Wrangling Guidelines > Wrangling Guidelines - Additional Tags (Freeforms)

This refers to terms that Users may input into the ADDITIONAL TAGS field during work and bookmark creation. For more general information, please see the Wrangling Intro page.

Page Under Construction: These guidelines are a living document with the primary purpose of helping wranglers do their job. They are always under revision; examples may not be currently canonical tags but should accurately represent the guidelines as written. Additionally, some parts may be outdated and no longer in use but not removed yet.

Base Rules

Capitalize all canonical Freeform Tags (except for communities and anything else using a web address, or something that is specifically uncapitalized).

Only canonize freeform tags that are or are likely to be used by multiple users; do not make a synonym unless the meanings are clearly identical. Most single-use freeform tags can and should be left unfilterable. (Remember, such tags will still bring up works; unfilterable does not mean unusable.) If you're not sure, use the basic rule-of-3 - if 3 or more users have tagged for the same concept, make a canonical for it. (This is true for works tags. Basically, we canonize tag concepts used on at least three different works, assigned by three different users. Bookmark tags do not count for this purpose.)

Guideline updated 18 November 2022

Emojis in Tags

If a tag contains emoji, but the emoji does not change the meaning of the tag, syn the tag to the appropriate existing canonical.

SYNONYM: Slow Burn ❤️
Synonym: 🐈

If the emoji does change the meaning of the tag, then syn it appropriately based on the modified meaning.

SYNONYM: 🚫 Romance

Continue to follow existing procedures to minimize the usage of non-standard characters in canonical tags. Don't canonize tags that contain emojis. Emojis may not be supported by all the devices users use to access the Archive and may not display the same way on all devices.

Guideline updated 15 December 2018


The short form: Do NOT make metatags hastily. Please see the Freeform Metatags section of the Metatags Guidelines for more information.

Fandom-Related Freeform Tag General Rules

If a freeform tag belongs to a specific fandom (e.g. an episode), wrangle it to that fandom. Do not make synonyms or canonize unless you are responsible for that fandom. If it is a tag for one of your fandoms, wrangle it following these guidelines.

Note: There is one exception: general-concept tags that include the fandom name (but not anything more specific) should not be assigned to that fandom or made into unique canonicals; instead make them a synonym to the appropriate No Fandom tag. (The fandom in these cases is superfluous; users can use the fandom tags to filter for the specific fandoms under these tags.)

CANONICAL: Season/Series 01
SYNONYMS: Buffy Season 1, Torchwood: S1
CANONICAL: Crossover
SYNONYMS: dcu crossover, HF0/SGA cross
CANONICAL: Alternate Universe
SYNONYMS: Teen Wolf AU, au sherlock

Do not make tags synonyms or canonicals just to reduce the number of unfilterable tags in your bins.

If it's a tag type described on this page (e.g. an episode or other type of canon tag, a community tag), canonize according to the guidelines and place it in your fandom unless otherwise instructed by the guideline.

Character-Related Freeforms

As with other freeform tags, it is not necessary to canonize all such tags that appear; in general, only canonize those tags which show popular usage (either 3 users or more have used them/synnable variants; or you are aware they are a recurring trend in the fandom). The reason for this format is that the '!' means certain things to the search engine and can interfere with finding results.


SYNONYM: top!John, John on top
CANONICAL: Female Tony
SYNONYMS: girl!tony, Fem Tony, always-a-girl!Tony

METATAG: Female Tony
SUBTAGS: Female Tony DiNozzo, Female Tony Stark

Generic single-name tags (such as Female Tony, Top John) can be put in either No Fandom and/or the fandom the tag was originally made for.

Character-related tags can optionally be added as subtags to a related general concept freeform:

METATAG: Merpeople
SUBTAG: Merman John

Common character-related freeform canonicals include:

  • Female CHARNAME
  • Bottom CHARNAME
  • Virgin CHARNAME
  • Awesome CHARNAME (especially for female characters, in which case subtag under "Women Being Awesome")

Guideline updated 15 November 2016

Animal Characters

Characters as animals (Dog Dean, Puppy Dean) need to be examined carefully, as the tags are often used ambiguously. In cases where one of the two tags is being used ambiguously or they are being used in different ambiguities (such as animal play or animal-human hybrids) they should not be synned together. However, if both the adult and baby animal character are not ambiguous or share the same ambiguity, they should be synned together.

