Archive of our Own vs. FanLib: Why they are not succeeding

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Title: Archive of our Own vs. FanLib: Why they are not succeeding
Creator: Laura Hale
Date(s): June 29, 2009
Medium: online
Topic: fiction archives
External Links: here, Archived version
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Archive of our Own vs. FanLib: Why they are not succeeding is an article by Laura Hale.

It was posted to Fan History Wiki's blog on June 29, 2009, and aside from the title, does not mention Archive of Our Own, simply referring to it as "this group," "people," and "they."

It includes the number of fanfics posted to Archive of Our Own as of June 29, 2009 as compared to the number posted to FanLib as proof of AO3's failure. Note that AO3 did not enter open beta until November 2009.

FanLib itself had folded by August 2008.


I love statistics. I love analytics. I love analyzing fandom based on those numbers. The numbers can provide a framework for telling a story. In the case of this set of numbers, a group was created back in May 2007 to try to bring greater fan control over certain parts of fandom in response to what they saw as the commercialism of fandom. The specific commercialism of fandom in this case was FanLib. There were people who hoped and believed that their new archive could end up being bigger than FanFiction.Net. It hasn’t materialized and compared to what this group was fighting, they didn’t even measure up to FanLib in terms of the number of stories that FanLib had before it closed. (Comparing their archive to FanLib seems apt. Their supporters were comparing FanLib to FanFiction.Net.) Let’s take a look at the numbers and how they stacked up…

Why didn’t they take off? There are probably a lot of reasons. The biggest is probably because the group that founded this archive were never FanFiction.Net type users to begin with. (Thus, FanLib was never intended for them.) Switching from blogging software to archiving software was probably a cultural struggle that they weren’t motivated to do because the new archive didn’t have readers and would have distanced them from existing power structures in fandom that they value. (FanFiction.Net certainly has a power structure, popular people, ways to propell [sic] your status on the site and in fandom. It just is probably less obvious to outsiders.) At the same time, the creators failed to market the site. There was no massive outreach to FanFiction.Net users, to former FanLibbers, to Quizilla users, to LiveJournal users, to AdultFanFiction.Net users. (And when they do market it, it looks like they are trying to use wank to generate traffic. Just look at their warnings we has! [sic] announcement on metafandom.) As a result, their major pool of authors was severely limited. The last reason why it looks like they fail to succeed as much as FanLib is they don’t appear to believe in their own product. People aren’t doing fake LJ cuts to it. They aren’t delicious bookmarking it on any scale. They just don’t appear to want to make the time commitment to make it THE next FanFiction.Net.