Welcome to Yuletide 2014, the 12th edition of the While We Tell of Yuletide Treasure Fanfiction Challenge. Signups will run from October 19 to October 26, and stories will be due on December 20! Stories will be revealed on December 25 and authors on January 1.
Treats shorter than 1000 words or treats posted after deadline should go into the Yuletide Madness Collection 2014.
For more information and updates about Yuletide events, follow the Yuletide Admin LJ.
If you have any questions, please contact the mods at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Closed, Unmoderated, Gift Exchange Challenge)
About Yuletide 2014 (yuletide2014)
The Yuletide FAQ
- What is Yuletide?
- Who runs Yuletide?
- Where is Yuletide?
- Information and announcements
- Participant discussions
- When does Yuletide happen?
- Schedule for 2014
- How does Yuletide work?
- How and when should I contact the mods?
- What am I committing to if I sign up?
- What if I don’t have an AO3 account?
- I don’t want to sign up for the challenge, but I still want to participate. How can I do that?
- I do want to sign up to the challenge, but I missed the sign-up window. Can I get in anyway?
- How does nominating work?
- Can I change my mind about my nominations after I submit them?
- Do I have to nominate fandoms to participate?
- If I nominate fandoms, am I obligated to sign up?
- What kind of fandoms can be nominated?
- How do sign-ups work?
- I won’t be around during sign-ups - can someone sign up for me?
- Can I change my mind about my sign-up after I submit it?
- I’m only comfortable with one or two of the fandoms on the list. Can I just offer/request those?
- I’m only comfortable with one of the characters in a fandom. Can I just offer that one?
- How do I offer more fandoms, and what is a bucket offer?
- I’m comfortable with lots of the characters in a fandom. Can I offer more than 8?
- What are optional details?
- Can I veto certain topics/pairings/genres when I sign up?
- I want to request a character that was not nominated/my recipient is asking for a character that was not nominated.
- Dear Yuletide Writer letters
- How are assignments generated?
- I didn’t get my assignment - what did I do?
- Can I switch my assignment?
- Do I have to write stories for all of my recipient’s requests?
- Can I write a story in any of my recipient’s fandoms, even if I didn’t sign up for them?
- Can I write more than one story?
- Am I guaranteed to be the only person writing a story for my recipient?
- Will I get more than one story?
- How do I post my story?
- Can someone else post my story for me?
- Can I post my story before the deadline?
- Can I edit my story after it’s posted?
- Can I add author’s notes?
- What if I can’t finish my story?
- What happens if I default?
- I defaulted in the past - can I sign up this year/how do I get unbanned?
- What are pinch hits?
- Do I need to be signed up for Yuletide to be a pinch hitter?
- How do I become a pinch hitter?
- How do I claim a pinch hit?
- What am I committing to if I claim a pinch hit?
- Can I write a pinch hit even if I wasn’t officially assigned to it?
- How do I post my pinch hit?
What is Yuletide?
Yuletide is an annual fic exchange for rare and obscure fandoms. Participants sign up to write a story of at least 1,000 words in a fandom someone else has requested, using the selected characters from that fandom. In return, they receive a story of at least 1,000 words in a fandom they have requested, featuring their own selected characters. The rules are here.
Who runs Yuletide?
The current mods are astolat, hhertzof, and jenn_calaelen. You can reach them at email@example.com.
Where is Yuletide?
The challenge is run on the Archive of Our Own. The archive hosts nomination, sign-up, and story posting forms. You will need an AO3 account in order to participate in Yuletide. All stories are hosted at the Yuletide parent collection.
Information and announcements
Information, scheduling, and admin announcements are made on the Yuletide Admin Communities on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth. You should follow at least one of these communities if you want to participate in the challenge. If you don't have a LiveJournal or a Dreamwidth journal, you can track the Yuletide Admin RSS feed. (Right-click and copy that link into your feed reader.)
Participants can post and comment in the Yuletide LiveJournal participant community. This is relatively low-volume during most of the year, but gets very busy around Yuletide, with everything from planning posts to recs.
If you do not have a LiveJournal or do not wish to join this community, it is still recommended that you read it regularly. It hosts posts about beta-readers, Dear Yuletide Writer letters, and helpful information on other Yuletide topics.
For additional ways to participate in Yuletide, see more resources.
When does Yuletide happen?
Schedule for 2014
- Nominations: 22nd to 29th September
- Sign-ups: 19th to 25th October
- Assignments go out: Approximately November 1st
- Posting deadline: December 20th 6pm UTC (What time is that where I am?)
- Story reveal: December 25th
- Author reveal: January 1st
How does Yuletide work?
During Nominations, people use a form on AO3 to submit the names of three rare fandoms they want to request or write, nominating between 0 and 4 characters in each fandom. This results in a list of several thousand fandoms. This list is called the tag set. You can read the fandom eligibility guidelines on the Yuletide Admin LiveJournal or on the Yuletide Admin Dreamwidth.
