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Published:
2022-07-20 16:23:01 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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.

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Published:
2022-06-29 15:05:27 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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 Rosa, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Swedish.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I translate news posts and other types of documentation for the OTW from English to Swedish. That means I help to make the work the OTW does more accessible for people and spread the information about transformative works outside of the English-speaking world. Most Swedes are fluent in English and don’t expect things on the internet to be available in Swedish, but having access to things in your native language still helps create a global community of fans.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

As a translator, I’m assigned tasks to either translate a document from English to Swedish or to beta an already translated one from one of my teammates. (Team Swedish is a pretty big team for such a small language, and we use a two-beta system, which means every post we put out has been betaed twice.) So when I get a task, I look at it, do a quick time estimate and then make a mental slot in my schedule of when to do it. The deadlines (and possibility for extensions) vary depending on what type of task it is, and how long it is. When I sit down to do the work, it’s very straightforward. The documents we’re assigned are very structured and easy to work with. Hats off to the people doing the prep-work!

A few times per week, I also log onto the OTW chat system to see if a) a tag wrangler has encountered some Swedish tags they need help wrangling (rarely happens, but when it does it’s so much fun!) or b) Staff has an ad hoc translation/update that needs to be done quickly.

I’m also signed up to help out with translating Support tickets and Policy & Abuse tickets, but so far, none have come my way. I have a feeling most Swedes send in their tickets in English.

What made you decide to volunteer?

Not to sound overly dramatic, but in the fall of 2019 I was feeling very adrift and looking for a purpose (as one does, from time to time). I saw a post on Tumblr about the OTW looking for volunteers and thought that this could be a purpose. Giving back to the fannish community could be a purpose!

I’m still so excited I was picked to do this work!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

...updating the Cheatsheet. No, the Cheatsheet (the team glossary where the language teams decide on how to translate fannish and OTW-related words/terms like ‘ship (verb)’ and ‘ship (noun)’ or ‘anti-circumvention provisions’) is a lifesaver! It is one of those things we translators love to hate, because some words/terms are very hard to translate in ways that make sense. Particularly, legal terms relating to a legal system that may not have an equivalence outside of the country where the law exists.

This does relate to my biggest challenge, though, or what I’ve struggled with the most, and that’s scrutinizing and reevaluating how I use both English and my native Swedish, especially when it comes to where the languages intersect. So many fandom terms only exist in English (for me). I learned these words and terms through English in English spaces, and finding ways to speak about them in Swedish has been difficult at times.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I mostly write and read fanfiction. And talk endlessly with friends who, for some reason, never grow tired of me even though some of us aren’t in the same fandoms anymore. Nothing feeds the plot bunnies as much as bouncing ideas with other fans. I’m very open about my fannish life outside of fandom, which has made me the go-to person for everyone at work when they need to have a fannish moment, even if I don’t have any/limited knowledge of the source material. It’s the best! I’ve learned so much about Star Wars, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who, and James Bond over cups of coffee in the breakroom.

I also spend some time making sure the Swedish pages on Wikipedia for the OTW and AO3 are updated. (I still haven’t made a single edit on Fanlore, which I’m greatly ashamed of.)


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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.

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Published:
2022-04-20 16:57:42 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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 Juliane Cassidy, who volunteers on our Strategic Planning Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I volunteer with the Strategic Planning Committee. We draft the strategic plan, a document of goals that will guide the OTW over a three year period. Working with committees throughout the organization, we select goals that will help make the OTW stronger internally and more impactful with fans, volunteers, academics, and more. In the three years between plans, we help committees complete the steps within the strategic plan so the OTW can reach our goals.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

Right now, we are drafting the next strategic plan, and a week will usually involve a meeting with the rest of the team to check in on our progress and plan next steps. Throughout the week, I might have tasks like research, talking with other committees, drafting sections of the plan, or editing.

What made you decide to volunteer?

