AO3 News

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In May of last year, we posted a look at the Archive’s traffic numbers, which had increased rather dramatically early in the year (most likely for pandemic-related reasons). We now have the numbers for the whole year and can confirm that yes, people sure did consume a lot of fanworks in 2020! We can also provide a brief update on traffic numbers for the first quarter of 2021.


Daily traffic in 2020

A chart showing daily traffic in 2020. Lowest records are around 35 million, highest around 58 million.

Image: A chart of AO3 traffic in millions of page views per day, for each month of 2020. Traffic consistently peaks on Sundays, creating monthly lines with hills and valleys. For January through March, the lines cluster around 35 to 40 million page views; the other months are clustered noticeably above that, between 45 and 55 million, with December’s Sunday peaks reaching closer to 60 million.

Traffic in March, represented by the dashed green line in the chart above, began rising sharply mid-month. The six months after that were characterized by higher traffic overall, and less of a pronounced contrast between the work week and the weekend.

The lowest number on record was 31.3 million page views on Monday, January 13, with a typical Sunday at that time racking up around 43 million. From April to September, the numbers meandered between roughly 45 million and 51 million page views.

Only in late October, traffic started increasing above the new normal, with a series of record highs in November, shown in orange. December, has always been the busiest month for the Archive, and 2020 was no exception. Most notable are two drastic traffic slumps on December 24 and December 31, with a veritable mountain of page views between those holidays. Barely fitting on the graph, the record for 2020 was reached on Sunday, December 27, with 61.1 million page views.

📈 Raw data can be found in this spreadsheet: Daily AO3 Traffic in 2020 (Google Sheets)


Site activity in 2020

A chart showing new comments per months as well as traffic per month in 2020.

Image: A line chart depicting how many comments were left and how many page views were recorded for each month of 2020. Comments in black, starting at roughly 2.15 million in January and ending at roughly 3.5 million in December. Traffic in red starting at 1.2 billion page views and ending at 1.7 billion. Both trend upwards, with a common pattern of slight dips in June and September, rising sharply again in December.

As site traffic started increasing in March last year, so did user activity as measured in new works, chapters, bookmarks, comments and kudos created every month. Users posted roughly 2.3 million comments in the month of March, about 150,000 more than in January. In April, that number jumped to 2.9 million.

(Following a similar trend, users hit the kudos button about 17.3 million times in March, compared to 16.9 million in January. In April: 20.4 million.)

📈 Raw data can be found in this spreadsheet: Monthly AO3 Activity in 2020 (Google Sheets)


Traffic over the years

A chart showing weekly traffic year by year. Around 17 million mid-2012, 130 million mid-2016, 270 million in early 2020, and over 400 million by the end of 2020.

Image: A chart showing AO3 traffic growth from mid-2012 to the end of 2020, measured in weekly page views. Each week is a dot, each year a meandering line of dots. Traffic trends upwards every year, with recurring patterns. For example, September tends to be a slow month, with noticeable dips. Most of the lines are relatively close together, representing a steady growth in traffic over the years, with a much wider gap between 2019 and most of 2020. Lowest point: 15.8 million in the last week of June, 2012. Highest point: 419 million in the last week of December, 2020.

Again, 2020 stands out with a big jump in mid-March, when lockdowns were implemented around the world and/or people were starting to self-isolate. Traffic went up from roughly 270 million page views a week in January and February to 330 million by early April, and 340 million by May. At the same time in 2019, traffic was hovering around 230 million page views a week.

Traffic did level out below the 350 million mark until late October, in a pattern more consistent with previous years, and then started increasing again towards the end of the year. The very first week of January, often including the tail end of December, is usually when new record highs are reached.

For comparison, here are the page views (in millions) for the week ending on:

  • Jan 06, 2013: 27.6
  • Jan 05, 2014: 49.5
  • Jan 04, 2015: 84.6
  • Jan 10, 2016: 114
  • Jan 08, 2017: 158
  • Jan 07, 2018: 189
  • Jan 06, 2019: 219
  • Jan 05, 2020: 281
  • Jan 10, 2021: 414

📈 Raw data can be found in this spreadsheet: Weekly AO3 Traffic in 2020 (Google Sheets)


Daily traffic in 2021

A chart showing daily traffic for the first quarter of 2021. Lowest records are around 58 million, highest around 66 million.

