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Title: Basic Growth Rate Stats: Stargate Atlantis and Other Fandoms
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Author name: Icarus
Author email: icarus_ancalion@yahoo.com

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Very Basic Growth Rate Stats: Stargate Atlantis and other fandoms:

How does Stargate Atlantis rate in online popularity as of July 2006?

We can use fanfiction as a benchmark for how popular the Stargate Atlantis fandom is compared to other fandoms. My statistics are taken from fanfiction.net, the largest fanfiction online archive*, which receives 9,700,000 impressions per day according to Alexa. As of June 25th, 2007, fanfiction.net was the 193rd most popular site on the Internet, drawing more traffic than MSNBC. Actually, a lot more traffic than MSNBC.

Fanfiction is a huge online draw. Therefore it can be used as a general measure of the online popularity of a show.

The number of stories measures the level of activity in the fandom. This reflects the number of readers, rather than writers, believe it or not. As one writer receives a ton of comments, other writers follow the money -- er, reviews -- and the fanfiction dynamo kicks off.

*(Caveat: fanfiction.net does not allow explicit NC-17 stories, so the numbers of actual fanfics out there is much higher, an estimated 30% more. Needless to say, the porn is an even bigger draw. Most of the NC-17 fiction is housed on Livejournal.com, the 63rd most popular site.)

A fandom requires three elements:

1) Active Viewers who are familiar with the show. Fanfiction does not explain or repeat what is known from the show. Fanfic, for example, don't explain what a stargate does or what a "puddlejumper" is.

2) Active Writers (and Artists and Vidders). Usually there is a core of "Big Name Fans" who have written for many shows and popularize the fanfiction for a new show. Working alongside them will be organizers who run (and pay for) archives, story challenge communities, and newsletters that promote the fanfiction, as well as the all-important readers who sift the wheat from the chaff and maintain recommendations lists that anthologize the good stories.

3) Active Readers who send praise and online comments -- called "reviews" -- to the writers. These readers demand more stories which starts up a dynamo. Reviews are the coin of the realm. Getting more reviews for a story is bit like getting paid more for your work. Writers don't like to admit it but they do follow the readers. As the reviews and "pay-off" increases, the top drawer writers are drawn in and the quality of the stories goes up as well.

Comparing the two Stargates:

Stargate Atlantis (after 3 years, about 2,890 per year): 8,669
Stargate SG-1 (after 10 years, about 1,621 per year): 16,211
SGA's early surge of popularity far outstripped SG-1 fanfiction. While SGA's discovery by fanfiction writers can be contributed to a springboard effect, that doesn't explain why SGA has nearly double the number of fanfiction stories per year.

This is significant. If Stargate Atlantis continues at this clip for seven years, it could pass 20,000 stories and be ranked in the top five mainstream fanfiction communities alongside the Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm writing a synopsis of that first year examining why the wacky SGA fanfiction drew so many writers and readers.

Stargate Atlantis compared to the three hottest new shows:

Supernatural (after 2 years, about 4,954 per year): 9,908
Stargate Atlantis (after 3 years, about 2,890 per year): 8,669
Dr. Who (after 3 years, about 2,482 per year): 7,448
Battlestar Galactica 2003 (after 4 years, about 580 per year): 2,319
Stargate Atlantis is on a par with the two hottest new fandoms today: the skyrocketing Supernatural, and Dr. Who. Supernatural's growth rate is astounding. It looks like it could be the next X-files. Battlestar Galactica, despite the quality of the show (or perhaps because of it) has not created a large body of fanfiction readers.

Stargate Atlantis compared to the three biggest mainstream fanfiction communities:

Harry Potter (after 10 years, about 30,965 per year): 309,650
Lord of the Rings (after 10 years since fanfiction.net launched, about 4,012 per year): 40,121
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (after 7 years, about 4,480 per year): 31,364

Stargate Atlantis (after 3 years, about 2,890 per year): 8,669

No fandom is as large as the King Kong of fandoms, Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are a distant second and third, though they have nearly twice the number of fics found in the next largest fandoms.

Less familiar to most people are the powerhouse Anime fandoms, which I distinguish from the "mainstream" fandoms:

Naruto: 90,972
Yu-Gi-Oh: 42,233
Digimon: 28,743
Dragon Ball Z: 28,266
Sailor Moon: 24,693
Fullmetal Alchemist: 19,003
Ruroun Kenshin: 14,704

Stargate Atlantis (after 3 years, about 2,890 per year): 8,669

The Anime fandoms have a reputation for drawing a younger readership with greater numbers of young male readers. According several surveys, the typical ratio of male to female readers ranges from 85-90% women, 15-10% men.

Stargate Atlantis compared to the mid-range mainstream fandoms:

CSI (after 7 years, about 2428 per year): 17,000
Stargate SG-1 (after 10 years, about 1,621 per year): 16,211
Gilmore Girls (after 6 years, about 2,053 per year): 12,322
House, M.D. (3 years, about 2,280): 6,840
**X-Files (after 9 years, about 726 per year): 6,536

Stargate Atlantis (after 3 years, about 2,890 per year): 8,669

Stargate SG-1 is a mid-range fandom. Stargate Atlantis, if it keeps its early momentum, will surpass all of these.

**Note: The X-Files is a much larger fandom than these numbers indicate. The figures here are low due to the fact that fanfiction.net did not launch until the late 1990s, years after the X-Files began. Most of the early X-Files fanfiction was shared through other means. Likewise, the early Star Trek fanfiction is not housed on fanfiction.net and was mostly shared through printed Zines. Shows like Stargate SG-1, which started at the same time as fanfiction.net or later, can be sampled via fanfiction.net.

How does Stargate Atlantis compare to small fandoms?

West Wing (after 7 years, about 580 per year): 4,060
Friends (after 7 years, about 452 per year): 3,165
Farscape (after 5 years, about 351 per year): 1,759 Stargate Atlantis (after 3 years, about 2,890 per year): 8,669
Small fandoms have communities and primary authors, though often the authors "main fandoms" will be elsewhere.

Compare Stargate Atlantis to the micro fandoms:

Law and Order: 738
Jane Austen: 691
Shakespeare: 294
Profiler: 288

Stargate Atlantis (after 3 years, about 2,890 per year): 8,669

At the farthest end of the spectrum are the "micro fandoms." These are too small to have an active community of readers and are not self-sustaining. Writers create stories for them out of love for the work alone and usually have other fandoms that are their "bread and butter." The readership is the random stray reviewer.

Online popularity of course is no measure of quality, or the popularity outside of the online community. No one has figured out the magic formula that draws readers to seek more from their fandom in fanfiction stories. And some shows and books don't invite fanfiction just because they're difficult, or so highbrow they don't have a readership. For example, one of the micro fandoms is based on the works of William Shakespeare. I guess fanfiction writers don't have the gall. :D