Archive of Our Own

  • AO3 invitation requests are back (just in time for holiday gifting)!

    By .Lucy Pearson on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 11:53am
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    It's the season of giving! So, we're pleased to announce that invitation requests are back on the AO3!

    Once upon a time (i.e. six months ago), users with Archive accounts could request a few invitations to give out, allowing them to share the Archive with friends and help form communities of like-minded fans.

    Unfortunately, earlier this year, as many of you may remember, the Archive was having serious performance issues (we saw the sad 502 page far too often). While our coders and systems team hurried to implement emergency fixes, it was decided that we needed stricter control of the number of accounts being created to reduce the likelihood of unexpected overload. (Generally, people browsing the site without being logged in put a certain amount of stress on the servers, but it's the account perks like bookmarking, subscribing, and accessing a full reading history that contribute to server load to a larger degree.) Back then only 100 invitations were issued to people in the queue each day, so additional user requests could have a serious impact! So, in June, the difficult decision was made to stop giving invitations to existing users. You can read more about what was going on then in our post, Update on AO3 performance issues.

    Over the next five months our software upgrades and code improvements caught up with the demand. The queue rate was increased several times, most recently to 750 invitations per day. Given that, we've wanted to go back to giving out invitations to existing users, but there were a few issues to be resolved before we could start.

    First, the request form had to be altered to set a maximum number of invitations that a user can request at once. Second, the 1,200 user requests that were in the list when it was shut down had to be addressed. Since we had no limits on how many invitations could be requested back then, we had quite a few requests for very large numbers. Due to limitations in the software, individually lowering those numbers now would require manually editing each request, as would granting only some of the requests at once rather than the whole list.

    So, two decisions were made:

    1) Everyone with a pending request will receive 1 invitation, just to clear out the backlog.

    2) User requests are being re-opened! You can now request a maximum number of 10 invitations at one time. Even with this hard limit in place, we ask that everyone ask for only what they need at a time. Once we've hit the figurative switch and re-enabled this feature later today you will be able to request invitations from your Invite a friend page.

    We very much appreciate all of our users, and we are proud of our growth this year, even through the bumpy times. We are glad that once again we can enable you to bring more people on board!

  • Archive maintenance today - downloads will be unavailable

    By .Lucy Pearson on Monday, 17 December 2012 - 11:52am
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    The Archive of Our Own will be undergoing some maintenance today at approximately 18.00 UTC (what time is this in my timezone?). During the maintenance period, which will last approximately two hours, downloads will not work. You will still be able to browse and read on the Archive, but will not be able to download any works. If the work proves complicated, we may also have a period of downtime (although we hope to avoid this).

    What's going on?

    In the next few weeks, we'll be adding some new servers to the OTW server family. The new servers will add some extra capacity to the Archive of Our Own, and will also create extra room for Fanlore, which is growing rapidly thanks to the amazing work of thousands of fannish editors (as Fanlore users are well aware, this expansion has been putting the existing Fanlore server under increasing strain).

    In preparation for these new servers, we need to first reorganise the setup of the existing servers in order to free some more physical space at our colocation host without buying more rack space (rack space costs money, so it’s nice not to use more than we need). In order to do this, we’ll have to take some of the servers offline for a little while today. Doing this now will minimize the disruption caused when the servers arrive during the holiday period, which is typically one of the busiest times of year for the Archive.

    The Archive is set up so it can function without all servers running at once, so today, we will only have to take the server which hosts downloads offline. This means that attempts to download any work will fail while we reorganize our data, though the rest of the site will work as usual (pending any unexpected problems). If you prefer to read downloaded works, you may wish to stock up now! Downloads will be restored as soon as we finish our maintenance. We’ll keep you posted about further maintenance when the new servers arrive!

    Thanks for your patience while we do this work. You can keep track of current site status via our Twitter account AO3_Status.

  • The past, present, and hopeful future for tags & tag wrangling on the AO3

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 15 December 2012 - 8:40pm
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    The following is a post created by the Tag Wrangling Committee to address some ongoing questions and discussions involving tag wrangling on the Archive of Our Own.

