AO3 News

Site security (constant vigilance!)

Published: 2013-02-07 17:25:55 -0500

While developing the Archive of Our Own, site security is one of our top priorities. In the last couple of weeks, we've been reviewing our 'emergency plan', and wanted to give users a bit more information about how we work to protect the site. In particular, we wanted to make users aware that in the event of a security concern, we may opt to shut the site down in order to protect user data.

Background

Last week we were alerted to a critical security issue in Ruby on Rails, the framework the Archive is built on. We (and the rest of the Rails community) had to work quickly to patch this hole: we did an emergency deploy to upgrade Rails and fix the issue.

As the recent security breach at Twitter demonstrated, all web frameworks are vulnerable to security breaches. As technology develops, new security weaknesses are discovered and exploited. This was a major factor in the Rails security issue we just patched, and it means that once a problem is identified, it's important to act fast.

Our security plans

If the potential for a security breach is identified on the site, and we cannot fix it immediately we will perform an emergency shutdown until we are able to address the problem. In some cases, completely shutting down the site is the only way to guarantee that site security can be maintained and user data is protected.

We have also taken steps for 'damage limitation' in the event that the site is compromised. We perform regular offsite backups of site data. These are kept isolated from the main servers and application (where any security breach could take place).

In order to ensure the site remains as secure as possible, we also adhere to the following:

  • Developers are subscribed to the Rails mailing list and stay abreast of security announcements
  • We regularly update Rails and the software we use on our servers, so that we don't fall behind the main development cycle and potentially fall afoul of old security problems
  • All new code is reviewed before being merged into our codebase, to help prevent us introducing security holes ourselves
  • All our servers are behind firewalls
  • All password data is encrypted

What you can do

The main purpose of this post is to let you know that security is a priority, and to give you a heads up that we may take the site down in an emergency situation. Because security problems tend to be discovered in batches, we anticipate that there is an increased risk of us needing to do this over the next month. In this case, we'll keep users informed on our AO3_Status Twitter, the OTW website and our other news outlets.

Overall site security is our responsibility and there is no immediate cause for concern. However, we recommend that you always use a unique username / password combination on each site you use. Using the same login details across many sites increases the chance that a security breach in one will give hackers access to your details on other sites (which may have more sensitive data).

We'd like to thank all the users who contacted us about the latest Rails issue. If you ever have questions or concerns, do contact Support.

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2012 AO3 Milestones

Published: 2013-01-01 13:55:44 -0500

Happy New Year everyone! The OTW is looking forward to new developments this term and one thing we want to celebrate are some milestones that have been passed at the Archive of Our Own in the last few weeks.

Back in 2010, we wrote a post heralding our first major milestone when we reached 100,000 works less than a year into our beta. (We should point out that another OTW project, Fanlore, also hit the 100,000 edit mark that same year!)

As of November 25 we passed 500,000 works archived at AO3. We passed the 10,000 fandoms mark a week later, and on December 17, our Support team answered the AO3's 10,000th support ticket! Then by December 25 we passed the 100,000th user account. As many users discovered in June, the AO3 invite system was put in place to avoid having the site crash during a surge in enrollment. This practice paid off in 2012 when a large number of users migrated to the site in May and began adding works. During the following months new code was written for the site, primarily to redesign the way filters functioned, and new servers have been added. The site remained stable despite continued high demand for accounts, so the invite queue kept being increased every few months to get new users into the site more quickly. As of December 18 we also restored account users' ability to request invitations.

While we still have a large body of users awaiting accounts, currently around 10,000, this is down significantly from the 30,000+ that we saw through the latter half of 2012, and we hope to decrease the wait further in 2013. It seems likely that Archive use will continue growing strongly this year, possibly even repeating 2012's feat of more than doubling its user base.

