Friday, 18 March 2011

Fan Fiction Demographics in 2010: Age, Sex, Country


There is an evident vacuum when it comes to information about online fiction writers and readers. Forget trying to find data on who these people are via Google or Bing. You can’t set your expectations high even if you have access to subscription-based academic databases such as EBSCO or Emerald Insight: the content You need is missing. Several researchers I have come in contact with ceased their attempts to find reliable data on the internet, citing a poor information environment. A reasonable choice. It is far easier to work with enthusiasts of other activities, such as sports, as the information is present in ample amounts. Fan fiction is a different story.

What I’ve found in secondary sources? Limited traffic statistics with no raw numbers (credits to Alexa), literary fannings about modern culture and summary demographics about Major League Baseball fans. For contrast, there was a three-page essay from The Gay & Lesbian Review by Marianne MacDonald about Harry Potter fan fiction, a broad complaint on limited success with samples no greater than 10 people. Oddly enough, the article’s author attempted to draw conclusions from such data. The closest to fan fiction I’ve gotten from aca-fen (academics as fans) was a series of essays entitled Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet. No empirics there.

In retrospect, the only available information was qualitative, limited to a small community or plain useless for a more general study. Ergo, FFN Research needed to befriend the DIY framework. The result of this choice has been a 20 MB Excel spreadsheet with numeric and non-numeric data.

To preserve time and space, the study will be presented in parts. This also gives you, dear readers, an opportunity to comment and make suggestions for the next part. Your opportunities are practically limitless at this point. If at least half the variables undergo regression analysis, there will be no less than three parts in total.

Take your time.

End Preamble


The goal of this release is to provide empiric data and analysis on fan demographics and interests on the fan fiction writing site, FanFiction.Net. The research deals with basic demographic data such as age, sex and country of residence of registered FanFiction.Net members in relation to their public writing activities in 2010. Based on a quantitative approach, the research should provide guidelines for future studies.


FanFiction.Net user profiles are the main source of empiric data in this research. With nearly three-million registered users, FanFiction.Net is the largest hub for fan fiction writing communities, the largest archive of fan fiction with an excess of 6,600,000 registered titles as of  March, 2011, and a trend-setter for fan fiction as a phenomenon. In addition, it is a site that challenges Facebook in the amount of time spent browsing within the domain.

95,313 public profiles of registered members created in the year 2010 were analysed. A yearly study was the most feasible choice in current-day unlike anything dedicated to a larger period of time with progressive scarcity of chronological data. Fieldwork took place from January 27, 2011 till February 11, 2011 and empiric data reflects the state of public member profiles between those dates.

The said profiles were chosen from the total of 443,400 accounts created in the year 2010 as clusters. Accounts created between the first and the seventh day of every month are present in the analysis. This was a preventative measure taken to mitigate seasonal fluctuations (see picture 1) and assure every seven-day period is all-inclusive in relation to heterogeneity within a cluster. Please note that the chosen periods reflect weekly fluctuation cycles, each representing the whole cycle. 

Picture 1. Aggregated pageviews on FanFiction.Net, September 2010-March 2011
The sample of 95,313 is further explained by uncertainty and a lack of prior empiric studies. Smaller samples of 1100, sufficient for error margins as low as 3% would have provided inaccurate data upon splicing into categories. As it was impossible to find comparisons, a safer approach retains. The current conditions, verified by Raosoft, allow for a 0.37% margin of error at a 99% confidence level. 

Acknowledging possible difficulties in attaining the necessary information via surveying or other applicable means, data mining was chosen as the only feasible collection method. Quantitative data later underwent a 5% reduction on extremes to mitigate outliers. This also dodged factual inaccuracies such as account holder ages reportedly being 1000 or two. A detailed explanation of variables is included in the definitions part.

Descriptive statistics are a cornerstone of this research.


The following factors are provisions for analysis. Each is defined below. In addition, we explain other terminology unique to this research. 

FanFiction.Net – the largest fan fiction writing website in the world. Also referred to as FF.Net and FFN, the site, the domain.

