AO3 News

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2017-12-01 12:32:57 -0500

spotlight on legal issues

In recent weeks, OTW Legal has gotten some questions about net neutrality in the United States. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all data on the Internet the same way, without discriminating or charging differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. There's been some recent activity surrounding net neutrality regulations that fans may want to know about.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a proposal that would severely reduce net neutrality requirements in the United States. The FCC is currently in charge of regulating broadband internet access services in the U.S., and FCC rules currently forbid ISPs from, for example, blocking or "throttling" access to lawful content, prioritizing access to content based on payment, or requiring consumers to pay more for access to certain content or services. The new FCC proposal would retain existing transparency rules, but would roll back prohibitions--effectively permitting ISPs to engage in blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and other interfering behaviors.

The FCC's proposed order has not gone into effect yet; the FCC Commissioners will discuss the proposal at their December meeting. Despite widespread and vocal opposition to the proposal, most expect that it will pass in mid-December.

What would this mean for fans?

It's difficult to predict exactly what these changes would mean, because it's difficult to predict what ISPs will do when the regulations change. Many major ISPs have pledged not to block or throttle content, but the law wouldn't prohibit them from changing their minds. Some ISPs may also decide to offer tiered pricing that would, for example, charge different amounts for access to different parts of the Internet, or create "fast lanes" and "slow lanes."

Essentially, the changes would allow ISPs to do whatever they think will be most profitable for them, which may mean (for example) giving preferred treatment to sites or services that are affiliated with the ISP or pay the ISP. This could make it more expensive for consumers to gain access to the full range of Internet services and content, and could make life harder for small sites or startups. ISPs would have to disclose when they do such things, but there would be little meaningful mechanism for preventing them, other than market forces.

Most of the effects would probably be for users in the U.S., although decisions about Internet in the United States tend to have a broad impact on access even for non-U.S. residents. Any law affecting internet access may also have an impact on works hosted by AO3, information available on Fanlore, and the OTW's day-to-day work of preserving fan works and supporting fan culture.

For these reasons, the OTW supports net neutrality and OTW Legal personnel have submitted comments to the FCC in support of net neutrality. We will continue to be involved as opportunities arise.

What can fans do about it?

Although it is likely that the FCC will adopt this proposal, the FCC is not the last word on the matter. The FCC must submit its rules to the U.S. Congress, which can overturn them. Therefore, one thing that fans can do--especially fans in the U.S.--is contact their Congresspeople to let them know that they should care about net neutrality. Knowing that net neutrality is important to their constituents, and having concrete examples about why constituents care about net neutrality, will make a difference in whether Congress decides to overturn the FCC's plan. A coalition of Internet-focused nonprofits led by Fight for the Future has created tools to make it easier to contact your Congresspeople about net neutrality, and has also planned some other actions. See their "Battle for the Net" site here.

In addition, many of the OTW's allies, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, are active in promoting net neutrality. Interested fans can follow their activities and get involved through them.


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We at the Organization for Transformative Works are excited to introduce an additional way to support us: we're now one of the charities you can select when purchasing a Humble Bundle or through the Humble Store!

Humble Bundle lets you pay what you want for a selection of games, books, comics, and software, while the Humble Store acts as a hub for users to purchase games for multiple platforms. In both cases, you can select an amount to go to the OTW in support of its projects. Content availability may vary depending on your country, but there's an incredible selection to chose from! When you use the Humble Store to purchase games, or buy a Humble Bundle, select the Organization for Transformative Works as your charity of choice at checkout, and we will receive a portion of the proceeds. As always, your privacy is guaranteed!

(Donations the OTW receives as a result of Humble Bundle or Humble Store purchases will not make you a member of the OTW. If you wish to become a member, please donate via this form.)

Thank you so much for your support!

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent archiveofourowno.comanization 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 archiveofourowno.comanization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.


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2017-11-23 13:09:46 -0500

Spotlight on Legal Issues

Do you use screencaps or video clips in your fanfiction? If so, the OTW needs your help!

