27:17 -0400
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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 Nary, who volunteers as a Support staffer and Tag Wrangler.

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

I volunteer as part of the AO3 Support team, which means that I handle questions that come in about the site and how it works, requests for new features, and problems when something is broken or not working the expected way.

The Support team works closely with many other committees -- Tag Wrangling when there's a problem with a tag; AD&T when there are issues with the site's performance; when bugs are found and fixed; and when new features are being developed; Abuse when addressing issues that fall under the Archive's Terms of Service; Documentation in order to help clarify the wording of the FAQs or other instructions on the site; Testing when we are trying to duplicate an issue a user is reporting; and Translation to handle requests for support that use languages apart from those spoken by members of the Support team.

I'm currently the liaison to the Tag Wrangling committee, which is handy because I'm also a tag wrangler, so I was already familiar with how the Tag Wrangling system works. Being the liaison means that I contact wranglers if a question comes in about a tag in one of their assigned fandoms, and relay their answer back to the user. If it's a question about a No Fandom tag, or a tag in a fandom that doesn't currently have a wrangler, I bring the question to the staff of the Tag Wrangling committee so that one of them can look into it.

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

I answer a lot of questions via email! We receive support tickets through our tracking system, our volunteers claim them, draft an answer, get the answer beta-read by another Support staffer, and if everything looks good, send it off. We try to do this as quickly as we can, although if it requires consultation with another committee or testing a problem to see if we can duplicate it, it can take longer. And sometimes we just get a large number of requests in a short period of time, and it takes longer to work through them all!

We have templates for answering common questions that we can make use of, which helps things go more quickly, but even then we try to make sure we're tailoring the reply to the user's exact problem. For instance, if someone asks about how to filter out particular tags from their search results, we will try to use the specific tags they asked about in our example, if possible.

So pretty much every day I answer a number of support requests, and beta other people's answers to try and catch any typos or mistakes before the answer is sent. I'd estimate I spend an average of 2 hours a day on Support, although some days I do less and some more. I fit in a bit of tag wrangling around that when I have a chance. I've had to scale back how much I can do there, and limit myself mostly to fairly small fandoms that don't get a lot of new tags every day!

I tend to keep the OTW's internal chat service open most of the time, so that I can receive any urgent messages or find out about developments as they happen. We've also been training some new volunteers for Support lately (yay!) so I try to be available to answer questions for them as they come up.

The Support Committee created a graph showing the number of requests they've gotten since 2011. It looks like the 500 per month benchmark lasted a long time but was left in the dust last year. Were you around to see this change?

I've been volunteering for Support for a little over two years, so I did see the increase happening, although it didn't feel that dramatic to me, because I hadn't seen how things worked when we had a much lower volume of requests.

http://www.transformativeworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2011-2015SupportTickets.png

As requests were increasing, several of our Support staffers became Board members, so we were faced with more support requests, with fewer volunteers available to answer them. We have had to find ways to deal with the increase, as a committee, while still trying to provide the same level of service to our users. The increase in requests for help reflects the growth of the Archive as a whole, and I'm glad that people are finding us and making use of the service we provide. I also believe that part of the increase is because when users find Support helpful, they're more likely to come to us again with any future questions or problems, which is great!

One big help has been moving to our new ticket tracking system, which has streamlined the process a lot. It makes it quite a bit faster to go through the process of draft -> beta -> send, and we don't need to manually paste in answers from users if they reply to us, because it will thread any replies within the same ticket.

Another solution, of course, has been working to recruit and train more volunteers, which is a great help in keeping on top of the workload!

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

By volunteering for Support, I've definitely learned things about how to use the Archive that I wasn't aware of before, even though I'd been a user of the site since 2009. For instance, I've become a lot more familiar with the searching and filtering options that are available, like how to exclude certain tags or make my searches more precise. Picking up new tips and tricks is always fun!

It's always especially satisfying when we can help someone with a tricky problem, too. I'm sure we've all had frustrating moments trying to get a website or piece of software to behave, and when you can get an answer from a real live human being that solves your problem, that's a great feeling. I'm happy to be able to provide that help to users.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I write fanfic, although I find that these days, when there are so many other demands on my time, I do best when I'm writing for an exchange -- having a deadline helps to motivate me, as does knowing that someone is counting on me to finish my story. So I participate in a handful of exchanges every year -- Yuletide and Jukebox for sure, and then a few others as time permits or interest strikes me. In 2016 so far I've participated in the Chocolate Box exchange and Smut Swap, for instance, and I'm planning to sign up for the Seeing Color exchange as well. I write in a wide variety of mostly-small fandoms, so multifandom exchanges are my favourite kind.

I'm also trying my hand at running an exchange on AO3 for the first time, called Three Worlds Travelers, for the Books of the Raksura series by Martha Wells. It's fairly small, but I'm very excited about it, because in any small fandom, new fic is always a cause for celebration! I had some experience running exchanges in the Song of Ice and Fire fandom years ago, but those were all run through LiveJournal, so it's been interesting to see first-hand all the features that AO3 offers to make the task simpler than it used to be. I'm sure it will make me more comfortable with answering the questions that we receive about collections and exchanges, too!


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. (If you have an AO3 support request though, please use the Support form, as that makes things easier on our volunteers!)

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Published:
2015-06-02 12:35:26 -0400
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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.

Unlike previous Open Chats, we're trying a new thing this year. This chat will be focused on the Posting and Editing forms! We'll have a walkthrough of tricks, methods, and known issues when adding your fannish creation to the Archive. Want some suggestions on how to add comments and notes beyond what the tags field will allow? Have a translation, or remix, or other creation inspired by an existing work? Are you posting to a challenge but never get it to work quite right? Are you wanting to post a work in a different language? Come find out how! (We'll still have a few staffers around to answer some general questions, too.)

We'll be available on Sunday, June 7, 16:00 UTC to 18:00 UTC (what time is that in my timezone?). 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

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 capacity. 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, 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.

We'd be happy to help you with any questions, and anything else you're having trouble doing or would like to try doing with the Archive. And if you miss us and have any questions, you can always send us a ticket!

Mirrored from an original post made at the OTW News Blog..

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Published:
2014-12-02 12:41:39 -0500
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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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Published:
2014-10-18 12:36:52 -0400
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Banner by caitie with 'otw chat' at its center and emoticons and other symbols in word bubbles surrounding it.

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, October 26, 17:00 UTC to 21:00 UTC (what time is that in my timezone?). Volunteers will be available to answer inquiries in Chinese, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. If you can't make it to this chat, another chat is planned for Sunday, December 7.

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.

Comment

Post Header

Banner by caitie with 'otw chat' at its center and emoticons and other symbols in word bubbles surrounding it.

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 Saturday, August 30, 13:00 UTC to 19:00 UTC (what time is that in my timezone?). Volunteers will be available to answer inquiries in Chinese, English, Finnish, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. If you can't make it to this chat, keep an eye out for the next time as Support will be doing other chats later this year.

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.

Comment

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Published:
2014-06-22 15:29:27 -0400
Translations:
Tags:

Banner by caitie with 'otw chat' at its center and emoticons and other symbols in word bubbles surrounding it.

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, June 29, 13:00 UTC to June 30, 01:00 UTC (what time is that in my timezone?). Volunteers will be available to answer inquiries in Chinese, English, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. If you can't make it to this chat, keep an eye out for the next as Support will be doing other chats later this year.

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.

Comment


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