Welcome to Yuletide 2021. This challenge runs from 20th September, with the start of nominations, to 1st January, when authors are revealed.
For more information and updates about Yuletide events, please follow the Yuletide Admin DW.
The associated Yuletide Madness 2021 collection is here
(Closed, Unmoderated, Gift Exchange Challenge)
About Yuletide 2021 (yuletide2021)
Welcome to Yuletide 2021. This challenge runs from 20th September, with the start of nominations, to 1st January, when authors are revealed.
For more information and updates about Yuletide events, please follow the Yuletide Admin DW.
The associated Yuletide Madness 2021 collection is here
The Yuletide FAQ
- What is Yuletide?
- Who runs Yuletide?
- When does Yuletide happen?
- Schedule for 2021
- How does Yuletide work?
- What if I don't have an AO3 account?
- Official information and announcements
- Yuletide communities and discussion spaces
- How and when should I contact the mods?
- What am I committing to if I sign up?
- I don't want to sign up for the challenge, or I missed the sign-up window. How can I be involved?
- How does nominating work?
- How do I know if a fandom is eligible for Yuletide?
- Can I change my mind about my nominations after I submit them?
- Do I have to nominate fandoms to participate?
- If I nominate fandoms, do I have to sign up?
- What kind of fandoms can be nominated?
- Why can't we nominate fandoms that are due to be released after sign-ups close?
- Why not reintroduce the 10 year rule for dead fandoms?
- 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?
- How do I make a bucket offer?
- I’m comfortable with lots of the characters in a fandom. Can I offer more than 20?
- What are optional details?
- 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?
- Does my story have to be in English?
- 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 I post my story before the deadline?
- Can I edit my story after it’s posted?
- Can I add author’s notes?
- Can I add my work to a series?
- 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 run through the Archive of Our Own. 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 requested characters.
Please read this FAQ and the Rules before deciding whether to participate.
Who runs Yuletide?
The current mods are Isis, Morbane, pendrecarc, and NightsMistress, with support from hhertzof, Jenn_Calaelen, and astolat. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When does Yuletide happen?
Schedule for 2021
- Nominations: 20th September to 30th September
- Sign-ups: 15th October to 23rd October
- Assignments go out: Between 23rd and 25th October
- Posting deadline: 18th December at 9am UTC - check what time this is in your time zone - it may be the 17th
- Story reveal: 25th December
- Author reveal: 1st January
How does Yuletide work?
During Nominations, people use a form on AO3 to submit the names of 3 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 which 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.
After sign-ups, participants are matched up based on what they offered and requested, and Assignments are sent out. Participants have approximately six 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 18th December, where they will automatically appear as anonymous "Mystery Work" gifts for the recipients.
On 25th December, the stories are revealed, with author names still hidden.
On 1st January, the author names are revealed.
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 email@example.com, and they'll issue you an invitation.
You need to get an AO3 account before sign-ups close. However, it is better to get your invite and set up your account beforehand.
Official information and announcements
Information, scheduling, and admin announcements are made on the Yuletide Admin Community on Dreamwidth. You should follow this community if you want to participate in the challenge. If you don't have a Dreamwidth journal, you can track the Yuletide Admin RSS feed. (Right-click and copy that link into your feed reader.) You can also track the previous admin LiveJournal, twitter, or tumblr for announcements.
Yuletide communities and discussion spaces
Participants can post and comment in the Yuletide LiveJournal or Yuletide Dreamwidth participant communities. These are low-volume during most of the year, but get very busy around Yuletide, with everything from planning posts to recs.
If you do not have an LJ or DW account or do not wish to join either community, it is still recommended that you read them. They host posts about beta-readers, Dear Yuletide Writer letters, and helpful information on other Yuletide topics.
The Yuletide Discord and Yuletide IRC channel are real-time online chat rooms where you can discuss the challenge with other participants.
For information on how to connect to these chat rooms, and for additional ways to participate in Yuletide, see more resources.
How and when should I contact the mods?
If you have questions or need clarifications, you may always use the firstname.lastname@example.org email. This is the most reliable and fastest way to contact the mods. The mods are here to help - don't be afraid to email us. You can also comment on the Yuletide Admin posts if you have a public question. These are the only official methods of contact for the mod team.
