I’d like to go ahead and address one piece of misinformation posted by branch as part of the massive “omg don’t use chatty tags” post that’s been going around. I’m posting this separately because it’s not really about branch but about broad misconceptions about the tagging system on the AO3.
First, let’s establish some things:
Unlike tags on Tumblr, tags on AO3 can have different states. I’ll be talking specifically about canonicals and unfilterables in this post, with a toe-dip into metatags.
Canonicals = tags that have been marked by wranglers as being useful for filtering, so they appear in the filters and auto-complete.
Unfilterables = tags that have been moved into a fandom, so they’ve been checked by a wrangler, but haven’t been connected to any other tags or marked canonical. Most freeforms are unfilterable.
Metatags = canonical tags that have other canonical tags nested under them, so the results from those other tags show when you filter for the metatag.
I am not a coder (abbreviated from here on as “IANAC”).
Why does this matter? Well, because the code that tends to strain the archive is the filtering code. Works disappearing? From the filters. Reindexing strain from bookmarks? Reindexing is done on the filters. Filters pulled for months in 2012? Needed upgrading to deal with the sudden influx of people and works that year. (Disclaimer: oversimplified, IANAC)
There’s a saying in computer science: “Premature optimization is the root of all evil.”
The issue is that you can have code that’s easy to read, and you can have code that’s fast, and they’re rarely the same. (It’s less of an issue now as compilers get better, but the principle stands.)
It’s easy to start optimizing the things that you ‘think’ are slowing you down. But the problem is, people are generally really bad at estimating what’s actually going to slow you down. So you may spend hours optimizing a large function that gets called once, in the background, and doesn’t affect usability. Meanwhile, some little dinky function you hadn’t considered gets called 18 million times in the main runloop.
So one of the things you learn is to never start optimizing until you know where you’re spending your time. (As a recent example - we’re dealing with some jank in the app I work on. I had my suspicions on the culprit, but coworker dropped it into the profiler, and I was way off.)
The folks complaining about freeform tags are, from the description here, trying to optimize in the wrong place. Speaking as a computer programmer, wrangletangle’s explanation makes sense. A decent database will be fine with the tags that only show up a few times; the problem comes when you’re trying to sort responses to the tags that show up millions of times.
I have my issues with AO3’s tagging (“I’m going to post unassociated short works in this one collection that will get cross-tagged to 87 fandoms, 98 relationships, and 417 freeforms because of brief mentions in one scene” comes to mind), but freeform tagging isn’t one of them.
Yes, that’s exactly what’s happening, thank you for putting it in code terms for me. (IANAC, as previously mentioned.)
We knew, in 2012, that unfilterable freeforms were not the problem. We didn’t know exactly what the problem was at that point, I believe, but it was pretty clearly not them because they’re not in the filters. Very easy elimination.
Now we know what the problem is, and we’re working on it. But the thing I see happen pretty often with AO3’s system (probably because it’s different, or because people are very invested in it?) is that users diagnose all sorts of problems that are verifiably untrue. That’s easy to do, in a website you don’t have big picture data on. (For example, I’ve seen someone attribute the filter problem in 2012 to the Avengers movie, when we knew at the time it was caused by an influx of users after a change in ffnet policy.)
What I’d like to avoid is spreading misinformation that shames people into using the site in the way one group wants but that has no real effect on the site itself or on the overall experience of users as a whole. That’s not okay. If there are problems - core problems - with tagging, we will get that info out there. Or more likely, we’ll fix things on the back end. But either way, the key is information about how the software and tagging structure actually work.
(Btw, your pet peeve - which I share a bit - doesn’t hurt the servers so much as it can fill filter results with works that contain only a snippet about the filtered tag. So yes, that can affect user experience if a lot of people do it for certain fandoms, characters, or relationships. It’s not as big a deal if it’s all for one ship, for example, though it does make life harder on users who want to bookmark something.)
A transgender woman was murdered just steps away from her home in North Memphis on Friday night. Alejandra Leos was shot in the 1600 block of Berkshire…
7 Trans Women of Color; all killed during the season that holds Pride Month. The queer community is still abuzz with the last vestiges of the season that promises parades, alcohol, and ‘a freedom to be you.’ So often, the larger LGBTQ “community,” has this idea that we’re all equally policed for being a part of this population. Without doubt, the summer of 2014 has proven that this is not the case.
…are the names of the 7 women that have fallen this season before Alejandra; and there is no protest for them. They are the silent-fallen that have fallen silent. There is an epidemic of trans female genocide; a cure to this maddening, tragic plague has yet to be seen.
Please #RememberAlejandra. If we continue to brush over the victimization of TWoC then again and again these beautiful lives will be cut short; again and again, #GirlsLikeUs will be made victims of hatred.
You know why I love AUs? Because the whole point of them is that everything is changed, and yet these two people are still going to meet and fall in love- that they’re so set in stone and so meant to be that you can change literally everything in a hundred universes and they’ll fall in love over and over again.
-You know you’ll be ok, but you still feel awful. -You know people love you, but it doesn’t feel like they do. -You know doing something will make you feel better, but you just don’t know how to. -You want to be well, but you just can’t seem to get there.
This thing keeps happening where I lose 2-4 followers over the weekend and Monday, and then by the time Friday rolls around I’m back to where I was, even though I didn’t post anything to attract new followers.
So I keep picturing these same 2-4 followers who keep falling off the apple cart of my blog, and they spend the week running along behind and finally jump back on just in time for the weekend, when they probably do a little partying and get wobbly and whoops, fall off again and do it all over again.