Archive of Our Own

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Name: Archive of Our Own
Date(s): 2008-
Founder: OTW
Type: Fanworks Archive, currently only fanfic
Fandom: Multifandom
URL:, AO3_Status, ao3org
Archive of Our Own Logo
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The Archive of Our Own aka AO3 is a multi-fandom archive owned and operated by the Organization for Transformative Works. It is currently designed to host text-based fanfiction as well as fandom nonfiction and allows embedding (but not yet hosting) for vids, fanart and podfic. It permits chan, RPF, and other controversial content. The archive's interface is planned to be translated into languages other than English in order to make it more accessible to an international userbase. [1] It requires that DMCA takedown notices be signed in order to be acted upon. [2]

Many OTW Committees are responsible for aspects of AO3:

  • Accessibility, Design & Technology (AD&T) and their three subcommittees of Design, Coders, and Testers train AD&T volunteers, design and develop software features, and write and test the code for new features and bug fixes.
  • Systems maintains the servers and infrastructure AO3 runs on.
  • Support answers user help requests, bug reports and feedback submitted via the form on AO3 and forwards abuse reports to the Abuse Committee.
  • Tag Wrangling organises and maintains the AO3 user-created tags for Fandoms, Characters, Relationships and Additional (freeform) categories.
  • Content Policy is responsible for site content policy and TOS updates in conjunction with Legal.
  • Translation works to translate news posts and work on the new site translations feature in conjunction with ADT.
  • Internationalization and Outreach works to improve support and visibility for international and underrepresented fandoms on the archive.
  • Open Doors helps maintainers of other archives to import their content to AO3.
  • Vidding works on integrating vids into AO3.
  • Communications coordinates newsletters and blog posts on the OTW site and mirrors.
  • Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) recruits and looks after volunteers and manages the internal wiki and access to various tools.
  • Development and Membership and Finance fundraise and pay for AO3 hosting and servers.
  • The Board of Directors oversees the Committees. [3]


front page in September 2013
  • First proposed by Astolat on 17 May 2007. [4]
  • A Livejournal community fanarchive was created on 20 May 2007 to coordinate discussion and planning for the creation of the archive. [5] [6]
  • domain name registered 30 May 2007 by Rebecca Tushnet. [7]
  • Call for Ruby on Rails tutorial writers on 1 November 2007 [8]
  • Call for Ruby on Rails Coders on 8 January 2008. [9]
  • Archive opened for closed beta, in which members of the public were welcome to view and comment, but account creation was limited to Organization for Transformative Works staff and testers on 3 October 2008. [10]
  • Archive entered open beta on 14 November 2009. Users are able to get accounts either via a first-come, first-served invitation queue, or via invitation codes distributed to those who helped with closed beta testing. The speed of new account creation depends on the servers' ability to handle increased load.[11]
  • Yuletide 2009 opened on the AO3 on 18 December 2009. All Yuletide participants were given an invitation. [12] [13] On 24 December 2009, the AO3 had 4648 fandoms, 33,810 works and 4127 users.
  • Kudos added circa December 2010.
  • New servers added in February 2011 [14]
  • Subscriptions to authors added in March 2011
  • Database performance issues recurred in September 2011, with administrators blaming them on greatly increased use.[15] As of 5 October 2011, the archive has 7385 fandoms, 228,489 works and 22,974 users.
  • As of 31 December 2011, the archive had approximately 8100 fandoms, 275,000 works and 31,000 users.[16]
  • Database performance issues recurred in May 2012[17] when the site reached 1.4 million unique visitors a month,[18] coinciding with's 2012 M-rated Purge.[19][20] The archive began to cache works and stats pages as an immediate measure to decrease server load,[21][22] and then temporarily suspended tag filtering for the same reason,[23] reinstating them with improvements in November.[24]
  • As of 15 July 2012, the archive had 56,203 registered users[25]. As of October 2012, there were 459,655 works and approximately 23,000 fandoms.[26]
  • As of 16 July 2013, the Archive had 763,326 works in 12,448 "canonical" fandoms, and over 183,000 registered users.[27]
  • The one millionth work was posted on 15 February 2014.[28]

Notable features

  • Collections and subcollections can be stored on the Archive - Yuletide is there, as well as several other big challenges, and more are gradually moving as new features are introduced.
  • The tag system and tag wrangler team. (even inspired fanfic, see also Wrangulator)
  • Built-in bookmarking, with the ability to add reader tags, label a bookmark as a rec, and no limit on the number of bookmarks or recs.
  • The ability to lock a fanwork to registered Archive users only, instead of posting it publicly.
  • Options to view either chapter-by-chapter or the whole work at once.
  • Separate fanworks can be linked as a series.
  • An easy way for creators to orphan works (disassociate their name from a work), providing a reader-friendly alternative to completely deleting fanworks.
  • A clear, minimal and enforceable warnings policy, along with the ability to add extra warnings as additional tags.
  • One-click download of stories in a variety of formats: PDF, HTML, ePub, and Mobi.
  • The "Kudos" button, a fast, simple, possibly threshold-lowering way for readers to express appreciation for a work.


