Laissez-faire and rigid tagging systems both fail because they assume too much—that users can create order from a completely open system, or that a predefined taxonomy can encompass every kind of tag a person might ever want. When these assumptions don’t pan out, it always seems to be the user’s fault. AO3’s beliefs about human nature are more pragmatic, like an architect designing pathways where pedestrians have begun wearing down the grass, recognizing how variation and standardization can fit together. The wrangler system is one where ordinary user behavior can be successful, a system which accepts that users periodically need help from someone with a bird’s-eye view of the larger picture.
McCulloch, Gretchen. 2019. “Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online.” Wired, June 11, 2019.