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Posted by Claudia Rebaza


Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

In April, OTW's legal team filed an amicus brief in Garcia v. Google. In that brief, we asked the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to re-hear the case, which dealt with the internet "safe harbor" provisions that protect intermediaries (like YouTube and the AO3) from liability for user-created content. A three-judge panel of the court had issued a ruling that ignored these safe harbors and imposed liability on Google for material that its users posted. As we noted then, it was a case of "bad facts make bad law," since the plaintiff -- an actress tricked into taking part in the film Innocence of Muslims -- has good reason to want the film taken down. But in creating what might have seemed a just result in that case, the panel disrupted Congress's intent in passing the safe harbor laws and created potentially chilling risks to free speech.

We succeeded! On November 12, 2014, the court ruled that its previous decision was void, and ordered that the case would be re-heard by the entire court--not just a three-judge panel--in December. The OTW has filed a new amicus brief in the case, expanding on the arguments we made in our original brief. As we explained in our filing, the court should interpret the safe harbors broadly enough to provide safety for content hosts, because that safety is what permits content hosts like the AO3 to exist. If hosts were vulnerable to lawsuits over user-created content, it would allow censorship to flourish and create an environment in which many intermediaries could no longer afford to continue operating. As we argued: "when intermediaries’ immunity is not robust, the vibrant marketplace of ideas they enable is compromised."

We will keep you informed as the case progresses. Our brief is available in PDF on the Legal Project page, along with all our filings, on the OTW website.

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Posted by Latoya Peterson

Comedy troupe Stupid Time Machine just released a great parody ad in time for Thanksgiving. In their words:

A Thanksgiving ad for Urban Outfiter’s new We Are All Natives collection – “Indian wear for the rest of us.” Filmed on spec by sketch comedy group Stupid Time Machine, the parody urges Urban – already famous for their controversial Kent State Massacre and The Holocaust Themed Apparel – to tap into something hipsters can’t get enough of: white people in headdresses.

(Thanks to CJ for the tip!)

The post #WeAreAllNatives Parody Ad Skewers Cultural Appropriation appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

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Posted by Guest Contributor

by Guest Contributor Mario Fitzgerald

In one of the many footnotes in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Yunior opines:

“Rushdie claims that tyrants and scribblers are natural antagonists, but I think that’s too simple; it lets writers off pretty easy. Dictators, in my opinion, just know competition when they see it. Same with writers. Like, after all, recognizes like.”

Through the mind of Yunior, Junot Diaz expresses a core truth about writing: Despite being a tool of dissent for justice and equality, writing is also a powerful and thoroughly successful method of erasure, revision, and domination.

Through his first feature film, Dear White People, director Justin Simien has demonstrated how film can similarly be a tool for either justice or domination. Through the characters of Helmut West, a reality television show producer and Sam White, an independent documentary filmmaker, Justin Simien dramatizes the different ways in which the film industry has responded to racism and white supremacy.

Helmut West drifts in and out of the film searching for “conflicts” on the campus of Winchester University from which he can create a reality television show. Despite the title of the film directing viewers’ attention towards the many documented micro-aggressions of White characters towards the film’s Black characters, West is a Black man.

His presence raises a critique against the constant search for anti-Black racist acts committed by White people rather than manifestations of White supremacist thinking which, as bell hooks has so eloquently written, operates within us all.

In acknowledging the manifestations of White supremacist thinking, the actions of characters such as Coco become more understandable as she pursues possible areas in which she, as a black woman, may actually benefit from White supremacy and its valuations of physical beauty. A focus on White supremacist thinking can also reveal the problematic nature of actions from characters such as Reggie. As White supremacist thinking is connected to patriarchal thinking, Reggie’s manipulation of the Armstrong Parker House’s voting system in order to thrust Sam into a position of power that she never wished to attain is more easily recognized as patriarchal and subsequently challenged and resisted by an anti-racist, black feminist lens. One would still be able to acknowledge that the most powerful characters, such as President Fletcher, are indeed white.

However, a focus on White supremacist thinking will reveal how individuals of all identities stand to benefit from various aspects of the status quo and, thus, may actually have a vested interest in upholding certain oppressive systems while struggling against others.

West is also possibly the most perceptive character in the film, perhaps even more so than Sam, as he quickly identifies which people around him will easily fit into a consumable racial stereotype, be it the “angry black activist,” the “ghetto black woman,” or the overtly bigoted white person. However, he uses his perceptive abilities to further a part of the film industry that profits off of racism, and so West seeks to exploit racial confrontations he finds on campus rather than to challenge them.

