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Published:
2014-10-16 13:54:12 -0400
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What Are Work Skins?

Works skins allow you to customize the appearance of your works beyond the basic HTML tags the Archive supports. In order to do this, they use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), a style language that allows you to define a set of rules for how specific HTML elements in your work should be displayed.

This guide will take you through creating and applying a work skin on the Archive. For a more in-depth tutorial on how work skins and CSS work, we invite you to take a look at our tutorial on styling works, or check out some of the HTML and CSS resources listed at the end of this article.

Creating and Applying a Work Skin

1. Create the Work Skin

From your AO3 Dashboard, choose Skins from the sidebar, then select My Work Skins. Select Create Work Skin at the top left to open the Create New Skin webpage.

My Work Skins Page

2. Enter Work Skin Information

In the shaded area labeled About, ensure that Type is set to "Work Skin". Then, give your work skin a unique title (e.g., "SMS Text"). Optionally, you can also give your work skin a description (e.g., "For SMS text within fic").

About section of My Work Skins Page with example information

Once you have created your work skin, you may want to return to this form to upload a preview image or to apply to make your skin public for the use of other fans. For now, move down into the CSS text box to continue.

3. Write the CSS

CSS allows you to create a blueprint for how you'd like the HTML in your work to be displayed.

For example, using CSS, you can give instructions in one line of code that makes all your paragraphs look like monospaced computer code. As you might already know, you can do the same thing using an HTML code tag on all your paragraphs--but using CSS has a number of advantages over using HTML all by itself.

Firstly, by separating your work's appearance from its content, aesthetic changes are kept consistent. CSS ensures all items with the same labels are automatically displayed with the same settings. As work skins can be applied to multiple works, this feature is helpful in ensuring series are formatted consistently across all works.

CSS also helps you avoid redundancy by allowing you to define rules that will apply to all matching elements within your text, without needing to retype the same HTML over and over. In the previous example, if you wanted to change all your paragraphs to monospace font using HTML, it would involve adding extra HTML code for every paragraph of your work. Using CSS, on the other hand, you could make this change with a handful of CSS lines that would then apply to every single paragraph (p) tag. As such, using CSS in work skins is ideal for customized or complex styling, while still being easily changeable.

Finally, using CSS for styling instead of HTML avoids violating the principle of Semantic HTML--that is, the idea that HTML should be about describing the meaning of content, not its appearance. Semantic HTML is not only easier for humans to read and write, it's also more accessible: people using screen-readers or other assistive technologies to access AO3 will have a much easier time accessing your work if you use CSS instead of HTML for styling.

CSS Example

If this all sounds a little complicated, don't panic! This example will walk you through the basics of CSS styling in relation to work skins.

To begin, imagine you want to make the text messages characters send and receive look different from the rest of your work's text. For instance, you might want all SMS text to use a monospace Courier New font, while the rest of your work continues to use the Archive's default font. Using only HTML, this would be impossible, as the Archive does not allow use of the HTML font tag required to select a different font family. Using a work skin, on the other hand, you could easily create a simple CSS rule--a line of code that declares new settings for a particular HTML element--saying that every instance of a newly-envisioned HTML class textMsg should use a monospace Courier New font.

The entire CSS rule could look something like: #workskin .textMsg { font-family: "Courier New", Courier, monospace; }

CSS Example

Let's deconstruct this example.

To start, write #workskin to declare the rule as part of your work skin. This doesn't change, regardless of the kind of rule you're writing.

After this, you specify which section of your HTML the CSS rule will affect; in other words, a "selector". You can apply a rule to any combination of HTML elements and classes. Possible selectors include:

  • Element only: To use an HTML element as your selector, simply write the element name after the #workskin declaration. For example, selecting all paragraph elements (p) becomes #workskin p.
  • Class only: To select all instances of an HTML class, write the name of the desired class preceded by a period. As in our CSS Example, #workskin .textMsg will modify any element in the work with the class name textMsg.
  • Element and Class pair: To select only items with a particular element and class name, combine both methods by writing the element name and the class name separated only by a period: #workskin p.textMsg selects only paragraph elements with the textMsg class.

Following the HTML selector, you'll need to type a left curly bracket ({). This signals the start of your declaration, which defines what your rule is actually going to do.

