Archive of our Own (AO3) maintenance shutdowns suck, when all you’ve got in your Friday night sched is that 100,000-word fic sitting in your bookmarks. Apparently, there might be a plausible explanation for shutdowns like this: People have been reading fanfic even more than usual.
A recent incident left many fandoms in disarray, when the Hugo Award-winning fanfiction website went down earlier this month. Fic readers and writers turned into a rendition of that Spongebob on fire GIF, as fics everywhere were left with no clue or updates, and un-kudosed (that’s a “like” in AO3 terms).
Has AO3’s back finally cracked from the six million works it has to carry? Fans theorized that the crash happened due to “Heat Wave,” a fic about two Minecraft content creators. It updated at almost the same time as the crash, so folks connected the two dots and assumed the fandom behemoth was struck down because of a Minecraft ship.
Well, this isn’t exactly true. While AO3 admins poked fun at the theory, the recent crash was something that piled up because of increased traffic recently.
Still poking around and waiting for more sysadmins to be awake at this time. Thank you for hanging in there! (Please rest assured that no particular work update broke the site, although we agree that *would* be hilarious.)
— AO3 Status (@AO3_Status) January 5, 2021
“’Heat Waves’ is the third most kudosed fic on the AO3 at the moment and has a big following, so the idea of the quick response to it having an effect isn’t surprising! However, it was not responsible for the slowdown,” says AO3 communications staffer Claudia Rebaza.
According to Rebaza, the site had an increase of 1.4 to 1.5 billion pageviews per month from September to October. AO3 jumped to 1.7 billion views by December. The fanfiction site already had a significant increase in May, when several countries were under lockdown.
“As of November 2020 we passed over 14 million unique visitors a month, and are now reaching some 440 million pageviews per week. So a single work, however popular, might cause a blip in pageviews but definitely is not responsible for affecting the archive as a whole.”
So, there you have it. If you’ve been binging “Heat Wave,” don’t feel guilty—it’s a collective effort from fandoms and the sleep-deprived readers behind ’em.
(P.S: Leave your fave fic author a kudos, they need it.)
Still from “Euphoria”