But I want to talk about the Before Times, or rather, about one specific aspect of them: filled-up Gdocs. Those of you who've been around for a few years no doubt remember those, but some newer fanficcers might not know what I'm talking about. So, indulge me as I ramble about the old days, below the break.
Once upon a time, there was Equestria Daily.
It's still there, of course, and it's still a big, popular thing, but it's not the center of pony fandom like it used to be. For more than a year, EqD was somewhere that pretty much anyone who was a pony fan visited at least occasionally, and as such had a centralized influence that no site since has matched. There was no FiMFiction (and even after it was created, it was a while before it became the go-to site for ponyfiction), and there was no other single site where most of the fanfic-reading populace congregated, so getting your story posted on EqD was pretty much the only way to hit the large majority of readers.
EqD accepted any submission form, but the three most common were links to fanfiction.net pages, links to deviantart pages, and links to Gdocs. Of those three, the latter were generally preferred by both Seth and the readers, because let's face it: ff.net and DA are terrible for formatting, features, and general ease of reading.
Now, you can only have a maximum of 50 people in a Gdoc at a time. Nowadays, if a 51st person tries to access the page, they get booted to a read-only copy (which, for fanfic-reading purposes, is the same thing anyway), but at the time, it would just tell you that the doc was full and you couldn't access. So for months, whenever a story with an eye-catching cover or synopsis popped up, or whenever a popular story updated... you couldn't read it. I remember sitting at the computer, refreshing every couple of minutes while I tried to focus on other things, hoping that someone else had stopped reading and that I might be lucky enough to squeeze in before someone else did. On at least a couple of occasions, Seth or the author copy-pasted the story/chapter into a new Gdoc and posted it as an "alternate link" to alleviate some of the congestion.
In a weird way, I wonder if that didn't enhance the popularity of certain stories. Sure, some readers definitely saw they couldn't access the story and then decided not to bother. But I know that when I had it happen to me, I was suddenly filled with an urgent need to find out what the forbidden fic had going for it, even if it was a story I was ambivalent about reading initially. It also became a status symbol of sorts; a good (read: popular) author was one who could max out his reader numbers. It was like an invisible-from-the-outside Feature Box, except that the recommended fics were the ones you couldn't read.
Anyway, I don't have anywhere I'm going with this; I just remembered filled-up stories over the weekend when someone mentioned story heat (totally unrelated to what you're thinking; I was at an educator's conference at the time), and my mind wandered in an odd direction. I don't miss not being able to read popular fics and updates until the day after their posted, but it certainly ended up being a memorable part of ficreading back in the early/middle days of the fandom.