Sure, fanfiction is transformative, it’s often subversive, and it’s frequently very serious. But one of the reasons we love fanfic here at the Daily Dot is its whimsical side.
The Archive of Our Own (aka AO3), especially, is a great example of this dichotomy. The site was formed as a liberating, nonprofit fanfic archive designed to protect and preserve fanworks. It’s been anointed one of Time’s 50 best websites on the Internet and has become a noted fan-supported website with over 375,000 fics uploaded in 2013 alone.
But when you take a stroll through its “freeform” tags, the tags that aren’t about categorization and are all about having fun, you meet with a repository of creativity formed somewhere between “shameless self-gratification” and “ideas that sounded great when I was high.” Thankfully, the Twitter account @TagsofAO3 is here to catalog the best of the best.
I took painkillers while coming up with this (South Park)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 10, 2013
What can we learn about our fandoms and the things we write for them from tags? Well, let’s start with the basics.
no cows involved (Pacific Rim)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) November 7, 2013
In this, the first tag that the newish Twitter account sent into the world, we learn the basics: No cows were harmed in the making of this Pacific Rim fic. Which is good, because the title of the fic in question includes the phrase “naked calf.” See how useful freeform tagging is? You can make puns and include helpful information all at once!
This follows canon (sort of) (Big Bang Theory/Glee/America's Next Top Model)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 16, 2013
Wait, maybe we’re wrong. This one is definitely better. What does the ghost of Ansel Adams, fanfic writer, do exactly? Does it even matter? It’s Homestuck.
We’re assuming this one features Bruce Banner and Tony Stark doing math:
3.1415926535 (The Avengers)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 16, 2013
Update: having looked up the fic, it turns out we were more or less right, but the pregnant Clint Barton was unexpected.
origami is fantastic (Les Misérables)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 14, 2013
Do you hear the people fold, folding the cranes of revolutionary zen?
Then there are the tags that we can truly learn from:
dont do home piercings thats stupid (Homestuck)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 6, 2013
stay in school kids (Supernatural)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 8, 2013
But maybe the best part about AO3 freeform tagging is that so many tags don’t need any explanation at all, because no matter what fandom you’re in, we all know exactly what you’re talking about. Let’s face it, we’ve all written versions of each of these fics:
False Declarations of 'No Homo' (Attack on Titan)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 13, 2013
adorable manly cuddling (Merlin)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 13, 2013
SHIP DARCY WITH ALL THE THINGS (The Avengers)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 14, 2013
Hurt/Comfort, But Mostly Hurt (James Bond)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 7, 2013
I'm pretty sure this was somehow inspired by Pretty Woman (Rise of the Guardians)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 14, 2013
enjolras doesn't die in this, i guess that's something (Les Misérables)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 6, 2013
The universality of so many fandom tropes makes the truly quirky fanfic descriptions that much more delightful:
intimidating Polish grandma (Teen Wolf)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 10, 2013
Is there any other kind of Polish grandma?
i cannot believe i just wrote a fic about sea monkeys (Prince of Tennis)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 3, 2013
We’re awed by your prowess, author.
Can zombies give consent? (Hannibal)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 7, 2013
Gosh, we hope so. (Or do we? Wait, Hannibal?)
concussed ducks in love (The Hobbit)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 6, 2013
CONCUSSED DUCKS IN LOVE. Look, if you're not on board with fandom yet, go get chased by angry, non-concussed, non-emotionally-satiated ducks.
Or giant lizards.
seriously there are giant lizards (The Avengers)— Good Tags Of AO3 (@TagsOfAO3) December 4, 2013
Maybe ducks and lizards. The best thing about AO3? We can have it all.
Illustration by nnysgirl666/deviantART
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