AO3 News

Title - Tag Wrangling: It’s Your Right To Tag However You Like (You Can Even Be Your Own Spotlight)

At the recent April Showers Import Party, the topic of tagging came up. Unsurprisingly — there were fanworks finding homes on the Archive of Our Own, after all. And one of the most amazing things about the AO3 is definitely its tagging system.

What makes this particular tagging system so amazing? It's specifically designed so that users can use any tag, in exactly the form they want it on their works, while keeping those works as organized as they would be in a strictly classification-based archive. Perhaps even better organized, since AO3 tagging not only allows users to search for works using tags based on traditional classifications like fandom, character and relationship, but also tens of thousands of canonical "additional tags" that go far beyond the limits of genre. And the more you tag, the better it works overall (more on why that's so later).

So, you may be asking, what’s a canonical additional tag? And how does a tag come to be one?

First, a bit of tagging history is in order. The indexing of information using keywords isn’t a new practice, of course. When launched in 2003, the new part of their model wasn’t the link collections or the keywords themselves — those had been around on the Internet pretty much since the start. Their innovation was to give users the power to attach keywords to those link collections. Nearly ten years on, the AO3 has made a great start at putting that sort of descriptive tagging power in the hands of fan creators when it comes to archiving their fanworks.

A great deal of that power comes from additional tags (originally called freeform tags). They're tags that don’t fall into the standard fandom/character/relationship groupings, and include kinks, tropes, genres, story elements, word counts, recording lengths, video formats, fan art media, POVs, episode tags, additional warnings, and whatever else users can think of! And all those additional tags gain their useful descriptive power when they're made canonical, appearing in the search filters and the auto-complete box as the most useful, general forms of particular tags, with many other synonymous tags linked to them. Tag wranglers — fans who have volunteered to curate the tags belonging to particular fandoms — do the linking, so for a tag to have been made canonical means that a wrangler has either recognized it as complying with tag wrangling guidelines or created it in compliance with those guidelines specifically so they can attach another tag to it.

What that means is that when an additional tag appears in the archive, a tag wrangler assesses whether people searching for works would like to be able to search for works tagged with it. Often the answer is yes, but sometimes it's no — and that's fine! That doesn't mean that you shouldn't tag your works using whatever tags you like; those tags will still bring up works, after all, even if they aren't canonical! A tag wrangler making your tag canonical just means that they judged it a useful addition to the filters — and one that other people might want to have the option of tagging works with, as well.

So if you can tag with whatever you want, how do you effectively use additional tags to shine a spotlight on your work?

This is where we return to the question of how more tagging makes the system work better. You see, additional tags make it possible to bring up works tagged everything from Accidental Marriage to Zombies — and everything else in between. So, using tags which highlight tropes or kinks (among other things), means that people interested in these topics can more easily find your works containing them. And this isn't just limited to fanfic — there are additional tags which describe aspects of other types of fanworks that people might be looking for, as well — whether it’s a crochet pattern, a short podfic, or an example of digital fan art.

What it comes down to is this: your were-creature accidental marriage fic/podfic/painting/quilt with zombies and a female BAMF character of color lead might be exactly the work Fan X was looking for. And they might never know it exists, if you don't tell the world exactly what awesome stuff it contains. There're a lot of awesome fanworks featuring a lot of awesome stuff on the AO3 just waiting for people to spotlight those awesome qualities, so go forth and tell people that your fic is epistolary or your comic features a mythical being or creature or that your podfic is a cast recording.

While many of us love the diversity that additional tags bring, if you don't like seeing additional tags on works, you can always choose to ignore them, or even hide them completely using a custom skin and the Blurblings Hide freeform tags skin.

If you'd like to know more about tagging on the AO3, or about what tag wranglers do, the Tag Wrangling Committee is having an open house on Sunday, April 22, from 19:00 to 21:00 UTC (see when this is in your timezone) in OTW's public chatroom on Campfire. The chatroom can be accessed at: Feel free to drop by at any time during the session to ask questions or just to hang out.

The AO3 and its tagging system are funded by fans, for fans. To help keep it growing, please donate today.


Release notes for release 0.8.13

Published: 2012-04-21 13:13:14 -0400

Welcome to Release 0.8.13. Elz, Enigel, Firewolf, mumble and Sarken contributed code to this release, which was tested by our awesome testing team: Enigel, Jenn, Kylie, Sarken, mumble, Xparrot, and Zebra.

