Sexy times with Wangxian

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Fanfiction
Title: Sexy times with Wangxian
Author(s): virtual1979
Date(s): 2019-10-09 - ongoing
Length: 1,303,981 words; 304 chapters (15 April 2021)
Genre: slash
Fandom: Untamed/Mo Dao Zu Shi
External Links: on AO3; Wayback copy; on dreamwidth

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Sexy times with Wangxian (sometimes known as STWW or STWWX) is an Untamed/Mo Dao Zu Shi fanfic by virtual1979 that is perhaps best known to fandom for the large number of tags included in the work on AO3. More tags were added with each new chapter, and the fic eventually achieved an all-time high of approximately 4400 tags, before most tags were removed in April 2021.[1] Although the fic had been a WIP since 2019, it passed a threshold of panfandom notoriety in early 2021.

virtual1979 started tweeting about the situation in mid February, first under cruisin_forever, then under virtual1979. The author was suspended on AO3 for threats on February 21[2] and cross-posted their fic to dreamwidth a week later[3]. As of April, the version on dreamwidth was friendslocked, but contained more chapters than the version on AO3.[4]

The fic was deleted from AO3 on May 31, 2021.

Author's summary

Author's summary:

Just as what the title says.

Wangxian's happily ever after in the tune of Fluff and Porn.

Enjoy the collection of short stories and don't think too much about the details *winks*

In mid-February 2021, the author's summary was updated to include in bold:

Note to readers from fandoms OUTSIDE of The Untamed / CQL / MDZS: This is a Wangxian-centric fic which may branch out due to crossovers!

Story Length

Sexy times with Wangxian is the longest fanfic in the MDZS fandom on AO3. The longest AO3 fanfic overall is a five-million-word Hobbit/Lord of the Rings/Silmarillion work titled At the Edge of Lasg'len, which claims to be "the world's longest English language narrative fanfiction".[5] See Longfic for more story length record-holders.

Tags and Other Metadata

Screenshot illustrating the scale of tagging, created by twitter user espanyeol and shared in many places.

The author updated both the story and its metadata frequently.

The Wayback Machine copy of the fic from just before it was hidden on February 21, 2021 displays 2300 tags, including 14 fandom tags.[6] Various fans were tracking the tag counts in February and reported on their findings: As of February 15, 2021, the work had 1754 tags[7], increasing from 1598 on February 2, 2021[8]. In April 2021, twitter user dudski created a google sheet containing all tags on the work, including the many tags added after the work was hidden.[9]

As of February 6, 2021, Sexy times with Wangxian was over a million words long and had 266 chapters, 52 comments, 1920 kudos, 453 bookmarks, and 314494 hits. It was marked m/m, Explicit, and Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings.[10] In November 2020, the story was also marked Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Major Character Death, Rape/Non-Con, and Underage; and had 866,408 words, 174 chapters, and 729 comments.[11]

The story has been marked complete for some time, but AO3 users have complained that new chapters continue to be posted frequently, causing the work to reappear at the top of many common tags. The large number of porn-related tags has resulted in many fans outside the fandom becoming aware of it. In February 2021, the author also added tags for every other MDZS relationship, so MDZS fans of other ships reported suddenly seeing the fic in their tag searches; by mid-February, the author had also begun tagging other fandoms, including Heaven Official's Blessing, The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System, BTS (K-pop group), Legend of Fei, and RPF.[12]

AO3 restricts tag length to 100 characters, but there was no apparent limit on the number of tags allowed. As a result, the work took up a large amount of screen real estate on the search results and tag pages that many fans use to browse the website. Some users reported page loading problems on their devices. Fans who use screen readers reported that the number of tags on the fic made the site unusable for them. According to an AO3 Support volunteer, "We've heard anecdotes that the work's appearance in search listings negatively affects site and browser performance, but haven't had enough reports with specific device information that would let us conclude if this is an intermittent browser issue or a larger problem."[13] One reply to a submitted report explained that pages were structured in such a way to enable screen readers to skip the wall of tags.[14]

On or before May 14, 2021, the author replaced the summary on AO3 with what looked like a random collection of tags describing various explicit sex acts. The AO3 title was also updated to a sequence of porn emojis. Both title and summary are fields visible on the works search page. The author's twitter account indicated that the goal was to deter people from looking at or sharing screenshots of the fic.[15][16] The title and summary were changed multiple times in May, leading other fans to conclude that the author was trolling. See #Reporting below.

