AO3 News

Post Header

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

The Category Change workgroup is ecstatic to present the final version of how fandom browsing will work in the Archive of Our Own in the future.

This includes deep changes in the way current ‘media categories’ are organized – that is, a heavily reworked grouping of fandoms. You can view current categories in the Fandoms by Media page in the Archive.

This proposal was elaborated based on internal input and the feedback obtained from Archive users, as well as ensuing discussion within the workgroup. You can learn more about the creation of the workgroup and the issues it arose from in our introductory post.

One of our starting points was that our new system should cover several different usages - users should be able to find specific fandoms, or just browse fandom lists and find new fandoms they hadn't thought of. But there were several other goals as well. For example, since fandoms are one of the main and more accessible ways fans can then browse works, it should be as easy and intuitive as possible. The system should be accessible, sustainable and adaptable to changing fandom trends.

It was also important that the system should be translatable, not only words-wise, but culture-wise -- this entails making it as neutral as possible and avoiding, when possible, ethnocentric categorizations.

New Category Types: Country of Origin and Language

Currently, fandoms on the archive are sorted into media categories – Frozen (2013) can be found under Movies for example, and fandoms that fall under multiple categories are listed under multiple categories.

Under this new system, media categories are one of three attributes that fandoms will be sorted by and browsable under. The other two attributes are country of origin and source language.

Like with the current media categories, fandoms will be able to have more than one country or language. What countries are added to a fandom will depend on specific guidelines the Tag Wrangling Committee will set for a particular media or type of fandom. The Tag Wrangling Committee will be also able to rename categories and subcategories and create subscategories.

These will be listed on a fandom landing page, similar to current tag landing pages, that will link to its page in Fanlore and its works and bookmarks in the Archive. A fandom will be allowed more than one attribute of the same type. For example, under this new system, Hana Yori Dango & Related Fandoms could be listed under Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China, in order to incorporate all adaptations.

Instead of the current Fandoms by Media, there will be a page with a search box that will allow users to search for fandoms directly if they know their names or part of their names, and a way to browse country, language and/or media.

The two methods (search and filter) will be combinable. Once a user has selected a combination of attributes, a fandom list will appear, with all fandoms that have those attributes. For example, one can search for any fandom that has 'Batman' in the title, but then refine that search only to English language TV shows.

Media is the only mandatory attribute. Each fandom will have one or more media, and one, multiple, or no Submedia. Each submedia can belong to only one media category. Ideally, fandoms would get all media and submedia that would apply to them, to make sure that anyone who comes looking through this method would find them. Fandoms can be in a media category without being in any of its submedia and there will be a special category for fandoms in this situation.

Defined Media Categories

It's important to remember that this list is not exhaustive and will change in the future. We are not trying to categorize everything that can exist, but rather to organize what already exists in the AO3 while keeping the system flexible enough that new categories can be added in a simple manner. Submedia categories will only be created if they are numerous – more than 40 fandoms and 100 works; these numbers might increase reflecting archive growth – and if it will be a useful browsing category for users.

There will always be fandoms that do not fit any existing or possible category. We cannot and do not aspire to perfection, but rather to the best possible method, one that is strongly based on existing user behavior and usability, rather than philosophical perfection.

We propose eight Media Categories:

Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art:

* Animated Films
* Anime & Manga
* (Bande Dessinée)
* English-language Comics and Graphic Novels
* English-language Animated Series and Cartoons
* Webcomics & Animated Webseries
* (Manhwha)
* (Manhua)
* Other Animation, Comics, Manga & Sequential Art

Notes: At this point, there are not enough Manhwha nor Manhua fandoms for the subcategory to be created. Bande Dessinée fandoms does fulfill the numerical requirements for fandoms, but not the requirement for number of fanworks at the moment. Fandoms that qualifies for these subcategories will be placed under the Other Animation, Comics Manga & Sequential Art subcategory.

Audio & Music

* Albums & Songs
* Audio Plays, Radio & Spoken Word
* Other Audio & Music

Books, Literature & Lore

* Religion, Lore & Folk Traditions
* Novels, Novellas & Short Stories
* Poetry
* Other Books & Literature

Performing Arts

* (Ballet & Dance)
* Theater & Musicals
* Other Performing Arts

Notes: The Ballet & Dance subcategory does not currently fulfill numerical requirements. Qualifying fandoms will be placed under Other Performing Arts subcategory.

