librarian

Uber-geeking about tags with my "Giles the librarian" icon

So I have the AO3 freeform canonicals in a nice json file, and now I am looking at them. And I am boggling.

There are 14400 tags total in this category, but the tail of infrequently-used tags is very long indeed. Only 434 canonical freeform tags used more than 500 times each. Bring the cutoff down to 100 uses and you get 1589 tags, which is still a small number. The 500 use list includes junk items like Rating: NC17. No, really, that’s a tag in the AO3 archive that has appeared more than 500 times despite the existence of a completely separate fic rating field.

I do approve of present tense & past tense as tags. A nice warning for when I’m not in the mood. (Present tense is used far more often, since it’s the departure from convention that people tend to mark.) Things like post-movie(s) on the other hand… this and post-series should not both exist, and the parens around the S feel wrong. There’s a pre-canon tag that’s closer to what I want. Pre-canon and post-canon cover it.

Post Reichenbach is an example of a tag that bothers me on a couple of levels. First, there should be a hyphen in it, if only to be consistent with the other pre- and post- tags. Second, it’s fandom-specific. Why is this a top-level tag? It should be namespaced within its fandom. I would write that as sherlock-holmes:post-reichenbach.

Then there’s this string of tags:

"Podfic": 3663,  
"Podfic & Podficced Works": 603,  
"Podfic Anthology": 5,  
"Podfic Available": 934,  
"Podfic Collection: A Very Supernatural Christmas": 1,  
"Podfic Cover Art": 4,  
"Podfic Desired": 10,  
"Podfic Length: 0-10 Minutes": 765,  
"Podfic Length: 1-1.5 Hours": 155,  
"Podfic Length: 1.5-2 Hours": 85,  
"Podfic Length: 10-15 Hours": 4,  
"Podfic Length: 10-20 Minutes": 590,  
"Podfic Length: 15-20 Hours": 2,  
"Podfic Length: 2-2.5 Hours": 51,  
"Podfic Length: 2.5-3 Hours": 32,  
"Podfic Length: 20-30 Minutes": 324,  
"Podfic Length: 3-3.5 Hours": 35,  
"Podfic Length: 3.5-4 Hours": 11,  
"Podfic Length: 30-45 Minutes": 273,  
"Podfic Length: 4-4.5 Hours": 14,  
"Podfic Length: 4.5-5 Hours": 8,  
"Podfic Length: 45-60 Minutes": 148,  
"Podfic Length: 5-6 Hours": 17,  
"Podfic Length: 6-7 Hours": 8,  
"Podfic Length: 7-10 Hours": 15,  
"Podfic Linked": 13,  
"Podfic Welcome": 94,

On the one hand, okay, great, marking a fic as having podfic is excellent. Using a tag instead of having general media categories, not so good, but that’s the AO3’s fault not the users’ fault. The others seem to overlap or to not deserve top-level tag billing.

24 tags devoted to word counts. Sigh.

Then there’s Read. What on earth can be done about that tag? Nuke it from orbit, I say. It’s the only way to to be sure.

"Pack": 178,  
"Pack Bonding": 43,  
"Pack Cuddles": 10,  
"Pack Dynamics": 660,  
"Pack Family": 188,  
"Pack Feels": 572,  
"Pack Mother Stiles Stilinski": 5,  
"Pack Politics": 8,

I guess Teen Wolf fandom is kinda big on AO3. Pack Feels. 572 times. Ugh. Pancakes only appears 46 times but I’m totally behind pancakes as a tag. Also waffles. I feel you need to have both in your canonical tag list. Waffles do not, however, appear in the AO3 tag list, thus proving that they are an evil organization of total evil. Obviously.

There are 95 tags that start with “POV”. Some of them are “POV:” but most don’t have the colon. Argh. Nearly all of them are fandom-specific.

And then rounding it off and encapsulating what I feel about the whole thing, there’s "♥": 196. Yup. A canonical. WTF.

So, what lessons do we learn? One, if you want your tags to be a browsing tool not a search tool (consider the difference!) do not let your users invent them. Particularly not your writers, who have different mindsets than your readers. Readers are far more numerous and they interact with a fic archive far more often than writers do. Optimize for them. Also, tags will be used to prop up deficiencies in search if you have them. Really awesome search takes some burden off your tagging system.

Two, fandom-namespaced tags. Episode names, concepts, characters all should not be at the top level.

Three, argh, use punctuation consistently.

Four, I cannot examine just the high-frequency tag list for inspiration. There are solid things that should be in any taxonomy in the less-frequently-used list, and junk tags in the popular list. Woes.

And in conclusion: What’s your favorite thing about space? Mine is space.

  • Current Music: True Romance (Brave Intro Mix) : Arctic Moon : True Romance - EP
Tags:
Things like post-movie(s) on the other hand… this and post-series should not both exist, and the parens around the S feel wrong. There’s a pre-canon tag that’s closer to what I want. Pre-canon and post-canon cover it.


I am reading this to mean that you think post-movie is same as post-series is same as post-canon ?

post canon is not the same as post movie when the movies happen first (Stargate, Highlander, and actually Buffy come to think) or between series (Doctor Who)


if I read wrong, apologies for random comment.
Hmm, good point. With Buffy, the [expletive] comic books are allegedly canon & they're post-series. I still don't like the tags at the top level. They should be fandom-specific and named. E.g., btvs:post-movie, btvs:post-series, btvs:post-canon.
Heh. AO3 has canonical tags for "How do I tag" (130 works) and "I'm bad at tagging" (80 works).

Melannen, the tag wrangler for the Les Mis fandom, has some posts on How To Tag currently under lock at her DW journal, which she may be cleaning up and posting unlocked somewhere. If you're interested in the perspective of a wrangler.
Oh, man, I would be so frustrated if I were a wrangler unable to fix obvious typos that nobody-- not even the author-- wants.
My understanding is that they can fix obvious typos and connect tags to similar/identical tags so that they all get brought up by the same search, but they can't say "you really should tag this wing!fic with the wing!fic tag, if you want people looking for wing!fic to be able to find it ..."