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A Users' Guide to AO3 Tagging

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"Please don't do this," begged the small -- only one-use! -- character tag in the wrangler's arms. "I can't help the way I look! My creator made me this way! Can't you make me look nicer, instead of throwing me out?"

"I'm sorry," said the wrangler, giving poor Seras Victoria. Alucard (Hellsing) a sympathetic pat. "If you were one character with a small issue like a typo, we could syn you to the correctly-spelled character tag...but you're two characters smashed together, and we have no way to break you apart. Only your creator can do that."

"Then call my creator!" pleaded the tag. "Surely they don't want to see me like this either! It must have been a mistake! They want their work findable, I know it!"

Sadly the wrangler shook her head. "We're not allowed to tell them."

At last she reached her destination. The tiny, helpless tag cried out as it made the long fall into the Unwrangleable Pit.

It landed in a dark, disorganized place, full of tagkind's most pitiful and grotesque. The miscategorized. The gibberish. The omg so drunk u guys.

Seras Victoria. Alucard (Hellsing) shivered as a strange tag approached it. This one was also one-use, but even though it was small it was long and winding, slithering through the refuse like a snake.

"Hello, stranger," purred I have so many headcanons and feelings in general for modern!Les Mis. "What's your story?"




"Wait, you don't know what fandom I'm from?" asked "Beast" (quotation marks included). "It's right there on my work! Just look -- I'm the Beast from X/1999!"

"Oh, humans can check on that easily," the wrangler assured it, leading it through the Character Tags lounge. "But the tag system can't. And the next time someone uses you, it could just as easily refer to the one from the X-Men, or the one from Angel. So we can't sort you by fandom."

At last they arrived in front of a huge, shambling metatag: Beast, surrounded by a few of its leaner sub tags, including the swarthy Hank McCoy and the skinnier Beast (Kuroshitsuji). And then there was Beast (X/1999)...looking downright translucent.

"What's wrong with it?" asked "Beast" anxiously, kneeling in front of the sickly little tag where it was sleeping.

"Nobody's used it yet," said the wrangler sadly. "Everyone who's written that character -- all the users like your author -- have used fandom-ambiguous tags. The poor fandom-specific one doesn't have a feed."

"Beast" was overcome with pity. Along with the base taggish desire to be searchable, of course. "I could be in its feed!" it said loyally. "If you told my user how this works, I'm sure they'd change me!"

The wrangler sighed. "This is all explained in the FAQ with the wrangling guidelines."

That was enough to rouse the ponderous No-Fandom metatag. "Wrangling guidelines confusing," grunted Beast. "Not addressed to users."

"Oh, you're awake!" exclaimed the wrangler. "Beast, say hello to your new syn! It'll be showing up in your feed from now on."

"Hello," rumbled Beast. And then, before "Beast" could answer, Beast picked it up...and swallowed it whole.




"Hey, beautiful," said the incredibly long relationship tag, giving the wrangler its most winning grin. "Look at me! I'm fabulous, I'm sexy, I use full character names in alphabetical order. Canonize me, darling, ASAP -- I'm sure there are users falling all over themselves to get in on my hot OT6 action."

"I'm sure they are," agreed the wrangler, businesslike as ever. "If you'll just give me a moment to check you over..."

He took a quick look at the names in Bruce Banner/Clint Barton/Natasha Romanov/Steve Rogers/Thor/Tony Stark, then shook his head. "Nope. Sorry. They're out of order."

"What?" exclaimed the tag. "That can't be true!"

"The names in a relationship tag go in alphabetical order by family name," the wrangler explained. "It goes by first name for one-name characters -- like the Marvel Thor -- but not for anybody else."

The tag's face fell. "My user was so careful," it said sadly.

"And we appreciate the effort," said the wrangler. "But we still have to wrangle you to the actual standards. Come along, and I'll introduce you to Bruce Banner/Clint Barton/Steve Rogers/Natasha Romanov/Tony Stark/Thor."




Small and mid-sized fandoms in the Fandom Tag Lounge always had to step carefully, especially if they were in the same category as a megafandom. The biggest, most bloated metatags, though well-meaning, tended to push them out of the way.

"Urgh," grunted The Avengers - Ambiguous Fandom, as a wrangler presented it with the avengers- ambiguous fandom to swallow. "No more, please! I can't keep eating, I'll pop! Why would a user tag for this, anyway? Don't they know which Avengers they're writing about in their own work?"

"They're probably getting the two of us mixed up," chimed in The Avengers (Marvel) - All Media Types, the largest of its sub tags. "We do look a lot alike. I'm only about a thousand words smaller than you."

"You don't look anything alike!" wailed a much smaller sub tag Avengers (TV), colloquially "the Avengers that has Emma Peel." "One of you is my metatag, and the other one isn't!"

"I know, dear," soothed The Avengers - Ambiguous Fandom. Being the metatag for a megafandom wasn't easy sometimes. You had to make sure your other sub tags didn't get hurt and upset by getting only a fraction of the attention its popular sibling did. Only a few other metatags really sympathized with the feeling, particularly Sherlock Holmes & Related Fandoms. "Everyone in the family knows you, and we all love you, at any size."

"Speaking of size," interrupted the wrangler, impatient. "You can do the touchy-feely stuff after you've added this to your feed. I don't have all day, here! Someone just tagged with a bunch of pairing smushnames in one of my fandoms, and I need to get on that, already."