Lost Works and Posting Rates on fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own

Recently, I posted an analysis of these two large fanfiction archives using work numbers (nodes) to get a sense of how active they have been over the years. Investigations since I’ve discovered how different these node counts are from the works CURRENTLY available in these archives.

In Red and Green above are the number of nodes assigned per month in each archive, going back to 2001 for Fanfiction.net and to AO3’s beginning in 2009. These nodes are assigned to each new work, or (on AO3) each new saved draft on the archive. The Blue and Yellow are estimates of the works currently in each archive from these past times, hence, works surviving.

Not only is the gap between Nodes and Surviving Works very big, it is shaped totally different for these two archives. To see this directly, here is the percentage of nodes with works currently in the archives, by month.


If we are going to compare fan activity on these archives from these data, Nodes and Current works, we need to get a better sense of what is going on. Below I get into the details of where these numbers come from, their historical context, and justify my interpretations, but here are the main points fanfiction readers might want to know:

  • Fanfiction.net has lost a lot of posted works over the years, up to 70% of those posted before 2003.
  • The proportion of works removed from fanfiction.net has gone down to ~20% since 2016
  • While some loss of works is to be expected, this amount of works removed over time suggests active curation by the FFN community and staff.
  • On AO3, the proportion works removed, or drafted but never posted is probably around 20%.
  • AO3 has a spam problem, with non-fan agents flooding the archives with fake works.
  • AO3 outpaced FFN in terms of works being posted to these archives in 2015 (as suggested in previous analysis) in the middle of messy part of the plot at the top.
  • In 2019, AO3 could reach FFN’s past peak posting rate of ~3500 fanworks per day.

So where are all the fanworks? 

Did they disapeare or did they never exist in the first place?

Find out under the read more, where I also explain these numbers, how I reached these conclusions, and some historical explanations for the changes over time.

I’ll also try to add corrections there, if new information comes to light.

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