AO3 News

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2009-12-31 09:38:59 UTC

Welcome to Release or Revision 2050, up from 2020. This is a bug-fixing release and as such is mostly composed of minor changes.

Our next deploy will probably be early January (if we need to deploy more fixes).


  • Limitations removed from the 'works' page for collections. You may now see all works saved to a collection.
  • 'OR' option added to filters - you may now select (for example) multiple fandoms to filter on

Known Issues

See Known Issues page

Release Details


  • Removed caching of hit counters to resolve 'there/not-there' problem
  • Fixed fandom counters for Collections
  • Fixed 500 error on /tags/notarealtag/bookmarks
  • Fixed comment box 'jumping' for some browsers
  • Fixed 'weird transparent gap' for auto-complete menu on the bookmark tags
  • Fixed 'whitespace covering page' for auto-complete menu on the Post New form for some browsers
  • Fixed problem with Mystery Works that have been revealed still a Mystery in Reading History (not anymore!)
  • Fixed problem with sometimes getting the wrong comment notification
  • Fixed problem with Series anonymity

New Things

  • Added cookie to preserve name/email for not-logged-in-users to allow easy serial commenting
  • Added sort by hits to .../works pages
  • Added "Don't show me any hit counts" to user preferences (don't want to see *anyone's* hit counters? This is the option for you)
  • Added 'OR' option to filters to supplement 'AND'
  • Added rake task of DOOOM (filter realignment) to update filter counts (will be run at a suitable, slow point in the next few days)
  • Added caching on Collections pages to improve performance
  • Added caching on Comments to improve performance


  • Removed limits on returning results from Collections (no more 'last month' or '1000')
  • Refactored Bookmarks code to improve performance


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2009-12-28 08:01:04 UTC

As most of our users will know, the Archive of Our Own has been playing host to the popular multifandom challenge Yuletide Treasure, one of the highlights of the fannish party season. There've been a few metaphorical spilled drinks and broken glasses along the way, but we've been having a blast! There's been a lot of hard work from everyone on our team, and a lot of great new stories in the Archive.

Yuletide was our test case for our new Collections code, and was also an opportunity for us to give the servers a real workout. We'd already had the opportunity to see how the Archive performed under high demand during the first days of Open Beta, but the high volume and short time period of the Yuletide challenge - c. 2000 users joining, posting and browsing in the space of less than a week - took things to a whole new level. The exercise highlighted a lot of the things we needed to work on - although we knew we needed to optimise the code and improve some processes, having the real world usage made it possible for us to see exactly where the fixes needed to go. This did result in quite a few hiccups and slowdowns - at peak usage browsing the Archive has been an extremely slow process - and we appreciate our users' patience while we work on these issues.

Our coders and Systems team have worked miracles in the last week, tracking and fixing bugs and working to improve performance. You may have noticed the Archive going down a few times over the past week - while one of these outages was due to server overload, all the rest were maintenance periods for us to deploy performance fixes. Some of the key things we deployed included:

  • A host of bugfixes for Collections code, including some work strengthening anonymity and ensuring gift recipients got their gifts.
  • Lots of refactoring and improvements for the 'Post New' form to make it load much, much faster. If you've experienced problems with the form freezing up or crashing your browser in the past, this should now be fixed.
  • Some caching for the Archive so that loading pages doesn't make a whole lot of database calls every time. This is something we've been working on for a while, but we were having problems perfecting it. It's still not perfect, but we decided the performance benefits WAY outweighed the remaining costs.
  • Behind the scenes, we added lots of indexes and other database improvements to speed everything up.

In the past week we've gone from revision 1980 to revision 2020 - a BIG jump! Massive, massive thanks go to our coders Elz and Naomi, and our Systems admin Sidra, who have worked on through sleepless nights and holiday commitments and flu to fix bugs, make improvements and keep things working. Sidra has appeared like a ministering angel at every server hiccup and coaxed the Archive back to life - she is truly amazing.

In the course of all this activity, we've also received a huge amount of feedback from users. In the past week, we've received more than 200 support requests, and our Support team have done an amazing job of keeping up with the volume. It's testament to their hard work and dedication that at the time of writing, almost 90% of all support requests have been resolved, and most of the rest are in progress. Special mentions go to Cesy and Cal, who have done the work of ten women. We do our best to answer support requests within a few days - and much faster for urgent requests - but please bear with us if there's a delay.