    The question has been raised in various places of how sustainable the Archive of Our Own’s tag wrangling system is, and whether it will continue to be viable as AO3 continues to grow and the number of fandoms and tags increases. The AO3 wrangling committee would like to address some of the concerns we’ve heard, from AO3 users as well as wranglers (including the staff).

    In all honesty, it’s a fair question, and one without a clear or simple answer. The AO3 tag wrangling system is a special beastie, and because of its uniqueness, it is difficult to judge questions of long-term sustainability, since there is no real precedent to look to. But we have high hopes for it, which so far have been met or exceeded by our amazing team of wrangling volunteers.

    To better understand our position, it may help to understand what makes the wrangling system special, and why it was implemented this way in the first place.

    Why do AO3 tags work like they do?

    The AO3 tag wrangling system was specifically designed as a compromise between the two standard tagging/organization models for online archives: a regulated taxonomy, versus a 'folksonomy'.

    A regulated taxonomy – such as what's currently used on fanfiction.net – allows creators to tag their work with a limited number of pre-determined options (such as genre or characters). This system is very good for keeping things ordered and preventing misspellings and otherwise inconsistent labeling. However, it also requires constant maintenance to add new tags as new fandoms arise, and greatly restricts what users can label or sort by. The latter condition can be especially problematic if data is not kept up-to-date. (For instance, on ff.net many fandoms have no character lists, and other fandoms don't include all characters, especially those recently introduced.)

    A "folksonomy" - the tagging system used on most social bookmarking sites and Tumblr - allows users to tag their content with any tag of their choosing, and users can see all works using any given tag. This system has the advantage of flexibility and currentness - its tags are always up-to-date with user preferences - but can make browsing difficult. (For example: on Tumblr, if you want to see most posts about kid!Loki, you also have to look up "kid loki" and "bb!Loki" and will still miss the posts tagged "bbloki.)

    When designing the tag system on AO3, both of these systems were considered. But both have significant drawbacks in meeting the demands of both creators and browsers of a growing multi-fandom archive.

    Options & drawbacks

    User tagging could be limited to only approved tags. This then puts the burden on the users to specifically request new tags to be added; it also requires wranglers to work quickly to make tags available as needed. For active fandoms like Homestuck that see on order of five new relationships a day, these requests could quickly become overwhelming. To keep up with such demand, we would need a ridiculous number of volunteers, and/or a way to prioritize requests, limiting new tag creation to the most popular fandoms/most requested tags. Assuming users could post works without tags, many people wouldn't bother tagging their works at all if the tag they wanted wasn't available and they didn't have time to submit it. Works would also be left without tags if a user did submit the request, but failed to go back to add it to their old works when the tag was finally entered in the system.

    To get around this last issue, we could regulate the tags – a user could enter any tag they like, but it must be approved before appearing on AO3. In that case, wranglers become the inadvertent gatekeepers of fandom, deciding what tags are or are not shown to users. Is "Feels" worthy of being displayed? What about "Wingfic"? Maybe we don't want to allow "Incest" or "BDSM" - we're not that kind of archive (obviously we totally are, but you get the idea!) And there would still be a period of time when the tags wouldn't be visible or useful, so an enormous team of volunteers would still be required to overview the tags in a timely fashion.

    Another option is to let users enter whatever they like and display all those tags, but moderate them by telling people how we want them to tag, and removing all the tags that don't fit, or requiring users to change them. Again, the burden on the moderators would be considerable, having to monitor the over half-million works on the AO3. It would also be difficult to justify regulating tags when the spelling, grammar, and format of posted works are not likewise moderated (and to do so would require modifying AO3's Terms of Service).

    Otherwise we could take the opposite tack and not organize tags at all: allow users to enter any tags they like, display and filter by all these tags, and let people who want to read John Watson/Sherlock Holmes search for "John/Sherlock" and "sh/jw" and "Johnlock" and any other permutations they can think of. But this method becomes frustrating for browsing users who don't know or don't remember all the permutations. It's also a burden on creators who want their work to be found by as many people as possible, but have the same issue of not knowing or remembering the many variant names for the same concept. (It's worth noting that this is not an unviable system - Tumblr, Pinboard, Pixiv, and many other sites use similar systems; and AO3 could switch over to it with relatively little tweaking, if necessary.)

