Tags (Wuzzles) explained
Published: 2009-11-17 14:31:24 -0500
Dear AO3 users and interested parties,
Zvi, in a moment of inspiration has written up a fabulous explanation of how
Tags Wuzzles work and has generously offered to let us post it.
Tags Wuzzles explained
Tags are mysterious deep voodoo a mix of freeform (everyone picks their own) and controlled vocabulary (everyone picks from a list of pre-existing tags). They are not being handled like any tags anywhere else in computing that I am aware of. So, just, forget what you know from del.icio.us or blogging or the library card catalogue. Start with a blank slate.
In fact, instead of calling them tags, we shall call them wuzzles. Just to make it clearer that wuzzles are different from all other tags.
Okay, first of all, you should know that all of the fields in the Story Tags Wuzzles box are wuzzles (Story Wuzzle box illustration), not just the field labeled Tags Wuzzles. So fandom names are wuzzles and character names are wuzzles and warnings are wuzzles and angst (if you put it in the Tags Wuzzles field) is a wuzzle.
You can write anything you feel like down as a wuzzle. You could write
dirty socks or
a boy named sue or
antidisestablishmentarianism. You could write
wuzzle as a wuzzle.
However, behind the scenes, there are Tag Wuzzle Wranglers, who are automagically in a labor intensive, thoughtful, solomonesque process, trying to bring the wuzzles together, so that even though I write Star Trek: AOS as a fandom wuzzle, and you write Star Trek XI as a fandom wuzzle, and StarFleetAdmiral writes Star Trek Reboot as a fandom wuzzle, when ExampleTheFan clicks on the fandom wuzzle Star Trek (2009), they get shown all three of our stories.
This is (a) pretty doable for TV shows and characters (Wranglers check Wikipedia and official sources to find out the official name) and (b) highest priority for fandoms and characters, because those wuzzles are the ones that everyone uses. There are elaborate rules describing how they pick one wuzzle [Star Trek (2009)] as the canonical wuzzle (canonical here refers to the archive software and what shows up on filters and in certain URLs) and make the other wuzzles (Star Trek XI, etc.) synonym wuzzles.
But why are some of the wuzzles not in the filters or the tag wuzzle cloud? Well, the Tag Wuzzle wuzzles are a slightly lower priority for wrangling in the first place. Also, it's harder for the Wranglers to decipher exactly what you meant by a weird wuzzle like
a boy named sue. Also, also, even when it's clear what something means (like cunnilingus, which is pretty unambiguous) it's not always clear what other wuzzles it should go with (should rimming, cunnilingus, and fellatio all get wrangled together as oral sex? or should they be separate?) So if nobody has yet wrangled a wuzzle (which, in addition to figuring out if it is like these other wuzzles, also includes important responsibilities like making sure the correct spelling is the official wuzzle, and making sure that even if the fandom and a character have the same name e.g. Buffy/Buffy, they are separated in the database), then you get the unwrangled wuzzle message:
This tag belongs to the Tag Category.
This tag has not been marked common and can't be filtered on (yet).
Basically, the wuzzles are not automated and depend on human volunteers to do what needs doing, and the volunteers can't do everything at once, in the first part, and have to make actual decisions in the second part.
Also, also, also, they realised that they needed to make a way for a wuzzle to be a subset of another wuzzle, like Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC need to be sub-wuzzles of Popslash, so that if you click on the Popslash wuzzle you get both of those, but if you click on *NSYNC, you don't get Backstreet but the code for this was tricksy, so that’s not built yet.
And there is yet a third sort of wuzzle that they need, the ambiguous wuzzle. This is so that if someone labels their story bandslash, the archive can stay completely agnostic as to whether this means six degrees of Pete Wentz or any professional musicians at all. Code for that has not been written either.
Which still leaves the more normally ambiguous wuzzles, to wit: is
badassery the equivalent of
kicksass, and other existential wuzzle wrangling musings.
If you think your wuzzle has been wrangled the wrong way, send a support request! The Wranglers are doing their best, but your story may be the first time they have ever heard of your fandom, or the first time they've ever read the word you're using as a wuzzle, or they may just have thought about what you wrote differently than how you meant it. Once upon a time, safer sex and unsafe sex were wrangled together, because they were both about sex. I pointed out that they mean the opposite of each other, and now they are separate (but, sadly, unwrangled) wuzzles. Don't forget, if you're not sure what wuzzles to use, you can add them later or change them to something else once you figure it out.