The Archive still needs a lot of refactoring and refining: at peak usage times (typically the evening hours in North America) it's still running very slowly indeed. The great news is that our servers themselves can take the strain - we just need to improve our code and our setup so that they're used to their full capacity. We ask for your patience while we work to make it even better - please refrain from refreshing multiple times if a page is slow, and if you're able to browse at quieter times then you'll be helping us out (and getting a nice fast Archive *g*). Remember that you can keep track of site status via our Twitter feed AO3_Status, which you can also follow on the front page of or via the feeds on AO3_status @ Livejournal, AO3_status @ Dreamwidth or AO3_status @ Insanejournal.

Some stats for the period 18th Dec - 26th Dec 2009:

  • Number of new users added: 1,566
  • Number of new fandoms added: 1,188
  • Number of new works posted: 8,012
  • Number of code issues committed: 29
  • Number of deploys (new code pushed to the Archive): 7
  • Number of support requests raised: 260
  • Number of support requests solved: 229

As you can see from the above, a phenomenal amount of work has gone on. The Archive of Our Own is entirely run and supported by volunteers. If you've had a great experience, or you have ideas you'd like to contribute, or you're being driven mad by the imperfections, please consider volunteering! We would love to welcome more people to work on support, coding and testing - no experience required in any of these areas, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. If you're interested, get in touch via our Volunteers and recruiting webform letting us know what you think you might enjoy working on. If you would like to support the Archive for the future, you might also consider making a donation to the Organization for Transformative Works - keeping us on a sound financial footing is important so we can continue to purchase the hardware and technical support that we need.

We'd like to say a huge thank you to:

  • Sidra and the Systems team for keeping the servers running.
  • All the AO3 coders for their immense hard work and ingenuity.
  • All the AO3 testers who worked against the clock to test out new code and allow it to go to the live site.
  • The AO3 Support team for working like crazy to ensure users were helped as quickly as humanly possible.
  • All the AO3 tag wranglers who have worked so hard in such a limited amount of time to make sure all the new fandoms show up in the filters and listings.
  • Maia, AD&T chair, whose amazing leadership formed the team that made all this possible.
  • Yuletide mods astolat and elynross for their support, encouragement and great communication.
  • All the Yuletide participants for being so patient and encouraging during the upheaval of a move to a new site and the subsequent bugs (nice new bugs instead of the boring old ones on the original Yuletide site *g*)
  • All of the other Archive users who have been so patient and supportive while the site slowed to a crawl.

2009 has been a great year, and Yuletide has been an exciting and crazy way of rounding it off. We hope that this year's experience will lay the foundation for an even better, stronger Archive, and that this will be the first of many challenges on the AO3. Although it's been crazy hard work, we've had a lot of fun! All of us are fans, so when we hit problems we have a BIG incentive to work on them! Thanks again to everyone who joined our party!


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2009-12-26 06:52:38 UTC

The OTW's Content Policy is pleased to put the following updates to the Archive's Terms of Service forward for two weeks of public discussion. The full Terms of Service can be found linked on the archive page, but for clarity, all emendations and new policy items are listed below the cut.

Summary of Changes: aka: the Bottom Line!
The TOS updates are based on a revision and clarification of the system for ratings and warnings on the Archive (Section IV.K), and the expansion of policy on Collections in response to new functionality (Section V.A). In particular, we are trying to make the warnings more intuitive in response to user feedback, though we remain committed to the basic policy that creators get to decide whether and how they want to use warnings. For more information on the new system and how it will affect users, please see our post on Changes to the Archive Warnings System.

These TOS changes are not yet final: we are currently offering them for a comment period of at least two weeks before the board votes on them, as per section I.A.2 of the TOS. We are soliciting feedback during this time. Comments must be received by January 1, 2010.

Specific TOS updates below the cut!

Section IV.K.1.b. Revision to wording about warnings and tags, to reflect the new system on the Archive.