Reactions

Hiding the fic

Fans on social media shared various methods of hiding the fic when browsing AO3. Types of workarounds included:

  • excluding the author from search results
  • excluding by word count (ie: <1 million words)
  • excluding the specific work ID
  • excluding tags used by this work and few or no others
  • bookmarking the search string with the exclusion criteria already added to the fandom tag
  • adding a line of code to a parent skin (like Reversi) or using a parent skin and adding a line of code so that the work would be permanently excluded
  • adding code to a site skin to hide tags past a certain number, such that only the first 30 tags on any work are displayed
  • using an unofficial browser tool such as this site skin by Xparrot or ao3 tags savior by bluecat 2 on greasyfork.

These workarounds circulated on sites such as Twitter and Tumblr, with some users of the site creating tutorials for how to apply the settings shared. A few workarounds were posted in the Fanwork Research & Reference Guides tag on AO3 itself:

Comments to author

Some fans commented on the work itself to ask the author to fix the completion status or tagging issues. Other comments were violent.[17] A comment from the author:

This fic started as a fannish project to write some fluff and humour with a good dose of R18 content as a trilogy, with the third and final part to be kept alive forever. Early on, the commenters were friendly and nice, and it was a good environment to explore ideas and write fantastic stuff featuring Wangxian.

A year later, through the Covid-19 pandemic, a million words was achieved with nearly a thousand comments, I continued to write despite receiving more and more hostile feedback from trolls and registered users. The more famous a fic is, the more unwanted attention it attracts. I already learned how toxic the fandom is, and how terrible some people are - both fans and non-fans -, and how to deal with them with my own "fight fire with fire" ways :-)

After several rounds of clashing with these unwanted guests and visitors, unfortunately the comments by the commenters got out of control, and became very aggressive and harassing, so all comments have been wiped out to start anew.[18]

The author stated in their FAQs that they would not remove tags, split the work into a series, or mark it as in progress.[19] In response to reports that the fic was crashing people's browsers, the author said, "I'm sorry but I cannot help you with your technical problem. The site is working fine for me."[20]

In February 2021 the author first moderated comments on the fic; around the same time that the author began tagging other fandoms and updated the summary to indicate crossovers, they turned off comments entirely.

Reporting

Fans have been arguing over whether the tags violate AO3's rule against "threatening the technical integrity of the Archive"[21] because the work caused browser problems for some users. Other fans were frustrated by the inclusion of tags that didn't seem relevant to the story, but AO3 requires only that fandom tags--not character, relationship, or additional tags--be accurate.

So many people submitted Abuse reports that the system wouldn't allow further reports.[22] (AO3 only allows a few reports per work to prevent mass-reporting campaigns.) Some people submitted support requests instead, but official responses explained that the fic was not a policy violation.[23]

On February 21, the fic was hidden and the user account suspended for a month, but for posting threats, not because of the tags.[24][2] A screenshot on twitter showed a note in which the author stated they hoped the people bothering them in comments died of COVID.[25] The fic was not visible again until April 13, as documented by twitter user dudski, who said they received update notices from AO3 after the one-month suspension ended, but couldn't access the new chapters.[26]

In May 2021 the fic title and summary were changed multiple times. Some of the title changes included the addition of slurs, and at least one summary update changed the text to include a carriage return after each character, which increased the work's screen real estate on the works search page.[27] Twitter users said they had tried reporting the work again but that it was already maxed out on reports. The matter was also discussed on fail_fandomanon, where people were divided on whether the author's actions could or should be against the terms of service: see this 2021-05-26 thread. And on reddit one user commented, "The child wants attention and people are lining up to give them it."[28]

Related fanworks

In contrast with the original, the "bland times with wangxian" works used minimal tagging. Some people were annoyed with the proliferation of [blank] times with wangxian parodies, and one person posted a work on AO3 that was just a complaint about the trend: ANNOYING Times with Wangxian by orphan_account, Archived version.

