Announcement

  • Events Calendar Giveaway Has Ended

    By .Curtis Jefferson on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 - 5:01pm
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    Thank you to everyone who submitted an item to our events calendar for 2013 over the past two weeks. Because of your help, we've been able to add 11 events to get us started next year!

    Though the AO3 invitation giveaway has ended, the calendar is open year-round for the listing of OTW events, fan gatherings & conventions, academic conferences, events related to open-source technology, fannish holidays & celebrations, and calls for papers in fan studies. Simply go to the events submission form and fill in the required details. We will add the event to the calendar and be sure to highlight it in one of our events calendar round-up posts.

    Most individuals who submitted an eligible event and included an e-mail address should have already received an AO3 invitation (please check your spam folders!). We will be sending out any remaining invitations within the next 12 hours. If you have not heard from us by December 13, please contact us with the name of the event you submitted and the e-mail to which you would like the AO3 invitation sent.

  • Submit to the OTW Events Calendar!

    By .Curtis Jefferson on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 - 4:34pm
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    Want a treat for the holidays? We have some AO3 invites for readers who can help us out in a project for next year!

    As a service to fans, the OTW maintains a calendar of events related to its mission on the organization website. Most fans have heard of the San Diego Comic-Con, for example, but what about the many other fan-related happenings around the world? The calendar has included OTW events, fan gatherings & conventions, academic conferences, events related to open-source technology, fannish holidays & celebrations, and calls for papers in fan studies. At the beginning of each month, a roundup of upcoming events is posted to the OTW blog.

    The events calendar becomes more useful for fans as the number and diversity of events it contains increases. As we move into 2013, the events calendar is a little bare and we would love to see it populated with events from fandoms and communities around the world. And for helping us with this task, we're pleased to be able to offer a reward in the form of an invitation to the Archive of Our Own for events occurring in 2013 submitted between now and December 12th at 1700 UTC (see what time this is in your timezone).

    Do you know of an event that would be a good fit for the OTW events calendar? Then participating is easy:

    1) Check the events calendar to see if your event is already listed.

    2) Go to the events submission form and fill in all of the required details. Be sure to include the e-mail address in the 'Submitter's e-mail' field. Normally this is an optional field but we need an e-mail to send you the code. If you want the invite given to a friend, use their email and let them know to look for it (they can get caught in spam folders!)

    3) That's it! OTW Communications staff will review submissions and add appropriate events to the calendar.

    4) Individuals who submit an eligible event and include an e-mail address will receive an invite to the AO3. Eligible events must fall into one of the above listed categories, and include enough information for staff to be able to create a listing on the calendar.

    AO3 invitation codes are limited to one per e-mail address. AO3 invitation codes will be e-mailed out by December 15th.

    If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this post or use the Communications Committee contact form.

    Thank you for helping us offer this service to fans!

  • Public Feedback for AO3 Terms of Service FAQ

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 25 November 2012 - 8:01pm
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    The Content Policy workgroup is presenting a set of proposed changes to the Archive of Our Own’s Terms of Service and Frequently Asked Questions. These are largely clarifications and changes made to deal with functionality as the Archive has developed. This post marks the start of a two-week public comment period. The Content Policy group will track any comments or questions made here and will then evaluate if further revisions need to be made.

    The content change files are available in either a FAQ revision PDF and and ToS revision PDF or a FAQ revision doc file and ToS revision doc file format and will show proposed changes to the language at different points in the document.

    The proposed changes do not include any discussion of meta, which is still under review by the Board. This document is mostly a matter of language cleanup and putting the answers to some common Support questions in the AO3’s FAQ.

  • Open Doors 852 Prospect Delay

    By Claudia Rebaza on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 11:38pm
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    Open Doors would like to update Sentinel fandom on the continued delay in importing 852 Prospect to the Archive of Our Own. We've unfortunately had a bit of a coding setback on the 852 Prospect import, and it looks like an import isn't likely until 2013.

    We apologize for this continued pushback of the import, as when we first announced the project we expected that 852 Prospect was going to be finding a new home soon. But due to continued work on the AO3 as well as further import testing, we've realized that there is still going to be a substantial delay in this happening.

    We do want to assure fans that this continues to be a central project for us and we will be making every effort to get the import completed as soon as we can. We, too, are disappointed that it will not be possible this year. If you have questions about the import, please contact the Open Doors committee.

