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FanFiction.Net vs. Archive of Our Own

Nicole is a fan of fanfiction and enjoys sharing her knowledge with her readers.

FanFiction.Net vs. Archive of Our Own: A Comparison of Two Fanfiction Archives

Fanfiction is a widely popular hobby on the Internet today. Fanfiction has been around for decades, shared in fanzines or passed-around, type-written stories. But since the 1990s, there has been an explosion of fanfiction websites and archives online.

People share their fanfiction stories through online mailing lists, journaling and social media networks like LiveJournal and Tumblr, and archive websites. These archives can be small and focused on specific fandoms, such as Twilight, Star Trek, or Harry Potter, or they can be large and all-encompassing, open to almost any and all kinds of fanfiction.

Two of the largest and most well-known multi-fandom archives today are FanFiction.Net and Archive of Our Own. In this article, I will give a brief history of both as well as a comparison of their features, usability, and criticisms. There are certainly pros and cons to both archives, yet for a fanfiction author who wants to preserve their work and present it to a wider audience, using one—or both—of these archives may be worthwhile.

FanFiction.Net's front page

FanFiction.Net's front page

FanFiction.Net: The Internet's Largest Fanfiction Archive

Founding of FanFiction.Net

FanFiction.Net (FFN) was launched on October 15, 1998, by Los Angeles computer programmer Xing Li. Xing Li was not himself heavily involved in fandom but hosted the site on a server connected to his place of employment, where it was considered a test of the server's functionality.

FanFiction.Net quickly rose in popularity, being one of the few archives at the time open to just about any kind of fandom, not just a single specific universe, anime, or TV series. Originally, the archive was open to anyone over the age of 18 who wished to register for an account and allowed any storing rating from general audiences ("G") to explicit adult ("NC-17"). Stories about celebrities, including musicians, actors, and athletes (i.e., Real Person Fiction) were allowed along with those stories written about television series, fictional books, comics, anime, and movies.

Advertising and Content Regulation

Eventually, the website needed to employ advertising in order to keep the server running due to increasing demand and use. However, registered members could pay for a premium account if they wanted to avoid ads and have access to other special functions. This function was not heavily embraced by users and was eventually abandoned in favor of advertising support only.

As the archive grew in popularity and size, certain types of content were officially banned, and other changes were implemented. In 2002, NC-17-rated stories were no longer allowed (although enforcement of this policy is up to users reporting stories; there are still many explicit-content fictions to be found on the site.) Real person/celebrity fiction was disallowed in 2003.

Other topics such as songfic, choose-your-own-adventure, and non-fiction lists have also been banned through the years, although again, enforcement is spotty at best. The site has also disallowed fanfiction based on certain works after receiving requests from their creators, including authors such as:

  • Anne Rice,
  • P. N. Elrod,
  • Laurell K. Hamilton,
  • Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb,
  • Raymond Feist, and
  • Terry Goodkind.

In 2012, there was a widespread purge of adult content from the site, which had a widespread impact throughout fanfiction communities online.

FanFiction.Net Today

The age limit for site registration is now 13. As of 2018, the site has over 10 million users and stories posted in over 40 languages. Its largest fandom is Harry Potter, with more than 800,000 stories posted in that category alone. Naruto is the second most popular fandom, with more than 425,000 stories.

FanFiction.Net also features active forums for users to discuss their fandoms; communities of moderated, hand-selected fiction; and a list of beta readers available to help authors improve their work. The site now has a mobile version and RSS feeds one can subscribe to in order to see the latest works in particular fandoms, as well as apps for iPhone and Android.

5 Criticisms of FanFiction.Net

FanFiction.Net may be the largest fanfiction archive on the Internet, but it's not everyone's favorite site by a long shot. These are some of the common criticisms of the site.

1. It's difficult to find quality fiction amid all of the dreck.

As Sturgeon's Law proposes, 90% of everything is crap⁠—and that means there is an awful lot of crap on FanFiction.Net. Indeed, the site has long been known as "The Pit of Voles," derided as the home of some of the worst of the worst that fanfiction has to offer. Lack of proper spelling and punctuation, poor characterization, childish plotting, and blatant Mary Sues⁠—to many, this is what FanFiction.Net represents.

2. There are limitations on allowed content.

As the site grew to astronomical proportions and needed to start accepting advertising to stay afloat, it is not surprising that it had to start restricting content in order to be acceptable to non-adult-oriented advertisers. Yet that means that the site is technically useless to fanfiction authors who write about subjects or include content that is no longer allowed, such as bandfic or adult fanfiction.

Writers of adult fanfiction continued to post their stories on FanFiction.Net, however, as enforcement of these policies was poor at best. This changed in May 2012, when a widespread purge of adult-content stories began, angering many users of the site. Statistics on Fanlore suggest that over 17,000 Harry Potter stories alone were deleted during this purge, along with thousands in other top fandoms.

3. Sorting multiple-character/relationship fiction is difficult.

FanFiction.Net only allows one to sort/filter fiction within a fandom by two characters (Kirk and Spock in Star Trek). What if you are looking for stories featuring more characters or complicated relationships (yes, people do write Kirk/Spock/Uhura poly relationships, or perhaps love triangles such as Kirk/Uhura and Uhura/Spock). With AO3's freeform tag system, it is much easier to label and look for such stories. On March 15, 2013, FanFiction.Net began to allow four characters to be assigned to a story, not just two.

4. The advertising is annoying.

Some users find the full-page ads one must skip over or wait to load on FanFiction.Net extremely annoying⁠—particularly those on slower Internet connections.

5. There's a lack of interest in punishing/banning plagiarist authors and plagiarism.

Plagiarism can be a major problem in fanfiction, as some think that because "all fanfiction is stealing," it's perfectly fine to steal another's words and claim them as one's own. That can be a fanfiction author stealing content word-for-word from a published author's work, or from another fanfiction author (oftentimes only changing characters' names and minor details to publish a story in a different fandom.) When such incidents have occurred on FanFiction.Net, they have generally been ignored by the site administrators.

Screenshot of the AO3 homepage

Screenshot of the AO3 homepage

Archive of Our Own: A Multi-Fandom Nonprofit Fanfiction Archive

Founding of Archive of Our Own

Archive of Our Own (AO3) first launched in beta-testing on November 14, 2009. The archive is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works, a non-profit organization that promotes the legitimate and transformative nature of fan works, including fanfiction, fan vids, and fan art.

It was originally proposed in 2007, in part as a reaction against the recently launched archive FanLib. FanLib faced deep criticism by the media fandom community at the time for its corporate sponsorship and funding and apparent lack of understanding of how fan communities truly operated. At the time, many older, smaller fanfiction archives were disappearing as free hosting sites popular in the 1990s and early 2000s were disappearing or going out of business.

AO3 has grown slowly, as one requires an invite code to join (if you request one, it can take anywhere from a month to upwards of 5–6 months to receive one, according to recent reports.) The archive is now the home of the large, annual small-fandom fest Yuletide, which is how many members of AO3 have gotten accounts there by signing up to take part in the exchange.