Within a day of Bland Times with Wangxian being posted, AO3 users also noticed new works on the archive with huge numbers of tags. AO3 users on social media say they saw entire fics posted in the tags instead of the body of the work, or large sections of copyrighted works such as Harry Potter or 1984. Many of these were then reported and deleted. An anon at fail_fandomanon claimed to have had their account suspended for providing an invite code to someone so they could create one of the "wall of tags" works. Fans on fail_fandomanon and elsewhere also discussed whether these new works were annoying trolls or activism that would force AO3 to change their stance on tag limits or get them to code fixes faster. Other fans predicted that anti-shippers would start using these tactics to spam the tags of ships they didn't like.

AO3 Policy Changes?

See AO3 Tag Limits.

Sexy times with Wangxian not being against AO3 site policy led to fan discussions about AO3 tag policy and whether it should be changed to limit the number of tags allowed on a single work. Some fans suggested changing the default site skin to limit the number of tags that display on search listings without limiting the tags themselves. Although this fic was the most egregious example, fans have long complained about overtagging, especially on short story collections posted as single works.

Rumors of an upcoming blocking feature prompted some fans to reiterate their analyses of racism on the archive, arguing that the OTW was showing its true colors by not developing the blocking feature in response to ongoing racist harassment but only when white fans were inconvenienced by Sexy times and its copycats. A Vox article by Aja Romano spread this idea further. Other fans pointed out that the blocking feature had been promised in a June 2020 post long before anyone was talking about Sexy times. It was also noted that the OTW was too slow and dysfunctional to have whipped up a blocking feature a month after the tag complaints.

The OTW posted An update on blocking and muting features on April 1 and generated more claims that "wall of tags" works were the inspiration.

When virtual1979's AO3 account suspension was lifted, they reported that AO3 had a new limit of 75 tags per work:

Due to AO3's upcoming policy to limit the number of user-defined tags to no more than 75 in total, the full list of Fandoms, Relationships, Characters and any other former and newer Additional Tags associated with the content of the fic will be made available in the author's DW blog.[29]

A ticket to limit tags was opened on AO3's public bug tracker on March 31,[30] but the policy change was not officially announced until August 24, 2021:

In the coming days, we'll be rolling out a code change that limits the total number of fandom, character, relationship, and additional tags that can be added to a work. This limit of 75 tags will apply to both new and existing works, but no tags will be automatically removed from existing works.[31]

The admin post noted that less than 0.5% of works had more than 75 tags, existing works would be unaffected unless updated after the code change, and that having too many tags was not a terms of service violation. Some commenters on the post referenced STWWX, while others expressed their hope that the change would bring an end to multifandom drabble collections and other "wall of tags" oneshot compilations posted as a single work.[31]

Deletion

The fic was deleted from AO3 on May 31, 2021. The reason is unknown. Twitter user dudski said that the author must have deleted the fic after it was hidden again by the Abuse team because shortly before the work was deleted, she got the same "You don't have permission to access" message that clicking on the fic generated post-suspension in February.[32] What the TOS violation was is unknown. The author tweeted about deleting the fic around the same time:

It's been awesomely peaceful and conducive for writing after I've disassociated from AO3 and ditched the sinking ship filled with trolls and troublemakers.[33]
Did another piece from the author's desk. My speech to those who tried so hard to take me and the fic down, but too bad, you suck and you lose 😈 At the end of the day, I'm doing fine and dandy, and you're not.[34]

As of October 2021, the fic is presumably still up on the author's dreamwidth account, but it is friendslocked and no one currently has been granted access.[35]