    Or we could let users enter whatever tags they like, and display all those tags however the creator or bookmarker wants to display them. Then, behind the scenes, volunteers can organize and link tags together so the most commonly used and useful-for-browsing concepts are more readily available to the largest number of people – both creators and audience – with the smallest amount of required effort. This is how the AO3 tag wrangling system works.

    But is this system sustainable?

    It's impossible to be sure, but after observing wrangling on the beta archive over the last four years, the tag wrangling committee believes that yes, the AO3 tag wrangling system is sustainable in the long-term. To begin with, our volunteer pool is currently as large as it’s ever been (at close to 160 wranglers), and keeping more than level. When recruiting is open, we average more people volunteering than retiring, and get a surge with most donation drives as well. The AO3's expansion this year does mean there are more tags than ever, but it also means there are more fans willing to offer their time to keep those tags in order. And the fandoms with the most activity are also those with the most fans, so it's more likely for us to be able to find wranglers for them.

    Additionally, archive growth doesn't correspond directly to an increase in tag wrangling work. The vast majority of new works posted on AO3 fall into two categories: very small fandoms – under 20 works – that require occasional wrangling rather than ongoing maintenance; or very large fandoms, which often are the best-wrangled, because we have lots of wrangling volunteers familiar with them! Looking at fanfiction.net, half the available fandoms there are under the 20-work threshold; and on the Archive, while there are currently close to 5000 fandoms without an assigned wrangler, fewer than 300 of these have more than 20 works.

    Even large fandoms may not produce many new tags. A popular fandom with a small core cast of characters may get 100 new works posted a day, but only one new relationship tag, because all the other works used existing tags. Fandoms from 'closed' canons (canceled shows, etc.) tend not to get many new tags because they aren’t introducing new characters. And many fandoms share tags – see the X-men metatag, which has 13 different sub-fandoms, but a number of the characters and relationships among these overlap and only need to be wrangled once for all the fandoms.

    What if wrangling isn't viable in the long-term?

    It is undeniable that as AO3 grows, wrangling becomes an increasingly greater task. We don’t believe it’s insurmountable, however. Nor do we believe that there is any real danger of the tag system collapsing entirely.

    AO3 tag wrangling is designed to assist and facilitate users in labeling and finding works, but for the most part it is not crucial for these purposes. Many aspects of AO3 tags are still functional without any wrangling at all. An unwrangled AO3 tag acts like a Tumblr or Pinboard tag, showing all works and bookmarks using that tag. AO3 search brings up results both for wrangled tags and the text of unwrangled tags, and unwrangled tags can likewise be used in the new filters.

    In other words, if all wranglers quit and all wrangling on AO3 stopped this instant, existing tags would continue to work as they do now, preserving the work wranglers had done up until this point; and all new tags on AO3 would still be as useful as tags on Tumblr or LiveJournal or any other service with flat tags. The filters of older but growing fandoms would be sparse, new fandoms would lack filters and only appear in the "Uncategorized" section, and a user would have to look for "Fullmetal Alchemist", "Full Metal Alchemist", and "Hagaren" separately to find all works; but the basic functionality of calling up all works with a tag would remain.

    Obviously an end to all wrangling is the worst-case scenario and not one we expect to pass. The greater concern is that the wrangling committee and volunteers will keep working, but the bulk of the work will become too great for us to keep up with. The current wrangling system is definitely not perfect, and one of the wrangling committee’s primary goals is to look for ways to improve it and make it more sustainable.

    So what does the future of AO3 tags look like?

    The wrangling committee is working to improve the tag and wrangling experience both on the front-end (for users) and the back-end (for wranglers). On both sides, the two aspects of tags we're most concerned with at the moment are internationality and additional tags.

    Currently, AO3 wrangling primarily deals with English-language/Roman alphabet tags. To be a more useful archive for fans around the world, we are developing better methods of sorting and linking tags across languages. We want to display tags of all languages in the appropriate filters and the auto-complete, while preserving the links between tags with the same meanings. We also need to develop better guidelines for non-English-language tags.

