Organization for Transformative Works
|Name:||The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW)|
|Country based in:||USA|
|Focus:||Protecting and fostering transformative works|
|External Links:||transformativeworks .org|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms and to advocate for fans who need assistance when faced with legal issues or media interest due to their fannish pursuits.
OTW has 1,010 volunteers, net assets of $2.5 millions and at least 15,810 paying members as of 2021.
Fanlore (this wiki) is a project of the OTW.
The OTW—by virtue of the fact that many of its founders and volunteers are aca-fans, and its related journal Transformative Works and Cultures—is also considered to be a movement toward increasing fannish exposure and toward the study of fandom as a concept. This giant project by fans from all walks of fandom is a new 21st century approach to fan behavior and fandom's place in the world of cultural and critical studies.
The OTW is run by an elected board, members of which have three-year terms. For a history of those who have served on the board, see Organization for Transformative Works/Board. To be eligible to run for Board, a fan must be both a current OTW volunteer and a current OTW member.
As of 2011, the OTW had over 200 volunteers. By 2017, that number had grown to over 650. Information on personnel changes can be found in the OTW's monthly newsletters. Current volunteer openings can be found on the OTW's website.
In May 2007, astolat suggested that fans needed an archive of their own. This was the impetus for the creation of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW). See: An Archive Of One's Own (post by astolat) and discussion on her post.
The domain name "transformativeworks.org" was registered on May 30, 2007.
The OTW was incorporated as a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit on September 5, 2007.
For more, see Beginnings of OTW: 2007-08 Comments
Current OTW projects include:
- The Archive of Our Own offers a noncommercial and nonprofit central hosting place for fanfiction and other transformative fanworks, using open-source archiving software.
- Transformative Works and Cultures is a peer-reviewed academic journal that seeks to promote scholarship on fanworks and practices.
- Fanlore, a fandom wiki, is devoted to preserving the history of transformative fanworks and the fandoms from which they have arisen.
- Open Doors offers shelter to at-risk fannish projects.
- Legal Advocacy
- Fan Video and Multimedia
- The Oral History Project
The OTW is an all-volunteer organization. It is structured in committees, which work on specific projects (e.g. Fanlore, AO3 Support) or provide support to teams across the OTW (e.g. Volunteers & Recruiting, Development & Membership).
Originally, OTW volunteers were divided in a two-tier system: "staff" (more responsibilities, longer hours expected, more regular commitments, such as weekly meetings) and "volunteers" (looser, more infrequent commitments).
Many OTW committees had only staffers (e.g. Systems, Legal, Policy & Abuse), but several others were comprised of both staffers and volunteers, with each responsible for different part of the committee's work. For example: Communications graphics volunteers created graphics, whereas staffers were responsible for tasks such as maintaining social media accounts and drafting news posts; Translation volunteers translated documents, whereas staffers assigned tasks, kept track of deadlines, and recruited and trained new translators.
As the years progressed, the OTW's two-tiered division stopped making any sense at all. Many volunteer roles had workloads that far exceeded those of some staff roles. Tool and access needs were interchangeable between the two categories, too. The OTW Board and chairs gradually started working towards dismantling the two-tier system, and formally announced its end in an internal message in May 2022.
It is not necessary for a volunteer to be a paid OTW member; indeed many fans choose to support OTW by donating their time rather than the annual US$10 membership fee.
As of International Volunteer Day 2022, the Volunteers & Recruiting Committee recognized over 1000 OTW volunteers.
- Accessibility, Design & Technology
- AO3 Documentation (workgroup until June 2015)
- Communications, which also oversees Fanhackers
- Development and Membership
- Content Policy (defunct Legal subcommittee)
- Open Doors
- Policy & Abuse
- Strategic Planning
- Tag Wrangling
- Volunteers & Recruiting
The up-to-date list of committees is available on the website as well.
Former committees and workgroups
- Category Change 
- Fan Video & Multimedia
- Internationalization and Outreach
- Survey  - temporary workgroup for the OTW Community Survey
- Systems Training (?)
Controversy and debate
Server Naming Contest
In 2011, the OTW Server Naming Contest drew criticism regarding the OTW's lack of fannish diversity. The Board was criticized for their lack of transparency while handling the issue, for how the results were handled (upholding the results that represented only Western Media fandoms), and for their need for better outreach and representation. These became notable voting issues during the 2011 board election later that year.
2011 Board Election
The OTW 2011 Board Election generated a large amount of discussion on various topics including volunteer management and retention, the importance of the Archive of Our Own in relation to other OTW projects, and the role of the founders in the running of the organization. See also Fail Fandom Anon's wiki entry on the OTW for a summary of OTW-related wanks.
2015 Board Election
After the OTW 2015 Board Election, the remaining members of the old Board appointed the last place candidate to an "open" seat (which was not put up for election), and subsequently resigned en masse when OTW staff rioted.