By default, all users will see the archive warnings and tags the creator has selected. Any logged-in user who wishes to avoid archive warnings and tags may set preferences to hide them by default. Logged-in users who set their preferences to hide information are proceeding at their own risk and may be exposed to content they would otherwise wish to avoid. Such users may change their preferences, or reveal information for specific stories, at any time.

Section IV.K.2.b. Removing definitions on Ratings, to allow for user discretion.

The Archive uses the following ratings:

  1. General audiences.
  2. Teen and up audiences.
  3. Mature.
  4. Explicit.
  5. Not rated.

Section K.3. Revision to information on warnings, reflecting wording changes on the Archive.

  1. General description:

    There are two components to warnings on the Archive.

    1. Archive warnings: Creators can select from a list of archive warnings. The list also allows creators to select "choose not to use archive warnings" and "none of these warnings apply," or equivalent text as specified on the creator upload form."
    2. Secondary (optional) tags, including warnings: Creators can define their own tags, as seriously or as humorously as they like. These can include specific content warnings. The warnings policy only covers archive warnings.
  2. As a rule, the creator controls the warnings.

    Selecting "choose not to use archive warnings," or the equivalent text as specified on the creator upload form, satisfies a creator's obligation under the warnings policy. If a fanwork uses this option, we will not sustain any failure-to-warn complaints. If the abuse team receives a failure-to-warn complaint in other circumstances, the abuse team may decide the absence of a specific archive warning is misleading. In such cases, the creator may be asked to add a warning or to select the choose not to warn option. If the creator declines or fails to respond, the abuse team may set the warning to indicate that the creator has chosen not to warn. The abuse team's authority extends only to changing a warning to "choose not to use archive warnings" or equivalent text, not to selecting any other warning.

  3. The meaning of "choose not to use archive warnings" or equivalent text :

    The fanwork may contain any of the subject matter on the archive list. Users who wish to avoid specific elements entirely should not access fanworks marked with "choose not to use archive warnings." A creator can select both "choose not to use archive warnings" and one of the archive warnings in order to warn for some but not all of the archive warnings.

  4. Consequence of failure to use an appropriate rating or archive warning

    In general, failure to use an appropriate rating or archive warning is not a violation of the abuse policy.

    It is our policy to defer to creators' categorizations, but we reserve the right to recategorize a fanwork in two situations. (1) When we determine that a complaint about a "general" or "teen and up" rating is valid, we may change the rating to "not rated." (2) When we determine that a complaint about a failure to warn for content on the archive warning list is valid, we may add "choose not to use archive warnings" or equivalent text. The abuse team will not pick a more specific rating or warning for a fanwork.

Section V.A. Expansion of policy on Collections, to reflect new functionality.

A. Collections, Challenges, and Exchanges
  1. Archive users may create collections and encourage other users to submit fanworks to those collections. The collection maintainer can set any constraints she or he wants on the collection, including rules about anonymous works (see A.4 below) but must otherwise follow the content policy (e.g., if the collection content is explicit, it should be marked as "explicit" or "choose not to rate"). The collection maintainer may be able to ask users for suggestions for new fanworks ("prompts"), collect prompts, match participants with prompts (including contacting them via the contact information provided to the Archive or to the collection maintainer), and show the prompts on the Archive, following the general rules governing works on the Archive. Where collection rules allow, prompts may be anonymous or limited-visibility, as detailed in A.4 and A.5 below.

  2. To be part of a collection, the fanwork creator has to affirmatively submit the fanwork to the collection. The collection maintainer will be able to remove the fanwork from the collection, but not from the Archive.

  3. If the collection maintainer has specified in advance in the collection rules that submissions cannot later be removed from the collection, the user who submitted the fanwork will not be able to delete it, but will be able to orphan it so that the user's identity is no longer associated with the fanwork.

  4. In order to implement certain types of collections, the Archive may allow works to be posted without making the creator generally visible (which we call anonymous works).