Games

* Tabletop Roleplaying Games
* Video Games
* Visual Novels
* (Board Games)
* Other Games

Notes: the Board games subcategory currently does not fulfill numerical requirements. Qualifying fandoms will be located in Other Games subcategory.

Live Action Films, TV Shows and Other Productions

* Films
* TV Shows
* Webseries
* Other Live Action Productions

Real Person Fiction

* Actors
* Bands & Musicians
* Political & Historical
* Sports
* Other Real Person Fiction

Other Media

* Paintings, Sculptures and Other Related Art Forms
* Anthropomorphic
* Other Fandoms in Other Media

We believe this proposal solves most issues with the current browsing system and improves it, while also adding flexibility to the Media categories framework – which will allow the AO3 to change it as the Archive itself grows and changes.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2013-10-22 17:45:29 -0400
Tags:

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

The AO3 Category Change workgroup comes seeking your opinion again!

After analyzing the past round of feedback, we want to address what we believe was the most contentious point: how to organize the Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art subcategories.

We are now proposing this scheme:

  • Animated Films
  • Anime & Manga
  • English-language Comics and Graphic Novels
  • English-language Animated Series and Cartoons
  • Webcomics & Animated Webseries

In our broad categorization system, a top category that holds all animation and comics is logical, especially since we have a Live Action top category as well. However, having a subcategory that holds all comics and animation, regardless of nationality, is against common fannish practice, and having some internal divisions should be helpful for browsing.

The general pattern of the feedback we have received indicates anime and manga fans generally believe there is a strong link between manga and anime and that they should not be separated. But there is not such a strong link between comics and animation, since while adaptations exist, fans usually consider them separate incarnations. While Anime & Manga cannot be separated, Comics and Animation should be. This, alongside common fannish practice, is one of the reasons we have decided to split Anime & Manga off into its own subcategory.

However, without a name that does not clearly state that anime & manga are not included, both the 'Animated Series' and 'Comics & Graphic Novels' subcategories were confusing (for example, one might wonder why anime series weren’t in ‘Animated Series’). English-language Comics, Graphic Novels and Cartoons are the majority of fandoms in this category - aside from Anime & Manga - so we have decided to create those subcategories and to make the language division explicit in the subcategory name.

Comics and animated series that do not fit in the subcategories will be in the top category. Other subcategories – such as Manhwa and Bande Dessinée – might be created in the future, if there are enough fandoms to warrant it.

We want your feedback on this matter. Please leave a comment on this post or contact us through the Category Change Workgroup contact form.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2013-09-18 12:55:38 -0400
Tags:

The Category Change Workgroup is excited to share its proposal changing the way fandoms are categorised on the Archive, and we are looking for your feedback!

Our goal is to change the current fandom categories into something that balances complex, sometimes competing, factors such as diverse fannish traditions, user behavior (current and potential), and ease of browsing. You can read about the concerns that brought the workgroup into existence and some more information on the workgroup in our introductory post.

Right now fandoms on the archive are sorted into media categories - Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery can be found under Books & Literature for example, and fandoms that fall under multiple categories are listed under multiple categories.

Under the proposed system, media categories are one of three attributes that fandoms will be sorted by and browsable under. The other two attributes are country of origin and source language. Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery would have the attributes Canada and English. Like with the current media categories, fandoms will be able to have more than one country or language. The guidelines for how the country and language attributes are assigned to fandoms will be made by the Tag Wrangling Committee.

The proposed media categories have subcategories. Fandoms can belong to multiple categories and subcategories. Fandoms may also belong to a category but none of its subcategories. That subset of fandoms that belong to a specific category but none of its subcategories will be viewable.

The proposed media categories and subcategories have been named with the idea of that name being easily understandable to different people.

Proposed Media categories and Submedia categories

Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art

* Anime & Manga
* Bande Dessinée
* DC
* Films
* Manhwa
* Marvel
* Webcomics & Webseries

 

Audio & Music

* Albums & Songs
* Audio Plays & Spoken Word

 

Books, Literature & Lore

* Myth, Folktales & Religion
* Novels, Novellas & Short Stories
* Poetry

 

Games

* Board Games
* Tabletop Roleplaying Games
* Video Games
* Visual Novels

 

Live Action Films, TV Shows & Other Productions

* Films
* TV Shows
* Webseries

 

Performing Arts

* Ballet & Dance
* Theater & Musicals

 

Real Person Fiction

* Actors
* Bands & Musicians
* Political & Historical
* Sports

 

Other Media

* Paintings, Sculptures & Related Art Forms

So, Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery would belong to the media category Books, Literature & Lore and the subcategory Novels, Novellas & Short Stories. It will be findable under those media categories as well as its language and country attributes. Users will be able to browse fandoms by combining these attributes to find, for example, Books, Literature & Lore fandoms that have Canada as a country of origin. Users will also be able to search for a fandom by typing its name into a search box on the main fandoms page that will replace the current media page.

Each fandom on the archive will have a landing page that will include a list of its attibutes (media, country, language), a link to its page on Fanlore (if the page exists), and a link to its works and bookmarks on the archive.

Layout Changes

Mock-ups have been created to illustrate how finding a fandom on the archive will work when this new system is implemented. This is not a finalised lay-out of the new page.

Figure 1: The Initial State of the New Fandom Page (Click to enlarge)

There is a small selection of fandoms initially displayed on the page including fandoms that have recently experienced activity, and fandoms that are currently popular on the archive. Above these fandoms is a search box labelled "Search for a fandom" as well as three tabs labelled "Media Type", "Language of source", and "Country of source".

Figure 2: Media Category Dropdown (Click to enlarge)

When the "Media Type" tab is selected, the small selection of fandoms originally listed is replaced. In their spot all of the media categories are listed and submedia categories are displayed as buttons beneath their respective categories. Alongside each media category's subcategories are the buttons "All" and "No Submedia". The number of fandoms belonging to each subcategory is displayed in brackets on that subcategory's button. Beneath "Performing Arts" one finds "All (1287), No Submedia (71), Ballet & Dance (412), Theater & Musicals (23)". (The numbers used in this mock-up are not accurate.)

Figure 3: Submedia Display Page (Click to enlarge)

When a specific submedia is selected, a small selection of fandoms in that submedia category is displayed - fandoms with recent activity and fandoms that are currently popular on the archive. On the header for the submedia, the option "show all [count] fandoms" is displayed.

So, for example, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is a fandom that would belong to the Films submedia category of Live Action Films, TV Shows & Other Productions as well as the Films submedia category of Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art. El Eternauta will belong to Animation, Comics, Manga & Other Sequential Art but none of its subcategories.

Please tell us!

There is a Category Change FAQ that has been prepared for this announcement and may answer some basic questions that you may have.

Two subsets of fandoms not yet categorised in the proposed new system are WWE-type Wrestling and Anthropomorphic.

1) Wrestling is under the current fandom categories as Other Media. Are you in Wrestling fandom? Do you think it belongs in Other Media? Real Person Fiction? Performing Arts? Real Person Fiction and Performing Arts? Let us know.

2) Anthropormophic is also currently under Other Media. Do you think it should stay there or does it belong with the proposed Real Person Fiction subcategories under a Real Life category?

Those are two areas that we're particularly interested in feedback on, but we of course welcome feedback on all aspects of the proposal.

The Category Change Workgroup will be reviewing all of the feedback and making (or not making) adjustments to the proposal in response to that feedback. There may or may not be another public review period, depending on how the proposal is altered because of the feedback. Once the Category Change Workgroup has finalised the proposal it will be sent to the Board for approval.

We want your feedback on this proposal. Please leave a comment on this post or contact us through the Category Change contact form.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2013-09-18 12:52:41 -0400
Tags:

This post is connected to a discussion of proposed changes to media categories on the AO3

What are the reasons for the change?

The current "media categories" (http://archiveofourown.org/media) date back to the very beginnings of the Archive. We have grown immensely since then, and the way fandoms on the Archive are organized needs to reflect that. The current division is limiting and unbalanced, with some categories also facing cultural issues. We additionally wanted to make it easy to further adjust the categories as we continue to grow.

Who worked on this proposal?

The Internationalization & Outreach (I&O) committee made the initial proposal to the Board. Once it was approved, a workgroup was formed with staff members from Accessibility, Design & Technology, Tag Wrangling, I&O, and Support, as well as a Tag Wrangling volunteer. These are the committees most involved with the issues of Media Categories on the Archive.