Features and Highlights of AO3

  • It's open to all kinds of fandoms, including Real Person Fiction.
  • It's open to all ratings of fanfiction, from general audiences to adult. Other policies are in place to disallow harassment or threats against real people, whether other users or people named in fictional stories.
  • As of February 2013, the archive allows users to host meta fandom writings as well as fiction.
  • Authors have the ability to lock story visibility to other AO3 members only to minimize search engine inclusion (some authors don't want their stories showing up in general Google searches.) AO3 allows of certain fandoms (including Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles) and story types (including songfic) that have been banned from FanFiction.Net.
  • Users have the ability to link various pseudonyms and names under one account and also to "orphan" stories to remove their names from them.
  • There's a complex tagging system so that stories can be searched by theme (romance, hurt/comfort), trope (steampunk AU, aliens made them do it), or whatever an author may choose.
  • There's a backdating system, which is useful if one is trying to organize all of their fanfiction chronologically.
  • Users have the ability to import stories from other URLs.
  • There are collections and challenges.
  • The site has a "Kudos" button to show that you read a story and enjoyed it without having to leave written feedback.
  • Authors have the ability to add new fandoms if they are not already listed without having to wait for a site administrator to add them.
  • There's a warning system for common fannish triggers and controversial subjects, which an author can choose or choose not to use.

AO3 Today

Archive of Our Own features more than 34,000 fandoms, 5,200,000 archived works, and 2,100,000 users. The minimum age for registering for an account is 13.

9 Criticisms of Archive of Our Own

The following are some of the criticisms that some have made of Archive of Our Own as a fanfiction archive. While the site has been embraced by many, there are those who are not as thrilled with the archive or have had issues with it in the past.

1. It's too heavily focused on media fandom.

The archive administrative team has been accused on numerous occasions of having little understanding of how other fanfiction communities operate, such as music and anime fandoms. Everything from the site's design to category structure reflects a Western media fandom bias, particularly that of LiveJournal media fandom. As such, many outside of Western media fandoms do not feel welcomed contributing to the site nor feel like their specific community issues and needs are being addressed.

2. There's no ability to sort out crossovers from non-crossover stories.

Crossover stories, involving characters from multiple fannish sources in one story, are quite popular among many fanfiction readers and writers. However, some readers do not care for crossovers in general or at all, and AO3 doesn't have an easy way to filter crossover stories out of the listings returned for a particular fandom. In comparison, FanFiction.Net has a completely separate section of their website for crossover fiction only, so it's easier to find (or not find) such stories as you wish.

3. There's frequent downtime/slow server response.

As the site's userbase has grown, some have reported increasing errors and downtime when trying to access the site. This became particularly troublesome around the end of May/early June 2012, perhaps linked to the sudden surge of interest in Avengers fandom as well as the mature-content purge at FanFiction.Net. This led some to wonder if the archive can really keep running on its current hardware, software, and financial donations to OTW alone.

4. The tagging system is a mess.

Writers are allowed to use however many different tags as they want to on their stories, and there is very little structure to the tagging system. Even within a single fandom, one character may have their name "tagged" in multiple different ways, making it difficult to easily filter only for stories featuring them. The archive does employ a team of tag wranglers whose sole task is to link together related tags to be more searchable. (For instance, if I search for the tag "vampire AU," nine different tags are currently returned for me to sort through including "vampire AU, "'verse: Vampire AU" "vampire!AU" and "sherlock bbc john watson holmes vampire au.") However, as the archive grows and grows, in keeping up with all of the freeform, user-generated tags can become difficult⁠—and some tag wranglers have expressed frustration with the system and how their committee has been handled. It doesn't help when you have some authors tagging everything and anything possible to an almost laughable extent. Do we really need to know that many details about a story before reading it? Are these things people will actually want to search based upon?

5. There's a lack of community/readers don't comment and review.

Many authors seem to view AO3 as a convenient "storage bin" for all of their old works, dropping stories there but rarely reading others' works. Many fan communities even with large numbers of stories on AO3 are far more active elsewhere, such as on LiveJournal communities or smaller, fandom-focused websites. With the "Kudos" button feature, readers are less likely to leave actual feedback or interact with authors, since they can just hit "Kudos" to show that they read and at least moderately enjoyed a story.

6. It's hard to keep up with what's new in a particular fandom.

With backdating, sometimes it's hard to just find what are the newest stories posted in a particular fandom. However, RSS feed subscriptions were eventually introduced, allowing interested readers to subscribe to not just favorite authors but favorite fandoms as well.

7. There are no filter "out" options, period.

Many users have expressed annoyance that there is no way to search on AO3 to "filter out" unwanted tags, characters, or types of fiction. For instance, if a Harry Potter fan didn't want to read about any stories heavily featuring Severus Snape, or slash as a tag, you can't do that. In very large fandoms, this makes searching for stories a person actually wants to read rather difficult, particularly as there is also a 1,000 work cap on search results. Now that the archive allows for the hosting of meta posts and they are mixed in with the fiction, more users are annoyed by this inability to filter out the types of content they do not want to read.

8. There's too much adult content and no way to filter out adult summaries and titles.

While some appreciate the freedom of AO3's accepting of gen to mature/explicit content, not everyone is happy about it. Some feel as though AO3 has become little more than a "smut dump" (see comments at bottom of this page), with certain fandom's categories completely predominated by sexually explicit material. This is why some wish there was an easy way to filter out content⁠—both stories themselves and story titles/tags/summaries⁠—if undesirable or intended for adults only.

9. There's an increasingly long wait for an invite code.

On June 11, 2012, Lucy Pearson posted on the OTW news site that there were over 17,000 requests in the queue for invitation codes. However, since the beginning of 2013, it appears that the wait time for invite codes has decreased considerably; it may take only a week or less to get access to a user account.

Other Online Multi-Fandom Archives

  • FicWad
    A multi-fandom archive with currently over 30,000 stories. Note there are currently concerns about lack of administrative management and control over spammers on the site.
  • RockFic
    A band fiction RPF archive with over 2,000 stories.
    A large multi-fandom archive for fanfiction and fan art, with an emphasis on anime and cartoons. However, this site is suffering from lack of moderation and site administration, so new users be wary.
  • Fandom Haven Story Archive
    A multi-fandom archive with an emphasis on western media fandoms. Currently with about 2,000 stories.
  • skyhawke
    A closed archive (you must have an invite to join) which a large community of Harry Potter authors, but many other book, anime, movie and television fandoms represented as well.
  • WWOMB: The Wonderful World of Make-Believe
    Home to over 28,000 stories, with an emphasis on Western Media fandoms. Hosts several smaller collections as well as the main archive.
  • Passion and Perfection
    An archive for f/f ("femmeslash") fiction in various fandoms.

You've read the basic information and examined some of the pros and cons of each—now it's time to leave your opinion. Which fanfiction archive do you prefer, and why?

© 2012 Nicole Pellegrini

Any Final Thoughts on Fanfiction Archives?

Starlight fury on August 18, 2020:

I use them both frequintly to read but what irritated and conserns me the most is that you van never see if someone is still on of ouer own or just stopped altogether.

Hello on July 24, 2020:

I don't know if someone has already pointed this out but ao3 now allows you to sort crossovers out.

B on July 22, 2020:

Only one of the cons still applies to AO3 and The format is WAAAY better than I just applied to get invited yesterday and I got accepted next day easily unlike it says in the article the only thing that's still true in the article is the excessive tagging. What they said is true but I think this feature is funny and unique.

Raina on July 11, 2020:

Honestly, what it really comes down to in my opinion is your fandoms. I grew up on FFN in the Warriors fandom where the 90% crap rule really doesn't apply, not to mention the majority of stories use the Warriors world but use only original characters, so the ability to tag more than four characters isn't very important. I definitely appreciate the community on FFN as well and I have never been the least bit confused about how to post, so I'm not entirely sure where that part came from. The fandoms that I dabble for writing in really don't suffer from the FFN cons listed above.