When I first started volunteering, I was working in nonprofits, so I was very familiar with creating strategic plans. I also was an avid fanfic reader on AO3. When I logged on one day and saw the recruitment ad, it felt like a good fit. I was not really aware of all the amazing work the OTW was doing beyond AO3 at that time, and it has been wonderful to learn more about all the ways the OTW supports its mission.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

I’ve always loved the brainstorming and ideas that can come from a group of people, but prior to working with the OTW, I had only ever done that in person and synchronously. The communication styles are vastly different in a volunteer-run organization that has volunteers spread throughout the world. Learning how to connect with members of my committee and other volunteers across the organization, figuring out the best communication styles, and how to collaborate so that everyone can contribute was a challenge, and definitely one I’m still working on.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’ve written a few fics here and there, but mostly I’m reading fanfiction. While I am in school, fanfic is about the only reading I can stand to do outside of schoolwork and I always have half a dozen fics saved on my e-reader. I also cosplay and have done a lot of Disney, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and period drama cosplays over the years.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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.

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Published:
2022-03-22 17:02:13 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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 Julie Bozza, who volunteers as an Open Doors administrative volunteer.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I work with the Open Doors Committee “to protect and preserve at-risk fanworks of all kinds”, which fits neatly into the OTW’s interest in “providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms”.

Technology changes, corporations are at cross-purposes with fandom, apps come and go -- but the OTW is here for the long haul, and Open Doors can help if your fanwork archives need a safe new home.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

We have an informal online meeting once a week to work together and catch up on shared projects. Our committee crosses several time zones, which can make things tricky! I’m in Australia, so the meeting tends to fall on my Sunday mornings. Coffee is an essential part of the process!

There is a lot to learn, and every incoming archive is different, so we use the meeting to ask questions and share our knowledge and experience. We often learn from each other by walking through a new task in tandem with a more experienced colleague.

I tend to devote the rest of my Sunday to Open Doors work, and then if anything urgent pops in during the week, I give it what time I can.

Typical tasks include working with archive owners (via email), answering queries from creators whose works are being imported, organising data about an archive’s fanworks and tags (via spreadsheets) -- and occasionally performing actual imports!

Some of our imports are semi-automated, with the hard work done by our technical team to adapt the archive’s database into something we can upload directly to the AO3. But other archives need to be manually imported, which involves a lot of copying-and-pasting. The archivists and their friends are usually responsible for that task, but our team pitches in and helps when we can, with any part of these processes.

My favourite day job involved working as a technical writer, so it’s great to now use those skills for the benefit of Open Doors, in helping to document our processes. I generally do that outside of meeting times, so I can concentrate!

What made you decide to volunteer?

I love the AO3, and have been posting my fanworks to it since 2010. I decided to post some of my earlier works, too, for the sake of preservation. It was an interesting process, to see what had changed and what had stayed the same in my writing. It was also great to revisit some old fannish loves! I finished that process in early 2020 -- and happened to notice that Open Doors was recruiting.

I’d been a bit shy of applying to volunteer for the OTW before, but this seemed like perfect timing. Having just “protected and preserved” my own fanworks, and finding it a useful task, I figured why not help do that on a larger scale for fandom…?

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

Probably just restraining myself from doing too much! A personal trait which I’m not very good at managing, especially when working remotely.

But I haven’t found anything in the OTW challenging in a bad way. The Open Doors team are a delight to work with, and colleagues on other committees have been friendly and helpful. (I think it makes a difference that we all actually want to be here.) Our processes are well documented, and we make good use of various apps. I’ve had to learn new stuff, but that’s a good thing! A challenge, but not too challenging, if you see what I mean. The kind of challenge I appreciate.

What fannish things do you like to do?

Mostly I’m a writer, and have the fanfic to prove it! Back in pre-Internet days I also enjoyed editing and publishing fanzines, and I do miss that aspect of fandom. I enjoy updating Fanlore, if I find any empty spots I can usefully fill. And I have a couple of fannish websites, one about my favourite actor, and another about filming locations for a certain TV show.

Otherwise, I read books, and watch TV and film. I don’t think I’ve ever done that passively. I’ve always approached these things in fannish ways -- actively engaging with content in that enthusiastic way, so that it serves as a source of inspiration and imagination. It’s a way of life! It’s definitely part of my identity.