    Our second focus is on the issue of Additional Tags (or "Freeforms", as wranglers know them). Presently we are seeing several hundred new additional tags on works and bookmarks added to AO3 daily.

    It's important to note that these tags do not interfere with the wrangling of non-freeform tags. AO3 is designed to handle tags of different categories such that wranglers can view fandom, character, and relationship tags separately from freeforms; and the former get priority. Wranglers can also sort tags by number of uses, to easily see which freeforms are popular enough to warrant making them canonical. The majority of new freeforms are not made canonical and never will be; they are single-use, notes-style tags that only require being checked off a list by a single wrangler. This process is not as streamlined as it could be, and one of our top priorities for the back-end is features to simplify it.

    On the front-end, we're looking into ways for users to limit the display of freeforms, such as by making the view of single-use freeforms optional. At this point we have no plans to limit what tags users are allowed to put on their works, beyond what is mandated by the AO3 Terms of Service; but we want to give users better ways to view the particular tags they're interested in. (If you are looking for ways to limit them now, you may find the skins linked in this post helpful.)

    Users & wranglers unite!

    As well as improving the efficiency of the wrangling interface to make it easier for wranglers to do our job, we believe that a major way to keep wrangling sustainable is to employ the help of all users to keep tags in line. To that end, we’re seeking to open up aspects of the wrangler interface to regular users. We've already made wrangling connections visible to all users on AO3, and publicly posted our wrangling guidelines to explain what tags we make canonical. We also would like to find better ways for users to contact us – any message sent to Support concerning tags or wrangling is already forwarded to us, and we respond to messages on our Wrangler Twitter as well, but we hope to have more direct lines of communication. This might include allowing users to leave notes on individual tags, or other methods to call attention to specific problems.

    Now that bookmarks are filterable, it's possible for users to filter for tags other than those the creators put on their works, allowing users to label and categorize works even if the creators don't opt to. We’re also considering giving all users limited wrangling capabilities, such as sorting tags into fandoms, making synonyms to existing canonical tags, or suggesting new canonical tags following the guidelines for wranglers to approve. Such features would require moderation from wranglers, but would take some of the burden off us (as well as potentially encouraging more users to volunteer for wrangling.)

    So when will this happen?

    Most of these improvements require new features to be coded. This requires the attention of the AD&T committee’s diligent coding and testing volunteers, and must be prioritized against the hundreds of other features and bug-fixes also in demand. It is also contingent on having available coders and testers - the wrangling code is some of the more complex on AO3, so relatively few coders have the skills and experience to make significant changes to it. So it may be some time before changes appear on the beta archive; but new tag features are under development now.

    In the meantime, the wrangling committee relies on all its awesome wrangling volunteers to keep up with the tag load! Thus far they have been more than up to the task, and we are confident that with improvements, the wrangling system will remain functional for both wranglers and users as the AO3 continues to expand in the years to come.

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

  • So, About those Additional Tags...

    By Claudia Rebaza on Friday, 14 December 2012 - 6:49pm
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    The following is a post created by a member of the Tag Wrangling Committee to address some ongoing questions and discussions involving freeform tags on the Archive of Our Own.

    So.

    Let's talk about those Additional Tags.

    More specifically, let's talk about the long-form descriptive tags that are frequently being placed in the Additional Tags field. I want to get some facts on the table so our users - both consumers and creators - can have this important discussion properly. Any numbers cited are as of 0100UTC, 27 Oct 2012.

    Full disclosure: Hi, I'm Sam J. I am a Wrangling staffer, a Wrangling volunteer, a Support staffer, and an Archive user. I have four horses in this race and, frankly, they're running in at least two different directions, leaving me with a varying opinion of these tags depending on when you ask me.