Fan – any FanFiction.Net account holder.

Fandom – any series, TV show or title present as a category for fan fiction uploads on FFN. Also, a group of FanFiction.Net account holders, who uploaded fan fiction to FFN.

ID – unique public member profile and account identification number, assigned to every 
FanFiction.Net user upon signing up. The number of accounts a user may create is not limited by the domain’s ToS.

Pen name – a pseudonym taken by the account holder. Every account holder is required to have an unique pseudonym upon signing up.

Country – the country of residence/access during a browsing session on FanFiction.Net reported by the account holder’s ISP or proxy at the time of data collection. Users have the ability to disable public display of their country.

Age – self-identified account holder’s age displayed in English on the public profile. Users are not provided any extra facilities to display their age, nor does FanFiction.Net collect specific age data upon signing up. Internet users wishing to hold an account on the site only stipulate they are aged 13 or older. 

Sex – self-identified account holder’s sex (gender) displayed in English on the public profile. Users are not provided any extra facilities to display their sex, nor does FanFiction.Net collect any data about sex.

Avatar – graphic uploading service, which allows registered users to be associated with one picture in three square formats: 150x, 75x and 50x. 

Profile length – cumulative size of a public profile starting from below the space reserved for the account’s pen name to the end of the profile table’s space. Does not include lists such as “Favorite Stories”. 

Beta Reader – an account with a qualified Beta Reader portfolio. Beta Readers provide editorial services to fan fiction content before it is made public.

Story count – the number of separate public fan fiction uploads made by an account holder.

Fandom count – the number of separate fan fiction categories with at least one fan fiction title made public by the account holder.



In 2010, accounts on FanFiction.Net have been made and accessed by people in at least 173 countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia. A full list of countries is available here. The figure may, in reality, be larger as the domain uses a self-served set of definitions for a country and recognizes non-standard internet service properties as separate countries. These include:

-Satellite Connection Providers “Satellite Provider” – direct device to commercial satellite connections impossible to trace to any specific country. Common in the Middle East. Falsely recognized as a country with a flag of its own.

-Encrypted Anonymous Proxies “Anonymous Proxy”. Falsely recognized as a country with a flag (“Jolly Roger”) of its own.

-The country of Europe “Europe” – government institutions and their encrypted networks, not reporting to belong to a specific EU country. Falsely recognized as a country with a flag (EU flag) of its own.

-“Asia/Pacific Region” – umbrella term for any of the small islands not recognized by FFN’s technology and other territories applicable. Falsely recognized as a country with a flag of its own.

Satellite Providers, Anonymous Proxies and Europe (country) do not participate in further analysis, effectively reducing the sample to 95,219 accounts. Asia/Pacific Region remains, as it behaves like a legitimate umbrella zone. In years prior to 2010, there were reports of registered fan fiction writers or readers hailing from Antarctica.

However, the biggest issue in establishing sense in the quantitative data is the fact 25,297 accounts in the sample did not have a publicly specified country. FFN’s system was not allowed to disclose such information. This translates into 110k of accounts not having permitted access to the data or 24.8% of accounts made in 2010. It may explain why certain countries, such as North Korea, are not present in the study. Regardless, 75.2% of all accounts holders joining in 2010 allowed the site to display their country of access.

To make results readable, FFN Research decided to put forward a 0.5% threshold. For a country to be included in the analysis, at least half of a percent of all accounts with a specified country had to originate from it. This translated into 0.5% of 69,500.

As a result of the entry limit, the number of accounts involved slid by 11% to 62,559 with 22 countries involved. You can see it in picture 2. This is an accurate portrayal of an informal 90/10 rule of thumb with 90% of accounts being accessed/created within 10% of all countries listed. Only one out of ten accounts is created/accessed outside the regions drawn in picture 2.
Picture 2.
57% of the 62,559 or 35,361 user accounts were reported as being from the USA, the only country to score more than 10,000. The second biggest contributor of accounts is the UK with 9.2% (5739) originating from the country. Canadian users are third in the rank with 5.6% (3513). This is supported traffic-wise by FFN’s partnerships with large ad networks, which require at least 50% of site traffic to come from the USA, UK and Canada. For readers interested in accurate portrayal of accounts of non-US users, look below for picture 3. The percentage in picture 3 is displayed as a part of 27,198, which we get upon subtracting USA accounts. 