Which makes me happy to be a small part of the OTW. No doubt we are a hugely diverse bunch -- but we are, if I may be so bold, my kind of people.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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.

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Published:
2022-02-25 16:55:17 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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 Akima Ras, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Persian.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

One of the missions of the OTW is to make fannish content and community more accessible for people around the world. By volunteering as a translator for Team Persian, and the Translation Committee as a whole, I believe that we’re helping to make everything feel easier and simpler to use. In the future, it can become a space that might feel closer to home for those who, for a variety of reasons, don’t or can’t live in their home countries anymore. Aside from that, I’m also a staffling for our Webs Committee, who fights WordPress alongside other Webs staff to maintain OTW’s website and tries to get it to behave when other committees need technical assistance.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

Due to my mostly nonexistent schedule, I don’t really have a typical week. When I actually manage to sit down unbothered behind my laptop, in the early hours of the morning, I tackle a variety of responsibilities based on my mood and how nigh the due date is. It’s usually the translation task I’m assigned, followed by doc managing ones collecting dust 90% of the time. That means preparing around three or so dozen docs for translation, which can sometimes seem like a daunting project to tackle. To mix things up sometimes, I check OTW’s main website and its relatives to see if they require updates, then switch to our internal task boards to do some housekeeping.

What made you decide to volunteer?

It seems like such a long time ago, [laughs], but when I first decided to volunteer, I actually noticed the recruitment post on AO3 for the very first time. I usually didn’t pay that part of the page much heed, and if I did, it was no more than a cursory glance, but for some reason, it caught my eye that time, and I clicked the link. That somehow led me to the Translation Committee world map, and I noticed that there are no peeps from my country nor any who translate from English to Persian.

That was the reason. The realization that it felt like giving back to the community that had given so much to me, in a way, came later. In the beginning, seeing that map and noticing that there was no team Persian somehow made me wonder if OTW would want to have their site translated to my mother tongue. I contacted our Volunteers & Recruitment Committee, I assume, asking if they would be interested in that, and to my utmost surprise— because there were no translator recruitments back then — they said yes. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

Actually, the experience has been so new, exciting, and rewarding that I can’t come up with a response for this one. I mean, I can talk about how difficult it is to find the equivalent of pinch-hitter (a term for a stand-in writer in challenges) in the Persian language (there are none); or I can talk about the untamable navigation menus of OTW’s website which, regardless of one’s tinkering method, remain three lines long and overflowing with random pages with long, long names. But it’s all part of volunteering for OTW.

P.S. In hindsight, maybe the latter can actually qualify as a challenge. Those hours and days that I believed that I had broken the site by fixing the ones for our three or so dozen languages were very stressful.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’ve always loved stories and books, so reading fanfiction is a favorite pastime. I’m also an avid consumer of fanart on Tumblr and Deviant Art, and fanvids from the fandoms I’m interested in. That said, whenever my muses grace me with their presence, and real life allows, I write fics to give back to the fandom, appreciate other writers, give gifts to friends, and pen stories that I’d like to read.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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.

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Published:
2021-12-29 16:18:17 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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 Frost the Fox, who volunteers on our Systems Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

As a volunteer for the Systems committee, we’re responsible for all of the OTW’s IT infrastructure, including our physical equipment such as our firewalls/routers, switches, and servers, as well as the many different software components that make up the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, and our internal services that our committees use to conduct their business. Just like business IT departments, we provide and maintain the technical infrastructure to allow other committees to achieve their goals, and thus, the OTW’s goals.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

A typical week for Systems starts with our weekly meeting where we share our progress on any committee work we’re doing, bring up any important tasks that need to be done, and just generally catch up. Throughout the week we usually receive at least a couple of tickets for updates to some of our internal tools, which are usually pretty quick to take care of. Beyond this, things are different every week depending on what arises!

