AO3 News

Welcome to Release 0.9.4, the last code deploy before the holidays! These notes combine fixes that were deployed this weekend in two separate batches, resulting in two brief instances of downtime. Coders ecuoln, Elz, Sarken, and Scott contributed code to this release, which was tested by the small, but not any less awesome testing team consisting of Jenn, hele, Lady Oscar, and mumble.

This marks the 15th code update this year, including a breathless flurry of small releases in June to address various performance issues, and our humongous filter rewrite deployed in October. (You can see details about all previous code updates under our Release Notes tag.)

We think that is quite a lot of new code for a site maintained entirely by unpaid volunteers in their spare time (or, in some cases, while sneaking away to the dark recesses of their workplace's server room, armed only with their laptop - not naming names here to protect the gainfully employed). From the bottom of our collective heart, the Accessibility, Design, & Technology committee thanks everyone who submitted code or helped out with testing at any point during the year. The Archive literally could not exist without you.

This release sees a small number of bug fixes that we wanted to get out before the end of the year. Unless the site breaks in a show-stopping manner between now and January, we will resume active deploy work after the New Year's Eve celebrations. We're hoping to post an updated version of our quite outdated 2010 Roadmap very soon; it will give you a rough idea of what we'd like to accomplish in the foreseeable future and beyond. Watch this space!

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details

Bug fixes

  • Replying to comments on a news post while logged in was temporarily broken and has been fixed now!
  • Bookmarking a work by a still-anonymous creator would display as a "Mystery Work", hiding all information about the work; this has been fixed!
  • Marking a comment on your work as spam, even by accident, would immediately send the comment into spam purgatory and make it invisible to everyone but admins; you are now asked if you're sure first to prevent accidents.
  • Trying to view bookmarks for a non-existent or misspelled tag was resulting in an error 500; it now gives the more reasonable error 404.
  • The "Share" code attached to each work, for easy copy-pasting of recs or update annoucements, included a link to the site's \o/-shaped favicon in front of the creator's username; this .ico file wasn't displaying properly in Tumblr and looked quite broken, so it has been removed from the work info for the time being.
  • On the admin side, we added pagination to the list of invite requests by users (for handing out to friends etc.) for easier request management
  • For wranglers, trying to reply to comments left on a tag would lead to an error 500; this has been fixed!
  • To prepare for work on site translation (that is, enabling usage of the Archive in languages other than English), old and unneeded translation code was removed in the background.
  • The bit of Javascript that rolls out a little calendar to pick start and end dates for your challenge more easily was embedded on all pages, wasting precious resources; it's now restricted to relevant challenge pages only.
  • The Rich Text Editor plugin we use (TinyMCE) was trying to load a CSS file that didn't actually exist, resulting in numerous invisible errors; this line has now been removed.


The following is a post created by the Tag Wrangling Committee to address some ongoing questions and discussions involving tag wrangling on the Archive of Our Own.

The question has been raised in various places of how sustainable the Archive of Our Own’s tag wrangling system is, and whether it will continue to be viable as AO3 continues to grow and the number of fandoms and tags increases. The AO3 wrangling committee would like to address some of the concerns we’ve heard, from AO3 users as well as wranglers (including the staff).

In all honesty, it’s a fair question, and one without a clear or simple answer. The AO3 tag wrangling system is a special beastie, and because of its uniqueness, it is difficult to judge questions of long-term sustainability, since there is no real precedent to look to. But we have high hopes for it, which so far have been met or exceeded by our amazing team of wrangling volunteers.

To better understand our position, it may help to understand what makes the wrangling system special, and why it was implemented this way in the first place.

Why do AO3 tags work like they do?

The AO3 tag wrangling system was specifically designed as a compromise between the two standard tagging/organization models for online archives: a regulated taxonomy, versus a 'folksonomy'.

A regulated taxonomy – such as what's currently used on – allows creators to tag their work with a limited number of pre-determined options (such as genre or characters). This system is very good for keeping things ordered and preventing misspellings and otherwise inconsistent labeling. However, it also requires constant maintenance to add new tags as new fandoms arise, and greatly restricts what users can label or sort by. The latter condition can be especially problematic if data is not kept up-to-date. (For instance, on many fandoms have no character lists, and other fandoms don't include all characters, especially those recently introduced.)

