This is a big topic I’ve seen when it comes to writing and posting fanfiction a lot, lately. Which platform is better for fanfiction, Fanfiction.net or Archive of Our Own? Being a fanfic writer and reader, I thought I’d give my opinion on what I’ve observed when using both platforms.
Quick disclaimer: I’ve always used Fanfiction.net to post my fanfics. I’ve never done the same for Archive of Our Own, and so I can’t speak personally for what it’s like to post things on Archive of Our Own and how getting reviews (as well as replying to them) work. Because of this, I’ll mainly be focusing on which one is better as a reader, rather than as one that posts fanfiction.
I’ve always posted my fanfiction on this website, mainly because this was the big one that I heard of first, and the one that everyone seemed to be using at the time when I started writing and posting fanfics. It’s easy to separate categories and find fanfics specifically for the one or two characters you like, and it also, by default, separates the M-rated fanfics from the K to T-rated fanfics so that no minors are going to stumble across the M-rated ones by accident. Given the fact that fanfiction.net can now also exclude categories of genre and characters when looking up fanfics, this makes finding fanfics easier without seeing the characters or genres you despise.
Speaking as a fanfiction author, I know that I do get an okay amount of comments, reviews and favourites on the website when I do post my fanfiction, and that’s really encouraging for me to continue writing and posting. It should be noted, however, that the amount of reviews you get heavily depends on what fandom you’re posting in. In my experience, crossovers and smaller fandoms in general are going to net you less reviews if you write fanfics for them, while if you write for bigger fandoms like Yugioh or Final Fantasy, you’re more likely to get reviews.
Archive of Our Own
The tagging system makes it super easy to find fanfics with specific pairings or characters in them, but it’s a double-edged sword because it doesn’t automatically separate the crossovers from the non-crossovers. If I have to be hugely honest, the tagging system is messy as much as it’s convenient for finding fanfics, depending on what kind of fanfics you’re looking for. What I do appreciate about this, however, is that one can tag trigger warnings onto their fanfics, so you can check those before you actually read the fic.
I’ve never posted anything on Archive of Our Own, so I can’t say much regarding how well posting fanfics and getting reviews are, but as far as I’ve heard from other fanfic writers using Archive, the trend seems to be that the amount of reviews they get heavily depends on what fandom they’re posting in, as well as the timing of it.
In terms of writing quality of fanfics on either site when reading them, I think it hugely depends on where you are looking for what kind of fanfics. If it’s fanfics that are NSFW and you want some really, really steamy ones, you’re better off searching on Archive of Our Own for that, because they seem to be more prevalent there. Fanfiction.net, in my experience, has a lot of great fanfics in the K to T categories, while Archive has a lot of really steamy M rated fics that are interesting to read. This is not to say that Fanfiction.net has bad M-rated fanfics, nor does it mean that Archive’s non-M-rated fanfics are bad. There are well-written and horribly-written fics on both sites, in my opinion and I imagine the quality of the writing just depends on what you want to find.
Ultimately, when choosing between the two in terms of which is better, as reader I think it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re willing to go through a jungle of fanfics with messy tags and also be able to avoid or find specific tags of ships and characters, Archive is probably your best bet for that kind of experience. Fanfiction.net is a bit more sturdy and organized, just simply because of how different the system is. With that being said, I think you can find some really good fanfics to read on either site, and which one you prefer best just really comes down to which kind of system you want to work with, and what you feel works best for you.
If anyone wants to comment on their point of view in this topic, feel free to comment! I would love to hear your perspectives on this.