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The Tag Wrangling Committee is pleased to announce that we have reached the milestone of 40,000 fandoms on Archive of Our Own!

Over the years, we've reached several fandom milestones:

  • 5,000 fandoms around New Year's Day 2010
  • 10,000 fandoms in September 2012
  • 15,000 fandoms in April 2014
  • 20,000 fandoms in December 2015
  • 25,000 fandoms in June 2017
  • 30,000 fandoms in October 2018
  • 35,000 fandoms in December 2019

This time, we’ve chosen to celebrate with this post, which explains more about the ways that our Tag Wranglers organize the tags that make AO3 easy to navigate even as it grows. We’ve also included some tips to help you tag your own works in ways that will benefit both you and the other people using the AO3 filters.

What is a Fandom, anyway?

We’re glad you asked! In regards to tagging on AO3, a fandom is defined as the source media where your characters, relationships or other concepts originate. For example, you may be in a fandom for the pairing Hán Wénqīng/Yè Xiū, but wranglers would consider this part of the 全职高手 - 蝴蝶蓝 | Quánzhí Gāoshǒu - Húdié Lán fandom, since that’s where those two characters originally come from.

Fandoms on AO3 include things you might expect like television shows, books, podcasts, video games, movies and bands, but thanks to our wonderfully creative users, we also have fandoms for things like commercials, anthropomorphism, tabletop games, theme park rides and plenty more.

Sharing 40,000 Fandoms with over 2.5 Million People

Even though there is tremendous variety in the types of fandoms on the Archive, all these fandoms have a surprising number of things in common when it comes to the names of characters, events and concepts. On AO3, characters, events and concepts are all represented with tags! With such a large community of fans and more joining us daily, we felt that this was a good time to explain what this growth means as we work to make all these fandoms easier for users to navigate.

Tags on AO3 are shared. On their own, they don't have any context or relationship to any other tag. For example, if you enter the tag Chester in the character field, tag wranglers may not be able add it to the filters for Chester the Dog (Stranger Things) or Chester Campbell, even if they determine that's who you mean. There's only one "Chester" tag, no matter how many times it's used or the number of works it's used on. Any user could tag their work with Chester when they mean Chester the Dog, but they might end up sharing that tag with another user who has already used the Chester tag to refer to Chester Campbell.

Tag Wranglers cannot separate works using the exact same tag—that’s the main reason why wranglers try to make filterable (or ‘canonical’) tags as specific as possible. Unambiguous, fandom-specific canonical tags help everyone find works about the fandoms, characters, relationships and additional concepts they want in the filters where they expect to see them.

If you discover your work is listed in a different filter than what you expect, you can try editing the tag on your work to be clearer. For example, Penny Parker is a character on the TV show MacGyver, and also a common fan name for female Peter Parker (better known as Spider-Man). Tagging your work about female Peter Parker with just “Penny Parker” in the character field will land it in the filters for the MacGyver character, because Tag Wranglers can’t separate uses on plain “Penny Parker” for the MacGyver character from uses for female Peter Parker. Not ideal for MacGyver fans or fans of female Peter Parker!

To make sure your work about female Peter Parker ends up in Peter Parker’s filters, where other Spider-Man fans can enjoy it, consider using a modified character tag like “Penny Parker (girl!Peter)” instead. You could also add a Female Peter Parker tag to the additional tags on your work to help other users find it.

If it’s your first time posting with a tag, why not check out what other works are in its filter? You might discover that another fandom has a different meaning for a tag from a fandom you know and love.

How To Make the Most of Tagging

In 2019, Tag Wranglers collectively wrangled approximately 2.7 million tags. Tag Wranglers work very hard to connect your tags and help make your works findable so other users can enjoy them as much as you enjoyed creating them.

To that end, we have a few tips and tricks that may help wranglers get your works or bookmarks into the filters where you want them to appear. (Please don't comment on works to ask other users to do this - this is for your own works only!)

Enter your tags in the correct tag categories when posting your works. That is, fandom names go in the Fandoms field, relationships listed in the Relationships field, and character names in the Characters field. For anything that doesn't fit well into those categories, use Additional Tags.

Add minor roles in the Additional Tags field. If a fandom, character, or relationship is only a passing reference in your work, you can put that in the "Additional Tags". This includes tags like Ru Pauls drag race references, Yagi Toshinori Is Mentioned, and Small Mention of Flynn/Yuri.That way, other users know your work isn’t primarily about Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Yagi Toshinori or Yuri Lowell/Flynn Scifo (which they might think if you put these tags in the fandom, character, or relationship fields instead).

Ensure your tags are correctly separated. When you enter a number of tags, they can be separated by commas or you can use "Enter" on your keyboard. Since commas separate tags in the database, you won’t be able to create a tag that has a comma in it (it will be split into two tags at the comma instead). (Please note: Chinese and Japanese commas may not work as separators.)

Ensure each tag contains just one concept (one fandom, one character, one relationship, one trope, etc.)

Ensure tags can stand alone (that is, no additional context is required to understand what the tag refers to). Try using the full name for characters in your works, and if they don’t have a surname, consider adding the fandom name to distinguish them from any other characters with the same given name, like this: Undyne (Undertale).

Use the Additional Tags field to include any themes, genres, tropes, squicks, triggers etc. that you think a user might want to know when deciding whether to access your work or not.

Spell-check and double-check your tags before posting.

For tips on tagging Real Person Fiction (RPF) and platonic or non-romantic relationships, check out the advice on our last celebration post or consult the Tags FAQ.

Please note that these tagging suggestions aren’t meant to deter you from tagging creatively for various topics! Tag Wranglers love clever tags, and sometimes we can even canonize the concepts. Erik Lehnsherr's Terrible Fashion Sense is just one of many enjoyable tags that makes us giggle.

If you have any questions about wrangling, please consult the Tags FAQ. If that doesn't answer your question, the FAQ also explains how to contact Tag Wranglers directly.

Please don't leave comments on this post with questions or requests about specific tags. They won't be answered, since Tag Wranglers can't easily track requests from here. Instead, please use the options listed above to contact us. Thanks!

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Published:
2020-07-19 11:15:39 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Julia Santos, who volunteers as a Tag Wrangling staffer.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

As a Tag Wrangling volunteer, I help sort through and organize tags so it is easier for users to find what they want to read or filter out what they don’t want to read! This means making tags canonical (filterable), connecting tags to already existing canonicals, checking on the growing number of tags that express the same fandom concept, and discussing the best formats to canonize tags. \o/ Wranglers always try their best to make tags intuitive so Archive users have an easy time browsing through fics and finding what they are looking for.

As a Tag Wrangling supervisor, I also help with recruitment and training of new Tag Wrangling volunteers, check in on progress, and lend a hand and/or help coordinate other Wrangling projects when needed.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

I’m usually able to wrangle 2-3 days a week, so I like to divide my time: one day for fandoms I wrangle alone, one day for co-wrangled fandoms, one day for megafandoms as they get lots of tags! I’m usually listening to podcasts while I wrangle so that makes wrangling even more fun. Weeks when recruitment is on, or check-ins need to be conducted, means one of my days is dedicated to that work instead of checking on my fandom bins.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I had just graduated from university and was looking for something to keep me occupied until I found a job. I've always loved reading fic and, at the time, was modding a couple of fic rec blogs so I was very used to browsing endless tags on AO3. I came across the recruitment post on Tumblr and it seemed like the perfect way to 1) give back to the community that has been one of my major sources of entertainment for years and 2) keep myself busy.

What’s the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

Interacting with people from all over the world, who are just as excited about and invested in fandom as me! My fellow volunteers are some of the kindest, sweetest, and funniest people I’ve met online. They’re all wonderful to work with and are always up to exchanging recs or flailing about new fandom content. I’ve discovered so many new TV shows/books/movies/podcasts through our talks and my life is definitely better for it.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I read all the fic in about 20 different fandoms and I love yelling about them whenever I can. I’m also a fic writer and have written fics for Teen Wolf, How To Get Away With Murder, and MCU and have also participated in and helped run a few fandom challenges. I’m currently in my feelings about MDZS/CQL, where I cry about the characters every day and write soft Wangxian fics to soothe my heart.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2019-04-21 11:02:35 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Nrandom, who volunteers as a staffer in our Policy & Abuse and Tag Wrangling Committees.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

As a member of the Policy & Abuse Committee, I respond to tickets sent in by users about issues like plagiarism, harassment, non-fanworks (works like prompt lists, fic searches, requests for a beta, or roleplay ads), as well as other violations of the Terms of Service. As a team, we do our best to help users with any issues they have while also ensuring that the values AO3 was founded on are upheld. I also get to do a lot of work with the Accessibility, Design, & Technology Committee (AD&T), particularly in situations like last year, when the archive was experiencing a spam epidemic.

In addition to Policy & Abuse, I volunteer for the Tag Wrangling committee. This involves organising and linking tags together for easier filtering, often working with a team to get everything done. It’s a lot of fun to work with the other wranglers, and it’s always interesting to see how people are tagging their works! I get quite a few fic recommendations from this - my “Marked for Later” list is always substantially longer after a couple of hours spent wrangling. I also serve as a volunteer manager for the Tag Wrangling committee and complete some of the administrative tasks, such as training new wranglers and writing new guidelines and documentation where needed.

In general, I love that I can help the OTW behind the scenes through my work with the Tag Wrangling Committee, but that I also get the chance to work with our wonderful user base as a Policy & Abuse Volunteer.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

When I’m working on things for the OTW, I tend to start curled up in a blanket with a laptop, a cat, and a cup of tea. If I’m working on P&A cases, first I’ll check if there were any updates in my ongoing cases, before perusing the ticket queue and grabbing a few to work on that day. Each case is investigated and weighed equally, regardless of the number of tickets sent in, so we always have plenty to do. The P&A team is very friendly and collaborative, it’s a pleasure to work together to help users and to maintain the archive as a space where creators can post a variety of fanworks.

On days I’m working on wrangling tasks, I check my to-do lists to see if I have any tasks in progress or if there are any I would like to pick up, before choosing a couple of fandoms to work on and opening AO3 to look at new tags. I’m lucky enough to be on teams with other volunteers for some of the fandoms I wrangle, and it’s always fun to chat about everything as we work.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I started volunteering 2 years ago when I saw an advertisement for Tag Wrangling on the AO3 homepage, realised that I had the time, and thought it might be fun to help with the archive I frequented so often. Little did I know what a difference that decision would make in my life today. I’ve met some of my closest friends while volunteering, and have found an amazing fannish community to be a part of. A year ago I joined Policy & Abuse as well, drawn to the committee by the chance to be able to interact with and help users directly. Through that I’ve learned a lot about fandom, but I’ve also had the chance to work with a great team and develop customer service skills.

What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

I absolutely love the community of volunteers. In addition to our volunteer work, we often do things together like play games, share recs, and just generally flail about fannish things. I’ve made so many amazing friends.

Before I joined I never really engaged in fandom, but since joining I’ve learned quite a bit about fandom and the people in it. It’s exciting to be a part of a fannish community, and to be able to do my little part in keeping AO3 running.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I’ve always been primarily a reader of fanfic, which is what drew me, like many others, to AO3 in the first place. Some of my frequent fandoms are Harry Potter, Marvel, Yuri!!! On Ice, and Star Wars, but I tend to jump from fandom to fandom quite frequently. I joined fandom in 2013 and have since enjoyed learning about its history, from where a lot of current fandom practices have come about. Recently, I have also started recording podfics and subsequently flailing at fandom friends while editing.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2019-01-24 21:26:28 -0500
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Outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement

AO3 is making a change to how tag wrangling works. Starting January 24, tags will be sorted differently for wranglers to interact with.

Before now, wranglers for a particular fandom were only automatically shown tags from works that were tagged with the canonical tag for their fandom. That meant, for example, that wranglers for How I Met Your Mother would only automatically be shown tags from works tagged with How I Met Your Mother.

With the new changes, however, wranglers for a particular fandom will also automatically be shown tags from works that are tagged with a synonym of their fandom's canonical tag. That means, for example, that wranglers for How I Met Your Mother will now also automatically be shown tags from works tagged with HIMYM.