This early release is brought to you courtesy of a bug which was introduced in the last release. Trying to post a draft without previewing would only save changes to the draft, not publish the work. Unfortunately, it interacted with other draft-related bugs and resulted in complications for several users. We're choosing to deploy fixes for these bugs early, and move other changes planned for April to the May release instead.


More informative page titles!

Did you ever bookmark a fandom or pairing tag only to have it show up in your Delicious or Pinboard account as "works index" without any information whatsoever? Do you navigate to a page and view the title only to see something like "Archive of Our Own » users show" and feel bemused? Bemusify no more, page titles have been added that are more meaningful! Most pages now display more granular information which will hopefully make for less bewildering bookmarks and easier browsing; some work remains to be done though. Please bear with us while we make sure that all pages have helpful titles and do feel free to point out anything that seems off to you.

Series subscriptions!

In response to popular demand and following subscribe to user and subscribe to work in progress, we have added subscribe to series so you can keep up with those lovely, long series. You can find the Subscribe button at the top of all series pages. The current release will not trigger an email notification if an already-posted work is added to a series, however. This will be fixed in the next code push.

Note to authors: Your series will show up as a work in progress until you edit the series information and tick the "This series is complete" box at the bottom.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details


  • Page titles have been updated to show more meaningful information!
  • You can now subscribe to a series as well as users and works! \o/
  • Tag wranglers can now mark and manage tags as unwrangleable!

Bug fixes

  • Works
    • The character limit for chapters was interacting in unfortunate ways with the paragraph tags added by the parser, resulting in invalid works (that couldn't be bookmarked, for instance); this has been fixed by adding a buffer for HTML tags to the allowed chapter length
    • Trying to post a draft without preview wouldn't actually post the work, resulting in a work that only looked published; this has been fixed
    • The saved draft of a work would appear exactly like a published work to the author, potentially causing some confusion; a small notice banner at the the top now informs you that the work hasn't been posted yet
    • When commenting in view-full-work mode on a work with unposted chapters, the comment would get "attached" to the last chapter, even if it was still a draft; this has been fixed
    • On a pseud's work index, it would say "# Works found by USER", even though it was only a subset of works by that user; it now says "# Works found by PSEUD (USER)"
  • Series
    • The option to add a co-author to a series was broken, making it impossible to have a shared series with another user; this has been fixed now
    • Trying to edit a series and going over the character limit in the Description or Note field would result in an error 500, this has been fixed
    • Before deleting series information from a work, the confirmation message would only say, "Are you sure?" which wasn't very clear; it will now clarify that the series will be deleted from all works (not just removed from this one)
    • When adding a new series to a work and using "Post without preview", the series would become visible to logged-in users only with no way for the author to lift that restriction; this bug has been fixed and only series consisting entirely of restricted works will themselves be restricted
  • Frontend
    • Some pages, such as the Donation page and the FAQs were hard to scan; whitespace and formatting have been adjusted for easier processing
    • There were instances of text-transform and font-variant in our stylesheets that were deemed problematic from a translation perspective; these have been removed and all user content and site elements should now show up as intended
    • Some sections on several Archive pages didn't adhere to our standards for CSS classes, making them difficult to style in skins; those have been tidied up
    • The draft notice text on chapter drafts was obscured by a wonky line; this has been fixed
    • The explanatory text for the "Canonical" field on tag wrangling pages was missing a paragraph tag; it has been added now
    • The homepage was missing some landmarks (important for screenreader access); they have now been added
    • The stylesheet had an invalid cursor value for links; this has been fixed
    • The stylesheet links in the site header did not meet XHTML Strict standards as the tags weren't closed; they are now
    • Editing a comment and going over the character limit, the text field would shrink when clicking Update, making it difficult to edit the comment down to the proper length; this has been fixed
    • In the filter box on work pages, the arrow and filter names now trigger the pointer cursor, making it more obvious that they can be clicked to expand
    • The "hidden by admin" icon would not show up in the respective bookmark blurbs and help text box; this has been fixed
  • Misc.
    • Previously it was only possible to add alt text and comments to a user icon; the same can now be done for a Collection icon
    • The edit/wrangle/works links on tag wrangle pages were set to open in a new window or tab; this has been changed so they open in the same window now
    • The text in password reset/generated password emails was missing a word; it has been added now
    • There was a small HTML error in gift notification emails; this has been tidied up
    • When creating an account and repeating the chosen password wrong, the resulting error message would be wonky in several ways; this has been fixed now
    • The deviantART importer (using expanded fav links, e.g. URLs in the form of /art/TITLE-12345) has been fixed to work with recent HTML changes on dA's end


Let's ticky! OTW Community Survey

Published: 2012-04-20 05:17:08 -0400

"What language(s) do you use in fannish or fandom contexts?" "Have you ever used the Fanlore Wiki?" "How did you first hear about the OTW?"

