AO3 News

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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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Published:
2015-10-27 16:04:47 -0400
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The Archive currently offers a few ways to control how other people interact with your works: you can choose to only allow comments from signed-in users, or you can make your work only accessible to signed-in users to begin with.

However, to counter cases of severe harrassment on the Archive (including abusive comments from throw-away accounts created to circumvent the anon restrictions), we are now introducing a way for creators to review any comments before they appear on their works.

(Please note that this feature is undergoing testing, and all screen shots are approximate.)

What this means for creators

Once the feature is deployed, creators will be able to turn on comment moderation for new or existing works in the Privacy section of the posting and editing form.

The checkbox for enabling comment moderation on an individual work

Enabling comment moderation on a work will prevent new comments from appearing publicly unless they are approved by the creator. If the creator has comment notification emails enabled, they can access and review individual comments directly using the links at the bottom of the email. Creators can also review all comments on a work by accessing the work and following the "Unreviewed Comments (#)" link in the work's navigation.

The button-style Unreviewed Comments (2) link at the top of a work

Each unreviewed comment will have options to Approve or Delete. Note: Abuse personnel will have access to this page, so you can alert them to harrassing comments via the abuse report form without having to approve the comments first.

The Unreviewed Comments page for the Sliding Doors work, with a comment from a logged-in user and another from a logged out user. Both comments have Approve and Delete options.

Once approved, comments will be publicly available on the work. Approved comments cannot be unapproved, but they can be deleted. Comments posted by the work creator will be approved automatically.

Creators can also turn on comment moderation for multiple works at once with the mass editor, which can be accessed using "Edit Works" link on their dashboard.

What this means for commenters

The comment form will display a notice informing commenters if comment moderation is enabled on a given work.

The comment form with a message saying comment moderation is enabled on the work

Commenters will be able to enter their comment as normal. After the comment is submitted, a message will inform the commenter that the comment has been received and will not appear on the work until the creator approves it.

A message above the comment form letting the user know their comment has been received

Commenters will receive email copies of their comments if they have that preference enabled. They will be able to access their comment using the "Go to the thread" link included the email.

More improvements to come

Our Abuse team works hard to clean up abusive comments when they are reported and to take action against users involved in harassment, but they are limited in what they can do, particularly against users who are willing to go to the trouble of creating throw-away accounts. This change will enable creators to control comments on their own works, preventing abusive comments from ever being seen.

We will be introducing some further features to help users and our Abuse team deal with harassment and spam: allowing users to reject unwanted gifts, making it possible for Abuse to delete all of an account's works at once (to more efficiently remove spam), allowing Abuse to mark works as spam/not spam, and improvements to the Report Abuse form.

We hope these features will help the Archive be a safer place for users to enjoy posting and consuming fanworks.

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Here at AO3, we'll be celebrating the new year by giving the homepage a brand new look. Read on for a sneak peek of the upcoming changes!

Logged out version

The logged out homepage with introductory text, fandom links, news posts, and Twitter widget

The Archive's homepage has always introduced the Archive and its mission to first time visitors and kept returning guests up to date with the latest news and tweets, and that won't change! However, because we're striving to make the homepage even more useful and informative, we'll be adding a few more things:

  • The News section will now include excerpts from the latest news posts to make it easier to stay informed. We'll be adding comment counts, too, so you can tell when a post sparks discussion.
  • We'll mention some of the benefits of creating an AO3 account to make sure everyone knows there are plenty of reasons to join the Archive even if you don't plan to post any works.
  • Links to the fandom categories will give first-time visitors a clear starting point to help them dive in and explore the Archive.

Logged in version

The logged in homepage with fandom links, news posts, marked for later works, inbox items, and Twitter widget

Logged in users will see a much more drastic change. We're taking away the introductory text -- we know each other already! -- and adding some customized content to make the homepage feel more like home.

  • Find something to read, watch, listen to, or look at even on slow days in your fandom with a random selection of three works you've Marked for Later.
  • Connect with other users by reading and replying to your three most recent unread Inbox messages.