In the declaration, you write a series of statements that assign a value or values (in this case, "Courier New", Courier, monospace) to a property (in this case, font-family). Your property describes the aspect you would like to change (the font family), while the value you assign it controls the kind of change that will be affected (in this case, changing it to monospace Courier New font style). The two are connected by a colon (:) and the whole statement is followed by a semicolon (;) to indicate that the font-family declaration is finished and complete. You can now type a right curly bracket (}) to close your rule.

In this example, the CSS rule only contains a single declaration; more commonly, rules will consist of several of these statements before closing off. To apply more settings to a single selector, simply end each declaration with a semicolon before defining the next property, and ensure you close the statement with a final semicolon and right curly bracket.

For some more examples of CSS rules and how they are written, you may want to take a look at our tutorial on styling works or any of the other resources listed at the bottom of this article.

4. Applying the Work Skin

Once you've written your CSS, use the Submit button to create your work skin. Congratulations! It will now show up under the My Work Skins header of the Skins section of your dashboard, where you can edit it to add additional rules, add a preview image, or make your skin public for others to make use of.

My Work Skins Page with example work skin

Now that your skin has been created, the next step is to link it to the work you'd like it to modify. In order to do this, you'll need to navigate away from the Skins page to the work in question. Select Edit on the desired work, or create a New Work, and scroll down to Select Work Skin under the Associations heading.

Associations section on Post New Work page

By default, this drop-down box should be populated with two public work skins: "Basic Formatting" and "Homestuck Skin". You should also see any personal work skins you just created listed here. Select the desired work skin and save your work.

5. Formatting the Work

Now that your work and your work skin are linked together, the CSS in your work skin will map onto the HTML elements of your text. For this to work properly, the selectors defined by your CSS rules need to be present in your work.

For example, a CSS rule for paragraph elements (#workskin p { }) will only apply to sections of text in your HTML which are wrapped in the p and /p tags. In this instance, they will work immediately, as p and /p tags are added automatically to your text by AO3's parser. However, this won't be the case for the rules in your work skin which make use of classes or other HTML elements.

HTML class tags can easily be added to both individual paragraphs and in-line text:

  • Paragraph: To apply the settings of the textMsg class used in our CSS example to an entire paragraph, simply add the class name textMsg to the p tag preceding the paragraph: p class="textMsg". No modification needs to be made to the closing /p tag.
  • Span: To apply the settings of the textMsg class to some text within a paragraph, surround the selected text with span class="textMsg" and /span tags.

Work Text with included HTML class examples

There are a couple things to remember when adding HTML class tags to your text. Firstly, make sure you're editing your work in HTML mode, not rich text mode, otherwise the changes will not take effect. Secondly, you'll need to use the exact same class name in your HTML as the one you defined in your work skin CSS. Keep in mind these are case-sensitive, so be sure to match the names exactly.

Once you've formatted your text so that it references the items modified in your work skin, hit save and inspect the fruits of your labour. Congratulations! You've just customized a work's appearance on the Archive using a work skin!

Work with applied work skin settings

Useful Links for More Information

Work Skin Resources

Tutorial: Styling Works
Example Work Using Work Skin
Public Work Skins
Homestuck-specific Tutorials

CSS & HTML Resources

AO3 CSS Help
AO3 HTML Help
CSS Tutorial

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For privacy reasons, we cannot answer log in questions in comments to this post. If you are having issues logging in, please Contact Support

One of the most frequent problems Support deals with is when users are unable to log in to the Archive. While there are many possible causes for login issues, we've created a list of some of the most common and easiest to resolve.

If you're having trouble logging in to the Archive, here are some places to start your troubleshooting:

Have you activated your account by following the link provided in your registration confirmation email?

If you've recently signed up to the Archive and are having trouble logging in, make sure you've activated your account! Within 24 hours of signing up, you should have received a registration confirmation email from do-not-reply@archiveofourown.org, asking you to activate your AO3 account using the included link. The activation email usually arrives right after creating your account, but some email providers can considerably delay the delivery.

Once you've activated your account, you should receive an activation confirmation email from the same email address: do-not-reply@archiveofourown.org. Sometimes, these emails can get lost in spam filters, so make sure you check these as well! If you can't find either your activation request or an activation confirmation email, and it's been over 24 hours since you registered, you can contact Support asking for your account to be activated by an administrator.