  • Fanlore Editors Needed for Survey!

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 18 November 2012 - 5:25pm
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    If you are a present or past editor for Fanlore, the Strategic Planning Committee needs your input! As part of their information-gathering process, Strategic Planning has put together an anonymous survey for Fanlore editors which they'll be collecting until December 1.

    All information you provide to them will be strictly confidential. There's also a long-form box at the end of the survey where you can tell Strategic Planning what you liked and/or did not like about this survey. That information will help them as they move forward with other Organization for Transformative Works committees and workgroups.

    Any questions or comments about the survey should be addressed to Strategic Planning (not to the Fanlore staff). Additionally, if you would like to read the text of the survey before you fill it out, you are welcome to request a copy of the survey as an RTF or TXT document for your personal review.

    Fanlore gardeners should be receiving a separate survey. If you are a gardener and did not receive one, please let the Wiki Committee know.

  • Introducing the Category Change Workgroup!

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 28 October 2012 - 7:30pm
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    Hello, this is Sole G., the Category Change workgroup lead, and I'd like to introduce the workgroup, talk a little about our goals, and ask for some initial feedback from all of you as fellow fans and users of AO3.

    The Category Change workgroup was created to address a long-standing debate, both internally and externally - that is, whether or not the current Fandom Categories in the Archive are the best possible browsing solution. Our goal is to take a look at the current categories and how they work and see what other options we can come up with that might be more effective at representing different fannish traditions, aiding fandom browsing, and reflecting the diversity of the Archive.

    While we are taking previously held discussions into account, we are analyzing the issue from scratch and trying to find new perspectives. We are looking at the Fandom Categories framework and analyzing it from every possible perspective - even considering whether or not they are necessary at all or how the browsing experience can be changed to better reflect the needs of our users.

    The most heatedly contested categories are 'Anime & Manga' and 'Cartoons & Comics & Graphic Novels'. To begin with, this division strikes some fans as artificial, since they are all either forms of animation or different traditions of comics under geographically- or culturally-determined names. Naming those two categories explicitly also implicitly leaves out other traditions, such as manhwa, manhua, bande dessinée and historieta. In addition, the inclusion of all different East Asian comic traditions under 'Anime & Manga' is inaccurate, as well as culturally insensitive.

    Concerns about 'Music & Bands' and 'Celebrities and Real People' have also been raised, again citing the artificial division and the confusing categorization of albums and bands side-by-side. Other issues that have been brought up are, for example, multimedia fandoms, audio-based sources, folklore and mythology fic, etc.

    We're looking for a solution that balances complex, sometimes competing, factors such as diverse fannish traditions, user behavior (current and potential), and ease of browsing.

    Since this is a task that involves the purview of several different committees, a workgroup consisting of members of all involved committees has been formed. These committees are:

    • Accessibility, Design & Technology (AD&T), due to the certain possibility of changes in the AO3 code being required, and the potential impact on design, user experience and archive browsing.
    • Internationalization & Outreach (I&O), since one of the issues with the current Media Categories is related to the different boundaries between media categories international fandoms have.
    • Tag Wrangling (TW), because tag wranglers are in charge of categorizing fandoms, and any changes will have direct impact on tag wranglers' procedure and workload.
    • Support, since any change in the categories will involve responding to users' concerns.

    This workgroup was developed by I&O and then backed by all of the involved committees. Each committee then chose their own representatives from among their interested staff members. While several of the Category Change staffers are also tag wranglers, a tag wrangler volunteer was recruited as well in order to directly represent the interests of that volunteer pool.

    One of our top priorities is to maintain a healthy, fluid communication with the Archive of Our Own userbase, so we want to start gathering feedback as soon as possible. If you have any opinions, feedback, suggestions, knowledge or ideas, you can either leave a comment on this post or you can contact us through the Category Change contact form. We don't see the emails used when you post guest comments, and you can request that any feedback that you send through the contact form be archived anonymously in OTW workspaces so that your name and contact information are only visible to members of the workgroup and not to all staff and volunteers.

    We are particularly interested in answers to these questions:

    1. Do you currently use the Media Categories in order to browse the Archive? If yes, then how do you do it? For example, are you generally looking for a specific fandom or do you browse the different pages to see what fandoms are listed on the site or to find new ones? What are your usual routines? If you want to find a specific fandom on the archive for the first time, how do you do that? How do you find fandoms by more casual browsing? Don’t be afraid to be as specific and detailed as you want; details and step-by-step descriptions are really useful to us.

