The Board’s decision on meta has sparked a great deal of conversation, externally and internally, and we appreciate the detailed comments many people have left. Over the course of internal discussions among the affected committees, we've determined that "fandom nonfiction" is a more useful term than “meta” to explain the kinds of works covered by the Board vote. We invite your feedback on these proposals. We will be collecting feedback for two weeks, and then will incorporate that feedback into a policy for Board approval.
Náš Vlastní Archiv (Archive of Our Own)
By Claudia Rebaza on Středa, 13 March 2013 - 7:30 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
By Claudia Rebaza on Pondělí, 25 February 2013 - 6:24 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
There has been a very active and thoughtful response to our recent announcement in favor of allowing meta on the AO3. We'd like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to everyone for raising their concerns, showing their support, and otherwise engaging with us as we work to define our policies, refine our processes, and improve our communication. In addition, we'd like to respond to a number of the issues raised and clarify how this decision was reached and what the process will be from this point forward.
For the purposes of this and the previous post, the term "meta" refers to nonfictional fanworks in all media. While text-based nonfiction fanworks have been a frequent focus, this decision and the surrounding commentary is meant to encompass fanworks in all media; this is one reason why multimedia hosting, posting, and filtering will be referenced frequently in conjunction with the decision to support meta.
There is still a long way to go before meta can be fully supported on the AO3, and we will address a number of the concerns about implementation and timing below. Determining how meta should be supported — for example, the details of how multimedia hosting on the AO3 will ultimately look — is a matter for our committees and users to decide through committee collaboration and user input. However, determining whether supporting meta on the Archive is consonant with the OTW’s mission falls squarely within the Board’s purview and duty.
History of the discussion
When the initial question of meta was posed to Board, it was framed as a request for clarification on whether meta fell under transformative works as we defined them for the AO3, and how to proceed with reports of meta as a violation of our Terms of Service (ToS). The Board voted last August to send the meta issue back to the committees for more discussion, in the hope that the committees could work out among themselves issues that the Board had found insoluble. The decision called for balancing the competing concerns of several committees, and the Board had been unable to reach a satisfactory agreement. However, the execution of that plan dragged on for months as we dealt with Board member hiatuses, resignations, and appointments on top of other day-to-day business, and the vote was never put into action.
When the Board reconvened in 2013, we initially had intended to continue with the plan set out by the 2012 Board, but we quickly realized that — partly as a result of the Board’s dramatically changed composition and partly because of a new focus on clarifying the Board's purview — we no longer felt it to be the best course of action. We looked at the conversations that had been happening within and outside the organization for the previous six months and came to the conclusion that it was in the best interests of both our users and our personnel that a basic decision be made as soon as possible, rather than occupy staff and volunteer time in further stretching out a question that we felt it was our responsibility as Board to settle: the question of the scope of the OTW and AO3's missions with respect to meta.
We had many users who had been waiting all that time to find out if their meta could stay on the Archive, and several committees who needed a determination in order to perform their duties. We took a fresh vote, which was unanimously in favor of interpreting the OTW and AO3's missions as inclusive of owing meta the same protections and support as other fanworks. Once that vote had been taken, sending the issue back to committees for a discussion that would not have changed the Board’s stance would have been disingenuous. We felt it was preferable to state a firm decision and engage the committees in determining how best to carry it out.
We are aware that the Board's decision seemed very abrupt to people both inside and outside the OTW, and we acknowledge that more transparency would have been preferable. The Board’s overall workload and the emotional burnout many of us have experienced as a result of the length and intensity of the meta discussion were obstacles that prevented us from communicating effectively. We regret our shortcomings in this area and will strive to do better in the future; we are working to reduce workload and burnout and clarify policies and purview in an effort to prevent this from recurring.
We are committed to fully engaging committees and users in determining how the decision will be implemented, and a revised Archive TOS and FAQ are currently being drafted under the leadership of the Content Policy Workgroup. As with other TOS and FAQ revisions, they will be posted for public comment before they are formally adopted.
Replies to some questions and concerns
We recognize that this decision will not be popular with all users, members, or even OTW personnel. Conversely, the choice to allow meta — and turning over the ability to define and craft specific policy to our committees — is a decision many support. The concerns raised by those leaving comments are ones the Board spent a great deal of time discussing, and we are happy to share our reasoning and to continue answering questions to the best of our ability. Here are some responses to common concerns and questions:
- Meta does not require new code to be hosted in its bare form — unlike image or video hosting no new code is required for a basic level of service. For example, a nonfiction essay can be uploaded just like a fictional story, or a meta comic can be linked just like a fictional one is now, or a vid focused on commenting on the canon can be embedded like vids that build fictional narratives currently are. While there are ways the AO3 could be better organized to deliver meta, a basic level of hosting is already available.
