Q: Will Tanabata stories be posted on the Archive Of Our Own?A: The short answer is — yes. If you were around for yuletide this year, you'll know that using the AO3 had its ups and downs and pros and cons, and some people really loved it and some people really hated it, and it's even made it as far as Fandom Wank.
Basically, for our purposes, I don't think it makes sense to not use AO3. If you've ever done any kind of web development, you'll know that it's incredibly hard to write a script that doesn't break, is resistant to hackers and spammers, can accommodate hundreds if not thousands of users, is flexible, has lots of neat additional features, and is easily upgraded and maintained. Not to mention all the exchange-related things like making sure stories stay hidden until a certain date and anonymous until a certain date. These would be real problems we'd face if we tried to create our own archive, and we'd probably be doing it with 2-3 people. On the other hand, there's AO3, which, although it might not be perfect, has an entire team of people working on all of these issues. Hell, they have a team of people just taking care of tag-wrangling.
So, in short, yes, we'll be using the AO3 because it'll greatly free up our time to work on other things.
HOWEVER, this does lead us to another, very related question —
Q: Will Tanabata sign-ups happen on the website, or on the Archive Of Our Own?A: If you hadn't heard, yuletide sign-ups will be happening on the AO3 next year, and from what I understand, they'll be getting rid of their site entirely.
So, we could conceivably piggy-back on them, since Tanabata sign-ups will most likely be following the Yuletide format, if we sent them a couple of developers and said, "We want to use this feature and we're willing to help out to make it happen." But I have my apprehensions about this.
First of all, it means we'd probably be volunteering our exchange to be the guinea pigs, and I feel like we have enough to worry about without being guinea pigs for an AO3 feature. I'd much rather have it tested elsewhere first, and let the AO3 people have some time to work out all the kinks, rather than us rushing and pushing to have this ready to go by May.
Secondly, I'm tentative about tying our entire future to the AO3 like that. Not that I don't support the project, because I think it's a great idea and I'm glad they have so many great people working on it, but if something happened one summer and AO3 was down and they couldn't get it back up, there would be no Tanabata because everything we need to run would be on the AO3.
What I'm thinking of proposing we do is as follows —
Just for this year (Tanabata 2010), we write our own sign-ups and matching scripts. Posting stories would be on the AO3, and so the process wouldn't be 100% efficient because, like this year's Yuletide, sign-ups would be in one place and stories in another. However, we'd focus a LOT on building good, robust sign-ups and matching scripts that are more efficient than the old Yuletide scripts and more easily maintainable.
Conceivably, Yuletide 2010 will be the first big exchange to do sign-ups on the AO3, and we will see how it goes and the coders will have lots of time to work out any kinks.
If sign-ups on the AO3 went well and match our needs, Tanabata 2011 and all following years will have sign-ups on the AO3, but we will always have our own sign-ups and matching scripts as a back-up just in case something happens some year and we can't run sign-ups on the AO3.
In short, it'll be a little bit of extra work this year and that's why I'm probably going to need another admin besides myself to be our dedicated back-end developer, to work on these scripts. (I'll be putting out an official call for such a person in the near future.)
I'm curious, though, to see what anyone else thinks about this.