Using tags to find books you loveDabney Grinnan2020-02-29T09:29:51-05:00
While our Power Search feature is quite – well, powerful! – and largely unique among romance novel sites, it can’t search by things like keywords in a review, or by series. It also isn’t searchable by trope, since that may not even appear explicitly in the text. That’s where tags come in.
Here is a screenshot of one of our reviews. You can see the tags in the lower right.
The tags appear in alphabetical order. We’ve identified this book as matching the following categories:
If you click on these tags, they take you to a main page for all the books sharing this tag. For instance, the Toronto tag takes you to this screen of all books tagged as set in Toronto, starting with the most recently reviewed:
As you may be able to guess, the process of tagging books is gargantuan. AAR has almost 14,000 books in its database (!!!!!) and tagging every one of them, especially as volunteers, isn’t even a possibility. And it’s not just the tags themselves that take time. Opening up old reviews to tag them often exposes broken links, junk code left over from previous web site iterations, incomplete or missing data, and myriads of other problems that need to be fixed before the review is usable and up to date.
If you start trying to do 14,000 reviews starting in order, with new reviews being added all the time, it’s basically a stairway to infinity and a recipe for mental breakdown. So to keep this project not just survivable, but actually kind of satisfying, I’ve chosen to do it in a scattershot way. Instead of being methodical, I create and complete random personal goals based on nothing systematic – just my whim of the day. (The means, by the way, that you shouldn’t use these tags to do academic or journalistic analysis – the results are too selected to be random, but too unsystematic to be representative of the genre or the AAR database). Sometimes I try to do all the books by one author, all the books in one series, or all the books in a Special Titles Listing (say, virgin hero). Other times, I try to find all the books set in a particular time period or location. Sometimes I take a weird niche thing I care about and tag for that (hello, The Anarchy of Matilda vs. Stephen).
I’ve put scores of hours into tags and have barely scratched the surface of our archives. With the acknowledgement that these are and will probably forever be imperfect and incomplete, here are just some of the numerous tag projects that are underway. I hope you’ll find them useful, and that they’ll bring wonderful new reads into your life.