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The Doodles of Bessyboo

A Podfic Tagging & Organization Tutorial (aka "You, too, can now reap the benfits of Bess's OCD!")

11/7/11 03:17 am - A Podfic Tagging & Organization Tutorial (aka "You, too, can now reap the benfits of Bess's OCD!")


Podfic: it's an audio recording of a fanfic, like an audiobook, how awesome is that? Fans from all over put their voices out there so you can enjoy fanfic on the go or just in a different way. To find out more about podfic, why we do it and how to get started, check out pod_aware on LJ or DW.

Now, if you've been following my journal at ALL in the last year or so, you have probably picked up on the fact that I REALLY LOVE PODFIC. No seriously. I love it. I love it a lot. And I think everyone else should love it TOO, which is why I think Pod Aware week is AWESOME ^^

I even participated in the recording of several of what shall be a daily podcast this week for Pod Aware. And you can hear the first of these, on today's theme of "Podfic 101/Why We Podfic" with me, paraka and podklb here, which y'all SHOULD, because it's great, in my humble opinion ;)

In the process of recording...uh, one of these--probably the one with the SIX HOUR LONG raw file?--I mentioned to paraka that I SUPER METICULOUSLY tag and organize my podfics. And she went, "you should write a tutorial on that!" So here is that tutorial. It's really more of a guide-like thing.

Let me preface this whole thing by saying that I am actually diagnosed with OCD. My computer folders have sub-folders which have sub-sub-folders which have sub-sub-sub-folders (and NONE OF THE FILES CAN EVER GO IN AN OUTSIDE FOLDER, except for Special Exceptions); my DVD and bookshelves are organized in a (frankly rather "Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler") way which makes PERFECT sense to me but probably not anyone else (I have REASONS for putting "A Cinderella Story" next to "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", OKAY); I have a set of swatch wheels for all 85 bottles of nail polish that I own which are each labeled with a code that can be cross-referenced with an Excel spreadsheet, telling you the name, brand, line, and number of recommended coats for a specific color. And if you mess up any of these organizational systems I will flail and freak out a bit at you and then BE VERY DISPLEASED.

So obviously, this same concept applies to my iTunes library, and by extension, all of my podfic.

(Sidenote: this OCD is actually the reason I started making podfic covers for other people--I can't add a podfic to my iTunes library unless it has cover art (and is in M4B form, but that's not too hard to fix), and so I had a bunch of podfics that didn't come with cover art that I really wanted to listen to! So basically, it was completely selfish XD)

I've gone through a couple different tagging systems in the last year and a half, but I've settled on one that I'm pretty happy with, and I'm going to attempt to completely explain it to you. Feel free to adopt it exactly, reject it entirely, or just take the bits and pieces that work for you.

(SECOND PREFACE: This is all going to be very iTunes-centric, because it's what I use, and I know a LOT of other people do too. However, it can probably be adapted to most other music library programs with decent tagging functionality.)

SO, to begin with, let's take a look at a cross-section of the "Audiobooks" section of my iTunes:

(click for full size cap)

You'll notice I like to use grid view. This is because for me, cover art is the easiest way to find a particular podfic, and grid view provides the best view of the cover art, and also it just looks the prettiest XD Plus, unlike music where you will very likely want to find a single TRACK, with podfic, you usually just want to find a WHOLE FIC, no need for specific tracks (at least not often enough that it's too annoying to keep double-clicking the cover to see the tracks when you need to). The one huge downside is that you can't use the column browser, but that is partially why I DEVELOPED my anal tagging system--so I don't *need* the column browser to find stuff.

So, let's take a closer look at each individual aspect of the tagging for a podfic in my library...

NOTE: to begin with, I use only M4B files (Podbooks), so they are automatically all sorted into the "Books" section of my iTunes. However, if you use MP3s, you can sort them into this section and get them to BEHAVE just like podbooks by right-clicking/ctrl-clicking and going to "Get Info", going to the "Options" tab, and selecting "Audiobook" under "Media Kind", and making sure the "Remember playback position" and "Skip when shuffling" options are both checked. Helpful illustrative screencap!

Okay. NOW. Let's look at the tags on a totally average (tag-wise) podbook out of Bess's library:

Now let's break that down, tag-by-tag.

