AO3 News

Release Notes for Release 0.9.3 Redux: The Bug-Fixing

Published: 2012-12-10 11:26:17 -0500

While we were happy to get out the last release in time for gift exchange season, there were a few bugs in the code that we didn't detect in our testing environment. This release fixes them.

Systems maintenance - new servers coming soon!

The AO3 and its sister projects keep on growing! Happily, this growth is supported by the generosity of our users - the OTW's last membership drive raised more than US$18,000! Thanks to your support, we're able to expand our server setup further: we'll shortly be adding three more servers to our server family. These will give us more power to run the AO3 and add more space for our databases, while freeing up one of our older AO3 servers for Fanlore (which is also growing, but doesn't need quite as much muscle as the AO3).

Bumps in the road

Our Systems team are currently getting everything set up and ready for the new servers. This involves some maintenance on the existing servers, including some revisions to our deploy script - which is actually a sizable *collection* of scripts, weaving together several bits of backend magic that tell the servers new code has arrived and we need them to update some stuff. Unfortunately, there were some unforseen problems with these changes which caused the deploy script to fail when we tried to update the site last Thursday. Consequently, the code update had to be rolled back, and some caching had to be temporarily disabled. The dates on works suddenly displayed as "2 days ago" instead of "6 Dec 2012" and the servers seemed a bit unhappy for a while there.

After several hours of code prodding and server wrangling, a second deploy attempt later on Thursday was successfully completed. Many thanks to Elz, James_, and Naomi for their tireless work, and to Jenn and Lady Oscar especially for a whole lot of testing! However, the aforementioned bugs now reared their ugly heads, and an emergency deploy (now without any major hiccups!) happened late Friday night in the US, or very early morning for the unfortunate Systems monkey in the UK.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for a full list of current issues.

Release Details

Bug fixes

  • The search index for bookmarks was being updated everytime a bookmarked work got a hit or had some kudos added. This was both an incredible strain on the server and completely unnecessary, so now it's not happening anymore.
  • When a logged-out user left a reply comment, the notification email wasn't going out due to a slight code mishap. This was fixed almost immedately after the deploy, this deploy just makes the fix permanent.
  • Trying to reply to the aforementioned comments from the inbox wasn't working either; it does now.
  • A fix in the previous deploy was messing up paginated pages of works, and was also generating pages that weren't different for logged-in users and guests; this has now been fixed.
  • Individually revealing/de-anoning works in an unrevealed/anonymous collection wasn't working; it does now.
  • Works and bookmarks were appearing on a moderated collection's list of works or bookmarks even before being accepted by a moderator; this has been fixed.


Release Notes for Release 0.9.3

Published: 2012-12-07 06:24:21 -0500

Welcome to Release 0.9.3. Ariana, Elz, Enigel, look_closer, Naomi, Sarken, Scott and Tegan contributed code to this release, which was tested by our awesome testing team: Alison, Emilie, Hele, Jenn Calaelen, Lady Oscar, mumble, Naomi, Sarken, and Scott.

In this code release, we focused on squashing bugs in our collection and challenge code, and we're proud to close over 50 issues as "done!" in our bug tracker this soon after our big tag filter deploy. Unfortunately, we had to iron out some major bumps in the tag wrangling code as well, forcing us to disable wrangling while working on the fix. Wrangling is now back, with apologies to the wranglers for leaving them with the backlog!

Huge thanks to the testing team, to the wranglers for their patience, and to coder Scott for contributing a whopping 25 fixes to the grand total. As always, much more work needs to be done while we're still in beta, and we thank all our users for sticking with us during this journey.

As part of this deploy, we also made some changes to our server setup. We're still ironing out a few glitches which happened in relation to this, and we had a little more downtime than we expected. Big thanks to James_ for his hard work on this Systems maintenance, and thanks to our users for their patience.


Anonymously commenting on your own anonymous work

Just in time for several gift exchange deadlines, we've introduced a small enhancement that will allow you to respond to feedback once works have been posted, but before authors are officially revealed. This applies to any of your works in a collection (or challenge) that has been set to Anonymous by the collection owner: When you reply to a comment, your name in the thread and any outgoing comment notifications will be masked as "Anonymous Creator", and will be automatically switched to your username once authors are revealed. \o/

Fixes to the search and filter functionality

While it was previously possible to put something like "words: 100" into the main search box (finding only drabbles in any fandom), the recent filter deploy did not include that functionality. Yet! The search code has been adjusted and sorting options have been added to make the following possible:

words:1000, words=1000, words>1000, words<1000
- To find works with exactly 1000 words, more than 1000 words, or less than 1000 words. Replace "words" with "hits", "kudos", "comments", or "bookmarks" to search for those instead.

sort:kudos, sort=kudos, sort<kudos, sort>kudos
- To sort search results by the number of kudos a work has. The default order here is descending ( to reverse that order to ascending. You can replace "kudos" with "author", "title", "hits", "comments", "bookmarks", etc. to sort by those.

