Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Most Popular Categories

This post is to clear confusion on FFN about what is popular on FanFiction.Net, what is not, and why. All statements you will see in our report are based on raw point data, collected on 29th June, 2010. This means that everything has been taken in machine fashion directly from the site in the method known as observation, not via sample by omitting fandoms. (It was scooped by looking at the numbers, for the younger readers.)

As such, the presented data has a 100% confidence level. However, we understand the value of server delays and are including an arbitrary 3% error margin because the data is taken from the top-category view, not by trawling inside every fandom. If you recall from the previous post, top-category views show a slightly bigger number of stories (up to 5% for some fandoms) for active fandoms (with over 50 stories), so this is included due to FFN site dynamics as a precaution, despite the inclusion making no difference statistically. This is made necessary further because a part of our target audience has not passed a statistics course.

To make this more interesting, we suggest that everyone takes a guess, which top category is more popular: Anime/Manga, Books, Games, TV shows et cetera, from the list of 10 on the front page.

Depending on your age, the answer is probably 'Games' or 'Books'. The answer would not be far from truth, but not even Harry Potter, the biggest fandom on the site gives Books the top spot. Conversely, it's not the combination of Kingdom Hearts, Pokemon and other games, all with the biggest forums on FFN.

The largest top-level category on FanFiction.Net is Anime/Manga with over 1,062,835 publicly available stories. It also has numerous subcategories/fandoms, 955. Despite this, a third of them (over 300) has under 10 stories, with the bulk concentrated in Naruto 240,635 and Inuyasha 93,196.

If you recall, FFN has approximately 3,200,000 live stories, which means every third story found on FFN is related to Anime/Manga. Why? We can't answer that just yet like we can't tell you why only 1 in 50 writers becomes a Beta Reader.

Anime and Manga have #1. Now, for all Harry Potter, Twilight, LotR, Warriors, PJO et cetera fandoms, you are not unimportant. Books have a firm #2 with 811,044 live stories. Respectively, 461,311 and 150,708 belong to Harry Potter and Twilight. Let's dwell on these two for a moment. The HP fandom is marginally three times as big as Twilight. The underdog may claim this exists because Harry Potter has been a lot longer than Twilight. Making matters fair, that would mean Twilight would be as popular as Harry Potter if they were of the same age.

What's real and what's not? The first HP book has been released in 1997, 13 years from now. The first Twilight book has been released in 2005, 5 years from now. One might exclaim: "Ah hah! Two years is a very small time, so they must be equally popular!" Let's do the math. HP is 2.6 times older than Twilight. Had they been released at the same time, Twilight would now have 391,000 stories, 70,000 behind HP. How big/small of a difference is that? That's almost two LotR fandoms and the total number of new books released in Spain annually.

We return to weights. If the largest fandom in Anime/Manga, Naruto has 240,000 stories, a fourth of the total Anime/Manga, HP has 461,000, way over half of all Book-related fiction accessible on FFN. One may think, seeing that books are #2, more popular than Games, Comics, TV shows (some of which summed up), the world of fiction is into literature fandoms. False. Anime/Manga is popular because there are many fandoms. Books is big because there are many HP. In layman terms, it would be sensible to rename 'Books' into Harry Potter & Twilight, pop reads, which can only scratch the surface of, say, critically acclaimed classical literature. The audience on FFN could have been assumed as an active participant in literature fandoms. It is, however, an active participant in HP and Twilight-level literature fandoms.

Moving on to #3, which is TV shows at 580,596. Curiously, their outlook is similar to that of Anime, with a third of all fandoms having under 10 stories, and there being multiple weight leaders. 15 fandoms take the range from 40k to 10k. In Anime, 20 fandoms have over 10k stories. In Books, 4 fandoms have more than 10,000 stories.

One may want to run an economic monopoly concentration index formula on these numbers. In case it is viable, we present the number of fandoms in the top categories.

Anime/Manga: 1,062,835 stories; 955 fandoms; 20 fandoms have above 10,000 stories
Books: 811,044 stories; 1138 fandoms; 4 fandoms have above 10,000 stories
TV: 580,596 stories; 1013 fandoms; 15 fandoms have above 10,000 stories

Additional research is suggested for the curious: remove all the popular fandoms that add substantial weight to the category (have above 10,000 stories) and make an account of how much dead weight, or impopular fandoms, every top level category has.

At the moment, numbers suggest that the Anime/Manga is the healthiest fandom. Why? 1. It has more stories than others. 2. It has less fandoms. 3. It has more popular fandoms than Books and TV altogether. 4. It is least threatened by C&D (cease and desist) letters.

The fourth one is important. If a cease and desist letter is sent to, say Harry Potter fans, forbidding them to write fan fiction, books would drop dramatically from 811,044 to 349,733. If the same happened to an Anime/Manga fandom, the most loss it would have would be 240,635, less than a quarter of its size. Same applies to TV.

Let's not ignore other fandoms. Below is a limited table/list of top categories without crossovers. Crossovers were counted in our summary of all stories on FFN, but they produce confusing data in the way they are organised, belonging to several fandoms at the same time. The list below is made for clarity purposes.

Name - Story number - Fandom number - Fandoms above 10k - Top fandom

Anime: 1,062,835 - 955 - 20 - Naruto
Books: 811,044 - 1138 - 4 - Harry Potter
TV: 580,596 - 1013 - 15 - Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Games: 269,261 - 614 - 6 - Kingdom Hearts
Cartoons: 192,918 - 320 - 5 - Teen Titans
Movies: 125,000 - 943 - 4 - Star Wars
Misc: 105,500 - 34 - 2 - Wrestling
Comics: 33,824 - 123 - 0 (8 above 1000) - X-Men
Plays: 15,300 - 85 - 0 (5 above 1000) - RENT

The following information is suggested for further study: how many fandoms are uninhabited (have below 10 stories), how much is that divided by the number of fandoms in the category?

An explanation should follow for the last two categories, Comics and Plays. Plays, for example, have been included much later than other top categories, setting them aside. Also, since they do not exceed 100,000 stories and it is rational to use a proportion size, the active fandom definition is adapted to them as 1000.

As always, present your questions, solicit ideas. This blog is interactive, and we will cover your topics of interest. Coming up next: how many writers does FFN really have?

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