OTW Finance: 2016 Budget Update


2016 OTW budget

In March this year, the OTW published its first official budget. Since then, our Finance committee has been rebuilt by volunteers who have non-profit and/or accounting backgrounds! They've been busy working with other committees to reorganize and rebuild key internal processes for bookkeeping, budgeting, tax filing, and general financial policies.

This improvement is a work in progress for us as an organization, and we've already learned a lot since March about how to forecast our expenses and income better. Because of that, we're publishing an updated version of the 2016 budget that better reflects our current financial situation (download 2016 updated budget spreadsheet).

2016 expenses

OTW expenses by program: 67.79% AO3, 14.11% fundraising, 12.27% administration, 2.74% Fanlore, 1.69% Legal Advocacy, 1.08% TWC, 0.33% Open Doors

Archive of Our Own

AO3 expenses: $73,176.82 spent so far out of $128,458.92 total this year.

  • US$73,176.82 spent so far out of US$128,458.92 total this year.
  • Most of the OTW's expenses go towards AO3 upkeep, including the bulk of our server expenses (new purchases and ongoing colocation and maintenance), website performance monitoring tools and systems licenses (access all program expenses).
  • The amount allotted for the original contractor for the Archive of Our Own in the March budget has been reduced due to time constraints. Both the Accessibility, Design & Technology and Systems committees plan to seek new contractors before the end of the year, and next year's budget will include more accurate forecasts for their work.


Fanlore expenses: $3,360.12 spent so far out of $5,187.57 total this year.

  • US$3,360.12 spent so far out of US$5,187.57 total this year.
  • Fanlore expenses are mostly its allocation of server purchase, maintenance and colocation costs, in addition to licenses and domains pertaining to Fanlore directly (access all program expenses).

Legal Advocacy

Legal Advocacy expenses: $2,196.76 spent so far out of $3,196.76 total this year.

  • US$2,196.76 spent so far out of US$3,196.76 total this year.
  • Legal's expenses consist of filing fees and travel expenses for panel presentations (access all program expenses).

Transformative Works and Cultures

TWC expenses: $1,736.32 spent so far out of $2,040.30 total this year.

  • US$1,736.32 spent so far out of US$2,040.30 total this year.
  • Transformative Works and Cultures' expenses are its allotment of server costs and fees associated with the journal's publishing and storage (access all program expenses).

Open Doors

Open Doors expenses: $305.89 spent so far out of $627.16 total this year.

  • US$305.89 spent so far out of US$627.16 total this year.
  • This year's expenses for Open Doors are hosting, backup and domain costs for imported archives (access all program expenses).


Fundraising expenses: $10,227.54 spent so far out of $26,737.54 total this year.

  • US$10,227.54 spent so far out of US$26,737.54 total this year.
  • Our fundraising expenses consist of transaction fees charged by our third-party payment processors for every donation, thank-you gifts purchase and shipping, and the tools used to host the OTW's membership database and track communications with donors (access all fundraising expenses).

Administration expenses

Admin expenses: $15,158.96 spent so far out of $23,254.49 total this year.

  • US$15,158.96 spent so far out of US$23,254.49 total this year.
  • The OTW's admin expenses include hosting for our website, trademarks, domains, insurance, project management, communication and accounting tools, as well as contracted services for CPA assessment and tax filing (access all admin expenses).
  • We worked with a CPA to receive an initial assessment of our financial situation and procedures earlier this year, and with an external tax preparer to file our taxes. Having completed both of these, we don't foresee needing other external financial services until next year. Finance is currently organizing our ledger and processes, and will then reassess the best setup for external services in the following years.

2016 revenue

OTW 2016 revenue: $99,727.54 from April drive donations, $130,000 from projected October drive donations, $57,519.60 from non-drive donations, $839.08 from Amazon Smile purchases

  • 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 80% of our income in 2016.
  • We're aiming to raise more than our projected expenses for this year, which should help cover us until next year's April drive (including a new server!), plus increase our reserves by about US$30,000. The Finance team is currently looking into the best possible low-risk investment options for the OTW's reserves; our 2017 budget post will provide more details regarding our reserve policy, such as how many operating months we can sustain with zero donations and under what circumstances committees are allowed to request reserve funds for spending.
  • US$137,886.22 so far and US$150,200 projected until the end of the year.

2016 OTW revenue: $137,886.22 so far, $150,200 projected until the end of the year.

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the budget, contact the Finance committee. We will also be hosting an open chat a week from today to answer any questions you may have about the OTW's finances. This chat will take place in our public chatroom on Sunday, October 2 from 20:00 - 21:00 UTC (What time is that in my timezone?)

This post will be updated with a chatroom link a few hours before the appointed time. Come chat with us, and bring your questions!

To download the OTW's updated budget for 2016 in spreadsheet format, please follow this link.

Releases 0.9.159 - 0.9.163: Change Log


In this release, we are introducing changes to the abuse report form and fixing a couple of issues with subscription emails for anonymous works. Also included: some invisible code improvements and better documentation for developers wishing to submit bug fixes.