SYNONYM: Puppy Dean

Both are ambiguously used to also mean animal play.

SUBTAG: Kitten Harry

Cat Harry is used ambiguously as both 'Harry is physically a cat' and 'Harry is a Cat-Human Hybrid', while Kitten Harry is also used ambiguously as a nickname.

Guideline added 25 October 2016.

Relationship-Related Freeforms

Like characters, freeforms of relationships with modifiers that provide more specific information about relationships should be canonized, provided they meet the rule-of-three. Unmodified relationships in the freeforms (including 'ship names and portmanteaus like "Spuffy" that do not impart any extra information beyond the characters in the relationship) should not be canonized, and can optionally be marked unwrangleable. Relationship-related freeforms with only one or two uses do not need to be canonized.

Relationship-related freeform tags should use the same format as the canonical relationship, including full names and any required disambiguation

The following examples show some common types of relationship-related freeform tags, and acceptable canonicals. This list is not exhaustive (there are many other possible relationship-related freeforms) and are intended as suggestions, not absolute forms. Certain fandoms may have specific ways of referring to certain variations on standard relationships, and these terms may be canonized if they get enough uses (or, if the usage is specific only to certain parts of the fandom, they may be canonized as a subtag to a more general freeform, e.g. "X & Y Bromance", if it and its variants had enough uses, could be canonized separately and subtagged under "X & Y Friendship".)

CANONICAL: Past Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
SYNONYMS: hints of past Johnlock, Sherlock and John are exes
METATAG: Past Relationships
CANONICAL: Pre-Steve Rogers/Tony Stark
SYNONYMS: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark pre-slash, Pre SteveTony, Eventual Stony, Future!Stony
METATAG: Pre-Relationship
CANONICAL: Sally Donovan & Sherlock Holmes Friendship
SYNONYMS: Sally and Sherlock friendship, Sherlock& Sally friendship
METATAG: Male-Female Friendship
CANONICAL: Darcy Lewis is Tony Stark's Daughter
SYNONYMS: Darcy is Tony's Daughter, Tony as Darcy's father
METATAG: Father-Daughter Relationship
CANONICAL: Minor Rose Lalonde/Kanaya Maryam
SYNONYMS: light Rose/Kanaya, Rose/Kanaya if you squint, Hinted Rose/Kanaya

Guideline updated 15 November 2016

Characters Played by the Same Actress/Actor

Sometimes users tag works that assume characters portrayed by a single actress or actor in different canons are the same character. After 3 or more uses, we can canonize these in the following format, with the characters in alphabetical order by family name:

CANONICAL: Clint Barton is William Brandt
SYNONYM: Clint Barton and William Brandt are the same person, William Brandt is Clint Barton

These tags are shared between the relevant fandoms.

If more than one tag of this type appears for a single actress/actor, or if users create a generic tag using the actress/actor's name, wranglers in the affected fandoms may agree to create a metatag and place it in No Fandom. Tags that refer to these characters as relatives can also be added as subtags to this metatag.

CANONICAL METATAG: Jeremy Renner Character Combinations
SYNONYM: Jeremy Renner fandom mashup, every character Jeremy Renner has ever played is actually hawkeye
SUBTAGS: Clint Barton is William Brandt, Clint Barton is Aaron Cross, Clint Barton is Brian Gamble, Clint Barton and William Brandt are Brothers

Guideline posted 02 Apr 2013

Fandom-specific Alternate Universes

Fandom-specific AUs can be canonized. Canonical AUs (those that appear in the source canon, e.g. Fringe's Red Verse, SGA's Mensa Verse) can be canonized in whatever form makes sense for the fandom (at the wrangler's discretion) and subtagged under the tag "Canonical Alternate Universe". Fandom AUs should only be canonized if they are shared universes (tagged for by 3 or more different users) or otherwise AU concepts popular in a particular fandom; canonize whatever form of the name has the most uses.

Note: The rule only applies to specific AUs such as those in the examples below; tags that are simply "Fandom-name AU" (e.g. "X-men AU" or "au sherlock" should not be put in the specific fandom, but rather put in No Fandom only and synned to the general "Alternate Universe" tag, as explained above.

