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Published:
2021-02-27 10:48:47 -0500
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Koteneko, who volunteers with the Translation Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

Being a translator for the Ukranian team, I make the OTW and all its projects easier to access for non-English speakers, so that everyone can know about transformative works, their legal status, etc. It encourages people to create fanworks by spreading knowledge about their legitimate nature.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

What does the word "typical" even mean? XD My daily life makes it nearly impossible to create some stable schedule, but I try to use every bit of my free time efficiently. Sometimes (seldom, but still) I can do translation even on my way to the uni, for example. I'm trying not to miss any deadlines (although I don't always succeed), so mostly I work on tasks either on the same day I receive them or on Fridays and weekends.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have been a huge fan of fanworks for almost five years now, and it all started from fanfiction. I was really into one particular fandom at that time. I would read tons of fics in it in my second native language, and one day it simply wasn't enough. I've loved English (and studied it as a foreign language) for 13 years, so I thought why not find something in English? That's how I discovered AO3. At first I was just a reader, then I found some works, which were too awesome just to keep for myself, so I decided to share them with someone else by translating them!

I had been involved in fantranslation for about two years, when I saw a post about recruiting volunteers. So I got curious and decided to help make the Archive of Our Own easier for non-English-speaking users (I didn't know much about all the other OTW projects back then). Fun fact: originally I wanted to become a translator for my second native language, but that team was full, so I thought why not try to create a team for my first native language! The more I contemplated this idea, the more I grew to like it, because even though fan culture is popular in my country, it's not very common in my native language. Hopefully, what we are doing in our team will change the situation at least slightly.

Is there anything you've worked on that you found challenging or memorable?

Some documents I've translated were quite challenging due to the complexity of language -- I'm not a big expert on financial terms, for instance. But if I were to talk about one particular example, that would be the translation-specific Cheatsheet. Each team has a list of the most common or important terms we come across, which have to have consistent translation (for example, one should translate "OTW" in the same way everywhere). Here I was, a newbie to the OTW AND some of its projects, and some terms from the cheatsheet were unfamiliar and so confusing for me! I was the first one on the team, which made it even more challenging.

Thankfully, I had some help from other teams' members, but I'll never forget that experience! (And it makes me even more grateful for my teammates and our two-beta system now ❤)

What fannish things do you like to do?

Oh, I love being involved with different fannish activities! I enjoy reading fanfics (and translating them; unfortunately, I haven't written anything in a while... ehh, I loved writing some time ago; I wish I could resurrect my inspiration somehow) and comics (I can only admire them, I'm terrible at drawing). I have also tried creating some fan merchandise (not for selling, just for myself)! And of course I'm always exploring new fandoms or re-exploring old ones (when I have free time, which is nearly a non-existent thing at this point, but still).


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.