During Sign-ups, people use a form on AO3 to request and offer to write stories in fandoms from the nominated list. Participants must offer and request multiple fandoms to allow for better matching.
After sign-ups, participants are matched up based on what they offered and requested, and Assignments are sent out. Participants have approximately seven weeks to write one story of at least 1,000 words in one of their recipient’s requested fandoms, featuring the requested characters.
Stories must be posted to the Yuletide collection on AO3 by December 20th, where they will automatically appear as anonymous "Mystery Work" gifts for the recipients.
On December 25, the stories are revealed, with author names still hidden.
On January 1, the author names are revealed.
How and when should I contact the mods?
If you have questions or need clarifications, you may always try the firstname.lastname@example.org email. The mods are here to help - don't be afraid to email us. You can also comment on the Yuletide Admin posts. These are the only reliable ways of contacting the mods.
Please do not use LiveJournal/Dreamwidth private messages to contact the mods. Email is much more reliable and open to the whole mod team.
You should email the mods immediately about problems like these:
- You want to participate, but you think you might be banned.
- It’s almost the end of nominations or sign-ups, and you urgently need an AO3 account.
- Your assignment does not include anything you actually signed up for.
- For any reason (after Dec 13) you cannot finish your story and must default.
- You posted your assignment, but it showed up on the pinch hit list as if you had defaulted.
- The reveal has just taken place and the story written for you is missing/not complete/does not include the characters you requested.
- The reveal has just taken place and the story you wrote is missing.
If you have difficulties with your assignment, you are encouraged to contact the mods. We may be able to help with the following problems:
- The fandom and characters are the only information listed in your recipient’s request, and you want more.
- The subject matter is tricky/possibly squicky/includes things that someone might find upsetting, and you require more information.
- There is a Dear Yuletide Writer letter, but the letter is locked or a placeholder.
- The request details don't match the fandom, or concerns characters that were not selected. (In this case, depending on the details, it may be that the recipient is breaking the rules and the mods will work with you to find a solution of some sort.)
Be warned, however, that not all recipients will reply to requests for information - in these cases we encourage you to go ahead and write what you want to. Optional details are optional.
In the following situations, it may be more effective to get help from the community than to email the mods:
- You need a beta. See Beta Readers for ways of finding beta readers. Please only email the mods if you have failed to find a beta through other means.
- You’re having trouble uploading your fic to AO3. If it’s right up against the deadline, do email the mods at email@example.com and let them know. However, for help with AO3 itself, you can ask in the IRC chat or at the Yuletide LiveJournal, and also register a help ticket with AO3 Support.
What am I committing to if I sign up?
You're committing to writing one complete story of at least 1,000 words, featuring the characters your recipient requested, in a fandom they requested.
Your recipient will be matched to you on at least one of the fandom and character combinations you offered.
What if I don't have an AO3 account?
You can request an invite from AO3 by going to the Invite Request page and adding your name to the queue (the page shows you how long you'll have to wait for an invite). Or, you can contact the mods at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they'll issue you an invitation.
You need to get an AO3 account before sign-ups close.
I don't want to sign up for the challenge, but still want to participate. How can I do that?
There are a variety of ways in which you can participate in Yuletide without signing up for the main challenge.
You can be a beta reader, assisting those who are writing with fact-checking, fandom knowledge, or grammar.
If you’d like to join the Yuletide IRC channel, you can cheer people on, or become a hippo, offering encouragement and assistance in finding obscure facts, beta readers, or just helping writers find a consensus.
I do want to sign up for the challenge, but I missed the sign-up window. Can I get in anyway?
Unfortunately, this is not possible. All participants must have a completed sign-up in the AO3 Yuletide Collection so that the matching of writers and recipients can begin immediately after sign-ups close.
How does nominating work?
Participants can nominate a maximum of three fandoms that they want to be available for Yuletide, and a maximum of four characters per fandom.
A group of people called "tag mods" work behind the scenes to check each fandom and its characters after nominations close. They approve fandoms that are rare enough (see this year’s eligibility rules). They reject fandoms that are too large, fandoms that have already been approved under other names, and characters that have already been approved under other names. For example: Sesame St. would be rejected or merged if Sesame Street (TV) had already been nominated and approved.
After the sorting, clean-up begins. This stage lasts approximately one week, but can be longer. First, the mods go through the list of fandoms and characters to eliminate duplicates and fix typos. Then they open up the list to public review for people to point out any remaining errors and necessary corrections. Once clean-up has been completed, the list is ready for sign-ups.
Each year's participants create a brand-new list of fandoms and characters to choose from, based on what they want to read or write that year. Some fandoms show up on a regular basis, year to year, while others may only appear once.