Juxtaposed against West is Sam White, a young, passionate filmmaker and campus activist intent on exposing the contradictions of society, starting with her college campus.

Through her campus radio program, “Dear White People” and her first short film of white faced white people losing their collective minds over the election of Barack Obama as president, Sam attempts to expose the racist contradictions of the world through direct and didactic methods. Such methods draw both ire and adoration from Sam’s peers as well as the attention of the Winchester’s President and Dean of Students.

After facing the pressures to conform to the demands of her peers as well as the university administrators, Sam eventually falls back on her identity as a filmmaker, and with the help of her boyfriend, Justin, Sam embraces the role of an “anarchist filmmaker.” As such she presents the contradictions of society as problematic while simultaneously avoiding offering any solutions leaving that task for her viewers, as displayed in the final moments of her second short film documenting the fall out from a campus “black face” party in which she ceases to complete her last “Dear White People” edict. In this way, Sam, as an “anarchist filmmaker” challenges rather than exploits the racism displayed on Winchester’s campus.

It seems safe to say that Justin Simien, himself, has set the task for himself of following the “anarchist” tradition of filmmaking, a tradition marked by the questioning of society’s manners, formalities, and figures of authority in order to unveil the truths hidden by such facades.

DWP exposes the contradictions of the United States – especially its founding freedoms ingrained with racism and white supremacy – while also exposing our own personal and all too human contradictions.

However, Simien does not provide an easy ending glorifying the possibilities of the film industry to confront and challenge racism. Rather at the end of the film, it is Helmut West – not Sam – who sits in front of President Fletcher pitching his idea of using the conflicts of the university’s “race riot” to create a reality television show which will ultimately provide profits to both the university and television studio for which West works.

Therefore, though Justin Simien’s own first effort has opened to quite
some success as has the works of filmmakers such as Ava DuVernay, Dee Rees, and Ryan Coogler, Dear White People still acknowledges that the works of Hollywood studios and reality television shows capitalizing off of and profiting from stereotypes of black Americans still mainly control and define the narratives of black Americans.

The struggle continues, even in film, for in the words of Toni Morrison:

“Racism will disappear when it’s, A, no longer profitable, and no longer psychologically useful. And when that happens, it’ll be gone. But at the moment, people make a lot of money off of it, pro and con.”

Mario Fitzgerald is currently a Pre – K Assistant, Library Aide, and aspiring writer hoping to follow the paths set forth by James Baldwin and Toni Morrison living in Charlotte, NC.

The post The Producer and the Anarchist: Dear White People’s Critique and Vision of Film appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

OTW Fannews: Delving Into Fandom

Nov. 25th, 2014 05:21 pm
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Posted by Janita Burgess


OTW Fannews Banner Delving into Fandom

  • The University of Iowa libraries, which partner with the OTW's Open Doors project, have announced a major fanzine digitization project. "10,000 science fiction fanzines will be digitized from the James L. 'Rusty' Hevelin Collection, representing the entire history of science fiction as a popular genre and providing the content for a database that documents the development of science fiction fandom."
  • At Swarthmore College, Professor Bob Rehak talked fandom studies and his article in the OTW's academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures. "It was fascinating to see fixtures of my own media passions, such as Star Trek props and the Batmobile, filtered through the contributors’ different theoretical approaches. This sense of rediscovering the familiar is characteristic, I think, of fan studies that deepen and complexify the apparent superficialities of popular culture...Twenty years of fan scholarship have done a great deal to concretize and personalize those relationships, but object-oriented studies now promise to move us even further from the reductive idea of the media fan as gullible consumer."
  • The Prince George Citizen interviewed researcher and author Andrei Markovits about the motivation of sports fans. "[W]hile female fandom is on the rise 'it's very clear it's a gendered world,' he said. 'The emotional investment for men is so much more, but the pain [when their team loses] is also so much more,' Markovits said. 'When I was a kid, every English soccer games started Saturday at 3 p.m. Why? Because the factory gates closed at 2 p.m.... and that gave them time to get to the game. For it to become part of the hegemonic sports culture, you have to have a large group of working-class men.' However, these sports do create a mixing place for people of different social classes within society."
  • At The Daily Dot Aja Romano wrote about the Harry Potter Alliance's equality campaign. "The newest HPA project, named after one of the Harry Potter series' most beloved characters, is designed to raise a new generation of fandom activists. The Granger Leadership Academy, named after Hermione Granger, is a leadership conference taking place this weekend (October 17–19) at Auburn University. The goal is to empower people to turn their fandom into real-world activism, something that HPA founder Andrew Slack found transformative in his own life."

