Archive Of Our Own: It’s Time for a Block Option

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Fanfiction should be fun for everyone. Archive of Our Own has strived to create a space for all fanworks, writers, and readers, but the site is far from perfect. The site is a non-profit ran mainly by volunteers and the amount of people working on the site cannot keep up with the sheer amount of users that have created an account.

Fandom is full of both positive and negative interaction, however the bad often outweighs the good for many users. Harassment and bullying is commonplace on AO3 and the system that the website has created simply isn’t enough to protect users from that negativity.

Currently, these are the options that users can take to protect themselves from bullying and harassment:

  • Comment moderation and anonymous comment disabling
  • Report Spam button on some comments
  • Unofficial filtering add-ons
  • Report Abuse page

These are great steps towards allowing users to protect themselves, however, each comes with it’s shortfalls. Comment moderation does not prevent users from seeing comments from unwanted individuals and disabling anonymous commenting also means that users may miss out on positive constructive criticism and encouragement from those that wish to not be identified. Report spam buttons only appear on certain platforms and only when a comment meets a criteria that may indicate that it is spam. Unofficial add-ons also do not work on every browser and platform and some have the potential of being security risks due to hidden malware.

For many users, the Report Abuse page on the site is a last resort when harassment is going too far. However, as the page describes, it can be a long process due to the amount of reports that the website receives regularly. This also does not guarantee that the source of the problem will be removed.

The best and most immediate option to solve harassment issues is to offer a Block User button.

In 2014, AO3 announced on its Tumblr blog that there was no intention to create a block user option. By finally adding one, the option would create a quick solution to harassment and bullying and also allow users to block writers of content that they do not wish to see.

Let’s keep fanfiction a fun and safe place for writers.

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