Additionally, the proposal went through several rounds of feedback internally and externally. The gathered input was used to help us in our decisions and make adjustments to the proposal. Any input you have on the current status of the proposal will be considered as well.

Is this the best solution you could find?

No system is perfect, and it will never be possible to please everyone at the same time. The big factors that steered our decisions were:

  • Usability: Does this make it easy for people using the Archive to find specific fandoms, while also allowing for more free-form browsing?
  • Inclusiveness: The categorization shouldn't make some fandoms harder to find than others. The system should be welcoming to currently under-represented fandoms, but shouldn't unfairly punish popular fandoms.
  • Flexibility: It's easy to get side-tracked by philosophical considerations and wanting to find neat little boxes for everything. We instead tried to keep things simple to allow the system to grow more painlessly.
  • Feasibility: There is always a technical aspect to keep in mind. Is it reasonable from a performance and coding effort point of view? Is it sustainable going forward?

Why are some of the category names so long?

The goal was to use familiar names to make fandoms quickly and easily findable. Newly-created or more obscure terms might be able to encompass everything while taking up less space, but we felt it was more important for category names to be clear and recognizable. This has resulted in a certain amount of redundancy (and thus length) when it seemed needed to ensure names that were both obvious and inclusive.

Will the Media categories stay exactly the same going forward?

Probably not. Category names have been changed in the past and the new system will make it easier to do so in the future. Fandom is ever-changing and the Archive is growing, so Categories will have to be adjusted to reflect that. It's not our intention to change them lightly; stability and consistency is important. However, having the ability for change should make it easier to address problematic areas.

What are the guidelines? What's the process for adding a category/submedium, or for changing a name? Who decides in which category/submedium fandoms go?

This will all be Tag Wrangling's purview going forward. The Category Change workgroup will document our suggestions, but after that it's up to them to make the decisions.

Can a fandom be in several categories?

Absolutely! The hierarchy of Media categories and submedia is fixed, but a fandom can appear in as many places as necessary inside that hierarchy. A fandom doesn't have to be placed in a submedium, either, if none apply; it can be located directly inside a top-level Media Category.

What's the point of searching by country/language of source?

This information is not useful or applicable for all fandoms (some sports RPF, for example). However, we wanted to make it easier to find those fandoms where it is useful. This should help address the current invisibility of under-represented traditions like manhwa, manhua, bande dessinée or historieta.

It is important to note that rather than trying to create an exhaustive pre-filled list, countries and languages will be added as needed, based on what fits a fandom, or a group of fandoms, best.

What will the main navigation look like?

There will still be a Fandoms drop-down menu listing the top-level media Categories. Choosing one will take you to the Fandoms page pre-filtered for that Category.

When can I expect this to arrive on the Archive?

It will take some time. This round of feedback will have to be incorporated in our proposal. There is then the possibility of more rounds of changes and feedback, depending on the feedback received here.

Once the proposal is finished, the considerable process of designing, coding and testing the functionality begins! While we can't give you an exact date, we don't expect it to go live any earlier than 2014.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2013-02-13 16:54:39 -0500
Tags:

This is a short update from the Category Change workgroup. You can read about what our work entails and how we were formed in our introductory post. As we want to keep users in the loop, we wanted to provide some information on what we’ve been doing since then, and what we’re planning to do in the near future.

We began by compiling user feedback we received either in comments made to our last post or directly through the Category Change Contact Form. We then grouped together similar ideas.

After analyzing the feedback through discussion on our mailing list and in several chat meetings, we have identified the issues users have with the current Media categories, as well as their expectations when browsing and filtering. This information has informed our discussions and has been vital to understanding what we want from the new categorization system.

We had a brief end-of-term hiatus from December 17th to January 4th.

Since the beginning of the 2013 term, we have been discussing the first draft of the new categorization system. Once this task is done, we will consult with the OTW committees who would be affected by the changes and solicit feedback from them.

After we have reassessed our initial proposal in light of this feedback, we will make the revised proposal public and ask for users' feedback. We know that this could impact user experience in a big way, so we want to make sure that we have heard the users' concerns and ideas before moving forward with a final proposal.

