6 Million Fanworks

The Archive of Our Own Hits Six Million Posted Works!

As you may already know, we’ve been busy here at the OTW over the last few months: usage of AO3 has risen significantly since much of the world went into lockdown (you can learn more about it in this stats post). With that in mind, it’s not surprising that we’ve hit our next major milestone. Yes, that’s right! We now host six million fanworks on the Archive of Our Own!

The AO3 launched in November 2009. It took 54 months – or four and a half years – before we reached the first million fanworks, in February 2014. The gaps between the milestones have been decreasing ever since; we hit two million in December 2015 (22 months), three million in April 2017 (16 months), four million in July 2018 (15 months), and five million in July 2019 (12 months). And now here we are just 10 months after that, celebrating our six millionth fanwork. Any bets on when we’ll reach seven million?!

Six million is a huge number – so big that it’s hard to conceptualise. But every individual fanwork is the product of somebody’s time, thought, and imagination. We’re so grateful to all of you, the fan creators and fanworks consumers who continue to make the Archive such a lively, enjoyable community. And if you’d like to celebrate by recommending one (or six!) of your favourite fanworks in the comments, we’d love to hear about them!

OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Siyang Wei

From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

Siyang Wei is a Chinese communist, a lesbian, and currently an MPhil student in Political and Economic Sociology at the University of Cambridge. They are especially interested in how ideological horizons shape discourses of identity and community, and hope one day to finish their Cambridge Latin Course fanfiction epic. Today, Siyang talks about fandom as a consumer identity.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

I’m not really sure how I ‘first’ found out, mainly because I was pretty young. I also think there are a lot of things that could be understood as fandom or fanworks that you wouldn’t necessarily assume to be relevant on the face of it. I had a Tumblr account by the time I was 11 or 12, which is definitely where I started to gain awareness of fandom as an actual distinct thing or culture, but before that I had a LiveJournal account which I mainly used to dump on Twilight (I wasn’t very good at LJ either, but I’ll blame those both on being 11). Even before that, my sister and I used to do these extensive role-plays as various real-life celebrities, and I distinctly recall at one point finding an S Club Juniors fanfiction to crib ideas from. Does role-playing in itself count as a fan activity?

So when I really started getting into it was probably around 2010 or 2011, because I distinctly remember a few things that were going on at the time. I was an avid fan of the “Mark Reads” blog (where this guy called Mark wrote chapter-by-chapter reviews of his first time reading things like Twilight and Harry Potter). That was quite a structured fan space anchored around the blog posts, but there was also an interesting dimension of the fan objects being both the reviewed works and the “Mark Reads” blog itself. I might have gotten into that from my Twilight anti-fandom as well; dark times.

Similarly with some of the Youtubers I started watching (you know who they are). And on Tumblr, this was around the peak of Doctor Who/Sherlock fandom, and I was really into BBC Merlin as well. So I followed some people, and it kind of spiraled from there, and I ended up moving from fandom to fandom for a lot of things I hadn’t known about before, purely because I was loyal to certain users who started making posts about different things. Inception, Star Trek reboot, One Direction, ice hockey, Bandom, you name it –- if it blew up, I was probably there.

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