This change means that more tags will get to the correct wranglers faster, which will make wrangling more efficient overall. However, it also means that, when the change kicks in, a bunch of tags that hadn't gotten to the correct wranglers before will be resorted all at once, and wranglers will have an extra-large pile of tags to deal with.

While these extra tags are being dealt with, it may take up to a month for new tags to be wrangled, rather than the usual goal of two weeks. Tag wranglers are unpaid volunteers, and there's only so much they can do at once. We'd like to ask you all for your patience as this backlog gets worked through. We'll work hard to get caught up as soon as we can.

In the meantime, you can keep creating new tags the same as always. Nothing will be changing on the user side of things. So go ahead and add as many tags as you'd like to your fanworks.

Tag Wrangling would like to thank the Accessibility, Design & Technology committee for this new feature. We're as excited to have it as you are to have the server performance improvements that come with it!

And as always, thanks to our users. Without your support, none of what we do here at AO3 would be possible.

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Published:
2019-01-20 11:20:54 -0500
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Solovei, who volunteers as a staffer in our Tag Wrangling Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

Tag Wrangling volunteers make sure that readers can find the works they're looking for, while also being able to tag their works however they want! We've seen just about every variation of a ship name you can think of. Usually with tagging systems, it's either a free-for-all or a strict set of allowed tags, and Ao3 has somehow managed to find a very interesting medium in between those two! I think the tagging system on Ao3 is amazing - I have yet to see something like this work anywhere else.

On top of my regular wrangling work, I am also a Tag Wrangling staffer, which means I do a lot of the administrative tasks that are required for other wranglers to do their work: everything from looking at incoming applications, scheduling and conducting training and regular check-ins, to processing hiatus and retirement requests.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

It really varies! Tag Wrangling opens up recruitment several times a year, and those are usually busy periods for staff. The tags themselves go through phases, with fic exchanges and events usually happening around the holidays. I really enjoy my work, so sometimes I'll sit down intending to only wrangle for a little bit and then realize that several hours have passed!

What made you decide to volunteer?

The year was 2015. I had just finished my Master's in Library and Information Studies and was having trouble finding work, so I needed something to occupy my brain during the job search slog. I had gotten back into writing fanfic some months before after being too busy for it for a few years, when I saw that the OTW had opened applications for tag wrangling. I really loved cataloging and information management classes in library school, so this seemed like the perfect thing to satisfy my love for fiddly organization and make use of some obscure fandom knowledge.

What’s the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

The other volunteers! I honestly cannot imagine what my life would be like if the OTW suddenly wasn't a part of it anymore. I've met some truly wonderful people as a result of my volunteer work (both online and in person). It's also great to have a built-in community of people who are are willing to listen when I want to flail about some new fandom I've gotten into!

What fannish things do you like to do?

I primarily read and write fanfic, though these days it seems that my to-read list is just getting longer and longer... I've been writing fic since the mid 2000's, so I've been in fandom for a while! I also used to participate in roleplaying communities on LiveJournal, and I've been known to make an OTP fanmix or two. My fandoms are many and far-ranging, from obscure webcomics to very popular video games and anime. A friend had recently introduced me to Star Trek, so I'm diving into that fandom headfirst.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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banner celebrating 30,000 fandoms

Tag Wranglers are pleased to announce that we have reached the milestone of 30,000 fandoms on Archive of Our Own! This comes shortly after we celebrated reaching 4 million fanworks in July.

AO3 users have always been incredibly creative. Over the years, we've reached several fandom milestones:

  • 5,000 fandoms around New Year's Day, 2010
  • 10,000 fandoms in September, 2012
  • 15,000 fandoms in April, 2014
  • 20,000 fandoms in December, 2015
  • 25,000 fandoms in June, 2017

Are there any rare fandoms you love that you discovered on AO3?

Sharing 30,000 Fandoms with 1 Million People

With so many new fandoms, fanworks, and users joining us daily, now is a good time to explain what this growth can mean for users and Tag Wranglers.

Tags on AO3 are shared. If you use the same exact tag that someone else has used, your works will be included in the same filters. Tag Wranglers cannot separate works using the exact same tag. We can only wrangle tags, not works.

