facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2009-04-19 12:17 pm
Entry tags:

[sticky entry] Sticky: Circle Policy

This journal is closed.

All comments are currently screened.

If you really need to try to contact me, try my email on my profile. I make no promises to check that account in a timely manner, however.


Blanket Permissions

It's a big, all encompassing blanket. My stories are not mine, they are yours. They are yours to be read how you will where you will, in whatever way suits you. Please utilize the AO3 ebook download to make copies for your own use or for non-commercial distribution. You may reformat ebook versions, remix, record as podfic or translate any story without needing prior consent form me. Hell, print it out, chop it up and make a collage if that isn't too seventies. I consider all these uses transformative works. I ask that these stories not be reposted in full, and that any transformative use you make of them credit and link to the original work.

What's Here

You may freely link to any post here, or anywhere else I put my name to. A lot of older posts are now private and will likely remain that way.

See [archiveofourown.org profile] facetofcathy for my fic with the AO3 standard warnings.

See [community profile] facetsoftext for my reviews of fic.

See [community profile] pixel_bound for all my fic in a Dreamwidth format with fewer warnings on stories.
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2014-02-08 07:00 pm

I almost made a Fanlore page for this...

but I couldn't bring myself to see if I even knew my password there.

(and hello to anyone still tuned to this frequency, I know it's been a while)


Organization for Transformative Works Strategic Planning Committee Report on the Wiki Committee and Fanlore team(direct link to the PDF)

is a dreadful document. And maybe one of the saddest things I've ever read in Fandom. Sad for me, anyway, because I used to care about Fanlore.

This document is a map of disillusionment and dysfunction. It's a horror story about wasted dreams and lost hope and futility.

And it isn't even exciting or disquieting like a horror story should be. It's banal. Death is slow and bureaucratic in this story. You get crushed by indifference, and no one gets a blaze of glory.

It also has a really long title. Why not just change it to


Here's an excerpt that sets the tone nicely.

At the time of our surveys, the Wiki Committee had very few active staff members, leading to a low number of respondents for the staff survey. When we followed up this term with the current Wiki Committee chair, the situation had not changed, with only two "generalist" staff members (including the chair), two "technical experts" and one "consultant"; the chair described the committee as effectively only consisting of two people.

~emphasis mine

That number 2 comes up again. (And since the bloody report is a bloody PDF I'll not try to copy anything else.)

2 is the lonely number of current to the survey period, non-chair, committee members who answered the survey.


Out of 20 former committee members invited to take the survey, 4 people took part.


2 is also the number of current or recent chairs who participated via email interview.

Eight people. Out of 7 years of committee members.

You wanna know how many editors and gardeners (editors with limited admin privileges) filled out the version of the survey they were offered?




That's why there even is a Fanlore. Those 42 people who, with the rest of 7 years worth of volunteers have made 27,745 content pages.

So, they're the redemption storyline here, right? The brave and stout of heart who edit on, undaunted by the vastness of the organizational not giving a shit they are surrounded by.

Have all of us who made Fanlore proved that you don't need an infrastructure? That crowd sourced chaos works? Is this the secret moral of the story?

Yeah, I don't thinks so. I'm sure you're all sufficiently imaginative to think up a scenario or two where disaster could strike Fanlore and there'd be no one willing or able to do anything about it. Or, you know, notice.

Is it hopeless?

Damned if I know.

The only thing I know is that those 42 editors and all who came before deserve a hell of a lot more than having this report land silently on the OTW website on a Saturday.

They deserve to have the board step up to the plate and--you know what, I can't even listen to myself say that shit anymore.

Go read the report. It's full of long lists of goals and suggestions and ideas on how all this can be fixed. See if you can spot what isn't on those lists. (SPOILER: it's who and how)

Just for fun try appending the phrase, "with 2 active committee members and no documentation" to each one. It makes the narrative come alive.


Drowning, not swimming. Because no1curr.
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2013-02-08 08:55 pm

How to automate the collection of fandom links using IFTTT

IFTTT (If This Then This) is a service that lets you make recipes to do automated tasks on the internet.

One thing you can do with it is to have it notice new entries on an RSS feed and then make a bookmark on a service like Pinboard or Delicious that links to that feed item.

I used this trick to make the collection of bookmarks for the White Collar newsletter less of an onerous task. When we lost one of our volunteers and couldn't replace her, this automation was the only thing that kept the construction of the newsletter possible in any sort of reasonable amount of time.

You can use this on any RSS feed, an LJ or DW comm, the AO3 feeds, Pinboard tag feeds, ff.net feeds -- whatever you like.