I definitely appreciate all the tagging and the longer summaries allowed on Ao3, but, as was mentioned above, people who tag every little thing are really annoying and so are the uber long summaries. I would personally prefer if there was a limit on tags and summary length, but obviously one that is much higher than FFN's. I definitely prefer reading fandoms that mostly use canon characters on Ao3, but when I looked (fairly briefly, I'll admit) into posting on Ao3, I was confused. Being a person with some social anxiety, though, I definitely appreciate the pseudonym option. I wish there was much more of a community though. I'm not sure if Ao3 has forums or DMs but they are definitely features I enjoy on FFN, though.

All in all, like I started out with, I think your experience mostly depends on your fandoms, and mine (and their communities) have led me to enjoy FFN more overall.

Marissa on June 24, 2020:

none of this applies to Archive of our own. The knly downside to the site is the inabity to private message

Kaya on April 20, 2020:

I started out on and while I was aware of AO3 remember being overwhelmed by the tagging system and appreiectaed, what I saw as, a more “library”-esc vibe. I enjoyed that everything was together and that I might find something I wasn’t looking for and actually really enjoy it. After a couple year I tried AO3 again and at this point have completely moved over to the site. A lot of the complaints against AO3 have been fixed (there is exclude option and crossover options) and once you learn the tags you like is much easier to handle, I will say however that not all authors tag the same so you have to be wary of being overly dependent on tags. There is need to explore to make sure that you find everything that you want. I will say that I do not write fanfics, I just read them, so I can’t say anything about the sites from an authors perspective. Now when I go back to the very outofdate graphics and site set up, and feeling like I have to slog through a mountain of fics is too much and I keep to AO3.

Kyle on January 27, 2020:

Archive of our own seems to have a weird mindset. They don't allow debates in reviews and only 'Yeah!" or "Cool!" kind where as your morel likely to see the 'Sandwich' effect breaking the story down.

Also I was just seeing a fanfic that suddenly required users registration the next day. I mean like WTF? It seems nobody complains about stuff or errors anymore. Whenever I do look for complaints it's all old stuff and everyone seems afraid to be critical of AO3.

CC Heart on November 29, 2019:

The tinestamp says thia eas updated in 2019 but it obviously wasn't, as half the AO3 complaints no longer apply. It does have exclusion filters now, for pairings and characters and explicit works. That's three of the bullet points right there. It also now has inclusion and exclusion options for crossover fics. You can keep them in, or toss them out, or choose ONLY those.

Marifer on September 12, 2019:

I started in when I was very young and it was all that I knew, but I accidentaly found AO3 and just really fell in love. I still post on both sites but read exclusively on AO3, I still venture out to find someting in FF by the stroke of luck and do recognize that some fandoms are way bigger in FF than AO3 but man the amount of badly written, badly carachterized, "I suck at summaries" kind of stories is 90% of FF. Honestly I just prefer to wait for updates in my subscribed inbox.

Minjain on May 26, 2019:

I really believe that the author of this post has outdated information about the way Ao3 functions. I suggest that they revise this content or remove it all together because this has pretty misleading information that can put readers off using Ao3.

First of all, there IS a filter out tag now and it has been there since I first started using Ao3 about more than a year ago. You can filter in or out adult content, any tag, ship, or crossovers in general if you want to.

Same is the case with Crossovers. You can easily 'filter-out' crossovers.

The dating system of Ao3 has the newest fics on top. So really, it is very easy to keep up with the new content of a particular fandom or ship.

Please, I beg this site to update this post. It is very misleading and I personally feel that it is giving Ao3 a bad name.

JM Fanfic Writer on May 20, 2019:

I use both but seriously thinking of getting away from Fanfiction. I've been a member there since 2002 and in the last few years have noticed the site going downhill. They used to give authors the option of disallowing guest reviews (very helpful as trolls can flame or spam authors that way with no consequences). For some unknown reason they removed that option, and now authors can only delete the guest reviews.

I joined Archive of Our Own in 2014 after a recommendation from a friend, and I definitely prefer it over Fanfiction. It's not only due to the fact you have more control over the types of reviews and moderation, but more options like adding pictures, listing more than 3 or 4 characters, more genres, etc. I still update my stories on both sites, but I'm thinking seriously about deleting my account on Fanfiction after having been flamed in guest reviews since this unfortunate policy had started.

Sabis Dream World on May 13, 2019:

I started out as a reader on FF.N, then moved on to AO3 as a reader and eventually a writer on AO3. I do post my work on FF.N as well, but I don't read there anymore. I had no problems with FF.N until I started at AO3 and got used to the system. Then I started seeing what was missing for me personally on FF.N.

Some of the limitations off FF.N for me are the complicated system for uploading a story - on AO3 I just copy-and-paste, the end. Because I'm used to the AO3 tagging system FF.N's limits on the amount of characters (only 4) and pairings, genre (only 2), etc. is frustrating. If I (or a reader) finds a mistake in my writing it only takes seconds on AO3 to change but on FF.N I have to go the doc, change it, re-upload it etc. The fact that AO3 now has the option in its filters to "include" and "exclude" certain tags is beautiful. For example, when I read Merlin fanfics I prefer Merlin/Arthur slash (or pre-slash) and Magic Reveal - so I include them as tags. But I also prefer not to read Modern Era - so exclude them as tags. One big thing that I also found in my switch from FF.N to AO3 was the story quality. Once I read AO3 stories I couldn't be bothered to sift through so much bad quality content on FF.N to find something, especially since it lacked a good tagging system. And I actually find the community to be much better on AO3 - through challenges and exchanges, and the fact that comments aren't reviews, so it can be a discussion of sorts etc. In general, I also find AO3 admin to be more supportive of its users than FF.N. And though over-tagging is a thing, you don't have to read all the tags, just skim them to see if there are any you don't like and read the summary. And I must admit that even the way people tag can almost be an indicator of what to expect in the story. And some freeform tags are quite hilarious. It's true that sometimes it isn't easy to avoid crossovers in AO3 but it takes only a second to see that a story is a crossover.

Luna B-Fly on April 27, 2019:

I use both, and a lot of other platforms, such as Qutev (is that how you spell it?) and Wattpad. I love both, my only complaint for FF.N is that you can’t add pictures to my stories.

Ethan on March 14, 2019:

I'm waiting for Knighty to patch up Fimfiction and release a sister site for everything, because it just feels far more modern than either of the two above.

Pete on March 06, 2019:

I personally think that the Archive is a much better website. Of course, they both have their pros and cons:


I think FFN is an easier experience for readers since the reading part of the site's a lot easier to use, you can edit how the text looks, etc, without having to deal skins of Archive... but, FFN is a lot tricker to post on. I think having to create mandatory in-site documents is a pain in the ass, because every time I want to post a chapter of a story I need to do a ten-minute workaround of the site in order to get it up- and the stupid little copy-paste box on the site is so teeny-tiny that it's super annoying to use. The story content on FFN is also quite poor, and the other readers/commenters/authors seem fairly immature, as I think FFN attracts a younger audience than


The sites a little ugly, but I think that I biggest con to the site. I actually don't mind the tagging system (since Archive seemed to have updated so that you can filter things out, now-), and i find soem of the "meaningless" tags that authors put in to eb quite halrious. Its just another form of expression for the story, and if you don't care for it then you don't have to pursue the tags. You can just read the summary or skip the story. I don't mind the adult content, either... actually, I think it's nice to have a place to find it- if that what a person is specifically looking for. I find that the openness to adult content also causes more mature, older authors to come to the site, which allows me to have better discussions in the comments. Not to mention that the story quality is ultimately higher on Archive than it is on FFN, and you can far more easily post and find Orginal Work, which is something I'm interested in reading. Archive also has some reading options (like reading the whole work on a single page) that aren't available on FFN. I primarily use a laptop while using these two sites, so the mobile issue doesn't really affect me.

