Archive of Our Own: What is AO3
By Yvonne
2022-11-17

The Archive of Our Own, most popularly known as AO3, is an open-source and free archive for user-contributed fanfiction and other types of fanwork. The website was first introduced by the Organization for Transformative Works in 2008, and a public beta test was conducted the following year.

Since October 25th, 2022, 10,000,000 works from more than 53,000 different fandoms have been hosted on Archive of Our Own. The majority of the site's curation, organization, and design were carried out by fanfiction authors and readers, and all three components have received positive reviews.

AO3

The substance included in AO3

The organization does not impose restrictions on the kinds of work that can be given to the archive since it upholds a policy of "maximum inclusiveness" and employs minimal content control. Due to this openness, inappropriate content has been hosted, including, among other things, works that depict rape, incest, and pedophilia. Only 1,150 of the stories published to the Archive were flagged by users as being "offensive," according to Matty Bowers, chair of the AO3 Policy and Abuse Committee.

The Open Doors project, started by the Organization for Transformative Works in 2012, imports stories from older and closed fic archives to Archive of Our Own with the goal of preserving fandom history, according to Stacey Lantagne, a volunteer for the OTW Legal Committee. "The OTW's mission is to advocate on behalf of transformative works, not just the ones we like," she said.

Additionally, the website accepts submissions of wholly unique, non-fanfiction content, and as of 25 October 2022, it was hosting over 185,000 of these unique works.

One million fanworks—which include stories, artwork, and audio and video recordings of podcast fics, often known as podfics—were produced on AO3 in February 2014. On the website at the time, there were 14,353 fandoms represented, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Supernatural, Sherlock, and Harry Potter being the most well-known.

A total of 2 million people had registered on the website as of July 2019, and those users had uploaded 5 million works.

71 of the top 100 character pairs discussed in fan fiction on the website in 2014 were male/male slash fiction, while the majority of character pairings in that year were white characters.

In 2016, more than 14% of the fan fiction hosted on the website was set in an alternate universe, or AU (which is sometimes reduced to AU). Characters from one canon are put in another in an alternate universe.

A narrative's level of popularity on Archive of Our Own often correlates with how long it is. The average number of views for tales under 1,000 words was frequently less than 150, as opposed to closer to 1,500 for pieces that were closer to the length of a novel.

AO3's characteristics

The core hosting website The Archive of Our Own, popularly known as AO3, is non-profit and non-commercial. The majority of the fanworks it hosts are transformational, such as fan literature, fan art, fan videos, and podfic.

The Archive is a site where fannish creation can profit from the OTW's advocacy in arguing for the legitimacy and social value of fannish production. It is a platform that has been wholly created and controlled by fans.

The Archive entered open beta testing in November 2009, and by February 2014, it had amassed one million user-submitted pieces. In July 2018, there were 4 million fanworks available for viewing on the Archive. It has more than 1.5 million registered users as of the year 2019 and features fanworks from more than 30,000 various fandoms.

The Archive was entirely designed and built by fans who offered their time. Many of our volunteers were able to advance their coding, design, and documentation abilities as a result of taking part in the project. The open-source applications used by The Archive are currently hosted on GitHub. The only source of revenue for the Archive's server infrastructure is contributions to the OTW. Users are not compelled to pay, and there are no advertisements on the website.

Some of the Archive's more noticeable traits include the following:

  • Fanworks can be downloaded in a variety of formats with a single click (ePub, HTML, Mobi, PDF)
  • Authors of fan works can create and utilize their own tags using a freeform labeling system, allowing for easier categorization.
  • systems for praising, discussing, and bookmarking
  • Users have the choice to watch fanworks in their entirety or chapter by chapter, and they can also link multiple fanworks together to form a series.
  • hosting of competitions and fanwork collections
  • importation of fanart that has already been published elsewhere