Furthermore, you don't have to enclose f/f in quote marks anymore when searching for femslash (or when searching for M/M or F/M works) - just add f/f to your other search terms, if any, and you're done.

Fixes and improvements to search results

When the wranglers make changes to tags or their relationships, our search engine needs to be told to reindex (that is, re-check) the works and bookmarks under those tags, so that search and browse results will continue to list the right works. This wasn't happening properly with all subtagged works in the previous deploy, so as a result we had to turn wrangling off until we could fix it. Works and bookmarks will now be properly reindexed in response to tag wrangling changes, so the wrangling can recommence!

In addition, sorting by hit count was going out of order because the search engine was not being told to reindex works when they got new hits, only when they got new kudos/comments/bookmarks. We can't reindex after every hit for performance reasons, but we will now reindex every ten minutes, which should keep the hit counts from going out of date.

Sometimes, when sorting lists of works, you may find that some works seem to be out of order. For example, you might sort by number of kudos and find that a work with 2 kudos shows up above one with 6. Fear not, your sort order is right! It's just that we cache some bits of the views, so sometimes you see an old count displayed on the work list. This is a bit confusing, but it does help site performance.

Known Issues

In order to address a bug which emerged during this deploy, we had to disable part of our caching which relates to the way dates are displayed in works lists. This means that where it used to show the exact date a work was posted, it currently just says a timeframe such as 'one day ago'. This is temporary - we already have a fix for the underlying problem and just need to test and deploy it. Please bear with us in the meantime!

See our Known Issues page for a full list of current issues.

Release Details


  • When replying to comments on your work while it's in an anonymous collection, your name will be masked as "Anonymous Creator", to be revealed once the work is revealed.
  • Collection owners will now be notified via email when a new work is added to their collection. This email is sent to the address entered on the 'Collection Settings' page (which needs to be present), making it possible to use a shared email address among challenge moderators, instead of just the owner's account address.
  • When users are 'Posting to Fulfill' on a Prompt Meme challenge, the prompt which is being filled is now automatically inserted into the 'Notes' section of the posting form. The section is automatically ticked and expanded so users can see the prompt and remove it if they wish.