I think it's really up to personal preference on which site is better since everyone is looking for different things from the sites. When I'm looking for something to read, I go to Archive first a foremost.

User of Both! on February 28, 2019:

I will say that, as things currently stand, and as someone who has used both sites, I definitely prefer AO3 nowadays. In all honesty, the only reasons I post things back to are to get feedback from anyone in the fandom who uses that but not AO3, and to have a better idea of my traffic stats for a fic.

AO3 has even improved on several of the things that were listed as complaints here, like the ability to filter whether you see crossovers, or to filter out certain tags entirely. Uploading and even editing is easier than on FF, because the AO3 uploading system is copy-and-paste-text based. If you need to go back and edit a bad wording or detail, you don't have to edit the original file and reupload.

Additionally, individual chapters' Author's Notes don't bump up the word count, because there's an actual separate "Notes" field for every chapter!

Alice on September 23, 2018:

I was thinking about joining AO3 for my ideas that don't belong on my Tumblr, I have an account on FFN but I can't use the writing software that they tell me to use so I can't write there at all. So I was thinking about joining Ao3 since I enjoyed many fics from there as well but the invitation thing has me worried and I have no idea if AO3 wants me to use some writing software like FFN wants. Or is it like Wattpad (which I don't use anymore) where I can just go and start writing right away, which was the only I liked about Wattpad.

Hi on August 12, 2018:

I started reading fanfiction on Quotev and then I went to FFN.

As a reader, the features are simple and easy to use. It does get frustrating when some of the fics aren't ''good,'' but everyone has to start somewhere, especially when it comes to Mary Sues and beginner's writing. Review are meant to give constructive criticism, and if some authors tried hard enough, they can get a beta to help them. It does get annoying when you clearly see that the author didn't proofread or use spell check. I think the good stories out number the bad. You can try to guess when seeing the summary, the number of favs, follows, and reviews. That's not saying that everyone else has your tastes, but it gives a good idea to what's popular and most of the time, the quality. I constantly comb through the site to find some gems, and if you look hard enough, you can too. Most authors give warnings to M rated content, especially smut, and have trigger warnings if their stories need it. FFN also has some of the best crossovers I have ever read. The filtering is helpful even though you can only tag four characters, but you can search for 'Completed' stories so that you don't have to worry about it being abandoned or on hiatus. Communities can help with having a place for stories with similar content. If you want time travel fics or a particular ship, they are very helpful. They can even only include 'well written' stories. but those are to the reader's opinion. There are some really good writers there, like AO3, but to me, it's easier to find. Authors can be nice in sending a Private Message in reply yo a review or following and favoriting a story. Some answer in their next chapter and always express their gratitude at the bottom in an AN. I love that there's a dark mode for reading at night, and you can also adjust the text size. With the app, you can change the font, download stories, and the tags 'In progress' and 'Complete' tell the reader the status of the story.

I have tried AO3 when I find a story that is not on FFN. I do like the Kudos feature and you can order stories chronologically. It is nice that you can post more than just fanfics, but that's what I want to find. I don't like that you have to wait to join. I go occasionally, but it never made me want to visit frequently. Because I don't have an account, I have to bookmark which doesn't let me know if updated. I feel like I'm biased because I don't fully understand AO3, but I do not have a reason to stop using FNN. I know that they both have their pros and cons and I respect that. I think that FFN is a good place to start and AO3 is a great transition for some.

cat on July 30, 2018:

I personally believe AO3 is so much better than FanFiction. I use both and still like FFN a lot, but I've noticed that so many of the fanfics on FFN are so bad! They have so many mistakes. I don't mean grammar. I mean the misspelling of simple words and not even capitalizing the first word in a sentence and proper nouns. I feel like because FFN has banned M fanfics, many of the older, more experienced writers go to AO3, and poor FFN is stuck with those 10 year olds who can't write (not saying that I can even though I'm older, but they definitely can't either). Even though I don't really read M fics, I like to have the option. The people who do get away with writing those on FFN are usually really bad at writing them, while writers on AO3 write it more tastefully. That said, FFN does have some good writers. Still, AO3 definitely is better.

Nony with too much time on July 16, 2018:

I've used both FFN and AO3 for reading and writing for at least 6 years now so let me add some more comparisons!

(First of all, AO3 has recently added some 'Excluded' filters and they're amazing so that solves one of the criticisms of that!)

1. You can't copy-paste an FFN story, unlike in AO3. This makes it a lot harder to plagiarise your work.

2. It's a lot easier to upload and edit a in AO3 because you have to go through a lot of hoops in FFN just for that.

3. You can place emojis in FFN but not in AO3.

4. You can place links and images in AO3 but not in FFN

5. You can have a 'Night mode' theme as you read in FFN but in AO3, you'll only have that if the author chooses a 'skin' like that in their stories

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Personally, I mainly use AO3 for reading because a lot of fandoms I'm in seem to upload more stories there. But if the story is crossposted in FFN, I'll read it there 'cause I like 'Night Mode'

Chance on July 09, 2018:

I prefer ao3 of the two- a lot of its problems have actually be fixed in the recent years. I use it and wattpad most often but And QUOTEV can hold their own

Then again, despite my favouritism, I’m only reading this article because the ao3 server is down

Anonymous on July 09, 2018:

I started out on FFN, but my friend recommended AO3 to me. At first, I leaned more towards FFN simply because I was familiar with it and used to going there automatically, but a lot of stories she recommended were only on AO3 so I had no choice but to use it, and eventually, I ended up going there automatically. Not only is the quality of work there better, but the tag system (when used correctly) is really helpful. Some authors use way too many tags, but I think that serves as a warning in itself to not read that story. AO3 also doesn't have as many stories as FFN, but when you have to filter through 10,000 pieces of trash to get anything good anyway, it's actually an even balance.

I still use FFN for a few stories that are regularly updated exclusively on that site and on the odd chance I might find something else good there (even though I honestly feel like I've read all the good ones).

In the end, FFN still has a place in my heart; and a few really good authors that write for some older anime fandoms that simply don't have much of a following on AO3. But AO3 has got my attention for the most part due to its newer fandoms, both anime and western, that I can't find on FFN (plus they sometimes post my old fandoms on there) and superior quality writing.

Anonymous on June 22, 2018:

For me it's AO3 all the way. I find FFN's format unpleasant to read to the point where I simply don't bother reading fics posted there. (Most of the people I read regularly tend to post to either AO3 exclusively or to both AO3 and FFN so I'm not missing out). I haven't even bothered posting anything to FFN; I've posted close to 5 dozen stories to AO3 and I love the interface and its simple upload mechanism. It does have some weaknesses - outlined in the article - but it's the one that works for me.

Firebird on April 07, 2018:

AO3 has the best search engine of any fanfic site I've ever seen. And there are ways to filter out things. You just have to go into the 'filter' section and in the little box that says 'search within results', just write -"[insert tag here]" and it will. You can also do things like Tony -Rogers, if you don't want a tag for Tony Stark/Steve Rogers

an on March 13, 2018:

As a reader, I prefer AO3 by a long shot. i have been reading fanfics from both sites for over a decade and I have better experiences with AO3. FFN has so much bad fanfics. I cannot stand the bad grammar, horrible plot, cliches and no character development. This was all fine when I was young and new to the world of fanfics. but now, it just irks me. I have to get out of the story before I read a 100 words.