Engagement With the AO3

As the following graph shows, there has been a distinct jump in various activities on the AO3 during the past eighteen months. User growth appears almost steady compared to reader activity, which can be seen clearly in the increase of bookmarking, commenting, and subscriptions.

However as this second graph shows, all of these numbers are eclipsed by the enormous jump in kudos activity. While the early years of the AO3 saw use primarily as a storage site for authors' writing history, current use is clearly favoring active searching, reccing and participation from readers.

Growth of the Site

While the Archive had to discontinue unique visitor counts in the spring due to the load on the site, we are averaging 80 million page views per month. Another way to look at the growth of the site is with the following statistics, comparing items from AO3's launch in September 2008 to September 2012.

  • Comments per Work 2008: .0075
  • Comments per Work 2012: 6.44
  • Bookmarks per Work 2008: .0382
  • Bookmarks per Work 2012: 7.17

Collections weren’t added until 2009. Their creation statistics are as follows:

2009: 93 new collections
2010: 478 new collections
2011: 771 new collections
2012: 1300 new collections

There are now over 1400 top level collections. Many of these have subcollections for yearly challenges/events, giving us over 2600 collections in total. Yuletide, for example, has 10 subcollections, but only the main Yuletide collection appears in that top-level listing.

We're looking forward to seeing what fan creators and AO3 users bring to the archive in 2013 and we'll keep working to improve your experience on the site!

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It's the season of giving! So, we're pleased to announce that invitation requests are back on the AO3!

Once upon a time (i.e. six months ago), users with Archive accounts could request a few invitations to give out, allowing them to share the Archive with friends and help form communities of like-minded fans.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, as many of you may remember, the Archive was having serious performance issues (we saw the sad 502 page far too often). While our coders and systems team hurried to implement emergency fixes, it was decided that we needed stricter control of the number of accounts being created to reduce the likelihood of unexpected overload. (Generally, people browsing the site without being logged in put a certain amount of stress on the servers, but it's the account perks like bookmarking, subscribing, and accessing a full reading history that contribute to server load to a larger degree.) Back then only 100 invitations were issued to people in the queue each day, so additional user requests could have a serious impact! So, in June, the difficult decision was made to stop giving invitations to existing users. You can read more about what was going on then in our post, Update on AO3 performance issues.

Over the next five months our software upgrades and code improvements caught up with the demand. The queue rate was increased several times, most recently to 750 invitations per day. Given that, we've wanted to go back to giving out invitations to existing users, but there were a few issues to be resolved before we could start.

First, the request form had to be altered to set a maximum number of invitations that a user can request at once. Second, the 1,200 user requests that were in the list when it was shut down had to be addressed. Since we had no limits on how many invitations could be requested back then, we had quite a few requests for very large numbers. Due to limitations in the software, individually lowering those numbers now would require manually editing each request, as would granting only some of the requests at once rather than the whole list.

So, two decisions were made:

1) Everyone with a pending request will receive 1 invitation, just to clear out the backlog.

2) User requests are being re-opened! You can now request a maximum number of 10 invitations at one time. Even with this hard limit in place, we ask that everyone ask for only what they need at a time. Once we've hit the figurative switch and re-enabled this feature later today you will be able to request invitations from your Invite a friend page.

We very much appreciate all of our users, and we are proud of our growth this year, even through the bumpy times. We are glad that once again we can enable you to bring more people on board!

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Archive maintenance today - downloads will be unavailable

Published: 2012-12-17 06:34:52 -0500

The Archive of Our Own will be undergoing some maintenance today at approximately 18.00 UTC (what time is this in my timezone?). During the maintenance period, which will last approximately two hours, downloads will not work. You will still be able to browse and read on the Archive, but will not be able to download any works. If the work proves complicated, we may also have a period of downtime (although we hope to avoid this).

What's going on?

In the next few weeks, we'll be adding some new servers to the OTW server family. The new servers will add some extra capacity to the Archive of Our Own, and will also create extra room for Fanlore, which is growing rapidly thanks to the amazing work of thousands of fannish editors (as Fanlore users are well aware, this expansion has been putting the existing Fanlore server under increasing strain).