Image: A chart of AO3 traffic in millions of page views per day, for January, February and March of 2021. Traffic consistently peaks on Sundays, creating monthly lines with hills and valleys. In January, daily page views ranged between roughly 58 million and 64 million. Traffic in February and March was higher (between 60 and 66 million), and both months followed the same pattern of decreasing traffic from Monday to Friday and a sharp rise on weekends, with almost identical numbers. A new record was reached on Sunday, March 28, with 68.6 million page views.

Site usage remains high in 2021, but has currently stabilized at just under 70 million page views on peak days. While traffic is no longer growing by leaps and bounds, 2021 is still shaping up to be another record-breaking year!

We're grateful to everyone who uses the Archive to share and enjoy fanworks, the donors whose contributions pay for the powerful servers that handle this traffic so smoothly, and all the volunteers who keep the site running. We look forward to what the rest of the year brings!

📈 Raw data can be found in this spreadsheet: Daily AO3 Traffic in Q1 2021 (Google Sheets)


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2021-03-21 21:35:00 UTC

From time to time, we get contacted by students, scholars, and people interested in fandom stats who would like to access information about the fanworks in the AO3 database, such as frequently used tags or growth of a fandom over time. While we're unable to respond to individual requests, today we're pleased to provide a one-time release of data for all of our users.

The data comes in two CSV files.

The first includes information about works:

  1. creation date
  2. language
  3. word count
  4. restricted or not
  5. complete or not
  6. associated tag IDs

The second provides the key to the tag IDs:

  1. tag ID
  2. tag type (e.g. Warning, Fandom, Relationship)
  3. tag name (unless the tag has fewer than 5 uses)
  4. canonical or not
  5. an approximate number of uses
  6. merger ID (i.e. the tag's canonical version, if it has one)

🏷️ Download both CSV files as a zip (417 MB)

We hope to one day be able to provide regular, automatic dumps of this data, but for now, our focus is on other projects. In the meantime, there are a number of tools available to scrape publicly available data, or you're welcome to build your own. (If you're planning to scrape the Archive, we do ask that you include a delay between requests to reduce load on our servers, and avoid scraping on weekends, which are our busiest time. We'd also appreciate it if you could set your scraper's user agent string to include the word "bot.")

If you use this data in one of your projects, we'd love to hear about it! Drop us a line here in the comments or tag us on social media to show us what you've done.


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As pandemic-related social distancing measures and lockdown orders have increased, we've received a lot of questions about whether use of the Archive has been affected. Has traffic gone up as people turn to fanworks for comfort? Are creators posting more works? Are people leaving more comments as they search for a sense of community? From a glance, it looks like the answer to these questions is yes!

The numbers

We've been keeping track of daily page views since the beginning of the year, and have also pulled some numbers from our database about works, chapters, comments, and kudos added every day for the past year. As always, we're watching our weekly traffic numbers and how they compare to the years before.

You can find all available data in this spreadsheet:

📈 AO3 Stats 2020 on Google Sheets

(This file reflects site usage up to April of 2020, and won't be updated going forward. Any interesting new numbers might be shared in future posts.)

Since Google's chart options are limited, feel free to use this data to make your own cool visualizations and share them in the comments!

Daily traffic

A chart showing daily traffic in 2020. Lowest records are around 35 million, highest around 50 million.
Chart: Daily page views for each month, with days of the week lined up to show the consistent traffic pattern. Hills represent the weekends, with a clear Sunday spike, valleys correspond to the middle of the week.

For the most part, our usual traffic pattern of busy Sunday spikes and slower days in the middle of the week has been holding. However, the hills and valleys have smoothed out into gentler waves, since the concept of weekends has become a bit blurry for some of us. There's also a lot more traffic overall.

Unfortunately, we lost a considerable chunk of our user base when the Archive became inaccessible in China around February 29. In the chart, this is reflected by the yellow line running well below the January and February spikes for about two weeks. Traffic increased again in mid-March, when many places in the U.S and elsewhere in the world began implementing social distancing policies (e.g. closing schools and restaurants and cancelling events) and issuing stay-at-home orders.

Table: Daily page views in millions for the six weeks between February 24 and April 5.