Bug fixes

  • Collections
    • Users trying to add a work or bookmark to a moderated collection are now notified when posting that their work or bookmark will not show up until it has been approved by a collection maintainer.
    • Owners and moderators of collections now have the ability to post to the collection even if the collection is set to closed.
    • There was an issue with work data not being updated properly if the work was taken out of a collection, e.g. a work that had been removed from an anonymous collection would still remain anonymous; this has been fixed.
    • A collection's work count was including 'locked' works for non-Archive members as well, causing a discrepancy between the number count shown and the actual number of works listed. This has been fixed to only count publicly visible works when a site user is not logged in.
    • A collection's bookmark count was counting private, and thus invisible, bookmarks. The count has now been fixed to exclude these.
    • A user's work count was including works that were in a hidden challenge, causing a discrepancy between counted and actually shown works. Works are now only counted if they are revealed.
    • Remixes and translations of unrevealed works were showing the name of the inspiring (unrevealed) work instead of the inspired work, breaking the unrevealed status of the inspiring work; that logic has been reversed and work titles are now shown as expected.
    • Commas used in a collection's 'Display Title' were causing internal code errors. An error message is now generated when attempting to use a comma in this field.
    • Previously only collections which a user owned showed up on the user's 'My Collections' page. This page now includes collections which the user maintains (e.g. helps moderate) as well.
    • The placement of the "Update" and "Delete Collection" buttons (as well as a useless "Back" button) on a collection's settings page was confusing and inconsistent with the rest of the site; this has been rectified.
    • Work blurbs on the 'Collection Items' page were confusing. They have been reformatted to easily show the most important information about a particular work.
    • The "You can also individually Manage Items" text and button were formatted oddly on the 'Edit Collection' page; this has been fixed.
  • Challenges
    • Challenges which were closed were wrongly appearing on the Open Challenges page, and generally the page wasn't as useful as we intended it to be. Bugs have now been squashed and sub-pages for Gift Exchanges and Prompt Memes (respectively) have been added. Closing sign-ups or changing the sign-up deadline to a past date removes a challenge from the relevant list.
    • There was some inconsistency in navigation buttons displayed in the information blurb for collections and challenges (such as on the main Collections index), leading to empty button code; this has been adjusted to always show Join/Leave and Sign Up/Edit Sign-up/Cancel Sign-up options as appropriate.
    • After a gift exchange owner had generated potential matches for participants, the (possible) assignments were already showing up as options when participants went to post a new work; this has been fixed to only display assignments in the posting form once finalized and sent out.
    • When defaulting on a challenge assignment, the assignment would be updated accordingly in one own's assignments, but still be available for defaulting and fulfilling on the collection's page; this has been adjusted.
    • When fulfilling an assignment and then deleting the work (e.g. in a blind panic five minutes before the challenge deadline), the assignment would vanish as well. It now reappears to be fulfilled again.
    • The 'Post to Fulfill' button was showing up even on challenges that were no longer accepting submissions. This button is now visible only if the challenge is open.
    • Users attempting to use non-canonical tags in a challenge signup were given an unhelpful error message. Users are now directed to contact the challenge maintainers (who can contact Support to fix the issue if necessary).
    • In challenges using tag sets for sign-ups, tags weren't properly displaying in autocomplete fields if they had been marked as canonical before being linked to other tags (e.g. characters to their fandoms) by a wrangler; this has been fixed.
    • The 'Categories' field on a Gift Exchange signup was not clear about asking for types of relationships (M/M, F/M, etc). A help popup has been added to alleviate confusion.
    • When users attempted to view a restricted work from a collection's "static" page (a feature created to reduce server load during busy challenge times), they were receiving a 404 error message; this has been fixed.
    • Gift notification emails (such as sent out in a gift exchange challenge) were linking to a work's general URL instead of the work's URL inside the collection; this has been fixed.
    • After the creation of either a Prompt Meme or a Gift Exchange the user was taken to two different places depending on the type of challenge created (collection dashboard or collection profile). Now the landing page for both challenge types is the collection's profile page.
    • Prompt Meme request forms were asking for tags called "Freeforms", which are called "Additional Tags" elsewhere; we changed the code to make it easier to adjust the name everywhere and now they're called Additional Tags here as well.
    • A bug was allowing the 'Allowed Prompts' on a Prompt Meme to be set to zero, causing some logic problems. It now requires at least one (1) prompt for sign-ups to work.
    • Prompt Meme request submissions were allowing an unlimited number of characters in the 'Prompt Description' field, but cutting off after a certain number without warning. This has been resolved and descriptions are now limited to five thousand (5,000) characters.
    • In the work 'Notes' section, the link to a prompt that was filled led to a page not viewable by non-collection members. The notes now link to the user and the challenge that the prompt fill was for.
    • Challenge maintainers cannot edit prompts submitted to their challenge, yet the button to do so was displayed for them. The button has now been removed to properly reflect options available to Prompt Meme maintainers.
    • The title text for the "Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings" icon in a work's blurb was broken when no warning had been selected in a prompt meme request; this has been fixed to display the "Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings" instead.
    • In the challenges area, our front end code was hard to read for coders and some of the user-facing text was inconsistent. Now it's pretty and consistent, and also better prepared for eventual interface translation.
    • The buttons to manage assignments on the 'My Assignments' page were ordered as "Default" first, then "Fulfill"; this was different from the order of "Post" and "Cancel" buttons elsewhere on the site and was reversed.
    • On the challenge settings page, there was a white margin underneath the footer that has now been eliminated.
    • On the same page, the date picker pop-up helping you enter start and end dates for your challenge was prettied up and misaligned buttons were aligned properly.
    • The challenge signup summary page is now presented as a table for easier readability.
    • In Internet Explorer 9, the 'Update' button on the challenge's settings page was covered and unclickable; this has been fixed.
  • Searching & Browsing
    • Way back when we deployed the filters, filtering was broken on user works pages. We did the fix live, which means it didn't get added to our code base. Now it's in there and will not re-break when we deploy new code.
    • We also fixed a search indexing problem way in the backend that affected some bookmarks.
    • Some bugs in our code prevented work listings to update properly when tags or tag relationships were changed by the wranglers; this has been fixed.
    • Sorting by hit count was giving wonky results due to the way the numbers were updated for each work; the new code should show works in a more proper order.
    • Orphaned and deleted works were lingering in work lists due to faulty caching; this has been fixed.
    • Using the main search bar, or the "Search within results" box in the filter sidebar, you couldn't do any numerical searches (such as works with a certain word count, or a certain number of kudos); this has been fixed.
    • However, the main search field in the header was turning the > and < symbols into their HTML counterparts - &gt; and &lt; - making some numerical searches impossible; this has also been fixed.
    • After the last deploy, the search hints that pop up when hovering over the main search field in the header were partly outdated; this has been fixed. Examples include: katekyou "alternate universe" sort:>words to find AU works in the Katekyou Hitman Reborn! fandom, shortest works first; and arthur merlin words>1000 sort:hits to find works of over 1000 words that have both Merlin and Arthur (not necessarily paired up), works with the most hits on top.
    • A tiny typo in the filter help text has been fixed.
  • Misc.
    • An option was added that allows admins to temporarily turn off the "Request more invites" form for users, e.g. to control growth during times of heavy server load.
    • Our error 502 page (indicating heavy server load) was still displaying information about performance problems from back in May; this has now been removed.
    • When looking for works for a non-existent tag, a worrying number of error 500 bombs would go off in the background. It now produces a simple and much more appropriate error 404 page.
    • On mobile browsers, the bookmark index pages had a large right margin due to a display bug; this has been fixed.


