General Questions

What is the Open Doors project?

The Open Doors project of the Organization for Transformative Works is dedicated to preserving fanworks for the future. Our goal in particular is to preserve those fannish projects that might otherwise be lost due to lack of time, interest, or resources on the part of the current maintainer.

What are your Terms of Service for Open Doors projects?
Why are archive imports to the AO3 required to go through Open Doors?

It is extremely important to the Organization for Transformative Works and Archive of Our Own that the original creators of any fan works are fully credited and have as much control over their work as possible. Open Doors has tools and standard procedures to make sure that all reasonable efforts are made to contact creators before and after their works are imported to the AO3 (so that they are aware of what is happening, and have the opportunity to get in touch with us if necessary), that all creators are fully credited, and that creators always have the opportunity to claim/delete/orphan/change their works as desired.

Who can nominate archives to be preserved by Open Doors?

Anyone can suggest an archive for preservation, including archivists, moderators, creators and readers. So, if you are aware of an archive that has closed or gone offline, or has an uncertain future, let us know using our contact form.

I have other questions! Where should I ask them?

Please contact the Open Doors committee.

For Archivists

Why would I want to transfer my online archive/fannish project to Open Doors and the OTW?

There are several advantages to backing up or transferring your fanworks.

  • Long-term preservation. Your archive will be maintained and supported even if you lose internet access, interest, or time.
  • Infrastructure. The OTW is set up to bring in volunteers as well as provide advice and technical help for maintaining and growing your collection or project.
  • Encouraging contributions. Volunteers and contributors are more likely to invest their time and energy in a project when they have a real expectation that their work will be preserved into the future.
  • Financial support in a nonprofit environment. The OTW will never exploit your work or the work of your contributors for individual profit.
Do you provide server space to any fannish project that needs it?

While the Archive of Our Own welcomes fanworks of all kinds, our resources for supporting projects that can not be easily integrated to the Archive are limited. While we are open to talking to the maintainer of any fannish project which needs our help, we are not providing general hosting like an ISP. A special project that requires its own server space or other resources will need to be approved by the Board as a special collection before it is brought on.

The maintainer of a collection brought on under Open Doors also has to agree to the Open Doors Terms of Service.

I run an archive I’d like to import/back up to the Archive of Our Own. What do I need to do?

Contact Open Doors, and we can discuss your archive and create a detailed plan for import. Please let us know from the outset if you have special needs — for example, if your archive contains multimedia content. When we’ve agreed on the project, we and you will publicize the import.

What we will need from you and/or your co-mod(s):

  • Commitment to working with Open Doors for at least the duration of the import. We will need to pause the import if the mod(s) are unavailable and we have no replacement to work with.
  • Participation in the outreach process
  • Agreement to follow Open Doors policies for attributing credit on imported works, providing background for the import, and helping creators claim their works
  • If the original archive will be staying online, the ability to edit it upon creators’ request to delete works, or change creator names
What if I want to preserve non-digital fanworks like zines, art, VCR vids, con flyers and programs?

In early 2009, Open Doors launched the Fan Culture Preservation Project in conjunction with the Special Collections Department at the University of Iowa Libraries. This project is dedicated to preserving fan artifacts such as letterzines, fanzines, and other non-digital fan works and memorabilia. Contact the Open Doors committee for more information about donating zines or other artifacts of fan culture to the Fan Culture Preservation Project.

Do I have the right to transfer/back up my archive into the AO3? After all, I didn’t write all these stories!

You may not have written all the stories, but if you’re the moderator of an archive, you’ve accepted responsibility for keeping them online and accessible. We think that transferring an archive into the AO3 is along the same lines as changing web host or ISP, or installing an updated software package for the archive; it’s like a librarian moving a collection.

How can Open Doors help me import or backup my archive?

We are happy to help the archive maintainers to transfer the contents of their archives into the Archive of Our Own (AO3)! While we are currently unable to mass import archives, we can help you facilitate a manual import, and provide support in:

  • Outreach: publicizing the import using OTW’s media channels and fielding questions
  • Procedures: provide tools that automate sending invitations (as many as you need) and e-mails that allow creators to claim their works, assistance tracking works to be imported, instructions, and help with AO3 questions (e.g., collections, tagging, etc.)
  • Technical Support: if desired, we can assist with creating backups and/or setting up redirects

Archives will be preserved within the AO3 using the Collections feature, and as the mod(s) of the original archive, you would be invited to moderate the collection within the AO3. During this import, we will depend on you and/or volunteers designated by you for:

  • Providing feedback on drafts and AO3 tag suggestions
  • Importing the works
  • Publicizing the import to archive members (e.g. by e-mail, posts to related communities, etc.)

If, after the import, you no longer wish to be involved with the archive, you can designate a new maintainer for the collection, or close the collection to new submissions. (If a volunteer later requests to maintain a closed collection, we’ll try to contact you to ask if you’d like to transfer the collection to their care; we would only make this transfer if we received approval from you.)

In cases where the original archive site domain is still available, we also may be able to set up automatic redirecting from the original URLs to the new locations in the AO3, preserving existing links, but this can’t be guaranteed.

