Because I love data
I just went through and calculated my hits-to-kudos ratio for fics that have more than one kudo. The best ratio is a 10.35% kudos rate. The worst is a 0.79% rate. The average is 3.78%.
And then I went back and did a kudos rate check for high-kudos fics in various fandoms. For Sansukh, which is second on the list of kudos for The Hobbit, it’s a 3.2% rate (the number one fic is at 2.0%). The number one Lewis fic is at 3.9%. NCIS’ top fic is at 3.8% and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is at 5.5% Sleepy Hollow’s doing remarkably well at giving kudos. The top kudoes-ed fic there is at 13.9%.
I know I have clicked on a story and then realized I didn’t really like it too much so I didn’t leave kudos many times, and that’s certainly a factor here, but it reminded me how much I should probably leave kudos for others. It takes very little effort to push that little button and I know the authors would appreciate it even if they’re not a dataphile like me.
Neat! This prompted me to take a more serious look at mine — I have always sort of kept an eye on that kudos:hits ratio (what, no, I’m not a neurotic weirdo about my AO3 stats, you must be thinking of someone else), but I’ve never really done any analysis of it beyond “Huh, that one seems higher than usual.”
… BUT NOW I HAVE.
My few posted fics outside of Hobbit fandom are super-consistent, all clustered within two-tenths of a percentage point of each other. My Hobbit fandom fics are WAY more varied — the range is like 11 percentage points — and their average is higher.
Interesting from a data-analysis point of view: my highest ratio (13.88%, which, I knew that was high but now with more numbers for comparison I see that it’s REALLY UNUSUALLY HIGH) is on a fic with a super-rare pairing, which also has the lowest number of hits (but not so few that I think it makes the data unreliable). My totally-unsupported hypothesis about this is that people who are into super-rare pairings are REALLY STOKED to find a fic with their rarepair of choice and therefore more likely to leave kudos.
I’d really be interested in running some more numbers, especially comparing:
- Multi-chaptered fic to oneshots — many people have pointed out in reblogs that multi-chaptered fics get more hits (because you get a new batch of hits for each chapter), but readers can still only leave kudos once, which will tend to skew the ratio lower.
- Fic written for some outside prompt (kinkmeme, exchange, etc.) to “unprompted” fic (“I just had this cool idea…”). I don’t know, I just feel like there might be a difference.
- Fics’ rankings to how their authors feel about them. Obviously this would be basically impossible to actually collect data, I just noticed that the fic of mine that I like the least also has the lowest kudos ratio and wondered if it was the same for other people.
This type of thing is something I love AND hate about AoOO, because while it is super interesting and fun to do all sorts of data analysis, I’m also one of those egomaniacs who needs to know that people like me (or at least my writing) and start getting really irrationally (and I do know that it’s irrational) annoyed when my kudos rate drops on a particular fic. Not because I think “maybe it’s not good,” but because I am an utter asshole and I honestly think, “THOSE UNGRATEFUL DICKS, THEY ARE NOT BEING SUFFICIENTLY APPRECIATIVE OF MY AAHHHHHT” (that’s “art” pronounced snootily, FYI). Yeah. I’m that guy.
But I’m glad to know that the kudos/fic ratio is one that other people use, too, since despite the mulit-chapter problem, it tends to be a more reliable barometer of quality than the “total number of kudos” metric. For example, I expect fics with a kudos/hit rate of 1/20 or better to be fairly good; anything below that may also be excellent, but it’s more of a crapshoot. (Hence why I don’t tend to go by “most kudos’ed fic” anymore when I’m going into a new fandom; there’s really no guarantee that the most kudos’ed fics are the best. BOY HOWDY is there no guarantee.)
Another interesting problem to keep in mind when using total kudos as a metric is longevity; for instance, in the Hawaii Five-0 fandom, I have some of the highest-rated fics — but I haven’t written anything in that fandom since 2011. The reason my fics are still on the front page of that fandom’s AoOO page isn’t because they’re the best, it’s because they were the most popular during the very beginning of the fandom and lots of people, making the (very reasonable) assumption that something popular must be good, read it, and then gave it more kudos. With the end result that if a fic is a certain level of popular at a certain point in a fandom, it’s there for a disproportionately long time.
Hopefully at some point AO3 can implement some kind of Boolean search options where you can look for “fic written in the past 2 weeks sorted by kudos” or whatnot, or just doing a kudos/hits ratio search option (although as mentioned above, that becomes problematic with multi-chapter fics which have lower kudos/hits ratio by virtue of the way the system is set up, and there’s no easy solution to that). For right now, the only way I’ve found good new fics is by reading through all the new fic until I get to a “nope, this is too shitty, where’s the back button” moment and stop reading. And I hate doing that, because I have an extremely itchy trigger finger and end up reading the first four paragraphs of 20 fics and getting hella frustrated before giving up and rereading “The Road Delivered Us Home.” FOR EXAMPLE.
TL;DR - AoOO is awesome and I love it, but some of the search functions frustrate me b/c I just want to read great fics in my fandom and am having LOTS OF TROUBLE FINDING THEM. Also there was some whining in there about how no one sufficiently appreciates my genius, but that’s my default complaint about pretty much every aspect of my life, so.
It depends on the fandom and/or pairing for me. If it’s a relatively small fandom or the odd consistently talented fandom, I tend to search by kudos, but if it’s a more popular fandom/pairing, I look for recs lists. There are quite a few fics that I think are badly written that are some of the highest kudos-ed fics in their respective fandoms, which is eternally mind boggling to me, even considering when they were written and how desperate people may have been for that pairing and such.
But yeah, the kudos system seems to be a bit more reliable for smaller fandoms, in my experience. However, you run out of the good stuff really quickly, and depending on how deeply into the pairing you are, the kudos system may end up not even mattering because you’re life is tragic and you read everything anyway, even if it’s objectively pretty crap. This didn’t happen to me with the Left 4 Dead 2 fandom or anything. Nope. (*whispers violently* I’m a terrible liar.)