Picture 3. FanFiction.Net Member Composition by Country, no USA

For your convenience, there is a list of countries, excluding the USA, ranked by how many accounts originate from the country in question.

1. UK
2. Canada
3. Australia
4. Philippines
5. France
6. Mexico
7. Indonesia
8. Brazil
9. India
10. Germany


Obtaining information about the account holder’s sex (gender) was more difficult than that of their country. Since the site does not encourage users to disclose such data, only those, who make the explicit choice of doing it, are included in this analysis.

Furthermore, users, who did publicly reveal their sex on the profile, did so in various means and different languages. While the first is a technical issue possible to alleviate with the use of a specially-crafted regex, the latter is a serious obstruction. FFN Research did not have the resources to include gender specifications in languages other than English. Using online translation tools could have had uncontrollable accuracy faults. This, fortunately, was not necessary due to country data already discussed.

Since users access their accounts from the USA (57%), UK (9.2%), Canada (5.6%) and Australia (4%), the cumulative majority (75,8%) of registered users is assumed to be English-speaking. Whether the language is a mother tongue or a foreign one does not matter in this research. The possibility of having non-English profiles (for example, Spanish) created by users from the aforementioned countries would make the figure of analysable content smaller. However, the effect should be compensated by profiles written in English by members hailing from other countries.

The result was 9544 user profiles with gender identity disclosed. For 2010, this means that 10% of FanFiction.Net members reveal their sex in the profile. This called for a 1.1% (1.3% for 50/50) margin of error at a 99% confidence level.

This data was initially broken into two uneven parts (5005 and 4539) to spot any structural differences between accounts created in the first and second half of 2010. The disclosure rate in the second half of the year was lower than that of older accounts, and the difference was statistically significant (2.4%).  FFN Research offers a reasonable experience-driven explanation: there is a time lapse between creating an account on the site, writing a profile and putting one’s personal details on the profile. The explanation is supported by the fact FanFiction.Net enforces time thresholds for when a new registered member may start using a particular service.

Gender distribution, on the other hand, did not have a statistically significant difference in both parts of our sample. The female/male ratio was stable in our sample and stayed remarkably close to rumours that 80% of the site’s users are female.

The sample revealed that 78% of FanFiction.Net members are female, provided they joined in 2010. The remaining 22% self-identify as male. Picture 4 illustrates these. In addition, here is a gender ratio graph.

Picture 4. FanFiction.Net Members in 2010 by Sex (Gender)

Age statistics on FanFiction.Net were the most challenging to attain. Less registered members disclosed their age publicly. 6410 people appeared to have included the precise information in our sample.

There were incidents of users reporting to be one year of age, and ninety-nine years old. A small part of those, who discussed their age on the public profile included unreal ages, guessing challenges or offered an age range as wide as 20. Such data points are disqualified from the research.

2230 members with the account holder’s age present on the profile have only identified themselves as teenagers or teens. On assumption that registered members define “teens” as ages 13-17, FFN Research distributed the 2230 proportionally among relevant ages. For reference, you may view the age distribution prior to this choice, with a smaller sample. Note that ages beyond 55, all with single instances, are cut from the graph to make it more compact.

Picture 5. Age distribution on FanFiction.Net in 2010, post-processing with percentages

Looking at picture 5, we see that 80% of those, who have revealed their age, are between 13 and 17 years old. In a normal large population, this allows us to expand onto the entirety of people registering as members in 2010.

The average age is 15.8. The median age is 15, and the mode is 14 years of age. The graph’s shape is a good explanation for why these three values are different. The highest point (modal) does not endure symmetrical surroundings, but both arms of the parabolic shape have bumps at the side, corresponding to ages 10 and 19. From a descriptive statistics perspective, these are anomalous and can be interpreted as missing data.