Public Feedback for AO3 Terms of Service FAQ

Published: 2012-11-25 15:14:53 -0500

The Content Policy workgroup is presenting a set of proposed changes to the Archive of Our Own’s Terms of Service and Frequently Asked Questions. These are largely clarifications and changes made to deal with functionality as the Archive has developed. This post marks the start of a two-week public comment period. The Content Policy group will track any comments or questions made here and will then evaluate if further revisions need to be made.

The content change files are available in either a FAQ revision PDF and and ToS revision PDF or a FAQ revision doc file and ToS revision doc file format and will show proposed changes to the language at different points in the document.

The proposed changes do not include any discussion of meta, which is still under review by the Board. This document is mostly a matter of language cleanup and putting the answers to some common Support questions in the AO3’s FAQ.


Come Chat with our Support Team!

Published: 2012-11-16 13:16:47 -0500

Hi! Support here! In fact, Support is always here--when you submit a ticket through the Support and Feedback form we'll respond as soon as possible to register your feature suggestion, pass your bug report on to our coders, or do our best to help you out with a problem. However, when it comes to explaining how to do things or why something doesn't seem to be working right, the formal back-and-forth emails of a Support request aren't always ideal. So, we've decided to try an experiment!

Starting this coming Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 11:00:00 UTC lasting through this Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 11:00:00 UTC, members of Support will be available to interact with you one-on-one in live chat. See what time that is where you live. If you're having a problem using the Archive, want help trying something new, or would like an explanation of one of our features, please drop in and talk to us in person!

Some guidelines, just to keep things running smoothly

We don't have a fancy presentation or material prepared--there are plenty of FAQs, tutorials, and admin posts for that. The point of live chat is to talk with you, not at you. We're happy for you to drop in and say "hi", but it's even better if you drop in and say, "Hi, what's up with my work that won't show as complete even though it is?!"

As Support, our function is to help users with bugs and issues, and pass reports on to our Coders and Systems team, who actually keep the place running. This means that policy questions are way over our pay grade. (Just kidding--none of us get paid!) So, if you have questions or comments about AO3 or OTW policies, good or bad, Support Chat isn't the right place for them. If you do want to talk to someone about policy issues (meta on the Archive, philosophical issues with the tagging system, category change, etc.) we can direct you to the appropriate admin post or contact address so you can leave feedback directly for the people dealing with the area of your concern.

Additionally, if a question looks like it might violate a user's privacy to answer (if it needs an email address or other personal information, for example) we may not be willing to work with it in chat. In those cases, we'll redirect a user to the Support Form so we can communicate via email.

So, now that that's out of the way, what kind of things are we going to talk about?

Live chat is best for questions of a "How do I...?" or "Why does it...?" nature.

For example, you might have been wondering:

  • How do I use the new search and browse system to find a certain type of work?
  • I'd like to run a challenge, but I'm not sure how to do what I want.
  • For that matter, where did my work submitted to an anonymous challenge go?!
  • I want to post using formatting the Rich Text Editor won't give me. How do I do it using a work skin?

We'd be happy to help you with any of these questions, and anything else you're having trouble doing or would like to try doing with the Archive.

In conclusion....

This is a test run of this service, and while we have great hopes for it, we can't guarantee when it'll happen again. Please drop by with your questions and help make it a success!

ETA: Support Live Chat is now over - thanks all!


Release 0.9.2: The Return of the Filters

Published: 2012-11-08 03:01:49 -0500

Welcome to Release 0.9.1, Part 2: The Filtering; also known as Release 0.9.2 to its friends. Some context for this deploy can be found in our post, Release 0.9.1: An Unexpected Journey.

This code update contains a massive amount of changes, improvements, fixes and happiness, almost all provided by one of our most senior coders, Elz, who now gets to nap for a week. Elz has worked tirelessly over the past months to re-write the tag filtering code from scratch and implement a host of related improvements. Leading a revision like this is an enormous task for a fan with a day job, and while we are aware that users were missing the filters dearly and the planned release date had to be moved quite a few times, we hope all the awesome will more than make up for it!

