AO3 News

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Since May 3rd, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) — the nonprofit behind AO3, Fanlore, and other projects — has been dealing with malicious attacks aimed at the organization and its volunteers. We wanted to share with you some of what's been happening, as well as what we're doing to contain it, and how it may affect our response times to your inquiries and our workload in general. Above all, we need to ask for your patience, because these are complicated times for all of us at the OTW.

An unknown attacker has been sending our volunteers threatening emails with illegal child sexual abuse material (CSAM), which has been reported to several law enforcement authorities.

These attacks have not affected AO3 user accounts or accounts on any other OTW projects, or OTW donor data. At this time we have no reason to believe that emails or other private user data whatsoever associated with AO3 or any of our other projects have been exposed to any external bad actors.

We've already alerted the relevant authorities, and we're seeking legal advice on how best to proceed. Protecting our volunteers and safeguarding this investigation is our top priority right now, which means we've shut down a number of internal tools necessary to do our work effectively. This was done to better protect our volunteers from further threats.

As a consequence of this, changes and announcements that had been planned for the next few weeks are likely to be delayed. You can expect delays in response times for all OTW teams. Please note:

  • AO3 Tag Wrangling's planned changes for Dream SMP fandoms will be delayed. New tags will not be wrangled until a later time.
  • AO3 Support, Open Doors, and Policy & Abuse responses are all likely to take much longer than usual. The same applies to Fanlore teams.
  • Responses to queries sent to OTW Legal, including DMCA Takedown Notices, may be delayed.
  • OTW donation gifts may be delayed.
  • OTW recruitment is suspended until further notice.
  • The OTW's social media posting schedule will be reduced for most outlets.

There have been no changes to the following:

  • The OTW election timeline will remain unchanged.
  • AO3 invitations for new users are being sent out normally.

Please be patient with us at this time. We are trying our best to keep our projects running as smoothly as possible while also keeping our volunteers — without whom none of these projects would exist — safe. Thank you so much for your understanding and support.

(One final note: we've disabled comments on all our news posts for the time being for security reasons. If you need to get in touch with us, please use the Support and Feedback form, but bear in mind that responses will likely be delayed.)


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In our next release, we'll be rolling out two changes to comments on the Archive. The first change will provide both work creators and site admins with the ability to freeze comment threads. The second change will provide site admins options to restrict comments on news posts, much like creators can restrict comments on their works.

Comment freezing

Creators will soon be able to freeze comment threads on their works using the "Freeze Thread" button. Freezing a thread prevents new replies from being added to a comment or to any of its replies. It also prevents comments in the thread from being edited.

A comment with replies. Each comment has a Freeze Thread button.

Frozen comments will have a "Frozen" indicator and the "Reply" button will be hidden. An "Unfreeze Thread" option will allow creators to re-enable replies.

A comment with replies. The first reply and its replies are frozen and have a Frozen indicator, which looks like a pressed button. They also have Unfreeze Thread buttons.

Although "Freeze Thread" initially prevents replies to all comments in a thread, creators can use "Unfreeze Thread" to selectively re-enable replies for some comments in a thread.

Site admins will also be able to freeze comments on news posts, and the Policy & Abuse team will be able to freeze comments anywhere on the site.

News post comment settings

In August, we gave creators more control over who can comment on their works, enabling them to choose between allowing comments from anyone, restricting comments to registered users, or turning comments off completely.

Site admins will soon have the same options when creating and editing news posts. This will allow our teams to turn off comments on outdated news posts and prevent newer ones from being overwhelmed by spam (e.g. advertisements or, more commonly, short series of random letters left by bots).

If comments on a news post are turned off, or if you're logged out and comments are restricted to registered users, the comment form will be replaced with a message indicating which setting is in use.

If you can't comment on a news post, you are always welcome to contact Support with any feedback.

We hope both of these changes will help the users and volunteers who read, write, and receive comments on the Archive!

Edit, February 12, 21:20 UTC: Comments on this post had to be disabled due to off-topic discussions, trolling, and harassment.