It is particularly acute on the left end of the spectrum with younger people. No doubt, there are children below the minimum allowed age of 13 on FanFiction.Net. They make up a very small portion of the community, and seem to have an understanding that they should not make their age public. Eleven-year-olds appear to be the most knowledgeable in this respect. Aged 12, it is plausible they see the legal margin approaching, so there is no perceived harm in a premature disclosure. Had all the users disclosed their data, the point at 11 would have allowed for an opposite shape, not a dip.

No doubt, with all reputable sources repeating the notion, FanFiction.Net itself stipulating various services should be “suitable for teens”, the site is less appealing to older users. It is, therefore, natural to consider a much lower registration rate among adults. The downward trend acts as expected, save for a few small waves further on the right. These, interestingly, have a period of 5 years minimum, with an apex at 35 and 45. From a purely human perspective, understanding middle-aged people on FanFiction.Net have interests in fiction, fan or otherwise, FFN Research suggests a quote by Lady Bracknell from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest: “35 is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained 35 for years.” Among greater privacy concerns, the increase in certain ages could be explained with one’s social policy.

With regards to age distribution among sexes, 2240 account holders have provided such information on one user profile. 79% of accounts with the data made available were female. This leads to the conclusion that disclosure is proportional to the size of a population. The site’s usage among teenagers and adults, considering either gender separately, was similar to the cumulative distribution. Ergo: no matter the age, teenage or adult, the male/female proportion stays the same as in the general population.

For pre-teens, the composition is 81.5% female, 18.5% male, which is the most extreme proportion for any age group, but there is no statistically significant deviation from the general 78%.


In the sample of 95,313, there were 560 users with a beta reader profile, which makes up 0.6% of the sample. In a website with under 50,000 beta readers, this would translate into 2608 beta readers with an account created in 2010. Those joining in 2010 make up approximately 5% of all beta readers. The majority of beta readers have stayed on FanFiction.Net longer than a year.

419 (75%) of beta readers joining in 2010 have revealed their sex. 345 were female, which accounts for 82% of those, who made the disclosure public. There is no statistically significant difference between the gender distributions of beta readers in relation to the general population of those joining in 2010 at a 99% confidence level.

79% of all beta readers are users aged 13-17. The modal beta reader age is 14 while the average and median ages are 15.


In our sample, there were 64,484 stories submitted (300,500 in the total pop.). The average number of stories submitted by a user with at least one story was 2.9 with 22,023 accounts containing stories. Interestingly, the maximum number of stories was higher among those, who joined in the second half of the year, 88. At the time of writing, the number of stories written by the user in question has gone up to 94. The person wrote for 22 fandoms in 2010, and was most attracted to Everybody Loves Raymond, Hannah Montana and iCarly.

Among users with a disclosed gender, 78% of all stories were written by females. This shows that there is no gender influence to the number of stories written on FanFiction.Net among users, who joined in 2010.

Age, however, portrays a differentiation in the average number of stories per age group, For teenagers, the average number of stories written, for accounts with at least one story, is 4. The highest number is among those aged 20-30, up to 12 stories as an average.


FFN Research welcomes your views and comments.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Upcoming FFN Research Update

FFN Research is getting ready for the greatest update yet. For the first time in the history of FanFiction.Net you will see a full picture of fandom demographics with an error margin as low as 0.3% site-wide.

It has been a while since the first petitions to provide this information have reached FFN Research, but the data is present, and only post-processing remains.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

FanFiction.Net Fandoms: Story and Traffic Statistics

FanFiction.Net Statistics include all fandoms in this analysis. The amount of data collected on January 1, 2011 is enormous, and we now have the ability to compare how each fandom registered within FanFiction.Net grew since our first release.