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") makes it illegal to rip from DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and many other encrypted technologies. The OTW has won a legal exemption that makes it legal to rip DVDs, Blu-Rays, and digital downloads to make fair uses for the purpose of noncommercial remix videos, like fanvids.

But the DMCA still blocks fans’ ability to make fair uses of video in other contexts, such as fanfiction. Although fair use law would often allow fans to incorporate video clips or stills into their fanfiction (making it what the law calls a "multimedia e-book") the DMCA restricts fans’ ability to gain access to video material for that purpose.

What the OTW is Doing About This

Fortunately, the law provides for a rule-making process every three years where the Copyright Office can recommend exemptions for authors to access the works they need, which the OTW has participated in. There is currently an exemption for e-books, but it only applies to nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis.

A group of allies led by the OTW and the Authors Alliance are fighting for a modified exemption that will allow all authors of e-books, including fanfiction creators, to gain access to the clips they need from DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and digital streaming services.

How You Can Help

Share your stories with us! If you're a fanwork creator who's needed to rip digital content for use in your fanfiction, or if you anticipate finding yourself in that situation in the future, you can help us demonstrate why there's a need for this exemption.

The Copyright Office places an emphasis on stories from authors who have been harmed by the DMCA in the past or are likely to be harmed by the DMCA in the future, so please take our 5-minute survey and share your experience!

The deadline for us to submit our evidence is soon, so please fill out the survey by December 4, 2017. And even if you have no story to contribute, please spread this message to others. Every story helps.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent archiveofourowno.comanization 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 archiveofourowno.comanization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.


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2017-11-22 12:38:05 -0500

In these releases, we implemented several anti-spam measures, fixed some problems with our invitation queue, and added clarifying text to the site when the invitation queue is temporarily suspended.


  • Coders: Ariana, Elz, Naomi, redsummernight, Sarken, Tal Hayon
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, james_, Sarken, redsummernight, tickinginstant
  • Testers: james_, Elz, Lady Oscar, mumble, Sammie



  • [AO3-4222] - When the invitation request queue was suspended it left no clear indication anywhere on the site of how the Archive invitation system works or that it was currently shut off. We have now added explanatory text to the appropriate places and separated the form to add yourself to the queue from the form that lets you check your place in the queue.
  • [AO3-5235] - It was previously possible to add yourself to the invitation request queue by circumventing the user interface. We've now closed that tricksy loophole.
  • [AO3-5205] - We have put in checks to prevent adding variations of the same email address (e.g. the same name with periods in different places) to the invitation request queue.
  • [AO3-5243] - Deleting email addresses from the queue was a slow and annoying process, which we have now made less annoying and less slow for our Abuse personnel.
  • [AO3-5249] - Admins can now search the email addresses in the queue.
  • [AO3-4971] - If an admin tried to delete the same invitation request twice (e.g. with the help of browser tab shenanigans), they would get an unhelpful error 404. It now displays a more helpful message.


  • [AO3-4331] - We have added improvements to our anti-spam tool, making it possible to train the algorithm and spot more spam works as they're posted (and leave non-spam works alone).
  • [AO3-4200] - We now add the rel="nofollow" attribute to all links inside works and comments to discourage spammers from using the Archive to improve their search result standings.
  • [AO3-5234] - Site admins can now toggle an option that will automatically hide works that our spam detector has classified as spam. Hidden spam works can then be reviewed and, if not spam, be unhidden. \o/
  • [AO3-5251] - If a work gets hidden as spam, the creator will receive a notification in which we assure them that we review our software's decisions and will unhide the work if it turns out to be not actually spam. (If it is, it will be summarily deleted and GOOD RIDDANCE.)
  • [AO3-5247] - Two kinds of notifications that were theoretically supposed to be triggered by declined invitation requests/spam works were not actually being sent (and instead cluttered up our error logs). They will now be sent in the appropriate cases.