Meta/Further Reading

References

  1. ^ 3 April 2021 tweet by dudski, Archived version (accessed 15 April 2021)
  2. ^ a b Thank you AO3 for giving me a month off to rest and rejuvenate. One of my old author's notes was deemed offensive and violative of the TOS - well justified, since at that time the fic was badly trolled, and I was pissed off then, Archived version, tweet by the author, 21 February 2021. (Accessed 22 February 2021.)
  3. ^ I took a break to make a 2nd home for the fic. It's not moving per se, but DOUBLING the happiness for Wangxian!, Archived version, tweet by cruisin_forever, 26 February 2021. (Accessed 26 February 2021.)
  4. ^ Navigation: Chapters, dreamwidth post by virtual1979, 24 February 2021. (accessed 16 April 2021)
  5. ^ At the Edge of Lasg'len by AnnEllspethRaven and SonaBeanSidhe, Archived version (Accessed 6 February 2021.)
  6. ^ Wayback Machine, 21 February 2021 (accessed 17 April 2021)
  7. ^ Tweet, Archived version by aroceu on February 15, 2021 (Accessed February 15, 2021)
  8. ^ Re: That Untamed fic with the encyclopedia of tags, Archived version, anon comment on fail_fandomanon, 2021-02-02.
  9. ^ 13 April 2021 tweet by dudski, Archived version. google sheet here. (accessed 16 April 2021)
  10. ^ Sexy times with Wangxian by virtual1979, Archived version (Accessed 6 February 2021.)
  11. ^ November 1, 2020 Wayback Machine copy
  12. ^ Feb 19th 2021 Wayback Machine copy
  13. ^ Comment on an AO3 News post, Archived version, 6 February 2021 (Accessed 6 February 2021.)
  14. ^ twitter screenshot (Accessed 25 February 2021.)
  15. ^ "It's good that I'm weeding out those who stalk for the sake of stalking. I rather have a few courteous and nice readers than hundreds or thousands of wankers. The drama is unnecessary." May 14, 2021 tweet, Archived version
  16. ^ "I hope people who take pictures of the fic in AO3 will think twice before sharing." May 14, 2021 tweet, Archived version
  17. ^ tweet by periIously, 5 February 2021, Archived version (Accessed 6 February 2021.)
  18. ^ About this fic and the author, Archived version, comment posted by virtual1979, 6 February 2021. (Accessed 6 February 2021.)
  19. ^ Frequently Asked Questions, Archived version, 6 February 2021. (Accessed 9 February 2021.)
  20. ^ comment on Sexy times with Wangxian, Archived version, 9 February 2021. (Accessed 9 February 2021.)
  21. ^ AO3 Terms of Service, Archived version (Accessed 27 February 2021.)
  22. ^ 15 February 2021 tweet by mariafivi1, Archived version (Accessed 20 February 2021.)
  23. ^ 18 February tweet by lady_will0w, Archived version (Accessed 20 February 2021.)
  24. ^ 21 February 2021 tweet by yinyu, Archived version (Accessed 22 February 2021.)
  25. ^ 21 February 2021 tweet by philologicalbat, Archived version (Accessed 26 February 2021.)
  26. ^ 13 April 2021 tweet from dudski, Archived version (accessed 15 April 2021)
  27. ^ See the Wayback Machine copies on May 18 and May 28, 2021.
  28. ^ comment by cjrecordvt on Just-- wow., Archived version, 29 May 2021. (Accessed 30 May 2021.)
  29. ^ author's note on Sexy times with Wangxian, Archived version (accessed 17 April 2021)
  30. ^ Limit the number of tags that can be used on works (accessed 16 April 2021)
  31. ^ a b AO3 News: Upcoming limit on tags per work, Archived version, 2021-08-24. (Accessed 24 August 2021.)
  32. ^ final update tweet, Archived version by dudski, 3 June 2021. (Accessed 28 October 2021.)
  33. ^ June 2 tweet, Archived version by virtual1979. (Accessed 3 June 2021.)
  34. ^ June 3 tweet, Archived version by virtual1979. (Accessed 3 June 2021.)
  35. ^ virtual1979 dreamwidth profile (Accessed 28 October 2021.)