LJ or DW private messages or pinging the volunteers running the Yuletide tumblr and twitter accounts are not a good way to get mod attention. The mods won’t necessarily see these in a timely manner, and your request may not be recorded or handled properly if not sent through official channels.
You should email the mods immediately about problems like these:
- You want to participate, but are not sure you are eligible - possibly due to a previous ban.
- 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 to write.
- 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 need more information to generate an idea.
- The subject matter of your recipient’s request 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 concern characters that the recipient did not request. (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 a story limited to the fandom requested and including all the requested characters. Optional details are optional. Anonymity is important in Yuletide - please don’t contact your recipient yourself.
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 at the Discord (invite link), in the IRC chat, at the Yuletide participant Dreamwidth, or at the Yuletide participant LiveJournal. If it becomes clear that AO3 itself is the issue, you should contact 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 and submitting it by the deadline. See the rules for the full list of requirements for your story.
Your recipient will be matched to you on at least one of the fandom and character combinations you offered.
I don't want to sign up for the challenge, or I missed the sign-up window. How can I be involved?
It is not possible to sign up after the sign-up window closes. 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.
If you’d still like to participate, you can sign on to be a pinch hitter, join the Discord chat (see invite link) to encourage writers or become a hippo, offer to be a beta reader or write treats for people.
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How does nominating work?
The mods create a nominations form on AO3 for the current year's challenge, and also announce it on the Yuletide admin LiveJournal and Dreamwidth. See the Schedule for when nominations will be this year.
Participants can nominate a maximum of 3 fandoms that they want to be available for Yuletide, and a maximum of 4 characters per fandom.
A group of people called "tagmods" 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 on the Yuletide Admin Dreamwidth). 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 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.
How do I know if a fandom is eligible for Yuletide?
Can I change my mind about my nominations after I submit them?
Yes, until nominations close. Nominations typically last one week.
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 starts fresh every year. If no one nominates your fandom, it won't be available for Yuletide that year.
If I nominate fandoms, do I have 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.
Fandoms do not need to be in English, and stories have been written in other languages (including Latin).
You name it, someone may well have requested it. Check the Yuletide Admin LiveJournal or the Yuletide Admin Dreamwidth for details of exactly which fandoms are allowed and how eligibility is determined.
Why can't we nominate fandoms that are due to be released after sign-ups close?
The cast may change. A book prepublication copy (ARC, galley) is still going through the editing process and your copy may not match the actual book. A trailer or ad can be quite different to the eventual canon. When people sign up on speculation to write in a fandom like this, the expectations of the writer and reader may change a lot when the canon becomes available. This situation runs a high risk of unhappy writers defaulting, or recipients getting stories in a fandom they’re not actually interested in.
2021’s sign-ups close on 23rd October. To be nominated, a canon must be released to the general public before then. See the eligibility rules for what constitutes a “released” canon.
Why not reintroduce the 10 year rule for dead fandoms?
The 10 year rule, allowing fandoms that haven’t had new instalments or an “active” fandom for some time to be let in, was aimed at 'dead' fandoms. With the increasing availability of older canons (many older TV shows, films, etc. being on Netflix, Hulu, & so on; books being re-released as ebooks) and constant revivals and reworkings, fandoms haven't been dying in the same way - many old fandoms have new fic posted regularly to AO3 and fanfiction.net and old archives are being imported via the Open Doors project. Since we're only looking at those two archives, many older fandoms are already eligible, as their heyday was before the archives.
There are also practical problems with implementing this rule. The 10 year rule is complicated to administer: everyone has different ideas of when a fandom is dead. That goes against our hope of making the rules easy for everyone to understand and implement (so that they can make good choices in choosing which fandoms to nominate).
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How do sign-ups work?
Anyone aged 18 or older with an AO3 account can sign up for Yuletide.
Here's a detailed tutorial for signing up for any challenge on AO3. It is a little out of date, but correct in essentials.
The link to the sign-up form will be posted to the Yuletide Admin Dreamwidth, as well as to the sidebar of the current year's Yuletide collection on AO3.
- You are required to request stories in at least 3 fandoms. You can request up to 6 fandoms if you want.
- For each fandom, you can request 0 to 4 (nominated) characters. If Worldbuilding has been nominated for a fandom, it can be requested as one of these characters.
