Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with DZ, who volunteers as a Policy & Abuse staffer.
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
Archive of Our Own is the fanwork hosting subset of the OTW. From original works to microbial art, all kinds of fanworks are welcome on the Archive as long as they comply with the ToS. Every committee in the OTW is fully run by volunteers and I signed over my time to the Archive's Tag Wrangling and Policy & Abuse committees.
As a wrangler, I sort and connect the tags people put on their works. If you ever wonder why a fic tagged "Not your grandma's abo" appears under Non-Traditional Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics" when you filter, I am one of the people making sure that happens. Every tag is seen and sorted by a real person eventually. One of my favorite things to do as a wrangler is to create fandom-specific tags.
As a part of the Policy & Abuse committee (PAC), I investigate reports for content believed to break the Terms of Service. While that tends to be the bulk of my PAC duties, I also answer questions and help clear up any confusion about policy. If someone is uncertain if something is allowed on the Archive; confused why their work seems to be missing or deleted; or wondered why their account is suspended, they can submit a question using the "Policy Questions & Abuse Reports" link found on the bottom of every page.
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
For wrangling, I tend to do that whenever I have free time and extra spoons. So my schedule varies a bit, I often sneak in a bit of wrangling before I leave for work in the morning once or twice a week. If I'm busy, I try to scan the fandoms I've assigned myself to and see which ones need more attention.
As for my PAC duties, I have what I call a "PAC week" which spans four days of the week. I do a different mix of tasks each of those days such as investigating reports, drafting letters, or following up on any of the cases I'm handling during this time. I regularly beta-read drafts for other team members. Every case is reviewed by at least two staff members. There's always a lot to do. Outside of this time, I avoid any time-intensive or spoons-heavy task -- often any PAC task in general.
I find that having a schedule is useful for PAC since I find it harder to pause in the middle of doing a task and pick it back up again -- sometimes this is because the task can't be broken up and sometimes this is just because of how my brain works. Different volunteers have different preferences. I know some do a little each day or pick one day out of their week to do everything so I guess I am in the middle.
What made you decide to volunteer?
I have always been the kind of fan who was terrible at not getting more involved once I really got into something. When I was into K-Pop, I moderated forums. When I was really into D&D, I was very involved in helping others create Homebrew and edit their homebrew.
I actually tried to join Tag Wrangling 3 years in a row but the app always closed before I had time to fill it out. Then, one day in 2020 I checked again on a whim and saw that the position was open. I later decided to join PAC because my involvement bug bit again.
What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?
What do you call work-life balance but for volunteering?
The Archive grew a lot in the past year and continues to grow. More users means more tags, more people who report violations, and more questions about what's allowed on the Archive. Neither committee requires that I make it my part-time job, but with so much to do I can feel a bit overwhelmed, and like I'm falling behind even though I decide how much I do.
It didn't help that I joined during the pandemic. So I had a lot more free time to spend on wrangling, and by the time I joined PAC, doing OTW stuff daily was just my normal. I enjoy wrangling and doing PAC work but I'm trying to remember to leave more time to do other stuff I enjoy.
What fannish things do you like to do?
Beyond squeeing and finding things to become a fan of? I write fic. Well, I plan fic -- writing tends to go much, much slower. I also dabble in meta and gif making occasionally. I even tried to learn how to create podfic a while back. I like to think of myself as a fannish jack of all trades, master of none. I have a lot of enthusiasm but I may not be the most skilled in any of it. I'm having fun.
The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.