Name: FANDOM: Full Title

FANDOM is obviously the fandom of the podfic. It is in all caps, contains spaces, apostrophes and ampersands (as needed) but no other punctuation (no hyphen in X MEN), and USUALLY does not contain abbreviations. Exceptions to the abbreviation rule are: 1) when the full fandom name would be too long to make sense display-wise, and has a convenient abbreviation (this mostly applies to RPF), and 2) when I think of the name of the fandom in my head as an abbreviation rather than the full name.

Fandoms in my library which these exceptions apply to are:
  • "AI RPF" instead of "AMERICAN IDOL RPF" (Rule 1)
  • "C6D RPF" instead of "CANADA'S SIX DEGREES RPF" (Rule 1)
  • "CW RPF" instead of "CW CHANNEL/SIX DEGREES OF J2 RPF" (Rule 2--also Rule 1, but Rule 2 takes precedence)
  • "DCU" instead of "DC UNIVERSE" (Rule 2)
  • "SGA" instead of "STARGATE ATLANTIS" (Rule 2)

I also have several "umbrella" fandom tags: three universe ones which are all comics-related (DCU, MARVEL and X MEN), two that deal with multi-fandom stuff (ANTHOLOGY and X OVER) and one for MISCELLANEOUS.

The comics universe ones help me to keep stories from all the various mediums about the same characters together. For instance, DCU contains, aside from the obvious DC comics-based stuff, anything from Smallville or the Dark Knight trilogy. (Yes, I am fully aware that I'm probably the only person EVER who files Smallville stuff under "DCU". Shut up XD) For MARVEL and X MEN, I *could* get into a rant about how I totally think that, both philosophically AND logically, the X-Men absolutely belong outside the rest of the Marvel universe (no seriously, moonlingmaid and I have had HOURS LONG DISCUSSIONS about this before), but really, here? They're basically just functionally keeping the Avengers podfic seperate from the X-Men: First Class stuff XD

When I first created my tagging system, I tried a lot of things for crossovers--a "MULTI" tag, the fandoms separated by slashes, etc. I ended up using "X OVER" for three reasons: first, it's convenient. Some crossovers have a LOT of fandoms, and it doesn't make sense to try to list all of them. (No seriously, try fitting all the fandoms in Group Support into a Name or Album tag field. YOU CAN'T.) Second, if you separate the fandoms with slashes, dashes, commas, etc., A) what order do you put them in? Alphabetical? Most prevalent? How do you DECIDE what's "most prevalent"? TOO MANY VARIABLES! B) True "tagging"--it bugged me when I tried this that I couldn't get an SGA/SPN crossover to show up under both "SGA" AND "SUPERNATURAL". C) It creates a new fandom tag that you may never use for anything else, cluttering up your lovely fandom sorting. And third, at least in my library, it makes all the crossovers show up at the bottom as the last fandom, since I don't have any fandoms that come after "X-O" alphabetically. And it just makes sense for me to have crossovers at the bottom, after all the single-fandom stuff.

"ANTHOLOGY" is pretty self-explanatory, and is used mostly for the same reason as the first for X OVER.

"MISCELLANEOUS" is used pretty much for X OVER reason 2C--I use it for fandoms that I only have one podfic for, which I'm fairly certain I won't ever get any MORE podfics for. This is mostly Yuletide-type fandoms. Examples include Barbie & GI Joe, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and She's the Man. Note that I DO NOT use this for fandoms which I currently only have one podfic for, but PLAN to get (/make) more of.

I actually have another universe umbrella one waiting to be trotted out, once I get around to making covers for/DLing a few things I've meant to: DISNEY. It's the same concept as the comic ones--they all just belong in the same group in my head.

The title I use for the Full Title is copied & pasted from either the fic header or the AO3 title field. I paste it EXACTLY as the author has typed it--capitalization, sub-titles, etc. (This can result in some very long titles. For instance, I have both reena_jenkins and paraka's versions of the American Idol "Magical Lemonade" fic, so I have TWO podfics in my library tagged with "AI RPF: Husband-Revealing Magical Lemonade (or, How Kris Learned To Keep Calm And Just Go With It)". YEAH. Guess how long it takes my iPod to scroll through THAT whole thing! XD)

Artist: author

Album Artist: podficcer

For author & podficcer names, I use all lowercase, and I use their actual LJ/DW username wherever possible. If someone goes by two separate things on LJ and DW, I usually stick with the LJ one. This helps to keep each person to a single artist tag in my library, and also helps me keep who's who straight when I run into people in podfic fandom. So, FayJay becomes pandarus, Lunchy becomes lunchy_munchy, klb becomes podklb, and via_ostiense becomes jaebi_lit. When no LJ/DW username is available, I just make it all lowercase--this often applies to group names like "group slashpad" and "fleur-de-li".