Elz, mumble, Lucy, Sarken, and Scott all contributed code to this release. It was tested by Alison W, Ariana, bingeling, briar_pipe, Emilie, Fishie Mishie, Hele, Hill, Irene U, Jenn Calaelen, Kylie, Lady Oscar, Lucy, mumble, Radka, Sam, Scott, and supergreak. In addition, lots of other OTW volunteers and members of the Yuletide community pitched in to help with the final testing of the filters - not everyone left their name along with their comments, but everyone's contribution was greatly valued. Feedback from this wider stage of testing will also be used to inform further revisions of the filters: we got lots of good suggestions, but decided to limit the number of enhancements at this stage in order to avoid delaying the main functionality.

Thanks to all our users for your patience while we worked on this - we hope you'll join us in a big THANK YOU to Elz! Our Systems lead James also deserves a special shout-out for his dedicated work and advice: the changes we've made required some major systems-related work. Thanks also to the very many other people who worked on this deploy: testing code, providing advice and support on specific coding challenges, implementing the necessary database changes, and doing all the other tasks that make a change like this possible. <333


New tag filters \0/


Yes, this release sees the return of the much-missed tag filters, in a new, improved form. Our search and browse functions are now built on Elasticsearch, a far more flexible search engine which uses Solr to perform searches without accessing the database every time. This means that the new filters are MUCH more lightweight than the old ones and won't make such heavy performance demands. HURRAY!

We've written a handy guide to searching and browsing under the new system which walks you through all the details of the new filters. The new filters restore all the functionality of the old ones, with a few extra features. You can now:

  • Sort by number of kudos, comments, or number of bookmarks received! We received lots and lots of requests for this option, so we're very pleased to have been able to implement it.
  • Search within your results and exclude certain tags! The new search box which has been added to filters allows you to narrow down the results of your search even further - see our post on searching and browsing for more details on how it works. It isn't quite the "NOT this" filtering option that users have asked for in the past (that was beyond the scope of this deploy), but it provides at least some of the same functionality.

Bookmark filtering! \o/

A great side effect of rewriting the work filters was that we were able to apply the new filters to bookmarks as well: you can filter all bookmarks for any canonical tag (fandom, relationship, widely used additional tag, etc.) just as you would works, with a few differences. The sorting options are Date Bookmarked (fresh bookmarks, regardless of when the work was posted) or Date Updated (bookmarks of fresh works, including WIPs that recently had chapters added), and you can choose to only display bookmarks marked as a rec, or only bookmarks with some notes added by the bookmarker.

Oh, and we added filtering options to personal bookmarks while we were at it. That's right, one of the most requested features made it into this deploy as well. Users have saved over 1.3 million bookmarks so far, and we're happy to make it easier for you to browse, find and organize them. They have all the features of the work filters, and sorting by Date Updated will show you at a glance which of your bookmarked works has new chapters waiting for you!

New search forms for works and bookmarks

Our Advanced Search form (or simply, Work Search) has been thoroughly redesigned to give our users a more intuitive access to the powerful search feature which we've been offering all along.

All fields in the tags chunk were previously smushed into one "Tags" search field, encompassing everything from fandom to warnings. Naturally, this wasn't obvious from a look at the search form and left many users unsatisfied. The field has now been broken down into options for each kind of tag, making it much easier to see how to search for specific things. The whole form has been reorganised, with similar types of information grouped together, to make it much easier to use. We've also added sorting options for search results. See our guide to searching and browsing for some more tips on how to use it!

New works and bookmarks index pages

The main /works and /bookmarks listings will now only display the 25 most recent works or bookmarks. This lets users have a snapshot of the very latest activity on the Archive, without causing performance problems or being impossible to navigate.

If you're searching for things to read, watch, look at, or listen to, we recommend starting on the main fandoms index or a particular fandom page and working your way down the rabbit hole from there. Tag and author pages will still show all works and provide filtering options. (Hey, remember the 1000 works limit of yore? Gone forever!)

In general, we'd like to move away from listing ALL the data and focus instead on giving users tools to find the things they're looking for. For those who like to browse without any particular goal in mind, we are working on ways to access, for example, new or popular works or hidden gems, and explore the Archive in more interesting ways than a main index of unsorted data. We stopped listing every single Archive member on our /people page when we found that it needlessly added to our performance problems, and we'd like to continue in this vein going forward. Please bear with us while we work on browsing improvements and slowly phase out the main index pages in their current form.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details


  • New and improved filtering features for works and bookmarks
  • New and improved search forms for works and bookmarks
  • Personal bookmark filtering
  • A dedicated page for a user's works in collections and challenges, including unrevealed and anonymous ones, for at-a-glance management and editing access, to be found at
  • To legally host a fanmix on the AO3, you can now embed playlists you have created on 8tracks or Spotify (taking care to follow their own TOS when you do so)

