AO3 News

Farewell OpenID

Published: 2013-01-22 17:51:30 -0500

We announced quite a long while ago that we were phasing out the use of OpenID on the AO3. While the feature was convenient for some users, a very small percentage of accounts were using an OpenID login, and the amount of time spent on maintaining the feature outweighed the benefits of offering it as an option.

When we made the decision to phase out OpenID, we removed it as an option for new accounts. We're now removing the option completely, which means that existing accounts which are using OpenID logins will need to switch to logging in via a username and password combination. Only 57 users are currently logging in via OpenID, so this will not affect many people (we will be emailing all those users who do not currently have a password set up).

If you're currently using an OpenID login, you need to do the following:

1. Check your username (the default name for your account)
2. Log out of the Archive and choose the 'forgot password?' option next to 'Log in'.
3. Enter your username or email address to have a password emailed to you.
4. Log in using your username and the password which was sent to you.
5. Go to your profile to set a password of your choice.
6. Log in using your username and chosen password from now on.

We're sorry to those of you who did find the OpenID option useful. We'll continue to consider different login options going forward, but it's important to us to have something we can commit to maintaining fully. If you encounter any problems during the switch, please contact Support!


Scheduled downtime: firewall upgrade

Published: 2013-01-16 06:24:06 -0500

The Archive of Our Own will have some scheduled downtime on Thursday January 17 at 18.30 22:00 UTC (see what time this in in your timezone). We expect the downtime to last about 15 minutes.

This downtime is to allow us to make some changes to our firewall which will make it better able to cope under heavy loads. This will help with the kinds of connection issues we experienced last week: our colocation host has generously offered to help us out with this (thanks, Randy!).

As usual, we'll tweet from AO3_Status before we start and when we go back up, and we'll update there if anything unexpected happens.


852 Prospect - Manual Import FAQ

Published: 2013-01-10 12:46:57 -0500

Hi, 852 Prospect authors!

The 852 Prospect is still moving to the AO3 due to the state of its software (read more about this in our first post about the move), but there have been some unexpected delays with the code needed to do the automated import happen. For that reason, the Open Doors Committee will be emailing AO3 invitations (and explanations) to all of the 852 Prospect authors in the next few weeks. This will allow any interested author to set up their own accounts and import their stories to the 852 Prospect collection on AO3 if they don't want to wait. If you no longer have access to the email address you used on, or if you have questions not answered by this post, you can always contact Open Doors. (If you have verified your new address with Open Doors before, you don't need to do so again.)

To avoid duplicate stories when the rest of the collection is auto-imported in the near future, we request you post them using the manual URL importer feature. Doing it this way will ensure that all of the comments, kudos and hit counts will be on one story and that readers following old links from 852 Prospect will get to your stories easily.

To help you do this, you can read the Archive FAQs on Importing, Collections and Tags, and the short FAQ below.

There will also be two public chats, hosted by the Open Doors and Support committees, on Campfire (the online chat platform the OTW uses). The first will be on February 2 at 22:00UTC. The second will be on February 10 at 01:00UTC. (Click the links to see when the chat is being held in your timezone). You can access OTW’s public chatroom using this guest link.

How do I add my stories to the 852 Prospect Collection in the Archive?
How do I import stories from
How do I search within the 852 Prospect Collection?


How do I add my stories to the 852 Prospect Collection in the Archive?

For stories already posted on the Archive of Our Own:
1. Access your dashboard while logged in and click on "Edit Works".

2. Select the stories you would like to add to the 852 Prospect Archive collection, and click "Edit".

3. In the second gray box, there is a field for "Add to Collections". Start typing "852 Prospect Archive"; it will pop up as a suggestion. Click on it.

4. Down at the bottom, click "Update All Works".

5. Because the 852 Prospect Archive collection is moderated, your story/stories will not be added right away.

While importing stories to the Archive of Our Own:
1. While signed in, go to the 852 Prospect Archive collection page ( and click on the button in the upper-right hand corner, "Post to Collection".