On the other hand, I like the tagging system on AO3 because I can literally search for certain content online without any trouble. Also, it gives me warnings if I want to avoid certain content because I am not delving into that anytime soon. Yes it is mostly smut and focused on male homosexual couples. As a fujoshi (if you don't know, look it up), I like the offerings of those content. Along with it, I can read a story with actual plots. It offers the best of both worlds.

However, I would have to say FFN does offer advantages. I do like the crossover system offered in this website. It is literally impossible to go through all of this in AO3.

Also, it has more anime fanfic which may be important for some. When I was young, I was obsessed with anime so I too started with FFN but veered away from them in my later years. With AO3, I am exposed to many different fandoms I was unfamiliar with which would mean I am not entirely focused on animes and mangas. Still I like to go back to FFN to read some anime fanfics every once in a while.

But because it provides more anime fanfic, I also noticed many of the users are younger. This would mean that the writers do not have as much experience writing fanfics which means no character development, mary sues, cliches, no plot development, bad grammar and bad spelling.

I do like that FFN has more fanfics on older media. Whenever I want to read something about an anime from a decade ago, I do go to FFN to read some even if there are not as much new fanfics on that media anymore. I go to FFN every couple months so I do notice the 1 or 2 new fanfics on that media. Navigating between the 2 websites is pretty easy so i do not have much complaints.

However, the last thing that irked me and made me go full on AO3 was the purge at FFN. One day, I noticed all my favorite fanfics somehow disappeared. I loved those stories. I favorited and bookmarked those stories. Then one day, they were all gone. No matter how much I searched, they were not there. So many good fanfics which may have been considered mature content but did not have smut were just gone. Forever. To this day, I am haunted by the paths those stories could have been taken if they were not deleted. I would rather prefer to know the authors lost inspiration and abandoned the story rather than knowing they were deleted and it took too much work to rewrite the whole thing so they abandoned it.

Lily on February 15, 2018:

I'm a writer/reader of fanfiction and have used both FFN and AO3, and for some recent years I was leaning towards AO3 but now I'm leaning back towards FFN. Reasons being that 1. AO3 has no filtering out option and a lot of the content are smut/triggering stuff and I don't even want to read the tags let alone read them so I'm left scrolling down quickly to hide from them 2. AO3 is too Westernized so FFN's culture suits me more I guess 3.The pairing tag. I suppose since FF is so old the fandom folk tend to use, for example, the AxB tag and means it as AxB whereas in AO3 you could see he AxB tag and not know if it's actually AxB or BxA (I know a lot of people who get upset over this)

Anonymous on December 07, 2017:

I've found Ao3's content to be somewhat higher quality than a lot of the crummy fics that I have to wade through on FFN, but Ao3 doesn't always have enough fics for small/old/inactive/not really popular fandoms that FFN sometimes does have.

Ao3's tagging system is also really helpful for finding fic with characters/pairings/themes that I want to enjoy or avoiding things I want to avoid at all costs, FFN's tagging/search system is really limited in comparison and a lot of stuff I would have been otherwise interested in or otherwise avoided slips through the cracks.

Ao3's lack of restrictions on sexual content is nice too since I don't have to worry about a fic crossing too deeply into sexual territory and I'll admit I like reading smut every now and then.

I still use both because for as much as Ao3 has good content, smut that's less likely to be taken down and a helpful tagging/search system, FFN has sheer volume to sift through for the occasional gem.

fdfs on September 20, 2017:

I have noticed that Quality of fanfic on Archive of our own is definitely superior but one of my biggest complaints is every single fanfic in there except for Game of thrones Fandom is male x male pairing. I don't want pairing in my Fanfic and even if i do, i definitely dont want male on male action. I am not even kidding, almost the fanfics in most of the fandoms are gay fanfics. I dont have anything against gay people, but i dont want that in my fic, thank you very much.

S-36 on August 24, 2017:

With my house MD obsession i found and loved it.

I devoured almost every story on it and well latter I decided to look for another site for different stories and found archive of our own.

In the first one is easier to find crossovers for example if I want to check House and grays Anatomy, House and Sherlock or House and Tony Stark.

Also the stories are sweeter and dare to Soften House much more. They are more flexible to turn him into a more caring and nicer guy.

Fan Fiction.Net has a much more variety of Fluff, it's more heart melting the way he is portrayed on those stories.

In Archive almost all are about BDSM though they are more careful with That theme than in Fan Fiction to not cross the line towards abuse.

The ones who write on archive BDSM do it very carefully meanwhile in the other ends up looking disturbing with a bad after taste.

But there are more fluffy romance romance writers.

I guess i slightly prefer but I check archive a lot as well

Anonymous on August 03, 2017:

I use both FFN and AO3, both as a reader and as a writer. I honestly prefer AO3 however. First off, as a writer, I tend to not only get more views, but I get more people who either want me to continue, or explain that they like what I have done so far. With FFN, this doesn't happen. Not to mention I can review a story on AO3 and the author can reply. I also find that uploading to AO3 is much easier, as is editing. I also really like the tag system. And yes, there are some problems I have with not being able to filter out tags or get more adult-oriented works that pop up than what I like, I also find it so much easier when looking for a specific author, work or tag. I'm able to find what I want, I can find the ships I'm looking for, even the characters. I also like the way that you can look for a certain amount of words. This is my opinion, but I honestly find myself hardly using FFN, and I seem to much prefer AO3.

Alys on July 25, 2017:

I post on both FFN and AO3, and I'm now leaning towards AO3 but each has its pros and cons.

On FFN, I like that the hits show me which chapters were read and how many chapters. AO3 only shows me how many visits to the story were made, so someone could have clicked on my first chapter and gone "Nah", and stopped reading, and another might have been enthralled and read all 40 chapters at one shot, but each would register as 1 hit.

But the reviews I've received on FFN so far have been crap. On AO3 I've found readers are far more generous with their comments. Some of the discussions we have in the comments thread are very satisfying, and can also be read and contributed to by others. On FFN no one sees my replies to readers or our discussion, and I find that detracts from the sense of community.

FFN loses for allowing only four characters in the tags. AO3 allows an infinite number of characters and relationships, and wins hands down here.

AO3 also allows me to post other media, especially my art. So all in all, I enjoy being on AO3 much more.

Anonymous on June 08, 2017:

Well, FFN has a mobile app now, and you can download any story you want. It's all cool, and I like that it has a large community as well. You can get decent exposure there.

Anon on June 07, 2017:

Actually, just some input, you can now 'ignore' tags/select tags you DON'T want to see. In the 'additional tags' part of the Sort&Filter bar, you can add a minus sign (-) to whatever tag you don't want to see, for example -Explicit. More info about this can be found on:

Anon on June 07, 2017:

Personally, I like AO3 by a long shot. I was first introduced to fanfiction by FFN, like many others. I was actually introduced to AO3 last among the usual archives, but I found that it was far better in my opinion over the other archives. You can now filter out mature material, though not completely. You can pick a certain 'tag', such as General, Teen and Up, Mature, and Explicit. The tagging can indeed get messy, but I personally do not mind the tags as they have connected similar tags to one another and helped make it much easier to navigate. And one of my issues about FFN is the aesthetic of the page. The colors are very plain and the text is generally small. AO3 has added a feature where you can use skins to change the look of your page and/or your work, which I find useful since my eyes are rather unresponsive if the colors are too contrasting. Also, something that I have seen multiple times and I definitely agree to is the sense of community in AO3 being better than that of FFN. I also must write here that the quality of works is much better in AO3, though there are still bad quality works. However, compared to FFN, the works of AO3 are better in average.