    • At last count, there were around 160 Tag Wrangling Volunteers. There are 10,232 Fandoms on the Archive. Of those, roughly 5,300 do not have a wrangler listed, so they are not tightly monitored. Many of these unwatched fandoms are occasionally wrangled by volunteer teams, or are metatags containing fandoms that are tightly wrangled.
    • As per the precedent established in the AO3 Terms of Service, we consider the tags on a work to be part of the content of that work. As such, the Tag Wranglers do not—and cannot—change, add, or remove tags from a creator's work. Any such changes to tags have to be initiated by Abuse, who only act in cases of tags that are against policy and are handled according to their protocols and the Terms of Service.
    • In recent months, the Archive's seen an overall increase in the number of Additional Tags on works. From last October to November, the number of Additional Tags on the Archive increased by 2,535, while the number of total works increased by 7,046. From this September to this October, that number has increased by 12,920 while the number of total works has increased by 22,936. Neither increase is linear - the works-per-month growth has been roughly stable since April, and the Additional Tag growth has been consistent, plus or minus 10%, since July.
    • The rate of growth for canonical Additionals over the last year has remained fairly consistent, gaining a average of 220 a month. (Four months were aberrations: March increased by 388; May, 296; March, 288; and September, 147.)
    • The Additional Tags were not responsible for the Death of the Filters. The sheer number of works on the Archive are what stressed the old code, and the sudden spike in readers/viewers starting in May pushed it past its capacity to fulfill requests. Because the filters pulled and displayed the canonical forms of tags, there were often far fewer Additional Tags listed than in the actual search results.
    • Non-canonical tags with only a few uses put almost no strain on the servers. It's the popular canonical tags and metatags that put the most strain on the servers.
    • Additional Tags are not distributed evenly throughout the fandoms—the massive increases in Additional Tags are concentrated in a limited number of fandoms. Even fandoms of similar sizes can have wildly divergent Tags/Works ratios. Drawing from random fandoms :
      Fandom Tag Works using Fandom Tag All Additional Tags* Additional Tags per 1000 Works Canonical Additional Tags Canonical Additional Tags per 1000 Works
      Buffy the Vampire Slayer 10847 692 63.80 184 16.96
      Cats - Andrew Lloyd Webber 37 4 108.11 0 0
      Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling 19422 2391 123.11 344 17.71
      Hockey RPF 1381 179 129.62 82 59.38
      Homestuck 9990 2475 247.75 97 9.71
      Inception (2010) 3796 300 79.03 19 5.01
      Marvel Avengers Movies Universe 16442 3164 192.42 166 10.10
      Naruto 3167 281 88.73 19 6.00
      Sanctuary (TV) 1359 117 86.16 53 39.03
      Sherlock (TV) 18300 3981 217.54 60 3.28
      Xena: Warrior Princess 293 16 54.61 4 13.65

      *NB: These numbers do not include Additional Tags already wrangled into "No Fandom", as the system does not have a way to generate those numbers. However, the number of "No Fandom" tags tends to be proportional to the fandom-specific Additional Tags.

    • When users create new tags (be they Fandom, Character, Relationship, or Additional/Freeform), they automatically:
      • will not show up on that fandom's Show Tag page;
      • will not show in the Filter sidebar of Works pages (exception: your personal bookmark tags will show in your personal bookmarks filter), though they can be filtered on, to an extent;
      • will not show up in auto-complete fields.

      A wrangler has to manually add Fandom links (or toss the tag into No Fandom) by typing in the Fandom name(s), and/or mark it as Canonical (allows the tag to appear in the auto-complete and be filterable by anyone) via a checkbox. The Wrangling interface does allow for mass-wrangling tags into a fandom and mass-marking them as canonical. The guidelines for Additional Tags are very selective as to what should or should not be marked as canonical.

    • Users can search for works using unwrangled Additional Tags by either clicking on the tag where it appears or by using the Works Search. (The Works Search uses a string search for the text of the tag, in addition to searching via wrangled tags.)
    • Logged-in users have the options of a few skins that affect how Additional Tags display in search lists. This skin shortens the Additional Tags to around 15 characters. This one puts all tag fields over a certain length into a scrollbox so they take up less room on the works pages, and this one hides the appearance of Additional Tags in search lists completely. If you do not yet have an AO3 account, the CSS listed in these skins can also be used in third-party site scripting tools, such as Stylish.

      Additionally, a logged-in user has the option to go to their Preferences and activate "Hide additional tags". This turns the entire content of the "Additional Tags" field to a "Show Additional Tags" link.

      Currently, both of these options are primarily available to logged-in users and do not apply to email subscriptions or tag ATOM Feeds.

