Subject: It's more like guidelines than actual rules.
Posted on: 2022-01-10 15:47:15 UTC

Just a caution against clinging super-hard to the letter of these criteria. We came up with them after the last ones stopped working. They can always be modified if it turns out they aren't adequate, either. {= )

(The last ones were pretty much just "is it bad?" and "have we all heard of it?", which works when you all share a fandom and are active in other fan communities; not so much when you don't and aren't.)

Anyway, I would argue that the tags are an intrinsic part of fic on AO3 because, as STWWX magnificently demonstrated, you can't opt out of them. They're the first thing anyone sees when looking for a story there, and there's nothing you can do about it if you don't fancy being smacked in the face with a word salad that, often as not, is just the author rambling rather than providing functional data. Sure, you can scroll—but what if the tag cloud is literal pages long? You can't not experience that if you want to read the fic.

Full disclosure: I have never liked how tags are displayed on AO3 or that they're so freeform you could write a separate story in them if you wanted to. I might have a bias here. >.>


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