AO3 News

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.


Archive of Our Own Newsletter - October 2012

Published: 2012-10-24 21:56:45 -0400

Happy October, Archivers! Welcome to this month's newsletter.

Cool stuff on the Archive!

This month, we took a look at tag stats and growth over the past two years!

What’s up in the world of tags?

Often in wrangling, we change tag names in response to feedback either from archive users, or other tag wranglers (or both!). Our most recent change involves the canonical fandom tags for Jewish and Christian religious scripture. Prior to our changes, "Hebrew Bible" was a single fandom, with "Old Testament" as a synonym. You can view the current tag structure under Abrahamic Religions, which includes a tag for Tanakh separate from the Christian Bible (Old Testament). The old tag "Hebrew Bible" is now a synonym of Tanakh. Thank you to those users and wranglers who provided feedback in this discussion.

Support issues

We're seeing some really wonky behavior emerging with Tag Sets pulling characters into multiple fandoms or occasionally a tag vanishing from the list. We're having a hard time tracking this down, so if you see aberrant behavior in the Tag Set feature, please send Support a note so we can document it for the Coders!

AD&T Committee business of note

We continue to work on a header redesign and we have also started working on a brand new front page. Our updated roadmap is in the final stages of editing and should be available soon. The reinstatement of tag filtering comes closer and closer as we put the finishing touches on new code and sent it off to our testers. We still can't guarantee a firm date but they're coming - we promise! And finally, this month we celebrated Ada Lovelace Day by honoring our awesome chair Elz!

Support Committee business of note

As noted below with the Tag Wranglers, we are eagerly testing the return of the filters.

Tag Wrangling Committee business of note

We've been adding to our collection of public wrangling guidelines, and we're excitedly preparing (and testing!) for the upcoming return of tag filters.

Questions? Comments?

We welcome feedback from users! If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments of the latest news post, or send in a Support request (if you're reporting a bug, please send that to Support, as they're super efficient - comments on our news posts sometimes get overlooked).

This post by Camden


Count ALL the tags!

Published: 2012-10-17 15:43:32 -0400

We've made it another year! As part of the OTW October Membership Drive, we thought we'd share some of the stats and growth over the last two years, and a breakdown of the tags on the Archive.

Warning right up front: this post is very graphics-heavy.

Overall tag growth and canonical growth

Overall, our growth has (inevitably) been nothing but up. There has been proportional growth between the number of works and number of unique tags over the last two years. In October 2010, there were 107,430 works on the Archive and 105,750 unique tags; in October 2012, there are 459,655 works and 395,099 unique tags. The number of canonical tags (the ones which come up in the autocomplete and filters), however, scaled up much more slowly: from 55,697 in October 2010 to 140,306 in October 2012. This reflects the fact that the AO3 tagging system is designed to give creators as much freedom as possible in how they tag their works, so while the arrival of a new fandom on the Archive might generate only a few new canonical tags so the fandom name and characters can come up in filters, there might be a whole host of non-canonical synonyms reflecting the different preferences of creators.

a multiple-line graph showing three lines for the number of works, unique tags, and canonical tags over the last two years by month


For these next few categories, we don't have a historical comparison.

The greatest number of our works - just over 31% - are tagged "Teen and Up", with "General Audiences" close behind at just under 30%. "Explicit" works make up roughly 18% of the Archive, and "Mature", 16%. Roughly 5% of the works are "Not Rated".

a pie chart showing the percentages of works using each Ratings tag.


Unlike Ratings, Warnings are non-exclusive: a work can have multiple warnings. The vast majority of works on the Archive - almost two in three - are tagged "No Archive Warnings Apply". Around a quarter of the works are tagged "Author chose not to use warnings." "Major Character Death" has roughly 18,000 works; "Graphic Depictions of Violence" has 17,000; "Underage" has around 10,000; and "Rape/Non-con" is tagged on just over 8,600 works.

a horizontal bar graph showing the number of works using each Warning tag.


Like Warnings, Categories are also non-exclusive. Roughly four in nine of the 460,000 on the Archive are tagged "M/M", making up the largest Category by far. "Gen" has roughly 125,000 works, and "F/M" has just under 100,000 works. The other three categories are much rarer with 23,000 works or fewer.

a horizontal bar graph showing the number of works using each Category tag.

Tags by type, 2011 - 2012

All User-generated Tags

The following two graphs show the month-by-month growth of total unique tags and canonical tags on the Archive, with the vertical bars broken up for each type of tag.

The unique tags have a linear growth from the 105,000 tags on 01 October 2010 until around December 2011, then they start showing a slight upward curve to their increase, to a current total of just under 400,000 unique tags on the Archive. Characters and Relationships are almost as large a percentage of the total tags as Freeforms (aka Additional Tags).

a stacked bar chart showing the increase in unique user-created tags, stacked by type, over the last 24 months.

The canonical tags, on the other hand, are maintaining a roughly linear increase, from 56,000 in October 2010 to today's 140,000. Proportionally, characters comprise the majority of canonicals, followed closely by Relationships. Freeform canonicals are roughly as common as Fandom canonicals. (Reasons for this can be seen in our Freeform Wrangling Guidelines.)

a stacked bar chart showing the increase in canonical user-created tags, stacked by type, over the last 24 months.