    • Wranglers and Coders alike have been considering ways to additionally mark these tags in the front-end code, so that via a site skin, a third-party plugin, or another method, a user can have more fine-grained control over tag viewing when browsing. (Any coding solution will, almost by definition, require more data pulled from the servers, so there's a lot of evaluation before we push any buttons.)
    • The wrangling interface does need some improvements. (Depending on who you ask, a lot of improvements.) We are working on them, but our coders' time is a limited resource. As well, we have wranglers on as many browser and OS combinations as our users in general, so it takes significant testing to make sure the interface doesn't degrade for anyone, which is time-consuming.

    There will be a second post tomorrow stating the Tag Wrangling Staff's official point of view on the sustainability of the current Wrangling system. If there's something you have a particular question about, leave a comment and we'll try to get an answer for you!

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

  • Archive of Our Own Newsletter - November-December 2012

    By Camden on Thursday, 13 December 2012 - 8:00pm
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    Hello and Happy Holidays from the AO3! This newsletter contains all sorts of fun facts and news from the past two months - read on for updates in the world of the Archive in November and December.

    Cool stuff on the Archive

    Filters are back and our Advanced Search form has been updated! Look at this post for details on how to use our new filters and Advanced Search form. Release 0.9.2 went live and included more than just tag filters; we were also able to deploy bookmark filtering, a new search form for works and bookmarks, and new index pages for works and bookmarks. Releases 0.9.3 and 0.9.3 Redux also went live and included a lot of bug squashing and fixes as well as the ability to anonymously comment on your own anonymous work.

    We're now issuing 750 user invites per day. Our queue is slowly but steadily decreasing. To those of you still on the waiting list, thank you for your continued patience!

    Your Archive needs you!

    The Content Policy Committee is working on changes to the AO3's Terms of Service and would like your feedback on the proposed changes. The content change files are available at the above news post for your consideration. We welcome all feedback!

    Bugs we’ve squashed

    We've been keeping a close eye on performance after the release of the new search engine and filters, and we're pleased with how it's holding up: it's a big improvement over the old system. We quickly located a bug causing tag wrangling changes not to propagate through to works and bookmarks properly, so tag wrangling was disabled while that was being fixed, and it's up and running again now.

    We also tackled a number of collection and challenge-related bugs - 36 of them in Release 0.9.3 alone! Special thanks to Scott in particular for doing a ton of work on those.

    What’s up in the world of tags?

    There's been a few changes in the Marvel Avengers fandoms (some of the Archive's most popular!) To prepare for the coming sequels, the Thor and Captain America movie fandom names have changed, to Thor (Movies) and Captain America (Movies).

    Also, following the official material, the main metatag for The Avengers (2012) and the related movies is now Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    Note that if you tag for any of the subfandoms (e.g. if you tag your work The Avengers (2012) or Iron Man (Movies) that the work will automatically appear under Marvel Cinematic Universe. You can also tag a work with MCU if you like, but it will filter the exact same way as a work tagged with only the subfandoms.

    You may also notice a tag The Avengers - Ambiguous Fandom. This ambiguous tag is necessary due to the existence of two unrelated "Avengers" fandoms, the Marvel superhero team and the British superspy series, and includes all works from both these series. As with MCU, using this tag in conjunction with more specific tags won't change where your work appears (and tagging with only this tag will make your Avengers movie-verse fic less likely for other users to find.) Generally, to make your works easier to find, tag with the most specific fandom (or fandoms) that apply.

    For more information on the wild and wacky world of Marvel Avengers tags, please check out this informative post by one of our brave Avengers wranglers!

    Adventures with Support

    We're still keeping up with support tickets, even in spite of the start of holiday absences. In fact, we're about to hit our 10,000th ticket in our tracking program - that's just about 3,300 tickets a year! Every ticket sent in with an email address gets an individual response, and even the ones without email are still documented as appropriate with other committees. We're incredibly proud of our Support teams over the years and all they've done for the Archive!

    AD&T Committee business of note

    Thank you to all the coders, testers, and volunteers who helped us with Release 0.9.2 and 0.9.3! There's been a ton of work going on behind the scenes, and we're enormously grateful to everyone who's been helping out, and to the tag wranglers for their patience while we've sorted out some bugs.

