Fanfiction Writers Lock Their AO3 Accounts To Protect Their Work From AI Scraping


As the popularity of fanfiction continues to rise, writers on the popular fanfiction site Archive of Our Own (AO3) are taking steps to protect their work from being scraped by AI models. Many AO3 writers are now locking their stories and making them accessible only to registered users. While this move aims to prevent AI bots from accessing and utilizing their content, it also limits traffic from guest users and potentially affects newer and less popular writers.

Key Takeaway

AO3 writers have started locking their accounts to prevent their fanfiction from being scraped and used to train AI models. While this measure aims to protect their work, it may also limit traffic from guest users and impact newer writers on the platform.

Protecting Their Work from AI Models

Fears of AI scraping and unauthorized use of their writing have driven AO3 authors to lock down their accounts. By making their stories available only to registered users, they hope to prevent scraping by AI models and protect the integrity of their work. While it remains uncertain how effective this measure is in deterring AI bots, writers are determined to take any actions possible to safeguard their creations.

Currently, out of the approximately 11.7 million works on AO3, over 966,000 are accessible only to registered users. Many authors have chosen to restrict access to their new work, as it is likely that their existing stories have already been scraped in the past.

The Emergence of AI Concerns in the Fanfiction Community

The decision to lock down AO3 accounts began in December last year when AO3 writers discovered that AI-generated content, such as that produced by the controversial AI writing app Sudowrite, included references to the Omegaverse genre. This genre, popular among fans, portrays wolflike mating dynamics and often features male pregnancy and same-sex relationships.

As Sudowrite used data scraped from sources like AO3 to train their AI model, it raised concerns among writers that their work was being repurposed without their consent. To combat this exploitation, fanfiction writers organized a writing marathon called Knot In My Name, where they flooded the platform with Omegaverse-themed stories, hoping to skew future AI datasets.

AO3’s Response to AI-Related Concerns

In May, AO3 addressed the community’s concerns about AI scraping in a public announcement. They suggested that writers restrict access to their work by making it available only to registered users. While this measure is not foolproof, AO3 believes it provides some protection against large-scale scraping. Additionally, AO3 implemented measures like rate limiting and opted out of web archives used for training AI models, such as Common Crawl.

Despite reader requests to keep their work public, many writers have chosen to lock their accounts. However, this decision has had unintended consequences, such as a decline in views and comments, and limitations for those who enjoy reading fanfiction as guest users.

Concerns Over Bot Comments and Misinformation

User suspicions have grown due to the increase in bot comments, some of which are used to make browsing traffic appear legitimate or test spam detection filters. The comments often lack specific details about the story and do not come from registered users. AO3 authors have also expressed concerns about their supportive comments being mistaken for AI-generated content.

In response, some writers have included disclaimers in their author notes, explicitly stating they do not give permission for their fics to be used in AI training. However, while these disclaimers demonstrate writers’ concerns, they may not effectively protect their work from unauthorized use.

Contemplating the Future

As the debate over AI scraping and ethical concerns of using AI in fanfiction continues, writers’ decisions to lock or unlock their AO3 accounts vary. Some have decided to unlock their fics, accepting the risks associated with AI scraping, while others remain locked in a bid to safeguard their work.

The AO3 community grapples with these issues, knowing that maintaining digital privacy is challenging, especially with companies like OpenAI notorious for using personal data without consent. However, writers are determined to protect their creative endeavors from unauthorized use and exploitation.

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