Are you trying to log in with your username (not an email address), and is it spelled correctly?

You can only log in to the Archive with your account username; an email address won't work. If you’ve forgotten your username, or aren't sure if you're spelling it correctly, you can have it emailed to you by requesting a password reset on the New Password page. In addition to a temporary password, the email will include the username associated with the given email address, highlighted in red. Please note that this solution will only work if the email address associated with your account is current, so make sure you always keep your account's contact information up-to-date!

Is your browser or a password manager automatically entering your username/password?

If you're using your browser's auto-complete or a password manager to log in to the Archive, there's a chance the saved username/password combination could be incorrect. To check, delete the pre-filled login information and re-type your username and password manually. Remember to update the auto-complete/password manager entry with the working combination later, to prevent this problem from reoccurring.

Have you tried deleting your browser’s cookies?

Sometimes, login issues can be caused by misconfigured or corrupted cookies. Cookies issues may lead to an error message saying that the password or user name you entered doesn't match our records, even when they are correct, or a condition where you get a successful login message but are not actually logged in. To make sure your cookie settings aren't keeping you from accessing the Archive, check that your browser is set to accept cookies from AO3 and clear your cookies before attempting to access the Archive again. Instructions for managing cookies differ by browser and browser version, but here are some links to get you started:

Have you tried disabling browser extensions/add-ons?

Sometimes, browser extensions or add-ons can interfere with the login process. To ensure your browser settings are not preventing you logging in, disable any additional software associated with your browser by following the links below.

Have you tried logging in using a different browser or device?

If you can successfully log in to AO3 using alternative means, the problem you're encountering is most likely a problem with your browser or device, rather than your account. If this is the case, we encourage you to let us know of such issues by contacting Support, so that we can investigate further. Please remember to include details about the browser(s) and device(s) you've tried, as well as the problem itself.

Have you tried everything above, and still find yourself unable to log in?

If you’ve tried all these steps and are still having trouble logging in, please use this contact form to contact Support directly. Do not share any account information in the comments on this post as all comments are public and can be seen by anyone who accesses this page. Comments containing account information will be removed.

As always, please remember to include as much detail as possible about the specifics of your problem, such as error messages received and your browser/device configuration, so that we can troubleshoot most effectively. Also include which of the above steps you have tried, so we can rule those issues out!

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In one of our next code updates, we're going to be rolling out some changes to the FAQ section of the Archive. Here's a little information on what improvements the new FAQ will include, and what this change means for you.

Improvements

As one of the main improvements, it will enable easy translation of questions and answers. Our volunteer translators will be able to submit their work to the FAQ and link it to the corresponding English text. The new interface for users will introduce a simple drop-down box for filtering the FAQ by language.

Screenshot 1
[Work-in-progress screenshot of the new FAQs, here depicting the list of available topics in Portuguese]

The new FAQ interface will benefit from a cleaner, easier-to-edit structure that makes adding questions to categories more straightforward. Browsing the FAQ will also be a lot easier: we'll improve our index page, so that you can see at a glance a full list of questions without having to read through the entire page.

Screenshot 2
[Work-in-progress screenshot of the new FAQs, here depicting the list of all available questions for one topic in Spanish]

Expected Issues

We had to make significant changes to the existing code to enable these new features. In addition, our AO3 Docs team has been working on a new and improved FAQ structure, as well as updates to the existing sections. New content will be added as work on these updates progresses.

As a result, old links to the FAQ might stop working or will link to an unexpected section of the new FAQ. For example, the link to the Bookmarks FAQ might suddenly lead you to the FAQ about Downloads. Please bear this in mind if you have linked to the FAQ on another site, as these links will likely need updating. FAQ links included previously within AO3's official communication (for instance on AO3 News or in previous Support replies) will also be affected, although we will do our best to update our own resources.

Finally, there's a chance that internal links from one section of the FAQ to another will also break temporarily as we wire the new FAQ together. There's a small possibility that following the code deploy, the FAQ section will be empty as we work on re-adding all existing content.

Looking Forward

We're excited about these latest updates: we hope that they'll not only improve our documentation and make it easier for you to find answers to your questions, but will also be a big step forward in beginning to make the Archive accessible in different languages for fans around the world. Many thanks to our teams of translators, documentation volunteers, coders and testers for all of their work on this project! We hope you find these changes helpful, and we look forward to your feedback.