Can I change my mind about my nominations after I submit them?
Yes, until nominations close.
Do I have to nominate fandoms to participate?
No. You are under no obligation to make nominations in order to participate.
However, it's a good idea to nominate the fandoms you really want to see. There's no guarantee they will be nominated by another participant, and the fandom list resets to zero every year. If no one nominates your fandom, it won't be available for Yuletide that year.
If I nominate fandoms, am I obligated to sign up?
You may nominate without signing up, although the mods ask that people only nominate if they're seriously considering participation. Yuletide isn't designed to be a general prompt community where anyone can request stories. Yuletide is designed as a gift exchange, so the list of available fandoms should be one that active participants are specifically interested in.
The more fandoms nominated, the longer the process is for tag sorting, and a large tag set can also cause delays in matching.
What kind of fandoms can be nominated?
Yuletide has had stories for western live action TV, k-drama, j-drama, cartoons, anime, reality shows, news shows, movies, novels, poems, manga, manhwa, manhua, comic books, comic strips, fairy tales, mythology, sacred texts, video games, webcomics, plays, commercials, songs, paintings, anthropomorfic, music videos, Youtube videos, and RPF from ancient history to today.
You name it, someone may well have requested it. See the relevant post on the Yuletide Admin LiveJournal or on the Yuletide Admin Dreamwidth journal for details of exactly which fandoms are allowed and how eligibility is determined.
How do sign-ups work?
- You are required to request stories in at least three fandoms. You can request up to six fandoms if you want.
- For each fandom, you can request 0 to 4 (nominated) characters.
- If you request 0 characters, your writer is allowed to write about any of the nominated characters they want, or about the fandom universe in general. You may not request 0 characters and then demand unnominated characters in your optional details.
- You must offer to write in at least four fandoms.
- In each fandom, you have to offer 2 to 8 nominated characters. You can also offer "Any" characters, but that really means any of the nominated characters, in any combination. If there are multiple fandoms where you're willing to write any of the nominated characters, you can make a bucket offer.
Offering or requesting fandoms you aren’t excited to write or read (especially larger fandoms) is a risky idea, because you may well end up matched on them and be expected to write or to read that fandom.
I won't be around during sign-ups – can someone sign up for me?
Yes, you can use a sign-up proxy. This means allowing someone to have access to your AO3 account, so they can be logged in as you to fill in the sign-up form.
If you choose to sign up in this fashion, we caution you to choose someone you trust and remember that giving a password to someone is always risky. We recommend changing your password to something temporary if you want someone to sign you up for Yuletide, then changing it back again as soon as possible.
Can I change my mind about my sign-up after I submit it?
You can change your mind at any point during the sign-up period by editing your sign-up form. You can find your sign-up form on your AO3 profile page: click on "Sign-ups" in the left-hand navigation pane.
I'm only comfortable with one or two of the fandoms on the list. Can I just offer/request those?
Sorry, no. For the matching to work, it's necessary to have a wider range of offers and requests. Otherwise, there's not enough flexibility in the system to match everyone.
I'm only comfortable with one of the characters in a fandom. Can I just offer that one?
Sorry, no. For the matching to work, it's necessary to have a wider range of offers. Otherwise, there's not enough flexibility in the system to match everyone.
How do I offer more fandoms, and what is a bucket offer?
There is a way to add extra fandoms to your offers: the "bucket offer", which is a group of fandoms for which you're willing to write absolutely any of the nominated characters.
You must be okay with writing any character or combination of characters that might be requested in a fandom in order to make a “bucket offer" - you may not expect the combination of characters your recipient will pick, but you will be expected to use the characters they requested.
Unless you choose to make a “bucket offer", you're limited to a maximum of ten offers. This is the flip side of the matching: too many possibilities makes the matching process overly complicated, as every possible combination has to be considered.
I'm comfortable with lots of the characters in a fandom. Can I offer more than eight?
There's only one way to add extra characters to your offers: selecting "Any". This means that you're willing to write absolutely any of the nominated characters in that fandom.
Otherwise, you're limited to a maximum of eight offers. This is the flip side of the matching process: too many possibilities makes the matching process too complicated, as every possible combination has to be considered.
What are optional details?
"Optional details" is the space on the form where you can give extra information about the kind of story you want to receive.
This information is optional for both you and your writer. You don't have to include anything here, and your writer doesn't have to include any of the details listed as “optional details" in their story. Please only include text in this box, as rich media can cause problems in the mods’ interface and won't appear if you are sent out as a pinch hit.
A good use of the optional details space is providing prompts for your writer. Other helpful things to include are: why you chose the characters you did and what you like about them; whether you’re a fan of crossovers or AUs; favourite genres or tropes; any triggers or squicks to avoid; or your favorite type of relationships, be they platonic or explicit.