If you discover that your work is showing up under a different filter (tag) than you intended, you can edit the tag on your work to be clearer. For example, Penny Parker is a character on the TV show MacGyver. "Penny Parker" is also a common fan name for female Peter Parker, better known as Spider-Man. If you tag your work "Penny Parker", it will end up in the filters for the MacGyver character, even if you were thinking of female Peter. To avoid this, you could alter your tag to "Penny Parker (girl!Peter)" or something similar. That would allow Tag Wranglers to merge it into Peter Parker's tag filter instead.

(Obviously, Tag Wranglers can't merge the plain "Penny Parker" tag directly with Peter's. If we did that, all of the MacGyver's "Penny Parker" works would show up in Peter Parker's filters, and she would not have a filter of her own. This would cause problems for fans of both characters!)

If a tag is new to you, you might find it useful to check its filter before using it. You might find that the tag has a different meaning in a different fandom.

How To Make Tags Work For You

From January through September this year, Tag Wranglers collectively wrangled approximately 1.8 million tags. Tag Wranglers work very hard to connect your tags; you can make our job easier by being clear about what you mean.

Here are some ideas you can try in order to make your own works or bookmarks appear in the filters you want. (Please don't comment on works to ask other users to do this - this is for your own works/bookmarks only!)

  • Autocomplete is your friend: If a fandom tag exists in the autocomplete for your fandom already, try including that tag. The tags that Tag Wranglers see are based on filterable fandoms listed on the work, so using a fandom tag from the autocomplete speeds up the time it takes to wrangle your tag and have it show up correctly.
  • Making a new fandom: If there is no fandom tag yet for your work, try including the medium, creator, or year the canon was first published in the tag. This speeds up the process of creating a new fandom tag, as we will have more information to use when researching what canon you mean! For books, it's especially important to include the author's name; for movies, the year. For other fandoms, usually the media type is enough, unless the title is very generic. For example, if you're posting for the TV show "Merlí", try adding "TV" after the title, like this: Merlí (TV).
  • Be kind to RPF fans: Try to avoid mixing up Actor RPF and fictional TV or movie fandoms in your tags. If you're posting Actor RPF, please use the RPF fandom tags. If an RPF fandom tag doesn't exist yet for that TV show or movie, make one by adding "RPF" to the end of the TV show or movie's existing tag name. Example: The Hunger Games (Movies) RPF. Please also try to avoid using the Actor RPF fandom tags if you're only working with fictional characters. This will help RPF fans easily find the works they want and will reduce the effort Tag Wranglers must use to find the right place for your tags.
  • Where does original work go? If you're posting a fannish-styled original work set in your own universe with your own characters, please try using the "Original Work" tag. (Furry fans, you can use that or the "Furry - Fandom" tag.) Please take care not to directly link to paypal, patreon, or commercial sites, as AO3 is a non-commercial site. (For further information, please consult the Terms of Service.)
  • Make characters unique: Try to use full names for characters. If a character has just one name, put the name of the fandom in parentheses after it. Example: Undyne (Undertale). This especially helps avoid any potential ambiguity issues and ensures that it will be easier to find your work. You may not think the chances of having a character named Undyne in another fandom is high, but this happens frequently.
  • Separate your / and & ships / is for romantic and/or sexual relationships. & is for platonic relationships only - ones that are neither sexual nor romantic. (Pre- and Post-Relationship are still /.) & was created for those Gen fans who don't want anything non-platonic in the ships they're searching for. You can help both Gen fans and shippers by carefully choosing the tag that matches your work!
  • Add cameos in the Additional Tags field: If a fandom, character, or relationship is only a passing reference, you can choose to put the tag in the "Additional Tags" (Freeforms) category instead. This will keep your work from being sorted into the fandom, character, or relationship's filter, while still telling users what's in the work. Example: Hints of Jin Dong/Wang Kai in the "Additional Tags" field keeps Jin Dong/Wang Kai fans from being disappointed that a work only mentions their relationship briefly.

These suggestions are meant to help get your tags wrangled quicker and more accurately so that users have a great experience on AO3. You won't need to edit any tags on past works or bookmarks unless they aren't showing up in the filters you prefer.