SYNONYMS: Red 'verse, Red!verse
CANONICAL: Mirror Universe
SYNONYMS: Alternate Mirror Universe, mirrorverse
CANONICAL: Alternate Universe - No Sburb Session
This is a general common type of AU in the Homestuck fandom
CANONICAL: Marchingstuck & Promstuck
This is a specific shared Homestuck fanon AU (subtagged under the No Fandom tag "Alternate Universe - High School)

Tags that do not specify an Alternate Universe should not be subtagged to the Alternate Universe tree, even if they reflect non-canonical situations.

METATAG: Vampires
SUBTAGS: Vampire Steve, Alternate Universe - Vampires
SUBTAGS: Allison Argent & Stiles Stilinski Are Twins, Alternate Universe - Twins

Tags which specify an Alternate Universe because of a single change to a character or relationship should be synned to the general tag for that concept.

CANONICAL: Artist Harry Potter
SYNONYMS: AU where Harry Potter is an artist, AU Artist Harry Potter
CANONICAL: Werewolf Steve Rogers
SYNONYMS: Alternate Universe - Werewolf Steve Rogers, Steve Rogers werewolf!AU

This is to avoid causing extra complexity and cross-metatagged layers that have essentially the same meaning.

Guideline posted 08 Sept 2016

Freeforms that Duplicate Existing Tags

Do not canonize tags that are duplicating another format of tag (a character name, a pairing name, a fandom name) unless it provides additional filtering capability. (E.G. do not canonize a freeform tag "Dean Winchester". However, the freeform tag "Dean Winchester in high school" might be made a canonical freeform.) With such tags wrangle into the appropriate fandom, but do not make them a canonical or synonym.

Fandom-specific Concepts

Other sorts of fandom-specific freeform (e.g. "Red Kryptonite") may or may not be canonized. We canonize tag concepts that are likely to be repeated. So an "Ascended Daniel Jackson" tag is a likely candidate for canonization; a "Were-Rabbit Eames" is probably not (unless that’s a recurring trope in the fandom). For tags that are specific concepts unlikely to be repeated, leave them in the fandom but uncanonized and unlinked. As a general rule of thumb, if a specific tag concept has been used by 3 or more different users, it is a candidate for canonization.

Note: When in doubt, leave miscellaneous freeforms as-is. A fandom-specific freeform with one use almost never needs to be canonized, unless you are corralling several synonymous single-use tags (e.g., “troll ancestor,” “troll ancestors,” and “troll ancestor fic”), or unless it is an episode or community/challenge.

Synonymizing Specific Tags to General Ones

Do not make tags synonyms that refer to a particular character or relationship to a general tag. Linking "Werewolf Dean Winchester" to "Werewolves" loses a layer of meaning: users filtering the "Supernatural" fandom for "Dean Winchester" and "Werewolves" would get works with Dean fighting werewolves as well as those with him being one, but not have a way to specifically get stories about Dean as a werewolf. Such tags should be assigned to the fandom they belong, and either left unfilterable (if they have few uses) or made into canonicals, if they are popular/recurring concepts in the fandom. Canonicals may be subtagged under an appropriate No Fandom freeform, but they should not be made synonyms.

Specific Fandom Freeform Tag Cases

Please follow these guidelines when wrangling freeform tags:

Abbreviations & Acronyms

For fandom-specific freeforms, if the abbreviation (and therefore the No Fandom metatag) is ambiguous, use the full term only.

METATAG: Bipolar Disorder | BPD
SUBTAGS: Bipolar Sollux Captor, Bipolar Bokuto Koutarou

If the abbreviation is not ambiguous, use the abbreviation.

METATAG: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder | PTSD
SUBTAGS: Harry Potter Has PTSD, Kara Danvers Has PTSD

The Abbreviations & Acronyms section describes the No Fandom rules for these types of freeforms.

Guideline added 21 March 2018

Communities, Challenges, Fests, etc.

Note: Many communities, challenges, etc already are canonized; please check to make sure a canon tag doesn't already exist!

Communities and challenges that only apply to one or two fandoms or meta-fandoms should be put under those fandoms; those that include any fandom or a broad range of fandoms (e.g. Science Fiction Big Bang or Yuletide) should be put in No Fandom.