We start with the basics and site-wide descriptive statistics before entering top-level categories (Anime, Books, Games et cetera) and delving into individual fandoms. This research paper involves not only the biggest fandoms, but also more obscure, yet dynamic communities. Comparative charts and future growth predictions are presented to illustrate the trends. Off-site sources aid the study in audience profiling and global fandom trends. Due to the volume of analysis, it is presented in several consecutive posts to save scrolling space and browsing resources.

The goal of this release is to present you every category’s health check, trying to find the most resilient top-tier category of 2010.

Warning: Reading this text may take some time, so you can do it in parts. Everyone can post a comment. FFN Research has a new release in store, but it’s always nice to know what questions interest individual readers. The text was written to be simple enough for ages 13 and up, but if something confuses you or you find an error, please notify.


FanFiction.Net has 5879 fandoms (series/categories). These fandoms contain 3,744,842 stories.

The site houses 621 fandoms more than in July 15, 2010, or 1368 new fandoms since the end of 2009. 2010 created 23% of all fandoms you see now, and it was a 30% increase in total fandoms since the previous year.

An average fandom on FFN has 637 stories. A median fandom has 14 stories (69 fandoms have 14 stories), which is two stories less than six months ago. The mode fandom has 1 story (793 fandoms have only 1 story).

Below, you see how top categories fared in 2010, ranked by size. The biggest winners and losers are highlighted.

Anime/Manga has been the largest contributor in 2010, responsible for 27.6% of growth site-wide. The category gained almost 18% of new fanworks this year. Cartoons, along with TV, had more than a 25% increase in-category. Plays have shrunken by 12.7%, but their minuscule weight on FFN overall has totaled to only a -0.4% decrease in the annual growth. Nonetheless, it is strange to see a whole top-level category lose weight throughout the year. No media categories shifted in rank since the beginning of 2010.

In total, FFN grew by 20% in 2010 and received over 627,000 new story uploads. The site’s account total rose by a similar value.


Numerous fandoms arrived to the site in 2010, affecting the top media category structure. Below, you see a table with the total number of fandoms in every category on two dates and two story count meters. These are explained as follows along with other columns that may raise questions:

One – the number of fandoms in a category that has exactly one story. It is included to point out how many series can be considered a failed venture that did not generate any attention.

Under ten – the number of fandoms in a category that has less than ten (1-9) stories. It is included to point out how many series can be considered a questionable venture. Communities are very fragile at conception, and any fandom that does not have sufficient backbone in story total may not sustain itself.

It’s possible to provide additional counters like Under 100 or under 1000 on demand.

% of new – the share of new fandoms the media category received, relative to the total of new fandoms.

% of category – the increase of fandoms as a percentage of the Jan 1, 2010 fandom total

The biggest winner and loser are highlighted for you. This table reveals a lot about the health a top category has. While it is impossible to assess the sentiment in a particular series from the information above, the general moods that roamed in media categories throughout 2010 can be seen with ease. While Anime/Manga remains the FFN heavyweight in terms of story count, more than 200,000 stories ahead of the closest rival – Books, the latter is a champion of fandom counts. It is an interesting phenomenon that Books, having more fandoms, has less stories than Anime/Manga.

Before we explain it, let’s have a look at the new fandom loser of 2010, Misc. In 2010, Misc had a marginal value of fandoms. But five times more stories than its closest rival, Plays. Misc also had the lowest number of new fandoms. But all of them grew to have more than 10 stories. Misc, like Plays, should be considered anomalous based on the researcher’s opinion. However, it’s difficult to put them aside as a separate category because they depict extreme trends that occur with extreme values.

Looking at the fandom total, Misc has only 35 fandoms as of January 1, 2010. Plays have almost three times as much, but less than 100. Comics are their closest companion, and cartoons follow. Games are the middle child of Fan Fiction with a jagged transition into top categories: Anime, Book, Movie and TV. Despite these being easy to categorise by the number of fandoms, there are two more perspectives visible in the table.

