Reasons to get an AO3 account as a reader
Every time I see someone who reads lots of fic on AO3 but doesn’t have an account, I have to wonder if they realize how many features AO3 has just for readers. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are a few (and I’ve saved the best for last!):
Bookmarks - You probably know these exist because you’ve seen them on fic you read. But did you know that you can:
Make private bookmarks that only you can see - they don’t show up when someone clicks that “bookmarks” link. Not even the author can see them.
Organize your bookmarks with tags.
Filter them like you would a search.
Add your own comments/descriptions, either for your own benefit or the benefit of people looking for something to read. (Just remember that unless your bookmark is private everyone including the author can see tags & comments.)
History - AO3 can track every fic you’ve ever viewed. My history is 373 pages long. However, you can delete any fic from your history with the click of a button, clear your entire history at once, or turn this off.
“Marked for Later” - Some people use bookmarks to save fics they haven’t read yet, but there’s also a separate system for that. When you’re logged in there’s a “Mark for Later” button on each fic. Then you can filter your History down to just those Marked for Later. Once you’ve read a marked fic you can then hit the “Mark as Read” button and it will drop off this
The downside to both the History and Marked for Later is that this system currently can’t be sorted or filtered beyond that, but it can be useful nonetheless if you want to save your Bookmarks for rereading your faves.
Locked fics - Some people lock their fics to registered users for many reasons. They don’t want their fics showing up in search engines, they don’t want bots stealing them, they’re having a troll problem, etc. Without an AO3 account you won’t even see that these exist.
Comment notifications - You have an inbox on AO3, and anytime anyone replies to one of your comments you will get a notification. No more having to go back and check fics to see if authors replied to you! You can also opt to get an email every time.
Customize how you see the site - You can use site skins, hide tags or warnings on fics, skip the extra step to view adult content (if you’re 18+), even customize how your browser titles the window.
Last but very much not least:
Subscribe to fics, series, or authors - I honestly don’t understand how anyone keeps up with WIPs without this.
Get an email every time a new chapter is posted, or every time one of your favorite writers posts a new fic or chapter!
Don’t want to read a WIP as it’s being posted? Subscribe and know as soon as the last chapter goes up.
Worth getting an account just for this alone tbh.
How are you living without it???
(Hitting subscribe is also one more way to show an author you care, although authors can’t see subscriber #s on series.)
There are probably more, but those are the main ones. Yes, you have to wait a few days to get an account, but it’s worth it. If you’re worried because you don’t want people seeing you kudos certain fics (that one tentacle fic you’ll never admit to having read?) - the way login is setup it’s actually super easy to log out, leave anonymous kudos, and log back in without leaving the fic. AO3 is designed by users; they’ve got your back.
And hey, if you ever decide to take the plunge and post something, that’s one step out of your way!
(And seriously, subscribing is a game-changer.)
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“It's incredibly discouraging as a fandom creator to get little to no comments/reblogs on your works” and “no one should be guilt-tripped into reblogging or commenting if they don't want to” are statements that can and should coexist.
And they both coexist with the statement that “posts that guilt-trip fans into interacting with fandom works make many people who want to interact less likely to do it out of fear the creator will think their interaction is not good enough”.
And another truth that also coexists with these, but that I don't see talked about enough, is that this:
(no need to actually read the whole text in the image!)
...is a wall of love.
...are also walls of love!
(image descriptions available in alt text)
And both of these make many creators so, SO happy!
So, for all of us who do want to show creators more love and improve their and our own fandom experience, here's what I propose:
Whenever you consume fandom content, if you have the energy and feel like it, leave a one-line comment. A few emojis. A smile. A keyboard smash. If you have a bit more time and energy than that and you feel like it, quote back your favourite line or point out what your favourite detail about a fanart is. And on the moments where you don't have the energy for any of this, trust that others will do it for you, the same way you do it when you have the energy and others don't.
Let's all remember that fandom is a community. No fan should be feeling like they have to do it all on their own. No one should feel guilty for not having more to give than they do. And those of us who do, let's create walls of love together.
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