An inappropriate use of the optional details space would be to demand a very specific story or relationship between the characters; to provide a prompt and declare or imply that this is the only story you want; to make a request for a story that does not match either the fandom or the characters you matched on; or to demand a crossover/fusion with a fandom that was deemed too large to qualify for Yuletide. As a writer, if you are assigned a prompt like this, you can contact the mods for help.
An equally inappropriate use of the “optional details", by the writer, would be to craft a story intended to squick or to trigger from the information provided. Do not do this. Ever.
“Optional details" are meant to allow a writer to understand some of their recipient’s favorite things so they can better craft a story for that person. Nothing included there is binding; the writer is free to write the best story they can from the fandom and requested characters.
Can I veto certain topics/pairings/genres when I sign up?
No, there's no way to officially veto anything. Yuletide matching is based strictly on fandom and characters; nothing else is taken into consideration. The “Optional Tags" field is used only for matching fandoms by means of the bucket offer. You are not matched on your optional details and your matched author is not bound by them.
I want to request a character that was not nominated/my recipient is asking for a character that was not nominated.
These are two sides of the same problem. Only characters in the tag set may be requested or offered. Asking your writer to write a different character is unfair, as they have not volunteered to write that character.
You can mention other characters you are interested in in your optional details. However, demanding a writer include them is against the rules. If your recipient does this, you may contact the mods for help (for example, to get prompts about the characters you offered to write).
Remember, optional details are optional.
Dear Yuletide Writer letters
"Dear Yuletide Writer" letters (also known as Dear Yuletide Author, Dear Yuletide Santa, etc.) are letters posted to journals or other spaces that give your writer more information about why you picked the sources you did, what your likes and dislikes are, detailed prompts, and so forth.
Like the Optional Details field, DYW letters are entirely optional. You don't have to write one, and you're free to ignore your recipient's letter while writing your story. Letters are covered by the same guidelines given above, except that, as it is your own space, you can have all the images, vids, etc. that you want. ;)
People who choose to write a DYW letter can put the link in their sign-up, so their authors can find it easily. They can also add the link to a DYW post in the Yuletide LJ comm.
You can find the most recent year's post linked in the sidebar on the main Yuletide LJ community, or by checking the dear yuletide writer tag. This post will usually link to a spreadsheet of letters, which makes it easier to search for letters in fandoms you are interested in.
How are assignments generated?
Once sign-ups are over, the AO3's automated matching process will match up writers and recipients, and when that’s done, you'll get an email with your assignment. The following is a description of what happens during matching.
Your recipient is unlikely to be your writer, as the matching is almost never that direct. Usually you write for one person, and a different person writes for you.
For Yuletide matching is done both for fandoms and characters. Someone will only match with you if they have offered to write the exact fandom and all the characters you have requested.
Matching happens first on fandoms and then on characters. Characters are attached to fandoms, so offering a character in one fandom will not match someone requesting that character in a different fandom. For example, if Veralidaine Sarrasri was nominated in Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet and in the Immortals quartet, someone offering her in The Immortals would not match up to someone requesting her in Protector of the Small.
Matching is AND, so if you ask for four characters, you will only match to someone who offered to write all four of the characters.
Bucket offers are a good thing, because they allow you to offer more fandoms. However, offering more than approximately 20 fandoms does not help the matching process. The more fandoms offered by a single writer, the longer it takes matching to run, without any promise of additional success - as you can only be matched to one request in the end.
Matching tries to find the 'best' match for you - so someone offering two fandoms you have requested is a “better" match than someone who only matches with you on one fandom.
It does not prioritize matches on rare fandoms.
The system first generates a list of the all the possible matches for each person. If there are any people with no possible recipients, the process stops until their sign-ups are edited or removed. The mods will contact these people and sort this out before assignments can be generated.
The system then produces a list of possible assignments. There will be a list of people who have not been matched - this does not mean there were no possible matches for them, only that the system could not make a perfect match for all the assignments.
The unmatched authors with no recipient will be manually assigned to someone they can write for. Since that person already had an official author, they may get two stories.
The unmatched recipients with no author will be sent to the pinch hit list.
Once everyone has a match, the mods will send out official assignments.
I didn't get my assignment – what do I do?
It's possible that your spam filter ate the emailed assignment. Log in to your AO3 account and click the link for "Assignments" in the left-hand navigation pane in your Profile; your assignment should be there.
If it's not there, either, please contact the mods immediately at email@example.com.
Can I switch my assignment?
Assignments can't be changed under most circumstances.
If you signed up for one of the fandoms and characters your recipient requested, you were matched appropriately. This means you are obligated to write them a story, even if you signed up for that fandom accidentally. You're free to write in any of the fandoms they requested, and to ignore their Optional Details field.