Here's a brief overview of how to do it.

Make your IFTTT account first and have your bookmarking service account info handy too.

Now set up your bookmarking account on IFTTT by activating a channel for it. Hit the Channels link up top and find the icon for your service. Click it and follow the instructions to activate it, so IFTTT knows who you are on that service.

Next make your recipe. You'll need the URL of the feed you want to draw from, so get that opened up in another tab.

Start with the Create link on IFTTT and follow the steps. You can take everything on a feed, or just the items that match a keyword. You can have them make private or public bookmarks too. Make the choices that work for you, but don't worry, you can edit this later.

Once you've said what goes where (the This and the That), you can configure the bookmark a bit. There are preset ingredients available for the various fields on the bookmark, so you can use those to make custom tags and to decide how much of the feed entry you want in the description field of your bookmark.

What I did for the newsletter was to put a tag called "needstags" on each bookmark and I set them up to be private. That way, I could go through them quickly and fix up any formatting issues and add the specific pairing tags we used to assemble the newsletter (I never could figure out how to automate that part) before making them public.

I also used the "Entry Author" ingredient to tag each bookmark. This gave me the user name of the person who made the entry as a tag, which worked so-so for AO3, since the user names there are often lists of pseuds with spaces in between.

For the description field, I put the "Entry Content" in since that fit with the format of the newsletter. Note: for LJ or DW comm feeds, this gives you the whole entry before the cut, so using this for anything other than straight links from those sites is difficult.

Fanfiction.net bookmarks came out perfectly formatted, AO3 bookmarks needed some fixing. ff.net uses a standard form of header on their feeds familiar to most fans, and they use good markup.

AO3 uses a unique format that includes the author name in the body of the feed as well as the title, puts the Summary first with no label, and they markup with a UL item that ends up putting extra blank lines in between the various tags.

If all you want is the links with no description, none of that matters.

This trick works for assembling a bunch of links for a newsletter, but it would also work if you want to collect a bookmark for all the fics on a certain pairing tag on the AO3 to look at later, or to collect only the fics that contain the word Kink in a certain fandom, or only the fics in fandom X that have character Y in the header somewhere.

Hope this might be useful to someone out there. If not, check out IFTTT anyway, you might find a recipe already exists to do just what you need.
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2012-10-15 08:25 pm

I just made this post public.

That post I made after the AO3 skins accessibility fail about colour contrast.

(Yes, I read FFA sometimes, and yes the problem with that banner is the contrast. And the whole providing information via an image is Always. Bad. Design.)

And if you're in the market for a cutting edge contrast tool that lets you test semi-transparent colours, try out this one: Contrast Ratio

So, yeah, that banner on the AO3.

I'm not even going to bother testing it, the colour and brightness contrast would fail any usability test. The text shadow makes it worse. And that's before even discussing the fact that it's an image conveying information.

These sorts of graphical banners, they are part of our fannish culture. They date back long before LJ and DW made it easy to slap up a graphic as a background image on the top of a community page. They are our art, our design, our decor, our architecture, our history and again, or culture.

But they aren't good web design if they contain text or obscure other text.

I'm sorry person who made this AO3 donation banner and the person who made that Beta banner in the footer and every collection owner ever who put text in their collection graphics, and the person who put those graphics on top of the footer links. I'm sorry, but I'm once again shitting all over your creations.

Appropriate ways to put text information on a webpage:

1. as text

2. see 1.


Because only text can be controlled by the user. And many users NEED to control the text on a site. And hey, some just want to, I think they matter too.

But, but, it's art, you say. Delightful, make lots of art, make it in any colour you want however you want, but users deserve to control the text. Deserve. Are entitled to. And if you think your art matters more, than you have chosen to value only some users. Choice. Not an accident.

But, but, Alt text!!!

Yup, and if the world was populated only by fully normative sighted users on broadband connections and screen reader users, that would be fab. But we come in all sorts, and there's myriad reasons to turn off images (Opera does it really easily, if you need that feature).

See above about control of text--you can't control alt text in most browsers very well and it doesn't wrap correctly. That's why if you turn off images on the AO3 you get the gigantic H1 font on the world's longest alt text on the logo in a fully unreadable way for a visual user (which covers up the alt text on the banner for me). That logo alt text should say, "AO3 Logo" by the way, not describe the shape of it.

So these banners are fine if the text is repeated elsewhere (in which case don't repeat it again in the Alt text), but not okay as the sole source of information. And it's one thing to do bad usability on an LJ comm, but the AO3 is supposed to be an order of magnitude more serious than an LJ comm.