Bug fixes

  • Bookmarks & Works
    • When looking at bookmarks for a metatag (such as Star Trek), only bookmarks with that exact tag would be listed (when it should pull up bookmarks for all its subtags as well); this has been fixed
    • Conversely, bookmarks would sometimes show up on fandom tag pages they didn't belong on; this has also been fixed
    • In the Share box for quickly copy-pasting work info, the Twitter button was slightly broken and didn't fill in title and author anymore when creating a new tweet; this has been fixed
    • The text in the Rich Text Editor was teensy-tiny thanks to the default size in TinyMCE's stylesheet; this should be fixed now
    • Links to the Tags on the Archive FAQ have been added to the help text that pops up for the different tag types (Fandom, Relationship, Additional Tags, etc.) on the "Post New" page
  • Filters & Search
    • Admins are now able to temporarily turn filtering off for works and bookmarks index pages, meaning the index pages for users, tags, collections, etc. would remain accessible even if the underlying search engine was down or under heavy load
    • Searching for an author's works would break anonymity by displaying concealed ("mystery") blurbs of their works, or of works that had been orphaned by them; this has been fixed
    • Relatedly, sorting works by author would make anonymous authors guessable by listing their anon works together with the rest; this has been fixed by treating Anonymous as its own author and shuffling all their works to the top
    • Search results would previously include blurbs of members-only works even for logged out visitors; this has been fixed to hide all traces of locked works when searching
    • Searching works by tag wasn't bringing up works with related tags; it has now been modified so that searching by a canonical tag will bring up works with its synonyms and subtags as well, while putting in a non-canonical tag will restrict results to that tag only
    • For performance and caching reasons, the kudos, comment and bookmark counts (as well as hits) that are used for searching and sorting works are now updated periodically instead of instantaneously, which means ever so slightly outdated search results at a given moment, but also happier servers
    • (Tiny frontend issues for 200, Alex!) If a search returned 0 results, some empty list mark-up would linger unnecessarily; this has been cleaned up
  • Collections
    • Sorting collections by size (i.e. the amount of works in them) was taking a long time and put an undue strain on the servers; we have removed this sorting option until a better solution is found
    • Using the "New Subcollection" button would lead to an error 500; this has been fixed
    • On collection dashboards containing both works and bookmarks, the "Recent bookmarks" section was styled differently than the "Recent works" header; this has been fixed
    • When uploading a header image for a collection, it would show in the footer as well, creating problems with the footer navigation; it will now only be used for the header
  • Notifications
    • In subscriptions emails, the link to series pages was broken; this has been fixed
    • Several email providers (Gmail especially) keep eating our account activation emails, preventing users from finishing the sign-up process; we thought we had conquered the issue when we changed the subject line to something less looking like spam; we have now also expanded the email text to hopefully appear more legit to spam filters
    • Relatedly, "We strongly recommend that you add to your address book to prevent the invitation email from getting blocked as spam by your email provider." was added to the little note that appears after you've added yourself to the invite queue
  • Misc.
    • Using the Reply, Edit, or Delete buttons on comments would jump the page to the top of the comments section; this has been fixed
    • Certain wrangling actions, such as trying to change the canonicals of a tag with lots of subtags or associated works, would time out with an error 502; to fix this the database requests associated with that action have been adjusted to run in the background instead of being (unsuccessfully) applied right away
    • When logged in as an admin, the notes section on bookmarks would overflow the bookmark blurb; this has been fixed


Searching and browsing on the AO3

Published: 2012-11-08 02:51:00 -0500

We have shiny new tag filters and a new, improved Advanced Search form! See below for a few tips searching and browsing on the new-look AO3!

Browsing via tag filters

The new tag filters look similar to our old tag filters, but they have lots of greatly-improved code behind the scenes, and a few visible tweaks to improve performance. You can use the filters to browse for works on the AO3 - see below for a few tips on how they work and how to find what you want.

Select a fandom

The first step of browsing is to select a fandom to help us narrow down the results. (If you're going in search of crossovers, then just pick one of the fandoms you'd like to see included in the crossover - you can add the others later.) You can also filter from a Character or Relationship tag to start with a narrower selection, or even an Additional Tag, such as Kinks.

Narrow down your results

Once you've selected, for example, a fandom, you can narrow down your results further by filtering by Rating, Warning, Category, Fandom, Character, Relationship, or Additional Tags. The filter boxes will show the ten most popular tags for each category. This is different to the old filters, which showed all the tags for each category; this created impossibly long filter options and was a drain on performance, which is why we've limited the options.