If you don't have anything Marked for Later or any unread Inbox items, these sections will be hidden (and if you only have one or two items Marked for Later or in your Inbox, we'll only show those one or two items). Similarly, the Marked for Later section will be unavailable if you've disabled the "Turn on Viewing History" preference, and the Inbox section will be unavailable if you've set your preferences to "Turn off messages to your inbox about comments."

One more thing...

The logged in homepage, with the fandom links replaced by link to tags the user has chosen

We've saved the biggest and best change for last: logged in users will now be able to add up to twenty Favorite Tags to their homepage! This means you'll have easy access to the work listings for any of your favorite canonical tags without needing to rely on browser bookmarks.

A tag's work listing, now with a Favorite Tag button between the Bookmarks and RSS feed links

To add a Favorite Tag, simply go to the tag's work listing and select the "Favorite Tag" button. A link back to the tag's work listing will immediately be added to your homepage. This works for any kind of canonical tag: categories like Gen, warnings like Major Character Death, ratings like Explicit, fandoms like ??? ?? | The Master's Sun, relationships like Karma Ashcroft/Amy Raudenfeld, characters like Sue Ellen Ewing, and additional tags like Polyamory.

A tag's work listing, with the Favorite Tag button replaced by an Unfavorite Tag button

And if you ever want to remove a tag from your favorites, just head back to the tag's work listing and select "Unfavorite Tag" to remove it.

Planning for the future

We're always aiming to make the Archive easier and more fun to use, so if there's anything you'd like to see in future versions of the homepage, just let us know by leaving a comment on this post.

Thanks for using AO3 -- we look forward to bringing the new homepage to you soon!

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Published:
2013-02-12 13:13:52 -0500
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As we mentioned in our August newsletter, super coder Sarken and the rest of AD&T have been working hard on a redesign of the AO3 header. This new header will include drop-down menus to make site navigation easier. We're excited about our new header and we'd like to give you a little sneak peek before it goes live!

Presenting: the new header!

This is what the new header looks like without any expanded menus:

Note that the new header does not in any way affect the archiveofourowno.comanization of the dashboard. The header will not affect the layout of any other pages either.

To make it easier to navigate the site, the header has four main drop downs: Fandoms, Browse, Search, and About. For example, clicking on "Fandoms" will show you this:

The "Fandoms" menu is archiveofourowno.comanized by media type. Clicking on a media type will lead to the media type's main listing of all fandoms that belong to that media type. "Browse" and "Search" offer ways to look for content by works, people, bookmarks, tags, and collections - options that are available on our current header but which will now be condensed into two menus. The "About" menu will have links to the blog, the FAQ, and the volunteer page. These four main menus are available to all users.

To sign in, look to the top right corner of the page:

Clicking on "Log In" in the upper right corner will show the log in menu - now a drop down menu, instead of a menu that goes across the top of the page.

If a user is accessing the site from the homepage or from other pages (such as a parent fandom page), there will be an option to access dashboard features:

Clicking on "Hi, [user]!" shows a menu for users to get to specific areas of their dashboard without having to go to their main dashboard page. This menu will not include everything on the dashboard page, just the options shown here: My Dashboard, My Subscriptions (#), My Works (#), My Bookmarks (#), My Collections (#), My Sign-ups (#), My Assignments (#), My History, and Preferences.

Links with (#) will only show up if a user has something saved or uploaded under that link. For example, if a user has fourteen bookmarks uploaded, the link will read "My Bookmarks (14)". If a user has no bookmarks, "My Bookmarks" will not show up. The same goes for subscriptions, works, collections, sign-ups, and assignments. "My History" will only show up if you have history enabled under your preferences.

The header will also be visible on the mobile layout:

As we can see here, the "Fandoms" menu has the exact same options for mobile users. The mobile header reflects the new header; mobile users will have access to the same menus and options as desktop users.

How you can help us

We've been making sure that this header works without Javascript. However, to make this new header as accessible as possible, we'd like feedback from users who use screen readers and other assistive technology. If you're willing to help us out, please contact Support.

When do we get it?

