Accessibility, Design, & Technology, Archive of Our Own, Support Committee, Tag Wrangling Committee
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:
- Entertainment Industries, Intellectual Property, Television, YouTube, News of Note
- While a lot of fans are aware that older fiction is often part of the public domain, many might assume the same to be true about speech by deceased celebrities and historical figures. But as a Freakonomics podcast discussed, a century old speech might still be restricted.
Archive of Our Own, Announcement
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.
- Fandoms, Fannish Practices, Sports, Television, News of Note
- After Ellen focused on femslash shipping. "The term femslash can be applied to really any female romantic/sexual pairing between characters, even OTPs, but its original purpose was as a reference to alternative lesbian romances based on subtext. Crackships, which is frankly just fun to say, are pairings that are very unlikely to ever occur. In a nutshell, it comes down to the difference between subtext and pure, fun fantasy."
Archive of Our Own, Category Change, Report
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.
Business Models, Commercialization of Fans, Entertainment Industries, Fan Videos, Fandoms, Sports, News of Note
Although there's been a lot of talk recently regarding fanfic authors going pro, there's been less focus on fan video makers.
Archive of Our Own, Systems Committee, Spotlight
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.
Open Doors, Open Doors Committee, Event
As we reported early last month, due to delays in setting up the automated import for 852 Prospect, we are working to support authors who are interested in manually importing their stories into the Archive of Our Own.
A public chat, hosted by the Open Doors and Support committees, was held on Campfire (the online chat platform the OTW uses) on February 2. You can now read the highlights. The second chat will be on February 10 at 01:00UTC. (Click the link to see when the chat is being held in your timezone). You can access OTW’s public chatroom using this guest link.
Archive of Our Own
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.
Books, Comics, Music, News of Note
- In reviewing a book on Twilight fandom for Religion Bulletin, writer Kelly Baker discusses how all her female family members pondered the novels. "We read them, we talked about them, we criticized them, and we reread them. Despite the bad prose and melodramatic storyline, something about the books managed to appeal to all of us. What was it about the series that drew us in? What kept us reading? Why did we all hate Breaking Dawn? What vision of the world did we consume by embracing this fantasy? What did fandom suggest about us and the series?"