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[Meta] Example tiered tagging structures for all-inclusive television fandom & fanwork communities

I wanted to make a post explaining how tiered tags = happy Sheera, and when to use tiered tags vs. when to use a one-word tagging system, but my examples wanted a post all to themselves. So, here’s a post with examples of tiered tagging systems in all-inclusive television fandom and fanwork-specific communities, with some notes on how I would use said structures. All usual disclaimers about these just being my opinions apply.

Jump to:

[ Example Tiered Tagging Structure: All-Inclusive Television Fandom Community ]
[ Example Tiered Tagging Structure: All-Inclusive Fanwork Community ]
[ General Notes ]

All-inclusive fandom communities and fanwork-specific communities can get a lot of traffic that isn’t the simplest to tag for; the very thing that makes the all-inclusive approach attractive can be the same thing that makes it hard to archive.

So, how to create a tagging structure that keeps all these various and sundry topics organized? Tiered tagging can be one way to do it, and is my preferred method when there is a large range of topics to be covered.

Communities that have higher traffic for certain topics will likely need to create different tiers based on the largest traffic—for instance, there’s no need to create tags for all the different actors on the show if you only have five-actor related posts total, or to tag for different fanfiction genres if no one posting to the community labels their posts with genres.

Tag specificity is determined by necessity, in my experience, and while I sometimes recommend over-tagging right off the bat just to keep posts segregated, I’d also recommend going back later and weeding out unnecessary tags, combining tags that no longer serve their intended purpose singularly, etc. Tags are an evolving system, meant to reflect community content and thus often need to change with fluctuations in community content.

Keep the following in mind about these examples:
  • They are created with the assumption there are an equal amount of posts on all of the above topics. In other words, in these hypothetical communities, each of these tags is used regularly enough to justify its high level of specificity.

  • These systems are far more complex than would normally apply in the interest of covering all possible tagging necessities.



Example Tiered Tagging Structure: All-Inclusive Television Fandom Community

This is a TV fandom, currently airing, with one episode per week. Let’s call this community showname_tv. showname_tv is open to any and all posts related to Showname: fanwork, actor-related content, meta, articles, picspams, etc. In other words, this community is all-inclusive, as defined in this previous post.

Hypothetical tagging system for showname_tv:

# admin #
# posting templates&rules #
[interviews/articles]
[news]
[merchandise]
[conventions]
[links/showname resources]
cast: actor a
cast: actress a
cast: actor b
cast: actress b
discussion
discussion: [all season 1]
discussion: [all season 2]
discussion: reviews&reactions
discussion: meta&questions
discussion: theories&speculation
discussion: spoilers
discussion: ›misc
fanfic
fanfic: [showname]
fanfic: [rpf]
fanfic: +gen
fanfic: +pairing: f/f
fanfic: +pairing: f/m
fanfic: +pairing: m/m
fanfic: +pairing: 3+
fanfic: -length: non-serial
fanfic: -length: series
fanfic: -rating: teen&under
fanfic: -rating: mature
fanfic: -crossover
fanfic: char: character a
fanfic: char: character b
fanfic: char: character c
fanfic: char: character d
fanfic: pair: character a/character b
fanfic: pair: character b/character c
fanfic: pair: character d/character e
fanfic: pair: character b/character c/character d
fanfic: rpf: char: actor a
fanfic: rpf: char: actress a
fanfic: rpf: pair: actor a/actress a
fanfic: ›misc: plot bunnies
fanfic: ›misc: beta requests
fanmedia
fanmedia: -fanart-
fanmedia: -fanmix-
fanmedia: -fanvid-
fanmedia: graphics
fanmedia: graphics: banners etc.
fanmedia: graphics: icons
fanmedia: graphics: manip
fanmedia: graphics: moodthemes
fanmedia: graphics: screencaps
fanmedia: graphics: wallpapers
fanmedia: graphics: ›misc
fanmedia: »cast a | char a
fanmedia: »cast b | char b
fanmedia: »cast c | char c
members
members: question/request
members: intro
members: con report
members: ›misc
media
media: video
media: photos/promos/etc.
media: ›misc
› by: ljusername1
› by: ljusername2
› by: ljusername3
› by: ljusername4
› by: ljusername5
› by: ljusername6
› by: ljusername7
› by: ljusername8
› by: ljusername9
› by: ›1-2-time poster

Before implementing a system like this, there are decisions to be made (and so many alternate options for how to do things, more than I can list here, really). I’ll go through the tags in order.