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The AO3 Reaches Three Million Registered Users!

The Organization of Transformative Works is pleased to announce that Archive of Our Own has now passed 3 million registered users!

After opening to members of the public on November 14th, 2009, AO3 has seen rapid growth. We hit 1 million registered users four years ago on October 31, 2016 and 2 million registered users just over a year ago on July 17, 2019. We could not be more thrilled to have hit this new record.

We absolutely could not have done this without all of you, our users, both registered and unregistered alike, and we cannot thank you enough for helping us to achieve this mind-blowing milestone.

Thank you for all your contributions – your fanworks, your comments, your collection curation and moderation. We hope that this milestone is just one of many more to come, and that you will grow with us as we move forward.

While we’re incredibly grateful for all of AO3’s users, there are benefits to registering an account! Firstly, you’ll be able to access restricted works. Some works are posted so that they can only be accessed by logged-in account holders.

Secondly, registered users have access to AO3 skins that can change their reading experience and can make AO3 more accessible. The Reversi skin is AO3’s version of dark mode, and is only one of several options available.

Thirdly, you can get updates on your favorite works or creators by subscribing to them. You won’t have to manually refresh the page to see if that fic you’re reading updated: you can get a notification right to your inbox. Of course, these are just three reasons, there are many more!

There are lots of ways to become a registered user. You can always request an invitation from AO3. (You can check out the wait time on the Invitation Request Status page.) If you’re feeling particularly impatient, you can ask your friends for one of their invitations! Many registered users have a number of invitations they can give away – if you don’t want to join the waiting list, that’s the way to go.

As a thank you for all of your support throughout the years, we have created a phone screen and desktop wallpaper for you to download. Download them to your devices and join the celebration!

AO3 phone wallpaper
(select image to enlarge)

AO3 computer wallpaper
(select image to enlarge)


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During last October's membership drive, we announced we were working on a new way to celebrate the OTW's most loyal supporters. We're now happy to share with you the new exclusive gifts we have designed to commemorate three, five, and ten years of consecutive membership!

Everyone who has been a member for at least the past 3 years by the end of 2020 is now eligible to receive a brand new OTW bookmark designed specially for the occasion:

Bookmark with the inscription "3-year member" and the OTW logo.
(select image to enlarge)

For our five-year members, we have prepared a lovely sticker that can go on a range of surfaces, from water bottles to laptops. If you have been a member for five years, you are eligible to receive both the sticker and the bookmark!

Sticker with the inscription "5-year member of the Organization for Transformative Works" and the OTW logo in the center.
(select image to enlarge)

And lastly, to mark ten years of membership, we have a magnet perfect for your fridge or any metal cabinet. Of course, anyone who's been a member this long can receive all three new gifts at once!

Magnet with the inscription "Member of the Organization for Transformative Works for 10 years" and the OTW logo.
(select image to enlarge)

We will start shipping these gifts to everyone who was eligible at the end of 2020 at the beginning of next year, and then once a year after that. To receive your gifts, all you have to do is confirm your address! Whenever you're eligible for a gift, we'll send you an email asking you to confirm your mailing information, so please keep an eye on your inbox! (Note that if you have opted out from receiving emails from the OTW, you might not receive this email and your gift. Please contact Development and Membership if you have any questions.)

The OTW's work is made possible by your donations, and we deeply appreciate all of our members, no matter if you donated one single time, or have been supporting us since the beginning. If you would like to become a member, all you have to do is select the membership option when you make a donation of USD$10 or more. Besides celebratory gifts to show our appreciation, OTW membership also makes you eligible to vote on elections for the OTW Board of Directors! If you aren't sure how long you've been a member or have any other questions, please contact Development and Membership.


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Organization for Transformative Works: 2020 Budget Update

During 2020, the OTW Finance team has continued to review the organization's financial transactions for accuracy and completeness. Additional tasks have included paying the bills, completing the audit of the 2019 financials, and ensuring that standard accounting procedures were met.