Where research about fandom do you like to turn to? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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Posted by Racialicious Team

There will be those who will reduce Monday night to the sights of burning buildings and tear gas around Ferguson, Missouri, and use that to excuse and explain the police violence that both incited and accompanied them.

But the reality is, demonstrators marched — peacefully — both in Ferguson and around the country not long after a local grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. These activists were not alone, and they will not be the last. This space is to recognize their presence, despite the insistence of certain narratives that they were not.

The post Voices: The Michael Brown Protests You Didn’t See appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

OTW Fannews: Fandom From End to End

Nov. 24th, 2014 05:44 pm
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Posted by Janita Burgess


OTW Fannews Banner Fandom End to End

  • In a post for The Guardian, Erin Riley talks bout the ethics of sports fandom. "Ethical issues may be particularly acute in horse racing, but being a sport fan can regularly involve navigating an ethical minefield. For some fans, it’s the relationship between their particular code or club and gambling. For others, it’s the decisions made by the management of their team that don’t sit well with their values. It can be an appointment of a particular player, the sacking of a coach or the attempt to cover up a scandal. There are almost as many different responses to these issues as there are issues themselves. Fans are forced to figure out a way to respond that weighs the values they hold against the teams or sport they love."
  • On the flip side, at Hardwood Paroxysm, the discussion is about how fannishness changes over time. "It’s something for us to look forward too, a way to spend time with and connect to our friends and family, and generally just a way to remove ourselves from the real world for a certain number of hours a week. And part of why it’s so appealing, besides the reasons listed above, is that spectacle aspect of it. Here are these people that, through the genetic lottery (and hard work as well), are able to do things the vast majority of the human race could never dream of...Everyone wants to be tall and strong and in shape, because life is so much easier when you have those three things working for you."
  • The Baltimore Sun featured the century-plus appeal of Sherlock Holmes fandom. "Watson's Tin Box began in Ellicott City in 1989 and is considered a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars. Its named recalls the box where Watson collected his reports of Sherlock's investigations." One of its founders, "Churchill put together the original collection of artifact boxes, one for each story, that recall details of the story. Some items are antiques, period pieces that reflect Sherlock's times: period checks, blank telegram forms or hotel bills. Other things are 'genuine faux originals.' If he couldn't find a letter or a ticket, he'd create it."
  • Scholar Lori Morimoto looked at more recent developments involving fandom memes and official production. "And it’s this cover that I find all but impossible to discuss through frameworks of appropriation and clearly defined fan-producer identities and relations. A cursory glance at Mizutama’s Twitter images demonstrates the meme’s affective appeal to her, and in this sense its inclusion in the official book cover art seems as much sly in-joke as appropriation. Indeed, the decentralized context of the book’s production – produced by the longtime publisher of both Arthur Conan Doyle works in Japanese and the long-running Hayakawa Mystery magazine, written by Holmes aficionado Kitahara, and illustrated by present-day Sherlock fan Mizutama – begs the questions of where we locate ‘production’, and how we might conceptualize ‘monetization’ here."

From fandom history to fandom passions, Fanlore is there for it all. Add your contributions!

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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Posted by Arturo

Just over two years after the first fight to save sacred Native land in South Dakota, a new fundraising drive seeks to complete the drive to keep Pe’Sla — “the Heart of everything” — in indigenous hands.

The campaign, organized by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, seeks to raise $500,000 by Nov. 30 for the purposes of buying the last 438 acres of Pe’Sla land under outside ownership. The foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is working with the Oceti Sakowin Nations for the fundraiser, and this video is a quick introduction to its mission:

In 2012, the Oceti Sakowin Nations, working together with the foundation and Last Real Indians, successfully raised enough money to purchase more than 1,900 acres of Pe’Sla land after they were put up for auction.

From the current fundraiser’s Indiegogo page:

If this purchase falls through, the opportunity to save these sacred lands could be lost forever.

The Black Hills, including the sacred site of Pe’ Sla, were reserved for the exclusive use and occupation by the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 with the U.S. government. But once gold was found in the Black Hills (by an illegal expedition into these sacred Native American lands) the U.S. illegally seized the lands despite the treaty agreement.