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
Feb 24 - Mar 01 39.4 38.3 37.9 38.2 37.0 40.2 42.8
Mar 02 - Mar 08 38.1 38.0 36.4 36.1 35.4 38.6 40.7
Mar 09 - Mar 15 37.9 37.4 37.7 34.9 34.7 38.4 41.5
Mar 16 - Mar 22 38.9 37.7 39.3 39.5 39.1 41.1 43.0
Mar 23 - Mar 29 41.7 41.8 41.6 41.7 41.7 43.7 45.9
Mar 30 - Apr 05 43.9 45.2 46.7 47.1 46.7 49.1 54.1

Comments and kudos

A chart showing increases in daily comments and weekly traffic in the past year. Comments between 60 thousand and 70 thousand for the most part, most recently above 100 thousand. Traffic going from 230 million to 270 million, then jumping to 330 million and up.
Chart: Daily number of comments as well as weekly traffic from May 1, 2019, to May 1, 2020. The comments create a zig-zag line (more comments on the weekends!) which rises sharply in mid-March. The weekly page views are a series of dots following roughly the same trend, but reaching not quite as high at the end.

For our traffic stats, we don't differentiate between users accessing a work, search results, or someone's dashboard, so we can't make any claims as to actual fanwork consumption habits. However, it's probably safe to assume that increased traffic means people are reading, watching, and listening to more fanworks (and, going by the numbers, also posting more of their own)!

Commenting behavior is a little easier to track, as we can count the number of new comments added each day. Interestingly, the sharp increase in comments starting mid-March seems to outpace even the increase in site traffic in the same time: while April traffic was up 24% from February, comments were up a staggering 42%!

Kudos haven't experienced quite the same level of growth as comments, although they have kept pace with traffic, going up 23% compared to February. The database now lovingly houses over 685 million kudos, with plenty of room for more thanks to our recent kudos migration.

Table: Average number of new works, chapters, comments, and kudos added to the Archive every day in 2020, broken down by month.

Average Daily Works Average Daily Chapters Average Daily Comments Average Daily Kudos Average Daily Page Views
January 3,749 10,233 71,278 557,248 39.0 million
February 4,237 11,003 71,016 567,513 38.9 million
March 3,928 11,535 76,621 573,369 39.8 million
April 4,551 13,731 100,916 697,047 48.2 million

Yearly developments

A chart showing weekly traffic year by year. Around 17 million mid-2012, 130 million mid-2016, 270 million in early 2020, and over 335 million in April 2020.
Chart: Archive traffic, as measured in weekly page views, broken down by year starting in 2012. Traffic has consistently increased every year, meaning each new dotted line starts higher than the one from the year before. In 2020, the general pattern of gentle ripples abruptly changes mid-March, as the dots shoot up into the sky.

The Archive has seen consistent growth throughout the years, both in terms of site traffic as well as number of accounts, fandoms, and fanworks. We currently have about 2.5 million registered users and almost 6 million works in over 36,700 fandoms. In the last week of April, we registered 340 million total page views.

Table: Weekly page view numbers (in millions) for the first weeks of January, April, July, and November, for each year from 2012 to 2020.

1st week of Jan 1st week of Apr 1st week of Jul 1st week of Nov
2012 16.7 20.3
2013 27.6 31.5 36.5 41.4
2014 49.5 53.6 62.2 66.0
2015 84.6 87.0 89.2 97.8
2016 119 128 132 128
2017 158 152 164 158
2018 189 180 188 179
2019 219 213 236 233
2020 281 331

Over the years, there have been times when the servers couldn't quite keep up with the increased site usage, and the coders, testers, and sysadmins had to scramble to keep the Archive from falling over. (Sometimes, it fell over for a bit.) While it can still be a challenge to manage a site as big as the Archive on volunteer power alone, knowing that fandom will have our back when it comes to server purchases and contract work makes it a little easier to plan ahead. We've come a long way from the first couple of machines to the 32 servers that currently house all the various parts of the Archive.

Of course, all the hardware wouldn't mean anything without people using the site. It's been heartening to see fandom come together and handle the ongoing worldwide crisis as a virtual community of artists, writers, cheerleaders, readers, listeners, bookmarkers, reccers, and lurkers. We are proud that you have made the Archive your home, and we thank you for all your support over the years. ❤️


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2014-02-15 03:16:59 UTC

In our last post, we talked about trends in posting, commenting, and bookmarking activity, as well as page view numbers in 2013. We now want to look at some geographical stats and browser usage. As before, raw data is available in spreadsheet form:

» AO3 Stats - 2013 (on Google Drive)


More international usage!