A "folksonomy" - the tagging system used on most social bookmarking sites and Tumblr - allows users to tag their content with any tag of their choosing, and users can see all works using any given tag. This system has the advantage of flexibility and currentness - its tags are always up-to-date with user preferences - but can make browsing difficult. (For example: on Tumblr, if you want to see most posts about kid!Loki, you also have to look up "kid loki" and "bb!Loki" and will still miss the posts tagged "bbloki.)

When designing the tag system on AO3, both of these systems were considered. But both have significant drawbacks in meeting the demands of both creators and browsers of a growing multi-fandom archive.

Options & drawbacks

User tagging could be limited to only approved tags. This then puts the burden on the users to specifically request new tags to be added; it also requires wranglers to work quickly to make tags available as needed. For active fandoms like Homestuck that see on order of five new relationships a day, these requests could quickly become overwhelming. To keep up with such demand, we would need a ridiculous number of volunteers, and/or a way to prioritize requests, limiting new tag creation to the most popular fandoms/most requested tags. Assuming users could post works without tags, many people wouldn't bother tagging their works at all if the tag they wanted wasn't available and they didn't have time to submit it. Works would also be left without tags if a user did submit the request, but failed to go back to add it to their old works when the tag was finally entered in the system.

To get around this last issue, we could regulate the tags – a user could enter any tag they like, but it must be approved before appearing on AO3. In that case, wranglers become the inadvertent gatekeepers of fandom, deciding what tags are or are not shown to users. Is "Feels" worthy of being displayed? What about "Wingfic"? Maybe we don't want to allow "Incest" or "BDSM" - we're not that kind of archive (obviously we totally are, but you get the idea!) And there would still be a period of time when the tags wouldn't be visible or useful, so an enormous team of volunteers would still be required to overview the tags in a timely fashion.

Another option is to let users enter whatever they like and display all those tags, but moderate them by telling people how we want them to tag, and removing all the tags that don't fit, or requiring users to change them. Again, the burden on the moderators would be considerable, having to monitor the over half-million works on the AO3. It would also be difficult to justify regulating tags when the spelling, grammar, and format of posted works are not likewise moderated (and to do so would require modifying AO3's Terms of Service).

Otherwise we could take the opposite tack and not organize tags at all: allow users to enter any tags they like, display and filter by all these tags, and let people who want to read John Watson/Sherlock Holmes search for "John/Sherlock" and "sh/jw" and "Johnlock" and any other permutations they can think of. But this method becomes frustrating for browsing users who don't know or don't remember all the permutations. It's also a burden on creators who want their work to be found by as many people as possible, but have the same issue of not knowing or remembering the many variant names for the same concept. (It's worth noting that this is not an unviable system - Tumblr, Pinboard, Pixiv, and many other sites use similar systems; and AO3 could switch over to it with relatively little tweaking, if necessary.)

Or we could let users enter whatever tags they like, and display all those tags however the creator or bookmarker wants to display them. Then, behind the scenes, volunteers can organize and link tags together so the most commonly used and useful-for-browsing concepts are more readily available to the largest number of people – both creators and audience – with the smallest amount of required effort. This is how the AO3 tag wrangling system works.

But is this system sustainable?

It's impossible to be sure, but after observing wrangling on the beta archive over the last four years, the tag wrangling committee believes that yes, the AO3 tag wrangling system is sustainable in the long-term. To begin with, our volunteer pool is currently as large as it’s ever been (at close to 160 wranglers), and keeping more than level. When recruiting is open, we average more people volunteering than retiring, and get a surge with most donation drives as well. The AO3's expansion this year does mean there are more tags than ever, but it also means there are more fans willing to offer their time to keep those tags in order. And the fandoms with the most activity are also those with the most fans, so it's more likely for us to be able to find wranglers for them.