- The AO3 is intended to eventually have filtering based on work type/medium, allowing meta to be found and filtered. The intention is to expand the AO3 functionality to better host non-textual fanworks (e.g. vids, podfics, art, etc.), and the most-requested behaviors with respect to meta (filtering, tagging, etc.) all intersect with what will be in place for multimedia hosting and posting.
- Refusing to host meta and waiting until we have sufficient code for works types would unduly punish users who have already posted meta works in good faith. In addition to posting meta based on good-faith interpretation of the TOS, users have been posting many types of works the AO3 is not strictly prepared to deal with on a technical and usability level, which includes meta of all media and most non-textual fanworks. Allowing and encouraging users to post all types of fanworks has been a cornerstone of the AO3's philosophy as an archive, and it would be disingenuous and unfair to punish one type of fanwork or creator but not others on this basis.
- While text-based meta faces much less legal challenge than some other fanwork types, it still faces other challenges such as loss of hosting due to failing archives or discontinued blogging platforms. Non-text-based meta, such as meta art and vids, shares many of the same legal challenges as other non-text-based fanworks.
- Fans should be able to archive all their fanworks together. Besides this general principle, there are specific instances of at-risk archives that include meta fanworks. Grandfathering in previously posted meta or disallowing meta except for that taken in through Open Doors leads to an inconsistent policy likely to cause confusion, conflict, and difficulty in enforcement.
We hope this answers some of your comments and concerns. We welcome further input and look forward to working with our personnel and our users in continuing to welcome a broad range of fannish endeavors under the OTW umbrella.
By Claudia Rebaza on Pondělí, 18 February 2013 - 9:12 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
Hi! Support here, again! In fact, Support is always here--when you submit a ticket through the Support and Feedback form we'll respond as soon as possible to register your feature suggestion, pass your bug report on to our coders, or do our 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.
After receiving positive reviews of our last chat in November, we're going to regularly have Open Chat sessions with the Support Staff in our public chat room (the link will be made available on the day of the chat). The first of these will be this coming Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 16:00:00 UTC lasting through this Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 04:00:00 UTC. Members of Support will be available to interact with you one-on-one in live chat. See what time that is where you live. We are going to try to have future sessions at different times to make sure we eventually cover all time zones. If you can't make it to this one, keep an eye out for the next!
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, 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:
- How do I use the new search and browse system to find a certain type of work?
- 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?
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.
By .Camden on Neděle, 17 February 2013 - 7:40 odpoledneMessage type:
Welcome to the January-February Newsletter! We hope you had a good holiday season and are having a happy new year! Despite the term break in December, January was busy busy busy with upgrades and releases for all. February is also turning out to be a big month with releases, spotlights, tag wrangling fixes, and header posts galore! Here's what we've been up to:
All the Archive news that's fit to print!
2012 was full of Archive milestones. In November we passed the 500,000 work mark in 10,000 fandoms. In December, the Archive passed 100,000 users. Check out this post for further milestones that we passed in 2012.
Fandom Tags are now alphabetized regardless of articles. Wranglers now have the ability to assign a sort name different from a display name, making it easier for us to wrangle and browse fandoms!
We recently posted a Spotlight on Systems Committee. If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes to support the technical systems of the Archive, read all about it here.
AD&T are hard at work on a redesign of the site header. Check out our little preview and tell us what you think.
And finally, the Board approved meta hosting on the Archive. Please see this post for details on how this decision affects you, the Archive, and the Archive staffers.
Adventures with Support
Things are keeping busy in the Support world. We've got a new co-chair, and the training is letting us solidify all of our training. We're looking forward to a solid year with proactive communication with both our fellow committees and our users!
Open Doors Update
Open Doors is still working toward an automated import for the 852 Prospect Archive and recently held two open house chats (read more here). In the meantime, we've opened up manual importing by inviting all 852 Prospect authors to the Archive. Check out Open Doors' post for further instructions on manually importing works from that particular Archive.
