The Sexytimes with Wangxian fanfiction continues to live on, spreading through fandoms like a plague. And now it has a new title.
I can’t actually tell you what the new title of Sexytimes with Wangxian is here on this website because we have rules about vulgarity, but you can see a censored version of what it is at present in the included screencap. This is actually the second iteration of this new title change that I’ve seen screencapped, with the last one including different sets of random and offensive words, so I believe she may be changing it frequently.
It’s possible the title changes whenever she updates the endless string of tags that caused this fic to be such a problem in the first place. The timing and frequency of the title change is just a guess on my part, though, and it’s honestly difficult to understand why the author does anything regarding this fic, so I should just stop trying to find logical reasons for this and accept this is a new inexplicable thing that they’ve decided to do.
For those of you who don’t know what this fic is, Sexytimes with Wangxian is a fanfic that came to the attention of the Mo Dao Zu Shi fandom back at the tail end of 2020. The tagging system on AO3 is pretty straightforward: tag relevant topics, themes, and characters so that people can find your fic if they want that sort of content, and include triggers so people can avoid the fic if those topics bother them.
Instead of utilizing the tags in this well established and simple way, the author chose to tag everything even remotely mentioned in the fic regardless of its relevance to the overall story. This led to incredibly bizarre tags such as ‘mangoes’ and ‘pants,’ which aren’t things people would usually search for, nor try to avoid. I mean, sure, maybe someone out there is desperate for a fic where a mango is mentioned in a single sentence in a fic that’s well over a million words, but that’s extremely unlikely. The fic became a burden to scroll past for the fandom and elicited many complaints and calls to action by AO3 itself.
You can read a more detailed summary in our original post: How One Fanfic is Breaking AO3 (and Fandom).
One of the chief complaints about the tagging of Sexytimes with Wangxian besides how long it takes to scroll past is that it didn’t actually tag for the potentially triggery content in the fic. I’m not sure how many frequent readers the fic actually has considering the chapters are largely disconnected from one another and there’s no consistency on theme or, at this point, characters or fandom. But if you were a fan of the work, you could get blindsided by some pretty awful content without warning.
Now the author has decided to put all this triggery content in the title of the fic, which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. You can’t currently filter out words in titles. You can only filter out fic by tags. So now if you are casually scrolling for fic, you will be bombarded by triggering content in the title with no way to avoid it. And it gets worse.
When we last left Sexytimes with Wangxian, the author was planning on expanding into new fandoms. Before they had a chance to do much of that, the fic was removed from AO3. I was unable to confirm the reason for this, but rumors on Twitter attributed it to the author threatening readers in the comments of her fic. As AO3 isn’t really at liberty to discuss disciplinary actions about their users to third parties, and rumors on social media should be taken with a grain of salt, I can’t confirm the accuracy of this, but the fic did vanish for a while, and there was peace in the land.
While the fic was removed, AO3 got back to me about the issue, but since it wasn’t a problem anymore I set it aside and let it go. This was their response:
Our current policy is that if the creator feels the tags appropriately reflect the content of the work, and the tags don’t otherwise impinge on the Terms of Service (e.g. by directly harassing a specific user; or by misrepresenting Fandom, Rating, or Warning), we defer to the creator’s judgment. For that reason, at this time the system does not have a limit on the number of tags that may be added to works.
However, there are a few ways that you can hide a long list of tags that you don’t want to see, including:
• The “Hide additional tags (you can still choose to show them)” option in the Display section of your account’s Preferences page
• A custom site skin for blocking specific works by Work ID as described by a user on tumblr here: https://ao3commentoftheday.tumblr.com/post/642986653219192832/how-to-block-a-work-from-your-search-results-on
• The public site skins “Shortening long tag fields” and “Freeform Tag Truncation for Blurbs”, found here: https://archiveofourown.org/skins
• Unofficial userscripts for the Archive, such as BlurbBlocker and AO3 Savior, described here: https://archiveofourown.org/faq/unofficial-browser-tools
Please let us know if you’d like more information on any of these methods so we can best advise you.
We have noted that a few specific works are causing interference with search results loading on an assorted list of devices. We have passed the information on to the Coders to review.
We are aware of issues these large sections of tags are causing with some screen readers. The search results are set up so that many screen readers’ menu and section navigation will be able to skip from entry to entry, over the cloud of tags. If this does not seem to be the case for your device, please let us know the screen reader software you’re using so that we can investigate the issue.
It doesn’t currently go against their TOS, but they provided some ways around it, so I respect them for this effort. I don’t at all blame them for this issue and respect them protecting the integrity of their archive while also helping users avoid this very obvious problem.
But now that the fic is back, it’s spreading to many other huge fandoms including BTS, Genshin Impact, other MXTX works, and so much more. So if you see your friends in other fandoms grappling with this issue, point them towards the solutions and save them from not only the annoyance of scrolling past it, but from the terrible potentially triggery content as well. Who knows where this beast may pop up next!
When I first wrote about Sexytimes with Wangxian back in February, I wasn’t sure if the author was being intentionally malicious, or if they truly just didn’t understand how tags worked. People told the author repeatedly and nothing changed, but I thought there was still a chance that maybe they just didn’t understand what people were telling them. My view on this has changed now.
After their extreme doubling down not only in the comments section of their fic, as well as Twitter, and then this new title changing pattern, I have no doubt they are being intentionally malicious to people. Nobody would miss this many opportunities to do the right thing and just ignore them unless they wanted to upset others.
Hopefully, this is the last update to the Sexytimes with Wangxian saga, but the author’s ability to find new ways to annoy and trigger people has become truly impressive. I would start to speculate about what their next malicious act is going to be, but I don’t want to give them any ideas. Let’s just hope this is the end of it, we can block the fic and spread the word to the new fandoms that they’ve chosen to torment, and we can leave this fic behind us.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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