We're hoping to roll out the new header by the end of February. Stay tuned for further details when it goes live!

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Published:
2012-04-19 17:07:24 -0400
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In brief: YEAY USER STATS PAGES! Stats on downloads and subscriptions! Also, some email changes. Read on for details!

The Archive is thriving! We recently passed 300,000 works, with roughly 575 new works posted each day, and we have more than 40,000 registered users (and a lot more people reading on the site who don't have accounts yet). All those people are showing their love for the amazing fanworks on the AO3: we have more than 71,000 user subscriptions and over 10,000 subscriptions to individual works, and on average, our users leave more than 11,238 kudos per day, and 2,175 comments per day.

Changes to the way we deliver email

All of this love involves sending out a ton of emails from the Archive: right now, an email is sent every time someone leaves kudos or a comment, and every time a user who is being subscribed to posts a new work or a new chapter. We also send out emails for invitations, account verification, challenge reveals, and a few other things. In fact, in total, we now send out about 600,000 emails a month! This causes us a few logistical problems: the high volume of emails is a lot for us to cope with, and it also means that our emails are more likely to be flagged as spam. Additionally, our current method of handling emails means that it's possible for the entire queue to be backed up if for some reason we have a higher volume than average, such as when a big challenge is revealed or if a user with a lot of subscribers decides to upload their entire back catalogue in one afternoon.

Our Systems Committee have been working on better ways of handling our email and solving the above problems for a while, and they've concluded that the best way is to hand it over to the professionals, in this case Amazon Simple Email Service. This will mean we're able to take advantage of lots of specialised stuff designed to make sure our emails get where they're supposed to in a timely fashion. However, it also means that we'll have to pay for sending email: US$0.10 per 1000 emails. This means it's important for us to reduce the amount of emails we're sending; this is also important from a spam point-of-view, as sending multiple emails within a short space of time is one thing that can result in ISPs thinking you're spammers.

Batch delivery for kudos and subscriptions

Right now, the majority of the emails we send out are either kudos notifications or subscriptions notifications. Happily, both of these lend themselves to batching up so we can send one 'digest' email instead of lots of individual ones. We're still working out the precise technical details for this, but right now we're expecting to make the following changes:

  • Kudos notifications will be sent out once per day, and will be archiveofourowno.comanised by work, so you'll get something like "Fangirl1, Fanboy3 and 3 Guests left kudos on 'My Happy Story'". This means you'll still be able to see how many individual kudos you got, but your popularity won't overwhelm the email servers!
  • Subscription notifications will be sent out once per hour, and will list everything posted since the last notification. This means you'll still get notifications in a timely manner, but if an author goes on an archiving spree or uploads their latest multichapter masterpiece, you won't be spammed with loads of emails.

We're hoping that these changes will be good news for most of our users - we've had lots of support requests for grouping notifications like this into fewer emails. However, we know that they will make some people sad, as lots of people like to see the kudos notifications rolling in and to count them up. To make sure you can still get information about how many kudos you get (and much, much more) we're launching another much-requested feature: user stats pages!

New user stats page!

We're launching user stats as an 'alpha' feature, so we can get the basic functionality out there and then make changes based on user feedback. We wanted to give you all a sneak peek of what's planned so you can ask any questions before it goes live. So, without further ado:

User stats page: alpha preview

Screenshot of page headed 'Statistics', with a summary of total subscribers, hits, comments, kudos, and bookmarks to the user's works. A bar graph shows the top five works by hits, and below that is a list of all works with stats for each one.

The alpha version of the user statistics page will show you the total number of subscribers, hits, comments, kudos, and bookmarks to your works. It will also include a nifty little graph showing the top five works by hits, kudos, comments or bookmarks. The graph will be created using Google's chartmaking package, which enables us to create a shiny interactive chart (it turns to a static image if you've disabled scripts). Google doesn't get any of your personal data - only titles of works and the number of hits/comments/kudos/bookmarks. The chart is generated when you load the page on the AO3, so the data is only passed to Google then, and it is only kept on their servers for three weeks.

