AO3 News

Fandom Tags: Now with More Articles!

Published: 2013-01-27 13:52:21 -0500

Good news for users browsing fandoms on the AO3 -- alphabetizing titles by articles such as "the" or "das" or "los" is now a thing of the past!

With this latest AO3 release, the Fandom names on the media pages now will sort alphabetically regardless of articles. Previously, the code that generated pages like the Theater Fandoms page sorted by the first letter of the canonical fandom tag name. Because we wanted the tags to be sorted alphabetically, we had to remove articles from the names of the fandom, unless the fandom name was only two words or otherwise was confusing without the article. Needless to say, we've been seeking a solution to this for some time, but required something internationally compatible that wouldn't strain our servers.

This deploy gives wranglers the ability to set a "sort name" on canonical fandom tags that is separate from the "display name". So we can now have fandom names such as "The Crucible - Miller" display the article, but be sorted under "C".

The deploy also ran an automated process on our existing fandom tags that should have automatically changed the sort name for tags starting with: a, an, the, la, les, un, une, des, die, das, il, el, las, los, der, and den. In some cases, this auto-corrected some fandom names incorrectly ("Die Hard (1998)" sorting under "H", for example).

This still leaves a large number of tags that need to be manually adjusted, as they had an article removed to allow proper sorting under the old system. The Tag Wranglers are working through the fandom tags, restoring articles where the fandom name should have one, and fixing any incorrect changes. It will not be an instant process, given there are over 11,000 canonical fandom tags on the Archive, so we ask for your patience if it takes us a while to fix your particular fandom.

In the meantime, if you have questions you can ask here or send a question to our Support team, who'll pass it on to the Wranglers. The Tag Wrangling Committee also has a Twitter account at ao3_wranglers for all sorts of tag-related discussion.

Comment

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.

So.

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!

Comment

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

Ratings

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.

Warnings

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.

Categories

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

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.

Characters

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.

Relationships

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.

Additionals

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!

Comment

A New Look at AO3 Tags

Published: 2012-09-03 14:38:28 -0400

One feature that's been asked for repeatedly since the AO3 launched is a way to see how tags are structured on the Archive. This is now possible! Although this new option doesn't show everything that goes on behind the scenes when tag wrangling, it does provide more information to users as to what tags are in use and how the tags are interlinked behind the scenes.

We should note right up front: this is a very alpha interface. In fact, all that's been done is that we've changed the accessibility of the pages, and truncated the display of longer tag lists to save the servers. We do have plans for improving them, but we thought it best to get the pages out there and see what information you want!

We should also note that, in preparation for this release and the guidelines release, we've discovered a number of wrangling terms that are used inconsistently or confusingly. The Tag Wrangling volunteers are currently discussing new terminology, which we hope will be clearer.

How to Access the Tag Display Page

There are two ways to access these pages: through navigation, and through direct links.

If you're browsing the site, you probably already know you can click on a tag to see the works that use that tag or its synonyms. You'll see early in the page "1-X of Y Works found in Tag Name". Select the Tag Name to access the Tag Display page for that tag.

If you know the name of the tag, you can also enter http://archiveofourown.org/tags/TAGNAME directly into the address bar. (Note: for relationships, replace any / in the address with *s* for the link to work, and for friendship tags replace any & in the address with *a*.) Tag Search also links to the Tag Display pages.

The tags page

Near the beginning of the page (in the top right when using the default visual skin), will be two buttons that let you see all of the works marked with the tag you're viewing. Both creators and users of the works may have chosen that tag -- the creators when the works were uploaded, and the users when they decided to bookmark those works.

The tags page is divided into several sections. In most sections, if multiple tags are listed, they're automatically sorted into alphabetical order. Please note that these sections at present will only display the first 300 tags, in order to prevent unwieldy server loads. In the meantime you can use the Tag Search to find a particular tag. We plan to improve this display in later versions of this feature, so eventually you will be able to see all the tags under any tag.

