2011 was an amazing year for the Archive of Our Own, and we wanted to take a moment to look back and to thank everyone involved, including all of our users and volunteers! AO3 started its open beta about two years ago, towards the end of 2009. That year, we were really still putting the pieces together, building out the core functionality. In 2010, we started to pick up more momentum with people posting their works and archiving their older fic and art. We added gift exchange challenge hosting, kudos, downloads and skins. This year, we've done a lot of work on site performance and infrastructure, usability improvements, and new features like subscriptions and prompt meme challenges. We're looking forward to expanding on that next year and continuing to build a great, stable home for all kinds of fanworks!
Traffic and performance
At the beginning of the year, we moved to a new and bigger set of servers, which gave the site some much-needed room to grow. Our systems team made some tweaks along the way, ensuring that we were getting the best performance out of the new setup. We started using Redis, which is super-fast, for email queues, autocompletes and other background tasks, which took some of the load off our main database. And even with all the work we were doing, it was tough to keep up with how fast the site was growing! 2/3rds of our current registered users signed up this year, and we kept giving out more and more invitations through our invite queue, but the numbers kept climbing - there were over 2,000 people on the waiting list for several months. (We've finally gotten that down now, just by sending out even more as the system could handle it.) And many more site visitors aren't registered users - we now get well over half a million unique visitors each month and there have been 24+ million pageviews in December. We now get as much traffic on an average day as we did last year during Yuletide, which at the time was a huge traffic spike. The period around Christmas, with Yuletide and other holiday exchanges going live, still represents a noticeable jump in traffic, but the difference isn't as great which means more stable site performance. (\o/ We were standing by with fingers crossed just in case, but we were thrilled that no last-minute work was required this year!)
Fun with charts!
AO3 is currently home to over 8,100 fandoms, 31,000 users and 275,000 works! Here's a graph of work, chapter, bookmark and comment posting over the last three years:
You can see that work posting is up this year, but what's much more dramatic is the increase in reading, bookmarking and commenting. There have also been more multi-chapter works and works-in-progress posted this year, which is exciting. And one of the neat features the archive has is the ability to go back and see what you've read or viewed, for registered users who have it enabled. Here's how that looks year-to-year:
Lots of people viewing lots of stuff! There have also been almost 1.5 million kudos left since last year, so there's been no shortage of love to go around. <3
What's on deck for 2012
In the short term, we have a new release coming out hopefully early this month, and that will include improvements to our HTML parser (yay!), some exciting new subscription options and a variety of bugfixes. There are also a ton of other features and improvements that we've been developing this year that we hope to have ready for you in 2012, including the ability to view the site in other languages, art hosting, an on-site support area and a wealth of browsing, filtering and email improvements for both works and bookmarks. We also hope to start a series of international fandom spotlights in January and solicit more input from users about upcoming features.
And finally: thank you! Thanks to all of the authors, artists, and vidders who have posted their works, to the mods who organize challenges and collections, to those who have shared skins for customizing the site, to everyone who creates bookmarks and leaves comments and kudos, encouraging authors and artists and making it easier for other fans to find awesome works. Thanks to everyone for bearing with our growing pains earlier in the year and for supporting AO3 financially, enabling it to continue operating and improving. And many thanks, as always, to everyone who volunteers their time wrangling tags, writing code, testing the site, handling support requests, and maintaining our systems, and also to everyone who's left comments and written in to our support team with feedback, suggestions, and bug reports, all of which are incredibly valuable! The archive is very much a community effort, and it couldn't exist without all of us working together and supporting one another.