Sadly, it requires a bit of work to generate usable chunks of data from our massive server logs, so we only started keeping track of some international stats last year - with the help of our aforementioned server monitoring tool, New Relic. We aim to improve our data this year, and will be able to provide a closer look at trends in international usage farther into 2014.

One metric we can use to compare site usage between different countries is the number of "average sessions" over a period of time. A session starts when someone (i.e. an IP address) opens an Archive page, and ends after five minutes (unless that same IP address keeps browsing the Archive). If several people visit the Archive at the same time, that's a number of "simultaneous sessions", and we can track of how many of these we have, on average, at any given time.

Partial screenshot showing world map interface in New Relic. The US are tinted a dark blue, indicating heaviest site usage. Almost all other countries across the world are a lighter blue. Only a few countries in Africa are white, indicating no data.
Image: World map showing countries with recorded site usage in blue. Screenshot was taken on July 17, 2013.

At the end of July, we stacked up our Top 20 countries by comparing how many average simultaneous sessions we had from each country during the preceding three months.

Country Average Sessions
United States 6,510.00
United Kingdom 1,130.00
Canada 809.00
Australia 556.00
Germany 348.00
France 171.00
Sweden 134.00
Italy 123.00
Russian Federation 98.60
Finland 97.10
Netherlands 93.00
Philippines 92.50
Singapore 86.80
New Zealand 85.80
Brazil 78.20
Poland 77.30
Mexico 70.30
Spain 69.90
Ireland 64.80
Denmark 58.20

On average, roughly 6,500 people from the United States were browsing the Archive at the same time, and roughly 90 people from the Philippines. As our traffic increased during the year, we noted growing numbers for each country as well. All data is available in the 'countries' tab in the AO3 Stats spreadsheet.

We've also noticed a slight uptick in Support tickets in languages other than English. With the help of our Translation volunteers, we've replied to requests in Chinese, Russian, Indonesian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and French last year. You can always find our list of officially available Support languages at the top of our contact form!

One of our next code deploys will include changes to the FAQ system that will make it possible to offer translated versions of our FAQs. We're very excited to roll out this feature, and will post more information about language features on the Archive closer to the deploy date.


More mobile browsing!

Chrome on Windows remains the most popular browser among our users, by a wide margin. However, it's immediately followed by Safari on iPhone, which is in turn followed by a number of other mobile platforms among the usual suspects, Firefox and Internet Explorer. From user feedback (and our own Archive use!) we know that browsing the AO3 on phones or tablets is becoming increasingly popular. (Some numbers can be found in the 'browsers' tab in the AO3 Stats spreadsheet.)

While we do our best to make the Archive accessible and easy on the eyes on smaller screens, we frequently receive requests for a dedicated AO3 app. We've explained why we won't be able to offer iOS and Android apps anytime soon and continue to follow up on the topic in relevant posts on our Tumblr. In short: designing, coding, and maintaining even one app (and providing ongoing tech support for that app) is an incredible time commitment, and we've already got our hands quite full with the Archive website.

We have several improvements to our download feature coming up, and will continue to provide EPUB and MOBI versions of all fanworks on the Archive. Just use an e-reader app (such as iBooks or Aldiko) to organize and access your downloaded files, and you'll always have things to read even when you're offline!


More changes under the hood!

2013 was the year of many "invisible" efforts to keep the Archive stable and easier to maintain going forward. We spent a lot of time getting all our code adjusted for our big Ruby on Rails upgrade, and even more time updating, fixing, and improving our automated tests for use with Travis-CI over the year. All in all, we closed 300 issues in our public bug tracker. Together with our Systems team, we installed new servers and made changes to our server architecture in preparation for bigger and better things in 2014.

Unseen to AO3 users, we spent several weeks reviewing our internal knowledge base (removing nearly half of the 350 wiki pages for being outdated), organizing pertinent documentation and training materials, and making sure all our shared spaces for discussion and collaboration were in order and archived items were easy to find. Yay!


This concludes our look back; more posts about exciting celebrations will follow shortly! Many, many heartfelt thanks to everyone who has left comments of encouragement and support either here or on Tumblr or Twitter. As always, if you have any questions or comments, just let us know!