TV is the top dog of new fandoms. 365 appeared in 2010, and Books are closing the gap at 332. When it comes to attempts in discovering a new driving force, TV and Books take the cake. Games and Anime are the mediocre, leaving the rest far behind. Now, lots of new fandom is not necessarily a good thing because some of them can fail. TV has a lot of new fandoms, but also a lot of failing series. In fact, the number of fandoms with one story has doubled in TV, relative to the category size. Without this perspective, we see it bright as day that TV has 49 one-fic fandoms in the beginning, and 155 in the end of the year. Talk about a crippling failure rating. The numbers can be even more frightening when you consider the possibilities of past movements in fandoms. A rise from, say 20, to 49 is not as precipitous as what we see now.

6 out of 9 categories have more questionable fandoms in 2011 than they did in 2010. 755 Book communities have less than ten stories. That is more than half of the total number of fandoms in Book. The situation is similar in other categories large by story count like Anime, TV and Movies, but not Games. Once again, Games position themselves in the middle.

By this point, it might get difficult to put all the numbers in one system, so a clutch point is necessary. In 2010, the number of questionable fandoms (under 10 stories) has risen by 40%. The total number of fandoms – 30%. In the beginning of 2011, 2600 out of 5879 fandoms had under ten stories. Ergo, the site’s questionability rating is 44%. If 44% of fandoms are in questionable condition, 56% are not, and it might explain why the site is eager to accept more fandoms. Statistics show that a new request is bound to be more successful than not.

The trend may overturn soon, though. Questionable fandoms are taking up more server space as time passes. Since their amount is rising quicker than the total number of fandoms, the series are spreading themselves thinly. How thinly? In the end of 2009, the questionability rating, under ten vs total fandoms was 41.2%. In the end of 2010, this value is 44.2%. This means that the possibility of a fandom to grow has diminished. By a margin, but an important one. If FFN is a litmus test of fan fiction trends in the world, the questionability rating is a litmus test of series (books, TV shows, games) gaining creative support.

Further illustrating the point, let’s have a look at Chart 1 with failure and questionability rating changes. This is important: the bars represent changes since the beginning of 2010, not the ratings themselves.

Categories in the chart are ranked from left to right by total story count from biggest to smallest.

Comics experienced the highest increase in failure rating, which means the amount of new fandoms in Comics was more prone to fail than in any other top category. But don’t let the percentage increase (45%) fool you, because we’re dealing with fandom numbers 8 and 19, not hundreds. This is where a small top category with 30k of stories in total may skewer perception.

Large categories should provide a more accurate display of sentiments in fandom. Failure ratings are increasing in them more than by 10%, while the increase in questionability is above 50%, with Games dropping out. If you were to draw a line from the tip of one bar (blue or yellow) to another, you’d notice a trend of sorts (tilde or squiggle), with Games, once again, dropping out of context.

Trend or no trend, categories, which have a lot to offer in terms of variety and story count, see an increase in questionability and failure. This increase weighs a lot more than any decrease available in smaller categories, only Games acting as a dampening agent. Misc and Plays did not have a dramatic increase in failure ratings partially because they lacked numerosity of fandoms in 2010 ie, did not provide enough data for a feasible conclusion in terms of dynamics.

But there still is the general outlook. Here’s a list of questionability ratings as a percentage of fandoms in the category as of January 1, 2011:
Anime – 39%; Book – 58%; Cartoons – 27%; Comics – 35%; Games – 39%; Movie – 49%; Plays – 52%; TV – 39%. Misc have 0.

These expose a fact, which may not be up to date. Saying that, in general, 58% of fandoms in Books have not gone to grow into two-digit areas does not mean this applies for 58% of fandoms created in 2010. In some cases, this applies more than 58% because the questionability ratings have, on average, increased. To turn the “some” into exact values, though, we need to find out exactly, which series contributed to overall growth.

2010 has been a productive year for several new fandoms. Names like Inception or Socrerer’s Apprentice, having come in the second half of 2010, should not surprise anyone. Since one of these happened to come to the top of 2010 fandoms, the table below reflects the last six months of the year for context.