Communities (livejournal, dreamwidth, etc.): Use a modifier at the beginning of these tags: Community: URLNAME. Capitalize "Community" but leave the account name in whatever case it appears in the html address (lowercase for lj-comms).

CANONICAL: Community: choc_fic
SYNONYM: choc_fic

Treat Twitter, Tumblr, etc the same as lj communities:

CANONICAL: Twitter: sg_atlantis

Ficathons/fests/exchanges/memes (provided that they are not also a community, in which case see Communities, above) - make the name the canonical.

CANONICAL: Five Flans Ficathon
SYNONYM: Challenge: Five Flans Ficathon
CANONICAL: Bleach Kink Meme
SYNONYM: bleach kink
CANONICAL: Merlin Big Bang Challenge
SYNONYM: Merlin BigBang fic, challenge: merlin big bang

When there are challenges/fests that run multiple years, make the first canonical the version with no year attached (e.g., "Ardor in August"). If tags for the same challenge with different years are added, make each different year a canonical subtag under the general challenge canonical:

METATAG: Yuletide
SUBTAGS: Yuletide 2006
Yuletide 2007

Challenges: for challenges that are like prompts (e.g. flashfic challenges), either use format "X Challenge" or for generic prompts, synonymize with pre-existing tags:

CANONICAL: Ways to Die challenge
SYNONYM: Challenge: Ways to Die
CANONICAL: Voyeurism
SYNONYM: voyeurism challenge

Episode tags

Specific episodes/serials/etc with names can be canonized, and subtagged under the generic episode number, if it exists. Tags related to a specific episode (alternate episodes, episode tags, missing scenes) should be synned or subtagged to that episode.


Note: Suggested resources: boxed sets of the series, epguides.com, tv.com, imdb.com, wikipedia.com. (If sources conflict, defer to the boxed set, then use your best judgment.)

CANONICAL: Episode: s04e16 Trio
SYNONYM: Episode Related: Trio, Ep:4.16 Trio, SGA season 4 episode 16, SGA Trio Tag
METATAG: Episode: s04e16

For canons that have episodes but don't follow a season format (most anime, many web and audio series, etc.), the canonical format should omit the "s##" section and add an extra number to accommodate longer runs.


CANONICAL: Episode: e025 One Year Later
SYNONYMS: Episode 25 One Year Later, Spoilers for Episode 25: One Year Later
METATAG: Episode: e025

If you need to translate the episode, use a pipe for the title:


CANONICAL: Episode: e021-022 Erabareshimono-tachi | All Hell Breaks Loose

Tags such as Pre-[Episode], Post-[Episode] may be canonized separately if they are a common fandom trope (e.g. a turning-point ep in a series) or pass Rule of 3. The format should follow the standard episode (or other canonical) format.

CANONICAL: Post-Episode: s03e13 The Wrath of the Lamb
CANONICAL: Post-The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye Issue 47 (IDW)
CANONICAL: Pre-Book: The Last Battle (Narnia)
CANONICAL: Pre-Winter War (Bleach)

For multipart episodes use:

STANDARD FORMAT: Episode: s0Xe0Y-0Z Title Parts 1-2

In cases where users have tagged for one part of a multi-part episode, the tag may be either synned or subtagged to the multi-part episode tag, depending on what makes more sense for the fandom.

Guideline updated 15 November 2016

Other Parts of Canon

Individual pieces of a canon should usually be canonized as freeforms if users tag for them. They can be canonized on the first use.


Leave out any elements that don't exist or aren't necessary to identify the specific part of canon. Choose the format term most often used by your fandom, so "Audio" for Doctor Who but "Episode" for Welcome to Night Vale. The colon goes before the title, if one is used; if there is no title, the colon is dropped. If using a title, use the full, published version.


CANONICAL: Issue 5: The Chain
METATAGS: Issue 5, The Chain
CANONICAL: Audio 153: The Silver Turk

CANONICAL: Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
CANONICAL: Song: Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely

CANONICAL: Journey Into Mystery Issue 079
METATAG: Issue 79
CANONICAL: Fairy Tail Chapter 212
METATAG: Chapter 212

The number of places used for numbering can vary by fandom - some fandoms will only need one place number (Harry Potter fandom knows there are only 7 books). Others will need more (Journey Into Mystery knows there were over a hundred issues, so they use 3 places).