The statistics page will also include individual stats for all works, which you can group by fandom or view 'flat' so that the works are sorted by whatever you've selected in the list options at the top (Date posted, Number of kudos, etc) but not grouped further. (If you can think of a good name for this, then do let us know!) For each work, you'll be able to see the number of hits, kudos, comments and bookmarks. You'll also be able to see 'referrers' - that is, if someone finds your work through a link somewhere else, then you'll be able to see what link they came from. (This won't store any other information about the users - for example, you won't be able to see who got there via that link.) And, in a future version of the page, you'll be able to see how many times your work was downloaded. (People ask us for this a LOT!)

The new stats features will allow you to see how many subscribers you have, and how many subscribers each work has. It won't tell you who has subscribed to you - this information will remain private to the subscribers (so if you're sekritly subscribing to your arch-enemy's WIP because it's just too good to miss, your secret is safe with us!)

Help us design stats 2.0

We know that lots of users will be THRILLED with the new stats option and you will want to ask us for lots more features! This is an alpha feature and we're keen to hear your ideas - if you'd like to get involved in discussing the design, you can see the documentation on our public facing wiki otwcode at Github - anyone can join and edit there, you're very welcome to come on in and join the party. You should also feel free to leave your comments and suggestions here! We can't promise that all your requests will make it into the design, and the first version will probably be similar to the above, but we'll use them to help us develop the next version.

We're excited about the way we're growing and changing, and really pleased to be adding the much-requested stats page. Let us know your thoughts!

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Published:
2011-04-02 15:46:24 -0400
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We just deployed new code to the Archive of Our Own and it includes USER SUBSCRIPTIONS!

Many moons ago, when astolat first suggested the idea of a fan-owned archive, she collected ideas for what features it should have. Many wonderful ideas were proposed, but one idea was repeated again and again - some way of subscribing to favourite authors or fandoms and keeping track of new things posted. Everyone wants a handy reading list, right? So, when the first roadmap for the AO3 was drawn up, subscriptions were there front and centre. We figured they should go in early on - originally we had them at number seven on our Archive roadmap, before collections and challenges.

Then, well, we started coding. And subscriptions turned out to be tricksy! The code to actually make them work isn't so bad, but they are hungry beasts when it comes to performance. We worked hard on performance, but it took us a while to get right. We ran Yuletide 2009 on the Archive and the servers groaned and cried. We spiffed up our caching and upgraded to Rails 3 (which brought performance benefits) but by then fandom had been busy filling up the servers and code improvements were no longer enough. Then fandom came through in a BIG way during the OTW's funding drives, and we bought shiny new servers! Subscriptions were so close we could taste them! Our users could taste them too - the number of support requests asking about the feature grew and grew.

Once the new servers were installed, we were finally able to deal with the performance demands of subscriptions. A few more bumps with delayed job (which used to deal with email queues before the mighty Sidra slew it and replaced it with resque), and we were finally there! Our wonderful coder and AD&T co-chair Elz took the plunge!

So, we're totally jazzed to announce the alpha version of subscriptions - you can now subscribe to a user and be notified by email whenever they post a new work or chapter. In the future we'll be spiffing this up further - RSS feeds for particular tags are the next thing on our to-do list, and further down the line we hope to include more fine-grained personalisation and more features. But right now, we are EXCITED, because we can finally stop checking user pages obsessively and just lie back and let our favourite authors come to us. HURRAY!

If you'd like to let people know they can now subscribe to you on the AO3, copy & paste the below handy dandy code and replace YOUR USERNAME with your username and YOUR FANDOMS with the names of the fandoms you post works in (thanks astolat for this snippet!)

I'm at <a href="http://www.archiveofourowno.com/users/YOUR USERNAME"><img alt="favicon" border="0" src="http://www.archiveofourowno.com/favicon.ico" /></a><a href="http://www.archiveofourowno.com/users/YOUR USERNAME"><strong>YOUR USERNAME</strong></a> on the AO3. Subscribe to me - fandoms in the immediate queue include YOUR FANDOMS! (You'll need to log in to see the subscribe button.)

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