Organization for Transformative Works

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Name: The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW)
Date(s): 2007–
Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit
Country based in: USA
Focus: Protecting and fostering transformative works
External Links: transformativeworks .org
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
Organization for Transformative Works Committees

AO3 Documentation, Accessibility, Design & Technology, Board Assistants Team, Communications, Development & Membership, Elections, Fanlore, Finance, Legal, Open Doors, Policy & Abuse, Strategic Planning, Support, Systems, TWC, Tag Wrangling, Translation, Volunteers & Recruiting, Webs

Otw button.jpg

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[1].

Fanlore (this wiki) is a project of the OTW.

Visit the website for updates on the OTW’s projects, and the FAQ for detailed information on the organization's background and philosophy.

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 "" was registered on May 30, 2007.[2]

Originally known as the FanArchive project, the OTW was renamed to better reflect the argument that transformative works are legitimate under current US copyright law.[3]

The OTW was incorporated as a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit on September 5, 2007.[4]

For more, see Beginnings of OTW: 2007-08 Comments


Current OTW projects include:

Organizational structure

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.


The up-to-date list of committees is available on the website as well.

Former committees and workgroups

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.

Racism and the OTW

In June 2020, 1,663 fans[5] signed an "Open Letter to the OTW on Racism in Fandom"[6] 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"[7] 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[8], 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[9] 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[10]" 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

Other Criticism

Some of the points on which the OTW has been criticised include:

Some of the counter-arguments include:

Further reading

Early promotional materials


News media


  1. ^ Organization for Transformative Works. "Annual Report 2021". Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  2. ^ Who Is, accessed October 26, 2015
  3. ^ see Campbell v. Acuff-Rose
  4. ^ Slash Report Season 5 Episode 16 AO3 OTW, January 25, 2016. Interview with Betsy Rosenblatt at 32:48.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Open Letter to the OTW on Racism in Fandom". Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  7. ^ Organization for Transformative Works (24 June 2020). "Statement from the OTW Board of Directors, Chairs, & Leads". Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  8. ^ end-otw-racism (10 May 2023). "End OTW Racism: A Call To Action". Tumblr. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  9. ^ end-otw-racism (1 June 2023). "What's Next". Tumblr. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  10. ^ Organization for Transformative Works (12 June 2023). "An Update from the OTW Board and Chairs". Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  11. ^ reference link