However, these tagging suggestions don't mean that you can't continue to tag creatively for various topics! Tag Wranglers love clever tags, and sometimes we can even canonize the concepts. Magneto's Terrible Fashion Sense is just one of many enjoyable tags that make us giggle.

If you have any questions or suggestions about wrangling, please consult the Tags FAQ. If that doesn't answer your question, the FAQ explains how to contact Tag Wranglers directly, or you can send short questions to us at our twitter account, ao3_wranglers.

Please don't leave comments on this post with questions or requests about specific tags. They won't be answered, since Tag Wranglers can't easily track requests from here. Please use the options listed above to contact us. Thanks!

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Last year, Tag Wrangling adopted a stronger set of guidelines about tags with unclear meanings on the Archive of Our Own. In order to provide more accurate filtering/subscriptions for users and to decrease the server strain caused by unnecessary metatags, we now canonize tags in the most clear and unambiguous way possible. As we update tags to meet this guideline, we sometimes discover old canonicals that were created when the tag length limit was still 42 characters. We are adjusting or removing those now.

To make relationship tags unambiguous, we encourage anyone who previously tagged with one of the following ambiguous tags to consider putting the specific relationship intended instead:

  • OT3 - Relationship
  • OT4 - Relationship
  • OT5 - Relationship
  • OT6 - Relationship
  • OT7 - Relationship
  • Threesome - Relationship
  • Canon Relationship(s)
  • Ambiguous or Implied Relationship(s)
  • One-sided - Relationship
  • Marriage - Relationship
  • Established Relationship(s)
  • Friendship - Relationship
  • Team - Relationship
  • Various Relationships
  • Family Relationships

All of these tags are no longer canonical in the Relationships field, but they are still available in the Additional Tags/Freeforms field. In the Relationships field, you can use the '&' symbol between the characters' names to tag for Gen relationships, such as family, friendship, or teammates. The '&' symbol indicates that a relationship is platonic; the '/' symbol indicates that a relationship is sexual and/or romantic.

We understand that this removal primarily affects older works from when the 42 character limit was in place and before platonic relationships could be indicated with the '&' symbol. If you're part of an older fandom that used any of these tags, please spread the word that tagging options have increased and encourage your fellow fans to be more specific about which relationship they mean. We will also be reaching out to specific fandoms regarding some of these tags.

Thanks for your help and understanding as we strengthen AO3's tagging system!

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partial screenshot of the AO3 homepage showing 25000 fandoms with the AO3 logo above the text

Tag Wranglers are pleased to announce that we have reached the milestone of 25,000 fandoms on AO3! This comes shortly after we celebrated reaching 3 million fanworks in April and 1 million users back in October.

AO3 users have always been incredibly creative. Over the years, we've reached several fandom milestones:

  • 5,000 fandoms around New Year's Day, 2010
  • 10,000 fandoms in September, 2012
  • 15,000 fandoms in April, 2014
  • 20,000 fandoms in December, 2015

Are there any rare fandoms you love that you discovered on AO3?

Sharing 25,000 Fandoms with 1 Million People

With so many new fandoms, fanworks, and users joining us daily, now is a good time to explain what this growth can mean for users and Tag Wranglers.

Tags on AO3 are shared. If you use the same exact tag that someone else has used, your works will be included in the same filters. Tag Wranglers cannot separate works using the exact same tag. We can only wrangle tags, not works.

If you discover that your work is showing up under a different filter (tag) than you intended, you can edit the tag on your work to be clearer. For example, Penny Parker is a character on the TV show MacGyver. “Penny Parker” is also a common fan name for female Peter Parker, better known as Spider-Man. If you tag your work “Penny Parker”, it will end up in the filters for the MacGyver character, even if you were thinking of female Peter. To avoid this, you could alter your tag to “Penny Parker (girl!Peter)” or something similar. That would allow Tag Wranglers to merge it into Peter Parker’s tag filter instead.

(Obviously, Tag Wranglers can’t merge the plain “Penny Parker” tag directly with Peter’s. If we did that, all of the MacGyver’s “Penny Parker” works would show up in Peter Parker’s filters, and she would not have a filter of her own. This would cause problems for fans of both characters!)