Me on June 02, 2017:

FFN is a lot more user friendly. Sometimes a lack of options results in a simpler but more enjoyable experience.

Anony mouse on April 07, 2017:

I generally prefer FFN. It was the first site I really used ans I still prefer their filtering methods over AO3's, which I find messy. FFN's biggest limitations is their restrictions on people which I do think are pretty bad - but on the other hand we have AO3 where even now, you have to request to join and then it can take months from there...

Bad-quality fanfics is an issue everywhere not just FFN - I do find that you can sort some of it on FFN by looking at favorites/ follows/ reviews but it is far from perfect (and it doesn't help that lots of people enjoy "bad" stories or devices like Mary Sues).

All in all, I think we're still missing a site that "has it all" (and I think it unlikely that it will ever exist on a grand scale) but both AO3 and FFN have their strong points where people lean towards the site that fits their wishes best.

Aly on March 10, 2017:

If anyone still wants to know how to filter out results on AO3: (& specifically crossovers:

James Stewart on February 22, 2017:

Awesome to see an author updating their articles even if they are few years old. Good on you on, though some of the link to other fanfic archives are now dead, may want to update that list otherwise great article. I personally use both because really i think its required to get all the stories, honestly if exclusions were available to AO3 i think it would be far superiour as a reader over ffnet

Arashi on October 05, 2016:

I've used both. :)

I've found that, from my experience AO3 is nicer.

I used Fanfiction in my early days of writing, and while I enjoyed writing fanfics, I just found the layout dull, and not as suitable in comparison to AO3 for usage with phones.

I can't afford a PC/laptop so I've gotten used to using notes on my phone. I've also preferred AO3 for its cute little features; it's more of a community, letting guests and users leave kudos and comments instead of favourites and reviews. You can talk with the author and thank them and they will reply and thank you as well. You can also gift work, and I think that's cute as well. I do enjoy the skins the most though, I read in the dark sometimes, and by setting a dark background it doesn't hurt my eyes. I've found that searching for stories isn't particularly troublesome as I've always found what I wanted.

I do have to say though, it's true that is more popular. You'll probably get more feedback there. That's just my experience though.

It all comes down to preferences, and parts of me just link up to AO3 better. :)

Hemelse on September 23, 2016:

Look, guys, I don't know where do you get that FFNet's sysadmins are completely disinteres in sorting plagiarism. I write in Spanish, and thus, a lot more challeging to prove plagiarism in languages the admins don't read, and I've always gotten a satisfyingly fast responde. The thing is, you CAN'T just say that "this is plagiarism of so and so story by Jane Doe user"; the admins manage a much greater archives so you NEED to make things easier for them.

I always get an excerpt of the plagiariser's story, and a LINK to and THE SAME excerpt of the original story.

Heck, you can even do this for translation plagiarism (person translates work without author's consent and claims work is theirs), which was the bane of the Spanish Harry Potter fandom for a while, and I never had any problems taking down bad stories. (That said, secretphoenix879 used to be a PROLIFIC Spanish-to-English Yu-Gi-Oh! plagiariser but then the admins nuked her account).

In this case, what you MUST do is take an excerpt from the plagiariser's story, then the SAME excerpt from the original story, THEN do yout OWN translation, THEN run the original excerpt by Google Translate.

And there is no written rule that you can't do a report for more than one story. I've found that when you write a report for a story, but include other stories that are plagiarised, the sysadmins close the account. Favourites, stories, all gone. Good riddance.

IT's just that people doesn't use common sense. It's a BIG archive, make it EASY for the admins. I wonder how many reports they get that they can't go through them at all?

sarah on March 05, 2016:

I used for years, but it's a lot of trawling. If you like sonething/less popular, your ability to find quality takes a steep, steep nosedive. It's best for crossovers and has a bit more for obscure fandoms, quality notwithstanding. For older fandoms, it contains the "seminal" works as well.

Ao3, while definitely 18+, has a far superior system and quality point once you learn the system. To be fair, not everyone cares to learn exactly what they should probably filter --- also many pairings are tagged as such when they're actually gen/platonic in order to draw in the shippers. There's also no priority filter --- designating primary ships would be a v. Helpful feature. I almost quit the site before I learned how to filter content, but it's been great since then. And the quality point on FF consequentially becomes more of a shock the longer I go w/out sifting through it.

Mimi on March 18, 2015: is good for stories based on anime/manga/movies/books.

AO3 is good for stories based on lives of real people- bands/actors/and so on...

There's also wattpad and fictionpress for creative writing with lots of good stories :D

Elle on November 13, 2014:

I think AO3 is better at offering more quality fics, but it's discouraging when you find out just because your fic doesn't have sex & or romance in it, it's just not gonna get near as many hits, kudos & comments. AO3 seems to be at least 80% pure romance & smut. Don't get me wrong, my utterly sexless work on Ao3 has gotten several good reviews & a few real fans & I'm having a blast writing again, but I can't help but be miffed when I see another work about the same characters & plot get hundreds more hits than mine & the only difference being theirs has explicit sex in it while mine doesn't.

I'm not knocking smut here, I've read it on occasion but my main focus in fandom isn't shipping so being a non-ship writer on AO3 can be a lonely life. I'm now thinking of heading back over to fanfiction & posting my stuff there.

PendulumDeath on April 05, 2014:

I prefer AO3 over FF, and not just because of the adult content, but also because I can read fics even when I'm not connected to the Internet ( you can easily download them ). I read on both sites, but I can't be bothered to post anything on FF because I'd have to censor some parts or completely remove some chapters and that doesn't sit well with me. There are some mature stories that aren't just porn without plot, but if you start removing the key parts of such a fic, then you're simply censoring yourself for the sake of posting it on a site, and that's not something I wish to do. I don't mind the lack of reviews on AO3, especially since the fandom I'm writing for isn't even that big, but the Kudos button is nice, so that's enough. I also find it really hard to edit fics on FF, or maybe I'm doing something wrong, I don'y know, but AO3 is much easier to use and I simply adore the interface.

rebeca-agoiztabuenca on February 16, 2014:

You can easily dowload any story from AO3, while now in they don't allow you to select and copy the content of every chapter to save the story in Word for your personal use. It's also easier to find the kind of fanfiction you want in AO3, which have many more searching options. And the content of the story can be just as explicit as the reader wish, thus the warnings.Hovewer in you can find a higher amount of stories by far, and the readers are more used to leave reviews for the author. The feedback is better. I believe that a question of time, though. AO3 is booming quickly, and is suffering a slow but decisive decline since the last couple of years.

anonymous on September 05, 2013:

I've had an account with since 2001 and by 2010 I virtually stopped going there preferring LJ or any place to read fanfiction because of the abundance of complete shit on that site. I stayed on after the original purges for loyalty sake but it just became to much. Some of my favorite authors who actually wrote worthwhile fanfiction were leaving because of the loss of stories (trust me, when they originally did the purges they lost stories that weren't even NC-17 or M rated, wiped some stories of comments completely due to one belligerent review and they're servers were also lagging when they began putting advertising up).When I found AO3 it was a godsend for me because I found authors who had left and new ones. The quality of fanfiction is much higher, I have no problems with the tagging system and adore the the community because a lot of community is connected with Tumblr.The lagging, server issues and adding new content are just AO3 evolving which I am completely comfortable to wait for it be fine tuned while enjoying their content. It will pass like's fine tuning days and as long as AO3 keeps to their mission statement then I will be supporting it over for years to come.