Sometimes we’ll have projects, requests from committees, or software updates that require changes to our configuration. In this case, we’ll use our configuration management system to implement the changes, and have them reviewed by at least 1 other person in the committee for sanity before deploying them. And of course, all infrastructure has its problems here and there. When there’s an outage on the AO3 or any of our other projects/tools, we respond and investigate the cause of the problem. We’ll identify the problem and liaise with other committees as needed to work towards a solution, and once we have one, implement it and monitor to ensure that things recover as expected.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have a number of years of experience in the IT field ranging from generic help desk type work, to programming, to system administration. Having already been a part of the organization, I knew that there was a lot of infrastructure to maintain, and that there was not a huge amount of people to do so. I have a lot of fun working with technology, and volunteering with the OTW elsewhere had been very rewarding for me, so when I saw that Systems was recruiting, I knew I would be doing a disservice to myself if I didn’t apply.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

My work in my career in IT has been mostly focused towards general business operations which is focused a lot on internal services, as opposed to the OTW, which has more public services. While the basics of server operating systems, virtualization and the like transferred over, there were a lot of other technologies I wasn’t so familiar with that I had to learn, particularly those surrounding the Archive. Getting used to any organization and how their IT systems connect also takes some time. I wasn’t familiar with the configuration management software in use, so that in and of itself was a major learning curve for me, but once I became familiar with it, it made understanding what specific machines do so much easier.

There’s also the nervousness that many people have felt when deploying something to their production environment, except here it’s on a much larger scale than I’d ever dealt with before!

What fannish things do you like to do?

Recently I’ve gotten back into a bit of a writing mood, and I’ve been doing some work on an original story I played around with over a year ago. While that’s not something I’m likely to put on the Archive, it’s gotten the creative juices flowing, and I have some potentially fun ideas for some of my fandoms that I’ll be exploring! I mostly read fic so it’ll definitely be a new experience for me to put something out there for others to enjoy.

Speaking of reading, I’ve been doing a lot of that whenever my schedule permits. Some of that has been in my original fandoms such as Black Lagoon, Final Fantasy, Red Rising & Zootopia, and some in a couple of new fandoms like Hitman. I’m also working on finishing a couple of series and playing some different games that might also lead to new fandoms for me later on. In general I’m always bouncing around between different fandoms looking for something fun to read!


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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.

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Published:
2021-11-23 16:52:26 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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 Mirissa, who volunteers as a Translation volunteer for Team Kyrgyz.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

My role in the OTW community is just the same as the other translators. I translate news and other OTW documents to help the community grow and make the experience for other people more comfortable. When I applied to be a translator for the Kyrgyz language there was no Kyrgyz language on the list of the application form. I wasn’t extremely surprised, because this language is not very well known, but it really is similar to Kazakh. It’s funny how long it took me to realize that I was the only translator on the team.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

My week as a volunteer isn't that unusual. Honestly, I am the type of person to procrastinate and do all the work at the last minute. But with my translation assignments, I take my time on them and try to make them the best way possible. I’m mostly on time, but sometimes I might face some technical issues, so my assignments might be overdue. Not only do I translate different documents, but since I am the only person on the Kyrgyz language team I also act as a beta.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I’ve been reading fanfics on AO3 for a long time after finding a really well-written work 3 years ago. As I got signed up for it and went through news posts I noticed a post saying that they needed translators. I got really interested in it and filled in the application form. At first I didn’t know which language team I should volunteer for, because I know Russian pretty decently as well, so it took me some time to figure out that I wanted to share my native language with the community.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

In the beginning, I was trying my best to get used to the system of how this role worked. Eventually, I got used to everything until the time to translate the membership drives came. I did understand the condition to finish it in 5 days, so I thought “Why not do it?” Maybe I had some challenges because the language I’m translating into might be a bit confusing for non-native speakers. So, I had to confirm something with the staff. I’m glad it all turned out well in the end.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I do not really stand out in the area of fannish stuff. Just like everyone, I do read fanfics and I also write my own fanfics on AO3. Well, I also do aesthetic journaling, but not that often since it really does take me a lot of time. I also watch videos of my favorite anime and Japanese voice actors, who doesn’t do that? I think that’s all I do as a fan (I’m thinking I sound really boring, don’t I?).


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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.