If a tag is new to you, you might find it useful to check its filter before using it. You might find that the tag has a different meaning in a different fandom.

How To Make Tags Work For You

In the month of April this year, Tag Wranglers collectively wrangled approximately 497,000 tags. In May we wrangled well over half a million! Tag Wranglers work very hard to connect your tags; you can make our job easier by being clear about what you mean.

Here are some ideas you can try in order to make your own works or bookmarks appear in the filters you want. (Please don't comment on works to ask other users to do this - this is for your own works/bookmarks only!)

  • Autocomplete is your friend: If a fandom tag exists in the autocomplete for your fandom already, try including that tag. The tags that Tag Wranglers see are based on filterable fandoms listed on the work, so using a fandom tag from the autocomplete speeds up the time it takes to wrangle your tag and have it show up correctly.
  • Making a new fandom: If there is no fandom tag yet for your work, try including the medium, creator, or year the canon was first published in the tag. This speeds up the process of creating a new fandom tag, as we will have more information to use when researching what canon you mean! For books, it's especially important to include the author's name; for movies, the year. For other fandoms, usually the media type is enough, unless the title is very generic. For example, if you're posting for the TV show "Merlí", try adding "TV" after the title, like this: Merlí (TV).
  • Be kind to RPF fans: Try to avoid mixing up Actor RPF and fictional TV or movie fandoms in your tags. If you're posting Actor RPF, please use the RPF fandom tags. If an RPF fandom tag doesn't exist yet for that TV show or movie, make one by adding "RPF" to the end of the TV show or movie's existing tag name. Example: The Hunger Games (Movies) RPF. Please also try to avoid using the Actor RPF fandom tags if you're only working with fictional characters. This will help RPF fans easily find the works they want and will reduce the effort Tag Wranglers must use to find the right place for your tags.
  • Where does original work go? If you're posting a fannish-styled original work set in your own universe with your own characters, please try using the "Original Work" tag. (Furry fans, you can use that or the "Furry - Fandom" tag.) Please take care not to directly link to paypal, patreon, or commercial sites, as AO3 is a non-commercial site. (For further information, please consult the Terms of Service.)
  • Make characters unique: Try to use full names for characters. If a character has just one name, put the name of the fandom in parentheses after it. Example: Undyne (Undertale). This especially helps avoid any potential ambiguity issues and ensures that it will be easier to find your work. You may not think the chances of having a character named Undyne in another fandom is high, but this happens frequently.
  • Separate your / and & ships / is for romantic and/or sexual relationships. & is for platonic relationships only - ones that are neither sexual nor romantic. (Pre- and Post-Relationship are still /.) & was created for those Gen fans who don't want anything non-platonic in the ships they're searching for. You can help both Gen fans and shippers by carefully choosing the tag that matches your work!
  • Add cameos in the Additional Tags: If a fandom, character, or relationship is only a passing reference, you can choose to put the tag in the "Additional Tags" (Freeforms) category instead. This will keep your work from being sorted into the fandom, character, or relationship's filter, while still telling users what's in the work. Example: Hints of Jin Dong/Wang Kai in the "Additional Tags" field keeps Jin Dong/Wang Kai fans from being disappointed that a work only mentions their relationship briefly.

These suggestions are meant to help get your tags wrangled quicker and more accurately so that users have a great experience on AO3. You won’t need to edit any tags on past works or bookmarks unless they aren’t showing up in the filters you prefer.

However, these tagging suggestions don’t mean that you can’t continue to tag creatively for various topics! Tag Wranglers love clever tags, and sometimes we can even canonize the concepts. Magneto’s Terrible Fashion Sense is just one of many enjoyable tags that make us giggle.

If you have any questions or suggestions about wrangling, please consult the Tags FAQ. If that doesn't answer your question, the FAQ explains how to contact Tag Wranglers directly, or you can send short questions to us at our twitter account, ao3_wranglers.

Please don't leave comments on this post with questions or requests about specific tags. They won't be answered, since Tag Wranglers can't easily track requests from here. Please use the options listed above to contact us. Thanks!

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