Kudos

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See also: Feedback, Critique, letters of comments
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The kudos button on AO3 is a form of feedback that allows fans to give a "thumbs up" to a fanwork without having to leave a comment.

Kudos.png

Kudos probably had origins in the "Like" feature on Facebook. It was introduced to the archive on December 15, 2010, and an admin reported four months later that archive users had already hit the kudos button 200,000 times.[1] Before the kudos feature was introduced, the only AO3 feature for authors and readers to talk to each other was the comments section on individual fanwork pages. (The AO3 comment function is roughly equivalent to Fanfiction.net's story reviews, but is more visually similar to LiveJournal comments.) Many other social media platforms offer similar functions. For example, on tumblr fans can show their appreciation by clicking on the "Like" button.

Some fans like this feature as it allows them to give the fanwork creator a compliment without having to put a lot of time or effort into their response. Some fans are not as enamored of the kudos feature as they feel it takes away the chance for conversation and discourse.

In 2014, arsenicjade attempted to locate sources of the pro and anti-kudos debate. The essay can be read in its entirety here.

As of 8 June 2014, the fanwork with the most kudos on the AO3 was DILF by twentysomething, with 11777 kudos.[2] However, by 29 August 2014, it had been dethroned by I Am Groot, with 12867 kudos.[3][4] As of 2017, I Am Groot is still in the lead, with over 50 thousand kudos.[5]

Pros

[Note: points and examples welcomed]

  • Kudos are technological friendly (ex: some users of mobile devices have limited ability to type)[6]
  • Kudos enable those who cannot comment in English to communicate their appreciation for the fanfiction
  • Kudos enable those who have physical impairments to communicate their appreciation for the fanfiction
  • Kudos enable those who have anxiety issues over direct interaction with other fans to communicate their appreciation for the fanfiction[7]

Cons

[Note: additional arguments welcomed]

arsenicjade explains why some fans object to kudos and want to be able to "opt-out" of the feature at AO3:
"We are saying that the mechanism of kudos triggers anxiety, isolation, depression and other problems, and it feels like a punishment that we have to take for writing something because everyone else is more important than we are."[8]
Others have pointed out that authors do have tools to manage kudos. For example, on AO3, authors can turn off notifications so they will not be notified when someone leaves a kudos or a comment. In addition, shortly after arsenicjade's post astolat designed a "skin" that fans could install on Ao3 that would hide the number of kuodos they had received.[9]arsenicjade clarified that while this is helpful, it is not a complete solution:
"....To be clear: I am DEEPLY glad I can turn off the notifications of kudos. It is a LIFESAVER for me. If I could AT LEAST take the kudos counter off the top of my works? That would also be a half-way point. It wouldn’t be what I want, but I’d take it."[10]
Others agree and have pointed out that disabling kudos is very much like being able to disable comments on blogs, a tool many authors have used in the past to limit interactions with their readers:
"I really need the sense of connectedness and communication that I get from fandom and from interacting around my stories. It makes me feel bad and very anxious when I’m getting a whole bunch of one-sided communication which feels like a wall. It feels like being alone. It’s really, really not fun, and I don’t understand why my anxiety, my pain is less important than the people who are reading my stories and want to feel like they commented when they didn’t. I put in the work to write the story, I should be able to say that I don’t want the "feedback" I get to be in a format that causes me distress. Again, I’m not demanding feedback, or more feedback or whatever. I’m very grateful for what I get. Though this isn’t an option I would use, I think that authors should also be able to disable commenting on their stories if they want—some people do it on LJ and I understand that it’s because it makes them anxious to have people commenting on their stories. Why does *their* anxiety not count?""[11]

FFA Wank

Much wank and discussion of the kudos feature has occurred on Fail Fandomanon. One iteration of wank that occurred in February 2013 was documented on FFA's wiki and resulted in the posting and subsequent deleting of the infamous "Free Food Restaurant" meta/rant (the podfic is still available). The author compared posting fic to opening a free food restaurant and leaving comments to customers expressing appreciation in lieu of paying. The community reopened discussion of the topic of kudos following arsenicjades July 4, 2014 post.[12]

Kudos is Not Enough: Wishing They Could Say More

References

  1. Commenting and kudos on the AO3 - some stats!. AO3 News post, 2011-04-06. (Accessed 8 June 2014)
  2. DILF by twentysomething. Posted 2012-08-16 in the Teen Wolf fandom. Found via the Works Search function on 8 June 2014.
  3. I Am Groot by sherlocksmythe. Posted 2014-08-04 in the Guardians of the Galaxy fandom. Found via the Works Search function on 29 August 2014.
  4. As of 8 August 2015, I Am Groot was still in the lead, but DILF had slipped to third place, after Twist and Shout, a Supernatural fanfic posted 1 August 2014.
  5. Found via the Works Search function on 19 March 2017.
  6. jokiddingright Link; fail-fandomanon Link.
  7. Link
  8. arsenicjade's tumblr post dated July 7, 2014.
  9. atolat's post dated July 9, 2014; WayBack Machine link.
  10. arsenicjade's tumblr post dated July 7, 2014. Her follow-up response to astolat's technological solution can be found here.
  11. arsenicjade quoting embroiderama in her July 7, 2014 tumblr post.
  12. kudos are triggering? dated July 9, 2014; WayBack Machine link.