While we often help mods import archives which are closing (or already offline), Open Doors should be involved any time one is planning to import works on behalf of another creator. For example, if you would like to back up an active archive to the AO3, use the AO3 as an extension of your archive, create a memorial account for a friend, or any other situation, please contact Open Doors.

Archives that have been integrated into the Archive of Our Own will also be listed in the Open Doors gallery.

For Fans with Archived Fanworks

I put my story in an archive that is now part of Open Doors. If I don’t want it there anymore, can I get it removed?

Yes, absolutely. See “How will I get control over my imported works?”. We will also gladly work with you to find some solution other than deletion that preserves your work as part of the archive collection in a way that makes you comfortable. As we note above, we offer the option of “orphaning” your work, which would allow the work to remain available but remove any identifying information you want removed.

Why is my story suddenly here?

Because the archivist who controls the archive you used decided to move to the AO3. While all the AO3’s tools are designed to give as much control to the individual fan as possible, in the case of large archives we believe that the archivist has responsibility and authority for the body of work as a collection. Archivists have moved archives onto different servers, updated the software that organizes the works, switched webhosting, etc. to keep a collection of fan works alive, online, and together. Transferring or backing up a collection into the AO3 is just another way of ensuring an archive’s long term accessibility. The archivist will also continue to have control over the collection if they want, and can set its rules, etc. Nonetheless, if an individual fan wants to remove their stories from the original archive or from the AO3, we provide easy tools for doing so; see below.

How will I know if an archive with my work on it is going to be imported onto the AO3?

Before we import an archive, we’ll post an announcement on the Archive news blog, TransformativeWorks.org blog, OTW’s Dreamwidth and LiveJournal News Journals, Tumblr, and the AO3 Twitter account: @ao3org. We will also encourage the maintainers of the archive we’re importing to publicise the import on the old archive (if feasible) and in other venues where they believe affected users will see the news. Since at-risk archives are often older archives where many users have moved on and/or changed their contact details, we can’t guarantee that everyone affected will know ahead of time, but we’ll do our best to make sure people are aware.

How will I know when my work is imported onto the AO3?

When an import takes place, an email will be sent to every user who has had a work imported. These emails will go to the email address associated with the account on the old archive. This does mean that if you no longer have access to that email address, you won’t be notified automatically – we hope that the other publicity around imports will help ensure that those people affected will hear about it. We maintain a list of imported archives in the Open Doors Special Collections Gallery.

What will happen when my work is imported onto the AO3?

When your work is imported onto the AO3, several things will happen:

  1. We’ll send an email to the email address registered on the imported archive, notifying you of the move.
  2. If you already have an account on the Archive of Our Own under that same email address, your stories will be synched to your account automatically. (Any stories already imported by you using the URL Importer feature in AO3, will not be imported again.)
  3. If you already have an account, but under a different email address, you can still claim your stories using the claim links in the notification email.
  4. If you don’t have an account on AO3 under that email address, you will be invited to create one, and then claim your imported works and associate them with that account.
  5. Your imported works will be restricted to logged-in Archive users by default until you claim them and choose whether you want them to be publicly-visible. In some cases (especially those where the original archive was open to the public, and the archivist requests this) the works will default to being publicly-visible after three months whether claimed or not.
What if I don’t have an account on the AO3?

When an archive is imported onto the AO3, you’ll be notified by email. If you don’t already have an account, you will be invited to create an Archive account (without adding yourself to our regular invitations queue). Yay! If you do already have an account, you’ll be able to claim the works for that account.

How will I get control over my imported works?
  • If the email address registered on the original archive is the same as the email address registered on the Archive of Our Own:
    1. You will receive an email letting you know your works have been imported and synched to your account.
  • If you have access to the email address associated with the account on the original archive, you will receive an email letting you know your works have been imported and giving you the following options:
    1. Claim the works on the Archive of Our Own and create a new account which they will be associated with (this means you get an AO3 account if you don’t already have one). You can then edit, delete, etc, the same way you would with any work you posted on the AO3.
    2. Claim the imported works and associate them with your existing AO3 account. You can then edit, delete, etc, the same way you would with any work you posted on the AO3.
    3. Delete the imported works. If you do this, you will also have the option to prevent any future works associated with that email address being imported onto the Archive.
    4. Orphan the imported works. This leaves the works on the Archive, but removes them from the control of any user account. You can choose whether to remove the name they were associated with on the old archive, or leave it displaying as a pseud. (Please note: If you choose to orphan your works, you will want to check them over first and edit out any remaining identifying data.)
  • If you don’t have access to the email address associated with the account on the original archive:
    1. Contact Open Doors with your account name on the original archive, any information that can help verify your identity.
How will people be able to find my work?

The imported archive will be made into a collection on the Archive of Our Own, so it will remain individually distinct and can be browsed independently of the main archive. Imported works will also be accessible from the main Archive pages (so you may get some new readers!). Where possible, we will implement redirects from the original archive domain to the Archive of Our Own: we will publicise this on a case-by-case basis.