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2014-01-27 23:38:38 UTC

2013 was another record year for the Archive of Our Own in terms of site growth and traffic increases, and we'd like to highlight some figures in this post (and the following). All raw data used for these charts is available in spreadsheet form, if you want to crunch the numbers or create some graphs yourself.

» AO3 Stats - 2013 (on Google Drive)


More works! More kudos! More everything!

We started the year 2009 with 182 users and a little over 2,000 works, a few of which probably said something like, "dskjdlj test test," or variations thereof. The Archive code was still being written by a small group of volunteers, who created a framework for posting, browsing, and commenting on fannish works entirely from scratch. It was considered stable enough for the general public in November 2009, when we kicked off our Open Beta phase. By January 2010, we had over 4,200 users and 36,500 works.

In 2013, we went from about 103,000 accounts to 247,000, and we passed the quarter-million mark earlier this month. (Excitement!) Roughly 416,000 new works were posted to the Archive last year, which is almost half of all our current works. (And for those reaching for the calculator right now, that's about 1,140 new works per day, on average.)

The really staggering increases, however, happened where users were interacting with each other: leaving kudos, talking in the comments, adding works to their bookmarks and recs.


Month-by-month growth of kudos, bookmarks, comments, works, and users for the year 2013. The high numbers and steeper increases for kudos, bookmarks, and comments dominate the chart, with the lines for works and users seemingly crawling along the bottom. All numbers can be found in the 'works & users' tab in the linked Google Drive spreadsheet.


We went from roughly 2 million comments in our database to almost 5.5 million, and from 10 million kudos to 28 million. (That number is one of the reasons we can't offer a feature that would give you a list of all works you've left kudos on: there's just too much data to make those calculations for each individual user while keeping the servers happy.)

What really took off in 2013 were bookmarks: 1.8 million at the beginning of 2013, almost 7 million by the end.

As it turned out, our search index code was not prepared for this amount of data at this level of user activity, and slowly broke down towards the end of last year. We are currently rewriting the relevant part of our code, making use of new tools at our disposal, for a more streamlined indexing process.

To better illustrate trends in all these numbers, here's a chart showing relative bookmark, kudos, comment, user, and work growth in 2013. (Increases are shown in percent: for example, going from 50 works to 100 would be a 100% increase, and going from 100 comments to 150 would be a 50% increase.)


Month-by-month relative growth of bookmarks, kudos, comments, works, and users for the year 2013 (in percent, starting on January 1, 2013). Bookmarks show the steepest increase (277%), users the lowest (77%). Kudos and comments show an almost identical growth, even though they differ in absolute numbers. All numbers can be found in the 'works & users' tab in the linked Google Drive spreadsheet.


Over the last twelve months, kudos and comment numbers almost doubled (both increasing by roughly 190 percent), while the number of bookmarks almost tripled (280% percent increase).

One last stat we looked at were average feedback numbers per work, given the total number of works.


Month-by-month growth in the average number of kudos/comments/bookmarks per work. The numbers were calculated for every month, based on data in the 'works & users' tab in the linked Google Drive spreadsheet.


As you can see, these numbers also went up over the year. We started out with 3.6 comments, 3.4 bookmarks, and 18 kudos per work, on average. This was followed by a relatively slow increase in works, and a much steeper increase in feedback numbers. By the end of 2013, we registered 5.8 comments, 7.3 bookmarks, and 30 kudos per work. (Of course, all these are averages across almost a million works, so a relative handful of very widely-read works in popular fandoms will drive up the numbers by quite a bit.)


More traffic!

One way to measure site activity is by looking at works and comments, another is through reports from our server monitoring tool, New Relic. Among many other things, it keeps track of how many pages were generated and served to our users at any given time.

We started the last year with 27.6 million page views in the first week of January 2013, which comes out to roughly 3.9 million page views a day, or 2,700 page views a minute. That's on average, of course. Sundays will be much busier than any weekday, and there are peak times and slower periods throughout the day.

In the first week of January 2014, we counted 49.5 million page views. At this rate, a Sunday with 7 million page views isn't a rarity anymore. That's an average of 4,800 pages served to users every minute.

The following graph shows this increase in page views, focusing on 2013 specifically: The first week of January represents our zero point, and the growth is charted from there.