Automated Tests

  • [AO3-5240] - Completely unrelated to any spam concerns, one of our automated tests broke when daylight savings ended in the US, and we had to reapply a fix that had previously taken care of the problem. Excitement!
  • [AO3-3848] - We've added a test to check that accounts block access after repeated password failures.
  • [AO3-4855] - Our test coverage for gift exchanges has been improved by some rspec additions!

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


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For the past several weeks, the Archive of Our Own has been dealing with an unusually high volume of spam works created to advertise live streams of sporting events. We've taken a number of steps to deal with these spam works, and in the next few days, we'll take one more: automatically hiding works that our spam detection service believes are spam.

We've been using this spam detector behind the scenes for a while now, and it has a 99.3% accuracy rate when it comes to identifying spam works and comments on the Archive. This means there is a small chance some non-spam works will be incorrectly marked as spam.

If your work is marked as spam, we'll send you an email to let you know. Our Abuse team will review your work as soon as possible and unhide it if it isn't a spam advertisement. Works will not be reviewed for other Terms of Service violations while in the spam queue.

We apologize to any users whose works are incorrectly marked as spam and to everyone who is currently waiting for us to review and fulfill their invitation request. We realize this situation is frustrating, but these steps are necessary to help us deliver a spam-free experience to all our users.

Thank you for bearing with us, and if you see any spam that has escaped our net, please report it to Abuse!

Update on November 24, 00:40 UTC: Automatic hiding of spam works is now enabled.


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The Boy / Michael Shanks banner

The Boy / Michael Shanks, an archive for fanfiction about any character portrayed by Michael Shanks, is being imported to the Archive of Our Own (AO3). In this post:

Background explanation

The Boy / Michael Shanks fanfiction archive is a multi-Michael website, for gen, het or slash fanfiction about any character Michael Shanks has portrayed. It is moving to AO3 so that it can be available to the widest possible audience for the longest possible time, no longer reliant solely on one person to maintain the server and archive website.

Open Doors will be working with alice ttlg to import The Boy / Michael Shanks into a separate, searchable collection on the Archive of Our Own.

We will begin importing works from The Boy / Michael Shanks to the AO3 after November.

What does this mean for creators who have work(s) on The Boy / Michael Shanks?

We will send an import notification to the email address we have for each creator. We'll do our best to check for an existing copy of any works before importing. If we find a copy already on the AO3, we will invite it to the collection instead of importing it. All works archived on behalf of a creator will include their name in the byline or the summary of the work.

All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly-viewable if you choose. After 30 days, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors. Open Doors will then set up the URL redirects, and we will permanently close down the site.

Please contact Open Doors with your The Boy / Michael Shanks pseud(s) and email address(es), if:

  1. You'd like us to import your works, but you need the notification sent to a different email address than you used on the original archive
  2. You already have an AO3 account and have imported your works already yourself.
  3. You’d like to import your works yourself (including if you don’t have an AO3 account yet).
  4. You would NOT like your works moved to the AO3.
  5. You are happy for us to preserve your works on the AO3, but would like us to remove your name.
  6. You have any other questions we can help you with.

Please include the name of the archive in the subject heading of your email. If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your The Boy / Michael Shanks account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's great; if not, we will work with the The Boy / Michael Shanks mod to confirm your claims.)

Please see the Open Doors Website for instructions on

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ, contact the Open Doors committee.

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

We're excited to be able to help preserve The Boy / Michael Shanks!

- The Open Doors team and alice ttlg


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2017-11-10 11:24:30 -0500

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 archiveofourowno.comanization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Raquel E. who volunteers as a translator.

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

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

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

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

What sorts of OTW content have you worked on?

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

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

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

What fannish things do you like to do?

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

Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent archiveofourowno.comanization 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 archiveofourowno.comanization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.


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


The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) recently held its October 2017 membership drive, run by the Development & Membership committee with help from Communications, Translation, Webs, and more. During this drive, we beat our goal of US$115,000, raising over US$137,000 from over 5,500 individual donations representing more than 70 countries. To break that down a little more: 2,733 donations were from first-time donors, 1,243 new members are eligible to vote in next year’s OTW Board election, and we will be shipping out 110 thank-you gifts in the next month!