Stephanie from Canada on July 31, 2013:

Wow, this is quite the impressive lens. There's tons of well researched info on here. I've spent a lot of time on FFnet as a reader and writer, but have only read one story on AO3. It takes an incredible amount of time to truly become familiar with either site outside of just one fandom.

anonymous on July 02, 2013:

I use both sites for reading, writing, and initiating discussions with other authors. My experience has been the opposite of many who have commented here. I do not feel the least bit lost on AO3 and I find it easier to get from one place to another there. I have also received at least ten times the written reviews on AO3 as after being warned by users of both sites that AO3 readers do not review. I love that has private messaging and that Ao3 has automatic downloads. As far as finding quality work, what has worked best for me has been to look at the subscriptions, favorites, and bookmarks of an author I respect. It really grows from there, and it seems a little ridiculous to me to rely as heavily as some folks do on tag searches to find what they want. But that's just me and I get it. I enjoy reading variety within my fandoms. When I go skipping around, Ao3 has the higher proportion of well-written fics.

PhilVardy on May 04, 2013:

I love discovering a Realm of the Internet I've never previously heard of!! thanks :)

anonymous on April 27, 2013: is older and a lot more popular, so I go on there to post my works. So far, on AO3, the stories I've read are fine grammatically. The adult content on there versus the adult content still stuck on are equally bad.As for reading, I read on both. AO3 is still relatively new so I can't find a lot of stuff on there, but most of what I do find is good enough. As for, there's a significantly greater percentage of bad stories, but the good stories are very good - and simply due to the huge amount of stories on, even a small fraction of the good stories outnumber those on AO3. There's a lot more sifting to do to find them, though. I'm pretty sure that AO3 is just so much cleaner of poorly written fanfiction because a majority of authors (that is, the terrible ones) haven't found it yet. Once it becomes more popular it will clog up just like

anonymous on April 10, 2013:

I like many others did use since a young age and would generally only read fic's on that site, but now after finding Archive of Our Own/ AO3 I rarely read works via other than updates from long standing fics. I find AO3 easier to navigate and easier to read from. Personally i also think there is a lot less shit on the site compared to the quantity of crap on I still submit to both websites but I no longer read or search on instead preferring AO3. While some dislike the tagging system on AO3, I much prefer it as it does not stop certain types of fics being easily found, unlike on where it is to generic to search for things such as rape.

anonymous on March 28, 2013:

I use both sites pretty regularly. However. While I use most of my reading on, when I want some adult entertainment reading...I go to AO3. And when they did that recent purge, I almost left permanently. At that point I was reading a lot of "Harry Potter Characters read the books" type of deal, and suddenly all my fav authors get their stories taken off. Then I started to notice that most of the NARUTO (most popular anime for fanfics) stories started to go down the drain. Why the heck should I stay on a site the doesn't promote spell-check on a regular basis? At least the "Smut AO3" has great writing in it. While the tags are tricky, when you want a specific story, and you get a page full of awesomeness? Most tags require patience. When you don't have the patience to find a good, well-written story that caters to your ideas...Well then, sorry. While now I use a lot of different sites to find what I am looking for, will always have a spot in my heart. But when all the good stories seem to be LJ? And you want them on your E-book reader? I will always turn to AO3. As most LJ writers seem to post here. Never disregard something just because the "tags are too tuff, i want something simpple." That just leads to badly written stories and a few good ones splattered on. For all you ff fans that disregard AO3 just because of the difficulty of the tags, I beg of you to give it a little patience and some good will. After all, soon, your fandom may be deleted of its best stories and then you have to go to another FORUM to read them, then the forum closes and then you are stuck with no way of getting those great stories.Also, I hate writing reviews. It's a long-drawn out process. Most of the BAD authors want one, but I am someone that can't criticize without making it flamey. Why should I make a flamey review when the author is just going to diregard it? If its a super great story and its not completed and I want to subscribe for updates-then I make a short but sweet statement like "More soon please" or "AWESOME! PWEASE UPDATE!!". Leaving Kudos? Well at first I had no idea what the Kudos was for, but now...Yes. Something I can click that says, "OMGSUPERMEGAFOXYAWESOMEHOT! I LOVE IT! UPDATE MORE STUFF LIKE THIS!" Most authors hate my short reviews. Well sorry, I rather just leave a kudos. RPFing? It took my soul. I (and probably many a fangirl) hoped for a certain actor/tress to be with a certain actor/tress. But for years I had no idea that there were fans that WROTE ABOUT IT. and Posted it. Somewhere. If you say that RPF fics are bad for AO3 then you have certainly never fantasized about an actor/tress. Main thing about this? I will always start with, but sooner or later, I will head and stay in AO3 for days at a time. If you think one is better than the other, then you are living in a fantasy. FANFICS FOR DA WIN!!

anonymous on March 26, 2013:

I use both sites, as a writer and a reader. I will say that there are two features of AO3 that are incredibly important to me. The first is that you can set your own style for the page. This is good for me, as I read primarily at night. Who knew that changing the background to a pale gray or tan would reduce eyestrain and headache? I can honestly say that it did for me.The second (and it is mentioned, but not emphasized in this article) is that the tags allow you to be very specific in what you're looking for. You can search, for instance, for fics that generally include... well, pick a tag - let's use Harry Potter. You can then narrow it by character, relationship, AU (i.e. Independent!Harry), circumstance (i.e. Time Travel).... I can narrow down 12,000+ listings to the 40 or 50 that I actually want to read. And that's just by adding additional tags to the search! On FFN, I'd have to hope that someone made a Community (or make one myself) in order to have a good list of similar story types.And, by the way, there is an easy way to search for just crossovers. Just pick one fandom (i.e. Harry Potter), and then add a second fandom tag (Fullmetal Alchemist, perhaps?). Thousands of HP stories become 15 HP/FMA crossovers. Further filter by language setting (English), decide I only want complete stories, and we have eleven. Easy!

Aja103654 on February 03, 2013:

I can't really choose either since I have not checked out AO3 that much. Also, loads of stories in FFnet are crap and it's getting harder and harder to find only the best and well written stories. Plus there's so much slash pairings and Yaoi compared to hetero pairings which I prefer. AO3 looked complicated to me, as well. Thank you so much for this article!

Nicole Pellegrini (author) from New Jersey on August 27, 2012:

@TeacherSerenia: I'm not on FF.N any longer (I left after the first adult content purge in 2002 on principle). I do have an AO3 account but prefer not to link my fan-writing account to my general on-line ID. I'll send you a private message, however.

TeacherSerenia on August 27, 2012:

So out of curiosity - can I ask what your profile name is on FF net and what genre of stories you write, read or favourite? I prefer reading JAG, Stargate SG1 and BATB stories.