2. Import your story using the "Import From An Existing URL" feature. (See below for instructions.)


How do I import stories from

1. While logged in, click on the "Post New" button in the upper-right hand corner.

2. On the next page, click on "Import From An Existing URL Instead?" (also in the upper-right hand corner).

3. Copy the URL of your story on the website, and then paste into the window for URLs.

4. Select your story rating (required); pick one of five choices:
Not Rated: Select this if you do not wish to rate your story.
General Audiences: For stories on that were rated Gen or PG.
Teen and Up Audiences: Select this if you would like to rate your story for PG-13 audiences.
Mature: For stories on that were rated R.
Explicit: For stories on that were rated NC-17.

5. Select applicable warnings for the AO3 (required). (Any other warnings you would like to add to your story can be added under Additional Tags.) There are six choices, mark all that apply:
Choose Not to Use Archive Warnings: Select this if you do not wish to assign warnings to your story.
Graphic Depictions of Violence: For stories on that had a "violence" warning, or otherwise contain scenes of graphic violence.
No Archive Warnings Apply: Select this warning if you do not believe the AO3 warnings apply to your story.
Rape/Non-Con: For stories on that had a "rape/nc" warning, or otherwise contain rape or non-consensual elements.
Underage: Select this warning if your story contains an underage person in a sexual relationship with another character.

6. For "Fandoms" (required), start typing "The Sentinel" and it will appear as a suggestion. Click on it. (Add other fandoms if applicable.)

7. For "Category", please select whichever you feel are applicable, or else none:
F/F: Female/Female
F/M: Female/Male
Gen: General: no relationship, or containing relationships which are not the main focus of the work
M/M: Male/Male
Multi: Any combination of relationships, multiple partners
Other: Other

8. For "Relationships", start typing one character's name and select the correct suggestion.

9. Add any other tags (warnings, or tags that mirror categories) that you see fit under Additional Tags. Please note that Additional Tags should not be hyphenated. (For a list of all the tags currently in use within The Sentinel fandom, see this page.)

10. Click "Import". It will take you to a preview screen of the story you imported (or, if you entered multiple URLs, links to preview screens for the stories you imported). On the preview screen for each story, there are four choices down at the bottom:
Post: Click this if you are happy with the formatting and would like to post.
Save Without Posting: Click this if you would like to save this story to your draft folder, to edit/post another time. (Please note, drafts are only saved for a week from the day they were first created.)
Edit: Click this if you would like to edit the story before posting.
Cancel: Click this to cancel, and start over another time.


How do I search within the 852 Prospect Collection?

To search within a collection, make sure you are on the 'works' view of a collection. You can browse to the 'works' view of a collection by clicking 'works' on the sidebar of the collection. You can search within the collection by clicking 'search within results' on the right hand side of the page, within the filters sidebar. This searches all the fields associated with a work in the database, including summary, notes and tags, but not the full work text. There are special characters you can use to further customize your results; the '?' button explains them in more detail.


The Archive will be down for maintenance for short periods on 8, 10 and 11 January. The maintenance is scheduled to start at approximately 05.15 UTC on each day (see what time that is in your timezone), and will last less than an hour each time. We'll put out a notice on our Twitter AO3_Status when we're about to start.

Downtime details

8 January 05.15 UTC: c. 15 minutes downtime.

10 January 05.15 UTC: c. 25 minutes downtime.

11 January 05.15 UTC: c. 50 minutes downtime.

What we're up to

The Archive has grown massively over the past year - during the first week of 2013 we had over 27.6 million pageviews! To cope with the continuing growth of the site, we're adding three more servers. We're also reorganising the way our servers are set up to ensure that they're working as efficiently as possible, and to make it easy for us to add more machines in future.

Our colocation host installed the new machines in late December. We're now moving over to using them, and reorganising our setup. We're doing the work of moving over to our new database server in several small chunks, which will keep downtimes short and make it easier for us to identify the source of any problems which may arise.

