Wrangling Guidelines > Wrangling Guidelines - Work Description

Who are the Archive's Tag Wranglers?

The Tag Wranglers are responsible for organizing the millions of tags generated by users on AO3! Wranglers follow a set of internal guidelines to determine the tags that appear in the auto-complete drop down and search filters. This makes it easier to browse and search for specific tropes or topics on the archive, ranging from Victor/Yuuri with tentacles to g-rated Rose/Kanaya fluff.

What do the tag wrangling volunteers do?

Tag Wranglers sort and organize tags in various fandoms according to the Archive’s Tag Wrangling guidelines. For example, if a user enters “Juvia Lockser/Lucy Heartfilia” as a relationship tag, a Tag Wrangler for the fandom Fairy Tail will connect that tag to the existing “Lucy Heartfilia/Juvia Lockser” so that works tagged with either version will appear in the same filter for browsing users.

When a tag is used for the first time on the Archive, it appears in the wrangling interface for the Wrangler(s) of whatever fandom(s) the user added to that work. A Wrangler’s primary job is sorting these new tags, which means identifying what a tag means and determining if another tag already exists for that meaning. Most tags only needs to be sorted once; future uses won’t change how the tag is wrangled. So for example, if a second user tags with "Juvia Lockser/Lucy Heartfilia” as a relationship, that tag will already be connected to “Lucy Heartfilia/Juvia Lockser" and won’t need to be connected again.

Sometimes users add tags that Wranglers can’t immediately identify - for example, characters who are only mentioned briefly in canon. Tag wrangling sometimes involves researching or revisiting source canon and other sources to identify such tags. (It's a great excuse to rewatch an episode of your favorite TV show!)

Tag Wranglers also participate in discussions about tricky organization puzzles, such as how to distinguish between Hurricanes (the natural disaster and the hockey team), or whether "Wolf Steve" and "Dog Steve" are sufficiently similar not to need separate tags.

How much time does it take?

Volunteer time depends on several factors. For example, Wranglers who deal with tags from high traffic fandoms such as Marvel Cinematic Universe may find themselves dedicating more time to wrangling than Wranglers who deal with tags from literary classics. For new volunteers, we ask that they have a minimum of five hours per week available for training.

I'd like to join as a Tag Wrangler - how can I do that?

Tag Wrangling usually runs three to four recruitment rounds every year. You can see if the tag wrangling role, along with other committee volunteer roles, is currently available by going to the OTW's volunteer page.

When filling in the application, please be aware that there are two parts to it. Part 1 is the section visible on the signup form. A link to Part 2 will be sent to you automatically via email once you submit Part 1. Because the Tag Wrangling team accepts so many new wranglers each recruitment cycle, we do not conduct interviews; instead, we rely on your responses to both parts of the application to give us a good understanding of who you are and how you might work with the team.

To increase your chances of being accepted, you should:

  • Fill out both parts. We cannot accept anyone who skips Part 2. (If you don't receive an email with the link within one hour of submitting Part 1, please contact the Volunteers & Recruiting Committee and ask for it to be re-sent.)
  • On Part 1, carefully check that you are only listing eligible fandoms.
  • On Part 1, give a description of your fannish experiences and interest in wrangling that tells us something about you as a person. Who are you? What motivates/interests you? How might your presence help the Tag Wrangling team? Your answer doesn't need to be a 10 paragraph novel, but it shouldn't be a single sentence.
  • On Part 2, explain your reasoning for each of the wrangling questions. The reasoning is the most important part.

Note: If you are not yet a legal adult (legally responsible for yourself in a court of law), please don't apply. Please demonstrate your maturity by waiting until you're a legal adult.

If I applied before and wasn't accepted, can I apply again?

Yes, you can reapply. Each application stands on its own, even if you've applied before. For this reason, please make sure your application is complete, including Part 2, and that you follow all the steps listed in the section above to produce a strong application.

Sometimes Tag Wrangling staff want to accept an applicant but don't have a slot available, or the applicant technically doesn't qualify this time due to fandoms offered, age of their AO3 account, current language skills, or for some other temporary reason. When that happens, the email sent out will clarify what the reason was and will invite the applicant to reapply later. These reapplication requests are genuine. If you receive one, please do reapply later if you have interest and are able to change the situation affecting the original application.

What fandoms could I wrangle?

Fandoms currently in need of Wranglers are listed on the unassigned fandoms page, though this list changes frequently. Wranglers also frequently advertise within the wrangling team for help with larger fandoms.

Do I need to live in a certain time zone to wrangle?

We welcome applications from all time zones! You can choose when and how much you wrangle, as long as the work gets done. All training is self-scheduled to be completed within a certain timeframe, but there are no specific work times required. No meetings happen that require wranglers to all be present at once, which allows us to have wranglers from all over the world who check in when it's convenient for them.

Do I need to be fluent in English to be a Tag Wrangler?

We love hearing from potential volunteers who speak a variety of languages! However, we do require proficiency in English, as that is the language we use for our training materials, which contain technical terms.

Do I need specific software for wrangling?

All wrangling happens in the backend of AO3's existing interface, so no special software is needed. If your computer or device can display the Archive, you should be able to wrangle. Our communication tools require an up-to-date browser capable of online chatting. You should also sign up to wrangle with an e-mail address you check regularly.

How does wrangler training work?

For the first two weeks or so, wranglers learn through self-paced online tutorials and discussion with mentors and the rest of their trainee class in a chatroom environment. Wrangling Supervisors check each wrangler’s progress at several points to clear any misunderstandings and issues. Within 3.5 months of starting training, most wranglers are comfortable handling several fandoms. More individualized instruction is available where needed.

Will I be able to join other fandoms later on?

Yes, wranglers join and leave fandoms regularly depending on their time availability and interest. There are tools available to help wranglers find new fandoms of interest for them to join, such as the unassigned fandoms list. However, fandoms are chosen by wranglers on a first-come-first-served basis. If a position opens to wrangle a fandom, then you're welcome to apply, but there are limited positions available even for the largest fandoms.

How many wranglers are needed for each fandom?

This varies greatly based on many factors. An older fandom with a lot of existing works may only need a few wranglers, while a newer one that's growing quickly may need many. Small fandoms are generally wrangled by a single wrangler. All wranglers are allowed to search for co-wranglers if one of their fandoms is too much for them to handle alone, or if they’d like someone to help discuss complexities and make decisions for the fandom.

Can wranglers join other AO3 and/or OTW committees?

Yes. We do ask, however, that you only join one at a time and become accustomed to the workload before joining something else.

Do Wranglers have to read every work in order to wrangle the tags?

Not at all! We don't even see the works - just the tags themselves. There is generally no reason to open a work, unless a tag on it is confusing and we need clarification as to what the user intended by it, or if it’s something that we think we might want to read later. It can be helpful to be aware of larger trends and popular pairings/concepts/events in a fandom, but researching those things is half the fun of wrangling!

Links about wrangling