As you can see, TV shows are dominating the table in fandom numbers (9), movies coming second (7) with two books and two cartoons filling the remaining spots. Interestingly, a Movie, not a TV show got first place. The first two fandoms, being Inception and Sherlock, leave any competition far behind. Inception appeared on FanFiction.Net on July 14th, and Sherlock – July 29th. Making a recount based on day count, Inception has a marginal lead (0.2 of a story). If the top two create a clear distinction on the list, the next nine fandoms form another group: less than 1000, more than 100 stories, which welcomes one Book, Heroes of Olympus. The third group, less than 100 ends with two Cartoons, and no Games, which have stayed in the middle of lists so far, in sight. Anime also failed to make the margin.

For categories that did not make it in the top twenty, here is a short list with the top fandom and a list they would start being present in:
Anime – Togainu no Chi (41) – Top 30
Comics – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (28) – Top 40
Games – Minecraft (14) – Top 50

Neither Plays nor Misc make it to a top ten list, pushed beyond the first hundred. But what about averages, you might ask? Surely, there might be some fandoms on the top, but, among several hundred fandoms, there might be a concentration issues, so one category takes a row of spots in the rank somewhere in the middle, while everyone else has skewed. Such an observation sounds reasonable, so some descriptive statistics are in order. For obvious reasons, you won’t see the mode. If they’re not obvious, guess, what’s the most common new fandom story number. One. The number is two for Plays, but that category has shown odd results in other parts of the analysis, so it shouldn’t surprise. The median makes sense only for Movies and TV since their top fandoms shift the average a lot, but we dodge this by removing them from the analysis (in parentheses).

Anime – 4.2
Books – 3.8
Cartoons – 13.2
Comics – 4.4
Games – 3.5
Misc - …
Movies – 16.6 (8.3)
Plays – 1.5
TV – 23.9 (14.3)

In total, new fandoms have generated under 14,000 stories in 2010.

That concludes the part dedicated to new fandoms.


Having analysed new arrivals on FanFiction.Net, a part of the audience may have gotten anxious about things more down to earth – the big players on FFN. Below, you have a top twenty table at two dates, the beginning of 2010 and 2011 along with changes in rank. Fandoms, that have gotten more popular in 2010, compared to 2009. If rank changes, the fandom is highlighted. When the number next to the fandom’s name is negative, it moves up (5-2 = 3, higher in the rank). Do not be alarmed that the sum of “+” does not equal the sum of “–“ as some fandoms that appear on the list were not in it before.

The top four does not change throughout 2010. With hefty gaps greater than 50,000 stories, that is easy to explain. Commotion occurs in the middle of the list with certain fandoms jumping over others in rows. The quickest jumper on the list is Pokemon, which topped five fandoms. Dragon Ball Z, on the other hand, is the biggest loser with five points extra. While Pokemon is a living franchise that may create an n number of games, movies and anime, Dragon Ball Z has a negative perspective. Its abrupt drop through the leaderboard has a further negative perspective due to no new content being released.

Another shift worth inspecting is Supernatural vs Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As of January, 2011, Supernatural, not Buffy, has the #1 in TV shows. The latter has been a long-standing leader in that category due to little activity in other fandoms. In fact, the vampire series has been on FFN since 1998, seven years longer than Supernatural. However, Buffy’s future is stable because there isn’t any TV show able to take its place in the nearest future.

Kingdom Hearts and Yu-Gi-Oh had an odd change in pacing, with the first gaining almost 10,000 stories and the latter only 4,000. While dedicated fans know more about activity in Kingdom Hearts being factored by new content, the side perspective is that Kingdom Hearts’ forums were decimated on FFN on November 25, 2010, the flagship forum losing 8 out of 10 posts out of more than 500,000 present. Apparently, forums and story content do not correlate well in that fandom.

The end of the list has two newcomers responsible for pushing CSI, another long-timer, present since 2001. Avatar: The Last Airbender and Death Note took its place. Both have a positive perspective, considering Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z are within range. In fact, these two, especially Avatar, are a threat to Teen Titans, which somehow managed to keep its spot as #18. On January 1, 2011, less than 400 stories separated it from Avatar. A surge of activity in Avatar is expected in the fourth quarter of 2011 when an addition to the series is scheduled.