In preparation for these new servers, we need to first reorganise the setup of the existing servers in order to free some more physical space at our colocation host without buying more rack space (rack space costs money, so it’s nice not to use more than we need). In order to do this, we’ll have to take some of the servers offline for a little while today. Doing this now will minimize the disruption caused when the servers arrive during the holiday period, which is typically one of the busiest times of year for the Archive.

The Archive is set up so it can function without all servers running at once, so today, we will only have to take the server which hosts downloads offline. This means that attempts to download any work will fail while we reorganize our data, though the rest of the site will work as usual (pending any unexpected problems). If you prefer to read downloaded works, you may wish to stock up now! Downloads will be restored as soon as we finish our maintenance. We’ll keep you posted about further maintenance when the new servers arrive!

Thanks for your patience while we do this work. You can keep track of current site status via our Twitter account AO3_Status.

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Welcome to Release 0.9.4, the last code deploy before the holidays! These notes combine fixes that were deployed this weekend in two separate batches, resulting in two brief instances of downtime. Coders ecuoln, Elz, Sarken, and Scott contributed code to this release, which was tested by the small, but not any less awesome testing team consisting of Jenn, hele, Lady Oscar, and mumble.

This marks the 15th code update this year, including a breathless flurry of small releases in June to address various performance issues, and our humongous filter rewrite deployed in October. (You can see details about all previous code updates under our Release Notes tag.)

We think that is quite a lot of new code for a site maintained entirely by unpaid volunteers in their spare time (or, in some cases, while sneaking away to the dark recesses of their workplace's server room, armed only with their laptop - not naming names here to protect the gainfully employed). From the bottom of our collective heart, the Accessibility, Design, & Technology committee thanks everyone who submitted code or helped out with testing at any point during the year. The Archive literally could not exist without you.

This release sees a small number of bug fixes that we wanted to get out before the end of the year. Unless the site breaks in a show-stopping manner between now and January, we will resume active deploy work after the New Year's Eve celebrations. We're hoping to post an updated version of our quite outdated 2010 Roadmap very soon; it will give you a rough idea of what we'd like to accomplish in the foreseeable future and beyond. Watch this space!

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Release Details

Bug fixes

  • Replying to comments on a news post while logged in was temporarily broken and has been fixed now!
  • Bookmarking a work by a still-anonymous creator would display as a "Mystery Work", hiding all information about the work; this has been fixed!
  • Marking a comment on your work as spam, even by accident, would immediately send the comment into spam purgatory and make it invisible to everyone but admins; you are now asked if you're sure first to prevent accidents.
  • Trying to view bookmarks for a non-existent or misspelled tag was resulting in an error 500; it now gives the more reasonable error 404.
  • The "Share" code attached to each work, for easy copy-pasting of recs or update annoucements, included a link to the site's \o/-shaped favicon in front of the creator's username; this .ico file wasn't displaying properly in Tumblr and looked quite broken, so it has been removed from the work info for the time being.
  • On the admin side, we added pagination to the list of invite requests by users (for handing out to friends etc.) for easier request management
  • For wranglers, trying to reply to comments left on a tag would lead to an error 500; this has been fixed!
  • To prepare for work on site translation (that is, enabling usage of the Archive in languages other than English), old and unneeded translation code was removed in the background.
  • The bit of Javascript that rolls out a little calendar to pick start and end dates for your challenge more easily was embedded on all pages, wasting precious resources; it's now restricted to relevant challenge pages only.
  • The Rich Text Editor plugin we use (TinyMCE) was trying to load a CSS file that didn't actually exist, resulting in numerous invisible errors; this line has now been removed.

Comment

The following is a post created by the Tag Wrangling Committee to address some ongoing questions and discussions involving tag wrangling on the Archive of Our Own.