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Published:
2012-07-22 17:57:51 -0400
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Some of you might have noticed in Support tickets a link to something called "Trello" or might have noticed a new FAQ about "Internal Tools", but weren't sure what these things might be. Or you might've wondered if you're the only who's seen a bug or requested a new feature. Or you might just be curious about our code.

We'd like to introduce the three public tools that we've been using to track development information for the Archive. We've been using them for different lengths of time, but haven't really advertised them. In the spirit of transparency, we thought we'd present them to you! We're hoping these tools will make it easier for you to understand what's going on behind the scenes and what we're working on.

First up is our very organized friend, the Trello Feature Requests Board. He's a detail-oriented individual who loves hearing about where our users think the Archive should go and what features our coders should implement. He records all of the requests for new features or revisions of current features. Browsing his cards, you can see features and changes that have been proposed, ones that have are accepted for development and will be coded eventually, ones that are implemented, and even ones that aren't currently possible on the Archive. He even takes notes on coders' and users' thoughts on the various features. I should note that he might not have labeled some cards clearly, so it's always worth browsing around a little.

Next is the Google Code Issues Tracker. She is our best beta, keeping track of features that have been approved for development on Trello, as well as the bugs our coders, testers, and users have found (all 3200 and counting)! She's been working for us the longest, keeping a list of everything we've broken and everything we've fixed. She's got some categories you can search by, but you can also just search by keywords.

Finally, we have the otwarchive on Github. She's the one in charge of our actual code, where the Archive gets rewritten. She'll take notes if you've figured out how to fix something, and even let you copy out the whole Archive code to work with on your own server. She's also starting to collect notes about our development and design guidelines as the AD&T committee standardizes them for the version 1.0 release.

We have a FAQ with a few more questions and answers about Trello, Google Code and Github, as well as links to all three. You can access it here: Internal Tools FAQ. If you have any questions about any of these tools or about something on them, let us know at our Support form (which also will soon have links to these tools)!

- Sam J., AO3 Support

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Published:
2012-06-21 10:13:09 -0400
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The last month or so has seen lots of Fanfiction.net users joining the Archive of Our Own - you are all very welcome! As such, we've had a number of Support questions about the ways in which the AO3 differs from FF.net, so we've put together a quick primer to let you know about a few key details. (Although they're focused around the questions we've received from FF.net users, this post will also be relevant to any new user of the site.)

Getting an account

How do I create an account?

You need an invitation to create an account. This is to help us manage site growth (as you may have noticed, the recent expansion has caused a few performance issues). You can request an invitation by adding your name to the invitations queue.

The invitations queue is really long! Can I get an invitation any quicker?

Because so many people have recently moved to the AO3, the invitations queue is very long and wait times currently reach until next year. At the moment, we're still working on dealing with some performance issues, so we're not able to issue invitations any faster. As soon as we're confident we have those under control we'll review the number of invitations we're issuing and take measures to try to reduce the queue. We're really sorry we can't issue invitations to everyone who wants one right away, but we need to ensure the site can cope with the demand first. In the meantime, if you are concerned that your work might be deleted without warning, we recommend saving a copy to your hard drive so that you have a backup you can repost here or elsewhere. (And don't forget to save your reviews, which can't be reproduced elsewhere!)

I have an account - can I get an invitation to give to a friend?

We normally allow existing users to request invitation codes to give to friends, but because of the very high demand we've had to stop issuing invitation requests for now. We'll reenable this option when we have the performance issues under control - we're sorry to have to disappoint you right now.

Posting

Can I import my stories directly from FF.net?

Unfortunately, no. Fanfiction.net is blocking requests from our server. You can read more about this issue in our news post, Problems with imports from FF.net.

Can I import stories from other sites?

Yes, although there may be issues, depending on where you're importing from. To import a story, choose "post new" from the header menu and then click on the "Import From An Existing URL Instead?" button above the text entry fields. You can also go directly to the Import New Work page. For more information, see the Importing and Mass Editing FAQ and our Known Issues relating to imports.

Can I upload my story from a file?

This is not currently possible. You can copy and paste your text from a Word file or the FF.net document editor, but you can't upload or manage files.

How do I keep my formatting when pasting into the work text box?

