Miranda Cosgrove at the computer

The AO3 Outage Made the True Benefit of Fanfiction Abundantly Clear

Smut is self-care.

We did it. Going almost 24 full hours without Archive of Our Own (AO3) was difficult, but we survived. The fanfiction database went down because of a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack. In essence, a bunch of people who hate fun tried to access the site at once and overloaded it, making it inaccessible for those of us who need to use the website.

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As someone who has frequented AO3 since 2011 and posted fanfiction there since 2013, I know how important the site is to people. Right now, my phone has 4 tabs open for different fandoms I am currently reading fanfiction for. Is it a problem? Probably. Do I, and thousands of other people, use AO3 to keep our mental health in check? Absolutely. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Throughout the day, the news is constantly barraging us with overwhelming topics. Climate change is worse than ever. Conservatives are banning any decent book. On top of that, we still have to do basic things like the dishes and laundry. And if you have kids, you always need to be figuring out a dinner plan. (Why do we eat dinner this often?!) It gets to be too much—especially if you are on social media and tend to doom scroll.

For some people, taking a step outside and doing some deep breathing helps them take a mental health break—and that’s great! But I need to go on a journey that will wipe all thoughts of the real world from my mind, even if it is only for the duration of 1,200 words (or maybe 350k, depending on my mood). Fanfiction is great because it takes characters you already adore and has them fall in love with each other over and over again. Maybe in one story they fall in love in their normal universe. Then you can read another one where they meet in a coffee shop in an alternative universe.

It can be a sweet, general audience-rated tale, or you can be like me and go full smut all the time. Nothing helps beat the unprecedented heat wave like finding your one true pairing stuck sharing a bed.

These stories help provide a mental break for so many of us and AO3 offers it all up for free. Users can post, read, and comment on millions of fanfictions for no cost. The site survives mostly through the work of volunteers and donations. AO3’s rules keep authors who don’t like their characters being used in fanfiction at bay, since the site and authors don’t make any money. Now that the site is back up, bask in the healing glow of smutty stories. If you can, donate some time or money to the site because it helps keep us going.

(featured image: Nickelodeon)


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Author
D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.