- Yuletide uses "And" matching, so if you request (e.g.) 3 characters in a fandom, a writer must offer to write all those characters in order to match with your request. By default, they are expected to include all 3 characters in your gift if they write for you in that fandom.
- If you request 0 characters, your writer is allowed to write about any of the nominated characters they want, or (if there are no characters nominated, or if Worldbuilding is one of the nominated characters) about the fandom universe in general. You may not request 0 characters and then insist on specific characters (nominated or not) in your optional details.
- We recommend you request fandoms you are equally excited about. If you want one fandom more than the others, you may be disappointed. Your author will probably only be able to write one of your requests. We can’t predict - and won’t influence - which request that will be.
- You must offer to write in at least 4 fandoms. You can offer up to 10 fandoms, or 9 fandoms + a bucket offer (advanced mode).
- In each fandom, you have to offer 2 to 20 nominated characters. You can also offer "Any" characters, but that means you are willing to write any of the nominated characters, in any combination, including Worldbuilding for fandoms where Worldbuilding is nominated as a character tag. 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?
A "bucket offer" 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 a hard limit in AO3's current code.
How do I make a bucket offer?
In one of the offer slots, put one fandom tag in the fandom box; tick "Any" for characters; then put all the other fandom tags in the optional details box, separated by commas. This can only be done with one of your offer slots, and means you are offering "Any" characters in all of these fandoms. These offers include the Worldbuilding tag in fandoms where it is nominated.
Fandoms entered into the optional tags field will not auto-complete, but spelling and spaces matter. The easiest way to fill in your bucket list is to use the "Fandom:" box; when it autocompletes, you can copy and paste fandoms from there one by one into the Optional Tags line until you are done, and then leave the last fandom in the Fandom box. If you are offering lots of fandoms, you can make a comma-separated list in a text file by copying and pasting from the tagset, then pasting it in. This method ensures you do not lose your list if you enter one of the tags incorrectly, and makes it easier to edit if you change your mind.
I'm comfortable with lots of the characters in a fandom. Can I offer more than twenty?
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, which may include Worldbuilding.
Otherwise, you're limited to a maximum of 20 characters per offer.
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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 write 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; what fictional aspects of a setting you’re most interested in for a Worldbuilding request. We encourage you to consider this discussion of the Worldbuilding tag when writing optional details for a Worldbuilding request.
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; and/or to demand a crossover/fusion with another fandom with no other options offered. As a writer, if you are assigned a prompt like this, you can contact the mods for help.
We encourage requesters to include a list of Do Not Wants (DNWs) in their sign-up if there are things that will ruin a gift for them or that they strongly dislike. However, these will not be enforced in cases where the mods feel a requester is being unreasonable to their writer. They will also not be enforced if they appear only in the requester's letter.
We ask writers to make note of the squicks, triggers, and other DNWs their recipient has put in the "Optional Details" fields and make a good-faith effort to avoid those. Posting a story that contains these may result in penalties at the discretion of the mods.
“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.
I want to request a character that was not nominated/my recipient is asking for a character that was not nominated.
Only characters in the tag set may be requested or offered. It’s unfair to your writer to insist they write characters they did not volunteer to write. While you can mention you are interested in other characters in your optional details, you cannot demand that they use these characters.
If you receive an assignment where your recipient has requested characters you did not offer, contact the mods immediately. They will contact your recipient and request a prompt for the characters you were matched on.
If your recipient has selected Worldbuilding only, or 0 characters in a fandom where Worldbuilding is nominated, you are welcome to fulfil their prompt with original characters.
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 fandoms 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 your writer is not bound by it. Therefore we encourage you to put anything important in your Optional Details field - especially Do-Not-Wants.
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 participant communities.You can find the most recent year's posts linked in the sidebars on the Yuletide LJ participant community and the Yuletide DW participant community. Each post will usually link to a spreadsheet of letters, which makes it easier to search for letters in fandoms you are interested in.
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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.
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 Nancy Blackett was nominated in Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome and in the 2016 film of Swallows and Amazons, someone offering her in Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome would not match up to someone requesting her in Swallows and Amazons (2016).