The U.S. government has yet to give these lands back to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota nations. Even though the gold is gone, they still hold great natural, cultural and spiritual value to us. Now, we have no choice, but to buy our sacred lands at Pe’ Sla back from the current occupants. There’s no time for further contesting the illegal taking of these lands. We need to raise the money by November 30, 2014 or Pe’ Sla may be lost forever to Indian people.

Donations can be made at the link above, or the embed below.

The post New Fundraising Campaign Seeks To Preserve Sacred Land Of Pe’ Sla appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

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archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - search - about
November 24th, 2014next

November 24th, 2014: I did some RESEARCH by which I mean I TALKED ABOUT IT ON TWITTER and it turns out there are as many numbers greater than five as there are less than five! I thought it was the opposite since there were infinity+4 numbers less than five and only infinity greater than five, but I forgot how you could define a function that maps any number greater than 5 onto a number less than five and vice versa so the sets have equal size. All I remembered from set theory in university was that when it came to infinities the results were counterintuitive!

Anyway this was all in service of an earlier draft of this comic that no longer exists BUT WE ALL LEARNED SOMETHING ANYWAY

– Ryan

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Posted by Claudia Rebaza


As many fans are preparing to celebrate the end-of-year holiday season, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) would like to let U.S. supporters know that there is a simple way they can donate if they are making purchases through Amazon.

AmazonSmile is a program set up by Amazon that allows you to donate to a charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. There are currently nearly one million organizations participating, and the OTW is one of them!

How to use AmazonSmile

Simply go to http://smile.amazon.com from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. The site has the same products and services as the usual Amazon domain, many of which will be marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. (Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible.) The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charity of your choice. Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation, however, and will not be tax deductible by you.

If you have an existing Amazon.com account, all details will remain the same including your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry. On your first visit to AmazonSmile you will be asked to select a charitable organization. Enter "The Organization For Transformative Works Inc" in the search field. That's it!

If you'd like to donate to more than one charity, you can always select the “Change your Charity” link in the “Your Account” page for different purchases. If you'd like to know more about AmazonSmile, visit their program details page.

Screenshot of a user's Amazon Smile page showing the OTW as the designated charity

What if I don't use Amazon U.S.?

At this time, AmazonSmile is only available to users of the U.S. site, and AmazonSmile is the only retail program through which we receive donations. If you have suggestions of other programs, please let us know!

However, you can donate directly to the OTW at any time of year through our donation page. We have answers to some frequently asked questions there, but if you have additional questions, please contact us.


OTW Fannews: Speaking Out for Fandom

Nov. 21st, 2014 05:27 pm
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Posted by Kiri Van Santen


Banner by Alice of a simple drawing of a human with a speech bubble containing a heart and a page of writing'

  • While quite a few articles in the media continue to portray fanwork creators as somehow abnormal, even while acknowledging their part within a larger remix culture of popular entertainment, others set fandom more positively in this cultural environment. This support has come from fans and entertainers alike.
  • The 'Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast' interviewed actress Eaddy Mays about fanfiction. "'First and foremost, the media portrayal of fanfiction infuriates me. It’s immature, among many things. It’s bullying. And it should be illegal, frankly." Mays proved herself an it-getter. “It’s when she’s talking about a book the Sterek Campaign sent her about the popular slash ship that you can see exactly how much she takes this issue to heart. She picks it up to make a point, flipping it over and noticing something written on the back for the first time...'It says, ‘Made with love.'' She has to pause, the emotion evident in her voice. 'Can you wrap it up better than that? I don’t think so. That’s it. It’s made with love. So why would you cast any dispersion on that?'”
  • Not all actors seem as in touch with slash fanworks. The Mary Sue focused on contrasting comments made by Benedict Cumberbatch and Orlando Jones in the same week, with Jones saying "'I get it—it’s another way to go but it’s no less valid than what we’re doing and it’s certainly interesting, so I really get a kick out of that. To read fan fiction and to see fan art and to watch other people’s artistry paint different colors on top of what we’re doing… how can you be mad at that? That’s just completely awesome!'"
  • At Bustle, Emma Lord wrote about getting over her embarrassment with fanfic and countering common arguments. "[W]hen did any form of writing get deemed 'lazy'? We’re actively creating something, whether or not it will be widely consumed or appreciated. We’re testing ourselves as writers all the time, trying to see if we can keep the original author’s characters true to themselves, or if we can find ways to surprise and intrigue readers who are into the same fandoms we are. That is the polar opposite of lazy!"

Who have you seen standing up for fanworks? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.