The Archive has an innovative system for managing fandoms and other tags that allows uploaders to enter all manner of freeform tags while "tag wranglers" organize and link them so that readers can browse or search. zvi wrote a noteworthy post explaining it. [29]

The AO3 tagging system (and the related search and filtering problems) have not been all joy for all users. See AO3 Tagging Policy Debate for more information on criticism and discussion of AO3's tagging system.


Tags have always been a part of Tag Wrangler RPF, but they became their own separate fandom on AO3 in late 2012.

In October 2012, Isabear wrote Avengers Assemble, a found poem using AO3 tags from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The idea quickly spread, and someone nominated AO3 Tags as a fandom for Yuletide 2012. Two works were written for that challenge: The Bar at the End of the Fandom by Firstlighteos for Misslucyjane, which anthropomorphizes several freeform tags, and Somebody had to write this (so why not me?) by Who_la_hoop for Dizmo, which is a found poem centered around various tag themes.

In 2013, a number of tag wranglers got into the action with art, stories, and meta about tags, sometimes intersecting with works about wranglers. In addition, an upsurge in positive interest in freeform tags on Tumblr and Dreamwidth resulted in several posts linking, screencapping, or transforming tags, such as Melannen's Alot of Tags fanart of Hyperbole and a Half in June, and Thingswithwings's dramatic podcast reading of the landing page for the Feels tag in early August.

Fanwork Statistics

In August 2013, the percentage of fanworks by relationship category on the AO3 was: 50% M/M, 26% Gen, 22% F/M, 5% F/F, 4% Multi, 2% Other.[30] See more AO3 statistics from destinationtoast [1][2] and centrumlumina.

In October 2014, the overwhelming majority of works posted on AO3 was fanfiction, with the percentages for other work types being: 0.25% fanvids, 0.71% fanart, 0.17% meta (meta nonfiction and fanfiction), and 0.55% podfic.

Fans doing statistical analysis of fanworks frequently use AO3 data.


Other Resources


  1. 2013 Roadmap under Version 0.10 section
  2. Terms Of Service accessed 20 October 2008
  3. OTW list of Committees
  4. An Archive Of One's Own, livejournal post, accessed 20 October 2008
  5. otw_news Community Profile accessed 20 October 2008
  6. First call for volunteers, Livejournal Post, accessed 20 October 2008
  7. whois look up 20 October 2008
  8. Volunteer Search: Tutorial Makers , accessed 20 October 2008
  9. Volunteer Search: Volunteer Ruby Coder, accessed 20 October 2008
  10. A first look at the Archive Of Our Own!, Naomi Novik, blog post, accessed 20 October 2008
  11. Announcing Open Beta!, blog post, accessed 13 November 2009
  12. Release Notes for Release 0.7.2, AO3 news post, accessed 24 December 2009
  13. Yuletide treasure on the AO3!, blog post, accessed 24 December 2009
  14. Impending Archive downtime: new server installation, AO3 news post, accessed 5 February 2011
  15. AO3 news: Site performance issues (AO3, why the sad face?) (29 September 2011) (accessed 5 October 2011)
  16. 2011 Year in Review! (31 December 2011) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  17. AO3 performance issues (01 June 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  18. My, how we've grown! A few AO3 stats (16 July 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  19. Update on AO3 performance issues (11 June 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  20. From to AO3 - some frequently asked questions (21 June 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  21. Release Notes 0.8.17 (9 June 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  22. AO3 performance and growth: some details (15 July 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  23. Disabling filters: information and search tips (12 June 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  24. Release 0.9.2: The Return of the Filters (8 November 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  25. AO3 accounts and invitations (15 July 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  26. Count ALL the tags! (17 October 2012) (accessed 28 November 2012)
  27. taken from front page (accessed 16 July 2013)
  28. AO3 Reaches 1 Million Fanworks (15 February 2014)
  29. Tags (Wuzzles) explained, AO3 news post, accessed 24 December 2009
  30. centrumlumina. Stage 7: Panfandom Overview, posted to Tumblr on 17 August 2013. (Accessed 11 May 2014)
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