Additionally, archive growth doesn't correspond directly to an increase in tag wrangling work. The vast majority of new works posted on AO3 fall into two categories: very small fandoms – under 20 works – that require occasional wrangling rather than ongoing maintenance; or very large fandoms, which often are the best-wrangled, because we have lots of wrangling volunteers familiar with them! Looking at, half the available fandoms there are under the 20-work threshold; and on the Archive, while there are currently close to 5000 fandoms without an assigned wrangler, fewer than 300 of these have more than 20 works.

Even large fandoms may not produce many new tags. A popular fandom with a small core cast of characters may get 100 new works posted a day, but only one new relationship tag, because all the other works used existing tags. Fandoms from 'closed' canons (canceled shows, etc.) tend not to get many new tags because they aren’t introducing new characters. And many fandoms share tags – see the X-men metatag, which has 13 different sub-fandoms, but a number of the characters and relationships among these overlap and only need to be wrangled once for all the fandoms.

What if wrangling isn't viable in the long-term?

It is undeniable that as AO3 grows, wrangling becomes an increasingly greater task. We don’t believe it’s insurmountable, however. Nor do we believe that there is any real danger of the tag system collapsing entirely.

AO3 tag wrangling is designed to assist and facilitate users in labeling and finding works, but for the most part it is not crucial for these purposes. Many aspects of AO3 tags are still functional without any wrangling at all. An unwrangled AO3 tag acts like a Tumblr or Pinboard tag, showing all works and bookmarks using that tag. AO3 search brings up results both for wrangled tags and the text of unwrangled tags, and unwrangled tags can likewise be used in the new filters.

In other words, if all wranglers quit and all wrangling on AO3 stopped this instant, existing tags would continue to work as they do now, preserving the work wranglers had done up until this point; and all new tags on AO3 would still be as useful as tags on Tumblr or LiveJournal or any other service with flat tags. The filters of older but growing fandoms would be sparse, new fandoms would lack filters and only appear in the "Uncategorized" section, and a user would have to look for "Fullmetal Alchemist", "Full Metal Alchemist", and "Hagaren" separately to find all works; but the basic functionality of calling up all works with a tag would remain.

Obviously an end to all wrangling is the worst-case scenario and not one we expect to pass. The greater concern is that the wrangling committee and volunteers will keep working, but the bulk of the work will become too great for us to keep up with. The current wrangling system is definitely not perfect, and one of the wrangling committee’s primary goals is to look for ways to improve it and make it more sustainable.

So what does the future of AO3 tags look like?

The wrangling committee is working to improve the tag and wrangling experience both on the front-end (for users) and the back-end (for wranglers). On both sides, the two aspects of tags we're most concerned with at the moment are internationality and additional tags.

Currently, AO3 wrangling primarily deals with English-language/Roman alphabet tags. To be a more useful archive for fans around the world, we are developing better methods of sorting and linking tags across languages. We want to display tags of all languages in the appropriate filters and the auto-complete, while preserving the links between tags with the same meanings. We also need to develop better guidelines for non-English-language tags.

Our second focus is on the issue of Additional Tags (or "Freeforms", as wranglers know them). Presently we are seeing several hundred new additional tags on works and bookmarks added to AO3 daily.

It's important to note that these tags do not interfere with the wrangling of non-freeform tags. AO3 is designed to handle tags of different categories such that wranglers can view fandom, character, and relationship tags separately from freeforms; and the former get priority. Wranglers can also sort tags by number of uses, to easily see which freeforms are popular enough to warrant making them canonical. The majority of new freeforms are not made canonical and never will be; they are single-use, notes-style tags that only require being checked off a list by a single wrangler. This process is not as streamlined as it could be, and one of our top priorities for the back-end is features to simplify it.

On the front-end, we're looking into ways for users to limit the display of freeforms, such as by making the view of single-use freeforms optional. At this point we have no plans to limit what tags users are allowed to put on their works, beyond what is mandated by the AO3 Terms of Service; but we want to give users better ways to view the particular tags they're interested in. (If you are looking for ways to limit them now, you may find the skins linked in this post helpful.)