These are questions from the OTW Community Survey, a massive ticky extravaganza designed for one purpose: to find out how we can serve you better. It includes questions on AO3 and the other projects of our parent organization, the Organization for Transformative Works.

The members of Internationalization & Outreach have spent most of the last year gathering ideas for questions from the OTW's many committees. Our goal was to design the kind of survey we ourselves wouldn't mind taking: mindful of fans' need for privacy, conscious of the international nature of fandom, defined in scope, and free from frustrating limits on answer options.

We want you to tell us what you think about our projects and the organization in general, where you think we're succeeding or failing. And we also want to learn more about who you are. We're excited to finally open the doors and invite you in. Please bring your friends and help us make the survey a success by spreading the word in your communities!

The OTW Community Survey runs through May 2nd and is hosted on a secure connection at Surveymonkey:

OTW Community Survey, April 18-May 2, 2012, survey URL

OTW Community Survey

And if you're as curious as we are about the results: we will be publishing them in aggregate sometime after the survey closes on May 2nd. If you have any concerns or questions in the meanwhile, please contact the Internationalization and Outreach Committee!


Email changes and USER STATS!

Published: 2012-04-19 17:07:24 -0400

In brief: YEAY USER STATS PAGES! Stats on downloads and subscriptions! Also, some email changes. Read on for details!

The Archive is thriving! We recently passed 300,000 works, with roughly 575 new works posted each day, and we have more than 40,000 registered users (and a lot more people reading on the site who don't have accounts yet). All those people are showing their love for the amazing fanworks on the AO3: we have more than 71,000 user subscriptions and over 10,000 subscriptions to individual works, and on average, our users leave more than 11,238 kudos per day, and 2,175 comments per day.

Changes to the way we deliver email

All of this love involves sending out a ton of emails from the Archive: right now, an email is sent every time someone leaves kudos or a comment, and every time a user who is being subscribed to posts a new work or a new chapter. We also send out emails for invitations, account verification, challenge reveals, and a few other things. In fact, in total, we now send out about 600,000 emails a month! This causes us a few logistical problems: the high volume of emails is a lot for us to cope with, and it also means that our emails are more likely to be flagged as spam. Additionally, our current method of handling emails means that it's possible for the entire queue to be backed up if for some reason we have a higher volume than average, such as when a big challenge is revealed or if a user with a lot of subscribers decides to upload their entire back catalogue in one afternoon.

Our Systems Committee have been working on better ways of handling our email and solving the above problems for a while, and they've concluded that the best way is to hand it over to the professionals, in this case Amazon Simple Email Service. This will mean we're able to take advantage of lots of specialised stuff designed to make sure our emails get where they're supposed to in a timely fashion. However, it also means that we'll have to pay for sending email: US$0.10 per 1000 emails. This means it's important for us to reduce the amount of emails we're sending; this is also important from a spam point-of-view, as sending multiple emails within a short space of time is one thing that can result in ISPs thinking you're spammers.

Batch delivery for kudos and subscriptions

Right now, the majority of the emails we send out are either kudos notifications or subscriptions notifications. Happily, both of these lend themselves to batching up so we can send one 'digest' email instead of lots of individual ones. We're still working out the precise technical details for this, but right now we're expecting to make the following changes:

  • Kudos notifications will be sent out once per day, and will be organised by work, so you'll get something like "Fangirl1, Fanboy3 and 3 Guests left kudos on 'My Happy Story'". This means you'll still be able to see how many individual kudos you got, but your popularity won't overwhelm the email servers!
  • Subscription notifications will be sent out once per hour, and will list everything posted since the last notification. This means you'll still get notifications in a timely manner, but if an author goes on an archiving spree or uploads their latest multichapter masterpiece, you won't be spammed with loads of emails.

We're hoping that these changes will be good news for most of our users - we've had lots of support requests for grouping notifications like this into fewer emails. However, we know that they will make some people sad, as lots of people like to see the kudos notifications rolling in and to count them up. To make sure you can still get information about how many kudos you get (and much, much more) we're launching another much-requested feature: user stats pages!

New user stats page!