- An OTW Elections Post from Someone Who Needed an OTW Elections Primer a Month Ago (and who started listening to Hamilton at the same time), singingkingoftheroad.tumblr (November 1, 2015)
Racism and the OTW
In June 2020, 1,663 fans signed an "Open Letter to the OTW on Racism in Fandom" to "express [their] deep unhappiness with the OTW’s inaction on combating racism within fandom" and "strongly urge the Board to take immediate steps to help make fandom a space where all fans, particularly Black, Indigenous, and ethnically marginalized fans from all over the globe, can thrive". OTW released a "Statement from the OTW Board of Directors, Chairs, & Leads" on June 24, 2020, affirming their stance "against racism and discrimination in all its forms", apologizing for their "inaction in making the OTW and AO3 a better environment for Black fans and fans of color" "who, due to this very inaction, have felt unwelcome on AO3", and vowing to "do better in the future".
Three years after OTW's statement, a group of fans of color and allies organized #EndOTWRacism, a call to action to "protest against the lack of action from the OTW on addressing issues of harassment and racism on AO3 and within the organization" from May 17 to 31, 2023. 5,602 fanworks on AO3 were renamed or published with "End OTW Racism" in the title during this period. OTW has not yet publicly responded to #EndOTWRacism. On June 12, 2023, OTW published "An Update from the OTW Board and Chairs" updating what they have done so far and what they are working on to make OTW "more welcoming and inclusive to fans of color, and preventing and combating racist harassment on our platforms".
OTW Management Controversy
Some of the points on which the OTW has been criticised include:
- Bringing fanworks to the attention of the Powers That Be, making litigation more likely, thus destroying fandom in the process. And one more thing! by ethrosdemon (July 18, 2008)
- Undermining the legitimacy of copyright. The Organization for Transformative Works and Its Bid to Protect Fan Fiction: Are Its Proposed Changes to Copyright Law, Creating Immunity for Suits Against FanFic, a Good Idea? by Julie Hilden (Jan. 21, 2008)
- A lack of transparency, especially with regard to not publicly linking board members' names and fannish pseuds. Ah ok by ethrosdemon (July 22, 2008)
- Being sexist. No One Has Any Pants by dumas1 (18 January 2008) and Why I Don't Care for OTW by beckyh2112 (Jan. 15th, 2008)
- Doing nothing. Math is Slow by randomsome1
- Excluding some segments of fandom, and lack of diversity and outreach. The OTW Server Poll and Fannish Diversity by ira_gladkova (2011-04-28)
- Excluding some segments of fandom, fannish platforms. FanLib, OTW, and learning to not care..., Jane Carnall, January 15, 2010 
- Bringing too much academic interest to fandom. Discussed and rebutted in Fandom: The Academic Kiss of Death, OR My Ongoing Meta on OTW by Ithiliana (January 3, 2010)
Some of the counter-arguments include:
- The Powers That Be already know about fanworks, being prepared for lawsuits is only sensible, and in twenty years there will still be porn. Um. Okay by elynross (July 17, 2008) and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Polar Bears by cofax7 (July 20, 2008)
- That's not how copyright law works. Article III, section 2, tentacles, and you by harriet-spy (July 20, 2008)
- The presence of weirdos makes separating identities understandable. Ah ok by ethrosdemon (July 22, 2008)
- Being pro-women is not the same as being anti-men. Quick thought on "female space" of fandom by elekdragon (January 13, 2008) and In which we talk about definitions and paths and all the stuff in between by amireal (2008-02-03)
- Training volunteers. The True Difference by queenzulu (2008-07-31)
- People are trying to change Some thoughts on OTW by Elz (2011-05-03)
Early promotional materials
- What if fans had an archive of their own?
- What if there were a way to preserve and document fan activities for future generations?
- What if all fanworks were under the control of people like Dolores Umbridge?
- Category:Organization for Transformative Works Meta
- Timeline of Organization for Transformative Works Meta, includes Beginnings of OTW: 2007-08 Comments (many, many links to meta and comments)
- OTW Press Room
- How Archive of Our Own Revolutionized Fandom – FAN/FIC Magazine, Archived version, Farasha Silver (November 2015)
- Talking with Claudia Rebaza of AO3 (2019)
- Archive of Our Own’s 15-year journey from blog post to fanfiction powerhouse, Archived version (2022)
- Organization for Transformative Works. "Annual Report 2021". Retrieved 11 June 2023.
- Who Is, accessed October 26, 2015
- see Campbell v. Acuff-Rose
- Slash Report Season 5 Episode 16 AO3 OTW, January 25, 2016. Interview with Betsy Rosenblatt at 32:48.
- Close, Samantha (30 June 2020). "I emailed the Open Letter to the Organization for Transformative Works, urging them to address racism in fandom, to the OTW Board today. At final count, 1663 fans signed the letter during the week and a half that it circulated". Twitter. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
- "Open Letter to the OTW on Racism in Fandom". docs.google.com. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
- Organization for Transformative Works (24 June 2020). "Statement from the OTW Board of Directors, Chairs, & Leads". Retrieved 11 June 2023.
- end-otw-racism (10 May 2023). "End OTW Racism: A Call To Action". Tumblr. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
- end-otw-racism (1 June 2023). "What's Next". Tumblr. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
- Organization for Transformative Works (12 June 2023). "An Update from the OTW Board and Chairs". Retrieved 13 June 2023.
- reference link