In the meantime, the team has also been diligently working on the update to the 2020 budget, and are proud to present it here! (access the 2020 budget spreadsheet for more detailed information):

2020 Expenses

Expenses by program: Archive of Our Own: 68.2%. Open Doors: 0.2%. Transformative Works and Cultures: 0.3%. Fanlore: 2.4%. Legal Advocacy: 0.4%. Con Outreach: 0.1%. Admin: 9.3%. Fundraising: 19.1%.

Archive of Our Own (AO3)

$76,703.46 spent; $306,623.55 left

  • US$76,703.46 spent so far out of US$383,327.00 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • 68.2% of the OTW's expenses go toward maintaining AO3. This includes the bulk of our server expenses—both new purchases and ongoing colocation and maintenance—website performance monitoring tools, and various systems-related licenses, as well as costs highlighted below (access all program expenses).
  • This year, US$18,000 in contractor costs have been spent on separating AO3 administrative roles in the background to make volunteer work more efficient. Other budgeted AO3 expenses include an additional US$100,000.00 in contractor costs for work on moving AO3 collection searching to Elasticsearch and upgrading to Rails 6.
  • Additionally, AO3 expenses include the purchase of frontend servers, database servers, and VM servers for roughly US$147,000.00. The new database servers will expand the ability of our infrastructure to store works for AO3 and also increase the number of pages served to users. The old servers will be repurposed as application servers, which generate site pages.
  • Also planned is the installation of a third server rack later in the year to give AO3 (and OTW websites) more power capacity and reduce the impact of server failures. Adding this rack will involve setup costs of roughly US$8,000.00, and will increase our monthly server costs by US$2,200.00
  • Other budgeted costs include US$33,000.00 for a Systems contractor, who will do some work for various OTW projects, including AO3.


$2,527.97 spent; $11,131.60 left

  • US$2,527.97 spent so far out of US$13,659.57 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Fanlore expenses are mostly its allocation of server purchases, maintenance, and colocation costs, in addition to Fanlore's web domain renewals (access all program expenses).

Transformative Works and Cultures

$331.00 spent; $1,500.00 left

  • US$331.00 spent so far out of US$1,831.00 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Transformative Works and Cultures' expenses are the journal's website hosting, and publishing and storage fees (access all program expenses).

Open Doors

$364.01 spent; $563.77 left

  • US$364.01 spent so far out of US$927.78 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Open Doors' expenses consist of hosting, backup, and domain costs for imported fanwork archives (access all program expenses).

Legal Advocacy

$0.00 spent; $2,500.00 left

  • US$0.00 spent so far out of US$2,500.00 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Legal's budgeted expenses consist of filing fees (access all program expenses).

Con Outreach

$0.00 spent; $500.00 left

  • US$0.00 spent so far out of US$500.00 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Budgeted expenses include US$100.00 for printing flyers and US$400.00 for other convention outreach activities on behalf of the OTW (access all program expenses).


$44,771.92 spent; $62,476.28 left

  • US$44,771.92 spent so far out of US$107,248.20 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Our fundraising expenses consist of transaction fees charged by our third-party payment processors for each donation, thank-you gift purchases and shipping, and the tools used to host the OTW's membership database and track communications with current and potential donors (access fundraising expenses).


$10,475.36 spent; $41,928.78 left

  • US$10,475.36 spent so far out of US$52,404.14 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • The OTW’s administrative expenses include hosting for our website, trademarks, domains, insurance, tax filing, and annual financial statement audits, as well as communication and accounting tools (access all admin expenses).

2020 Revenue

OTW revenue: April drive donations: 60.8%. October drive donations: 9.9%. Non-drive donations: 24.5%. Donations from matching programs: 4.0%. Interest income: <0.1%. Royalties: 0.1%. Other Income: <0.1%. Restricted donations: 0.7%.

