Fanfic Writer Put Entirety of ‘1984’ in the Tags of a Story

It's remarkable that people have found a different way to troll each other on Archive of Our Own using The Great Gatsby.
February 26, 2021, 2:00pm
A screenshot from the film version of 1984
Image Source: 1984

People have found a new method of trolling on fanfiction site Archive of our Own: literally adding an entire novel to the tags for a fic.

Part of what makes Archive of our Own such a usable site (and such a time suck) is that it has searchable and browseable tags. Authors not only use these tags to add content warnings for their fics, but also as a way to add humorous asides for their readers. The tag for the popular Mandalorian fanfiction "Rough Day" includes one that reads "in this house daddy mando hours are twenty four fucking seven." No other fics are tagged with that phrase, of course, but it does help readers understand the tone and tenor of the fic they're about to read.

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There isn't a limit to the tags one can add to a fic on AO3, so authors can add as many as they need to adequately mark their fics and tell other people about the characters and tropes they may contain. Some people on AO3 have been taking advantage of that limit by adding so many tags that the site becomes unreadable. In a tweet with almost 5,000 retweets, user Xiaoyi highlighted a fic that had the entirety of the novel 1984 added to its tags. 

While that fic has been deleted, people in the replies to that tweet have posted their own examples of fics with extreme tag spam. People have uploaded fics with the entirety of Kafka's Metamorphosis and a chapter of The Great Gatsby in their tags, making people have to scroll through the entire length of a novel in order to use the website. Both of those fics are no longer accessible on AO3, but no matter how short lived these pranks are, the problem is so pronounced that people are uploading fics that are just guides on how to deal with tag spam

A representative from the Organization for Transformative Works, the non-profit that runs AO3, told Motherboard that while there is nothing in their terms of service that puts limitations on tags, they recommend authors read their FAQ on tag usage. This page contains best practices on how to use tags, as well as directions on what to do if you believe that a particular fic's tags are abusive or violate the terms of service. They also said that they are in the process of updating this page.


It's remarkable to me that people have found a different way to troll each other on AO3 using The Great Gatsby. While I'm glad that people in the AO3 community have methods for dealing with tag spam, I just hope that more permanent changes to AO3's tagging policies so I don't have to be afraid of being forced to read Kafka when I'm just looking for horny Mandalorian fics.