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 useful tool, because they allow you to offer more fandoms. Regardless of the size of your bucket list, however, 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. It flags people who have no possible recipients. The mods need to contact these people and sort this out (by either editing or deleting those sign-ups) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I switch my assignment?
Assignments can't be changed under most circumstances.
If you signed up for one of the fandoms and the characters your recipient requested, you were matched appropriately. You're free to write in any of the fandoms they requested, and to ignore their Optional Details (except for attention to their squicks, triggers, and other Do-Not-Wants).
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 email@example.com.
If you feel that your assignment is something you can’t write, you may choose to default. The earlier you default, the easier it will be to find your recipient another writer.
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 they requested, including all of the characters they requested in that fandom, you're good.
Does my story have to be in English?
English is the default language of this challenge. You must write in English unless:
- Your recipient has clearly stated that they are interested in receiving stories in other languages (in which case, you can also write in the languages they mention), and
- You have told the mods which language you intend to post in.
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, respecting their Do Not Wants.
The extra stories will be Treats, so please check that section to see the requirements for such stories.
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?
How do I post my story?
Either go to your Assignment page on AO3, which you can find under the "Assignments" link on your Profile page, or go to the Yuletide subcollection page and click on "Your Assignment". You should see two buttons at the top right of your Yuletide assignment: "Fulfill", and "Default".
Click "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 "Fulfill" button. Instead, go to the Yuletide 2021 Collection or the Yuletide Madness 2021 Collection and click on "Post to Collection" under the collection title. (See under Treat for which collection to choose.) 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.
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 I post my story before the deadline?
Yes! The posting form becomes available 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. Uploading an unfinished story is against the rules. Your story must stand on its own. Do not give it a cliffhanger with the intention of expanding it or adding more later.
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, including thanking your beta reader(s).
Can I add my work to a series?
If you are creating more than one gift for your recipient, you can post them as part of a new series, if you want. However, you may not add your work to an existing series until January 1, which is the date when stories stop being anonymous. If you are writing your work with an existing series in mind, please get a second opinion on whether it stands alone.
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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. An earlier default is better than struggling against a deadline you won’t be able to meet. You can default, have the story sent to the pinch hit list, and, if you manage to finish, it can still be uploaded and your recipient will have an extra story. An earlier default is better than a later one, as it gives the pinch hitters longer to work.
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 top of your Yuletide assignment: "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.
Important note: If you default, and your own writer defaults, your requests will not be sent to the pinch-hitters list. While defaulting does not disallow you from receiving a story, it means you are no longer guaranteed a story in the archive.
- Before the default deadline: If you default using the AO3 button before 9:00 am UTC / GMT on December 11 (check what that is in your time zone), you'll be flagged as a defaulter. However, if it’s your first Yuletide, or you didn’t have to default the last time you took part in Yuletide, you are free to participate again next year.
- After the default deadline, but before assignments are due: You will generally be expected 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 defaulter. You may also be marked as a defaulter if, upon reading their story, the recipient tells us that it does not deal with their requested fandoms and characters. This will result in penalties ranging from having to write a NYR story to being banned from future Yuletides.
- No-show default: If you default by simply failing to post your story, without using the Default button or contacting the mods in advance, you will be expected to write a NYR story before participating again.
- Multiple defaults: If you default twice in a row, but want to participate in future, please talk to the mods.
If you are banned in any of these cases, you may get yourself unbanned by talking to the mods, although you may be required to write additional stories.
I defaulted in the past - can I sign up this year/how do I get unbanned?
When some of 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 in 2020 after the 11th of December, and have not talked to the mods or written a NYR, you are probably banned from signing up in 2021. However, you can clear the ban by writing a story of at least 1,000 words for any previous Yuletide prompt in a still eligible fandom, and posting it to the New Year’s Resolution collection. In order to be eligible to participate in 2021, you must do this before signing up. Yuletide 2021 sign-ups run from 15th October to 23rd October.
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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 claim them. There are more people on the pinch hit list than sign up for Yuletide proper.
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 post on the Dreamwidth admin journal. There is no guarantee of a story, but we encourage participants to check these prompts and see if there is anything they can write.
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 Google groups. You can do that at the group, where there are instructions.
How do I claim a pinch hit?
Keep an eye on your email and on the Google group. 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.
You can claim a pinch hit whether or not you’re a member of the Google group. Please follow the instructions at the group.