Please note that as of this release, email addresses are required when submitting an abuse report. You can read more about the reasons for this in our post about a clarification in the Terms of Service. Please help the Abuse team help you!


  • Coders: Ariana, dolleye, james, Sarken, Scott, tickinginstant
  • Code reviewers: james, Naomi, Priscilla, Sarken, Scott
  • Testers: Alison, Lady Oscar, Matty, mumble, Sammie, Sarken


Abuse Reports

  • [AO3-4607] - The Abuse team started using a new ticket tracker, so we did the necessary rewiring on our end, while also making some changes to the form itself. An email address is now mandatory (for the sole reason of having a way to contact you if the Abuse team needs further information).
  • [AO3-4608] - Since we are able to provide assistance in languages other than English (thanks to our amazing Translation volunteers), we have made this option more obvious with a pull-down menu to select your language. Site admins can manage the list of available languages as new Translation teams sign up.


  • [AO3-4108] - If a work was in two anonymous collections, a notification would be sent to users subscribed to the creator when only one collection was revealed, not both. This would break anonymity. Fixed now!
  • [AO3-4367] - However, when works were in an unrevealed-but-not-anonymous collection, creator subscribers weren't notified at all when the works were revealed. Also bad! Also fixed.
  • [AO3-4273] - When using a non-canonical tag in a gift exchange sign-up, an error message would advise the participant to contact our Support team. As per updated policy, we ask participants to instead contact the challenge moderator(s), who can create a tag set for the exchange if necessary.

Behind the Scenes

  • [AO3-4397] - We made some subtle code changes that should reduce the load on our database server.
  • [AO3-4398] - More TLC for the database server.
  • [AO3-4619] - Over on our project's GitHub page, we updated our README and added some formal contributing guidelines as well as a pull request template for those wishing to submit a bug fix (yes please!).
  • [AO3-4637] - We fixed a rather serious security issue, with many thanks to Harlan Lieberman-Berg for alerting us to the problem!
  • [AO3-4639] - After taking care of the above security issue, indexing for anything other than works wasn't working properly anymore. That's also fixed now!
  • [AO3-4640] - The automated tests for prompt memes were failing since our hypothetical "sign-ups close at" date was no longer in the future. Damn that passage of time. Anyway, we are no longer using a hardcoded date.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Guest Post: Versaphile


Banner by caitie of an OTW-themed guest access lanyard

From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

Versaphile is "officially an old timer, having been in online fandom since 1995: over the years I’ve been in X-Files, Due South, Stargate SG-1, Lord of the Rings, BTVS/ATS, Hornblower, Life on Mars, Doctor Who, and BBC Merlin fandoms. I used to do a lot of fannish infrastructure projects like recs and archives, as well as vids and manips, but now I’m happy writing ridiculously long and angsty Merlin epics." Today, Versaphile talks about the experience of working with the OTW's Open Doors project as the owner of archives they're working to import into the AO3.

How did you first get into fandom and fanworks?

I inherited my parents’ Star Trek fannishness, but my own first proper fandom was X-Files. I came online in 1994/1995 and discovered Usenet and alt.tv.x-files and more importantly, a.t.x.creative. I got into fanfic and never looked back.

Could you tell us a bit about your archives and how you became involved with them?

I had five archives imported into AO3 via Open Doors, so I’ll start with the biggest, WesleyFanFiction.Net. I came into BTVS/ATS fandom rather late, just when ATS was ending. Wesley was my OTC, so of course I was delighted to discover a whole archive existed full of fic about him. And then one day in 2005 I went to the site and it was gone! I used Google Cache and contacted DJ, the archive admin. She told me that due to eFiction/mySQL vulnerabilities, the site got hacked three times in a month and someone maliciously deleted the database. I had experience with archives and fannish infrastructure and volunteered to resurrect the archive.

At first, neither DJ nor Liz Harris, the archive’s creator, were able to provide a backup of the database so I began recreating it by hand via the Google Cache. Thankfully a few weeks later a backup was found and while it wasn’t quite current, it saved me a lot of work. I got the site back up with all the stories intact and reopened it for new submissions. I also added a new sub-archive for RPS, Innocent Lies.

The next largest archive is The Prydonian, a Doctor Who archive for Doctor/Master. A bit of backstory first: In my previous time in DW fandom, I converted A Teaspoon And An Open Mind from a tiny flat HTML site run by Nostalgia into the central, inclusive eFiction archive it is today. I left the fandom and handed off the site, then returned a few years later with Tenth Doctor/Simm Master. By then Teaspoon had grown huge and rather unwieldy and I wanted to make a space for the Doctor/Master niche of the fandom. Prydonian was a success and I added an RPS subset for that as well, Human Nature.

My last eFiction archive, though not chronologically, is Hornblowerfic.com. I created this during my brief tenure in Horatio Hornblower fandom, mainly as a reaction to having an OTP that the majority of the fandom was hostile or indifferent to, due to a ship war. Though the archive isn’t themed, it was intended as a safe place for William Bush-centric stories.