[ cast a, cast b, etc. ]

In my experience, there are two approaches to using a tag like this:

Non-inclusive: using the cast tags to only index information, and no fan-related work. That’s why I added in the fanmedia: »cast a | char a etc. tags, because with the non-inclusive cast tags, someone searching your community for posts only related to this particular cast member may encounter difficulties. Now, for some fandoms, this isn’t an issue—many actresses and actors out there have whole communities dedicated to them. But this isn’t the case for everyone; some actresses and actors only gain recognition through their work on one project, so even if your community isn’t intended to focus on this particular cast member, it could very well be the only resource out there her or him.

All inclusive: used for all posts related to this cast member—i.e., all of the above, and including things like icons, picspams, RPF. I haven’t encountered too many communities that use this method, and, to be honest, the idea of it hurts my brain a little. If you did want to go the all-inclusive method, I’d actually also recommend including top tier pairing and characters tags, too, because if you’re focusing on collecting all posts relating to the cast members and characters, that would be the most effective method. But I tend to think this approach works better for a ’ship or pairing-focused communities.

There’s also the option of changing the fanfic: char: character d and fanfic: pair: character a/character b etc. tags to a different format, something like fanwork: char: character a and fanwork: pair: char a/char b. Then those tags would apply to all fanwork, and not just fanfiction—I simply included them under fanfiction above because that’s how I’ve noticed most communities doing things, not necessarily because I think it makes the most sense. I just thought it was most applicable. But if I were browsing tags, I’d actually prefer having fanwork character and pairing tags that would bring up everything for a certain character or pair—fic, fanart, fanmixes, etc. That still can make tagging icon batches a bit sticky, though, because if an icon batch features only the actress, do you still tag for her character? Or if the manip only feature the actors, should one tag for the corresponding character pairing? I’m not sure!

[ fanfic: char: character a, etc. ]

Now, a lot of people use character tags differently. Sometimes people use character tags for gen only. Many (and this is my personal preference), use this tag for anything the character appears in, so that means tagging a fic post with fanfic: pair: character a/character b means also tagging it with fanfic: char: character a and fanfic: char: character b. The biggest downfall of this is if someone wants only gen about this character. But having a catch-all gen tag should hopefully help in that area.

[ fanmedia: »cast a | char a ]

I prefer to combine the cast member with the character for graphics posts, because in my experience it’s redundant to tag for both. Graphics tend to be a much more mixed bag than, say, fanfiction.

[ › by: ljusername1, › by: ›1-2-time poster, etc. ]

Ah, now here’s a tricky one. For a high-traffic community, this is an extremely useful thing for members, but a pain to tag for.

Now, the way I would use these tags would be as follows: tag any and all posts by this particular member with this tag, be it discussion, fanwork, or whatnot. This will reduce the amount of tags—tagging individually for authors, fanvidders, famixers will get enormously unwieldy incredibly fast in a high-traffic community.

Additionally, I’d recommend stating up front the minimum amount of posts a member needs to make to get a tag. If I were implementing this system, I would not create a tag for someone who has only made 1-2 posts; I’d probably start tagging three posts and upwards. The biggest downside to this is that it requires someone to diligently stay on top of the tagging system, and keep track of the one- and two-time posters, and edit previous posts when these posters reach their minimum. So it’s a time and shorter taglist trade-off.




Example Tiered Tagging Structure: All-Inclusive Fanwork-Specific Community

Let’s call this community showname_fanwork. showname_fanwork is open to any and all posts that Showname fan-produced: fiction, art, mixes, graphics, videos, certain types of meta/discussion, fanwork recs, etc. In other words, this community is all-inclusive, as defined in this previous post.