A Sample Entry

A good example to see the Tag Display page in action is the Being Human (UK) fandom tag. Accessing the page, you'll find that:

  • the tag is a Fandom tag, and it has been marked Common, so it will pop up in the auto-complete;
  • the tag is for a TV Show;
  • the tag has a synonym;
  • the tag has a metatag, indicating that it's a distinct part of a larger group (in this case, there are other versions of the series);
  • the tag contains a number of Character, Relationship, and Freeform tags.

What does any of that mean?

All the tags on the Archive can be in one of three states -- common (canonical), merged (synonym), or unfilterable. Common tags (also known as "canonical" tags) can be filtered on and appear in the auto-complete. Merged tags (also known as "synonyms") are connected to a single common tag and works/bookmarks tagged with it will appear in the common tag's filter. Unfilterable tags cannot be used in filters but can still be searched and will still bring up lists of works. Here is an example:

If you click on the merged tag Aido Hanabusa, you can see that this Character tag has been merged into a different tag due to spelling differences. If you then click on the Aidou Hanabusa tag, you will see that it is the common tag. It has various mergers and it is also connected to both broader and narrower tags.

Any tag can be merged if it has a common meaning with another tag or tags. This is true whether it is a Fandom, Character, Relationship or Additional tag. However, not all tags get merged. Some remain unfilterable both because they have no shared meaning with other tags, and yet they are so rarely used that they are not likely to be searched on by other users. Some may be only temporarily unfilterable, until a tag wrangler has had time to review them and mark them as common or merge them with another tag.

Here is an explanation of the other sorts of tags you'll see on the tag pages.

Parent tags

Each user-created tag has one or more Parent tags. These are broad terms which may contain many subgroups of tags that fit a certain theme.

  • For example, Fandoms will have their Media type(s) listed as their Parent. All television show fandoms will have "TV Shows" as a parent tag.
  • Characters, Relationships, and Additional (or Freeform) Tags will have one or more Fandoms listed as their Parent.

Tags with the Same Meaning

These tags are "synonyms" of another tag, which have all been merged into the common tag. There are various reasons why tags are merged, such as spelling variations, fanon names when canon only gives part of the name, or just that there are many different ways to describe the same thing. When tags are merged they all get pooled together for better filter results.

Metatags and Subtags

Metatags are common tags that can include one or more subtags that are subsets of the metatag. Metatags are created for a number of reasons — the most common reasons are:

  • Fandoms that include different media productions or different media formats under the same name or within the same universe
  • Ambiguous versions of more specific tags (such as all characters named "Mary")

So if you click on Star Trek: The Next Generation you will see it is a subtag of the larger Star Trek universe metatag.

You can also see its subtags, in this case the movies associated with the series, and you can see that those subtags can have subtags of their own.

Child tags

Like Parent tags, above, each tag can have Child tags. Different types of tags can have different Child tags:

Media tags
These tags, like "Books & Literature" or "Movies" can have Fandom tags.
Fandom tags
These tags can have as Child tags: Character tags from that fandom, Relationship tags that involve one or more characters from that fandom, and Additional tags (called "Freeforms", here) that are specific to that fandom.
Character tags
These can have Relationship tags that involve specific characters, if set by the wranglers.

Other tags

Besides all of these user-created tags, some tags on the Archive are standardized and cannot be wrangled, though they are still tags and their tag pages are visible. Users are probably familiar with Archive-created tag types such as "Warning", "Rating", and "Category" (the latter is for Gen, F/F, F/M, M/M, Multi, and Other). For example, clicking on the Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings tag will tell you "This tag belongs to the Archive Warning Category. It's a common tag. You can use it to filter works and to filter bookmarks."

Guidelines are coming

In addition to visible tag structures, the Tag Wrangling Committee is working on making the guidelines that tag wranglers work with available for public viewing. An initial FAQ post about this process is now available. It provides more detail about both terminology and some general concepts.

Questions

For those who have questions about tags and what they're seeing, you can always send a question to our Support team, who'll pass it on to the Wranglers. The Tag Wrangling Committee also has a Twitter account at ao3_wranglers for all sorts of tag-related discussion.

