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2014-01-27 18:38:38 -0500

2013 was another record year for the Archive of Our Own in terms of site growth and traffic increases, and we'd like to highlight some figures in this post (and the following). All raw data used for these charts is available in spreadsheet form, if you want to crunch the numbers or create some graphs yourself.

» AO3 Stats - 2013 (on Google Drive)


More works! More kudos! More everything!

We started the year 2009 with 182 users and a little over 2,000 works, a few of which probably said something like, "dskjdlj test test," or variations thereof. The Archive code was still being written by a small group of volunteers, who created a framework for posting, browsing, and commenting on fannish works entirely from scratch. It was considered stable enough for the general public in November 2009, when we kicked off our Open Beta phase. By January 2010, we had over 4,200 users and 36,500 works.

In 2013, we went from about 103,000 accounts to 247,000, and we passed the quarter-million mark earlier this month. (Excitement!) Roughly 416,000 new works were posted to the Archive last year, which is almost half of all our current works. (And for those reaching for the calculator right now, that's about 1,140 new works per day, on average.)

The really staggering increases, however, happened where users were interacting with each other: leaving kudos, talking in the comments, adding works to their bookmarks and recs.


Month-by-month growth of kudos, bookmarks, comments, works, and users for the year 2013. The high numbers and steeper increases for kudos, bookmarks, and comments dominate the chart, with the lines for works and users seemingly crawling along the bottom. All numbers can be found in the 'works & users' tab in the linked Google Drive spreadsheet.


We went from roughly 2 million comments in our database to almost 5.5 million, and from 10 million kudos to 28 million. (That number is one of the reasons we can't offer a feature that would give you a list of all works you've left kudos on: there's just too much data to make those calculations for each individual user while keeping the servers happy.)

What really took off in 2013 were bookmarks: 1.8 million at the beginning of 2013, almost 7 million by the end.

As it turned out, our search index code was not prepared for this amount of data at this level of user activity, and slowly broke down towards the end of last year. We are currently rewriting the relevant part of our code, making use of new tools at our disposal, for a more streamlined indexing process.

To better illustrate trends in all these numbers, here's a chart showing relative bookmark, kudos, comment, user, and work growth in 2013. (Increases are shown in percent: for example, going from 50 works to 100 would be a 100% increase, and going from 100 comments to 150 would be a 50% increase.)


Month-by-month relative growth of bookmarks, kudos, comments, works, and users for the year 2013 (in percent, starting on January 1, 2013). Bookmarks show the steepest increase (277%), users the lowest (77%). Kudos and comments show an almost identical growth, even though they differ in absolute numbers. All numbers can be found in the 'works & users' tab in the linked Google Drive spreadsheet.


Over the last twelve months, kudos and comment numbers almost doubled (both increasing by roughly 190 percent), while the number of bookmarks almost tripled (280% percent increase).

One last stat we looked at were average feedback numbers per work, given the total number of works.


Month-by-month growth in the average number of kudos/comments/bookmarks per work. The numbers were calculated for every month, based on data in the 'works & users' tab in the linked Google Drive spreadsheet.


As you can see, these numbers also went up over the year. We started out with 3.6 comments, 3.4 bookmarks, and 18 kudos per work, on average. This was followed by a relatively slow increase in works, and a much steeper increase in feedback numbers. By the end of 2013, we registered 5.8 comments, 7.3 bookmarks, and 30 kudos per work. (Of course, all these are averages across almost a million works, so a relative handful of very widely-read works in popular fandoms will drive up the numbers by quite a bit.)


More traffic!

One way to measure site activity is by looking at works and comments, another is through reports from our server monitoring tool, New Relic. Among many other things, it keeps track of how many pages were generated and served to our users at any given time.

We started the last year with 27.6 million page views in the first week of January 2013, which comes out to roughly 3.9 million page views a day, or 2,700 page views a minute. That's on average, of course. Sundays will be much busier than any weekday, and there are peak times and slower periods throughout the day.

In the first week of January 2014, we counted 49.5 million page views. At this rate, a Sunday with 7 million page views isn't a rarity anymore. That's an average of 4,800 pages served to users every minute.

The following graph shows this increase in page views, focusing on 2013 specifically: The first week of January represents our zero point, and the growth is charted from there.


Increase in weekly page views during 2013, starting at the first week of January 2013, and ending at the first week of January 2014. Every Monday-Sunday period is represented by a dot, and the dots gently meander upwards, with a steeper increase towards the end of the year. Numbers are available in the linked Google Drive spreadsheet.


The pattern we witnessed in 2012/2013 - increased traffic in December, with a considerable peak in the first week of January, followed by a brief lull - also held in 2013/2014.

Even though we're only hosting text-based works right now, this much site usage still generates a fair amount of traffic to and from the database. By the end of 2013, we were moving 10 Terabytes of data every month.

As mentioned before, all these numbers (and more!) are available in spreadsheet form:

» AO3 Stats - 2013 (on Google Drive)


This concludes our first post! The next one will follow at the beginning of February and include looks at international site usage (spoiler: we are everywhere!) and browser preferences (spoiler: a lot of people browse from phones and tablets). If you have any questions or have created any additional charts, let us know!