On Metadata - or, how to navigate this site.
The basic conceit of this site (aside from simply getting my fanfiction online--noooo, that would be too simple for a huge dork like me!) is this attempt to place all the metadata (which is to say, things people might want to know about a fic before reading it) in a neat little layout that is simultaneously, I hope, useful and cute.
"You come with a kiss, go for days, come back all needy and looking like you've been starved, you sure they're treating you right, Gwen, I think you should talk to whoever does the personnel over there..."
[ Gwen, very lost ]
Spoilers - through season 1
Canon - written before season 2 aired
Beta - Lily
For - the June challenge, runes, on dwliterotica
Ref. - author's notes
Most of this, I hope, is obvious, especially as most everything has a hover box to provide further info. There are the fic summary standards: title, fandom, quote from the story, pairing and situation info so readers have an idea of what they're getting into. There are the necessary indications as to whether the fic spoils part of canon or has other canon-related oddities (is an AU, for example, or does not admit a certain part of the source as canon, or takes extra material, such as other fanfiction, as canon), and a space to thank betas and credit contests or people who requested a story. Some of my fics also have author's notes or recordings that go with them, and there's that.
I personally like having a word count handy as I'm browsing, so I know how big a fic I'm setting out to read--either so I can set aside an hour as necessary or not be disappointed if it's a brief ficlet. And I, as the author, very much wanted to list the year that a story was written. In a way, it's a sort of subtle disclaimer: don't expect something from 2002 to be up to stuff with my recent work, etcetera.
And now we start talking about tags. This was one of the Odd Ideas, compared to the traditional UI for fic browsing, which I was grabbing onto when I first started doing the interface design for this site. Tags are the latest big thing in blogging and email and so forth; they could work for fic just as well! And, of course, one of the things that makes tags useful is that any instance of a tag links to a list of all instances. The years and fandoms are tags as well, each linking to a list of everything written in the same. And so forth.
The author's choice tag, visible on a few cards in the upper left, is, like the years, purely self-indulgent, giving me a way to flag my personal favorites.
The canonlit tag is the other thing which is, as far as I know, new to this site. There's a bit more about it here, but, essentially, it indicates whether one has to be particularly literate in the canon in order to enjoy a particular fic.
And then there are the subject tags. Here I tackled something which is an old bugaboo of many fen: the itemized warning lists that dog fic headers. Some people feel they're absolutely necessary, some hate them, some ignore them. (Personally, I do the latter, unless there's a "warning" for BDSM or other kinky matters, in which case I consider it a strong bonus.) I personally often find myself more likely to want to warn for "watch out, this was stream-of-consciousness at 2 in the morning" than for "slash and swearing," since I don't consider the latter particularly noteworthy.
From a UI standpoint, I did two things which will, I hope, make the whole warning concept less problematic. First off, they function as tags. This makes them more neutral than negative--if you don't want to read a particular thing, you can still avoid it, but if you like that thing, you can go look up everything else that has it. And second, purely visually, I tucked them off in a little list to the side, so that those who prefer not to bother with them can ignore them, but those who want them can still see them.
All fics on the site are tagged, mutually exclusive, with one of three subjects: gen, for those with no sexual content; softcore, for those with mild to moderate sexual content; and hardcore, for those with explicit sexual content.
Any softcore or hardcore fic is also tagged with the appropriate gender combination: m/f, m/m, or (once I get some polished off and archived, already!) f/f. Threesomes or multiple pairings get tagged with anything relevant: thus a Doctor/Jack/Rose fic, for example, would be listed as both m/f and m/m.
Beyond that, there's a series of tags referring to various aspects of content and mood: abuse, artsy, bdsm, fluff, horror, soc, and violence.
I hope that this is a sufficient explanation of how to navigate this crazy UI and what is up with all these tags. I certainly had fun working it all out!