By default, the text entry box comes up in the mode for directly entering HTML code. To paste formatted text in, click the "Rich Text" button above the box to switch to the Rich Text editor, then paste your text.

Since the Rich Text option relies on a third-party tool, which comes with its own set of bugs, there are currently several issues when pasting in formatted text. In particular, it does not work properly with Internet Explorer 9. Some of these issues should be fixed in an update fairly soon, but in the meantime you can read about them in our Known Issues. If you do have trouble formatting your work, please contact Support and we'll be happy to help you try to work around the difficulties.

How does tagging work?

There are 7 categories of tags you can enter: Rating, Archive Warnings, Category, Fandom, Character, Relationship, Additional Tags.

The Rating, Archive Warnings, and Category tags for your work are set by the choices you tick in the form while posting. You can read more about our policies on ratings and warnings in our Terms of Service FAQ. The important thing to note is that we usually consider ratings to be in the eye of the beholder, so you should use the rating that seems right to you. "Category" is the Archive term for describing a work based on its main relationship (or lack thereof), i.e. M/M, F/M, Gen and so on.

The Fandom, Character, Relationship, and Additional Tags categories are created by typing into the appropriate boxes on the posting form. Tags should be separated by commas. The autocomplete will show suggestions for existing tags, but you can also create completely new tags. The AO3's tag wranglers will link new tags to the "canonical tag" with the same meaning where possible (for example, all versions of a given character's name will be linked). To make it easier for readers to find your work, it's best to choose clear, non-ambiguous tags. You can read more about how tagging works on the Archive in the Tags FAQ.

How do I post a crossover?

Whereas on FF.net there's a special section for crossovers, a work on the AO3 can be marked as a crossover by adding all applicable fandoms as tags and, optionally, using keywords such as "Crossover" or "Fusion" under Additional Tags.

If your work is based on more than one fandom, all you need to do is to enter all the fandom names in the "Fandom" field when you post, separated by commas. So, instead of having to choose a separate "crossover" category, you would simply enter Bleach, Homestuck, Hawaii Five-O (1968) into the Fandom field. Your work will then be listed under all three fandoms. If you include the "Crossover" tag in the Additional Tags, users will be able to more easily find (or avoid) your work in the appropriate tag searches.

Can I post explicit works? Can I post explicit works featuring underage characters? Can I post Real Person Fiction?

Yes, yes, and yes. If your work is fannish in nature and abides by our Terms of Service, you can post it here. We do ask that you label your work appropriately, which can include using the "Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings" and "Not Rated" options if you prefer not to warn or pick a rating. You may also make use of Additional Tags to add content notes that aren't covered by the Archive Warnings.

Does AO3 have "communities"?

The closest thing to FF.net's "communities" on AO3 are Collections. The main difference is that the collection moderator cannot post stories to the collection personally; that has to be done by the authors of the stories. The moderator can add bookmarks to a collection, which will point to the works instead of gathering them up directly.

You can read more about this feature in the Collections and Challenges FAQ (although this section is currently in need of updating). Collections can also be used to set up gift exchanges and prompt memes.

Search

The Archive offers a search form to find exactly the works you're looking for. However, documentation of all its features is in need of an update. In the meantime, you can find lots of tips & tricks, including several example searches, in this post posts: Disabling filters: information and search tips.

One particularly useful thing to keep in mind is that because Ratings, Warnings, and Categories are all tags, you can search for (or exclude) them. So, for example, if you're looking for explicit slash but don't care for violence, you could enter "Explicit" "M/M" -"Graphic Violence" in the Tag search box along with whatever other terms (fandoms, pairings, etc.) you're looking for.

At the time of posting, browsing filters are turned off for performance reasons (you'll see the grey box where they would usually be on work pages). They'll be replaced in a few weeks with all-new filters which will give you more ways to find things on the site.

Reading

Can I make the text bigger or smaller?

Yes! We don't have these options on the individual work pages, like on FF.net. If you're a logged-in user, then you can change the text size (and most other display features) with a site skin: see the Skins FAQ for more information. If you're logged out, or if you just want a quick and easy way to change the text size, then most modern browsers will let you do this by hitting Control + or Control -, or Cmd +/- on a Mac. (This will work on any site!)

Can I make the text light on dark, change the margins, or choose a sans-serif font?