Comment

Tag filtering and an apology

Published: 2012-08-15 06:16:28 -0400

We'd like to apologise for the delay in returning tag filtering. We had hoped to have tag filtering updated, run through our testers, and back out to you by the end of July. However, it's taking us much longer than we expected to finish that code and get it all tested. We hope to have all the work finished and the tag filters returned by the end of September. However, we can't promise we won't run into more unexpected snags, so right now this is a very rough timetable and we may have to revise it. We'll keep people updated as the work progresses.

We've been able to tackle a lot of other performance-related issues since the problems started in May/June. However, sadly this isn't enough to allow us to restore the old filter code, which just isn't able to cope with the number of users the site has now. It's been necessary to completely remove the old filter code and rewrite it from the ground up, which is a major piece of coding.

We already knew that this code was nearing breaking point and were actively working on new tag filters before the performance problems hit, which is why we were optimistic about introducing the new tag filters quickly. However, coding is always an uncertain business, and it's taken longer than we expected to finish the new code. In writing a big piece of functionality like this, it's not too unusual to run up against challenges while coding that you didn't anticipate up front. In addition, we only have a limited number of coders who are able to take on something this complex: the coder who is taking the lead on this project has been working on it all available hours, but sadly we've yet to figure out how to clone her.

In the meantime, if you've not already seen the Disabling filters: information and search tips post, check it out for alternate ways of finding works on the Archive.

Once again, many apologies for the inconvenience. We thank you for your patience while we work hard to bring back tag filtering!

Comment

Disabling filters: information and search tips

Published: 2012-06-12 19:58:16 -0400

Key information: As an emergency measure to deal with recent performance issues, we have disabled browsing filters on the site (the grey box of choices which appears on work index pages). This is a temporary measure to ensure that as many people as possible can access the site. You can still use our tags and advanced search feature to find the works you want. As an additional bonus, removing the filters has allowed us to remove the 1000 works cap on lists of works, so you can browse through all the works in your fandom! Read on for more information!

What's happening

As detailed in our recent post on performance, our coders and sys-admins are continuing to work on the performance issues we've been experiencing. We've made some server adjustments which have alleviated some of the worst problems, but we still need to make some substantial changes to fix the issues. We're aware that lots of users are still unable to access the site; as an emergency measure, we've decided to disable tag filters, which put a very heavy load on our servers. This means that the grey box with tags you can check to filter a list of works will no longer appear on the work index pages. We know this will be an inconvenience for many users, but the filters are really the 800-pound gorilla sitting on top of our database. Removing them for now will mean that people can access the site, even if they can't browse quite as easily as usual.

We've been working on significantly redesigning the part of our code that handles filtering for a while - because it's a major performance burden on some of the most popular pages of the site, refactoring this code to make it more efficient has been a priority for some time now. We're almost done with the rewritten version, but it needs more work and extended testing before we roll it out. (We want to be sure it doesn't introduce new bugs.) So, the filters will go away for a few weeks, and will then be replaced by the new, rewritten version.

One major disadvantage of the way the filters were designed was that they needed to retrieve the tags from the list of works found in order to build the filter options. This meant that we had to limit the number of works returned at one time to 1000, because otherwise building the filters would take too long. A side bonus of removing the filters is that we've been able to remove the 1000 works cap! The browsing redesign in progressaims to work around this issue, so we hope to avoid re-introducing this limitation when filtering returns.

How can I find the works I want?

Although the removal of the filters will make it harder to browse the works listings for specific things, there are still lots of ways to find the works you need.

Fandoms page

If you're looking for a specific fandom, you can browse the Fandoms page. Fandoms are organised by media type; the easiest way to find a particular fandom is to use Ctrl + F (or Command + F on a Mac) to search the page in your browser. The fandom pages will give you a list of all the works in your fandom; unfortunately there will be no way to filter that list down further.

Tags

Clicking on any tag will still bring up works with that tag, or with any tag marked as a synonym. So, if you click on Riza Hawkeye you'll get all the works tagged with 'Riza Hawkeye', 'Riza', 'Riza is awesome', etc. Again, while the filters are disabled there'll be no way to filter this list further.