If your fandom renumbers (e.g., long-running comics series), decide within your fandom whether to differentiate between runs or not, and how to do that. Be consistent if you can.

If a number is already part of the canon element's title in a format different from the one above, use the official title. For example:

CANONICAL: Silent Hill 2
CANONICAL: Assassin's Creed III
CANONICAL: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
CANONICAL: Mass Effect 3: Omega

If the fandom doesn't agree on work order, don't use numbers:

CANONICAL: Story: His Last Bow
CANONICAL: Book: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Arcs, Events, and other levels of organization that don't make sense in this format may be canonized in the standard form the fandom uses, with piped translations as needed. For example:

CANONICAL: Battle City Arc
CANONICAL: Ikkoku Keisei | Courtesan of a Nation Arc
CANONICAL: Civil War (Marvel)

Guideline updated 5 October 2013

No Fandom Freeform Tag General Rules

Many freeform tags apply to many/all fandoms (such as Fantasy, First Kiss, Humor) - these should be wrangled into "No Fandom".

The Dos and Don’ts of No-Fandom Freeform Wrangling

No-fandom freeforms are some of the most ill-defined tags we have on the Archive; they overlap in multiple ways, often have conflicting usages (reflecting fan behavior), cover a huge variety of topics, and don't have any real limits.

Paradoxically, this means that wranglers need to be especially conservative in handling them - as of September 2012, less than one in ten Freeform tags are filterable, and that's including the fandom-specific ones that are slightly easier to deal with. No-fandom freeforms should be handled with a light touch: canonize only when useful for filtering; create synonyms only when no meaning is lost; make metatag relationships sparingly. As wranglers, we value diversity in fannish language and usage, and we support users expressing exactly what they feel is important about works.

The rules here are fairly strictly worded because some No Fandom freeforms have a high chance of troubling users if improperly wrangled. Some of the more problematic wrangling-related Support requests involve No Fandom freeforms, so there are special processes for collectively wrangling these. Graduated wranglers are welcome to join our group discussions!


  • Do NOT canonize extremely specific or idiosyncratic concepts that have only one or a few uses, especially if they are used by only one person. It doesn’t add value if the tag is idiosyncratic enough, or rare enough, that it’s not useful for filtering purposes.
  • Do NOT canonize tags that belong in other categories: if it’s a character, relationship, or fandom in the freeform category, it’s an unfilterable tag. Assign these tags to the appropriate fandom and ignore them.
  • DO canonize tags for new multi-fandom challenges and communities (check the guidelines for the appropriate format).
  • DO canonize tags for concepts that are likely to be useful to multiple users. Use the tag search function first, though, and check to see if there’s already a canonical tag for a different form of the same word, or some other tag that the new one should be a synonym of (or possible a subtag).
  • DO follow the guidelines for capitalisation, grammar and formatting.


  • DO NOT make tags synonyms when dealing with people’s identities unless you are absolutely sure that you are doing so appropriately. If you aren’t sure, ask the list or leave it alone. If you come across an identity term that you aren’t familiar with, definitely leave it alone. This includes national, ethnic, racial, sexual, gender, and religious identities, and probably other categories as well.
  • Why: there is extremely high potential for insulting or hurting people here. These are emotionally loaded terms with a lot of connotation to them; even terms that look “close enough” to somebody who isn’t personally invested in them can have shades of meaning that are important to their users. If we link them inappropriately (e.g., synonymizing “sexless” to “Asexual”), then it looks as though the Archive sees no difference between those terms, which is hurtful.
  • DO NOT synonymize specific tags to general tags (e.g., “spit kink” to “kinks”). If the specific tag has only one or two uses, leave it alone. If it has enough uses to be a useful filtering term, make it a canonical itself.
  • Why: if the specific is a synonym to the general, the other uses of the specific can no longer be tracked down by that tag. Instead all of the general results come back, which are probably not what a user is looking for from the specific. Even an unfilterable specific tag can be used to find other stories using the same tag; a badly linked specific tag will no longer do that.
  • Exception: certain freeform tags that list the fandom may be linked to the general form, on the assumption that the user can always filter by fandom. So specific-fandom crossovers are made a synonym of "Crossover" and specific seasons are linked to the appropriate season canonical (e.g. ("Buffy Season 7" can be synned to "Season/Series 07"). DO NOT synonymize character- or relationship-specific tags to the general NF freeforms.
  • DO make tags synonyms that are slightly different grammatical forms of the same concept (e.g., “Cat” and “Cats”; “kiss,” “kiss!fic,” “kissing”).
  • DO make tags synonyms that refer to the same challenge, event, etc.: “Spring Kink” to “Community: springkink”

IN SHORT: synonymize tags only when they are definitely synonymous. “Close enough” isn’t.