Users & wranglers unite!

As well as improving the efficiency of the wrangling interface to make it easier for wranglers to do our job, we believe that a major way to keep wrangling sustainable is to employ the help of all users to keep tags in line. To that end, we’re seeking to open up aspects of the wrangler interface to regular users. We've already made wrangling connections visible to all users on AO3, and publicly posted our wrangling guidelines to explain what tags we make canonical. We also would like to find better ways for users to contact us – any message sent to Support concerning tags or wrangling is already forwarded to us, and we respond to messages on our Wrangler Twitter as well, but we hope to have more direct lines of communication. This might include allowing users to leave notes on individual tags, or other methods to call attention to specific problems.

Now that bookmarks are filterable, it's possible for users to filter for tags other than those the creators put on their works, allowing users to label and categorize works even if the creators don't opt to. We’re also considering giving all users limited wrangling capabilities, such as sorting tags into fandoms, making synonyms to existing canonical tags, or suggesting new canonical tags following the guidelines for wranglers to approve. Such features would require moderation from wranglers, but would take some of the burden off us (as well as potentially encouraging more users to volunteer for wrangling.)

So when will this happen?

Most of these improvements require new features to be coded. This requires the attention of the AD&T committee’s diligent coding and testing volunteers, and must be prioritized against the hundreds of other features and bug-fixes also in demand. It is also contingent on having available coders and testers - the wrangling code is some of the more complex on AO3, so relatively few coders have the skills and experience to make significant changes to it. So it may be some time before changes appear on the beta archive; but new tag features are under development now.

In the meantime, the wrangling committee relies on all its awesome wrangling volunteers to keep up with the tag load! Thus far they have been more than up to the task, and we are confident that with improvements, the wrangling system will remain functional for both wranglers and users as the AO3 continues to expand in the years to come.


So, About those Additional Tags...

Published: 2012-12-14 13:57:17 -0500

The following is a post created by a member of the Tag Wrangling Committee to address some ongoing questions and discussions involving freeform tags on the Archive of Our Own.


Let's talk about those Additional Tags.

More specifically, let's talk about the long-form descriptive tags that are frequently being placed in the Additional Tags field. I want to get some facts on the table so our users - both consumers and creators - can have this important discussion properly. Any numbers cited are as of 0100UTC, 27 Oct 2012.

Full disclosure: Hi, I'm Sam J. I am a Wrangling staffer, a Wrangling volunteer, a Support staffer, and an Archive user. I have four horses in this race and, frankly, they're running in at least two different directions, leaving me with a varying opinion of these tags depending on when you ask me.