    1. Anonymous works are not orphan works, though they can be orphaned.
    2. The creator's pseudonym will not be publicly associated with the story while the anonymity is in place. For non-orphaned works, the creator's pseudonym will be visible to administrators (including members of the abuse team for purposes of resolving complaints), co-creators (if any), and the maintainers of any collection of which the work is a part.
    3. If the collection of which a work is a part specifies rules regarding anonymity, such as a designated time for revealing authorship, the collection maintainer may be able to control the work's anonymity consistent with those rules. In other situations, creators may be able to choose anonymity.
  5. In order to implement certain types of collections, the Archive may allow works to be posted which will not be generally visible until a time set by the collection maintainer.

    1. Once posted, the work will be visible to administrators (including members of the abuse team for purposes of resolving complaints), co-creators (if any), and the maintainers of any collection of which the work is a part.
    2. If the collection of which a work is a part specifies rules regarding time of general visibility, the collection maintainer may be able to control the time at which a work becomes generally visible to archive users.
  6. In the absence of an independent violation of the abuse policy, the Archive will not intervene in decisions by the collection maintainer.


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2009-12-26 06:47:14 UTC

We choose that you can no longer choose to choose not to warn for--wait, I'll come in again.

Based on your feedback, we've decided to eliminate one of our previous Archive Warnings: "Choose Not To Warn for Some Content." While it was meant to give users additional flexibility, feedback revealed that it was just too confusing. So there will now be only one opt-out tag, represented by a new icon, (which combines and clarifies two previous ones): "Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings."

But what are Archive Warnings exactly? There are two answers to this question.

1) There are six in all. Four designate particular content: major character death, underage, rape/noncon and graphic violence; the other two are "No Archive Warnings Apply" and "Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings". All stories in the AO3 must carry at least one of these descriptions.

2) They are enforceable; that is, if a story in the AO3 features major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence without being labeled as such (or without you being told that the author has chosen not to warn for these tropes in this story), you can report that story to Abuse.

So why this system? To allow users to roam the AO3 with reasonable confidence that they will not encounter these four things if they don't want to. (But click on a story labeled "Author has Chosen Not To Use Archive Warnings" at your own risk!)

Q & A:

"How does this affect stories I've already posted to the Archive?"
If you warned for Rape/Non-Con, Graphic Violence, Major Character Death or Underage, then those warnings will stay exactly as they are. If you chose Choose Not To Warn or Choose Not To Warn For Some Content, these will be merged into Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings. We hope this makes the choice easier for the author and more comprehensible to the reader; we also hope that it makes clear that this field doesn't represent all warnings: just the four the AO3 enforces.

"Why these four 'Archive Warnings' and not others?"
We chose those four for a mix of practical, historical, and technical reasons, but the bottom line is enforceability. The AO3 allows for an infinite number of customizable warnings through additional tags, which allow users to search for content they want and avoid content they don't want. But Abuse can't be responsible for the accuracy of all those tags. By limiting the number of Archive Warnings to four--major character death, underage, rape/noncon, and graphic violence--we can provide broad categories of content for people to seek out or avoid. We think it's better to have four than none, since we can't have all warnings be Abuse-enforceable.

"And if I don't want to warn for anything?"
We've got you covered: you can choose "Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings" when you post. Readers who absolutely must know if a story contains major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence might avoid your story.

"What if I don't have major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence in my story?"
Choose "No Archive Warnings Apply." Please note that this doesn't mean that the story is "safe" or that there's nothing to be warned for. It just means that there are no Archive-enforceable warnings: i.e. no major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence. But there could be additional author-added warnings in the tag field, or listed in the summary or notes of the story, or there could be something else that offends or squicks you. But there shouldn't be major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence; if there is, please report the story to Abuse.

"I want to warn for something beyond those four things."
Please do! You can add any other warning you want to any story, either in additional tags or in the summary or notes. We also encourage everyone to develop their own warning (or "don't wanna warn") policy and post it to their profile page.

"What about dubcon?"
Dubcon, or dubious consent, is probably the number one additional warning requested by users, and while we've discussed it many times, we just don't think it's enforceable. The label "dubcon", by definition, is applied to dubious cases and blurry situations, and we don't think it's possible for Abuse to judge if a story fits the criteria. That being said, a story's author tends to know if her own story is dubcon, and so we encourage authors to warn for dubcon when appropriate through the tag system. Readers can also use bookmarks, or comment to the author, but we don't feel comfortable potentially subjecting the author to a penalty over the definition of dubcon.