And it's getting really tiresome that the AO3s accessibility policy is, "do it however you like and wait for someone to tell us it's wrong." Because my experience tells me that a lot of volunteers at the AO3 don't roll like that at all.

And sorry, this might be a shitty thing to do, but comments are screened. I find fandom something I can only bear to skim the surface of these days.
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2012-08-05 12:32 pm

ReCaptcha, so hard only the bots can solve it

Is fast becoming a common phrase in web-circles. Just recently there have been multiple posts on the Google forums about how really not usable is ReCaptcha. A quick Google showed me multiple forum sites that immediately had multiple complaints from users when they implemented ReCaptcha as the simple way to eliminate spam. It's also becoming common that the spammers aren't stopped.

CAPTCHA-less Security By karlgroves
covers the broad-based approach to designing a secure site without CAPTCHA of any kind.

There's no plug-in quick fix here, it's an approach of design, coding and maintenance.

Two key features for dealing with account creation by spammers:

The Honey Pot

A spam honeypot is a field intended to trap spammers by detecting submissions of attempted spam or fraudulent registrations. One of the ways spammers try to exploit a site is the automatic submission of forms.


To implement a honeypot, create a hidden text field:

<label for="honeypot">Enter something here if you're a spammer</label><input type="text" id="honeypot" name="honeypot">

Then, use CSS to position the item offscreen. Using this method, you now have an accessible means of tripping up bots.

The key to this trick is that a human using a screen reader will be able to access the honey pot field, but they will know not to fill it in. Some honeypot suggestions seem to imagine that no one using a screenreader, or something else that turns off the CSS, will ever want to use your site.

The other, to my mind, much more important method of security is email confirmation.
Registration requires confirmation

For any of my sites that require membership to certain areas, users must register with a working email address to which I send a confirmation email. Users must click that link – which takes them back to the site – in order to confirm their registration and be granted access to the site. This tactic is pretty common on the web and the reason this works is two-fold: first, it stops bots dead because they often enter nonsensical email addresses which go nowhere and second, even in cases where the fraudulent submissions are run by humans who use a good email address, they aren’t going to waste their time clicking confirmation links. One of my sites has been up for 3 years and not once has a spammer confirmed their registration.
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2012-07-26 10:31 pm

Selling Accessibility

Selling Accessibility by Karl Groves is a series of posts about what it says on the tin in the context of web accessibility/design.

Mr. Groves is a name in that field and he researched this series with some interviews with some of the other big names in web design and what is often styled as a11y work.

If you're used to seeing this issue only from an activist point of view, you might not like what he has to say. I think it's an important read though.

I'm reccing it for people involved in any kind of activist work with employers or large institutions who are trying to change the system from within.

In fact, I suggest starting with his previous post, Let’s put down the pitchforks and get some perspective which might come off to a lot of people like a tone argument. I don't think it is. I think it's pragmatic.
One that stuck with me was that of John Foliot who said that when approaching others who are outside of accessibility, take the approach of being a fireman, instead of that of a policeman. By saying that, what he means is that firemen actually spend a very small amount of their time fighting fires. Most of what they do is in preventing fires. The police, on the other hand, are spending their days investigating crimes and keeping a watchful eye out for crimes occurring. The mere presence of a police officer can often stress people out. Think about the last time you were driving down the road and saw a cop on the side of the road. The immediate – almost universal – reaction is to jam on the brakes (or at least check the speedometer), irrespective of how fast you’re actually traveling. This is not who we want to be. The last thing we want to be is seen as a policeman on the side of the road watching for people to slip up. This is not the way to gain the cooperation of others. This is not the way to gain further adoption of accessibility, as a concept, throughout the rest of your organization. In fact, the more you look like a roadblock, the more people will want to avoid you.

The subsequent parts will really put you off if you think capitalism is icky and gross and any kind of biz-speak makes you roll your eyes. I'm still reccing it though.

He starts off talking about how to get people to do what you want, and that's of value for anyone trying to get the big machine they're a cog in to grind down a few less people as it goes about its business. A lot of this sounds like the research material for Leverage or White Collar, and even if you've never done a lick of web design work, the context he's adding will make it meaningful.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

And I was reading this at an interesting time today. Because I was asking some police-type questions about this issue somewhere nearby. And I'm not sorry I did raise the red flag, and I also spent more effort on trying to suggest putting into place a good fire code so the cops won't be needed next time than I might have without these posts.