What if I have already posted a copy of the works being imported on the AO3?

If you imported the work from the original archive using our import feature, then the work will not be imported again and your existing copy will be automatically associated with the new collection. If you posted the work manually or imported it from a different url, then you will need to decide what to do with the duplicate work. Keeping in mind that when possible, the imported archive’s web addresses will redirect to the imported copy of these works (to preserve rec lists and bookmarks), you can:

  • Wait for the merge tool currently in development, which can combine the hit counts and reviews of both copies, while keeping only one story body (and preserving the redirect link, if applicable).
  • Delete the imported copy (breaking the redirect link, if applicable), and add the pre-existing copy to the imported-archive’s collection.
  • Delete the pre-existing copy on AO3.
  • When applicable, request that Open Doors reset the redirect to point toward the pre-existing copy on AO3. To do so, please contact Open Doors with your AO3 account name, imported archive’s account name, and links to the works that you want the redirects to point to.
Why are you importing archives onto the Archive of Our Own? Why not just save the entire archive and host it on the OTW’s servers?

Preserving fannish history is a central part of our mission – we love the plurality of fandom and want there to be many individual archives, and we want to ensure that if someone can no longer maintain an archive, this bit of fandom isn’t lost. We’d love to be able to preserve the archives themselves, but the resources required are too big: each archive would need its own server space, a team of coders able to update and/or rewrite the code behind it, some dedicated moderators, etc. By importing archives onto the AO3 but making them into distinct collections, we are able to save the wonderful fannish creativity and a little of that individual identity, while ensuring we only have to support one set of code, one lot of servers, and one support team.

What if I don’t want my works to be imported?

Contact Open Doors with the email address registered with the archive to be imported and request a block for that address. A block on an email address will prevent the mass importer from ever importing a story associated with that address. If you no longer have access to the email address you wish to block, please include any information that can help verify your identity. Please understand that in such cases, each request will be considered and vetted carefully.

Fan Culture Preservation Project

Will archives be made available in digital form?

OTW and Iowa will be exploring ways to digitize some of these materials, so that fans who want to see them will have access, even if they can’t get to Iowa. We hope to reach many of the authors of these stories to get their permission to share their work more widely online.

What about fan privacy? Many fans published stories under their legal names.

Respecting fans’ rights and privacy is the first priority for both the University of Iowa and the OTW. Typical public listings will only include the zine title and fandom (i.e. Blake’s Seven: The Other Side 1, 3 [1986-1987]), the same way a magazine is listed in a library catalog. However, we do hope to get permission from individual authors and editors to share their content more widely online.

Can I borrow these materials through inter-library loan programs?

The items in the collection will remain resident at the University of Iowa. However, Special Collections is willing to photocopy and send up to 100 photocopies to scholars or other interested parties at a price of about 25 cents a page, according to their standard procedure.

Can I leave my fannish collection to this project in my will?

Yes. We can help you with appropriate wording for a bequest.

If I have materials to donate, who should I talk to?

Contact the Open Doors committee for assistance with donating to this project.

I have boxes (shelves/rooms/houses) full of zines! I can’t afford to mail them to Iowa!

We can help! The Fan Culture Preservation Project can arrange not only for postage but for UPS pick up of donations. Don’t let cost or bulk stop you from donating.

Does the FCPP have any criteria about donations based on language or country of origin?

No: both the FCPP and the University of Iowa are interested in collecting materials from fans around the world, including materials that are not in English or do not come from English-speaking countries. However, as with U.S. donations, our ability to help with shipping will be dependent on available resources.

Memorial Archives

What are AO3 Memorial Archives?

AO3 Memorial Archives are archives of fanworks from creators who have passed away. These archives are primarily created by AO3 in collaboration with the deceased creator’s next of kin or designated fannish next of kin. These collections are meant to preserve the legacy of creators after their passing, ensuring their works remain available.

Is there a way to posthumously create a collection for a creator on AO3?

You can posthumously create a collection for a creator through AO3’s memorial archives. In order to do this, you must be the creator’s next of kin or their designated fannish next of kin. Requests for memorial collections can be sent directly through our contact form. After we receive this form, we can begin the process. This process entails both you and a member of Open Doors signing a Memorandum of Understanding which details the terms of the import, announcing the memorial collection, and creating an archivist account for you from which you will upload the works.

I would like to see a deceased creator’s fanworks imported as a memorial collection, but I am not their next of kin, nor have I been designated as their fannish next of kin. Is there anything I can do?

At Open Doors, requests for memorial archives can only be made by a creator’s next of kin or their designated fannish next of kin. However, if you would like to see a creator’s fanworks imported, you can contact us through our contact form and include information about the creator’s next of kin or designated fannish next of kin if you have it.

What does “fannish next of kin” mean?

Archive of Our Own allows users to designate someone to manage your fanworks in the event that you die or become incapacitated. Open Doors can only honor requests for memorial archives by a deceased creator’s next of kin or fannish next of kin. For more information on fannish next of kin and how to designate someone as your fannish next of kin, please check out the Archive’s FAQ.