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog.


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2009-12-26 06:38:01 UTC

We're pleased to officially announce that the popular multi-fandom holiday fanfiction exchange Yuletide is coming to the Archive of Our Own! As those of you who follow our AD&T meeting reports will know, this is something we've been working towards for a while, and we're excited to finally have the code written and everything in place! \0/

The Yuletide mods will be running the challenge for 2009 on the AO3. Some time after posting closes for this year, they'll also be uploading the existing Yuletide archive (all the stories from previous years). This means that if you are participating in Yuletide, or have participated in the past, you will be offered an Archive account \0/. (If you already have an account, you'll be able to link uploaded stories to that existing account.)

Yuletide 2009 will be the first outing for our shiny new Collections and Challenges code, which will be enhanced and expanded in future. It's a great test case for us, because Yuletide mod astolat is one of our senior coders and has done most of the heavy lifting for this new code (which has meant VERY good communication between challenge mods and coders!). The Yuletide challenge is also fairly large and complicated to run, which gives us a good starting baseline of features for other fic-exchange-style challenges. Another reason we chose Yuletide first is that the Yuletide archive is at risk: the challenge has outgrown its existing code, and the mods needed to find another home or take the archive down altogether. We know it's one of the most popular multi-fandom challenges out there, and we're really pleased to be able to ensure that fandom can continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

This is the very first version of Collections and Challenges on the AO3 and lots of enhancements are planned for the future. Feel free to let us know your thoughts about the design and any future features you'd like to see via our Support and Feedback form.

Although Yuletide will be hosted on the AO3, it is still elynross and astolat's party! (We just built the dancehall.) If you have questions about Yuletide itself (how it will work on the AO3, what to do if your story is late, etc), please drop over to [info]yuletide_admin. Lots of common questions are answered on their Yuletide on the AO3 info post.

We hope that this will be the first of many challenges to run on the Archive of Our Own. We're looking forward to welcoming lots more fandoms to the Archive and enjoying even more fannish creativity \0/.

Mirrored from an original post on the OTW blog.


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2009-12-21 21:42:15 UTC

7 am Sunday morning and I missed three meetings while on holiday. OMG people were busy in my absence; the Yuletide code drop got HUGE and a bunch of really cool changes got made. We started inviting participants for Yuletide and posting has been busy! We also updated the tag counts and simultaneously borked the Post New form but let us not speak of that (it's fixed now). In the meeting we mostly worked through a bunch of issues and tried not to generate anything new since we do want some time off over Christmas.

Succession planning: I'm stepping down as AD&T chair in 2010. I will continue to serve on the committee and help support the new chair - we plan to train up multiple people capable of coordinating a large open source project team (my successor is awesome by the way).

AD&T Update: We'll meet once more for the 2009 term - on 2nd of January - then break for most of January. We've not taken a break since January 2009 and we're in danger of melting the entire team into an exhausted (but very pleased) puddle.

For some perspective, we've been quite busy in the last few months:

Deploy Schedule: None! We'll make plans when the committee starts up again in 2010 (if Yuletide needs us or if the whole AO3 borks we will respond as needed)

Support: Still operating over the break but please forgive minor delays

I am so proud of what we've achieved! I love the amazing people I am so fortunate to be working with and the community we are part of.

If there are things you want to do/say - feel free to share either in comments, or by volunteering, or whatever medium you're comfortable with. You are invited to this party :)


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2009-12-20 00:18:17 UTC

Welcome to Release and Release (deployed five hours later) and *coughs* Release (deployed a day later again) and Release (and again) or Revision 1980 1985 1995 2001, up from 1957. This is a bug-fixing release and as such is mostly composed of minor changes.

Our next deploy will be a couple of fixes we're working on right now to resolve issues with the 'Post New' form loading slowly and possibly a fix for the tags cloud. Some time next year!

Any critical fixes we need for Yuletide coming through in a trickle.

