The Category Change workgroup is ecstatic to present the final version of how fandom browsing will work in the Archive of Our Own in the future.
This includes deep changes in the way current ‘media categories’ are organized – that is, a heavily reworked grouping of fandoms. You can view current categories in the Fandoms by Media page in the Archive.
This proposal was elaborated based on internal input and the feedback obtained from Archive users, as well as ensuing discussion within the workgroup. You can learn more about the creation of the workgroup and the issues it arose from in our introductory post.
One of our starting points was that our new system should cover several different usages - users should be able to find specific fandoms, or just browse fandom lists and find new fandoms they hadn't thought of. But there were several other goals as well. For example, since fandoms are one of the main and more accessible ways fans can then browse works, it should be as easy and intuitive as possible. The system should be accessible, sustainable and adaptable to changing fandom trends.
It was also important that the system should be translatable, not only words-wise, but culture-wise -- this entails making it as neutral as possible and avoiding, when possible, ethnocentric categorizations.
New Category Types: Country of Origin and Language
Currently, fandoms on the archive are sorted into media categories – Frozen (2013) can be found under Movies for example, and fandoms that fall under multiple categories are listed under multiple categories.
Under this new system, media categories are one of three attributes that fandoms will be sorted by and browsable under. The other two attributes are country of origin and source language.
Like with the current media categories, fandoms will be able to have more than one country or language. What countries are added to a fandom will depend on specific guidelines the Tag Wrangling Committee will set for a particular media or type of fandom. The Tag Wrangling Committee will be also able to rename categories and subcategories and create subscategories.
These will be listed on a fandom landing page, similar to current tag landing pages, that will link to its page in Fanlore and its works and bookmarks in the Archive. A fandom will be allowed more than one attribute of the same type. For example, under this new system, Hana Yori Dango & Related Fandoms could be listed under Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China, in order to incorporate all adaptations.
Instead of the current Fandoms by Media, there will be a page with a search box that will allow users to search for fandoms directly if they know their names or part of their names, and a way to browse country, language and/or media.
The two methods (search and filter) will be combinable. Once a user has selected a combination of attributes, a fandom list will appear, with all fandoms that have those attributes. For example, one can search for any fandom that has 'Batman' in the title, but then refine that search only to English language TV shows.
Media is the only mandatory attribute. Each fandom will have one or more media, and one, multiple, or no Submedia. Each submedia can belong to only one media category. Ideally, fandoms would get all media and submedia that would apply to them, to make sure that anyone who comes looking through this method would find them. Fandoms can be in a media category without being in any of its submedia and there will be a special category for fandoms in this situation.
Defined Media Categories
It's important to remember that this list is not exhaustive and will change in the future. We are not trying to categorize everything that can exist, but rather to organize what already exists in the AO3 while keeping the system flexible enough that new categories can be added in a simple manner. Submedia categories will only be created if they are numerous – more than 40 fandoms and 100 works; these numbers might increase reflecting archive growth – and if it will be a useful browsing category for users.
There will always be fandoms that do not fit any existing or possible category. We cannot and do not aspire to perfection, but rather to the best possible method, one that is strongly based on existing user behavior and usability, rather than philosophical perfection.
We propose eight Media Categories:
Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art:
* Animated Films
* Anime & Manga
* (Bande Dessinée)
* English-language Comics and Graphic Novels
* English-language Animated Series and Cartoons
* Webcomics & Animated Webseries
* Other Animation, Comics, Manga & Sequential Art
Notes: At this point, there are not enough Manhwha nor Manhua fandoms for the subcategory to be created. Bande Dessinée fandoms does fulfill the numerical requirements for fandoms, but not the requirement for number of fanworks at the moment. Fandoms that qualifies for these subcategories will be placed under the Other Animation, Comics Manga & Sequential Art subcategory.
Audio & Music
* Albums & Songs
* Audio Plays, Radio & Spoken Word
* Other Audio & Music
Books, Literature & Lore
* Religion, Lore & Folk Traditions
* Novels, Novellas & Short Stories
* Other Books & Literature
* (Ballet & Dance)
* Theater & Musicals
* Other Performing Arts
Notes: The Ballet & Dance subcategory does not currently fulfill numerical requirements. Qualifying fandoms will be placed under Other Performing Arts subcategory.
* Tabletop Roleplaying Games
* Video Games
* Visual Novels
* (Board Games)
* Other Games
Notes: the Board games subcategory currently does not fulfill numerical requirements. Qualifying fandoms will be located in Other Games subcategory.
Live Action Films, TV Shows and Other Productions
* TV Shows
* Other Live Action Productions
Real Person Fiction
* Bands & Musicians
* Political & Historical
* Other Real Person Fiction
* Paintings, Sculptures and Other Related Art Forms
* Other Fandoms in Other Media
We believe this proposal solves most issues with the current browsing system and improves it, while also adding flexibility to the Media categories framework – which will allow the AO3 to change it as the Archive itself grows and changes.