Last Words

Please take great care when making freeform synonyms and metatags. Do not simply link a tag because it shares a word in common with a canonical tag, or is possibly associated; only make tags with identical meanings synonyms, or meanings so close that there's no appreciable difference. If you're not sure, don't synonymize them.

When making an unwrangled tag into a No Fandom canonical, remember to add "No Fandom" to the Fandom field. (Without a fandom it will stay in the unwrangled bin even if it's a canonical.)

Familiarize yourself with the existing canonical No Fandom freeform tags on the Archive, especially those in the tag cloud - those are the most commonly used tags, and many are metatags. Before canonizing a tag, do a search to make sure an appropriate canonical does not already exist.

General No Fandom Freeform Rules

Capitalize any tag you canonize (unless the tag calls for otherwise).

The canonical name should be in a form that the most users are likely to recognize. "No fandom" freeform tags do not generally use "!" or other such optional indicators - it messes with the Advanced Search.

SYNONYM: Alien!Sex, AlienSex?

Make the plural form the canonical, the singular form the synonym, as the plural is more inclusive.

SYNONYM: cat, cat fic

Canonical freeform tags with Pre- or Post- prefixes should use hyphenation (other hypenated words may depend on usage.)

Example Canonicals:
Pre-Episode: s02e02
Pre-Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Post-Peacekeeper Wars

Variant tags with ambiguous/non-specific superlatives may be made synonyms of the primary form in certain cases.

SYNONYMS: mild crack, so much crack

Do NOT synonymize tags with descriptive modifiers. "crack!AU" should NOT be linked to either Crack or Alternate Universe; nor should "depressing crack" be linked to either Depressing or Crack. Leave these tags unfilterable. If a concept is popular enough, it may be made into a canonical that can be subtagged under any related concepts, but in most cases such tags are unique and can be left alone.

In general, do not link bookmark tags that are reviewing or expressing an opinion about a work, e.g. do NOT make "very good" or "pretty good!" synonyms of "Good" - it's better to leave such tags unfilterable than to try to guess a user's intentions for various gradations of opinion.

Guideline updated 18 June 2013

Media-Specific Tags

If a freeform contains a media type (e.g., manga, TV shows, podcasts), the tag should usually be synned to the general concept, not subtagged. Such tags aren't specific enough to improve filtering by themselves, and they contribute to metatag layers.

CANONICAL: Alternate Universe - Fusion
SYNONYMS: Movie Fusion, AU - Video Game Fusion
SYNONYMS: Movie Spoilers, Book Spoilers
SUBTAGS: Captain America: The First Avenger Spoilers, Season/Series 03 Spoilers

Exception: Some tags that include a media type are useful canonicals, because they describe a unique concept that can appear in multiple media, rather than a general concept occurring in a specific media.

CANONICAL: Comic Book Violence

Exception: Tags which serve to identify part of a specific canon may also be canonized.

CANONICAL: Canon - Anime
CANONICAL: Book: Monstrous Regiment

Don't canonize new No Fandom freeforms that specify media types, and don't subtag to existing canonicals that do so. If you think a freeform that includes a media type should be canonical, ask Supervisors.

Guideline added 25 October 2016.

Specific No Fandom Freeform Tag Cases

The below tag types should be in No Fandom.

Abbreviations & Acronyms

Freeform tags that are almost always abbreviated, or that share an abbreviation (making them ambiguous), require special formatting to prevent user confusion. Relevant tag formats will be determined by No Fandom freeform wranglers based on Archive, fandom, and regular usage.

For No Fandom tags, if the abbreviation is ambiguous, both the full term and the abbreviation will be used.