The only exception is if you were assigned a fandom you definitely didn't sign up for. Please check your sign-up to confirm - you can find it on your AO3 profile page under "Sign-ups" in the left-hand navigation pane. If that’s what has happened, contact the mods as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I have to write stories for all of my recipient's requests?
Nope! You're only required to write one story, and you can choose which of your recipient’s requested fandoms to write in.
Can I write a story in any of my recipient's fandoms, even if I didn't sign up for them?
Sure! As long as you write a story for one of the fandoms and characters they requested, you're good.
Can I write more than one story?
Sure! First you have to write a complete story of at least 1,000 words in one of your recipient's fandoms, using the characters they requested. After that, you can write as many stories as you want, for your recipient or for other people.
Am I guaranteed to be the only person writing a story for my recipient?
No, there's no way to guarantee that. Most years at least one person has two officially assigned authors, simply to make the matching work.
Beyond that, everyone is free to write as many stories as they want, for whomever they want, as long as their assigned stories have already been completed and uploaded to the Yuletide AO3 collection. If your recipient has a request that catches someone else's eye, they may get an extra story or two.
Will I get more than one story?
Probably not. Despite the popularity of writing Treats among some Yuletiders, most participants get one story, just as most participants write one story.
How do I post my story?
Go to your Assignment page on AO3, which you can find under the "Assignments" link on your Profile page, or on the Yuletide subcollection page as "Your Assignment". You should see two buttons at the bottom of your Yuletide assignment: "Post to fulfill", and "Default".
Click "Post to fulfill", and you'll be taken to a posting form. This will automatically post your story into the current year's Yuletide challenge. It also has your recipient's name already filled in. All you need to do is fill in the rest of the form, preview it to make sure it looks okay, and post.
If you're posting a Treat, you won't have an assignment or "post to fulfill" button. Instead, go to the challenge page for this year on AO3, and click on "Post To Collection" under the challenge title. This will take you to a form with the challenge collection name already filled in. Fill in the recipient's name manually, then fill in the rest of the form, preview it to make sure it looks okay, and post.
Treats that are at least 1,000 words should be posted in the main Yuletide collection for that year.
Treats that are under 1,000 words should be posted in the Yuletide Madness collection for that year, once it opens.
Here's a detailed guide to uploading Yuletide stories to AO3 - this was written in 2009, and a few things have been simplified since then. But it has lots of screencaps to help you fill out the posting form if you're not used to it.
Can someone else post my story for me?
Yes, you can use a "proxy uploader" to post your story. There are two ways to do this:
1. Give someone access to your account so they can log in as you and upload your story.
- We recommend changing your password to something temporary for this, and changing it again as soon as possible. Always be wary of giving any of your passwords to someone else, and take proper precautions.
2. Find someone who has an AO3 account and is willing to upload your story for you, and send them your story with all the information they'll need to fill in the posting form.
- The proxy uploader will upload the story under their own AO3 account, and list your AO3 pseud as a co-author.
- Once it's uploaded, the proxy uploader edits the story to remove their name as author.
- You are now listed as the sole author of the story, and the proxy uploader no longer has access to it. They can't edit or change it in any way.
Can I post my story before the deadline?
Yes! The posting form opens shortly after assignments go out. You're free to post whenever you want.
Can I edit my story after it's posted?
Yes, the AO3 allows editing at any time. Please note that your story must be complete when it is uploaded. You may still make edits and minor changes until the reveal, but the story itself must be finished.
Can I add author's notes?
You can, but they will be visible as soon as the stories are revealed on December 25. You might choose to wait until after the author reveal to add any notes that might give away your identity.
What if I can't finish my story?
If you can't finish in time, you can default. This lets the mods know they need to find a pinch hitter to write a story for your recipient.
Things happen. Life happens. Defaulting is often out of your control. Simply follow the steps outlined below and everything will be fine.
To default, go to your Assignment page on AO3, which you can find under the "Assignments" link on your Profile, or on the Yuletide subcollection page as "Your Assignment". You should see two buttons at the bottom of your Yuletide assignment: "Post to fulfill", and "Default".
Click the Default button, then click the confirmation on the popup that appears. The mods will be notified and will find a pinch hitter to fulfill your assignment.
What happens if I default?
Whether you get a penalty for defaulting depends on how and when you default.
- Before December 14: If you default using the AO3 button before 11:59 pm UTC / GMT on December 13 (What time is that where I am?), you'll be flagged as a defaulter, but with no penalty.
- On or after December 14, but before the deadline: If you default by using the Default button after December 13, but before the deadline, you should write to the mods at email@example.com. If you do not, you will be banned from participating. The mods may ask you to write and post another story before the next year's sign-ups start, if you want to participate again.