  • The OTW is entirely supported by your donations—thank you for your generosity!
  • We receive most of our donations each year in the April and October fundraising drives, which together should account for about 71% of our income in 2020. We also receive donations via employer matching programs, royalties, Amazon Smile, and PayPal Giving Fund, which administers donations from programs like Humble Bundle and eBay for Charity. If you'd like to support us while making purchases on those websites, please select the Organization for Transformative Works as your charity of choice!
  • Given your generosity in the past several drives, we are planning to transfer an additional US$150,000 into our reserves, to be kept in store for a rainy day. Thanks to this, we are exploring alternative revenue sources to supplement your donations. We have made progress in a search for a suitable investment method and investment specialist for a small nonprofit organization like the OTW; we aim to fully set up a low-risk, conservative investment portfolio by the end of 2021.
  • Your generosity during the April 2020 drive especially has left the OTW with the ability to begin planning for the fiscal feasibility of large scale projects. We look forward to sharing these with you once we figure out the legal and practical logistics!
  • We also received our first restricted donation: US$5,161.62 from HP Education Fanon, Inc., a fellow 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting the benefits of reading that sadly ceased operations in 2018. The donation will go toward supporting Francesca Coppa's book on the history of fan vidding for the University of Michigan Press, which is currently in production. The money will be used to pay for the University of Michigan to host the fanvids referenced in the book, as well as assist in making the book free for everyone to read and use.
  • US$665,975.09 received so far (as of July 31, 2020) and US$754,362.62 total projected to be received by the end of the year.

$665,975.09 donated; $88,387.53 left

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the budget or the OTW's finances, please contact the Finance committee. We will also be hosting an open chat to answer any questions you may have. This chat will take place in our public chatroom on October 10 at 8pm UTC (what time is that in my timezone?).

To download the OTW's 2020 budget update in spreadsheet format, please follow this link.


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In recent weeks, there have been intense conversations about long-standing issues with racism in fandom, as well as the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) and Archive of Our Own (AO3)'s roles in this problem. We have received valid criticism for not showing our commitment earlier and numerous requests to clarify our position. We would therefore like to take a moment to address our users and fandom at large.

The OTW stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. We apologize to anyone who has suffered from our inaction in making the OTW and AO3 a better environment for Black fans and fans of color. And we apologize especially to users who, due to this very inaction, have felt unwelcome on AO3. We also apologize to the scholars whose work we cited out of context, leading to their harassment and distress.

We have heard your voices and feedback; we vow to do better in the future, as outlined in our initial response plan below.

Upcoming AO3 changes

AO3 was designed specifically with maximum inclusivity of content in mind, and we remain committed to that principle. When it comes to which fanworks are allowed on AO3, there will always be significant tension between maximum inclusivity of content and making the Archive a welcoming space for all fans.

We can, however, do a better job of helping users curate their own experience on AO3 and avoid works they do not wish to see. We can also implement more tools to prevent and combat harassment. In the coming months, we plan to prioritize our ongoing work on several changes to give users greater control of their AO3 experience:

  • Providing work creators more control over comments on their works by offering the ability to freeze specific comment threads or turn off comments entirely. The option to turn off comments will be on the posting and editing forms for individual works and on the Edit Multiple Works page, alongside the existing options to turn off guest comments and/or turn on comment moderation.
  • Improving collection searching and filtering to make searching collections by fandom return collections that include bookmarks in the specified fandom. This will help users build and locate curated spaces within AO3 using the collections feature.
  • Improving admin tools behind the scenes to facilitate investigations by our Policy & Abuse team.
  • Reviewing our Terms of Service and potentially drafting revisions that will allow our Policy & Abuse team to address different types of harassment not covered under the current Terms of Service.
  • Reassessing current warnings and discussing the possibility of implementing others in the future. This is an extremely complex issue in terms of definition, implementation, and sustainable enforcement. It is not one that will be quickly or easily addressed, but we are discussing all possibilities in detail.
  • We will also continue our design work on additional features like user muting and blocking and explore other possibilities like saved searches to filter out certain works, tag muting, or taking user-added bookmark tags into account with filtering.

The above list is by no means comprehensive—we are committed to continuing to develop features that will improve our users' experience of the Archive and put them in control.