  • At last count, there were around 160 Tag Wrangling Volunteers. There are 10,232 Fandoms on the Archive. Of those, roughly 5,300 do not have a wrangler listed, so they are not tightly monitored. Many of these unwatched fandoms are occasionally wrangled by volunteer teams, or are metatags containing fandoms that are tightly wrangled.
  • As per the precedent established in the AO3 Terms of Service, we consider the tags on a work to be part of the content of that work. As such, the Tag Wranglers do not—and cannot—change, add, or remove tags from a creator's work. Any such changes to tags have to be initiated by Abuse, who only act in cases of tags that are against policy and are handled according to their protocols and the Terms of Service.
  • In recent months, the Archive's seen an overall increase in the number of Additional Tags on works. From last October to November, the number of Additional Tags on the Archive increased by 2,535, while the number of total works increased by 7,046. From this September to this October, that number has increased by 12,920 while the number of total works has increased by 22,936. Neither increase is linear - the works-per-month growth has been roughly stable since April, and the Additional Tag growth has been consistent, plus or minus 10%, since July.
  • The rate of growth for canonical Additionals over the last year has remained fairly consistent, gaining a average of 220 a month. (Four months were aberrations: March increased by 388; May, 296; March, 288; and September, 147.)
  • The Additional Tags were not responsible for the Death of the Filters. The sheer number of works on the Archive are what stressed the old code, and the sudden spike in readers/viewers starting in May pushed it past its capacity to fulfill requests. Because the filters pulled and displayed the canonical forms of tags, there were often far fewer Additional Tags listed than in the actual search results.
  • Non-canonical tags with only a few uses put almost no strain on the servers. It's the popular canonical tags and metatags that put the most strain on the servers.
  • Additional Tags are not distributed evenly throughout the fandoms—the massive increases in Additional Tags are concentrated in a limited number of fandoms. Even fandoms of similar sizes can have wildly divergent Tags/Works ratios. Drawing from random fandoms:
    Fandom Tag Works using Fandom Tag All Additional Tags* Additional Tags per 1000 Works Canonical Additional Tags Canonical Additional Tags per 1000 Works
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer 10847 692 63.80 184 16.96
    Cats - Andrew Lloyd Webber 37 4 108.11 0 0
    Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling 19422 2391 123.11 344 17.71
    Hockey RPF 1381 179 129.62 82 59.38
    Homestuck 9990 2475 247.75 97 9.71
    Inception (2010) 3796 300 79.03 19 5.01
    Marvel Avengers Movies Universe 16442 3164 192.42 166 10.10
    Naruto 3167 281 88.73 19 6.00
    Sanctuary (TV) 1359 117 86.16 53 39.03
    Sherlock (TV) 18300 3981 217.54 60 3.28
    Xena: Warrior Princess 293 16 54.61 4 13.65
    *NB: These numbers do not include Additional Tags already wrangled into "No Fandom", as the system does not have a way to generate those numbers. However, the number of "No Fandom" tags tends to be proportional to the fandom-specific Additional Tags.
  • When users create new tags (be they Fandom, Character, Relationship, or Additional/Freeform), they automatically:
    • will not show up on that fandom's Show Tag page;
    • will not show in the Filter sidebar of Works pages (exception: your personal bookmark tags will show in your personal bookmarks filter), though they can be filtered on, to an extent;
    • will not show up in auto-complete fields.
    A wrangler has to manually add Fandom links (or toss the tag into No Fandom) by typing in the Fandom name(s), and/or mark it as Canonical (allows the tag to appear in the auto-complete and be filterable by anyone) via a checkbox. The Wrangling interface does allow for mass-wrangling tags into a fandom and mass-marking them as canonical. The guidelines for Additional Tags are very selective as to what should or should not be marked as canonical.
  • Users can search for works using unwrangled Additional Tags by either clicking on the tag where it appears or by using the Works Search. (The Works Search uses a string search for the text of the tag, in addition to searching via wrangled tags.)
  • Logged-in users have the options of a few skins that affect how Additional Tags display in search lists. This skin shortens the Additional Tags to around 15 characters. This one puts all tag fields over a certain length into a scrollbox so they take up less room on the works pages, and this one hides the appearance of Additional Tags in search lists completely. If you do not yet have an AO3 account, the CSS listed in these skins can also be used in third-party site scripting tools, such as Stylish. Additionally, a logged-in user has the option to go to their Preferences and activate "Hide additional tags". This turns the entire content of the "Additional Tags" field to a "Show Additional Tags" link. Currently, both of these options are primarily available to logged-in users and do not apply to email subscriptions or tag ATOM Feeds.
  • Wranglers and Coders alike have been considering ways to additionally mark these tags in the front-end code, so that via a site skin, a third-party plugin, or another method, a user can have more fine-grained control over tag viewing when browsing. (Any coding solution will, almost by definition, require more data pulled from the servers, so there's a lot of evaluation before we push any buttons.)
  • The wrangling interface does need some improvements. (Depending on who you ask, a lot of improvements.) We are working on them, but our coders' time is a limited resource. As well, we have wranglers on as many browser and OS combinations as our users in general, so it takes significant testing to make sure the interface doesn't degrade for anyone, which is time-consuming.

There will be a second post tomorrow stating the Tag Wrangling Staff's official point of view on the sustainability of the current Wrangling system. If there's something you have a particular question about, leave a comment and we'll try to get an answer for you!