The question has been raised in various places of how sustainable the Archive of Our Own’s tag wrangling system is, and whether it will continue to be viable as AO3 continues to grow and the number of fandoms and tags increases. The AO3 wrangling committee would like to address some of the concerns we’ve heard, from AO3 users as well as wranglers (including the staff).

In all honesty, it’s a fair question, and one without a clear or simple answer. The AO3 tag wrangling system is a special beastie, and because of its uniqueness, it is difficult to judge questions of long-term sustainability, since there is no real precedent to look to. But we have high hopes for it, which so far have been met or exceeded by our amazing team of wrangling volunteers.

To better understand our position, it may help to understand what makes the wrangling system special, and why it was implemented this way in the first place.

Why do AO3 tags work like they do?

The AO3 tag wrangling system was specifically designed as a compromise between the two standard tagging/organization models for online archives: a regulated taxonomy, versus a 'folksonomy'.

A regulated taxonomy – such as what's currently used on fanfiction.net – allows creators to tag their work with a limited number of pre-determined options (such as genre or characters). This system is very good for keeping things ordered and preventing misspellings and otherwise inconsistent labeling. However, it also requires constant maintenance to add new tags as new fandoms arise, and greatly restricts what users can label or sort by. The latter condition can be especially problematic if data is not kept up-to-date. (For instance, on ff.net many fandoms have no character lists, and other fandoms don't include all characters, especially those recently introduced.)

A "folksonomy" - the tagging system used on most social bookmarking sites and Tumblr - allows users to tag their content with any tag of their choosing, and users can see all works using any given tag. This system has the advantage of flexibility and currentness - its tags are always up-to-date with user preferences - but can make browsing difficult. (For example: on Tumblr, if you want to see most posts about kid!Loki, you also have to look up "kid loki" and "bb!Loki" and will still miss the posts tagged "bbloki.)

When designing the tag system on AO3, both of these systems were considered. But both have significant drawbacks in meeting the demands of both creators and browsers of a growing multi-fandom archive.

Options & drawbacks

User tagging could be limited to only approved tags. This then puts the burden on the users to specifically request new tags to be added; it also requires wranglers to work quickly to make tags available as needed. For active fandoms like Homestuck that see on order of five new relationships a day, these requests could quickly become overwhelming. To keep up with such demand, we would need a ridiculous number of volunteers, and/or a way to prioritize requests, limiting new tag creation to the most popular fandoms/most requested tags. Assuming users could post works without tags, many people wouldn't bother tagging their works at all if the tag they wanted wasn't available and they didn't have time to submit it. Works would also be left without tags if a user did submit the request, but failed to go back to add it to their old works when the tag was finally entered in the system.

To get around this last issue, we could regulate the tags – a user could enter any tag they like, but it must be approved before appearing on AO3. In that case, wranglers become the inadvertent gatekeepers of fandom, deciding what tags are or are not shown to users. Is "Feels" worthy of being displayed? What about "Wingfic"? Maybe we don't want to allow "Incest" or "BDSM" - we're not that kind of archive (obviously we totally are, but you get the idea!) And there would still be a period of time when the tags wouldn't be visible or useful, so an enormous team of volunteers would still be required to overview the tags in a timely fashion.

Another option is to let users enter whatever they like and display all those tags, but moderate them by telling people how we want them to tag, and removing all the tags that don't fit, or requiring users to change them. Again, the burden on the moderators would be considerable, having to monitor the over half-million works on the AO3. It would also be difficult to justify regulating tags when the spelling, grammar, and format of posted works are not likewise moderated (and to do so would require modifying AO3's Terms of Service).