Increase in weekly page views during 2013, starting at the first week of January 2013, and ending at the first week of January 2014. Every Monday-Sunday period is represented by a dot, and the dots gently meander upwards, with a steeper increase towards the end of the year. Numbers are available in the linked Google Drive spreadsheet.


The pattern we witnessed in 2012/2013 - increased traffic in December, with a considerable peak in the first week of January, followed by a brief lull - also held in 2013/2014.

Even though we're only hosting text-based works right now, this much site usage still generates a fair amount of traffic to and from the database. By the end of 2013, we were moving 10 Terabytes of data every month.

As mentioned before, all these numbers (and more!) are available in spreadsheet form:

» AO3 Stats - 2013 (on Google Drive)


This concludes our first post! The next one will follow at the beginning of February and include looks at international site usage (spoiler: we are everywhere!) and browser preferences (spoiler: a lot of people browse from phones and tablets). If you have any questions or have created any additional charts, let us know!


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2013-08-28 15:46:35 UTC

At the start of 2013 we posted about the AO3's growth in 2012. Those numbers showed new milestones in total works, total fandoms, total collections, total Support tickets answered, and total account users.

At the time we said, "While we still have a large body of users awaiting accounts, currently around 10,000, this is down significantly from the 30,000+ that we saw through the latter half of 2012, and we hope to decrease the wait further in 2013. It seems likely that Archive use will continue growing strongly this year, possibly even repeating 2012's feat of more than doubling its user base."

And it has! As of yesterday the Archive passed 200,000 users. By March the wait for an account dropped to 24-48 hours and we've been averaging about 500 new users a day.

For those who are feeling nostalgic, you may want to take a look back at a post recapping the AO3's first year in open beta.

When we entered Open Beta on 15 November 2009 we had:

  • 347 users
  • 668 fandoms
  • 6565 works

The site went through a 3000% increase in users that first year and an equally phenomenal jump in content. Yet today we gain more users each day than we started with in 2009.

Visitors from Everywhere!

While account holder statistics are good to know, there are many more people using AO3 than currently have accounts. Whether this is because they're random visitors, casual users, or don't find the benefits of an account appealing, we still have some clues that they're stopping by. For example, in the month of July the AO3 served pages to 3,663,572 unique IP addresses. So even if everyone with an account was using 5 different locations to access us, that's an awful lot of non-account visitors!

Another clue comes from the amount of bandwidth we're using. From just over 5 terabytes served in January we used 7.9 in July. If that pace keeps up we'll have doubled our use this year.

We've also been able to see the many countries that people are clicking in from. We've counted over 60 countries with simultaneous user activity over the past several months (including Denmark, Kenya, Jordan, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Uruguay, just to name a few at random), and many more with at least a handful of visitors this year.

Technology Old and New

We also took note of browser usage among our users and have shown the top 20 in the graph below. In the month of July this ranged from 43.5 pages per minute being served to a Windows IE 8 browser to 533 per minute being served to Windows Chrome 28.

Pie chart of browsers that accessed AO3 in July 2013

Users Doing Stuff!

Here's a quick look at the growth in certain actions on the site.

The number of users we've watched grow over the years is dwarfed by the much larger amount of commenting and bookmarking activity. In the chart below the red line below barely seems to increase compared to the growth in commenting activity this year (green line).

Graph showing growth in comments vs. user accounts

Because the scale of growth is so different for these two actions we can also look at actual numbers taken from the graph below. Comment growth has been somewhat less than that of bookmarking (yellow line). In July there were 299,849 comments left and 438,746 bookmarks added. But both are far less than the growth of kudos (orange line) which is often used by people who don't have accounts or aren't logged in. There were 1,544,028 kudos given in July 2013 alone.

Graph showing growth in comments vs. bookmarks vs. kudos

We welcome all our new users, whether they use an account or not, and hope that they enjoy their time on the site! If you're hesitant to get an account because of long wait times, don't forget that our automated invites should arrive within two days of your request. If you don't see it, please check your spam folder and make sure that is whitelisted.


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2013-01-01 18:55:44 UTC

Happy New Year everyone! The OTW is looking forward to new developments this term and one thing we want to celebrate are some milestones that have been passed at the Archive of Our Own in the last few weeks.

