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A common feature request we have received over the years is the ability to block other users from interacting with you, or hide content by users you specify. This has been something we planned on doing for a while now, and we have been actively working on developing it for the past few months. For that reason, we wanted to give you a brief update on how this work is going:

Blocking vs. Muting

We have been working closely with the Support and the Policy & Abuse teams, who are directly in contact with our users and can help us dig into all the feedback, feature requests and suggestions coming in. This helps us determine how we can satisfy most users' wishes to make their Archive experience safer and more enjoyable without creating new problems in the process.

After some discussion, we've decided to consider the new functionality as two sets of separate features:

  • Blocking: preventing certain users from interacting with you
  • Muting: excluding content by certain users from your personal Archive experience

In this manner, we can offer our users a set of options to curate their own experiences and add a layer of protection against harassment, without making it harder for people to create and interact with content on the Archive. For example, you might want to mute a user for posting a lot of fanworks about a pairing you don't like, but you're fine with the same user leaving comments on your own works. By separating the two concepts, we'll also be able to deploy an initial, focused set of options while continuing to work on the rest of the functionality behind the scenes.

However, there is a lot to be considered before we can write up the final design document detailing how we want these features to work and how they'd interact with existing Archive functionality. Due to the scope of the change, both of these features come with their own challenges and pitfalls that need to be addressed before we can move forward.

Discussions need to address dozens of little details like, "If a list of search results includes muted content, does the number shown at the top need to be adjusted? How does this interact with the numbers in the filters?" as well as big picture considerations like, "What if a challenge has several mods, each with their own lists of blocked and muted accounts?"

Once we actually start writing the code, we might run into technical issues that hadn't been apparent during the planning stages and that require substantial changes to our plans. As such, we'll only be ready to announce these features when we're certain they're very close to done, which we understand is frustrating for those of you waiting for this functionality.

Money vs. Time

While the OTW has enough money for a contractor to potentially handle the coding (thanks to your generous donations!), to do so in an effective manner, we first need to tell them in really fine detail what we actually want, since we're more familiar with complex features like collections and challenges and have a better idea of the way people use the site and the problems they run into.

This is very often the most complex part of a project of this scope, and something we can’t easily outsource without risking a final result that will cause more issues than it solves.

Additionally, the people who need to be involved in this conversation because they have a lot of knowledge about the inner workings of the Archive and the feedback provided by users over the years, are the same people who are needed to keep the Archive running on a day to day basis, fix bugs, make sure the backend stays up to date, and keep the Support and Abuse teams running smoothly.

All of this is done by volunteers, and sometimes other commitments need to come first to keep the site up and functional. As a result, every large or even medium-sized project takes a long time from an initial idea to the rollout of a new feature.

In the meantime...

While built-in, easy-to-use blocking and muting tools are still a ways off, our Unofficial Browser Tools FAQ lists some third-party scripts that let you filter out unwanted content. We're also working on other important changes to give you more control over your Archive experience.

In the past year, we've added the ability to turn off comments or freeze specific comment threads on your works. We're also working on changes that will allow you to opt out of receiving gifts or collection invitations, the same way you can control others' ability to list you as a co-creator on works. (As with most major changes, there will be dedicated news posts with more information on these changes when they're ready to be released.)

While it has always been possible to use the Archive skin system to hide specific works from yourself, we've recently made it possible to hide all works from specific creators as well. To do this, create a site skin and use the following CSS:

  • .work-000 { display: none !important; } to hide a specific work. Replace 000 with the ID of the work you want to hide. The work ID is a series of numbers that can be found in the work's URL. The ID comes immediately after /works/, e.g. https://ao3.org/works/000/chapters/123.
  • .user-000 { display: none !important; } to hide all works by a specific user. Replace 000 with the ID of the user whose works you want to hide. A user's ID is a series of numbers that can be found on the user's profile in the "My user ID is" section. A user's ID does not change if the user changes their name.

To hide multiple items, you can separate the selectors with a comma: .work-000, .work-149319, .user-000000 { display: none !important; }

For now, this approach only applies to work listings and work search results, not bookmarks. However, we're working to extend it to bookmarks as well, and we'll have a more detailed tutorial once we're done. (Please note that if you've previously hidden works with selectors such as .blurb#work_000, it will continue to work, but it will not automatically carry over to bookmark listings and search results in the future.)

We are sorry this is taking longer than anticipated, and we hope this update could provide a little insight into the reasons for this.

Please bear with us while we sort out the details, and thank you for all your kind words here and elsewhere, especially during this past year. We can't reply to all tweets and comments, but we appreciate your support very much!