It is improbable that fandoms, which emerged in 2010 are going to appear on the list in 2011. The main candidate, Inception, was a movie, not likely to gain enough momentum to overtake even Death Note, which has over 26,000 stories, compared to less than 2,000 of Inception.

Likewise, the possibility for an unlisted fandom to appear on the top 20 list is slim. Fandoms that used to be in the top 20, but were pushed down throughout the years, had few truly large competitors. In any case, they would have to overcome outsiders like CSI and Star Wars.

In total, top fandoms generated 230k new stories in 2010. As of January 1, 2011, top fandoms listed a sum of 1.64 million stories, almost half of all stories currently present on FanFiction.Net. The top 20 list also contains 25% of stories ever posted on the site. New fandoms brought 0.7% of this value in 2010.


You have encountered tiny fandoms that were not likely to gain any new stories due to their size. We referred to them as “failed” (1 story) and “questionable” (less than 10 stories), but these were a projection into the future. There are fandoms on FanFiction.Net, which have not gotten a single new story in the second half of 2010 (or have gotten some stories, but administrative/other deletions brought the number back to the level of Jan 1, 2010, creating a zero sum [period comparative with new fandoms]).

1814 fandoms did not receive a single new story over the last six months. This is more than the total number of new fandoms, 1386. Those 1814 fandoms contain approximately 30,291 stories.

Results are negative for all but one top-tier category. There were more fandoms being idle in every category than becoming active in 2010. In case of Misc, its inability to receive new fandoms throughout 2010 compensates the small ratio, with Anime X-overs being the only idle fandom. The situation may worsen for all Misc fandoms based on X-overs because they were created before the site established non-section crossovers, so they could be placed in the relevant fandom instead of Misc. It causes duplication of resources, but it is not as stunning as a category someone hacked on FFN (spare image).

The list you see below could have had greater inactivity values, specifically, for Plays, but a lower story count provides a completely different situation…decaying, perhaps. When the biggest series in the category (RENT) gets barely 30 extra stories in a year despite 400 being posted, conclusions get colourful.

On a lighter note, TV offers promising activity. The difference between new fandoms and inactive ones is practically non-existent, while other top categories display nearly identical ratios close to the site’s average. It applies in Books, Cartoons, Movies (and Plays). Games, along with Anime appear in a separate group with a high idleness rate. This correlates with one reader’s opinion that the site made a mistake by trusting Anime fandoms to generate its volume in the past year. Indeed, it has the most bulk, but uses a try and try again notion that had below average results in 2010.


Let’s recap and make a graphic comparison of all top tier categories. In practice, the table below is a ranked connection of the tables used above with a summary rating in the final column. The lower the value, the better fandoms in that category fared compared to others.

Given the criteria you see, TV was the healthiest top category of all in 2010, and if you want a sustainable experience in fandom, choose TV. Books is a healthy alternative, followed by Anime, Movies and Games. In fact, Games gives you the most average experience on the entire site. It’s not exceptional by any criterion, but it steers clear from any negative ratings and risks.

Cartoons and Misc may surprise you in some ways, but don’t expect much activity or exceptional review counts if you post a story there. And if you’re a really hardcore fan, 2010 offered writership like no other in Comics and Plays. When your life makes too much sense, write in the Plays category. Who knows what awaits you in a category that’s shrinking.


FanFiction. Net has 5879 fandoms, 3,744,842 stories.
The average fandom has 647 stories.
The median fandom has 14 stories.
1368 fandoms were created in 2010.
1814 fandoms did not grow in 2010.
2600 fandoms have under 10 stories.
793 fandoms have one story.
One top category shrank.
One fandom was hacked.

Largest fandom – Harry Potter.
Largest new fandom – Inception.

Fandom lists will be available shortly.

End Notes

This is only a part of the data cache collected for FFN Research, but getting it together into readable shape does take a while. Please, show your support to this research blog, so it wouldn’t die like some of the fandoms described above.