Hugbox: Simply put, this is the classification given to all Fluffy Pony content of a positive nature and owners taking proper care of their fluffies instead of abusing them.
BackgroundEditThe term 'hugbox' originates from the device used to help autistic children who desire hugs. Due to hypersensitivity, they may not be able to tolerate a normal hug, or they may only want a very specific type of hug that most caretakers wouldn't remember to do. The hugbox was designed to let autistic children experience the exact type of hug that they wanted.
The term was originally used on 4chan for years to refer to people who were upset by small things. The implication was that they could not handle anything beyond sanitized, bright offerings or that they were autistic. Naturally, this usage was leveraged against the first optimistic fluffy pony fics on the site. As fluffy ponies were originally the product of abuse, even fiction that did not fit the core concept of autistic hugbox material was given this label
Many fandoms (such as the core FiM fanbase) start from a bright, child-oriented canon and fans take it into 'darker' territory as the fandom evolves. This is either done as a way to flesh out dark concepts in the canon or as a way to rebel against the lighter, more popular themes. As the fluffy pony fandom already originated from tales of dark abuse and cartoon logic, this theme was reversed and creators evolved by acting against the dark framework of fluffy pony and introducing themes of kindness and realism. The disgustingly saccharine fluffies were depicted as honestly cute and the childish mentality that made them stupid and fun to torture was explored. This is now seen as instrumental to the survival of fluffy pony stories, with even abuse works benefiting from the universal expansion.
Reactions to this were originally neutral or negative. It was originally derided as being 'shitty hugbox crap' for not involving the abuse of fluffy ponies. As these accusations grew, the use of the term began to widen until content creators began to refer to their own work with the same label.
Current UsageEditCurrently, the term is used in a much broader sense, to refer to all content of a positive manner. This is stereotypically stories/pictures of fluffy ponies doing adorable things with little to no conflict. In reality, the label can be used for stories from that extreme to stories where the ponies simply don't suffer. Occasionally, the label is used in conjunction with Sad, Abuse or Questionable tags to show that the story is supposed to be positive along with the other labels.
Hugbox stories predominantly take the form of 'slice of life' fiction involving a fluffy and its owner or a feral fluffy herd.
Just as in abuse stories, the POV can change from the fluffy pony to the owner, and vice versa. In hugbox fiction, the fluffy pony usually experiences and enjoys the most in the story. Therefore, putting the reader into the fluffy's hooves allows them to experience everything the fluffy does. This has caused writers to explore the mentality of fluffy ponies, in order to provide the reader with a more enjoyable experience.