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 - this may include a penalty for defaulting.
Most pinch hits will be due at the regular deadline: 18th December at 9am UTC (check what that is in your time zone). Pinch hits that are sent out later in December may be due at a later time. The time that the pinch hit is due will be included in the pinch hit email and recorded at the Google group.
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?
Treats are just that: unassigned extra stories written for the fun of it. You don't need to be signed up to the challenge to give a treat. 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 main collection. Some treat writers put something in the tags or the author's notes about the work being a treat, so the recipient will know which is their official gift. They are not required to do so.
Treats posted to the main Yuletide collection may be the recipient's only story if their assigned writer defaults late in the challenge. Because of this, any treat posted to the main collection must still include a requested fandom and all of the requested characters, and must be over 1,000 words. It must be a gift for a person who either signed up or is pinch hitting for this year's Yuletide. You are welcome to post such treats as early or as late as you like (the main collection will close on December 25).
Any other treat should be posted to the Madness collection, which in 2021 will open a few days after Yuletide assignments go out and close on December 26. Please don't move your work from one collection to another.
If you're writing a Treat, you won't have an assignment or "Fulfill" button. Instead, go to the collection on AO3, and click on "Post To Collection" under the challenge title. This will take you to a form with the challenge collection name (either yuletide2021 or yuletidemadness2021) 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.
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 on an admin post set up for this purpose. 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.
In 2021, the full list of prompts and the Madness collection will be made available a few days after Yuletide assignments go out. The Madness collection is for stories under 1,000 words, stories which do not exactly fit the fandoms and characters requested, or works of any length and type written on December 25, after the main collection closed. These works must still be gifts for other participants.
Do treats have to be text?
Any treat posted to the main collection must be at least 1,000 words of text as measured by AO3. A gift can be structured as interactive fiction, which may not always appear to be 1,000 words. If you submit an interactive fiction work like this to the main collection, please email the mods when you post it, at email@example.com, to confirm with them that the apparent low word count is by design.
However, that kind of gift is opt-in, so please do not give it to anyone unless you have confirmation (through the mods or by their sign-up details) that they would like it.
Shorter IF and other non-text treats should go in the Madness collection.
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. See the subcollections linked under the Yuletide parent collection on AO3.
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.
Participants who default in Yuletide are generally asked to complete a New Year’s Resolution story before signing up again. They can choose from all previous prompts, as long as the fandom they choose would not have been too large to be eligible in the most recent Yuletide. A New Year’s Resolution story written for this purpose must be a gift to another participant.
Writers are encouraged to submit New Year’s Resolution stories even if they are not under a penalty. A late gift is a wonderful surprise and adds to the available works in small fandoms.
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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 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 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 and Madness 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 respond to comments un-anonymously.
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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 posts in the Yuletide participant LJ comm and Yuletide participant DW 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, or you can check the "beta readers" tag on the LJ or DW comm to find the current year's beta-reader posts.
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 they can find someone else to beta.
Yuletide has its own Discord server, with multiple channels on various topics, where you can discuss Yuletide or other exchanges or ask for a beta through the hippo system.
Invite link: https://discord.gg/49NXABD
Official ”Getting Started” page at Discord
Yuletide has its own IRC chat room, although it is used much less than Discord nowadays. 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.
In Discord, you can send a private message to someone who’s active in the pink “Hippo” role. In IRC, you can send a private message to someone with "hippo" in front of their name. Your hippo will 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 Dreamwidth
- The previous Yuletide Admin community on LiveJournal
- Semi-official twitter and tumblr accounts for Yuletide, run by volunteers
- An entirely unofficial Yuletide tumblr
- The Yuletide participant community on LiveJournal
- The Yuletide participant community on Dreamwidth
- A bookmarklet tool for determining fandom eligibility
Yuletide has the following rules:
- All participants must be at least eighteen years old and have an AO3 account.
- You are only allowed to sign up or nominate with one account.
- You must complete a story of at least 1,000 words using one of the fandoms that your recipient requested. You must also include the characters they requested for that fandom, as follows:
- If your recipient selected characters, you must use all of them, unless they clearly stated that they do not require all of the chosen characters to appear in the fic, in which case you may take them at their word.