Why do the author under "Artist" and the podficcer under "Album Artist"? This was a convention developed by cybel that I just liked, so I kept it. Conveniently, by putting the podficcer under "Album Artist", it allows repods to be tagged exactly the same, minus the podficcer, and still show up as different albums, which I really like.

In the case of either multiple authors or podficcers, I tag it using the above convention, with the usernames in the order they were listed in on the fic/release post. If there are...
  • TWO usernames I tag it with "username & username"
  • THREE usernames I tag it with "username, username & username"
  • FOUR usernames I tag it with "username, username, username & username"

If there are more than four authors/podficcers, I simply use the tag "(various)".

Year: 20xx

If it's not already entered, and I *know* what it is, I put the year the podfic was released here. If I don't know what it is, I don't sweat this field too much--it's basically optional, as far as I'm concerned, but if you know it, it's kind of nice to have :)

Album: FANDOM: Full Title

My Album tag is always copy & pasted from my Name tag. Why?


Originally, I just had the Full Title under Name, and FANDOM: Basic Title (so, if it was uber-long, I shortened it, essentially) under Album. HOWEVER, my main listening device for podfic used to be a relatively old (~2008) iPod Classic, and for some reason, it sorts Audiobooks by Name instead of Album. (This means that if you have a podfic grouped into an album, it displays ALL of the tracks separately. Annoying.)* But I wanted it to sort by what I had in the Album field. So I got around this by just making Name and Album the exact same thing. It worked out fine, because when I have iTunes in grid view, the name field doesn't show up, and the Album field didn't show up at all on my iPod. So, if I made them the same, it showed up the same on both my listening devices. Perfect.

My main listening device is now an iPhone, which sorts (much more reasonably) by Album, and then a sub-menu shows you the tracks, displayed by Name. Frankly, this is how I WISH the iPod Classic would work, but you know. It's a pretty nitpicky complaint XD

But anyway, I don't really mind a bit of redundancy when browsing on the iPhone, and I still use the iPod Classic sometimes so I wouldn't switch my tagging system anyway. Maybe someday, if I get rid of the Classic entirely, I'll go back and retag the Name field. But probs not--I'm pretty stuck in my ways now, and what I've got going works.

* See "Groping Podfics Into Albums" below.

Grouping: Fandom

I put the full, properly-punctuated fandom name here. So, X MEN (mostly) becomes "X-Men: First Class", HOUSE becomes "House, M.D." and SGA becomes "Stargate: Atlantis". I also use this field to create further fandom "umbrella" tags that I'd like to be able to sort by, but where I'd like to still maintain more specificity in the Name/Album field. So, DOCTOR WHO, TORCHWOOD and SARAH JANE ADVENTURES all become "Whoniverse", and HARD CORE LOGO, SLINGS & ARROWS, WILBY WONDERFUL and C6D RPF (and all crossovers containing some combination thereof) all become "Canada's Six Degrees" (Due South maintains its independence).

Composer: cover artist

I follow the exact same naming convention for cover artists as I do for authors and podficcers. If the cover contains fanart done by someone besides the cover artist, I usually credit the fanartist on this line. (For how I credit the cover artist, see the next section.) In my library, there is better than 50% chance that this line has either my name or cybel's XD

Comments: Text at: url. Podbook compiled by username.

The vast majority of Comments sections of podfics in my library read like this. However, sometimes podbooks are posted (mostly to the Archive) without the podbook compiler credited (this makes me sad!), in which case it just reads "Text at: url."

