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[Fandom stats] The biggest AO3 fandoms and their traits, as of 2013

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What are the most common fandoms on AO3 right now?  (Aug 2013) What are their most common traits?  Caveat: due to processing errors, a number of fandoms did not get properly analyzed - mostly ones whose names contain Japanese characters, but apparently also Les Mis (and possibly others).  Please point out popular fandoms that you see missing!  I will work to update this.


I looked at approximately the top 100 fandoms on AO3 (actually the top 96, due to some silly processing errors on my part -- oops -- and missing all the ones with special characters, as mentioned in the caveat above -- double oops).  I sorted the fandoms in order of number of fanworks on AO3.    For each of these fandoms, I listed the number of works, and the most common relationship category, character, fandom tag (for many it's the same, but for the umbrella fandoms like "Marvel", the top fandom tag is a subset fandom), freeform tag, rating, relationship, and warning.

Overlapping fandoms.  A lot of the fandoms have a high degree of overlap; I went through and highlighted in gray in the spreadsheet all the fandoms that have the same primary character and primary fandom as a higher fandom on the list.  (I did this by hand, so I might have missed a few.)


Top fandoms. The top three most common fandoms on AO3 right now are Marvel, Supernatural, and Harry Potter.  This is especially impressive for Harry Potter, I think (see my previous posts about how AO3 is heavily weighted toward recent fandoms).  The Sherlock and Teen Wolf fandoms may have two of the three most common ships, but those fandoms fall a bit further down the list in terms of overall number of works.

Relationship categories.  The most common relationship category for most of the top fandoms is M/M.  I highlighted in the spreadsheet all those that had Gen or F/M as the top category.  (I will be doing a post soon on the fandoms with the most femslash on AO3, I promise!)

Ratings.  Most of the fandoms have "Teen And Up Audiences" as the most common rating.  A few are mostly "General Audiences" or "Explicit"; I've highlighted those in the spreadsheet.

Warnings.  In most cases, the most common warning category is "No Archive Warnings Apply."  I've highlighted the fandoms that most often use "Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings" instead.

Freeform tags.  The most common freeform tag in the top fandoms is "Angst," followed by "Alternate Universe".  The other most common ones are shown in the pie graph; in the spreadsheet, I highlighted all the tags that fall into "Other" on the pie chart.

Additional notes of interest

Original work. There are two rare fandoms that show up on the list with "Original Fiction" as the most common freeform tag.  I doublechecked this; these tags do actually return this many works in the AO3 search results.  They apparently map onto the "Original Work" umbrella tag, and return that entire set of AO3 works despite their own small sizes.

Sticky Sex.  This is the most common freeform tag for Transformers-related fandoms.  I am delighted by this, as I've never run across it.  I tried reading a fic with that label, and I still don't understand it!  :D  Can anyone clue me in to what this means?

Future work

There are so many analyses I plan to do to dig into all this deeper!  This is just a glimpse of what the data holds.  Next up, I'll be looking at where the femslash is hiding on AO3.  Other suggestions always welcome!