Back in 2010, we wrote a post heralding our first major milestone when we reached 100,000 works less than a year into our beta. (We should point out that another OTW project, Fanlore, also hit the 100,000 edit mark that same year!)

As of November 25 we passed 500,000 works archived at AO3. We passed the 10,000 fandoms mark a week later, and on December 17, our Support team answered the AO3's 10,000th support ticket! Then by December 25 we passed the 100,000th user account. As many users discovered in June, the AO3 invite system was put in place to avoid having the site crash during a surge in enrollment. This practice paid off in 2012 when a large number of users migrated to the site in May and began adding works. During the following months new code was written for the site, primarily to redesign the way filters functioned, and new servers have been added. The site remained stable despite continued high demand for accounts, so the invite queue kept being increased every few months to get new users into the site more quickly. As of December 18 we also restored account users' ability to request invitations.

While we still have a large body of users awaiting accounts, currently around 10,000, this is down significantly from the 30,000+ that we saw through the latter half of 2012, and we hope to decrease the wait further in 2013. It seems likely that Archive use will continue growing strongly this year, possibly even repeating 2012's feat of more than doubling its user base.

Engagement With the AO3

As the following graph shows, there has been a distinct jump in various activities on the AO3 during the past eighteen months. User growth appears almost steady compared to reader activity, which can be seen clearly in the increase of bookmarking, commenting, and subscriptions.

However as this second graph shows, all of these numbers are eclipsed by the enormous jump in kudos activity. While the early years of the AO3 saw use primarily as a storage site for authors' writing history, current use is clearly favoring active searching, reccing and participation from readers.

Growth of the Site

While the Archive had to discontinue unique visitor counts in the spring due to the load on the site, we are averaging 80 million page views per month. Another way to look at the growth of the site is with the following statistics, comparing items from AO3's launch in September 2008 to September 2012.

  • Comments per Work 2008: .0075
  • Comments per Work 2012: 6.44
  • Bookmarks per Work 2008: .0382
  • Bookmarks per Work 2012: 7.17

Collections weren’t added until 2009. Their creation statistics are as follows:

2009: 93 new collections
2010: 478 new collections
2011: 771 new collections
2012: 1300 new collections

There are now over 1400 top level collections. Many of these have subcollections for yearly challenges/events, giving us over 2600 collections in total. Yuletide, for example, has 10 subcollections, but only the main Yuletide collection appears in that top-level listing.

We're looking forward to seeing what fan creators and AO3 users bring to the archive in 2013 and we'll keep working to improve your experience on the site!


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2012-12-14 18:57:17 UTC

The following is a post created by a member of the Tag Wrangling Committee to address some ongoing questions and discussions involving freeform tags on the Archive of Our Own.


Let's talk about those Additional Tags.

More specifically, let's talk about the long-form descriptive tags that are frequently being placed in the Additional Tags field. I want to get some facts on the table so our users - both consumers and creators - can have this important discussion properly. Any numbers cited are as of 0100UTC, 27 Oct 2012.

Full disclosure: Hi, I'm Sam J. I am a Wrangling staffer, a Wrangling volunteer, a Support staffer, and an Archive user. I have four horses in this race and, frankly, they're running in at least two different directions, leaving me with a varying opinion of these tags depending on when you ask me.

