|See also:||Feedback, Critique, letters of comments|
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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. 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 2018, ao3commentoftheday conducted a poll to determine whether authors and readers interpreted the meaning of a kudos differently: in the replies, longlivefeedback noted that "There has been some discussion as to whether authors attribute less positive meanings to kudos than people who are only readers, and the answer to that appears to be a firm yes."
Fanworks with the Most Kudos
As of 8 June 2014, the fanwork with the most kudos on the AO3 was DILF by twentysomething, with 11777 kudos. However, by 29 August 2014, it had been dethroned by I Am Groot, with 12867 kudos. As of 2020, I Am Groot is still in the lead, with over 80 thousand kudos.
As of January 2021, the top ten fanworks sorted by kudos on the archive are:
- I Am Groot by sherlocksmyth (Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Heat Waves by tbhyourelame (MCYT)
- Yesterday Upon The Stair by PitViperOfDoom (My Hero Academia)
- a reylo fic by treezie (Star Wars)
- In Another Life by LittleLuxray (Haikyuu!!)
- Then Comes a Mist and a Weeping Rain by Faith Wood (Harry Potter)
- Lock All The Doors Behind You by entanglednow (Teen Wolf)
- call me, beep me by orphan_account (Voltron: Legendary Defender)
- count your blessings, not your flaws by PitViperOfDoom (My Hero Academia)
- Twist and Shout by gabriel, standbyme (Supernatural)
[Note: points and examples welcomed]
- Kudos are technological friendly (ex: some users of mobile devices have limited ability to type)
- 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
There’s this fic on AO3 that, according to my history page, I have visited 176 times. Which means I alone am responsible for 176 hits on that fic. I commented on some of the chapters, but only a few, because I feel like a stalker when I comment every week. I gave it kudos, but I can only give it one, even though it’s one of my favorites.
So just remember, when you’re looking at that hit count and wondering why you don’t have that same number of kudos (divided by the number of chapters, because each one of those also counts as a hit), it might be because some people out there love your fic. They read it when they’re feeling down. They open it in the waiting room at the doctors office, or in the lonesome dark of night. They turn to it in celebration when they did something right. They open it over and over so they can send the link to their friends, or just to revisit the characters that they love. They checked it ten times in one day, hoping that you had updated.A disparity between hits and kudos does not mean that your readers didn’t like your fic, or that they were too lazy to hit the kudos button. It means that some of them came back, and there’s nothing that makes me happier about my writing than that. 
[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:
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 kudos they had received.arsenicjade clarified that while this is helpful, it is not a complete solution:"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."
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:"....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."
"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?""
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 arsenicjade's July 4, 2014 post.
On December 12, 2013, jedusaur created a meta fanwork entitled "Kudos On This Work" with the text "I just realized you can kudos your own work if you leave kudos before you're added as an author. So I've initiated a mass collaboration, wherein everyone who leaves kudos will be added as an author, because the work consists of the kudos." Jelazakazone offered to podfic it. Unfortunately, someone deleted the work on December 18, possibly by accident. At the time it was deleted, the work had 176 authors, including orphan_account.
Wishing You Could Say More
"BUT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND" by paracosmdreaming
- The Kudos System: Why I Won’t Put My Fics On AO3 archive link (Septemper 29th, 2013)
- Accessibility and the OTW: I don’t think that word means what you think it means archive link plus longer follow up; archive link (July 7th, 2014)
- There’s this fic on AO3 that, according to my history page, I have visited 176 times. Which means I alone am responsible for 176 hits on that fic., Archived version, sproings.tumblr (October 15, 2015)
- Archive of Our Own and the Gift Culture of Fanfiction; archive link (November 22nd, 2015)
- AO3 Popularity Formula for Fics - alley_skywalker; archive link (May 15, 2015)
- Hits, Visits, and Readers: What is a hit? archive link, mod dragonling (February 20th, 2018)
- On AO3, how good is it to have 36 hits with 1 kudos? : FanFiction; archive link, comments on Reddit (2017)
- What’s Wrong with the Kudos Button on Ao3 and What to Do About It; archive link (February 28th, 2018) by ellenannes
- Commenting and kudos on the AO3 - some stats!. AO3 News post, 2011-04-06. (Accessed 8 June 2014)
- reblog by longlivefeedback of a tumblr post by ao3commentoftheday, Archived version, 16 January 2018.
- DILF by twentysomething. Posted 2012-08-16 in the Teen Wolf fandom. Found via the Works Search function on 8 June 2014.
- 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.
- 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.
- Found via the Works Search function on 26 March 2020. 81721 kudos!
- Found via the Works Search function on 7 January 2021.
- jokiddingright Link; fail-fandomanon Link.
- untitled, Archived version October 30, 2015
- arsenicjade's tumblr post dated July 7, 2014.
- atolat's post dated July 9, 2014; WayBack Machine link.
- arsenicjade's tumblr post dated July 7, 2014. Her follow-up response to astolat's technological solution can be found here.
- arsenicjade quoting embroiderama in her July 7, 2014 tumblr post.
- kudos are triggering? dated July 9, 2014; WayBack Machine link.