Advanced Search

If you want more refined control over which works you find, you will need to use our Work Search. This feature could use a little bit of prettifying, but the underlying search is quite powerful. Use the following tips to help you find exactly the works you want:

  • A space equals AND. So, entering Fluff Friendship would find you works tagged with both 'fluff' and 'friendship'
  • | equals OR. So, entering Homestuck | My Little Pony will find you works tagged with 'Homestuck' AND/OR 'My Little Pony'
  • - equals NOT. So, entering Supernatural - Castiel/Dean Winchester will find works tagged Supernatural, but will exclude those tagged Castiel/Dean Winchester.
  • Fandom, Character, Relationship, Rating, Category, and Warning are all classed as tags (as well as the 'Additional tags'). So, you can search for works which are Explicit, or exclude works tagged 'Major Character Death'.
  • Using quotes around a phrase will search for that exact phrase. So, "Harry Potter" will get works tagged with 'Harry Potter', whereas Harry Potter will get works tagged with 'Harry' and works tagged with 'Potter'.
  • Entering a term in the tag field will only find works with exactly that tag - so searching for Charles/Erik will bring up only the few works tagged with exactly that tag, not the ones tagged 'Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier' (whereas if you click on the 'Charles/Erik' tag you'll get works with all variations of that pairing).
  • The search has trouble with tags which have dashes in them. If you search for X-Men, for instance, you noticed you'll get lots with X and no X-Men. To get around this, put the tag in quotes: "X-Men".

As well as searching tags, titles, and authors, you can also search for specific word counts, hits, kudos, and dates - including ranges, which is a useful tool for finding fics in a fandom. For example, you can search for all Stargate Atlantis fics published 5-6 years ago.

Some search examples!

  • Find an explicit Fullmetal Alchemist work with the pairing Riza Hawkeye/Roy Mustang, with no Archive Warnings: Enter "Fullmetal Alchemist" "Riza Hawkeye/Roy Mustang" "No Archive Warnings Apply" Explicit.
  • Find works with Rodney McKay but without John Sheppard: Enter "Rodney McKay" -"John Sheppard".
  • Find works tagged with "Alternate Universe" in either the Homestuck or White Collar fandoms: Enter "Alternate Universe" Homestuck | "White Collar".
  • Find all explicit works tagged as angst, but excluding M/M pairings: Enter Angst Explicit -"M/M"

Search bookmarklets

If you find yourself re-using the same search parameters (only T-rated works, only works under 5,000 words, only works with over 10 kudos) for new fandoms or characters you fall in love with, you could give these custom search bookmarklets a try. They are not official AO3 tools, but made by one of our own and utilizing the Advanced Search functionality. Think of them as a saved search that lets you enter a keyword (such as a fandom name or specific kink) and spits out only the kind of work you want to see. For help in putting together your own saved search, don't hesitate to comment on the post or here.

What next?

This is definitely a short term measure, but we think it will have a big effect on site performance. In a few weeks we hope to deploy our all new search and browse features, which will restore more browsing functionality without placing the same load on the servers. We thank you for your patience and understanding while we continue to work on the problem areas.

Post edited 2012-06-13, 12.00 UTC to reflect some minor changes in functionality & bring it up to date.

Comment

The number one topic for support requests on the Archive of Our Own is the 1000 work limit on search and browse results. This was an early stopgap measure to prevent the servers from going 'splodey, and initially it didn't matter much, because there weren't 1,000 works of anything. But nowadays, if you want to read, say, Stargate Atlantis fic, with over 10,000 works, clicking on "Stargate Atlantis" brings up less than 10% of the available fic. This is understandably annoying to our users!

Eventually there will be fixes to the 1,000 works cap; the problem is being worked on (as evidenced by the 502s, server-'splodeyness is still a concern). Until then, however, there are still plenty of ways around it! If you're a completist trying to see all the fics, here's a few tricks to help you out:

Sort by: at the top of every works list page for a tag (such as works in a fandom, e.g. Stargate Atlantis, or works for a character, relationship, or additional tag) there are various ways to sort. The default is by published date, descending (newest to oldest); you can also sort by author, title, or my favorites, hits and word count. (After the next code update, you'll also be able to sort by the date added to the site - this will make it easier to find works added to the site recently, but backdated to the date they were originally written.) This sort covers all the works under the tag, not just the 1,000 listed. If there are less than 2,000 works in a fandom, you can easily access all of them by reversing the sort order - e.g. click on "Date" and it will sort by oldest to newest, bringing up all the early stories you missed in the first run of 1,000. So I can browse the most recently published Homestuck, and then the earliest published Homestuck, and thus catch all of the 1,600+ HS works on AO3.