And I agree with what he's saying to a great degree, particularly as it applies to actual profit motivated businesses. But usability (a word that includes everyone, not just the people you think need accessibility aids) is so much easier, cheaper and faster to build in at the thinking stage. You just have to have access to the people who make the design decisions to get them to see that everyone matters.

bonus musical selection is on Vevo so mind the ads )
facetofcathy: Faceted prism shown refracting light into the visible spectrum (Spectrum)
2012-07-02 02:35 pm
Entry tags:

Not that anyone asked me, but...

I'm going to tell you all about how I search and browse for things.

Some time ago, I stumbled upon Browse vs. Search: Which Deserves to Go? by Bruce Tognazzini. It's a fascinating post that takes one hapless questioner's search for like minds to have a go at Apple designers for not putting all their eggs in the search basket and uses it as a case study in why you need both. I don't know anything about Lion or the iOS contacts app they're talking about, but the specific list of things being browsed or searched isn't the point.

The point is that people will not use your app or website the way you want them to, or the way you think is easiest. They'll do what works for them. And one of the problems designers have is that they think they're the template for all humanity, but they're actually kind of not very typical folks.

The [original Apple computer] was familiar-looking and approachable. Woz [Steve Wozniak], the engineering genius behind it, later developed the CL 9, the first programmable universal remote control. It featured the keys 0 through F, labelled with the standard Hexadecimal notation so familiar to everyone born with 16 fingers. It enabled you to capture and command 256 different codes spread across 16 invisible "pages." You just had to memorize the page and position of all 256 of those codes and you could control everything! Woz and about three other people were able to make excellent use of the resulting product. Engineering, even genius engineering (and Woz was and is second to none), must be balanced with equally talented design.

And in opposition to those gloriously analytical designers are the rest of us:Read more... )

I decided to make this public again because I just read a comment on fail fandom anon that makes my point.

Real people who don't know or care how your system is designed at the code level need to be able to find things in it. Right now they can't, and if search/browse is seen as a module to be plugged into the AO3 and not something fully integrated into the site itself--as in those useless lists of fandoms--then it never will get better. Up to now the AO3 has failed at creating an archive users can actually use to find things in.
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2012-06-17 11:55 am

First post up at facetsoftext

SPN J2 Big Bang Part I

Three fics out of the first two weeks, all RPF, are in this edition. Read the sticky at the top of [community profile] facetsoftext if you've never read reviews there.
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2012-01-19 11:40 am
Entry tags:

How to post code samples, big or small, in your Dreamwidth posts and comments

As long as I've been using journals or forums online, I've seen variations on the conversation that goes like this:

Isn't there an HTML code that lets you post, well, HTML code?

Oh, yeah, that's the pre tag isn't it? Pre stands for preformatted.

No, that just keeps the lines from wrapping, you're thinking of the code tag.

No, pre just keeps whitespace, and it's not code, it's something else...

What our imaginary friends want is a tag that automatically escapes HTML. And they aren't imagining things, there did used to be such a code, but it's obsolete now. Neither code nor pre are a magic fix. You have to do your escaping manually. Read about escaping, pre, code and textarea formatting. This post contains some examples of non-wrapping text that may not display well in all layouts. )
facetofcathy: A multicoloured fractal image. (My Icon on the AO3)
2011-11-14 09:58 am
Entry tags:

I'm more interested in the math than the emotion today. (Skip if you don't care about how the AO3 l

I decided to sit down and do some studying about web design. I want to skin the AO3 so I can use it with comfort, and no current skins offers that for me. Eventually, I'd like to offer some public skins as well. I'll post about this as I go, but for now, I want to focus on the site as it is today from a fact-based perspective.

The original default gave me a migraine. That's a rare thing for me to get triggered that way. I've since seen many other reports of the same effect, so I would personally appreciate it if the meme that the only thing wrong was one comma in the mobile skin and all other complaints were just about personal taste would vanish in a puff of grey smoke. My reaction was real, and so was that of other people.

I wanted to know why this happened, because I was guessing that the problem was contrast, or maybe the gradient shading on buttons and all the drop shadows, but I wasn't sure. The site default has since been changed to a white background and text that is black or near black in most cases, and I tried it, and it is a little better for me, but I would never be able to use it for long periods of time.

I conducted some tests on the current default skin... )

ETA: If you want to read my long feekback on this, I left a comment on the Intro to Skins post. Since then, with very, very little time spent online, I've sent in 3 support request. One about what happens when the html parser makes your comment too long, one on errors in the default and other skin coding that make keyboard navigation (accessibility!) impossible or difficult, and one on how the skin picker in the footer has no go back to my own skin function.