- If your recipient selected the Worldbuilding tag, you must make a good faith attempt to include worldbuilding in the story. If they selected both the Worldbuilding tag and one or more characters, you must write a story containing both Worldbuilding and all selected characters, unless they have clearly stated they do not require all chosen characters to appear in the fic.
- If your recipient selected no characters, but mentioned some of them as preferences in their optional details, you may take their preferences into account. However, the only requirement is that you write character(s) from the tag set. If Worldbuilding is nominated, you may choose to write a story focused on the setting which doesn’t include any other nominated characters.
- Optional details are optional. However, you are not allowed to:
- Insist upon characters that are not included in the tagset;
- Insist upon characters in the tagset you did not request;
- Insist upon a crossover with another fandom;
- Use optional details to write something you know will upset your recipient;
- Ignore your recipient’s Do-Not-Wants;
- Ignore requested characters unless the optional details explicitly say you can.
- Do not use any Yuletide story to personally attack your recipient.
- Defaulting before the no-penalty deadline means that you will not be penalised unless you defaulted repeatedly (since 2013);
- If you do not upload a completed story by the deadline you are considered to have defaulted. If you upload a partial story to circumvent this rule, you will be banned;
- If you default after the no-default deadline then you are generally required to write an additional story to participate in Yuletide in future;
- If you default, and your writer defaults on you, you may not receive a story;
- If you defaulted two or more times since 2013 and you wish to participate in Yuletide this year, you should contact the mods.
- As this is an anonymous exchange, until authors are revealed on January 1, do not:
- Contact your recipient directly for information (even anonymously) - any requests should go to the moderators, who will act as an intermediary;
- Publicly discuss details of your story that would identify what you are writing, or for whom;
- Upload your story to any other site or link to it saying you've written it;
- Mark your story as part of a collection known to belong to you, or as part of a series;
- Or any other action that will publicly identify what you are writing or who it is for.
- You are not allowed to delete your story or remove it from the collection once it has been uploaded. The mods may grant exceptions on a case by case basis upon request.
- Do not use profanity, insulting language or slurs towards other participants on the Yuletide comms, in AO3 comments on Yuletide stories, or in direct communication with the mods.
- Trolling behaviour of any sort is not permitted. The mods may freeze comment threads or comments on posts in the comms; if this happens, continuing the offending behaviour is other threads is not allowed.
- The mods reserve the right to ban any participant who participates in inappropriate behaviour as detailed above in their nominations, sign-ups, or in the comms.
- It is not a requirement to comment on your gift, but in the spirit of the exchange you are encouraged to thank your author.
There is more information about how Yuletide works in the FAQ.
Yuletide is a very large exchange and participants may see problems before the mods. Contacting the mods at email@example.com with problems you see will make the exchange much better for everyone.
At the time of nominations, the mods will also put up an Evidence Post where participants can provide details for difficult fandoms.
Fandoms will be approved if their total number of stories on AO3 and fanfiction.net, added together, is less than 1,000. A story must be in English, complete, and at least 1000 words long to be considered in that total. Crossovers are included in the total.
One of our tag mods, Kristin, created a bookmarklet tool to help you quickly determine if a fandom is over or under this limit.
A real person who is tagged in over 1,000 works in English on AO3 may not be nominated in a RPF fandom.
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.
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.
If only the promotional material for a fandom is, or will be, available at the time that sign-ups close (23rd October 2021), 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.
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
- Canonical crossovers between fandoms (for example, instalments to a canon that officially cross over two canons, or comics crossover events)
- Book series where there is very little overlap in characters or setting
- Anthology series containing multiple distinct narratives (nominate by individual story or story arc).
Guidelines by Category
Real Person Fiction
Character nominations are required. A person who is tagged in over 1,000 works in English on AO3 is not eligible in any RPF category. RPF characters must be famous in their own right to be eligible.
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.
Yuletide excludes the following: Donald Trump, serial killers alive after 1900, and figures whose celebrity status is based on adherence to Nazi ideology.
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). Fandom names must be descriptive of the group nominated. If there are multiple nominated fandoms with the same character list, the fandoms may be merged.
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 product or 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 transformative 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 transformative fanworks will not be eligible for Yuletide.
- 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.
To argue for the inclusion of a specific fanwork, you must comment on the evidence post.