Hypothetical tagging system for showname_fanwork:

# admin #
# posting templates&rules #
-fanfic-
-fanfic- [rpf]
-fanfic- [showname]
-fanart-
-fanmix-
-fanvid-
[ beta requests ]
[ discussion/meta/etc. ]
[ plot bunnies ]
[ recs ]
[length]: drabble&flashfic
[length]: longer non-serial
[length]: serial
[pov]: first
[pov]: second
[third]: third
[rating]: k
[rating]: k+
[rating]: t
[rating]: ›m
[rating]: ›ma
cast: actor a
cast: actress a
cast: actor b
cast: actress b
character: character a
character: character b
character: character c
character: character d
character: character e
characters: ensemble
character/s: original
crossover
crossover: showname/other fandom
crossover: showname/other fandom
crossover: showname/other fandom
crossover: showname/other fandom
graphics
graphics: banners etc.
graphics: icons
graphics: manip
graphics: moodthemes
graphics: screencaps
graphics: wallpapers
graphics: ›misc
pair: -none/gen-
pair: [f/f]
pair: [f/m]
pair: [m/m]
pair: [3+]
pair: [cast]: actress a/actress b
pair: [cast]: actress a/actor b
pair: character a/character b
pair: character b/character c
pair: character d/character e
pair: character b/character c/character d
» challenge
» challenge: all responses
» challenge: 2007-01 responses
» challenge: 2007-02 responses
» challenge: 2007-03 responses
» challenge: 01: word prompt a
» challenge: 02: word prompt b
» challenge: 03: word prompt c
» challenge: 04: word prompt d
» challenge: 05: word prompt e
› by: ljusername1
› by: ljusername2
› by: ljusername3
› by: ljusername4
› by: ljusername5
› by: ljusername6
› by: ljusername7
› by: ljusername8
› by: ljusername9
› by: ›off-livejournal
› by: ›one-time poster
› series: series name a
› series: series name b
› series: series name c
› series: series name d
› series: series name e


Before implementing a system like this, there are decisions to be made (and so many alternate options for how to do things, more than I can list here, really). I’ll go through the tags in order.

[ -fanart- ]

Fanart, for me, is a category that just doesn’t tend to lend itself to tiered tagging. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t found a lot of fanart communities that do extensive tagging, and thus haven’t had much exposure as to how people prefer to label these things on LiveJournal. I mean, with places like Elfwood and DeviantArt you’ve got systems that just don’t transfer over to LJ.

Anyway. In this system, fanart is only being used for drawings and the like; all graphics would only be tagged in those specific categories, and not with this one. I find this tricky because most people don’t tend to think of graphics as fanart, and I do, and I always have to resist the impulse to group them all together. But if one were to use this tag for graphics and the suchlike, then a sub-tier would need to be created for drawings and the like.

[ -fanfic- [rpf], -fanfic- [showname] ]

There is a different route to go with these that can be more all-inclusive—just have two top-level tags as such:
-fictional person based-
-real person based-

So that manips, icons, picspams, meta, etc. with RPF content/fictional person content can fall under the RPF/fictional tag, too. But most places seem to focus on fic, so I listed it the first way. And making such broad top-tier tags can be challenging to implement, because in all likelihood, there will be icons or whatnot posted where it isn’t clear the best way to tag it.

[length] tags

Oh, man. I wish more communities would use this. I’m the reader who’s generally searching for drabbles and flashfic, and these tags make me so happy. It can be a challenge, because if people don’t label for length, the tagger might have to go glance at their post to get an idea of what to tag it with, which can mean extra work. But people like me will love you for it. <3 I don’t think I’d get much more specific with length than this, unless you want to distinguish between novellas and novels, additionally.

There’s also the option of tagging for rough wordcount, like so:

[length]: .100w-500w
[length]: 1.000-5.000w
[length]: 6.000-10.000w

But then the question becomes: how to decide ranges? And it requires obtaining an accurate wordcount on all fic posted, which is more work than just working with broad terms like “longer non-serial,” which is basically anything over 500 words that’s not posted in more than one part.

[pov] tags

I just included this because there are a few fandoms where this would be applicable—in fandoms where the source material has a lot of voice-overs, you’ll generally get a higher percentage of fanfiction written in first person. But for a fandom where this isn’t an issue or a high-traffic community I’d ditch these tags.

[rating] tags

I’ve noticed that most people like to tag for detailed ratings when it’s a fanwork specific community. Personally, I prefer broader, rather than narrower, because “teen&under” and “mature” are the only two distinctions I care about. But just ensure that whatever rating system you use for tags is one that’s a) easily transparent, and b) corresponds with the ratings that people label their fic with, so you aren’t assigning ratings, because that will just lead to trouble.

