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[personal profile] sekritomg
Inspired by this, things I still don't like about AO3 as compared to FFN:

- Lack of favorite authors/stories lists: This was far and away the best method for finding good fic and writers. I know AO3 had bookmarks but literally no one I know on AO3 uses bookmarks consistently in a way that makes it work for finding new content. Especially with the advent of Tumblr and decline in recs lists, this FFN feature would be really g.d. useful on AO3.

- Tagging systems: It's true that tagging can help you find content, but in some ways it does make it harder. Specifically, if you can tag your story literally anything, endlessly, then search features bring up all kinds of things you really don't want, because it's up to users to determine which tags are most relevant to their own story and without limitations many people go nuts. Instead, on AO3, you tend to get fics coming up in the S/K tag because S/K is mentioned offhandedly by another character in the story. Or like, Craig has one line in this fic, so the author tagged it with "Craig" and it now comes up in a search for "Craig" though Craig's not really in the story -- but like, if the author was limited to the number/kind of tags she could use, as on FFN, this would never happen, because only really central characters would have been prioritized in tagging.

- Lack of profile information readily accessible: Yes, it's annoying to have someone write, like, a 10-page novel about their fannish preferences and post a bunch of shout-outs and surveys in their profile, but in some senses that made the FFN more user-friendly, because it told you their fic was probably kind of shitty. The fact that AO3 hides this information behind a link I don't think anyone uses indicates that the site designers don't grasp the value in knowing a bit about the author before you read their work. Which, sure, maybe the work is more important than the author, but who wants to read something without context?

- Lack of communication tools: Direct messaging is a standard feature even on non-longform content sites like Tumblr and Twiter, so why the fuck can't AO3 get that? Also, I'm not saying the FFN forums were amazing or anything, but the fact that they existed was cool and I'm willing to bet some fannish communities were grown there. You might say, but wait, the fics themselves have a commenting system that replaces the need for a forum on AO3, but it doesn't, because the comment section still revolves around fics, whereas a forum is a more open-ended communication tool. In fact, I feel like the comment system on AO3 was designed to mimic the comment section on LJ, rather than the reviewing pages on FFN. And while I appreciate that you can get a dialogue going for other readers/passersby to peruse, trying to replace this LJ feature isn't necessarily going to work when the only content being hosted is fic. Part of that is that you could conceivably, on LJ, get into a discussion with a third party on a post written by someone else, but the AO3 commenting system remains a writer-reader exchange for the the most part, so blah blah blah ... mostly what I'm saying is, it's not the same, so they need another kind of communication system.

- The layout/formatting/accessibility: I still find their color scheme ugly, their font ugly and nearly unreadable, the sizes and shapes of things really confusing and not well-organized. I seem to be in a minority with this, but although FFN is also "ugly" it's ugly in a way that prioritizes reading, at least for me. Look at the same fic pulled up on my screen: AO3 v. FFN. Look at all of the garbage crowding the AO3 screenshot, and the fic itself doesn't even make it onto the monitor. Note that FFN has viewing options where you can change font, margin width, and so on, but AO3 just gives you an absurd amount of spacing, not just in your content-perusing preferences, but across the entire site. I'm aware that many people prefer reading on AO3, but this doesn't work for me and it never has.

Date: 2015-08-18 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I never really thought about the lack of favorites on AO3, but that's a good point. I have looked at bookmarks in the past and had some success with finding fics that way, but not much.

Hate, hate that there is no direct messaging. Would this really be hard to add??? Tagging hasn't bugged me too much in SP because there just isn't that much to sort through, but in bigger fandoms you do get screwed searching for pairings, because you get tend to get stupid crossover garbage or people who have collected all their 'ficlets' from Tumblr into one huge multi-fandom garbage dump, etc. I do wish it was more limited.

I'm 50/50 on FF.N not publishing responses to comments (sending them like a PM to the user who left the comment instead). On one hand, I like it because there is less pressure to respond in some kind of unique way to similar comments, but sometimes there is relevant info in my responses that other readers might want to see, and I like being able to respond to significant anon comments, even if they don't care about reading the response.

"their font ugly and nearly unreadable"

ok this one I don't get - it's just like, some boring/basic font??

Anyway, as a writer I greatly prefer posting AO3 just for the ease of editing once your doc is uploaded, to fix a typo you spot years later or whatever. If I still got reviews on FF.N I would continue posting there, but for SP I'm done over there. I guess if I wrote het fic again I'd post on FF.N, because my het fics over there tend to still get the occasional review/favorite, including fics I wrote in 2000.

Date: 2015-08-19 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
>> Tagging hasn't bugged me too much in SP because there just isn't that much to sort through

It's true that it's not a huge problem, but it does happen. In the front page of the S/K tag on AO3 right now you have a fic that is Craig/reader -- why is this in the tag?? On p. 2 there is a fic that is literally called "Craig X Tweek" ... and from time to time you do get, like, compilations of many fandoms. It just makes it slightly less user-friendly for me.

>> I like being able to respond to significant anon comments, even if they don't care about reading the response.

Yeah, this is a big plus of the system on AO3. I think a PM system would really streamline commenting over there. Really my biggest gripe is that if they want to use threaded comments on stories that's great but they need another communication feature too. I really prefer threaded comments to flatview, by the way, but I just don't think trying to put an LJ-style comment system on a content-posting site works so hot, cf. DeviantArt. I mean, it's not horrible! I just like that FFN gave you three different options for talking to authors, and options for reader-reader discourse without impinging on a comment section.

>> ok this one I don't get - it's just like, some boring/basic font??

Yeah, clearly I am not in the majority on this, which is why I said I find it ugly/unreadable, rather than that it was an indisputable fact and everyone needs to get behind me. For whatever reason it's like, really grating to me.

I also object to the idea that AO3 is so much more user-friendly than FFN in terms of posting, like, yes, you can just cut-and-paste and leave it, instead of having to upload a document. But I find that both sites require an equal amount of fiddling to get your fic formatted how you want it at this point. On FFN you have to go in and often replace some types of section breaks in a document before you turn that document into a fic or a chapter. On AO3 you have to look at the story because sometimes their rich text feature turns section breaks into funky lines and whatever, and they sometimes insert junk characters and on top of that it can be so, so slow. I think that comment I linked you to from FFA that was like "the sites have pros and cons of their own" is pretty much my feeling at this point.

I guess the other thing I'll say is that people tend to confuse the culture of these sites with the way they're built/run. Like, the fact that there are more het readers and commenters on FFN has nothing to do with FFN itself and everything to do with fan culture/perception. Then again, I suppose maybe it doesn't matter if all of those things factor into user experience.
Edited Date: 2015-08-19 06:00 am (UTC)

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