Yes, if you're a logged-in user. These options aren't on individual work pages like on FF.net, but you can change most aspects of the way the site looks with a site skin: see the Skins FAQ for more information. For performance reasons, we've had to disable skins for logged-out users. We're working on ways of bringing them back. In the meantime, if you need a modified display for accessibility reasons and you don't have an account, please contact Support and they'll help you out.

Communication and Feedback

How do I leave a review? Do I need an account?

To leave a review, just type your feedback into the comment field at the bottom of the work you enjoyed (surrounded by a grey box). You don't need to have an account - if you're not a logged-in user, you'll need to leave a name and email address (your email won't be displayed, but the name you give will).

Can I send a private message to another user?

Currently, no. This is a very frequently requested feature that has been approved for future implementation, but at the moment the only option for private communication is email. Some users opt to display an email address publicly; you can check for one by going to the user's home page and choosing "Profile" from their dashboard. Some also link to their journal accounts (such as Livejournal or Dreamwidth) or blogs in their Bio section.

Can I block a user from leaving me feedback?

No. You can, however, delete user comments on your works, including comments left by users who are logged in. If you feel a user's comments constitute harassment (see our TOS) please submit an abuse report. Note that you should not delete the comments in this case, as once deleted they cannot be recovered for review.

Can I turn off comments/kudos from users who are anonymous/not logged in?

No. For several reasons, including avoiding the exclusion of users who have not yet been able to get an invite, this is not a preference we offer to authors. Comments can be deleted, and spam comments should be marked using the "Spam" button to notify our automated spam-tracking software.

Does the Archive have author/story alerts?

Yes, called "subscriptions"--when an update is posted, subscribed users are sent a notification. You can currently subscribe to authors, stories, and series. To manage your subscriptions, click on the "Subscriptions" link in your Dashboard.

Can I see who is subscribed to me/my works?

No. We know that many users want to know how many people are following their works, so we made the numbers available in our Stats feature. (You can read more about it in our admin post about the Statistics Page.) However, to protect user privacy, you cannot see specific information about subscribers.

I want to favorite an author/work/series. How do I do that?

You can bookmark works and series. In this case, unless a bookmark is set to private, an author can see who has bookmarked their works and what notes they've added. An option to bookmark authors is planned, but hasn't been implemented yet.

More Questions and Troubleshooting

What should I read to learn more about how to use the site?

After reviewing our Terms of Service, we recommend that new users should look through our FAQ pages. We also regularly update our news posts with Tutorials, so check there often!

Where can I read updates on changes to the site or known problems?

All updates and changes will be publicised in our News Posts, many of which are mirrored in several locations, including the OTW's Dreamwidth, Livejournal, and Tumblr pages. All code updates (deploys) come with a set of detailed Release Notes, listing all bug fixes and describing major changes.

Is there a way to know if the site is down/having issues?

You can always check our Twitter feed at @AO3_Status.

Where do I go for help?

Whether it's a question, a bug report, or a feature request, you can submit it all through our Support form. We promise to take your question, suggestion, or problem seriously. You can submit anonymous feedback if you desire, but if you leave an email address we will get back to you with an answer as soon as we are able! Your IP address will be registered for spam protection issues, but that information is never available to our support staff.

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

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Published:
2012-02-26 11:35:21 -0500
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We will soon be starting to import at-risk fannish archives into the AO3 through Open Doors. This is a central part of the OTW's mission: the preservation of fannish history. At the request of archivists, we will import works which would otherwise disappear because the archive code they are hosted on is old, because the archivist or the community can no longer afford server space, or because their maintainers are no longer able to support the archive (or a combination of all three). Archives imported onto the Archive of Our Own will be made into collections: this means they will be accessible via the main Archive, but will retain some visual distinctiveness with a unique profile and a link from each work to the parent collection.

We realize that this might raise a lot of procedural and philosophical questions, so we've recently revised our Open Doors FAQ. Below, we've excerpted some of the key questions and answers about what to expect if you have work on an archive which is being imported onto the Archive of Our Own.


How will I know if an archive with my work on it is going to be imported onto the AO3?