I did read about a couple of more posts saying how people just didn't like it, there's no accessibility issues. Um, yeah. Okay. Don't let reality get in the way of your stanning there, folks. And by all means, assume your experience is universal, that seems to have been the design principle number one.

ETA October 15, 2012: Since I just made this public and re-read, how about an update?

That bug about big comments I reported? I totally figured that out myself! Go me. Don't have a clue if the explanation I provided led to a fix, but hey, I figured it out. (I also figured out a couple of other bugs and provided fixes. Now, if only crowd sourcing was a little easier than shouting down the well to the little man who has to take dictation and then relay it to the elves actually building this thing.)

The bug about keyboard accessibility led to a whole host of fixes that were enthusiastically worked on by testers and coders. People want to do things right, if only you build them the framework to do it on.

None of the existing colour contrast issues I talk about in this post have been fixed. Subsequent additions to the archive (stats pages) brought back from the dead the grey background problems.
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2011-05-12 10:07 am

Using an Open ID account at Livejournal

What is Open ID?

Open ID is a way of telling a site you want to interact with this is me, over here on this other site, so now that you know who I am, you'll let me comment or log in, or do whatever that site might allow for Open ID users. A lot of sites you might have an account with act as source sites for an Open ID. Livejournal, Dreamwidth, InsaneJournal and services like Yahoo! and Google are just some of many that have this function built right into the account you may already have with those providers.

You are likely familiar with Open ID if you read or post at Dreamwidth a lot. You will see Open ID names attached to imported comments, to new comments, and you've likely seen links to tutorials on setting up an Open ID account to use on Dreamwidth.

What you don't see as much of, especially not in fannish locations, is Open ID used on Livejournal. You will see a growing number of people commenting with their Twitter or Facebook account names, and the farther you get from transformative works fandom and into professional authors' journals or other kinds of fandom activity, the more likely you are to see that.

read more about why you might want to use Open ID and how to set it up )
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2011-04-24 11:12 am

Livejournal is a Synecdoche

I decided to some 3 weeks for Dreamwidth blogging this year. I have a few post planned, but I'm also going to use the list swiped from [personal profile] finch, which I've copied here to use as a master post. Before I start that (likely tomorrow), I wanted to define a term that's bound to come up in those posts.

Livejournal. Here's what it means: Read more... )
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2010-10-31 10:24 am

Schröedinger's Authors

This is not a review of SPN 6.6.  This is me rambling about a J2 story and how it relates to this episode.  J2 story remains unnamed to protect the guilty and the innocent. 

So a few days ago I was reading a J2 AU fic. Read more... )
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2010-06-15 02:04 pm
Entry tags:

How could they? How could anyone?

That's the question going around about That J2 Haiti Fic®.  I'm taking a stab at answering it. 

A few points first.

1.  The following is my opinion, and I don't think any of this is revelatory or particularly hopeful. I think it needs to be said in plain language, and I'm not pulling any punches here.  I don't think the author's feelings warrant much consideration at this time.

2.  I haven't read all of the fic.  I'm not apologizing for that, nor do I think that fact negates my right to say what follows.  I read the opening scenes, skimmed sections, and I read half of the pull quotes collected by bossymarmalade here.  I cannot be directly hurt by this story.  I am in a position of privilege that allows me to read things this dreadful and not be harmed, and still I could not force myself to read all the pull quotes.  I do not believe that this story is merely a mistake, a poor choice, a bad idea or even a series of bad ideas.  It is offensive in concept and in execution. 

3.  I'm pretty much setting aside the author is dead idea for this post.  I'm not claiming to be able to see inside this particular author's mind, but I am stating bluntly what I believe are the prerequisites for the existence of this story. 

4.  I absolutely believe that the author did not know this story was offensive.  I absolutely believe that the author did not know they wrote racist depictions of Haitian people.  I absolutely believe the artist did not realize that using pictures of Haitian people was offensive.  I absolutely believe that the artist did not know that was a racist act.  I just don't think any of that matters.

How? How could anyone?

facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
2010-01-29 12:50 pm
Entry tags:

A profile of a Slash writer

Okay, I tried to keep my head down and stay out of this.  I made pie, I made recs, I made sarcastic remarks, I hung drywall and ignored the internet, and I posted a synthpop video. 

I'm done staying out, and I want to tell you a story of a slash writer:

Think before you click, are you really up for more of this, because I really get it if you're not. )