  • At last count, there were around 160 Tag Wrangling Volunteers. There are 10,232 Fandoms on the Archive. Of those, roughly 5,300 do not have a wrangler listed, so they are not tightly monitored. Many of these unwatched fandoms are occasionally wrangled by volunteer teams, or are metatags containing fandoms that are tightly wrangled.
  • As per the precedent established in the AO3 Terms of Service, we consider the tags on a work to be part of the content of that work. As such, the Tag Wranglers do not—and cannot—change, add, or remove tags from a creator's work. Any such changes to tags have to be initiated by Abuse, who only act in cases of tags that are against policy and are handled according to their protocols and the Terms of Service.
  • In recent months, the Archive's seen an overall increase in the number of Additional Tags on works. From last October to November, the number of Additional Tags on the Archive increased by 2,535, while the number of total works increased by 7,046. From this September to this October, that number has increased by 12,920 while the number of total works has increased by 22,936. Neither increase is linear - the works-per-month growth has been roughly stable since April, and the Additional Tag growth has been consistent, plus or minus 10%, since July.
  • The rate of growth for canonical Additionals over the last year has remained fairly consistent, gaining a average of 220 a month. (Four months were aberrations: March increased by 388; May, 296; March, 288; and September, 147.)
  • The Additional Tags were not responsible for the Death of the Filters. The sheer number of works on the Archive are what stressed the old code, and the sudden spike in readers/viewers starting in May pushed it past its capacity to fulfill requests. Because the filters pulled and displayed the canonical forms of tags, there were often far fewer Additional Tags listed than in the actual search results.
  • Non-canonical tags with only a few uses put almost no strain on the servers. It's the popular canonical tags and metatags that put the most strain on the servers.
  • Additional Tags are not distributed evenly throughout the fandoms—the massive increases in Additional Tags are concentrated in a limited number of fandoms. Even fandoms of similar sizes can have wildly divergent Tags/Works ratios. Drawing from random fandoms:
    Fandom Tag Works using Fandom Tag All Additional Tags* Additional Tags per 1000 Works Canonical Additional Tags Canonical Additional Tags per 1000 Works
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer 10847 692 63.80 184 16.96
    Cats - Andrew Lloyd Webber 37 4 108.11 0 0
    Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling 19422 2391 123.11 344 17.71
    Hockey RPF 1381 179 129.62 82 59.38
    Homestuck 9990 2475 247.75 97 9.71
    Inception (2010) 3796 300 79.03 19 5.01
    Marvel Avengers Movies Universe 16442 3164 192.42 166 10.10
    Naruto 3167 281 88.73 19 6.00
    Sanctuary (TV) 1359 117 86.16 53 39.03
    Sherlock (TV) 18300 3981 217.54 60 3.28
    Xena: Warrior Princess 293 16 54.61 4 13.65
    *NB: These numbers do not include Additional Tags already wrangled into "No Fandom", as the system does not have a way to generate those numbers. However, the number of "No Fandom" tags tends to be proportional to the fandom-specific Additional Tags.
  • When users create new tags (be they Fandom, Character, Relationship, or Additional/Freeform), they automatically:
    • will not show up on that fandom's Show Tag page;
    • will not show in the Filter sidebar of Works pages (exception: your personal bookmark tags will show in your personal bookmarks filter), though they can be filtered on, to an extent;
    • will not show up in auto-complete fields.
    A wrangler has to manually add Fandom links (or toss the tag into No Fandom) by typing in the Fandom name(s), and/or mark it as Canonical (allows the tag to appear in the auto-complete and be filterable by anyone) via a checkbox. The Wrangling interface does allow for mass-wrangling tags into a fandom and mass-marking them as canonical. The guidelines for Additional Tags are very selective as to what should or should not be marked as canonical.
  • Users can search for works using unwrangled Additional Tags by either clicking on the tag where it appears or by using the Works Search. (The Works Search uses a string search for the text of the tag, in addition to searching via wrangled tags.)
  • Logged-in users have the options of a few skins that affect how Additional Tags display in search lists. This skin shortens the Additional Tags to around 15 characters. This one puts all tag fields over a certain length into a scrollbox so they take up less room on the works pages, and this one hides the appearance of Additional Tags in search lists completely. If you do not yet have an AO3 account, the CSS listed in these skins can also be used in third-party site scripting tools, such as Stylish. Additionally, a logged-in user has the option to go to their Preferences and activate "Hide additional tags". This turns the entire content of the "Additional Tags" field to a "Show Additional Tags" link. Currently, both of these options are primarily available to logged-in users and do not apply to email subscriptions or tag ATOM Feeds.
  • Wranglers and Coders alike have been considering ways to additionally mark these tags in the front-end code, so that via a site skin, a third-party plugin, or another method, a user can have more fine-grained control over tag viewing when browsing. (Any coding solution will, almost by definition, require more data pulled from the servers, so there's a lot of evaluation before we push any buttons.)
  • The wrangling interface does need some improvements. (Depending on who you ask, a lot of improvements.) We are working on them, but our coders' time is a limited resource. As well, we have wranglers on as many browser and OS combinations as our users in general, so it takes significant testing to make sure the interface doesn't degrade for anyone, which is time-consuming.

There will be a second post tomorrow stating the Tag Wrangling Staff's official point of view on the sustainability of the current Wrangling system. If there's something you have a particular question about, leave a comment and we'll try to get an answer for you!


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