I like to sort by word count myself, since I like reading longer stories; sorting by word count in SGA, for example, gives me all the SGA stories on the Archive over 9,000 words. On the other hand, if I'm in the mood for something short, you can click on Word Count again, and it will sort in ascending order (smallest to largest), giving me 1,000 fics all under 300 words.

Obviously that leaves out a bunch of fics in the middle. But there are other ways to browse:

Tags and filters: AO3's tagging system isn't perfect but it's still awfully nifty and convenient now. You can access tags two ways - either by clicking on the tags themselves on any work, or by checking the filters on the right to combine tags (note that the "or" feature is a bit broken; "and" works fine though, if I only want to read mature-rated McShep.) Tag results can be sorted, same as described above (so you can see all the long McShep stories first). Tag results are still limited to 1,000, and there's far more McShep than that - but if you narrow the results further (say, filtering by AU) then you can see all 873 McShep AUs currently on AO3.

One thing to note when using the filters: the work counts you see next to a tag in the right sidebar only are counting the works in that first 1,000. So the numbers will be off - they might only show 300 works, but when you filter by them you'll get many more. So even if a tag only shows a few works, it still might be worth filtering by it. (Also, ways to filter by language and by complete vs WiP are coming soon.)

But wait, there's more:

Search & Advanced Search: Currently there's no way to negatively filter tags in browse (i.e. subtract a tag from results, rather than add it.) This feature is coming, but until then there are still ways to run a negative search, by using search - simply enter a search term with a hyphen before it. E.g. searching "Rodney McKay" -"John Sheppard" will find you fics with Rodney but without John.

In the search bar, a space will equal AND, finding works with everything entered. You can also do OR searches, using |, to find works with either one thing or another, and you can combine these. So searching "Alternate Universe" Homestuck | "White Collar" will bring up works tagged with "Alternate Universe" in either the Homestuck or White Collar fandoms.

The advanced search feature is even more powerful - as well as searching tags, titles, and authors, you can also search for specific word counts, hits, kudos, and date - including ranges, which is useful tool for finding fics in a fandom. For example, you can search for all Stargate Atlantis fics published 5-6 years ago.

The date tool is a bit clumsy for finding all the fics, however; the word count search is probably better for that. To bring up all the fics, start with a range, e.g. 0-200. Then, once you've looked over those results, increment it, 201-500. As long as the results it brings up are less than 1,001, you are seeing all works within those parameters on the Archive. In that way you can fairly quickly go through all the fic in any fandom, or for a specific tag or tags.

A couple of notes about Advanced Search - like the rest of AO3 it's in beta and has its kinks. In particular it has trouble with tags with dashes - if you search for X-Men, for instance, you noticed you'll get lots with X and no X-Men. To get around this, put the tag in quotes: "X-Men". Also keep in mind that presently, unlike filters, searching for tags only brings up works tagged with that specific tag. So searching for "Charles/Erik" only brings up a handful of fics, while clicking on the tag "Charles/Erik" brings up the wrangled tag Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier.

Hopefully this will help improve your AO3 experience! If you have any other tricks and tips, or questions about how to do any of this, please leave a comment below!

This is a modified version of an original post by Tag Wrangling Committee member X-parrot - thanks for allowing us to repost, X-parrot!

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Tutorial: Tags on the AO3 \o/

Published: 2011-09-08 11:40:51 -0400

The information in this news post is out of date. It is being kept for archival purposes. The Tag Wrangling Committee is working on new documentation that represents the current state of tags. You can view our current wrangling guidelines for more accurate information.

The tag system on the AO3 is an attempt to balance two needs that we feel are important:

  • Users should be able to apply any kind of labels they want to their works and bookmarks.
  • Users should be able to find, sort, and filter works according to tags.

"Tag wrangling" is the behind-the-scenes work that makes both of these things possible at once.