What's next?

Once this has been done we'll deploy the Archive code on the new servers and test it out. We'll be looking for some help with this - stay tuned for another post.

When we're happy that everything is working right, we'll make the switch to using the new servers. No downtime expected at present, but we'll keep you posted if that changes.


Thanks for your patience while we work.

We're able to continue expanding the Archive and buying new hardware thanks to the generosity of our volunteers, who give a great deal of time to coding and systems administration, and of OTW members, whose donations pay for the Archive's running costs. If you enjoy using the Archive, please consider making a donation to the OTW. We also very much welcome volunteers, but are currently holding off on recruiting new volunteers while our lovely Volunteers Committee improve our support for new volunteers (we'll let you know when we reopen). Thank you to everyone who supports us!


No cause for concern: malware warnings on the AO3

Published: 2013-01-04 11:26:49 -0500

A number of users have reported receiving malware warnings from Avast when accessing the Archive of Our Own. We haven't been hacked, and there is no cause for concern - the warning was a false positive.

Avast is erroneously flagging a file used by New Relic, which we use to monitor our servers (you can see more details in this thread). New Relic are working with Avast to resolve the issue, and we expect things to be back to normal very shortly (we have had only a small number of reports today).

Thank you to everyone who alerted us to this! If you see something unexpected on the site, we always appreciate hearing about it right away. You can keep track of the latest site status via our Twitter AO3_Status, and contact our Support team via the Support form.


2012 AO3 Milestones

Published: 2013-01-01 13:55:44 -0500

Happy New Year everyone! The OTW is looking forward to new developments this term and one thing we want to celebrate are some milestones that have been passed at the Archive of Our Own in the last few weeks.

Back in 2010, we wrote a post heralding our first major milestone when we reached 100,000 works less than a year into our beta. (We should point out that another OTW project, Fanlore, also hit the 100,000 edit mark that same year!)

As of November 25 we passed 500,000 works archived at AO3. We passed the 10,000 fandoms mark a week later, and on December 17, our Support team answered the AO3's 10,000th support ticket! Then by December 25 we passed the 100,000th user account. As many users discovered in June, the AO3 invite system was put in place to avoid having the site crash during a surge in enrollment. This practice paid off in 2012 when a large number of users migrated to the site in May and began adding works. During the following months new code was written for the site, primarily to redesign the way filters functioned, and new servers have been added. The site remained stable despite continued high demand for accounts, so the invite queue kept being increased every few months to get new users into the site more quickly. As of December 18 we also restored account users' ability to request invitations.

While we still have a large body of users awaiting accounts, currently around 10,000, this is down significantly from the 30,000+ that we saw through the latter half of 2012, and we hope to decrease the wait further in 2013. It seems likely that Archive use will continue growing strongly this year, possibly even repeating 2012's feat of more than doubling its user base.

Engagement With the AO3

As the following graph shows, there has been a distinct jump in various activities on the AO3 during the past eighteen months. User growth appears almost steady compared to reader activity, which can be seen clearly in the increase of bookmarking, commenting, and subscriptions.

However as this second graph shows, all of these numbers are eclipsed by the enormous jump in kudos activity. While the early years of the AO3 saw use primarily as a storage site for authors' writing history, current use is clearly favoring active searching, reccing and participation from readers.

Growth of the Site

While the Archive had to discontinue unique visitor counts in the spring due to the load on the site, we are averaging 80 million page views per month. Another way to look at the growth of the site is with the following statistics, comparing items from AO3's launch in September 2008 to September 2012.

  • Comments per Work 2008: .0075
  • Comments per Work 2012: 6.44
  • Bookmarks per Work 2008: .0382
  • Bookmarks per Work 2012: 7.17

Collections weren’t added until 2009. Their creation statistics are as follows:

2009: 93 new collections
2010: 478 new collections
2011: 771 new collections
2012: 1300 new collections

There are now over 1400 top level collections. Many of these have subcollections for yearly challenges/events, giving us over 2600 collections in total. Yuletide, for example, has 10 subcollections, but only the main Yuletide collection appears in that top-level listing.