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Published:
2021-10-26 16:38:16 UTC
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

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 Effie, who volunteers as a TWC Outreach and Communications editor.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

My role is fairly new! Originally, I applied to be an editor of Transformative Works and Cultures’ Symposium section. However, during my interview with Kristina and Karen I ended up discussing ideas for outreach and communications at length. This eventually led to the creation of my role: Outreach and Communications Editor. My main focus is on the journal’s social media presence, namely Tumblr and Twitter, though I also make sure that any calls for papers are posted around the Internet as well. I am hoping to scale up TWC’s outreach so that an even wider breadth of scholars (and fans!) feel confident submitting to the journal. Additionally, as I continue on with the role, I will take over most of the outward facing communications including press releases. This takes the task off the editors’ desks, which enables them to focus on what they do best, and allows for a more uniform tone across the journal’s communications.

I’ve been with OTW for years, though! I began volunteering on Fanlore back in 2018 and am still a member of the Fanlore social media team, though I have taken more of a backseat in that role.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

My weeks are pretty atypical and dependent on what (if anything) is coming out of TWC – not to mention that, this being a new role, I’m still trying to find the right rhythm for our social media. Moving forward, I think the weeks surrounding an issue release will be busiest, as I intend to get a few social media posts out leading up to the release and then, of course, focus on the release on the day of but also for a few weeks afterward! I think the opportunity to have a stronger presence on social media is one that we shouldn’t miss out on and I’m eager for the journal’s presence to be felt! On quieter weeks, I intend to remind followers of our upcoming calls for paper, as well as highlight pieces from recently released issues.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have quite a lot of editorial experience and it’s something I love to engage in. I actually run my own young adult literary journal and have been on staff at AGNI literary journal for over half a decade. Social media is a big part of what I do in both of those roles, so I’ve become fairly confident in that area. At first, when I applied to be a Symposium editor, I did so because I enjoy editing but also because I think the Symposium section of TWC is wonderful. It offers authors and readers opportunities to start discussions on a variety of topics but, perhaps even more importantly, it’s a space for fan meta. But in the conversation/interview for that role, I got really carried away with what appears to be a passion of mine: outreach and communications. When Kristina and Karen offered me this new role, I was really pleased. I’m a devout reader of TWC and have felt, for a while now, that the work it produces needs to be read by more people! So I’m really thrilled to be part of the process in getting this work into people’s hands, so to speak!

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

The biggest challenges I’ve found, in both my Fanlore work and in this new role at TWC, are (1) understanding the scope of OTW and the systems it has in place and (2) project planning. For the first challenge, I think it’s really easy to be a user of one, or many, of the OTW’s resources and not realize the amount of work that goes into each aspect of this massive organization. The Fanlore team alone, between social media staffers, graphic designers, gardeners, etc is made up of at least a couple dozen volunteers. TWC is also made up of a large group of volunteers and these are only two of the many projects under the OTW umbrella. At first, it is a little overwhelming to grasp who all does what and how! I still found this to be the case when I moved into my new role, despite being on Fanlore for so many years!

The second challenge, which is perhaps a more personal one, is more focused on project and time management. Being a volunteer for such a large organization means that you are responsible for ensuring you pull your weight within the role, or else other aspects might be delayed. It also requires pre-planning and recognizing that dedicated time must be set aside for your tasks. As a PhD student, I am aware of this to a degree but I think when we take on service/volunteer roles, there’s a danger of not giving it the importance it should hold. I will admit, this was something I had to adapt to (mentally) when I came on to the Fanlore team and, again, as a part of TWC, I am re-adjusting to ensure that I accomplish what I want to within the role. Luckily, the teams and communities that make up the OTW are incredible. During my time as a volunteer, I have encountered nothing but encouragement, support, and kindness from everyone I’ve interacted with. It’s truly wonderful being part of the team.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I often feel like a fraud when I say this but…the only fannish thing I do is read fanfiction! But fanfiction is a cornerstone of my life and has been for almost 25 years. In fact, it’s so crucial to who I am that I’m pursuing a PhD in media studies with a dissertation focused on fanfiction, storytelling, and new media platforms!


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

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.

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