[genre] tags

You might notice that I didn’t list genre tags. This is because, unless you have a very specific type of community where posts are moderated (or all the people posting to it are exceedingly awesome and always use the template you provide and/or tag their own posts), you’re not going to be able to tag every fic posting with genre. And trying to decide genre by the summary provided (if there is one) or by glancing at the source material, well. Let’s just say it’s not easy, because genres are already highly malleable categories whose definitions shift depending on the context they’re used in. Tagging and loose definition categories are not friends.

[ cast: actor a, cast: actress a, etc. ]

These tags won’t apply so much in non-inclusive communities; I’d use these for RPF fanfiction posts, icon/graphics posts, and meta—basically the same as the fictional character tags, in other words. And, just like the character tags, I would tag any pairing piece with the individual cast tags, additionally.

[ crossver, crossover: showname/other fandom, etc. ]

These tags will work better for a small fandom where not a lot of fanwork is produced and the taglist isn’t huge. For larger fandoms, I’d recommend tagging for crossovers that have 2+ posts, and just relegate all others to my favorite “miscellaneous” category.

Other possible formats, if you’d to make the tags shorter, where “sn” is an abbreviation for “showname”:

crossover w/other fandom
cross›showname/other fandom
cross›sn/other fandom

[ » challenge, » challenge: all responses, » challenge: 2007-01 responses, etc. ]

So, this is a category where I added in the extra detail for high-volume communities. I wouldn’t recommend tagging challenge responses by month unless you average about twenty or so; otherwise, there really aren’t enough posts to warrant that specificity. Tagging by year would make more sense if each challenge only gets about five to ten responses.

[ › by: ljusername1, › by: ›off-livejournal, › by: ›one-time poster, etc. ]

I’d say for a fanwork community that’s it’s pretty much a necessity to tag for authors that contribute regularly. I’d recommend just using these as catch-all tags for any sort of fanwork the member creates.

Additionally, I’d recommend stating up front the minimum amount of posts a member needs to make to get a tag. If I were implementing this system, I would not create a tag for someone who has only made one post; I’d probably start tagging two posts and upwards. The biggest downside to this is that it requires someone to diligently stay on top of the tagging system, and keep track of the one-time posters, and edit previous posts when these posters reach two. So it’s a time and shorter taglist trade-off.

The off-livejournal tag is mainly for things like recs, or if you’re letting people post links to places like Yuletide or whatnot. Some people might never use LiveJournal, but if their fanwork is relevant to your community, letting members share that can be a good thing.

[ › series: series name a, etc. ]

I’d say that these tags fall into the “if you want to be nice” category. Because it can be a pain to navigate a story when authors don’t link to previous chapters, but author tags can also take care of this issue, so this is just going the extra mile.




Short General Notes on Tiered Tagging Structures
(a.k.a the part where I get even more opinionated and rant a little)

[ top tiers level catch-all tiers ]

Notice that for every tiered category, there is a top-level catch-all tier. In my opinion, top level catch-all tiers are the basis of tiered tagging systems. I’m sure there are people who won’t agree with this, but, honestly. I’m sorry. Tagging systems where every single tag has two tiers just… hurt me.

So, in my perfect world, for all the categories that have second-level tiers, there is a corresponding top-level one that will be used to tag all the posts that fall within its purview. Take the fanmedia tag, for example. Anything tagged with fanmedia: -vid- for fanmedia: graphics must also be tagged with fanmedia. That’s the entire point of tiered tagging, for me: creating large categories that have corresponding sub-categories of navigation that easily allow someone to narrow down their selection with one click.

[ miscellaneous catch-all categories ]

You may have noticed that there’s more than one “misc” category in the taglist. This is actually a topic for a whole other post (er, more of a rant, actually), but let me just state here: in a tiered tagging system, catch-all categories are vitally important.

Think about it this way: let’s say you’ve got 100 posts tagged in one top tier category, and 93 of those posts are tagged under the second-level tiers. For example, media, and you’ve got 93 posts tagged with media: photos and media: videos or whatever.

What if someone wants to find those seven posts that are not tagged with a second level? If you use tiered tags, I really, really think that each post that is tagged should have a top level and and a second-level tier. And those miscellaneous posts, while not important enough to warrant their own specific second-level tiers, still need to be tagged with something.

Okay, so maybe I ranted a little bit about it here. But, honestly, I’m always that poor sap who’s looking for those seven measly non-second-tier tagged posts. (Really, I love how this post is just basically one long look into my neuroses. *g*)
Tags: thinky, thinky: formatting, ~organization is my fandom
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