If the tag you want isn't showing in the filters, you have two options:

  1. Type the tag you're looking for in the 'Other Tags' box. Some suggestions will come up in autocomplete to help you out, but if what you want isn't among the suggestions, you can type it in yourself. (Note that tags that don't appear in the autocomplete are non-canonical and may not always give expected results.) All types of tags can be mixed and matched: John Luther (character), The Losers (2010) (fandom), Crossover (additional tag) can all be entered in the same text field and will all be factored into your filter results.
  2. Select some options from the available choices to narrow down your results, then filter again. For example, if you start with Stargate - All Series you'll get filters showing the top ten characters across the whole of the Stargate universe, including characters from Stargate SG-1 such as Teal'c. If you select 'Stargate Atlantis' and filter again, the filters will show you only the top ten characters from Stargate Atlantis. You can drill down to get more and more specific filter results.

Please note that selecting multiple options in the filters will always produce an AND search - so if you select 'Naruto', 'Bleach', 'Mature' you'll get works tagged with Bleach AND Naruto AND with the Mature rating. If you want to add OR or NOT options to your browsing, you'll need to use the 'Search within results' option.

Search within your results

A search box has been added to the filter sidebar that mirrors the search box at the top of every page. It will search all types of tags plus summaries and notes for the keywords you put in, and narrow down the results to only those matches.

Unlike the ticky boxes and the autocomplete field, this search box allows to you to generate results containing one thing OR another, not both of them. So, ticking 'Thane Krios' and 'Liara T'Soni' on the Mass Effect page will find you only works that contain both characters. Leaving the tickies alone and entering Thane OR Liara in the search field will find you works with one or the other or both. You can ticky any of the other boxes, e.g. only Explicit works and only F/M pairings, to narrow down your search results, and pick a sorting option. Note that this field only searches within your selection, so if you're already on a fandom page, adding unrelated fandoms in an OR search won't add works from these fandoms to your results.

Conversely, you can use the NOT search operator (or the minus sign "-") to specify things you don't want to see in your results. So, for example, on the Death Note page you could ticky "Mature" in the Rating options and "L/Yagami Light" under Relationship, and then enter -"major character death" or NOT "major character death" into the search field. This will exclude works with that warning.

Sort your results

You can use the drop-down box at the top of the filters to order your results. This replaces the sort options which used to show at the top of your list of results - we've moved them into the filters so that we could include a lot more options. As many users have requested, you can now sort by the numbers of kudos and comments a work has received and the number of times it was bookmarked, in addition to word count, hits, title, date posted, and date updated.

One downside of moving this to the filters is that you can't reverse sort order (e.g. starting with low word counts instead of high) with a second click on the button anymore. However, you can now browse through all the works returned with a given search, so you can go to the last page of results and work backwards to get the same effect.

Filter bookmarks

You can now browse bookmarks using the filters! First select a fandom, then hit the 'Bookmarks' button on the page of results. You can then use the filters in much the same way as if you were browsing a list of works, but you'll find two additional options: you can browse Recs only, and you can choose to show only bookmarks with notes. Note that you don't have the same sorting options as for works (kudos, hits, title etc.), as those belong to the work, not a bookmark. You can, however, sort by the date the bookmarked item was updated and by the date the bookmark was created.

Another much-requested improvement is the ability to filter your own personal bookmarks. You can use all the same filter options when looking through bookmarks you created, and sorting by Date Updated will show you at a glance which of your bookmarked works has new chapters waiting for you. Hurray!

Advanced work search

Advanced search is still much the same behind the scenes, but the search form has been radically redesigned to make it easier to access the Archive's powerful search capabilities. Upon popular request, we've also added sorting options to your search results! By default, best matches will be listed first; you can change the sorting order before submitting your search by picking another option from the drop-down menu.

Search fields

The search fields are now grouped into topical chunks roughly along these lines:

  • General information about the work (title, author, language, posting date, completeness, etc.)
  • Tags attached to the work (ratings, warnings, fandom, characters, additional tags, etc.)
  • Stats concerning reader interaction (hits, kudos, comments, etc.)

Each section is broken down into separate fields for each kind of tag (Fandom, Character, etc), with ratings, warnings, and categories displayed in the form of a drop-down menu and checkboxes. You can choose to enter options in all these categories, or just in one, to get precisely what you're looking for.

Where applicable, an autocomplete will suggest tags as you type. If the autocomplete doesn't offer the option you want, you can type it as free text.

Boolean searches

By default, each search term you enter will be searched for as an AND search, i.e. will be treated as if you're looking only for a work that has ALL these things.

If you want to exclude some terms, or look for works containing one term OR another, add your search terms to the 'Any field' and use the search operators NOT (or minus sign: -) and OR (or two pipe symbols: ||). All spaces between search terms will automatically be interpreted as the AND operator, although you can also add the AND if you like.

Searches with quotes

Search terms consisting of more than one word, such as "Riza Hawkeye", or containing characters like / or -, such as "X-Men", will return more accurate results when surrounded by quotes.

We plan to add more enhancements to search and browse in the future, but we think this new system will be much more flexible and useful than before. Happy browsing!