CANONICAL: Borderline Personality Disorder | BPD
SYNONYMS: some kind of Borderline Personality Disorder, WARNING: borderline personality disorder
CANONICAL: Bipolar Disorder | BPD
SYNONYMS: implied bipolar disorder, bi-polar

If the abbreviation is not yet ambiguous, and is almost always used instead of the recognizable full term, this is the format that will be used:

CANONICAL: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder | PTSD
SYNONYMS: PTSD, implied post-traumatic stress disorder

If the abbreviation is not ambiguous, and is not almost always used instead of the full term, then only the full term will be used.

CANONICAL: Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics
SYNONYMS: A/B/O, AlphaBetaOmega

If the abbreviation is almost always used, and the full term is no longer recognizable, then only the abbreviation will be used, with disambiguation to be determined by No Fandom wranglers.

SYNONYMS: mentions of LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide

Guideline updated 21 March 2018


Baby animals should be synned to their adult counterparts.

SYNONYM: Cat, cat fic, kitten, kitten fic

Guideline added 25 October 2016.

Alternate Universe

Standard Format: CANONICAL tag is "Alternate Universe -" followed by type of alternate universe (regency, academic, high school, prostitute, pirate, etc.). Canonize the name that you think the end users are more likely to recognise.

CANONICAL: Alternate Universe - Prostitute
SYNONYM: AU-Rentboy, Hooker AU

Make this subtag of general metatag Alternate Universe, or an appropriate subtag. (For fandom-specific AUs, see above under Fandom-Related Freeform Tag guidelines.)

Fandom Fusion AUs

Fandom fusion alternate universes (characters attending Hogwarts, etc) can either be synned to the canonical Alternate Universe - Fusion, or, if they pass Rule of 3, can be made a subtag of this tag. Such canonicals should either specify Fusion, or can use another qualifier such as "Setting" if it makes sense for the universe in question. The nonspecific form "Alternate Universe - Fandom Name" should not be used, to avoid confusion with non-fusion AUs.

Example canonicals:
Alternate Universe - Peter Pan Fusion
Alternate Universe - Friends (TV) Fusion
Alternate Universe - Harry Potter Setting
Alternate Universe - Middle Earth Setting
Alternate Universe - Sentinels & Guides

Fandom Fusion AU tags should be put in No Fandom. The fused fandom's wrangler can optionally choose to keep the freeform in their fandom as well.

Note: Not all AU Fandom_name tags are fusions. Tags used to indicate AUs featuring the cast of a fandom (e.g. a tag "Teen Wolf AU" used on a work with the characters of Teen Wolf as astronauts) should be synned to the general "Alternate Universe" tag, and users can filter by fandom to distinguish it. If a tag is sometimes used for a fusion and sometimes used as a regular AU, the tag should be syned to the general "Alternate Universe" tag.

Guideline updated 18 June 2013

Author names, etc

Author Names, gift recipient names: These should not be canonical tags. Wrangle to "No Fandom"; DO NOT make canonical or synonyms.


These should be wrangled into the "No Fandom" category. Please check with Supervisors for guidance on which usage should be canonical.

CANONICAL: Valentine's Day
SYNONYM: Valentine's Fic

Guideline updated 25 October 2016.

Kink vs. Play

Kink and Play tags should always be canonized separately from each other. Syns should take into account the language used in the tag.

CANONICAL: Medical Play
SYNONYM: Slight medical play, Medical Play of a Sort
CANONICAL: Medical Kink
SYNONYM: Implied Medical Kink, Mild Med Kink

Play tags

Canonize based on common usage in US English. If no common usage is available, the canonical is " Play" preceded by the type of play.

SYNONYM: Pup Play, Dog Play
CANONICAL: Breathplay
SYNONYM: brief breathplay, erotic asphyxiation
SYNONYM: urethral sounding, light sounding

Guideline created 15 July 2016


In addition to the setting when posting a work to indicate the overall language of a piece, some creators use the freeforms space to indicate secondary or other languages within a work; hence the category duplication. Canonize to the Romanized spelling listed at the Archive Languages page; if it's not listed there, consult the ISO 639-1 code or check with Supervisors.

CANONICAL: Français | French
SYNONYMs: French, Francais


The name of the religion is the canonical.

not "Religion - Judaism"

Guideline updated 25 October 2016.

Season/Series and Generic Episode tags

Season/series tags should be subtagged to the appropriate generic Season/Series tag, in No Fandom only (even if the show title is specified.)