- Default via Placeholder: If you upload an unfinished story, or a placeholder (for example, 1000 words of gibberish, or the text "place holder"), you will be marked as a default. You may also be marked as a default if, upon reading their story, the recipient tells us that it does not deal with their requested fandoms and characters. This will result in being banned from future Yuletides.
- No-show default: If you default by simply failing to post your story, without using the Default button or writing to the mods in advance, you will be banned from future Yuletides. Also, bears will eat you.
- Multiple defaults: If you defaulted in 2013 and default this year, but want to participate in future, please talk to the mods.
I defaulted in the past - can I sign up this year/how do I get unbanned?
When the new mods took over in 2013, they issued an amnesty to previous defaulters. If you were banned before 2013, you may sign up again now.
If you defaulted last year after the 15th of December, and have not talked to the mods, you are probably banned from signing up in 2014. However, you can clear your name by writing a story of at least 1000 words for a previous Yuletide prompt, and posting it to the New Year’s Resolution collection. You will need to do this before the 2014 sign-ups begin (19 October).
What are pinch hits?
Pinch hits are assignments that the original author has had to default on, or assignments that weren't matched to any authors. As people default, the Yuletide mods post the assignments to the pinch hit mailing list, where they're available for anyone to claim.
Pinch hits are one of the most popular parts of Yuletide, and there's a lot of competition to get them. There are more people on the pinch hit list than sign up for Yuletide proper.
Do I need to be signed up for Yuletide to be a pinch hitter?
Nope! Anyone with an AO3 account can be a pinch hitter. If you want to be a pinch hitter and don't have an AO3 account, ask for one on the Invite Request page at AO3 or contact the mods at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
How do I become a pinch hitter?
Sign up for the Yuletide Pinch Hitters mailing list on Yahoo groups. You can do that on the website, or by email:
- On the web: Click "join this group". You need to have or create a Yahoo account to join via the web.
- By email: Send a blank email to email@example.com. To activate your subscription, just reply to the confirmation message you receive from the group.
And that's it – once you're on the list, you'll receive the pinch hit messages, and can try to claim any pinch hits that catch your eye.
How do I claim a pinch hit?
Keep an eye on your email. Pinch hits are generally sent out in batches, starting with a small flurry in the first week or two, then a slow trickle until the final couple of weeks before the deadline, where there's often a dozen or more a day.
If you see one that interests you, hit reply, write your AO3 name in the body of the email, and send it without changing the subject line. You can say that you want the pinch hit in the body of the email message, but do not change the subject line beyond the "Re:" your email program adds automatically.
You must include your AO3 name in your response in order to receive the pinch hit. If you are the first responder but you do not include your AO3 name, the pinch hit will go instead to the first responder who did remember to include their AO3 name.
Pinch hits go very fast – many within minutes – so act fast if you see something you want and are willing to commit to.
If you're the first person to request a pinch hit, the Yuletide mods will respond and let you know it's yours. You'll be able to see it listed on your AO3 profile page by clicking "Assignments" in the left-hand navigation pane. If the Yuletide Mods don't respond to you, you didn't get the pinch hit.
What am I committing to if I claim a pinch hit?
You're committing to write a complete story of at least 1,000 words in one of the recipient's chosen fandoms, using their chosen character(s). You are held to the same rules as if you had signed up initially and been assigned a match through the system.
For pinch hits that are assigned before December 10, the deadline is the same as the regular deadline: 6pm UTC on December 20th (What time is that where I am?)
For pinch hits that are assigned December 10 or after, the deadline is 6pm UTC on December 21.
Post-deadline pinch hits will generally be due 48 hours after they are assigned. However, the sooner the better in these cases.
Can I write a pinch hit even if I wasn't officially assigned to it?
Sure! In that case, it would be a Treat.
How do I post my pinch hit?
The process is the same as posting an original assignment. You can find instructions here.
The full list of prompts and the Madness collection will be opened at some point in December. The Madness collection is for stories under 1000 words (or stories over 1000 words that are posted after the main collection is opened). Remember that these stories must still be gifts for other participants.
Treats are just that: unassigned extra stories written for the fun of it.
People whose requests go out to the pinch hit list in the last week of the challenge are the most likely to get treats written for them as people scramble to make sure everyone is covered. But anyone may find an extra gift in the archive for them on story reveal day.
There's no way to differentiate an assigned story from a Treat in the archive. Some treat writers put something in the author's notes about this being a treat so the recipient will know which is their official gift. Treats over 1000 words may end up being the recipient's only story if their official writer defaults late in the challenge.
If you're writing a Treat, you won't have an assignment or "post to fulfill" button. Instead, go to the current challenge page on the AO3, and click on "Post To Collection" under the challenge title. This will take you to a form with the challenge collection name already filled in. Fill in the recipient's name manually, then fill in the rest of the form, preview it to make sure it looks okay, and post.