Otherwise we could take the opposite tack and not organize tags at all: allow users to enter any tags they like, display and filter by all these tags, and let people who want to read John Watson/Sherlock Holmes search for "John/Sherlock" and "sh/jw" and "Johnlock" and any other permutations they can think of. But this method becomes frustrating for browsing users who don't know or don't remember all the permutations. It's also a burden on creators who want their work to be found by as many people as possible, but have the same issue of not knowing or remembering the many variant names for the same concept. (It's worth noting that this is not an unviable system - Tumblr, Pinboard, Pixiv, and many other sites use similar systems; and AO3 could switch over to it with relatively little tweaking, if necessary.)

Or we could let users enter whatever tags they like, and display all those tags however the creator or bookmarker wants to display them. Then, behind the scenes, volunteers can organize and link tags together so the most commonly used and useful-for-browsing concepts are more readily available to the largest number of people – both creators and audience – with the smallest amount of required effort. This is how the AO3 tag wrangling system works.

But is this system sustainable?

It's impossible to be sure, but after observing wrangling on the beta archive over the last four years, the tag wrangling committee believes that yes, the AO3 tag wrangling system is sustainable in the long-term. To begin with, our volunteer pool is currently as large as it’s ever been (at close to 160 wranglers), and keeping more than level. When recruiting is open, we average more people volunteering than retiring, and get a surge with most donation drives as well. The AO3's expansion this year does mean there are more tags than ever, but it also means there are more fans willing to offer their time to keep those tags in order. And the fandoms with the most activity are also those with the most fans, so it's more likely for us to be able to find wranglers for them.

Additionally, archive growth doesn't correspond directly to an increase in tag wrangling work. The vast majority of new works posted on AO3 fall into two categories: very small fandoms – under 20 works – that require occasional wrangling rather than ongoing maintenance; or very large fandoms, which often are the best-wrangled, because we have lots of wrangling volunteers familiar with them! Looking at fanfiction.net, half the available fandoms there are under the 20-work threshold; and on the Archive, while there are currently close to 5000 fandoms without an assigned wrangler, fewer than 300 of these have more than 20 works.

Even large fandoms may not produce many new tags. A popular fandom with a small core cast of characters may get 100 new works posted a day, but only one new relationship tag, because all the other works used existing tags. Fandoms from 'closed' canons (canceled shows, etc.) tend not to get many new tags because they aren’t introducing new characters. And many fandoms share tags – see the X-men metatag, which has 13 different sub-fandoms, but a number of the characters and relationships among these overlap and only need to be wrangled once for all the fandoms.

What if wrangling isn't viable in the long-term?

It is undeniable that as AO3 grows, wrangling becomes an increasingly greater task. We don’t believe it’s insurmountable, however. Nor do we believe that there is any real danger of the tag system collapsing entirely.

AO3 tag wrangling is designed to assist and facilitate users in labeling and finding works, but for the most part it is not crucial for these purposes. Many aspects of AO3 tags are still functional without any wrangling at all. An unwrangled AO3 tag acts like a Tumblr or Pinboard tag, showing all works and bookmarks using that tag. AO3 search brings up results both for wrangled tags and the text of unwrangled tags, and unwrangled tags can likewise be used in the new filters.

In other words, if all wranglers quit and all wrangling on AO3 stopped this instant, existing tags would continue to work as they do now, preserving the work wranglers had done up until this point; and all new tags on AO3 would still be as useful as tags on Tumblr or LiveJournal or any other service with flat tags. The filters of older but growing fandoms would be sparse, new fandoms would lack filters and only appear in the "Uncategorized" section, and a user would have to look for "Fullmetal Alchemist", "Full Metal Alchemist", and "Hagaren" separately to find all works; but the basic functionality of calling up all works with a tag would remain.

Obviously an end to all wrangling is the worst-case scenario and not one we expect to pass. The greater concern is that the wrangling committee and volunteers will keep working, but the bulk of the work will become too great for us to keep up with. The current wrangling system is definitely not perfect, and one of the wrangling committee’s primary goals is to look for ways to improve it and make it more sustainable.