Upcoming OTW changes

Ongoing conversations have brought to light a need for us to reconsider the way we recognize and deal with issues that some of our volunteers may experience. To ensure that all voices are heard, we have opened new channels to allow for more open, honest feedback from our volunteers, and will use this feedback to identify areas in which the OTW most urgently needs to do better.

From this, we hope to build a long-term strategy that will include specific internal goals and structural improvements, which can be further divided into clear, actionable steps that we can incorporate into our upcoming Strategic Plan. As part of this, we will be considering various avenues including, but not limited to, reaching out to an external contractor or partnering with an advocacy group, and will be actively researching credible resources in the coming months.

We recognize that this careful approach will take time as we need to make sure any steps are taken responsibly and with a clear scope and objective, while also keeping up with the other duties and obligations of OTW governance. However, we believe that it is an important step to take in creating a stronger OTW for all.

Next steps

We realize that these issues and ideas are not new. We have heard these criticisms before and failed to meet many fans' expectations. We also understand that these measures are only small steps. Unfortunately, this is a complex issue with no easy answers and no simple solutions. This means that it isn't something we can fix with funding alone. We must be mindful when implementing any features or policies to consider their ramifications carefully, so that changes do not end up compounding existing problems.

Even in cases where we can't meet particular requests due to practical considerations, we will listen and consider them, and assess whether we can accomplish the same goals via other means.

We once again apologize for our shortcomings and remain, as always, open to hearing from you. We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all those who have taken the time to discuss this issue and contact us about it, and we welcome all feedback, now and always. The OTW is made by fans for fans, and we are always open to hearing fans' thoughts on what we're doing and how we could do better.

The OTW Board of Directors
OTW Chairs & Leads

The OTW Board of Directors can be reached for direct feedback and further suggestions via email.


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2020-05-12 21:43:49 UTC

As you may already know, we've been busy here at the OTW over the last few months: usage of AO3 has risen significantly since much of the world went into lockdown (you can learn more about it in this stats post). With that in mind, it's not surprising that we've hit our next major milestone. Yes, that's right! We now host six million fanworks on the Archive of Our Own!

The AO3 launched in November 2009. It took 54 months - or four and a half years - before we reached the first million fanworks, in February 2014. The gaps between the milestones have been decreasing ever since; we hit two million in December 2015 (22 months), three million in April 2017 (16 months), four million in July 2018 (15 months), and five million in July 2019 (12 months). And now here we are just 10 months after that, celebrating our six millionth fanwork. Any bets on when we'll reach seven million?!

Six million is a huge number - so big that it's hard to conceptualise. But every individual fanwork is the product of somebody's time, thought, and imagination. We're so grateful to all of you, the fan creators and fanworks consumers who continue to make the Archive such a lively, enjoyable community. And if you'd like to celebrate by recommending one (or six!) of your favourite fanworks in the comments, we'd love to hear about them!


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The Organization for Transformative Works is staffed by volunteers located around the world. We work from home, in libraries and coffee shops, and even during downtime in our other jobs. This means that, as more and more of us need to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, how we work won’t actually change much, but our time commitments will. Some of us will have extra time to devote to the OTW and will get more done than we ever anticipated. Others will have family or personal commitments that will cut down on the amount of time we can donate to keep things running smoothly. And some of us may need to spend more time enjoying AO3's vast collection of fanworks and less on building its infrastructure for the sake of our mental health. Please keep this in mind if you experience delays in responses when reaching out to us.

In the meantime, consider exploring our projects. Discover a new fandom on AO3, and record your fannish experiences on Fanlore. Learn about how to save and protect fanworks and fan history with Open Doors and Legal Advocacy. Go down a research hole with Transformative Works and Cultures, and connect with other researchers through Fanhackers.

Times may be a little distressing right now, but we can get through this together. Keep creating. Keep researching and recording. Keep leaving comments and kudos. And above all else, please, stay safe.

And if you have time to share a few recs, please do! We could all use some amazing fanworks to get us through the day.

Note: Due to the potential dangers of misinformation on this topic, we reserve the right to remove comments containing non-factual statements about COVID-19.


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