We're launching user stats as an 'alpha' feature, so we can get the basic functionality out there and then make changes based on user feedback. We wanted to give you all a sneak peek of what's planned so you can ask any questions before it goes live. So, without further ado:

User stats page: alpha preview

Screenshot of page headed 'Statistics', with a summary of total subscribers, hits, comments, kudos, and bookmarks to the user's works. A bar graph shows the top five works by hits, and below that is a list of all works with stats for each one.

The alpha version of the user statistics page will show you the total number of subscribers, hits, comments, kudos, and bookmarks to your works. It will also include a nifty little graph showing the top five works by hits, kudos, comments or bookmarks. The graph will be created using Google's chartmaking package, which enables us to create a shiny interactive chart (it turns to a static image if you've disabled scripts). Google doesn't get any of your personal data - only titles of works and the number of hits/comments/kudos/bookmarks. The chart is generated when you load the page on the AO3, so the data is only passed to Google then, and it is only kept on their servers for three weeks.

The statistics page will also include individual stats for all works, which you can group by fandom or view 'flat' so that the works are sorted by whatever you've selected in the list options at the top (Date posted, Number of kudos, etc) but not grouped further. (If you can think of a good name for this, then do let us know!) For each work, you'll be able to see the number of hits, kudos, comments and bookmarks. You'll also be able to see 'referrers' - that is, if someone finds your work through a link somewhere else, then you'll be able to see what link they came from. (This won't store any other information about the users - for example, you won't be able to see who got there via that link.) And, in a future version of the page, you'll be able to see how many times your work was downloaded. (People ask us for this a LOT!)

The new stats features will allow you to see how many subscribers you have, and how many subscribers each work has. It won't tell you who has subscribed to you - this information will remain private to the subscribers (so if you're sekritly subscribing to your arch-enemy's WIP because it's just too good to miss, your secret is safe with us!)

Help us design stats 2.0

We know that lots of users will be THRILLED with the new stats option and you will want to ask us for lots more features! This is an alpha feature and we're keen to hear your ideas - if you'd like to get involved in discussing the design, you can see the documentation on our public facing wiki otwcode at Github - anyone can join and edit there, you're very welcome to come on in and join the party. You should also feel free to leave your comments and suggestions here! We can't promise that all your requests will make it into the design, and the first version will probably be similar to the above, but we'll use them to help us develop the next version.

We're excited about the way we're growing and changing, and really pleased to be adding the much-requested stats page. Let us know your thoughts!


By Fans, For Fans: OTW April Membership Drive

Published: 2012-04-18 09:28:54 -0400

Fanworks come in many different forms — audible, visual, textual, tactile, and even edible — but they have something in common: they would not exist without the passion, creativity, and effort of the fans who produce them.

The AO3's parent Organization for Transformative Works is a fanwork, too — a nonprofit organization created by fans, for fans, which runs on generously donated time, money, and imagination. Through our projects, we preserve fanworks and fannish history, advocate for fans' legal rights, and strive to ensure that fannish voices are included in the growing public conversation about fandom.

During our membership drive from now through April 25, we'll be highlighting each of our projects and inviting you to lend a hand in this ongoing labor of love. If you create or enjoy fanworks; if you use Fanlore or the Archive of Our Own; if you read Transformative Works and Cultures; if you want to help rescue at-risk fanworks from destruction and defend fans' rights to create and share them; then please donate. Volunteer. Tell a friend.

Your donation is tax-deductible in the United States. If you have questions about donating, check out our membership FAQ or drop us a line.

Like all fanworks, the OTW depends on fans for its existence. Be a part of this ongoing creative endeavor — please donate today.

OTW: By Fans, For Fans. Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 18-25, 2012.
<div style="text-align:center"><a href=""><img src="" alt="OTW: By Fans, For Fans. Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 18-25, 2012." /></a></div>

Help us spread the word! Feel free to repost this graphic by copying the text below the image and pasting it into your journal or website.


Enter the Wrangulator: Tag Wrangling Open House 22nd April

Published: 2012-04-17 07:35:24 -0400

Tag clud representing a variety of tags used on the Archive of Our Own, together with a stylised version of the Archive logo designed to look like a confused face, scratching its head.

Have you ever wondered about what it is tag wranglers do? Are you thinking about volunteering as a wrangler? Do you have a question about tags on the Archive of Our Own? Is your fandom in need of some temporary assistance? The Tag Wrangling Committee is hosting their second open house! This is a drop-in session where you can ask us what's on your mind, or just have a chat about tags.