A small minority of podbooks in my library (~5%) have additional information in this field as well. Here is a complete list of those exceptions (bolded # in parentheses indicates number of podfics this applies to):
  • (2) INSTEAD OF "Text at: url."-->"Links to texts at: url." (for anthologies)
  • (1) INSTEAD OF "Text at: url."-->"Text at: (unavailable)."
  • (1) ADDITIONAL NOTES (BEFORE "Podbook"): "See lyrics tab for details." (a 'verse that had individual story descriptions/links in the Lyrics tab)
  • (1) ADDITIONAL NOTES (BEFORE "Podbook"): "Epilogue written by username." (was different from the rest of the story)
  • (1) ADDITIONAL NOTES (BEFORE "Podbook"): "Sound effects/music by username."
  • (1) ADDITIONAL NOTES (BEFORE "Podbook"): "Track remastered by username."
  • (4) ADDITIONAL NOTES: "Cover art by username, cover created by username." (when the cover contains fanart done by someone other than the cover artist)
  • (3) ADDITIONAL NOTES: "Cover #1 by username, cover #2 by username." (for multiple covers in iTunes; cover #1 is the one that is displayed)
  • (1) ADDITIONAL NOTES: Cover photo credit.
  • (1) ADDITIONAL NOTES: "Created for the 20xx y challenge." (20xx being year and y being challenge name)
  • (2) ADDITIONAL NOTES: Dedication

So, additional notes that apply directly to the fic or podfic go before the "Podbook compiled by" tag. Notes that have to do with either the cover or WHY the podfic was made come after it.

Genre: Podfic

If it is a podfic that is in my library, it says "Podfic" here. Easy.

Additional Tags

The "BPM" tag and both boxes of "Disc Number" remain empty on my podfics. If they say something in those when I download them, I delete it. I also clear out both "Track Number" boxes, unless I'm...

Groping Podfics Into Albums

I only do this when A) a podfic is SO LONG that it is split into ~MULTIPLE podbooks, or B) I have multiple versions of a podfic that SHOULD be grouped together*. In my library of 280 podfics, I only have one instance of each of these. BUT I do this by putting the total number of 'books in the album in the second box, and the placement in the order that that particular book comes in in the first box. So, for instance, Part 1 of The Student Prince has "1" in the first box and "3" in the second, since it is the first part of three. Helpful illustrative screencap!

*In my library, the one that falls under this category is the Asteroidea Trilogy, for which I have both the Composite Version and the Composite Mystery Order Version. They're nearly the same, the mystery order one just puts the stories in a slightly different order and leaves off a bit of dialogue because of it, but I still like having both.

Separating Podfics In My "TO LISTEN" List

When I first started really accumulating a LOT of podfics and refining my tagging system, it quickly became apparent that I'd need a way to separate the podfics I'd already listened to from the ones I had yet to. I tried doing it the same way I do for folders in Windows (with an exclamation mark in front, or, barring that, some other sort of punctuation/symbol), but unfortunately, iTunes just looks right over all the symbols and files it alphabetically under the first letter it recognizes. So, I got around this by just putting a capital "AA" in front of the FANDOM tag in Name and Album, which will, of course, bump it to the top of any alphabetical filing system. In order to separate this "TO LISTEN" tag from the FANDOM one which comes directly after it, I enclose the "AA" in square brackets, which obviously iTunes ignores. So, something tagged with the [AA] tag looks like this:

Once I've finished listening to it, I just go into iTunes and remove the [AA] from both the Name and Album fields.

Public Tagging vs. Private Tagging

Now, anyone who has downloaded one of my podfics or podbooks before may notice that this is a bit different from the tags you get when you download something I've released. The only differences are that I add "(Author)" to the end of the username in the Artist field, "(Reader)" to the end of the username in the Album Artist field, "(Cover Artist)" to the end of the username in the Composer field, and I leave the Grouping field blank. I add the clarification because A) *I* know that the username in the Album Artist field is the podficcer's name, but tagging conventions are by no means standardized across podfic fandom, and if I release it without them, it's entirely possible someone will get confused and not know who is who among the three usernames I provide in the tags, and B) it's what cybel does, and HER podbook tagging practices are as close as we're gonna get around here to standardization, so far as I can tell! I also leave Grouping off, since the way I use it might seem kind of redundant to some people, and I know other people use it for different things. Additionally, I *do* actually tag crossovers with FANDOM1/FANDOM2 rather than X OVER before releasing for download, because I do think that's more descriptive for people who don't have the same compulsive tagging practices I do.

PHEW, I think that's it! ...seriously, if you actually made it through this whole thing, YOU DESERVE A COOKIE. *hands you cyber-cookie*

So, anyone else have any thoughts to add on tagging?
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