    2. What issues have you run into with the current media categories? Are there fandoms that aren't listed where you might have expected them to be? Are there other problems you've noticed with fandoms being either grouped with or separated from one another in a way that's not ideal?

    3. How would you like to see the categories and the media/fandom pages be improved? What's your vision of a better way to find, browse, and organize fandoms? We're open to all kinds of ideas, not just different names for the existing categories.

    Please feel free to comment and brainstorm, and also to discuss and engage with each other. We're very interested in hearing what you think, and thanks in advance for your feedback!

    Mirrored from an original post on AO3 News. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.

  • OTW Secures DMCA Exemption from U.S. Copyright Office

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 27 October 2012 - 1:18pm
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    The OTW is proud to announce an important legal victory for fan vidders and other makers of noncommercial remix videos, achieved in conjunction with our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation: the Register of Copyrights has recommended that the Librarian of Congress maintain the vidders' exemption from certain provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

    As you probably know, the OTW is committed to the legal position that fanworks, including vids, generally represent "fair use" of their source material under U.S. copyright law. Although this theory has not been tested in the courts yet, it means that vidders ought to be able to use parts of their source in their works without being liable for copyright infringement. However, since the passage of the DMCA, vidders have had an additional legal problem. The DMCA forbids circumvention of access controls to protected works—in other words, ripping DVDs or source purchased from online services (like Amazon Unbox) to get the source to make the vids in the first place. The statute applies even if the ripper was going to put the source to a legal use, like making a vid. So while a copyright owner might not be able to sue a vidder for infringement, it still might be able to sue her just for accessing the source.

    The DMCA is a bad law in general, not only for vidders. Fortunately, every three years, the Librarian of Congress has the responsibility of considering proposed exemptions to the DMCA which are technically necessary for otherwise legitimate uses. This means that individuals whose uses are covered by the exemption will not be legally liable just for circumventing access controls to get the source they need. In the last round, the OTW sought, and won, an exemption for vids. But each exemption must be re-approved each time, and so the OTW had to apply again this year, in the face of industry opposition that was much stronger than before.

    Drafting work was done by the Legal committee, and Francesa Coppa, Tisha Turk, and Rebecca Tushnet appeared before the agency to testify. They were able to point to many examples of vids that hinged on access to high-quality source for their full effect, such as giandujakiss's "It Depends on What You Pay." And, in the end, the OTW once again persuaded the appropriate official to formally recommend renewal of the exemption—keeping the U.S. safe for vidders.

    For those interested you can read the full decision (in PDF format) on the U.S. Copyright Office site or you can see an HTML version at Cryptome.

    The application for the exemption is a great example of a project that benefits all of fandom and which would have been impossible without an organization that let us tap our combined resources. The OTW is grateful to all its members, whose support makes its legal work possible, and to the many others who assisted us!

  • Planned Downtime - transformativeworks.org

    By .Curtis Jefferson on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 8:13pm
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    The OTW website and the Elections and Open Doors subdomains will be down for planned maintenance for approximately seven hours on Wednesday 24 October. The downtime is scheduled to begin at 1700 UTC (see what time this is in your timezone), though there is the possibility the site may be taken offline earlier as the process is being coordinated with our managed hosting provider. During this downtime the site will be upgraded to Drupal 7.

    Follow the OTW_News Twitter account to be updated when the site is back online.

    What is affected by this downtime?
    The OTW website (http://www.transformativeworks.org), the Elections subdomain (http://elections.transformativeworks.org), and the Open Doors subdomain (http://opendoors.transformativeworks.org) will be unavailable and in maintenance mode during the planned downtime. Once the upgrade is completed, the the website and subdomains will be brought back online.

    What is not affected by this downtime?
    This downtime should not impact the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, OTW news outlets other than the website, or access to organization tools for staff and volunteers.

  • October Membership Drive: Thank you!

    By Kristen Murphy on Thursday, 18 October 2012 - 3:53pm
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    The OTW's October membership drive has drawn to a close, and we have preliminary results to share.

