March 2009 Newsletter, Vol 26

Welcome to our next newsletter; get progress reports from all your favorite committees and stay on top of your favorite OTW projects–right under the cut!

Abuse:

The Abuse Committee has hit the ground running, and we’ve begun creating a tracking system that adheres to OTW confidentiality requirements. Over the next few months, we’ll be working to develop a set of Abuse policies and procedures that will balance transparency and confidentiality.

ADT/Archive:

AD&T spent most of the last two weeks on our recent deploy of new code to the Archive of Our Own. We’re now on revision 1110!

Our coder group is working on a upgrade of Rails (the software the Archive is built on) which should give us the ability to do a lot of cool new stuff. This is very pleasing to all of us as the new version is more efficient and works better internally.

Translations 1.0 is now available to our Translators and we are developing the design for Translations 2.0. Tag Wrangling has now been active for 2 weeks, we have wrangled 4,204 tags and have another 2,292 to go. We’re still working hard on this! The Archive now boasts 528 different Fandom tags and 2,300 Character tags.

Tag Wrangling marked off Version 0.5 on the public roadmap which is an important milestone. We’re over half way there people! The design for Version 0.6 Browsing is almost ready for the first round of review (we already built Searching) and we’re starting the design for Version 0.8 Community and Challenges. We are delaying Version 0.7 Subscriptions in order to work on 0.8 as we now see it as more important.

We also have a number of smaller projects running including improvements to how Pseuds handle and the way Warnings are displayed on stories.

Board:

The Board has been setting org-wide goals for March, and has also been working hard to support the March Membership drive. Board members Francesca Coppa and Rebecca Tushnet are currently off speaking at the Mashup/Remix 2009 conference at the Moritz College of Law.

Communications:

The Communications team, with the help of some of our volunteer graphic designers, has made some new OTW flyers; we also premiered the launch of a new OTW lapel button at Escapade. We have also been expanding the OTW’s presence on various social networking systems; in addition to Livejournal & InsaneJournal, look for us on Facebook, MySpace, as a “studio” on AnimeMusicVideos.org, on iMeem, YouTube, and Deviantart. We’ve also renewed our Twitter and Delicious accounts.

Content Policy:

Content Policy is working on tidying up the TOS, clarifying questions that have arisen, and making sure the actual policy dovetails with the Archive code. Additionally, we’re working to balance the TOS requirements with the needs of extant archives coming in through Open Doors, and creating a coherent policy that applies to all works in the Archive.

Development:

We’ve been working on getting a new system in place for our second annual membership drive, which is going on right now. You can read about the drive at the OTW blog. If you’ve donated before, you’ll probably notice that the setup is very different now, and hopefully easier on everyone. We hope you’ll choose to contribute again (or for the first time!) during the week-long drive.

Documentation:

Our brand-spanking new Documentation committee has been getting organized and recruiting members under the awesome leadership of the lovely Margie. So far we’ve added Amy, Cinco, and carpet diemon to the committee, and also worked out a deal with Communications to share Laura JV.

This new committee runs our internal wiki (not the Fanlore wiki), which is a resource for storing and sharing the pages and pages (and pages!) of documentation and reference materials our committees generate.

If you’ve got some free time, a knack for organizing information, and a willingness to learn how to edit a wiki (or even better–experience editing a wiki, though this is not required), we’d like to talk to you about being on Documentation! Get in touch with the Volunteers & Recruiting committee via the contact form.

Elections:

Elections is looking ahead to the election season, and thinking about new ways to document our policies and processes.

Finance Update:

FinCom has just filed the state required annual finance report with the state of Delaware, in which OTW is incorporated. We’ve also been working with DevMem in preparation for the upcoming membership drive, and drafting the formal annual report for OTW.

Journal:

The academic journal team is proud to present its second issue, a special number on gaming, which goes live on March 15th! Find us at: http://journal.transformativeworks.org.

As you may know, every other TWC issue is dedicated to specific topics: as a reminder, our Spring 2010 issue will focus on _Supernatural_ and our submission deadline of May 1, 2009 is drawing near! See the call for papers here: http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/announcement/view/5

Our next special number is scheduled for Spring 2011: “Fan Works and Fan Communities in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, which will focus on the rich history of fans and their engagement with a variety of objects of fandom. We just issued our formal call for papers, which you can find here: http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/announcement/view/6

Legal:

In May, the United States Copyright Office will hold hearings on proposed exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including an Electronic Frontier Foundation proposal that will assist vidders. The Legal Committee has filed comments in support of the exemption, and is planning to send a representative to testify at the hearings.

Open Doors:

The Open Doors committee is putting its final touches on our zomg amazing Zine Preservation Project – stay tuned!

Systems:

The Systems committee has been working closely with OTW’s DevMem and Webmasters to get, install, and test the new software for the drive.

Translations:

We’ve welcomed new volunteers to our language teams (yay!) and have begun translating the interface and tools of the Archive. We’ve also worked on translating texts for Development and over at the OTW page we’ve been busy with the 2007 report and the Vidding History pages.