All are welcome! The chat will be held on Sunday, 22nd of April, 2012, from 19:00 to 21:00 UTC (see when this is in your timezone) in OTW's public chatroom on Campfire. The chatroom can be accessed at: (Please note: This url has changed since this post was originally posted! Apologies for any confusion.) Feel free to drop by at any time during the session to ask questions or just to hang out.

Additional Tag Wrangling Open Houses are planned for July and October. If you can't make this one, never fear - we'll be holding future sessions at different times to make it easier for people in different timezones to attend.

The Tag Wrangling Committee and their team of volunteer “Tag Wranglers” maintain and administer the tags on the Archive of Our Own, curating the folksonomy system that links related tags together for better filtering and searching, while allowing users to tag their works however they prefer.


Dancing in the Rain: April Showers parties!

Published: 2012-04-12 10:17:32 -0400

It's party time! This April, we've been catching up on some fannish history with our April Showers promotion! For the month of April, we're highlighting fandoms past and present which are underrepresented on the Archive of Our Own and Fanlore - preserve your fannish history by uploading your old fanworks to the AO3 and documenting key fannish tropes and events on Fanlore.

We'd like to celebrate some more. So, it's party time!

AO3 importing party!

Saturday 14 April, 17:00 UTC to Saturday 15 April, 2:00 UTC (see the time in your timezone)

Got any works on other sites that you've been meaning to import or copy over to the AO3? Have questions about how to format or tag any of your works? Feel like cheering other people on as they do some posting? Join the AO3 staff in the OTW Public Discussion chatroom (click the link to access) to ask questions about posting, reminisce about old fandoms, and celebrate as more works are added to the AO3. We'll have a few invitations to share with people who don't yet have AO3 accounts, and we welcome everyone!

Fanlore editing party!

Saturday 14 April, 20:00 UTC (see the time in your timezone)

Keen to add your fannish memories to Fanlore but not sure where to start? Need your hand holding as you make your first wiki edits? Or keen to share your skillz as an experienced Fanlore editor? Join Fanlore staff in the Fanlore chatroom for an editing party! You'll be able to get help making your first forays into editing Fanlore, toss around ideas for new pages, and ask questions. Everyone welcome!

Get wet in the April showers!


April Showers of Fannish History!

Published: 2012-04-01 16:34:07 -0400

Here at the OTW, preserving fannish history is a central part of our mission! We're proud to be able to offer fans a place to host their works on the Archive of Our Own, and tell their own fannish histories on Fanlore. As of March 4, 2012, Fanlore has 18,481 articles which have undergone 351,020 edits by 6,151 registered users, while the Archive of Our Own recently passed 40,000 users, and more than 332,300 works have been posted on the AO3, across over 8,800 fandoms!

We're really pleased and proud to see so much fannish representation. However, we know that there are many, many wonderful fanworks out in the world which haven't found their way to the AO3 - for example Portal and the Alien movies have only 85 fanworks apiece on the AO3! There are even more fannish stories left untold on Fanlore - we'd love to see the fannish activity over The Hunger Games documented as it unfolds! Last year, we welcomed in lots more edits to Fanlore and works to the AO3 with our April Showers promotion. This year, we're hoping to do the same! This month, bring us fannish April showers by digging out those old zines, memories of past cons, archived personal webpages, tales of shipwars and fannish events, works on slowly-decaying archives, and more! Upload your old works to the AO3 and tell your tales on Fanlore.

We'll be highlighting a different fandom for each day of the month on our Twitter @ao3org, to help jog your memories about fannish loves of the past. When uploading to the AO3, you can tag your uploaded works April Showers 2012 - at the end of the month we'll round up all the works with this tag and post stats on how many were uploaded for each fandom. However, don't feel you have to stick to these fandoms - we hope people will reach into their personal fannish histories to preserve what's important to them!

To help you out, we'll also be hosting an importing party on the AO3. From Saturday 14th April, 17.00 UTC to Sunday 15th April, 02.00 UTC (see the time in your timezone), we invite you to join us in a live chat where our staff will answer questions about creating accounts, uploading, tags and more, provide a few invitations for those who need them, and celebrate as new works are uploaded! Stay tuned for more details on this nearer to the time. You should also keep your eyes peeled for news on Fanlore editing parties, where Fanlore staff will walk you through the process of creating and editing pages - no contribution too small!

We kick off today by celebrating adventures on the high seas with the Pirates of the Caribbean! Ghost pirates, rise again – sail your works into safe harbor at the AO3, and tell your seadog tales at Fanlore!


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