So what does the future of AO3 tags look like?

The wrangling committee is working to improve the tag and wrangling experience both on the front-end (for users) and the back-end (for wranglers). On both sides, the two aspects of tags we're most concerned with at the moment are internationality and additional tags.

Currently, AO3 wrangling primarily deals with English-language/Roman alphabet tags. To be a more useful archive for fans around the world, we are developing better methods of sorting and linking tags across languages. We want to display tags of all languages in the appropriate filters and the auto-complete, while preserving the links between tags with the same meanings. We also need to develop better guidelines for non-English-language tags.

Our second focus is on the issue of Additional Tags (or "Freeforms", as wranglers know them). Presently we are seeing several hundred new additional tags on works and bookmarks added to AO3 daily.

It's important to note that these tags do not interfere with the wrangling of non-freeform tags. AO3 is designed to handle tags of different categories such that wranglers can view fandom, character, and relationship tags separately from freeforms; and the former get priority. Wranglers can also sort tags by number of uses, to easily see which freeforms are popular enough to warrant making them canonical. The majority of new freeforms are not made canonical and never will be; they are single-use, notes-style tags that only require being checked off a list by a single wrangler. This process is not as streamlined as it could be, and one of our top priorities for the back-end is features to simplify it.

On the front-end, we're looking into ways for users to limit the display of freeforms, such as by making the view of single-use freeforms optional. At this point we have no plans to limit what tags users are allowed to put on their works, beyond what is mandated by the AO3 Terms of Service; but we want to give users better ways to view the particular tags they're interested in. (If you are looking for ways to limit them now, you may find the skins linked in this post helpful.)

Users & wranglers unite!

As well as improving the efficiency of the wrangling interface to make it easier for wranglers to do our job, we believe that a major way to keep wrangling sustainable is to employ the help of all users to keep tags in line. To that end, we’re seeking to open up aspects of the wrangler interface to regular users. We've already made wrangling connections visible to all users on AO3, and publicly posted our wrangling guidelines to explain what tags we make canonical. We also would like to find better ways for users to contact us – any message sent to Support concerning tags or wrangling is already forwarded to us, and we respond to messages on our Wrangler Twitter as well, but we hope to have more direct lines of communication. This might include allowing users to leave notes on individual tags, or other methods to call attention to specific problems.

Now that bookmarks are filterable, it's possible for users to filter for tags other than those the creators put on their works, allowing users to label and categorize works even if the creators don't opt to. We’re also considering giving all users limited wrangling capabilities, such as sorting tags into fandoms, making synonyms to existing canonical tags, or suggesting new canonical tags following the guidelines for wranglers to approve. Such features would require moderation from wranglers, but would take some of the burden off us (as well as potentially encouraging more users to volunteer for wrangling.)

So when will this happen?

Most of these improvements require new features to be coded. This requires the attention of the AD&T committee’s diligent coding and testing volunteers, and must be prioritized against the hundreds of other features and bug-fixes also in demand. It is also contingent on having available coders and testers - the wrangling code is some of the more complex on AO3, so relatively few coders have the skills and experience to make significant changes to it. So it may be some time before changes appear on the beta archive; but new tag features are under development now.

In the meantime, the wrangling committee relies on all its awesome wrangling volunteers to keep up with the tag load! Thus far they have been more than up to the task, and we are confident that with improvements, the wrangling system will remain functional for both wranglers and users as the AO3 continues to expand in the years to come.

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!

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Archive of Our Own Newsletter - November-December 2012

Published: 2012-12-13 14:52:21 -0500

Hello and Happy Holidays from the AO3! This newsletter contains all sorts of fun facts and news from the past two months - read on for updates in the world of the Archive in November and December.

