Searching the Archive of Our Own: The Usefulness of the Tagging Structure

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Dalton, Kelly Lynn
Fanfiction; Qualitative; Searching; Tagging; Library and Information Science
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thesis / dissertation description
To explore users' opinions about the search methods available on an online fanfiction repository, The Archive of Our Own, users of the Archive are offered an online survey with both quantitative and qualitative questions about various methods of searching the Archive. While quantitative responses are converted into percentages and cross-tabulated to compare responses from different groups within the survey-takers, qualitative questions are hand-coded for emergent themes. Overall the respondents hold positive opinions about the various Archive search methods and about Archive searching as a whole although they have many suggestions for improvements, including adding other search options, adding a weighting option for the tags to show main characters and pairings, and doing more upfront education so that people uploading fanfiction are tagging it correctly. The results, not generalizable due to the exploratory nature of the study, point to a conclusion that for these users the Archive's particular hybrid of freetagging and some vocabulary control and hierarchy works fairly well. Several suggestions are made for future research in the area.