AD&T Committee business of note
We're excited about the upcoming year and are looking forward to everything we'll be sharing with you. On a more serious note, we recently reviewed our emergency plan in the event that our site is compromised and requires an emergency shutdown.
Support Committee business of note
Support will be hosting a Live Chat February 23rd-24th, from 4pm to 4am UTC (What time is that for you?) 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. 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.
Tag Wrangling Committee business of note
We've clarified some major weirdness in our guidelines regarding AU tags and inconsistencies regarding the canonicals for Original Characters in Relationship tags.
We've had some scheduled downtime during the past couple of weeks. Each time was for two upgrades and some site maintenance to build a better Archive. Apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced by this! We also received reports from some users that Avast was sending out malware warnings when users tried to access the Archive. The cause of this malware warning was external and no cause for alarm.
We welcome feedback from users! If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments of the latest news post, or send in a Support request (if you're reporting a bug, please send that to Support, as they're super efficient - comments on our news posts sometimes get overlooked).
Mirrored from an original post on AO3 News.
By .Curtis Jefferson on Pátek, 15 February 2013 - 7:12 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
After a long period of discussion, the OTW Board has voted to allow the posting of meta on the Archive of Our Own. We considered a range of issues while making this decision, including how this move would fit into the overall mission of the OTW, the technical and financial resources required, and demand from users of the Archive and members of the OTW. We determined that there is already a demand for meta on the Archive, and that this use of our resources is consonant with our purview and mission.
We're aware that this decision has taken some time, and we sincerely apologize for the delay. We had hoped to reach a decision sooner, but the complexity of the discussion meant we needed to think carefully about the issues. As the term of some OTW Board members ended while the discussion was ongoing, we also needed time for the new Board members to get up-to-speed with all the issues involved.
What will happen next?
Agreeing to include meta on the Archive is just the first step in this journey. The Board will now work with all related committees to define exactly how meta will be handled. Our committees, including AD&T (which will be doing the work on the technical side), Abuse, Support, and others, will be working with our Content Policy workgroup to design a workable policy.
One of the main tasks ahead of us is to agree on some definitions and policies. We need to agree on definitions that are usable and enforceable. While any category is inevitably fuzzy, we want to preserve the Archive as a site for fanworks (so for example, we don't want it to become a general blogging site). Once we've agreed on these definitions, our committees will have a whole range of tasks ahead of them, including:
- Drafting revisions to our Terms of Service and FAQ. Revisions to the Archive TOS will be subject to a public review period (as detailed under Section IB of the TOS) before becoming final.
- Determining technical plans for making meta more accessible. We are already planning changes to posting and browsing on the Archive to allow for multimedia hosting. We do not expect meta to require any additional coding to implement beyond what will be required for these changes, and allowing meta won't change the existing prioritization of these features, but we will need to factor it into our design.
- Determining tagging policies to allow for multimedia and meta browsing.
What will be allowed?
Our Content Policy workgroup will be posting guidelines on what will fall under the 'meta' category and the policies which will apply to it in the next two weeks.
What does this mean for me?
Going forward, we hope that this will mean you can find and enjoy fannish meta more easily (and screen it out if you're not interested).
If you currently have meta posted on the Archive, or you plan to post some in the near future, you should be aware that our policies are still being finalized. As action on existing meta posts was suspended while Board deliberated on this issue, in the coming months some users may be contacted in connection to how their posts fit the new policies. We recommend that users wait until these policies are made public before putting a lot of effort into new meta posts. However, we hope that, long term, meta writers will feel their contributions to the archive are welcome and can join other fanworks in finding an audience at the AO3.
If you have thoughts and feedback you'd like us to consider, we ask that you comment here on the AO3 version of this post, to make it easier for the various committees involved to answer you and collate your replies.
Mirrored from an original post on the Archive of Our Own.
By Claudia Rebaza on Středa, 13 February 2013 - 9:47 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
This is a short update from the Category Change workgroup. You can read about what our work entails and how we were formed in our introductory post. As we want to keep users in the loop, we wanted to provide some information on what we’ve been doing since then, and what we’re planning to do in the near future.
We began by compiling user feedback we received either in comments made to our last post or directly through the Category Change Contact Form. We then grouped together similar ideas.
After analyzing the feedback through discussion on our mailing list and in several chat meetings, we have identified the issues users have with the current Media categories, as well as their expectations when browsing and filtering. This information has informed our discussions and has been vital to understanding what we want from the new categorization system.
We had a brief end-of-term hiatus from December 17th to January 4th.