Vidding History:

Hey, we were on NPR! OTW Board members and a number of prominent vidders were featured on Vidders Talk Back To Their Pop-Culture Muses, which aired on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Board members Rebecca Tushnet and Francesca Coppa are also speaking this weekend at Mashup/Remix 2009 at the Moritz College of Law.

Volunteers:

We’ve added two new committee members, Sandi Campbell and Anne Jonas. Welcome! Since the beginning of the new term, we’ve been very busy adding all our new staffers and volunteers to the Org, and we’re also pecking away at our documentation.

Website:

The Webmasters have been working closely with Development & Membership to prepare for the membership drive.

Wiki:

A ‘Fanlore Live’ panel at Escapade has allowed us to make a headstart on gathering oral histories (thank you for all the volunteers who helped us with their typing skills!); a permanently open Fanlore chatroom has been approved and should soon welcome you to come hang out with other wiki fans at any time, night or day; we’re continuing to rewrite, clarify and generally clean up and adapt our policies and documents; and of course, our outreach efforts are also ongoing.

Second Annual Membership Drive

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the OTW’s second annual membership drive, which begins today!

In March of 2008, we officially opened the doors for membership in the OTW. If you joined the organization last year, we hope you’ll renew your membership this week! And if you haven’t yet joined, we hope you’ll take this opportunity to do so, and/or to make a donation to help support the OTW.

We are committed to offering our many projects, including the Archive of Our Own (now in limited public beta!), Fanlore, Transformative Works and Cultures, and our new Vidding History project, for free. Contributions from the fan community help to support these projects without relying on advertising revenue. This year we hope to move the Archive of Our Own to colocated servers, which will raise our costs substantially. (If you’d like to know more about colocation, there’s a good explanation here.) Membership fees and donations will help support this and our other work in the coming year.

Members not only support the projects of the OTW, they also get one vote in the annual OTW board election, which helps shape the direction of the organization.

A year’s membership in the OTW costs only US $10. Of course, if you want to donate more than that, please do! Several options are available, including easy recurring monthly donations: learn more — and join! — at our new online form, which you can find linked from here.

We hope you’ll choose to make a contribution during this membership drive, which will last for one week. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the OTW–we will do our best to answer them all.

Best wishes,

The Development/Membership Committee of the OTW: Carla, Elizabeth, Ignaz, Monica, Rachel, Shoshanna, and Vera

Organization for Transformative Works

Scans_Daily TOSed off Livejournal: If Only Someone Owned The Goddamned Servers

We are saddened by the fact that yet another female fannish community has been disrupted by being TOSed off a commercial social networking site. In its original conception and use, scans_daily was about highlighting and discussing the slashy and other elements in mainstream comics most interesting to female fans, who are often a voice shut out of discussion of comics elsewhere. The community frequently hosted important review and interpretation of mainstream media, even if it did use excerpts of copyrighted work. To destroy this kind of discussion in the name of preventing piracy is exactly the kind of act that ISPs and social networking services like Livejournal protest when, for instance, copyright holders demand that they be shut down because some fraction of their users are using their infrastructure to share pirated content. Regardless of what you think about the ethics and efficacy of scanning, something really valuable has been (hopefully only temporarily) lost.

We also agree with Lisa Fortuner that gender’s got something to do with it. In her article, Just Past the Horizon: The male space is just better hidden Fortuner notes, “if Scans_Daily were a male dominated community it would have not been suspended like this. Why? Because I don’t think it would have been on a site like Livejournal.” She continues:

“In my experience, that’s where the male-female distinction seems to be. Female fans populate social network sites run by panicky male-dominated corporations who want to make money from selling advertising to women, but don’t really have the brass ovaries to deal with hosting female interaction on the internet. It’s like they expect feathered sugar with a hint of spice and are shocked to discover girls have locker room talk and smoke in the bathroom. Male fan communities seem to be owned and operated by like-minded males, the male-dominated comic company itself, the comic creator who gathers his own fans to his side, or the self-style Pirate King who set up the torrent site specifically for illegal activities and searched around for an ISP that wouldn’t check on him too closely. Livejournal’s jumpy about their fanbase. They know they need them to keep the traffic up, but they are scared to death to be held liable for what goes on on their site. There’ve been a few instances with this in the past with fanart and fanfiction, and it was only a matter of time before they freaked out about scans. I don’t think male fans are completely safe from legal repercussions for the various degrees of piracy, but they seem to hide better from people who find them unacceptable. They find more sympathetic hosts. Actual pirate sites have their own servers so jumpy ISPs won’t slam down on them. Why female fans are so tied to a corporate-run social site that doesn’t share their interests I can’t say for certain, but that dependency is what leaves female communities more vulnerable to being shut down than male communities.”

Here’s a round-up of links for those who want to read more:

LiveJournal Shuts Down Scans_Daily
The untimely death (and speedy resurrection) of scans_daily
On Scans_Daily
Scans_Daily Shut Down: Another Free Comic Site Gone
Scans_Daily is dead. Fuck ‘em.
If People Must Argue About Scans_Daily
Scans_Daily shut down; Internet reacts…and reacts
A little more on the shutdown of Scans Daily