I maintained all five archives over the years, updating to newer releases of eFiction and dealing with the occasional spam attack. Unfortunately, the spam attacks grew worse over the years and updates to eFiction grew fewer. I have always been a big believer in archiving and keeping old fandom works available, but having left all three fandoms quite some time ago, I was ready to find a permanent, safe place for the archives. Thankfully Open Doors took them in!

How did you hear about Open Doors and how did you come to work with them?

I must have heard about Open Doors from the OTW news blog, which I’ve followed on and off since it began. I came to work with Open Doors as I had several eFiction archives that were getting spam attacks and I didn’t have time to deal with the cleanup anymore. I wanted the archives to have a safe, permanent home and AO3 was perfect for that.

What was the process of working with Open Doors like for you?

The process with Open Doors was very smooth. At the outset I informed OD that I didn’t have the time or energy to spare helping with the import much, but they were able to create/update their import scripts to bring in everything directly from the provided database and site files. Obviously with so many archives and stories it took a while to bring everything in, but they did a fantastic job and I’m very happy with the result.

What advice would you give archive owners or mods that are having similar issues with their archives that you've had?

I think these days people are less inclined to create fandom or character-specific archives, as AO3 is such a wonderful resource. But there are a lot of old archives out there (especially eFiction based), many of them semi-abandoned as fandom activity tapered off or the archivist moved on to a new fandom. I would implore those archivists to bring their archives to Open Doors before all those stories are lost. Spam isn’t going to go away and unfortunately all development on eFiction is now glacial and near vaporware status. The same goes for author-only archives or LiveJournal-based fic. They all need to be saved! Fandom has to move into the future without leaving its past behind. As archivists, it’s our responsibility to save everything we can.

What fandom things have inspired you the most?

Fic is my main jam, especially as I’m a writer myself. And I have to say that the Tumblr-enabled flood of amazing fanart continues to impress me (and I think we need an AO3 equivalent for fanart because at some point Tumblr is going to die and we’re going to lose EVERYTHING). But the most inspiring part of any fandom is the discussions and meta that dig into the heart of the characters and the canon stories.

Don't forget that as part of our Open Doors celebration on Sunday, September 18th from 17:00-19:00 UTC (check when that is in your timezone) we'll be doing a live chat to which you are all invited!

The OTW is Recruiting Staff for the Support, Communications, and Abuse Committees!


Banner by Erin of a close-up of Rosie the Riveter"s arm with an OTW logo on it and the words "OTW Recruitment"

Are you interested in volunteering for the Organization for Transformative Works with the Abuse Committee, Fanhackers or AO3 Support?

We would like to thank everyone who responded to our previous call for Communications, Strategic Planning, and Volunteers & Recruitment staff!

Today, we're excited to announce the opening of applications for:

  • Abuse Committee Staff - closing 21 September 2016 UTC
  • Communications Committee - Fanhackers Staff - closing 21 September 2016 UTC
  • Support Committee Staff - closing 21 September 2016 UTC

We have included more information on each role below. Open roles and applications will always be available at the volunteering page. If you don't see a role that fits with your skills and interests now, keep an eye on the listings. We plan to put up new applications every few weeks, and we will also publicize new roles as they become available.

All applications generate a confirmation page and an auto-reply to your e-mail address. We encourage you to read the confirmation page and to whitelist volunteers -(at)- transformativeworks -(dot)- org in your e-mail client. If you do not receive the auto-reply within 24 hours, please check your spam filters and then contact us.

If you have questions regarding volunteering for the OTW, check out our Volunteering FAQ.

Abuse Committee Staff: The Abuse Committee is dedicated to helping users deal with the various situations that may arise. We also handle any complaints that come in about content uploaded to the Archive of Our Own. The team determines if complaints are about legitimate violations of the Terms of Service, and what to do about them if they are; our major goals are to adhere to the TOS, to make our reasoning and processes as clear and transparent as possible, and to keep every individual case completely confidential. We work closely with other AO3 related committees such as Support and Content.

We are seeking people who can keep in close contact, be patient in rephrasing explanations, make and document decisions, cooperate within and outside of their team, and ask for help when it's needed. Staffers need to be able to handle complex and sometimes-disturbing content, and must be able to commit a sufficient amount of time to the team on a regular basis.

Abuse staffers are required to spend at least five hours a week handling committee work, though it often tends to be more. Please be sure you can handle the workload before applying.

Applications are due 21 September 2016

Communications Committee - Fanhackers Staff: Communications staffers are responsible for the distribution of information internally to OTW personnel and externally to the general public, the media, fans, and other fannish organizations. Communications is also typically the first point of contact for someone interested in or wanting help from OTW.

Fanhackers is a blog for the discussion of fannish meta topics and fannish perspectives on fan and media studies. The position of Fanhackers staffer would be a good fit for someone with an interest in reading and sharing academic works about fans and fannish meta, and who is familiar with the work done by Transformative Works and Cultures.

Applications are due 21 September 2016

Support Committee Staff: The Support team is responsible for handling the feedback and requests for assistance we receive from users of the Archive. We answer users’ questions, help to resolve problems they’re experiencing, and pass on information to and from coders, testers, tag wranglers and other teams involved with the Archive.

Applications are due 21 September 2016

Apply at the volunteering page!