Thank you to everyone who donated and signal boosted. Your support means so much to us. And if you missed the drive, don't worry, we accept donations at any time, and thank you gifts are always available.


Accessibility, Design & Technology had a busy October. First, AO3 switched to default to secure browsing (HTTPS), but then experienced some issues with server load during peak times, so the default was set back to HTTP. It's still possible to browse AO3 in HTTPS when following secure links or using a browser add-on, if you prefer that.

When the new front-end servers (coming soon!) are installed, HTTPS will be the default protocol for good. Users who use audio or video players in their works (to post podfics or fanvids) are encouraged to read up on multimedia embeds and secure browsing to learn how this change will affect them.

Another issue that Accessibility, Design & Technology tackled in October is spammers who were creating bogus works and collections on AO3 to link to their fare. They've become highly adept at using Archive features, and they've been flooding the invitation queue with throwaway email addresses to create new accounts. As a short-term measure, the invitation queue was turned off to relieve some of the burden on the Abuse committee, and to allow for time to discuss and implement a solution to prevent the worst spam attacks.

The Open Doors committee was also busy in October, completing imports of The Collators’ Den and the fanfiction section of Unknowable Room. Import announcements were also made for West Wing Fanfiction Central, MTAC, and Firefly’s Glow.

In other Archive-related news, AO3 Documentation updated the Skins and Archive Interface FAQ, for those who prefer customizing the look of AO3 and of their works.

Lastly, Support received roughly 1600 tickets in October, and Abuse received over 1000 tickets.


Great news from the Legal committee! In response to the OTW’s petition, the U.S. Copyright Office has renewed the "vidder’s exemption" that permits vidders and other makers of noncommercial remix video to decrypt clips from DVDs, Blu-Rays, and online sources to make fair use of them without violating the "anti-circumvention" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Legal also filed petitions to clarify and broaden the existing exemptions for remix video and multimedia e-books, and will continue working on supporting those. Stay tuned—not only will there be progress updates in the months to come, but there will also be a request for your stories to help make arguments in favor of those clarifications and expansions!

TWC is also requesting your input. There are two new calls for papers out for upcoming issues of Transformative Works and Cultures. One is for an issue on Fan Studies Methodologies, and the other is for an issue on Fanfiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures. Submission guidelines and due dates are available at the links.


OTW's Board welcomed three new board members, who officially started October 1, and said goodbye to Alex, Aline and Katarina, whose terms have now finished. Thank you to the departing Directors for your service.

Finance issued an update on the OTW's 2017 budget this month. Thanks to everyone who attended the open chat on October 15th to ask questions. Meanwhile, preparations also continue for the first audit of the OTW's financial statements, which we expect to see happen annually from now on.


As of the 27th of October, the OTW has 714 volunteers. \o/

Recent personnel movements completed by Volunteers & Recruiting are listed below:

New Committee Staff: Jess Hindes (Communications), 2 Communications staffers, 1 Translation staffer, ironysupplement (Systems), 1 other Systems staffer, AliceandJane (Abuse), guro (Abuse), 1 other Abuse staffer
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: li-sus, batgirlSwrite, and Kyubey Kotone
New Translator Volunteers: alive, nyxmidnight
Departing Directors: Alex Tischer, Aline Carr?o, Katarina Harju
Departing Committee Chairs: Mahewa (Elections)
Departing Committee Staff: Minx (AO3 Documentation), JessicaLovesSocks2658 (Abuse and AO3 Documentation), Supergreak (Tag Wrangling), Marchiveofourowno.coman (Tag Wrangling) & 2 other Tag Wrangling staffers
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 4 Tag Wrangling volunteers
Departing Translation Volunteers: HLITH, Chiralivity, and Jessica Park

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 archiveofourowno.comanization 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 archiveofourowno.comanization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.


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