    We've been cautiously optimistic about performance over the last month, and we've ordered three new servers that we're hoping will help us to keep things running smoothly as we head into 2013. That's enabled us to increase the number of invitations that we send out each day, which is helping to cut down the wait times significantly.

    We're working on one last release for 2012, which will be a small one, focused on bug fixes. There's already code in the pipeline for the first release of 2013, and we're looking forward to adding some long-awaited improvements and new features in the new year!

    Tag Wrangling Committee business of note

    Due to changes in the search engine with the main new filters deploy, tag wrangling was turned off for most of November. With the latest deploy, wrangling is working again and our wranglers have been busy getting all the new tags of the last month in order (our amazing volunteers managed to wrangle over 300 uncategorized fandoms down to less than 5 in a single weekend!)

    Questions? Comments?

    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. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.

  • 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.

  • Come Chat with our Support Team!

    By Claudia Rebaza on Friday, 16 November 2012 - 6:27pm
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    Hi! Support here! 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. So, we've decided to try an experiment!

    Starting this coming Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 11:00:00 UTC lasting through this Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 11:00:00 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. 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.

    In conclusion....

    This is a test run of this service, and while we have great hopes for it, we can't guarantee when it'll happen again. Please drop by with your questions and help make it a success!

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

  • Scheduled Archive downtime

    By .Lucy Pearson on Wednesday, 7 November 2012 - 8:06pm
    Message type:
    Tags:

    The Archive of Our Own will have approximately two hours of planned downtime on 8 November 2012, starting c. 05.30 UTC (see what time that is in your timezone).

    During this time we will be installing new discs in our servers, giving us more space to accommodate the demands of serving lots of data to lots of users!

    If all goes well with the hardware installation, we will also be deploying new code during this downtime. The new release will include the long-awaited return of the tag filters! We're very excited (and a bit nervous).

    Please follow AO3_Status for updates on the downtime and maintenance - we'll tweet before we take the site down and again when the work has been completed. If our Twitter says we're up but you're still seeing the maintenance page, you may need to clear your browser cache and refresh.

  • Introducing the Category Change Workgroup!

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 28 October 2012 - 7:30pm
    Message type:

    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.

  • Archive of Our Own Newsletter - October 2012

    By Camden on Thursday, 25 October 2012 - 2:25am
    Message type:

    Happy October, Archivers! Welcome to this month's newsletter.

    Cool stuff on the Archive!

    This month, we took a look at tag stats and growth over the past two years!

    What’s up in the world of tags?

    Often in wrangling, we change tag names in response to feedback either from archive users, or other tag wranglers (or both!). Our most recent change involves the canonical fandom tags for Jewish and Christian religious scripture. Prior to our changes, "Hebrew Bible" was a single fandom, with "Old Testament" as a synonym. You can view the current tag structure under Abrahamic Religions, which includes a tag for Tanakh separate from the Christian Bible (Old Testament). The old tag "Hebrew Bible" is now a synonym of Tanakh. Thank you to those users and wranglers who provided feedback in this discussion.

    Support issues

    We're seeing some really wonky behavior emerging with Tag Sets pulling characters into multiple fandoms or occasionally a tag vanishing from the list. We're having a hard time tracking this down, so if you see aberrant behavior in the Tag Set feature, please send Support a note so we can document it for the Coders!

    AD&T Committee business of note

    We continue to work on a header redesign and we have also started working on a brand new front page. Our updated roadmap is in the final stages of editing and should be available soon. The reinstatement of tag filtering comes closer and closer as we put the finishing touches on new code and sent it off to our testers. We still can't guarantee a firm date but they're coming - we promise! And finally, this month we celebrated Ada Lovelace Day by honoring our awesome chair Elz!

    Support Committee business of note

    As noted below with the Tag Wranglers, we are eagerly testing the return of the filters.

    Tag Wrangling Committee business of note

    We've been adding to our collection of public wrangling guidelines, and we're excitedly preparing (and testing!) for the upcoming return of tag filters.

    Questions? Comments?

    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).

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