- If it's 1,000 words or more, upload it to the regular Yuletide subcollection for that year. You can post it whenever it's ready.
- If it's under 1,000 words, upload it to the Yuletide Madness subcollection for that year. You'll have to wait till Madness opens to upload your story.
Every year, people who did not sign up for the main challenge will write pinch hits in order to help out those who otherwise might not get a story. These pinch hitters are encouraged to leave prompts at a LiveJournal collection post. There is no guarantee that they will get a story, but we encourage participants to check these prompts and see if there is anything they can write.
New Year's Resolution challenge
The New Year's Resolution challenge opens on January 1, after author reveals go live. The challenge remains open until the next Yuletide sign-ups close.
All of the requests that were submitted for the most recent Yuletide are made available. Anyone with an AO3 account can write 1,000 word stories for them, featuring the requested characters, and post them into that year's NYR subcollection. For instance, after Yuletide 2011 closed, that year’s prompts were made available for NYR 2012.
Reveals come in two stages: story reveals, and author reveals.
On December 25, the mods switch all the regular Yuletide stories for that year from hidden to visible. Participants are automatically notified by email that they have a gift waiting for them, with a direct link to their gift story. Participants can also look on their AO3 profile under "Gifts" to find their gift story. Author names are still hidden at this point.
On December 26, the mods switch all the Yuletide Madness stories for that year from hidden to visible. Anyone who has a story waiting for them in Madness is automatically notified by email that they have a gift waiting for them, with a direct link to their gift story. Participants can also look on their AO3 profile under "Gifts" to find their gift story. Author names are still hidden at this point.
Authors can reply to comments on AO3; these will automatically appear under the name “Anonymous Creator" until author reveals. However, authors must be logged in for this to work.
On January 1, the mods switch all the Yuletide stories for that year from anonymous to showing author names. Everyone can see who wrote the stories.
Once author names have been revealed, participants can crosspost their stories to other platforms and can and respond to comments un-anonymously.
A beta reader is someone who reads your story and gives you feedback to help improve it.
There are a few ways to connect potential beta readers with authors for Yuletide.
First, there's always a post in the Yuletide LJ comm where people willing to beta can leave a comment with their name, fandoms they can beta in, and the types of beta they provide, so authors can contact them. It will be linked in the sidebar on the right, or you can check the "beta readers" tag on the Yuletide LJ comm to find the current year's beta-reader post.
Second, there's the IRC chat.
Third, and as a last resort if nothing else has worked, you can email the mods at firstname.lastname@example.org. They'll check to see if whoever else offered your fandom during sign-ups is available to beta.
Yuletide has its own IRC chat room. Anyone who wants can sign in to cheer each other on, panic to a sympathetic audience, ask for betas, and so on.
Server: irc.slashnet.org (standalone server)
No password needed.
Finding betas in chat: Since Yuletide is all about anonymity, the folks in the chat room have come up with a way to use middlemen – known as "hippos" – to connect authors and betas.
You can private message someone with "hippo" in front of their name and they'll announce in the chat room that a beta is needed for your fandom, check back with you to make sure anyone volunteering isn't your recipient, and then have the beta message you.
- The main Yuletide Challenge collection on AO3
- The AO3's FAQ on Collections and Challenges
- AO3 tutorial for signing up for challenges (note this is a bit out of date)
- 2009 tutorial for uploading Yuletide stories to AO3
- Yuletide history and information on Fanlore
- The Yuletide Admin community on LiveJournal
- The Yuletide Admin community on Dreamwidth
- The Yuletide participant community on LiveJournal
- A bookmarklet tool for determining fandom eligibility
Yuletide has a few basic rules:
- To participate, you must be 18 or older and have an AO3 account.
- You must write a complete story of at least 1,000 words, using a fandom and characters requested by your recipient.
You must use the requested characters as the featured characters in your story. If you offered "any", you are required to use the characters requested by your recipient. If you requested "any", you will receive a story featuring whichever characters were offered by your writer. Only the characters nominated for a fandom can be covered by ‘any’.
- You must post your completed story to the Yuletide Collection on AO3 before the story deadline. Otherwise you'll be listed as having defaulted even if you intend to finish, and someone else will have to write a last-minute pinch hit to be sure your recipient gets a story.
Do not post your story until it is completed. If you post a partial story in order to meet the deadline, you will be in violation of the rules. If this is discovered, or if your recipient finds themselves with an unfinished story on December 25, you will be banned.
- If you realize you won't be able to finish by the deadline, default as soon as possible, so the mods can find a pinch hitter to fulfill your assignment.
This gives your recipient a chance to receive a full story from a pinch hitter. You can still finish the story after your default, and post it manually before the deadline, but your recipient deserves a full-length, completed story of 1,000 words featuring their requested characters to be posted by the deadline. Please think of them.