You’re welcome to comment on this post (at any of its locations) with ideas, feedback or opinions, or you can send them to us through the Category Change Contact Form.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2012-10-28 15:32:25 -0400
Tags:

Hello, this is Sole G., the Category Change workgroup lead, and I'd like to introduce the workgroup, talk a little about our goals, and ask for some initial feedback from all of you as fellow fans and users of AO3.

The Category Change workgroup was created to address a long-standing debate, both internally and externally - that is, whether or not the current Fandom Categories in the Archive are the best possible browsing solution. Our goal is to take a look at the current categories and how they work and see what other options we can come up with that might be more effective at representing different fannish traditions, aiding fandom browsing, and reflecting the diversity of the Archive.

While we are taking previously held discussions into account, we are analyzing the issue from scratch and trying to find new perspectives. We are looking at the Fandom Categories framework and analyzing it from every possible perspective - even considering whether or not they are necessary at all or how the browsing experience can be changed to better reflect the needs of our users.

The most heatedly contested categories are 'Anime & Manga' and 'Cartoons & Comics & Graphic Novels'. To begin with, this division strikes some fans as artificial, since they are all either forms of animation or different traditions of comics under geographically- or culturally-determined names. Naming those two categories explicitly also implicitly leaves out other traditions, such as manhwa, manhua, bande dessinée and historieta. In addition, the inclusion of all different East Asian comic traditions under 'Anime & Manga' is inaccurate, as well as culturally insensitive.

Concerns about 'Music & Bands' and 'Celebrities and Real People' have also been raised, again citing the artificial division and the confusing categorization of albums and bands side-by-side. Other issues that have been brought up are, for example, multimedia fandoms, audio-based sources, folklore and mythology fic, etc.

We're looking for a solution that balances complex, sometimes competing, factors such as diverse fannish traditions, user behavior (current and potential), and ease of browsing.

Since this is a task that involves the purview of several different committees, a workgroup consisting of members of all involved committees has been formed. These committees are:

  • Accessibility, Design & Technology (AD&T), due to the certain possibility of changes in the AO3 code being required, and the potential impact on design, user experience and archive browsing.
  • Internationalization & Outreach (I&O), since one of the issues with the current Media Categories is related to the different boundaries between media categories international fandoms have.
  • Tag Wrangling (TW), because tag wranglers are in charge of categorizing fandoms, and any changes will have direct impact on tag wranglers' procedure and workload.
  • Support, since any change in the categories will involve responding to users' concerns.

This workgroup was developed by I&O and then backed by all of the involved committees. Each committee then chose their own representatives from among their interested staff members. While several of the Category Change staffers are also tag wranglers, a tag wrangler volunteer was recruited as well in order to directly represent the interests of that volunteer pool.

One of our top priorities is to maintain a healthy, fluid communication with the Archive of Our Own userbase, so we want to start gathering feedback as soon as possible. If you have any opinions, feedback, suggestions, knowledge or ideas, you can either leave a comment on this post or you can contact us through the Category Change contact form. We don't see the emails used when you post guest comments, and you can request that any feedback that you send through the contact form be archived anonymously in OTW workspaces so that your name and contact information are only visible to members of the workgroup and not to all staff and volunteers.

We are particularly interested in answers to these questions:

1. Do you currently use the Media Categories in order to browse the Archive? If yes, then how do you do it? For example, are you generally looking for a specific fandom or do you browse the different pages to see what fandoms are listed on the site or to find new ones? What are your usual routines? If you want to find a specific fandom on the archive for the first time, how do you do that? How do you find fandoms by more casual browsing? Don’t be afraid to be as specific and detailed as you want; details and step-by-step descriptions are really useful to us.

2. What issues have you run into with the current media categories? Are there fandoms that aren't listed where you might have expected them to be? Are there other problems you've noticed with fandoms being either grouped with or separated from one another in a way that's not ideal?

3. How would you like to see the categories and the media/fandom pages be improved? What's your vision of a better way to find, browse, and organize fandoms? We're open to all kinds of ideas, not just different names for the existing categories.

Please feel free to comment and brainstorm, and also to discuss and engage with each other. We're very interested in hearing what you think, and thanks in advance for your feedback!

Mirrored on the OTW blog. Find related news by viewing our tag cloud.

Comment