Assassin's Creed

Nov. 20th, 2014 08:12 am
yvi: Rodney Mckay, text: "bad day" (Atlantis - Bad Day)
[personal profile] yvi
For the past few months, I have been playing the Assassin's Creed series on the Playstation. The first part was... not good, but AC2 and AC2:Brotherhood more than made up for it. Loved the gameplay, the story, almost everything.

Since I played AC2:Revelations previously, I have now started Assassin's Creed 3, which is set in America before its independence and I am finding it very annoying so far.

* I didn't at all care about the character I played for the first few hours and never really understood who he was and why I was doing the things I was doing
* That despite an estimated half of my gametime so far being spent watching cutscenes. I am not making this up, there was a mission yesterday where I ran to a house, knocked on the door - cutscene - walked to the stable 50 meters away - cutscene - walked back to the house, knocked, then claimed for about thirty seconds and went back to the stables - cutscene - fight - cutscene. I'd really rather be playing..
* The missions are sometimes really hard, especially the optional goals. How am I supposed to not lose 50% of my health if a wolf attacks me right away? I had to replay a mission more than 10 times yesterday and at that point it's just frustrating.

I think I'll give it a few more hours, but the next part (Black Flag) is already waiting for me at the post office. Where I can't get to at the moment because of the plague, bah.


Nov. 19th, 2014 02:59 pm
[personal profile] seattlefreezer posting in [site community profile] dw_dev_training

I'm a new developer (emphasis on the new). I'm trying to expand my skillset in programming and open-source works. I've been told you guys have a great community and are very helpful to newcomers. Please, if you have any tips, resources or suggestions send them my way.

I'm interested in front-end work, graphical interfaces and the like. I have some experience in java, python, html and css. I'm good at photoshop/illustrator as well if there is any need for something along those lines.

Specifically, I've tasked myself with converting the birthdays.tt code to run on foundation. Here's a question, where do I find the birthdays.tt page to see how it looks now?

Thank you very much and I look forward to learning and helping.


github issues "claimed" bot

Nov. 20th, 2014 09:40 am
skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud posting in [site community profile] dw_dev
If I recall correctly, there's a bot that assigns github issues to people if they say "claimed" or similar in the issue comments.

Can someone point me to the code/setup/whatever for that bot?
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Posted by Janita Burgess


OTW Fannews Banner Women's Experiences in Fandom

  • Comic Book Resources reported on a NYCC panel about female fandom in which Kelly Sue DeConnick said, "'I think that there's an important thing to remember too, that what you're seeing now, the influx of female readership and female creators is not a revolution, it's a restoration...Back in the '30s and '40s there was a girls' magazine that had a distribution of 300,000 copies per month and it was comics... [In the decades since] women were discouraged, dissuaded, made unwelcome, and now for a plethora of reasons, women are returning...There are enough comics for everyone...Say it with me now: equality is not a loss.'"
  • In another panel at New York Comic Con, on harassment and assault, the "crowd was greeted with some sobering statistics...25% of women at cons have reported being sexually harassed, 13% report receiving unwanted, inappropriate comments, and 8% of all attendees have been groped or outright assaulted or raped." This sheds light on the post in The Awl discussing rape charges in web celebrity fandoms, which speculated on the thinking of perpetrators. "Internet celebrity is just another opportunity, like management or teaching or parenthood, to assert power over victims in new and profound ways."
  • Blogger ladyloveandjustice, wrote about why the Mary Sue is a sexist concept. "[O]ne of the CONTROVERSIES listed on the TV Tropes page is if a male sue is even possible. That’s right, it’s impossible to have an idealizied male character. Men are already the ideal. In our culture, male tends to be the default. Women take on the distaff parts. 'Him' and 'mankind' are what humanity are, 'her' and 'womankind' are secondary. Yet this isn’t true for Mary Sue as a term. That name was created first."
  • An article in The Guardian cited fanfic on AO3 and Tumblr as places where teenage girls are the creators of sexual fiction. "'There is a lot of PWP (short for ‘porn without plot’ or ‘plot, what plot?’) out there,' 23-year-old Julia Schnorrer said. 'However, every sex scene in fanfic always has a narrative, since it is integrated in a realm of existing characters. Characters are well-rounded human beings who also have a sex life – not off stage but right in the middle of it. Most fanfic writers are women, and I think it derives from the male gaze that dominates visual pornography.' In fan fiction communities, and on sites such as Tumblr, all types of sexuality are represented – as well as the absence of a sex drive entirely."

Do women have distinct experiences in fandom? If you think so, write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.



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