AO3 Filtering and You!
So I’ve seen a couple people talking about hating to see certain pairings and characters when searching on AO3, and I thought I’d take a moment to teach everyone A Thing I Love To Do. You can absolutely and very very easily filter out pairings and characters when you search for fics!
Step one: Find the tag for the character/pairing you want to filter out.
You’re gonna have to click on it (I’M SORRY I KNOW BUT ONLY FOR A SECOND).
Step two: After clicking on that tag you hate, find the RSS Feed button up on top and click that.
This is gonna bring up a screen full of gibberish. But it’s okay! This is good gibberish.
Step three: In the address bar, find the numbers that appear after tags/
That’s the numerical code that AO3 has attached to that tag.
Step four: Copy that number, then paste it in the search bar with a - in front of it
Step five: Success! Pressing search will remove that tag from the search results.
For best results, save all the tags you hate in a document and copy/paste when needed. You can totally stack these filters as much as you want, just make sure there’s a - in front of each tag code.
But Lady, you ask, how does this work? Well, the AO3 search engine, like every single search engine you will ever use, uses something called boolean searching. Putting that - in front of what you don’t want will tell the search engine “show me everything that fits this criteria, EXCEPT NOT this other criteria”.
The problem with AO3 is, if you search “-Character1/Character2″, it will fail to filter out stories tagged with “Character2/Character1″, or any stories where the tag uses a character’s nickname. But thanks to something that AO3 calls tag wrangling, both of those options will be stored within the same numerical code, so that a search for one will also bring up the other. You can use that in your filtering to ensure that all iterations of that pairing you hate will be removed.
WARNING: this currently only applies to character and pairing tags, and only the tags that have gotten enough fics to have been “wrangled” by AO3 and given a tag code. It also won’t work on stories where the tag has been misspelled.