Since the beginning of the 2013 term, we have been discussing the first draft of the new categorization system. Once this task is done, we will consult with the OTW committees who would be affected by the changes and solicit feedback from them.
After we have reassessed our initial proposal in light of this feedback, we will make the revised proposal public and ask for users' feedback. We know that this could impact user experience in a big way, so we want to make sure that we have heard the users' concerns and ideas before moving forward with a final proposal.
You’re welcome to comment on this post (at any of its locations) with ideas, feedback or opinions, or you can send them to us through the Category Change Contact Form.
Mirrored from an original post on AO3 News.
By .Lucy Pearson on Neděle, 10 February 2013 - 2:24 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
The OTW's Systems teams work behind the scenes to support, manage, and maintain all the technical systems needed to run the OTW and its projects, such as the Archive of Our Own and Fanlore.
Systems' work mostly happens behind the scenes, but they are BUSY, fielding requests from all parts of the organization and working hard to keep all our sites up and responsive. Systems team members have to be 'on call' in order to deal with emergencies at any time of the day or night: if the Archive of Our Own goes down, it's Systems who fly to the rescue (while over 130 thousand users wait impatiently!).
2012 was a particularly demanding year for Systems because of the speed with which the OTW and its projects grew. Over 2,970,103 people now access the Archive of Our Own in the course of a month, up from 808,000 a year ago. Meanwhile, Fanlore has also grown, passing 400,000 edits in 2012, and other projects have continued to develop. Managing these projects and their volunteers also requires technical resources, and Systems have helped the OTW to transition to some more effective tools over the past year.
Over the course of 2012, Systems:
- Handled 557 requests from around the organization \0/
- Transitioned the OTW website and some related tools and projects to a new host with a third party Drupal vendor, who will provide much-needed technical support for these tools.
- Dealt with the performance problems on the Archive of Our Own, stepping in to implement major performance enhancements and keep the site up.
- Researched, bought and installed 3 new servers to host our projects and cope with the ever-growing demands on the Archive of Our Own.
- Researched hosting options and installed two additional servers after a kindly benefactor donated them to the OTW.
- Set up new hosting and tools for our volunteers to use, including new hosted environments for our coders, so that coders don't have to install the Archive code on their own machines.
- Kept everything up and running, with amazing patience and good humour in the most stressful situations.
Find out more!
James from Systems has written up an amazing and detailed account of the main work Systems did in the course of 2012. To get some in-depth insight into the amazing work Systems do, check out: A year with the Systems team
If you're technically minded, or curious about how much hardware is needed to run the Archive of our Own, you'll also enjoy James' posts on our changing server setups over the past year, and our technical plans going forward:
Systems do an amazing job of juggling their many responsibilities. We really appreciate their work - thanks Systems!
Mirrored from an original post on the Archive of Our Own.
By .Lucy Pearson on Čtvrtek, 7 February 2013 - 10:30 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
While developing the Archive of Our Own, site security is one of our top priorities. In the last couple of weeks, we've been reviewing our 'emergency plan', and wanted to give users a bit more information about how we work to protect the site. In particular, we wanted to make users aware that in the event of a security concern, we may opt to shut the site down in order to protect user data.
Last week we were alerted to a critical security issue in Ruby on Rails, the framework the Archive is built on. We (and the rest of the Rails community) had to work quickly to patch this hole: we did an emergency deploy to upgrade Rails and fix the issue.
As the recent security breach at Twitter demonstrated, all web frameworks are vulnerable to security breaches. As technology develops, new security weaknesses are discovered and exploited. This was a major factor in the Rails security issue we just patched, and it means that once a problem is identified, it's important to act fast.
Our security plans
If the potential for a security breach is identified on the site, and we cannot fix it immediately we will perform an emergency shutdown until we are able to address the problem. In some cases, completely shutting down the site is the only way to guarantee that site security can be maintained and user data is protected.
We have also taken steps for 'damage limitation' in the event that the site is compromised. We perform regular offsite backups of site data. These are kept isolated from the main servers and application (where any security breach could take place).