    During the official drive period of October 13-17, we received 601 contributions totaling US$18,626.33. To put that in perspective, that’s about US$155 every hour for 5 days! And your generosity hasn't stopped: more than US$900 has been donated so far today, and donations are still arriving through the mail. We'll bring you updated figures in the OTW newsletter as soon as we get them added up.

    We're grateful to all of you who helped make this drive a success. Thank you for donating, whether it was your first time or your fifth (or tenth or eleventh or…you get the idea). Thank you for spreading the word and sharing your perspectives about what the OTW's work means to you. Thank you to our devoted staffers and volunteers who spent hours brainstorming and planning, designing graphics, writing and editing, doing technical troubleshooting, reconciling payments, answering questions, and helping out in innumerable other ways to get and keep this drive moving.

    It's thanks to the support and dedication of fans like you that the OTW exists, and it's your ongoing support that will enable us to continue serving fandom for years to come. Fanlore, the Archive of Our Own, Open Doors, our legal advocacy work, and Transformative Works and Cultures all will be strengthened and sustained by the generosity you've shown over the last few days. On behalf of everyone at the OTW, and on behalf of all the fans who use our projects, thank you. ♥

  • October Membership Drive: How the OTW changed my life

    By Kristen Murphy on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 1:25pm
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    This post was contributed by jackiekjono, Development & Membership staffer.

    As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the OTW, I'd like to share some thoughts about how OTW has changed my fannish life.

    I entered the secret world of vidding about 18 years ago when my roommate received a large box of VHS tapes containing all of the episodes of Wise Guy and a couple of extra tapes with these weird little music videos on them. A few months later, she and our neighbor Wendy were making vids — and a few years later, so was I.

    I didn’t tell my family or co-workers much about it. If I mentioned it at all, it was only in the vaguest terms. When I did bother telling people, they usually had no idea what I was talking about. Partly, I kept quiet because I thought people would think it was really weird that someone would be that into a television show or a movie. Partly, I was afraid that the more people knew about vidding, the more likely it was that we would be found by the RIAA.

    I spent a lot of time worrying that the RIAA was going to show up on my doorstep at any moment, sue me, and take my house. I wasn’t alone on that one. Pretty much everyone I talked to fully believed that the RIAA was just one 'bot search away from finding them and suing. It never actually happened to any vidders that I know of, but most of us in the American live-action vidding world spent a lot of time worrying about it.

    Around the time the OTW was starting up, there was a lot of discussion about fannish visibility — how more and more things like old Usenet sites were becoming searchable by Google, and more and more magazines were doing articles on fan culture that made us all look pretty twisted. While some of these issues are still hotly debated, it became clear to some folks, myself included, that it was not going to get any easier to avoid outside attention. Fans needed to make some effort to influence the way we are perceived by the wider world and maybe even advocate for ourselves on some of the legal issues like copyright and trademark that can be problematic, particularly for writers of fan fiction and vidders. We needed to admit who we were and stand up for ourselves so that when draconian copyright legislation was debated, people would know that those affected by it were not just the copyright pirates who would sell bootleg tapes out of their coats on the street, but people they actually knew. We can complain about laws being passed or technologies being created or website policy changes going into effect that harm us — but if no one knows we are there, there is no reason why they ever would take us into account.

    In the time since the OTW was founded, I have mentioned vidding when people ask me about my interests, with mostly positive results. (Feel sorry for that poor hapless man who was stuck sitting next to me on the train from Cardiff to London on my way back from Vidukon. I may have had vids loaded onto my iPod that he may have made the mistake of asking to see. *whistles innocently*) About three years ago, I mentioned vidding to a friend of a friend and, while he was not fannish at all, he not only knew what it was, but he had just heard a bit on NPR about it and even knew the name Kandy Fong and that she was local (which I didn’t even know). I know that OTW was very much a part of that NPR story.

    As a vidder, I have also now started ripping source from DVDs. Some of you may not be aware that it was actually against the law to rip DVDs in the US (and it still is in many cases), but thanks to the folks in OTW legal and their allies, there is now an exemption for noncommercial remix artists. While I didn’t know of anyone who had ever been prosecuted for such a thing, actual law breaking is something I try to avoid. Now my vids have the shiniest possible source and are not blurry, captured, headache-inducing nightmares.

    How has your fannish life changed in the last five years? Has the OTW played a role in those changes? Share your story in the comments or in your own online spaces, and please donate to support the OTW's efforts.

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