Archive of Our Own should not have its own app


Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Despite users urging Archive of Our Own to build its own app, the idea should never be fulfilled as the app store guidelines would eliminate the foundations the organization was built on.

Archive of Our Own is one of the largest sites that hold over 10 million works of fan fiction from hundreds of fandoms. 

The Organization for Transformative Works, a non-profit organization, created this site to protect fan fiction from legal and cultural backlash as fan fiction has been dismissed for its impact on fandoms and literature. 

The app store has several restrictions that would censor the works featured in AO3 which would ultimately lead to the removal of hundreds if not thousands of works archived on the site. 

Dead dove fan fiction, works that are sensitive or disturbing, are the most at risk. The whole point of an archive is to include material regardless of its content. 

To add on, the development of an app is not as easy or straightforward as people might think. There need to be constant updates that support IOS, Play Store and other app interfaces. 

Since AO3 is supported by volunteer work and donations, it would be extremely difficult and expensive to have a constant flow of developers working on the app when there is a site that is accessible from every platform. 

The organization’s main concern is to provide a platform where people can post, share and create their fan fiction works without input from third parties and capitalist companies. 

A prominent example of a site choosing to profit off of its users is the other popular fan fiction site, Wattpad

Wattpad has introduced subscriptions, paid stories and countless ads that hinder the user experience when it used to be free in the past. 

Ads are shown after every other chapter and with the nature of ads, it affects the user’s experience by pushing an agenda or certain kinds of stories to the front page. 

AO3 strives to keep ads from its website because they want full autonomy over its decisions and content. There are no suggested or recommended stories on the front page. If a reader wants to read a story, they have to use the intensive tagging system to look for a particular story. 

AO3’s tagging system allows users to include or exclude certain topics, rank by most recently updated or likes and even filter through completed and uncompleted works. 

With AO3’s interface, the reader has full control of their experience without the intrusion of ads or other third parties. 

Archive of Our Own is uniquely tailored to each individual and an app would only disrupt the autonomy and foundation of the archive. The website works just as well on computer desktops as mobile browsers so there is no reason to build an app. 

Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a sophomore journalism major who can be reached at [email protected] 

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