Li-Li-ThePinkBookworm on July 26, 2012:

Great lens idea! Something I can really get behind :) I love because of their simple structure and the fact that people easily review stories.Li Li

anonymous on July 09, 2012:

I think FFN is much surperior, and unless you're in the Glee fandom, or like anime, there's a lot of amazing stories out there for you to read. And, let's face it, AO3 is a disaster right now. Maybe once it finally gets out of beta, it'll be better, but it's borderline unusable right now. Don't even get me started on the tags. They make me want to disembowel myself with a blunt teaspoon. It's a disaster, and there's so much tagging and stupid tags, and variation on tags, and it's just really ____ed up. And AO3 is really ugly. FFn's simplicity is oft complained about, but I think complex site's with lots of bright graphics and such are distracting to the story.There's also quite a bit more community at FFN. You actually get, y'know, reviews. I know you AO3 people must think they're just myths, but they exist over at, if you don't like either, Livejournal is a good alternative!

anonymous on July 09, 2012:

I never had any idea sites like this were out there. Though I don't do it much, I do creative writing exercises involving my favorite characters (Conan, James Bond, etc.). I'll have to check out both sites and decide on one. Thanks.

anonymous on July 08, 2012:

I've used both sites, and I really don't get AO3's structure. When you click on a tag, you have to sort through a bunch of stuff you don't want, and it's a pain to deal with overall. Although at times it's quite useful, I generally dislike the tag system. With, I find it much easier to find what I'm looking for. Also, in regards to what some have said about the quality, I honestly don't think it's that bad. Sure, there are fics with bad grammar and spelling- but not everyone is a great writer, and it seems to me that a lot of people don't respect that enough. Also, I haven't found this to happen exceedingly often. There was one instance of an author spelling the main character's name five different ways- all of them wrong. This is just my opinion of course, but I'm not really against the purge. I have found way too many misclassified fanfics, and as a fourteen year old, I don't think it's right to find an extremely graphic sex scene under a T rating. I'd like to preserve my innocence, thank you. It would have been alright if they had kept the MA rating, and just kept it separate from the rest.

JoshK47 on July 08, 2012:

I can't say I've actually ever been to AO3 - I have a few pieces up on from back in the day, but that was years ago. Very nice lens!

anonymous on June 25, 2012:

The truth is that I prefer AO3 despite several drawbacks, I feel a comfort to read. The interface is friendly and the typography of the text is beautiful, I think the fact that it has the possibility of Kudos, is great and encouraged to comment, despite all claims to the contrary. And I can download the pdf format of the fic to keep it in a folder! It's great, that and to allow the MA rating, although some people seem inaccurate. Where does it go then? It's a fanfic! No more censorship. Just I wish the site was more orderly, and there were more fics in Spanish, but that I must wait.

anonymous on June 24, 2012:

2 things that are worth mentioning. 1-comepleted fics. for me, i've noticed that more fics on AO3 are finished over the other thing for me is the download option. i just got an ereader, and its the best for fanfiction, but only if i can get it on there. :]

anonymous on June 22, 2012:

Lots of information here which is great. I used to use a while back and was very happy with it until I got a virus which has slowed down my computer for years. I have used AO3 more recently and I like it except for the unavailability issues mentioned. I have avoided snce the virus incident but I would like to return if that kind of problem is gone. I'm not surehow to safely find out however. Anyway I have issues with both sites so for now I have to go to alternative sites (like LiveJournal for instance). Thank you for the article

anonymous on June 14, 2012:

I can't stand FFnet, stopped using it six years ago, removed all my fic and won't touch anything posted on it. Apart from the eye-watering bad writing on the site, the reason I read or write fanfiction at all is because I appreciate how creativity flourishes in spite of external controls, so when a pack of highhanded and self-entitled authoritarians try to control what gets posted, it defeats the purpose and what little enjoyment might be had out of that steaming pile. The censorship and purging actually started years ago.

anonymous on June 11, 2012:

A word of warning about FicWad -- the owner hasn't been around to fix many of the errors that are developing and the forums are full of spammers. So use at your own risk.

anonymous on June 09, 2012:

I read from both but only have fic posted on LJ. My preference is for AO3. The silly purging on FFnet and the very childish, 'review or I won't post' peeves me off royally. Initially it seemed as if AO3 might be harder to navigate but as you use it you should find it very user friendly, My one complaint about AO3 is the frequently very slow loading of the fandom pages, the stories come up fairly quickly when you click on them. I assume it is because of the high volume of transfers they are getting right now both from FFnet and 852 Prospect. Hopefully it will ease up in a month or so aftewr all the stories are transferred.

AmyCat on June 09, 2012:

You raise some good points, pro and con, about both sites. Several of the criticisms of my preferred site, AO3, are valid... but given the responsiveness of the AO3 staff, I'm optimistic about the biggest one (inability to set searches to *exclude* as well as *include* tags or ratings) eventually being addressed. Nothing I've heard or seen leads me to think the folks have much interest in pleasing fans... as witness this latest "purge".THanks for a great article!

Nicole Pellegrini (author) from New Jersey on June 09, 2012:

@anonymous: Thanks for your comments - I will add some more details to the criticisms of AO3 about this. I know it's become a popular place for people to post their "kink meme" stories, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear a lot of adult content is moving there after the recent FF.N crackdown.

Nicole Pellegrini (author) from New Jersey on June 09, 2012:

@anonymous: @Leila - yes, I am continuing to update this page as site changes roll out (both on FF.N and AO3). It seems as though the recent crackdown on Mature content at FF.N has brought a lot of people to this page looking for more information to compare them both, so I am trying to work on updating as best as I can. Thanks for reading!

anonymous on June 09, 2012:

This is cool. I like how you laid everything out. I admit to being very familiar with ffnet but found AO3 rather confusing while trying to navigate a few months back. I was surprised by how current your information is and was looking for when you posted this but couldn't find the date. Is this just something that is under constant construction as the sites roll out new policies?

anonymous on May 27, 2012:

@anonymous: Unfortunately, I find this to be true. Some of the descriptions for the stories should be screened. They are very hard core, and I wish like they would make the Explicit and Mature rated works only visible if you elected to see them.

anonymous on May 23, 2012:

I find both sites perfectly functional personally. I must say AO3 has recently become, at least for some fandoms, nothing more than a smut dump. I don't really see any quality increase in the fics either. If AO3 actually allowed for the ability to filter out a tag it'd be much more pleasant. Not everybody wants to read about an author's homosexual pedophilia incest fanfic filled to the brim with absolutely creepy kinks and personally don't even want to read the description of said fic. The fact that said fics are even allowed on the site is kinda iffy if you were to ask me.

Nicole Pellegrini (author) from New Jersey on April 07, 2012:

@mythphile: Hey Greekgeek! Glad to see another fandom person here. (I write fanfic under a different name but have been active on and elsewhere for ages.) I definitely agree that both of the archives serve different purposes and audiences; I used to post to but since a lot of my fiction is more adult-oriented, I had to take it down once the site's policies changed. And even though I have my own fic site and archive my stories on fandom-specific websites, I've found cross-posting to AO3 has certainly brought in a new audience for my work. My biggest issue with the site these days is the tagging system and how unwieldy it is, particularly in fandoms with a lot of characters and pairings that haven't been "tag-wrangled" yet.I definitely do more browsing for fic on AO3 these days than elsewhere, but I do have a lot of lingering concerns about the site architecture and how well it's designed for future growth and expansion. I just hope their means aren't exhausted by their lofty goals.

Ellen Brundige from California on April 07, 2012:

They've wound up serving different purposes. Many of us hoped AO3 would be the answer to the problems of ffnet (almost wrote ficwad there, gack), but it introduced a host of new problems. Searching and the lack of community are the biggest ones, although the migration of most of my fandom to DW and some to Tumblr has the spillover effect that people are commenting a little more on AO3 where we'll see it. On the other hand, AO3 makes challenge communities and exchanges so much easier, and I am really grateful to be able to integrate my own illustrations and reader-submitted fanart right into the story -- or, heck, share my fanart!AO3's download and reader functions make it easier for those who have migrated to tablets (they are really helpful if one has minor vision issues). I like AO3 better. But in practice, I get more reedback on ffnet. So I cross-post.