Scheduled Archive downtime

Published: 2012-11-07 15:07:26 -0500

The Archive of Our Own will have approximately two hours of planned downtime on 8 November 2012, starting c. 05.30 UTC (see what time that is in your timezone).

During this time we will be installing new discs in our servers, giving us more space to accommodate the demands of serving lots of data to lots of users!

If all goes well with the hardware installation, we will also be deploying new code during this downtime. The new release will include the long-awaited return of the tag filters! We're very excited (and a bit nervous).

Please follow AO3_Status for updates on the downtime and maintenance - we'll tweet before we take the site down and again when the work has been completed. If our Twitter says we're up but you're still seeing the maintenance page, you may need to clear your browser cache and refresh.


Introducing the Category Change Workgroup!

Published: 2012-10-28 15:32:25 -0400

Hello, this is Sole G., the Category Change workgroup lead, and I'd like to introduce the workgroup, talk a little about our goals, and ask for some initial feedback from all of you as fellow fans and users of AO3.

The Category Change workgroup was created to address a long-standing debate, both internally and externally - that is, whether or not the current Fandom Categories in the Archive are the best possible browsing solution. Our goal is to take a look at the current categories and how they work and see what other options we can come up with that might be more effective at representing different fannish traditions, aiding fandom browsing, and reflecting the diversity of the Archive.

While we are taking previously held discussions into account, we are analyzing the issue from scratch and trying to find new perspectives. We are looking at the Fandom Categories framework and analyzing it from every possible perspective - even considering whether or not they are necessary at all or how the browsing experience can be changed to better reflect the needs of our users.

The most heatedly contested categories are 'Anime & Manga' and 'Cartoons & Comics & Graphic Novels'. To begin with, this division strikes some fans as artificial, since they are all either forms of animation or different traditions of comics under geographically- or culturally-determined names. Naming those two categories explicitly also implicitly leaves out other traditions, such as manhwa, manhua, bande dessinée and historieta. In addition, the inclusion of all different East Asian comic traditions under 'Anime & Manga' is inaccurate, as well as culturally insensitive.

Concerns about 'Music & Bands' and 'Celebrities and Real People' have also been raised, again citing the artificial division and the confusing categorization of albums and bands side-by-side. Other issues that have been brought up are, for example, multimedia fandoms, audio-based sources, folklore and mythology fic, etc.

We're looking for a solution that balances complex, sometimes competing, factors such as diverse fannish traditions, user behavior (current and potential), and ease of browsing.

Since this is a task that involves the purview of several different committees, a workgroup consisting of members of all involved committees has been formed. These committees are:

  • Accessibility, Design & Technology (AD&T), due to the certain possibility of changes in the AO3 code being required, and the potential impact on design, user experience and archive browsing.
  • Internationalization & Outreach (I&O), since one of the issues with the current Media Categories is related to the different boundaries between media categories international fandoms have.
  • Tag Wrangling (TW), because tag wranglers are in charge of categorizing fandoms, and any changes will have direct impact on tag wranglers' procedure and workload.
  • Support, since any change in the categories will involve responding to users' concerns.

This workgroup was developed by I&O and then backed by all of the involved committees. Each committee then chose their own representatives from among their interested staff members. While several of the Category Change staffers are also tag wranglers, a tag wrangler volunteer was recruited as well in order to directly represent the interests of that volunteer pool.

One of our top priorities is to maintain a healthy, fluid communication with the Archive of Our Own userbase, so we want to start gathering feedback as soon as possible. If you have any opinions, feedback, suggestions, knowledge or ideas, you can either leave a comment on this post or you can contact us through the Category Change contact form. We don't see the emails used when you post guest comments, and you can request that any feedback that you send through the contact form be archived anonymously in OTW workspaces so that your name and contact information are only visible to members of the workgroup and not to all staff and volunteers.

We are particularly interested in answers to these questions:

1. Do you currently use the Media Categories in order to browse the Archive? If yes, then how do you do it? For example, are you generally looking for a specific fandom or do you browse the different pages to see what fandoms are listed on the site or to find new ones? What are your usual routines? If you want to find a specific fandom on the archive for the first time, how do you do that? How do you find fandoms by more casual browsing? Don’t be afraid to be as specific and detailed as you want; details and step-by-step descriptions are really useful to us.

2. What issues have you run into with the current media categories? Are there fandoms that aren't listed where you might have expected them to be? Are there other problems you've noticed with fandoms being either grouped with or separated from one another in a way that's not ideal?

3. How would you like to see the categories and the media/fandom pages be improved? What's your vision of a better way to find, browse, and organize fandoms? We're open to all kinds of ideas, not just different names for the existing categories.

Please feel free to comment and brainstorm, and also to discuss and engage with each other. We're very interested in hearing what you think, and thanks in advance for your feedback!

Mirrored on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.


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