We're looking forward to seeing what fan creators and AO3 users bring to the archive in 2013 and we'll keep working to improve your experience on the site!


It's the season of giving! So, we're pleased to announce that invitation requests are back on the AO3!

Once upon a time (i.e. six months ago), users with Archive accounts could request a few invitations to give out, allowing them to share the Archive with friends and help form communities of like-minded fans.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, as many of you may remember, the Archive was having serious performance issues (we saw the sad 502 page far too often). While our coders and systems team hurried to implement emergency fixes, it was decided that we needed stricter control of the number of accounts being created to reduce the likelihood of unexpected overload. (Generally, people browsing the site without being logged in put a certain amount of stress on the servers, but it's the account perks like bookmarking, subscribing, and accessing a full reading history that contribute to server load to a larger degree.) Back then only 100 invitations were issued to people in the queue each day, so additional user requests could have a serious impact! So, in June, the difficult decision was made to stop giving invitations to existing users. You can read more about what was going on then in our post, Update on AO3 performance issues.

Over the next five months our software upgrades and code improvements caught up with the demand. The queue rate was increased several times, most recently to 750 invitations per day. Given that, we've wanted to go back to giving out invitations to existing users, but there were a few issues to be resolved before we could start.

First, the request form had to be altered to set a maximum number of invitations that a user can request at once. Second, the 1,200 user requests that were in the list when it was shut down had to be addressed. Since we had no limits on how many invitations could be requested back then, we had quite a few requests for very large numbers. Due to limitations in the software, individually lowering those numbers now would require manually editing each request, as would granting only some of the requests at once rather than the whole list.

So, two decisions were made:

1) Everyone with a pending request will receive 1 invitation, just to clear out the backlog.

2) User requests are being re-opened! You can now request a maximum number of 10 invitations at one time. Even with this hard limit in place, we ask that everyone ask for only what they need at a time. Once we've hit the figurative switch and re-enabled this feature later today you will be able to request invitations from your Invite a friend page.

We very much appreciate all of our users, and we are proud of our growth this year, even through the bumpy times. We are glad that once again we can enable you to bring more people on board!


Archive maintenance today - downloads will be unavailable

Published: 2012-12-17 06:34:52 -0500

The Archive of Our Own will be undergoing some maintenance today at approximately 18.00 UTC (what time is this in my timezone?). During the maintenance period, which will last approximately two hours, downloads will not work. You will still be able to browse and read on the Archive, but will not be able to download any works. If the work proves complicated, we may also have a period of downtime (although we hope to avoid this).

What's going on?

In the next few weeks, we'll be adding some new servers to the OTW server family. The new servers will add some extra capacity to the Archive of Our Own, and will also create extra room for Fanlore, which is growing rapidly thanks to the amazing work of thousands of fannish editors (as Fanlore users are well aware, this expansion has been putting the existing Fanlore server under increasing strain).

In preparation for these new servers, we need to first reorganise the setup of the existing servers in order to free some more physical space at our colocation host without buying more rack space (rack space costs money, so it’s nice not to use more than we need). In order to do this, we’ll have to take some of the servers offline for a little while today. Doing this now will minimize the disruption caused when the servers arrive during the holiday period, which is typically one of the busiest times of year for the Archive.

The Archive is set up so it can function without all servers running at once, so today, we will only have to take the server which hosts downloads offline. This means that attempts to download any work will fail while we reorganize our data, though the rest of the site will work as usual (pending any unexpected problems). If you prefer to read downloaded works, you may wish to stock up now! Downloads will be restored as soon as we finish our maintenance. We’ll keep you posted about further maintenance when the new servers arrive!

Thanks for your patience while we do this work. You can keep track of current site status via our Twitter account AO3_Status.


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