Cool stuff on the Archive

Filters are back and our Advanced Search form has been updated! Look at this post for details on how to use our new filters and Advanced Search form. Release 0.9.2 went live and included more than just tag filters; we were also able to deploy bookmark filtering, a new search form for works and bookmarks, and new index pages for works and bookmarks. Releases 0.9.3 and 0.9.3 Redux also went live and included a lot of bug squashing and fixes as well as the ability to anonymously comment on your own anonymous work.

We're now issuing 750 user invites per day. Our queue is slowly but steadily decreasing. To those of you still on the waiting list, thank you for your continued patience!

Your Archive needs you!

The Content Policy Committee is working on changes to the AO3's Terms of Service and would like your feedback on the proposed changes. The content change files are available at the above news post for your consideration. We welcome all feedback!

Bugs we’ve squashed

We've been keeping a close eye on performance after the release of the new search engine and filters, and we're pleased with how it's holding up: it's a big improvement over the old system. We quickly located a bug causing tag wrangling changes not to propagate through to works and bookmarks properly, so tag wrangling was disabled while that was being fixed, and it's up and running again now.

We also tackled a number of collection and challenge-related bugs - 36 of them in Release 0.9.3 alone! Special thanks to Scott in particular for doing a ton of work on those.

What’s up in the world of tags?

There's been a few changes in the Marvel Avengers fandoms (some of the Archive's most popular!) To prepare for the coming sequels, the Thor and Captain America movie fandom names have changed, to Thor (Movies) and Captain America (Movies).

Also, following the official material, the main metatag for The Avengers (2012) and the related movies is now Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Note that if you tag for any of the subfandoms (e.g. if you tag your work The Avengers (2012) or Iron Man (Movies) that the work will automatically appear under Marvel Cinematic Universe. You can also tag a work with MCU if you like, but it will filter the exact same way as a work tagged with only the subfandoms.

You may also notice a tag The Avengers - Ambiguous Fandom. This ambiguous tag is necessary due to the existence of two unrelated "Avengers" fandoms, the Marvel superhero team and the British superspy series, and includes all works from both these series. As with MCU, using this tag in conjunction with more specific tags won't change where your work appears (and tagging with only this tag will make your Avengers movie-verse fic less likely for other users to find.) Generally, to make your works easier to find, tag with the most specific fandom (or fandoms) that apply.

For more information on the wild and wacky world of Marvel Avengers tags, please check out this informative post by one of our brave Avengers wranglers!

Adventures with Support

We're still keeping up with support tickets, even in spite of the start of holiday absences. In fact, we're about to hit our 10,000th ticket in our tracking program - that's just about 3,300 tickets a year! Every ticket sent in with an email address gets an individual response, and even the ones without email are still documented as appropriate with other committees. We're incredibly proud of our Support teams over the years and all they've done for the Archive!

AD&T Committee business of note

Thank you to all the coders, testers, and volunteers who helped us with Release 0.9.2 and 0.9.3! There's been a ton of work going on behind the scenes, and we're enormously grateful to everyone who's been helping out, and to the tag wranglers for their patience while we've sorted out some bugs.

We've been cautiously optimistic about performance over the last month, and we've ordered three new servers that we're hoping will help us to keep things running smoothly as we head into 2013. That's enabled us to increase the number of invitations that we send out each day, which is helping to cut down the wait times significantly.

We're working on one last release for 2012, which will be a small one, focused on bug fixes. There's already code in the pipeline for the first release of 2013, and we're looking forward to adding some long-awaited improvements and new features in the new year!

Tag Wrangling Committee business of note

Due to changes in the search engine with the main new filters deploy, tag wrangling was turned off for most of November. With the latest deploy, wrangling is working again and our wranglers have been busy getting all the new tags of the last month in order (our amazing volunteers managed to wrangle over 300 uncategorized fandoms down to less than 5 in a single weekend!)

Questions? Comments?

We welcome feedback from users! If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments of the latest news post, or send in a Support request (if you're reporting a bug, please send that to Support, as they're super efficient - comments on our news posts sometimes get overlooked).

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