CANONICAL: Season/Series 01
SYNONYMS: BtVS S1, Season One of Supernatural, Doctor Who S1

Generic Episode Tags: can be canonized as No Fandom tags, with all relevant fandom-specific canonicals subtagged. Generic or specific episode tags should not be subtagged to the general Season/Series canonicals.

CANONICAL: Episode: s01e03
SYNONYMS: 1x03, s1 ep3, tag to 1x03
SUBTAGS: Episode: s01e03 The Enemy Within, Episode: s01e03 A Proportional Response

Other season/series related freeform tags can be made in the following formats (syn to the appropriate, ignoring any fandom disambiguation):

CANONICAL: Pre-Season/Series 01
CANONICAL: Post-Season/Series 01
CANONICAL: Season/Series 02 Spoilers
CANONICAL: Alternate Season/Series 01
Numbered Alternate Season/Series tags should be subtagged to the Alternate Season/Series metatag. They should not be subtagged to the general Season/Series canonicals.

Guideline updated 9 June 2013

Warnings and triggers

General warnings (e.g. "caveat lector", "see notes for more detailed warnings") tags can be made synonyms to the No Fandom freeform "Additional Warnings Apply"

Specific warnings/triggers can be synned to the canonical or appropriate subtags of the triggering concept. These tags should be treated with care and uniformity. Before adding to the metatag structure of a common trigger concept, read all the information available to you. Bring confusing tag structures or other potential issues to Supervisors or the wrangling mailing list.

Note: If a single tag references two or more different concepts (e.g. "Warning for graphic sex and explicit language"), leave the tag unfilterable.

Standard Structure

The standard top metatag structure is:

CANONICAL: Character Death
SYNONYMS: Somebody dies, Major Character Death - Freeform

The following modified tags usually should be synned, but can be broken out as subtags if they are frequently used (generally, more than 20 uses):

SUBTAG (first level): Canonical Character Death
SYNONYMS: allusion to canon death, Warning: Canon Death, previous char death (canonical), canon death in the past implied
SUBTAG (first level): Past Character Death
SYNONYMS: Mentions of Previous Character Death, Past Character Death References
SUBTAG (first level): Implied/Referenced Character Death
SYNONYMS: Off-Screen Character Death, References to Character Death, Implied Future Character Death, Mentions of Character Death

In this structure, tags containing multiple modifiers (e.g. "references to past X") are synned in this order: first to "Canonical", then "Past", then "Implied/Referenced", then the plain tag if none of the above apply. So "References to Canonical Character Death" and "Past Canonical Character Death" both are synned to "Canonical Character Death", while "References to Past Character Death" is synned to "Past Character Death".

Unique Subtags

Some common triggers may have specific subtags that are particular to that concept and are common fannish terms. If these pass Rule-of-3 and represent a significant difference from existing canonical tags, they can be canonized as separate subtags. These subtags will trump the "Past", "Canonical", and "Implied/Referenced" modifiers in importance when choosing where to syn a tag. For example:

SUBTAG (first level): Minor Character Death
SYNONYMS: minor character death (past), Minor Canon character death, Random Extras Dying

Where possible, avoid having more than two levels to warning tags, and always check closely for conceptual drift. If two specific subtags have no essential differences in meaning, they should be combined.

Tags That Shouldn't Be Subtagged

Some tags may share a term with a common trigger but not make sense as subtags to the main tag. These tags should be canonized separately and not subtagged to the main trigger, but the rule for synning priority should be the same as the rule for specific subtags above.

CANONICAL: Temporary Character Death
SYNONYMS: Character death isn't permanent, temporary major character death, temporary past character death

Guideline updated 9 July 2013

Word Counts

Do not canonize any more word count tags; leave them unlinked and unfilterable. The existing word count tags are legacy from before we had the word count feature. The wordcount feature under advanced search serves this function; tags are unnecessary.


Do not canonize date tags; put them under No Fandom and ignore them.


Individual years are not being made canonical tags (with the exception of key historical dates, e.g. "1812"); put them into "No Fandom" but do not canonize them.

Decades and centuries may be canonized.

CANONICAL: 19th Century
SYNONYMS: 1800s, C19, 19th Century Setting
SYNONYMS: 60's, historical: 1960s

Guideline updated 25 October 2016.

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