In order to ensure the site remains as secure as possible, we also adhere to the following:
- Developers are subscribed to the Rails mailing list and stay abreast of security announcements
- We regularly update Rails and the software we use on our servers, so that we don't fall behind the main development cycle and potentially fall afoul of old security problems
- All new code is reviewed before being merged into our codebase, to help prevent us introducing security holes ourselves
- All our servers are behind firewalls
- All password data is encrypted
What you can do
The main purpose of this post is to let you know that security is a priority, and to give you a heads up that we may take the site down in an emergency situation. Because security problems tend to be discovered in batches, we anticipate that there is an increased risk of us needing to do this over the next month. In this case, we'll keep users informed on our AO3_Status Twitter, the OTW website and our other news outlets.
Overall site security is our responsibility and there is no immediate cause for concern. However, we recommend that you always use a unique username / password combination on each site you use. Using the same login details across many sites increases the chance that a security breach in one will give hackers access to your details on other sites (which may have more sensitive data).
We'd like to thank all the users who contacted us about the latest Rails issue. If you ever have questions or concerns, do contact Support.
Mirrored from an original post on the Archive of Our Own.
By Claudia Rebaza on Neděle, 27 January 2013 - 6:42 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
Good news for users browsing fandoms on the AO3 -- alphabetizing titles by articles such as "the" or "das" or "los" is now a thing of the past!
With this latest AO3 release, the Fandom names on the media pages now will sort alphabetically regardless of articles. Previously, the code that generated pages like the Theater Fandoms page sorted by the first letter of the canonical fandom tag name. Because we wanted the tags to be sorted alphabetically, we had to remove articles from the names of the fandom, unless the fandom name was only two words or otherwise was confusing without the article. Needless to say, we've been seeking a solution to this for some time, but required something internationally compatible that wouldn't strain our servers.
This deploy gives wranglers the ability to set a "sort name" on canonical fandom tags that is separate from the "display name". So we can now have fandom names such as "The Crucible - Miller" display the article, but be sorted under "C".
The deploy also ran an automated process on our existing fandom tags that should have automatically changed the sort name for tags starting with: a, an, the, la, les, un, une, des, die, das, il, el, las, los, der, and den. In some cases, this auto-corrected some fandom names incorrectly ("Die Hard (1998)" sorting under "H", for example).
This still leaves a large number of tags that need to be manually adjusted, as they had an article removed to allow proper sorting under the old system. The Tag Wranglers are working through the fandom tags, restoring articles where the fandom name should have one, and fixing any incorrect changes. It will not be an instant process, given there are over 11,000 canonical fandom tags on the Archive, so we ask for your patience if it takes us a while to fix your particular fandom.
In the meantime, if you have questions you can ask here or send a question to our Support team, who'll pass it on to the Wranglers. The Tag Wrangling Committee also has a Twitter account at ao3_wranglers for all sorts of tag-related discussion.
By .Lucy Pearson on Pondělí, 7 January 2013 - 5:34 odpoledneMessage type:Tagy:
The Archive will be down for maintenance for short periods on 8, 10 and 11 January. The maintenance is scheduled to start at approximately 05.15 UTC on each day (see what time that is in your timezone), and will last less than an hour each time. We'll put out a notice on our Twitter AO3_Status when we're about to start.
8 January 05.15 UTC: c. 15 minutes downtime.
10 January 05.15 UTC: c. 25 minutes downtime.
11 January 05.15 UTC: c. 50 minutes downtime
What we're up to
The Archive has grown massively over the past year - during the first week of 2013 we had over 27.6 million pageviews! To cope with the continuing growth of the site, we're adding three more servers. We're also reorganising the way our servers are set up to ensure that they're working as efficiently as possible, and to make it easy for us to add more machines in future.
Our colocation host installed the new machines in late December. We're now moving over to using them, and reorganising our setup. We're doing the work of moving over to our new database server in several small chunks, which will keep downtimes short and make it easier for us to identify the source of any problems which may arise.
Once this has been done we'll deploy the Archive code on the new servers and test it out. We'll be looking for some help with this - stay tuned for another post.
When we're happy that everything is working right, we'll make the switch to using the new servers. No downtime expected at present, but we'll keep you posted if that changes.
Thanks for your patience while we work.
We're able to continue expanding the Archive and buying new hardware thanks to the generosity of our volunteers, who give a great deal of time to coding and systems administration, and of OTW members, whose donations pay for the Archive's running costs. If you enjoy using the Archive, please consider making a donation to the OTW. We also very much welcome volunteers, but are currently holding off on recruiting new volunteers while our lovely Volunteers Committee improve our support for new volunteers (we'll let you know when we reopen). Thank you to everyone who supports us!
Mirrored from an original post on the Archive of Our Own.