The first thing to know about tags is that all the fields at the top of the "Post New" form, everything before you get to the title of the work -- all of those are tags. A few of them have set values you can choose from (the Category, Warning, and Rating fields); all the others are free for you to type in whatever you want. Fandoms are tags, characters are tags, relationships are tags, additional tags are -- as the name suggests -- tags. The Archive software handles them all the same way.

Screenshot of the tags section in the 'post new' form, indicating that Ratings, Warnings and Fandom are required tags, while Category, Relationship, Character and Additional are optional tags

Since they're free-form text boxes, there's a lot of variation in what people put in, even when they're talking about the same thing. We encourage that variety! You're always welcome to use whatever form you want on your tags. But while other fans are likely to know that "Gurren Lagann" is the same series as "Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann," or that "SPN" is an abbreviation for "Supernatural," the Archive software doesn't know that automatically. This is where tag wranglers come in!

The tag wranglers' job is to look at all the new tags on the Archive, figure out how they relate to each other, and link them up behind the scenes so that somebody looking for works about a specific thing can find all the works on the Archive without having to look separately for all the different variations. Wranglers have guidelines to make the standardized forms of tags that show up in the auto-complete and the filters, but you should always feel free to use whatever forms you like best: the point of tag wrangling is that users shouldn't have to use any standard forms. For tag-filtering to be possible, the Archive requires some kind of standard form; the forms wranglers have worked out are intended to be as clear as possible for as many users, and are adjusted the more tags we get, as we see how users create and use tags.

Tag wranglers make three kinds of linking. The first kind, synonyms, is pretty self-explanatory; it's hooking tags to the standardized form of the tag, so "Snarry" and "Harry/Snape" are both synonyms of "Harry Potter/Severus Snape". Clicking on any of those tags will bring up the same list of works.

The second kind, metatags, can get confusing (and sometimes leads to users asking "Why does this tag show up in the filters?"). A metatag looks the same as any other tag, but it can call up other filterable tags. You'll see this in fandom tags like "Batman - All Media Types," which is a metatag for "Batman (Comics)" as well as "Batman (Nolan movies)" and all the other kinds of Batman canon. Clicking on the "Batman - All Media Types" tag displays works that use any of its included tags -- so if you've posted a story tagged "Batman (Comics)," it will turn up in filters when somebody is looking for just comics-verse Batman works and also when somebody is looking for all Batman-related works of any kind. Unlike synonyms, metatags only work in one direction, so someone looking only for comics-verse Batman will not see works tagged for Batman movies.

The third kind is currently not visible to users, though as our fabulous coders keep working on improvements, that should change: behind the scenes, tags in different categories get attached to each other, making a map of how they all relate. The Archive knows, for example, that the relationship tag "Zack Fair/Cloud Strife" is related to the character tags "Zack Fair" and "Cloud Strife," and that the additional tag "Community: badbadbathhouse" belongs with the fandom tag "Persona 4." Right now that's just back-end information that the wranglers organize, but we're looking forward to the upgrades that will let everyone use this information for browsing.

All sorts of tag linking are trickier in the Additional Tags field, because it's more debatable what things should be attached to each other, and it's harder to see what other related tags might already be floating around the Archive (as of July 2011, there are over 25,000 not-fandom-specific Additional Tags -- that's a lot to keep track of!). The tag wranglers do their best, but if you find tags that aren't connected where you think they should be, or something that is connected where you think it shouldn't be, please submit a Support request and the wrangling team will investigate.

If making your tags filterable is important to you, here are a few things you can do to make that easier:

    1. Use commas appropriately – use them only to separate your tags and not within the text you want as your tag, as the Archive treats a comma as the end of a tag. If you want to use more than one tag in a category, use a comma between them, including the names of fandoms in a crossover (enter each fandom separately).
    2. Use the tag categories as described above: fandom names in the fandom tags field, relationship tags (either pairings or platonic relationships) in the relationships field, character tags in the characters field. For anything that doesn’t fit into those other categories, use additional tags.
    3. Spell-check your tags before posting – you proofread your works, why not your tags?

For more information on tags, please see the Tag FAQ. If you're interested in Tag Wrangling, we welcome Volunteers!

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