- Respect the anonymous nature of the challenge until after the author reveal on January 1: don't talk about what you're writing. Do not post your story to any other sites until after the author reveal. Be aware that AO3 will keep logged-in author responses anonymous until after the reveal, but try not to give yourself away.
That's it! There are other traditions that have grown up around Yuletide over the years, but these rules are the requirement.
See the FAQ for more information.
See the evidence post for details of what evidence to provide.
Fandoms will be approved if their total number of stories on AO3 and fanfiction.net, added together, is less than 1000. A story must be in English, complete, and at least 1000 words long to be considered in that total.
One of our tag mods, Kristin, has created a bookmarklet tool to help you quickly determine if a fandom is over or under this limit.
A character or real person who is tagged in over 1,000 works on AO3 may not be nominated. However, different versions of the character may be nominated, in fandoms that are adaptations, reboots, or different universes to the universe(s) in which they are too popular.
Related fandoms include fandoms that are adaptations, part of a franchise, or otherwise linked to a larger canon.
If the fandom you want is closely related to an ineligible fandom, you will need to explain why it should be considered as a fandom in its own right .
Further notes on cut-offs: In cases where the nominated fandom has works on fanfiction.net, but we can't easily separate it out from a larger fandom, we will use a limit of 750 works on AO3.
If only the promotional material for a fandom is, or will be, available at the time that sign-ups close (Oct 25th 2014), that fandom is not eligible to be nominated.
Suitable Fandoms For Yuletide
The fandom tags that are used for Yuletide need to follow a set of guidelines. This is done to try and prevent too much duplication between fandoms, and to facilitate matching.
If fandoms are too broad, they can end up with too many characters nominated, which hurts matching. In many cases, these also cover a huge range of settings, events, or time periods that make people reluctant to offer “any” characters in them.
These fandoms are considered too broad and will not be accepted regardless of numbers:
- Many overarching RPF categories such as Ancient History RPF, [country] Actor RPF, Literary RPF, and Sports RPF.
- Fandom tags that include the words "- All Media Types", "& Related Fandoms", or "- Ambiguous Fandom".
- In some fandoms, anime & manga, or anime & games, or similar media, are considered part of the same canon. If you have a fandom like this, please describe it on the Evidence Post.
- Comic universes as a whole, and comic crossover events
- Book series where there is very little overlap in characters or setting.
Guidelines by Category
Real Person Fiction
Character nominations are required.
When an RPF fandom is too popular, it may be possible to nominate a more specific RPF category for your characters. Sports teams are acceptable fandoms when the sport as a whole has too many fics.
Please coordinate with other RPF fans on the Yuletide community when nominating. Think about whether your fandom is likely to end up with a huge character list, and consider if there is a sensible way of avoiding that (for example, nominate by groups of related people, rather than just by century or profession). A person who is tagged in over 1,000 works on AO3 is not eligible in any RPF category.
If there are multiple nominated fandoms with the same character list, the fandoms may be merged.
Book and Movie Series
Series that spin off from, or are subsets of, a ineligible fandom may be allowed if they are distinct from the main fandom.
Where an overall series or world and a subset of that series are nominated at the same time, we will not approve both, but will look at the nominations to decide which is the most appropriate to send through. We encourage everyone to discuss their nominations with others.
Please nominate comics fandoms by individual titles rather than by universe. We are aware that this does not fit all fandoms perfectly, so if your fandom is an odd case, please explain it on the Evidence Post.
Please nominate these by set or by individual commercial. Commercials need to have some recurring element if they are to be nominated together - just having a company in common is not enough.
Please nominate your group of items or concepts under a clear name. Character nominations are required.
Single episodes of TV shows cannot be nominated separately. Single seasons may be allowed in cases where the cast is different from season to season (for example, reality shows). Webseries spin-offs may be allowed.
The canons that are nominated as Yuletide fandoms may be both professional and amateur works. However, for fanworks – works like fanvids and fanfiction that derive from another canon and are not (generally) published for profit – a set of special conditions apply. Most fanworks will not be eligible for Yuletide.
- Fandom has its own etiquette around writing based on other fans’ works. Because of this, you may not nominate anything posted (or cross-posted, or embedded) to fandom-specific spaces. These include the Archive of Our Own, Fanfiction.net, and communities on LiveJournal or Dreamwidth that are specifically organized around fanworks. Further, a fanwork that includes a request NOT to transform it should not be nominated.
- The fanwork must be publicly available - don’t nominate something that’s locked to members of an archive. When you describe the fanwork on the Evidence Post, please provide a link.
- The fanwork has to be distinct from its source fandom - see the section on evidence for details of how this will be measured and the evidence you are expected to provide.
To argue for the inclusion of a specific fanwork, you must comment on the evidence post.