Fandoms have had a very consistent growth, with a notable bump in unique tags in May 2012, when many new users imported existing works from other sites. The number of canonical tags roughly follows this increase, but has been slowing down in recent months. 50% of the 14,000 Fandom tags were canonical in October 2011, decreasing slightly to 43% of the 23,000 unique tags in October 2012.

a vertical bar graph showing the increase in unique and canonical fandom tags over the last 12 months.


We can see a similar pattern with the Character tags - a linear increase in unique tags, and a slowing down of canonical tags. The increases aren't proportional, however: while almost 74% of the 72,000 character tags were canonical in October 2011, only 57% of the 114,000 tags are canonical in October 2012. This may reflect a greater diversity of fannish terminologies being contributed by newer users of the site.

a vertical bar graph showing the increase in unique and canonical character tags over the last 12 months.


Relationship tags also show the same linear growth as the other two, with a slight decrease in the number of canonical tags. Due to the ever-climbing number of combinations, these increased more proportionally: in October 2011, canonicals were 47% of the 68,000 relationship tags; in 2012, they're only 44% of the 118,000 tags.

a vertical bar graph showing the increase in unique and canonical relationship tags over the last 12 months.


In what should not be a surprise, the majority of growth in unique tags comes from the unique Additional tags (also called Freeform tags). The number of freeforms has increased along an increasing slope from 43,000 last October to 138,000 this October. However, as the vast majority of freeforms entered are not intended for searching and indexing, far fewer have been marked canonical: there were just under 9,000 canonical freeforms in October 2011, and there are only 11,500 canonical freeforms in October 2012, as most freeform wrangling consists of glancing at a list and picking out the ones that would be useful as canonical tags (for example, common terms such as 'Angst').

a vertical bar graph showing the increase in unique and canonical additional tags over the last 12 months.

Last Words

We always enjoy taking a look at stats, and tags are particularly interesting because they often give a snapshot of different fannish communities or traditions. We love the way different communities of users on the Archive take advantage of our unique tag system to tag in all kinds of different ways!

The growth in tags reflects the massive increase in the number of users on the site. If you're enjoying using the AO3 and you'd like to help with our running costs, please consider donating to our parent Organization for Transformative Works. Donations help fund the AO3 and all the OTW's other cool projects!

A note on tag filters

In any post about tags, we know people will want to ask about tag filters. We know that the Archive is much harder to browse without this feature, and we're sorry it's taking us a long time to restore it - the rewrite is a significant piece of work. The good news is that we're so close now we can almost taste it - the new filters are on our Test Archive and if testing goes well they should be rolled out to the main site in a few weeks time. Wish us luck!


Happy Ada Lovelace Day from the AO3!

Published: 2012-10-16 17:05:33 -0400

Happy Ada Lovelace Day from everyone at the Archive of Our Own!

The majority of AO3 volunteers are women, so we're thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate women in technology! Our testers, coders and systems staff are all inspirational, and in the five years they have been working on the Archive they have all become role models for one another.

This Ada Lovelace Day we'd like to give a shoutout to one inspirational woman in particular: AD&T Co-chair Elz. Elz has been coding on the project since the very beginning, and we're in awe of her amazing patience, her great teaching and mentoring skills, and her ability to produce massive amounts of code: she is the number one contributor of code to the AO3 and has written over 130,000 lines of code!

Elz is particularly inspirational because she didn't originally come from a STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) background: she majored in literature at university and is a self-taught coder. The experience she gained working on the AO3 enabled her to move into coding professionally, and she now works in the tech industry: a great example of how sharing skills in the open source community can enable people from non-STEM backgrounds to move into technology.

Elz has done amazing work on the AO3 over the years, and she's been incredibly generous with her time and her skills over the years. We're happy to celebrate her on Ada Lovelace Day!

We'd also like to celebrate all our volunteers, especially those who joined us more recently: we've had fifteen coders make their first commits to the project in the last year. We're proud of the achievements of all our volunteers - of all gender identities - and we're grateful to them for their hard work.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!


OTW Fundraising and Membership Drive - Support the AO3!

Published: 2012-10-16 08:48:11 -0400

You may have seen the banner on the site this week asking for donations: our parent organization (The Organization for Transformative Works) holds membership drives twice a year, and the money raised is what pays for AO3's hardware, hosting, and maintenance costs. We don't have paid accounts or advertising, so donations from regular users are what keeps the site running and allows us to expand.

If you enjoy using AO3 and you're able to help support us, please donate today!

OTW: 5 Transformative Years

OTW Membership Drive
October 13-17, 2012

A few common questions:

What is the Organization for Transformative Works and how is it related to the Archive of Our Own?

The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms. It's the parent organization that runs AO3 and several other fan-oriented projects.

What do you spend donation money on?

Neither OTW nor AO3 has paid employees or offices - all of the work of building and maintaining AO3 is done by volunteers like you. OTW funds and supports other wonderful projects as well (legal advocacy for fans! a fan wiki! an academic journal!) but because of the scale of the Archive, its hosting and hardware costs do make up a good chunk of the organization's expenses each year.

If you're interested in more detailed information, you can find an expense breakdown in our annual report.

Can I get an Archive invitation if I donate?

No, sorry! For privacy reasons, donations and organization memberships are entirely separate from AO3 user accounts and invitations. It's free for everyone to use the Archive, and invitations are granted by our automated queue in the order that requests come in. There may be some indirect benefits to donating: how much funding we have determines how much we're able to expand our systems, which affects the rate at which we can send out invitations. But it's not possible to directly purchase an account.


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