this is your psa to NOT USE AO3 TAGS the same way you would use tags on tumblr! AO3 goes through a lot of effort to create and track tags, whereas tumblr is freeflow and blog-respective. please only use AO3 tags that have story relevancy, NOT AS PERSONAL TAGS.

list of good example tags:

  • Alternate Universe
  • Alternate Universe - Canon divergent
  • slow burn

list of bad example tags:

  • apparently [X] was already a tag
  • I don’t know what else to tag this as lol
  • you know what I mean

#this is something that is very work-heavy for ao3 mods please don’t do this

I’ve read multiple posts from ao3 mods saying this is not true.


“The kind of one-off commentary tags that are frequently referred to as Tumblr-style tags do not put any kind of extra strain on the database, or require more work from the wranglers than any other Additional Tag, such as Romance or Angst or Pretzels. Even the fact that there are a lot of them isn’t really an issue.”

It doesn’t create more work for the wranglers than the simple act of wrangling already does. And trust us: the wranglers really, really like organizing your tags in the background.”


AO3 mods have confirmed themselves that there is nothing wrong with people rambling in tags. It doesn’t strain the database, it isn’t any harder on the wranglers than any other tag. In fact, rambling tags are probably easier for them to chuck into the freeform or additonal category than someone who accidentally tries to create a new tag for a ship or kink or something.

Don’t tell people they can’t express themselves in the tags. It’s not just “ummmm lol so yeah” kind of stuff, some of it expresses things that are hard to tag for but the readers might want to know about the fic ahead of time. For example one of mine: “this is really just fluff + flirting and implied stuff at the end” or “X embarrassing Y and annoying the hell out of Z”. Should that stuff be in author’s notes? Probably. Am I going to put it there? For various reasons, no, the main reason being that you can’t see author’s notes from the outside of the fic.

In general, just stop spreading misinformation please, it took me two seconds to look up AO3′s actual opinion on rambly tags instead of assuming.