Known Issues

See Known Issues page

Release Details

Fixed in R1980:

  • Fixed mousing to "confirm password" field problem during account creation
  • Fixed character limit for FAQ and re-factored into sections
  • Fixed problem with fandoms not showing up in 'fandoms' page
  • Fixed editing works in Challenge bug
  • Fixes to gift recipients code
  • Temporarily suppressing printing 'most-used' tags on users to prevent giving away Yuletide Authors (real fix incoming)

Fixed in R1985:

  • Post New form no longer pre-loads all tags in database (performance improvement)
  • Collection tag cloud now only show canonical freeform tags, sorted alphabetically, and includes tags from subcollections/challenges

Fixed in R1995:

  • tweak to text of Beta invitation email
  • caching for the collection fandom index
  • back end tags fix for multimedia fandoms (endless loops of DOOM)

Fixed in R2001:

  • problem with duplicate tags
  • color of 'choose not to' warning icon (hey, it was there!)
  • bug with drafts showing up in gift list of the recipient


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2009-12-17 22:28:55 UTC

Welcome to Release 0.7.2. Revision 1957, up from 1789. This is the big Yuletide release and very likely our last significant release of 2009!

A special thank you to our testers for checking over a vast number of changes in a very, very limited amount of time. They did a ton of work to help get the collections code finished and make this year's Yuletide possible. <3


  • Collections and Challenges! This is the big new shiny toy, and it will be getting quite a workout with the Yuletide challenge in the coming week! For more information, check out the Collections section of our FAQ (more info coming soon!).
  • Warnings have been revised a bit based on user feedback and cross-committee discussion. For a detailed explanation of the changes, please see our latest post on warnings.
  • The fandoms pages are currently undergoing a redesign. What you'll see now is a very basic version, but it should load quite a bit faster than what we had previously, and the work counts should be more accurate. You'll also be able to browse collections by fandom - it's also very basic, but we wanted to get it in there!
  • Finally, we made some changes to tags that we're very excited about, allowing them to be longer and contain a wider variety of letters from different languages, and we've done a lot of work to improve the accessibility and cross-browser compatibility of various pages on the site, which is something we'll continue working on in the new year.

Known Issues

Please see our Known Issues page.

Next projects

First, we make sure everything goes well with the Yuletide challenge. Then, we take a nap. Then, we start attacking our list of projects for 2010. \o/


Release details

Bugs Fixed

  • The header and main navigation should now at least be visible and functional in IE 6. It's not a browser we plan to support fully, but we hope to make things somewhat usable for people who are stuck with it.
  • In IE 7: multiple improvements to the homepage, the links to comment on or bookmark a work, the edit profile page, the comment form, tag links, and the new user page.
  • Other front-end fixes to the homepage, the profile page, the edit work page, the page to edit multiple works, user pages, the support form, the reading history page, and, of course, the collections pages. (Go, go, front-end coders!)
  • The character limit on tags has been raised to 100, making it much easier to (among other things) list threesome pairings.
  • Tags can now contain a much wider variety of characters, including international unicode characters: letters with accents and umlauts, non-Western alphabets, etc.
  • Fixed the very annoying bug with filters not accurately reflecting edits made to a work's tags, which caused works to show up in the wrong places when browsing. (Note: once we're sure this is fixed going forward, we'll be able to shuffle all your works back to where they belong, but that will happen in the next release.)
  • When you post a new work with an invalid tag, the valid tags should still be there when the form reloads.
  • When you go to the languages page, you should no longer be able to get all works in English at once.
  • You should never get more than 1,000 works at once, on the main works page or on any other page. The upside is that the pages won't take an age and a half to load anymore.
  • When you post a work with a pairing and an unofficial/non-canonical name for one of the characters in that pairing, they should now be collapsed the way other cast tags are if the wranglers have set up the relationships behind the scenes.
  • Bookmarks on user and pseud pages should be listed in the order in which they were created, not the order in which they were edited.
  • The links to mark comments on your works as spam/not spam should be working properly now.
  • The admin backend is now about a thousand times less hideously ugly than it was before. (Poor admins.)


Other New Features

  • Added a hit counter! If you go to your preferences, you'll see that you can control both whether other people can see hit counters on your works and whether you can see them on your works when you're logged in.
  • Added a link to our Known Issues page in the footer of each page.
  • Added special stylesheets for Internet Explorer, which should be a big help going forward.


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