Archive of Our Own Newsletter - November-December 2012

Published: 2012-12-13 14:52:21 -0500

Hello and Happy Holidays from the AO3! This newsletter contains all sorts of fun facts and news from the past two months - read on for updates in the world of the Archive in November and December.

Cool stuff on the Archive

Filters are back and our Advanced Search form has been updated! Look at this post for details on how to use our new filters and Advanced Search form. Release 0.9.2 went live and included more than just tag filters; we were also able to deploy bookmark filtering, a new search form for works and bookmarks, and new index pages for works and bookmarks. Releases 0.9.3 and 0.9.3 Redux also went live and included a lot of bug squashing and fixes as well as the ability to anonymously comment on your own anonymous work.

We're now issuing 750 user invites per day. Our queue is slowly but steadily decreasing. To those of you still on the waiting list, thank you for your continued patience!

Your Archive needs you!

The Content Policy Committee is working on changes to the AO3's Terms of Service and would like your feedback on the proposed changes. The content change files are available at the above news post for your consideration. We welcome all feedback!

Bugs we’ve squashed

We've been keeping a close eye on performance after the release of the new search engine and filters, and we're pleased with how it's holding up: it's a big improvement over the old system. We quickly located a bug causing tag wrangling changes not to propagate through to works and bookmarks properly, so tag wrangling was disabled while that was being fixed, and it's up and running again now.

We also tackled a number of collection and challenge-related bugs - 36 of them in Release 0.9.3 alone! Special thanks to Scott in particular for doing a ton of work on those.

What’s up in the world of tags?

There's been a few changes in the Marvel Avengers fandoms (some of the Archive's most popular!) To prepare for the coming sequels, the Thor and Captain America movie fandom names have changed, to Thor (Movies) and Captain America (Movies).

Also, following the official material, the main metatag for The Avengers (2012) and the related movies is now Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Note that if you tag for any of the subfandoms (e.g. if you tag your work The Avengers (2012) or Iron Man (Movies) that the work will automatically appear under Marvel Cinematic Universe. You can also tag a work with MCU if you like, but it will filter the exact same way as a work tagged with only the subfandoms.

You may also notice a tag The Avengers - Ambiguous Fandom. This ambiguous tag is necessary due to the existence of two unrelated "Avengers" fandoms, the Marvel superhero team and the British superspy series, and includes all works from both these series. As with MCU, using this tag in conjunction with more specific tags won't change where your work appears (and tagging with only this tag will make your Avengers movie-verse fic less likely for other users to find.) Generally, to make your works easier to find, tag with the most specific fandom (or fandoms) that apply.

For more information on the wild and wacky world of Marvel Avengers tags, please check out this informative post by one of our brave Avengers wranglers!

Adventures with Support

We're still keeping up with support tickets, even in spite of the start of holiday absences. In fact, we're about to hit our 10,000th ticket in our tracking program - that's just about 3,300 tickets a year! Every ticket sent in with an email address gets an individual response, and even the ones without email are still documented as appropriate with other committees. We're incredibly proud of our Support teams over the years and all they've done for the Archive!

AD&T Committee business of note

Thank you to all the coders, testers, and volunteers who helped us with Release 0.9.2 and 0.9.3! There's been a ton of work going on behind the scenes, and we're enormously grateful to everyone who's been helping out, and to the tag wranglers for their patience while we've sorted out some bugs.

We've been cautiously optimistic about performance over the last month, and we've ordered three new servers that we're hoping will help us to keep things running smoothly as we head into 2013. That's enabled us to increase the number of invitations that we send out each day, which is helping to cut down the wait times significantly.

We're working on one last release for 2012, which will be a small one, focused on bug fixes. There's already code in the pipeline for the first release of 2013, and we're looking forward to adding some long-awaited improvements and new features in the new year!

Tag Wrangling Committee business of note

Due to changes in the search engine with the main new filters deploy, tag wrangling was turned off for most of November. With the latest deploy, wrangling is working again and our wranglers have been busy getting all the new tags of the last month in order (our amazing volunteers managed to wrangle over 300 uncategorized fandoms down to less than 5 in a single weekend!)

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).


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!


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