Before we import an archive, we'll post an Archive news post about the import and tweet about it on our Twitter account @ao3org. We will also encourage the maintainers of the archive we're importing to publicise the import on the old archive (if feasible) and in other venues where they believe affected users will see the news. Since at-risk archives are often older archives where many users have moved on and/or changed their contact details, we can't guarantee that everyone affected will know ahead of time, but we'll do our best to make sure people are aware.

How will I know when my work is imported onto the AO3?

When an import takes place, an email will be sent to every user who has had a work imported. These emails will go to the email address associated with the account on the old archive. This does mean that if you no longer have access to that email address, you won't be notified automatically - we hope that the other publicity around imports will help ensure that those people affected will hear about it. We maintain a list of imported archives in the Open Doors Special Collections Gallery.

What will happen when my work is imported onto the AO3?

When your work is imported onto the AO3, several things will happen:

  • We'll send an email to the email address associated with the account on the archive that's being imported, letting you know you can come and claim your works.
  • If you already have an account on the Archive of Our Own, you'll be able to claim the works and add them to your existing AO3 account.
  • If you don't have an account on the Archive of Our Own, you will be invited to create one, and will be able to claim your imported works and associate them with that account.
  • Your imported works will be locked to logged-in Archive users by default.

What if I don't have an account on the AO3?

When an archive is imported onto the AO3, you'll be notified by email. If you don't already have an account, you will be invited to create an Archive account (without adding yourself to our regular invitations queue). Yay! If you do already have an account, you'll be able to claim the works for that account.

How will I get control over my imported works?

If you have access to the email address associated with the account on the old archive:

  • You will receive an email letting you know your works have been imported and giving you the following options:
    • Claim the works on the Archive of Our Own and create a new account which they will be associated with (this means you get an AO3 account if you don't already have one). You can then edit, delete, etc, the same way you would with any work you posted on the AO3.
    • Claim the imported works and associate them with your existing AO3 account. You can then edit, delete, etc, the same way you would with any work you posted on the AO3.
    • Delete the imported works. If you do this, you will also have the option to prevent any future works associated with that email address being imported onto the Archive.
    • Orphan the imported works. This leaves the works on the Archive, but removes them from the control of any user account. You can choose whether to remove the name they were associated with on the old archive, or leave it displaying as a pseud.

If you don't have access to the email address associated with the account on the old archive:

  • Contact the archivist who is maintaining the new collection - contact details will be given on the profile page of the collection.
  • Contact the Open Doors team.

How will people be able to find my work?

The imported archive will be made into a collection on the Archive of Our Own, so it will remain individually distinct and can be browsed independently of the main archive. Imported works will also be accessible from the main Archive pages (so you may get some new readers!). Where possible, we will implement redirects from the original archive domain to the Archive of Our Own: we will publicise this on a case-by-case basis.

What if I have already posted a copy of the works being imported on the AO3?

If you imported the work from the original archive using our import feature, then the work will not be imported again and your existing copy will be associated with the collection. If you posted the work manually or imported it from a different url, then you will need to decide what to do with the duplicate work. You can:

  • Keep the version you posted manually and add it to the collection created for the imported archive. In this case you will wish to delete the duplicate copy.
  • Delete the version you posted manually and claim the version created during the Archive import.
  • Claim the imported version and choose to keep both versions (you may wish to do this if both versions of the work have comments and/or kudos, as there is no way of transferring comments from one work to another).

Will my comments / reviews from the old archive also be imported?

Our aim is to import comments and reviews, because we are keen to preserve fannish history, which includes the way people interacted with the work. However, this functionality depends on the setup of the original archive, so this will be determined on a case-by-case basis and information will be made available for each individual archive import.

Why are you importing archives onto the Archive of Our Own? Why not just save the entire archive and host it on the OTW's servers?

Preserving fannish history is a central part of our mission - we love the plurality of fandom and want there to be many individual archives, but we want to ensure that if someone can no longer maintain an archive, this bit of fandom isn't lost. We'd love to be able to preserve the archives themselves, but the resources required are too big: each archive would need its own server space, a team of coders able to update and/or rewrite the code behind it, some dedicated mods, etc. By importing archives onto the AO3 but making them into distinct collections, we are able to save the wonderful fannish creativity and a little of that individual identity, while ensuring we only have to support one set of code, one lot of servers, and one support team.

I have more questions! Where should I ask them?

Please contact the Open Doors committee.

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Published:
2011-09-15 15:23:22 -0400
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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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