March 3, 2024

AO3 was offline a week ago, but fandom is still brewing in the Downdetector comments

It was an internet nerd’s worst nightmare. On July 10, Archive of Our Own (AO3), a beloved, non-profit fan fiction platform plagued by DDoS attacks, making it inaccessible for more than a day. It makes sense that this community would turn to Downdetector, a website where users report web outages and share information about outages with each other. What doesn’t make sense is that AO3 has been back online for the past week, but some people are still using the The detector comments down like a huge group chat. They even started calling themselves the “Downdetector fandom.”

Image Credits: Detector down

I started drafting this story on July 11th, because I thought it was funny that people were writing romantic fan fiction in Downdetector comments about the relationship between AO3 and Downdetector himself. I didn’t finish it because… what can I say, things were busy. But I checked back on those crazy kids, and they are still kickin’ it in Downdetector comments! It’s over the week!

I’ve joined comment threads where we try to count everything to 69420 and create oodles of spam in the process, but the comments on AO3’s Downdetector page aren’t like that. These are not people who want to keep commenting on the Downdetector page because it’s funny to raise the number. People are having real conversations about asexuality in fiction, the struggles of Wattpad, and managing mental health conditions. They are talking about it too House stake and sometimes bullying each other, which is not so great, but this is what happens on the internet.

Image Credits: Detector down

As of publication, Down Detector AO3 has 117,325 comments (and counting). For comparison, the Downdetector Facebook page has a total of 1,751 comments, while Google has 261 comments (all of the Downdetector comment sections seem to only go back about 7 months).

Why are these people turning the Downdetector comments section into their new digital home, especially if AO3 is back, anyway? The user interface in the Disqus comments section is a lot, as you can only load a handful of comments at a time. But the new thing about this is that there is no good reason to create a de facto internet forum in the comments section of a website about offline websites. These people – probably only a few dozen recurring posters, but they are going strong – keep coming back because it is so misunderstood to use technology, and it makes fun.

Even as AO3 upgrade to Cloudflare’s “shiny new setup,” the fan fiction haven will likely collapse again one day. By then, these eager commenters will probably have lost touch, returning to their internet routines, happily reading their fanfic as they all wanted. But when someone logs onto Downdetector to report that they can’t read their favorite Supernatural fiction, they’ll see over a hundred thousand comments waiting for them. I think that’s beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *