Running a Prompt Meme on Archive of Our Own
Archive of Our Own (AO3) has settings designed to help you run Gift Exchanges and Prompt Memes. This means you can make use of our resources—including user accounts, tags, work hosting, notifications, etc.—for your challenge.
This tutorial will guide you through creating your Prompt Meme. If you're running a Gift Exchange, check out our Gift Exchange Tutorial instead.
All Prompt Memes are different, so AO3 offers many features for customizing your challenge to suit your needs and preferences. This tutorial won't cover every option, but should guide you through most of the steps needed to create your Prompt Meme.
For more information on collections and challenges, please refer to the Collections, Gift Exchange , and Prompt Meme FAQs. If your questions aren't answered by the Tutorials or the FAQs, please contact us and we'll do our best to help you.
Creating a Prompt Meme
To create a Prompt Meme, you'll first need to create the hosting collection or subcollection. You can find step by step instructions on how to do this in our Creating a Collection Tutorial. When creating your collection, make sure you select "Prompt Meme" from the "Type of challenge, if any" menu in the Preferences section.
Once you've created your collection and have indicated that this will be a Prompt Meme, you'll be taken to a page to set up your challenge. The page is divided into several parts, the first of which is Schedule. There are a number of settings which can't be changed once you've received sign-ups on your Prompt Meme, so we suggest you keep sign-ups closed until you have previewed and tested your sign-up form. There will be more on this later in the tutorial.
In the Schedule section, you can indicate time frames for the various stages of your Prompt Meme. These times are for information only; Archive of Our Own (AO3) won't automatically open sign-ups, close sign-ups, or reveal works or creators. These tasks all need to be done manually by checking or unchecking the relevant boxes at the appropriate times. The times you indicate here will appear on the Prompt Meme's Profile page.
When this box is checked, sign-ups will be open and AO3 users will be able to submit prompts to your Prompt Meme. Owners and moderators can access the Sign-up form whether or not it has been enabled.
We recommend that you leave this unchecked while creating your challenge. When you're ready to open your Prompt Meme for sign-ups, come back here and check the box.
Remember to come back and uncheck it when sign-ups close!
For more information about membership roles, including owners and moderators, refer to What membership levels are available for collections?
Set the time zone you'll be using to determine the opening and closing dates and times by selecting it from the menu. This may be your time zone, the time zone in which your fandom's media originates, or whichever time zone works best for your moderators, your Prompt Meme, and/or your fandom(s).
Sign-up opens and closes
You won't be able to open sign-ups if the "Sign-up opens" date is in the future. If you want to open sign-ups earlier than the date you originally set, change the "Sign-up opens" date to "Now". You can also select the "Now" button if you'd like to open sign-ups immediately; however, be aware that you will be unable to change any settings in your challenge after sign-ups have been added to your Prompt Meme. We recommend that you preview your sign-up form before opening it publicly.
Repeat this process in the "Sign-up closes" field. Your Prompt Meme will appear on the Open Challenges page so long as the "Sign-up closes" date and time is in the future. Remember that these settings won't automatically open or close sign-ups; you must still do this manually with the "Sign-up open?" checkbox.
If you plan for this to be an ongoing or open-ended Prompt Meme, choose a date far in the future. You may also leave this blank, but your Prompt Meme won't appear on the Open Challenges page without an end date selected.
In the same way you did for sign-ups, set the date and time by which participants need to complete their works. Again, this doesn't automatically do anything. However, you may choose to do one of the following once the due date has passed:
- Close the collection (stopping new works from being added).
- Moderate the collection (giving owners and moderators complete control over which submissions are accepted and when they appear).
You can choose these options on the challenge's Collection Settings page.
If you plan for this to be an ongoing or open-ended Prompt Meme, feel free to leave this field blank, or choose a date far in the future.
Works and Creators revealed
If you've selected the checkbox "This collection is unrevealed" and/or "This collection is anonymous" when setting up your collection or subcollection, you can indicate the date and time works and/or their creators will be revealed here. If you didn't select these options, this section won't appear.
Remember that this won't happen automatically. You'll need to return to your Collection Settings at the appropriate time and uncheck the relevant boxes to reveal the works and/or their creators.
Prompts anonymous by default?
If you choose this option, the "Semi-anonymous Prompt?" box will be checked on new sign-ups. Prompts made with this box checked will show as being by Anonymous rather than the prompter. This may be useful for Prompt Memes that want to be focused more on content or where it's more prudent for prompts to be made anonymously. However, some Prompt Memes may also want to cater to friends or people who are specifically interested in certain people's ideas or prompts. Decide whether or not to check this based on how you'd like your Prompt Meme to run. However, be aware that users may still choose whether they wish to be anonymous by checking or unchecking the "Semi-anonymous Prompt?" box.
Please note that the anonymous feature is not totally secure. Users may still be able to guess each other's identities by the prompts they create.
Number of prompts per sign-up
These fields allow you to specify the minimum number of prompts a participant is required to make (at least one) and the maximum number of prompts they're allowed to make (up to 50). These numbers can't be changed once prompts have been added.
The Request Settings determine what each separate prompt can contain, and how many of each tag type can be included. You can't change these settings after prompts have been added, so you may want to keep sign-ups closed until you have previewed and tested your prompt form—we'll go over that in more detail later in this tutorial.
In the tags section, you will set the number of tags that participants can use in their requests. Optional tags add an extra choice to the Sign-up form. Checking this box adds an Optional Tags box to the sign-up, allowing participants to add bonus tags of any sort to their prompts. This includes tags for which they otherwise have reached the limit (extra characters, pairings, etc).
Optional tags must be either canonical tags, or belong to a tag set that you've added to your Prompt Meme under Tag Options. However, they're not limited to a specific fandom, and will allow any canonical tag to be used even if your settings otherwise limit what is allowed. If you require tags to be limited to fandom or tag sets only, you should leave this unchecked, or provide firm guidelines for your participants on how to use the optional tags field.
Use these checkboxes to indicate whether a user is required or allowed to specify the title of the work in their prompts. If you don't want participants to specify titles, leave both boxes unchecked.
Use these checkboxes to indicate whether a user is required or allowed to add a description or details in their prompts. In a Prompt Meme, this can be a good way for participants to share synopses that others can then claim and fulfill ("I'd love something about Vox Machina at the beach!") and a description of what they don't want in their prompted works ("No A/B/O or Mpreg please"). If you don't want participants to add a description or details, leave both boxes unchecked.
Use these checkboxes to indicate whether a user is required or allowed to include a URL in their prompts. For example, if your challenge is to create a work of fanfiction based on an image, you may require participants to include the URL to their prompt image in their request. If you don't want participants to include URLs, leave both boxes unchecked.
In this section you set how many of each kind of tag are required or allowed per prompt.
Set both required and allowed at zero if you don't want participants to make requests using a specific type of tag.
Tag options are only helpful when participants are able to make a choice. For example, if you're running a Prompt Meme for a specific relationship, you may want to leave any relevant tag options set at zero.
Check "Must Be Unique" to indicate that every tag within a tag type must differ. Users will be restricted to using any specific tag once in all of their prompts. For example, if you set options to require at least three fandoms and have selected "Must Be Unique", a user making two prompts must enter at least six unique fandoms in total. Any additional (optional) prompts will also need to use fandoms different from any they've already requested.
Figure 1: Prompt Meme tag settings for an example challenge.
The above example screenshot will produce the following results:
- Optional Tags?:
- We haven't selected this checkbox, so a participant doesn't have the option to specify optional tags.
- We haven't selected either checkbox here, so a participant doesn't have the option to specify the title.
- We've selected the Required checkbox, so a participant is required to provide a description or details for their prompt.
- We've selected the Allowed checkbox, but not Required, which means a participant can, but isn't required to, provide a URL.
- By entering one in the Required field, and five in the Allowed field, we're requiring a participant to specify at least one, and up to five, fandoms. Because "Must Be Unique" is checked, each fandom must be different and can only be used once in all of their prompts.
- By entering two in the Required field, and five in the Allowed field, we're requiring a participant to specify at least two, and up to five, characters. Because "Must Be Unique" is not checked, they can use the same character in multiple prompts.
- By entering three in the Required field, and five in the Allowed field, we're requiring a participant to specify at least three, and up to five, relationships.
- By entering zero in the Required field, and two in the Allowed field, we've allowed, but not required, a participant to specify up to two ratings.
- By entering zero in the Required field, and two in the Allowed field, we've allowed, but not required, a participant to specify up to two categories.
- Additional tag(s):
- By entering zero in both fields, we aren't providing a participant the option to specify additional tags.
- Archive Warning(s):
- By entering zero in both fields, we aren't providing a participant the option to specify archive warnings.
In this example, a participant can use the description "Werewolves!" and specify up to 5 fandoms in a single prompt. If the fandoms allowed were one, and a participant wanted to specify "Werewolves!" for five fandoms, they would need to make their request as five separate prompts.
The Tag Options section allows you to specify what overall tags are available to participants. Previously you indicated how many of each kind of tag a participant can request; here you can decide what tags they have to choose from.
To use custom tag sets, enter the name of the tag set you wish to use in the autocomplete text field. You can add multiple tag sets if you so choose. Each tag set must have already been created to appear as an option in the autocomplete field, though they don't need to be finalized. For more information, check out the Tag Sets FAQ.
If you're using a tag set in your Prompt Meme and are accepting nominations, this should be completed before opening sign-ups so that users know what tags they have to choose from when making their prompts. Tags may still be added after sign-ups open, if necessary.
Character Settings and Relationship Settings
Here you have the following options:
- Leave both boxes unchecked.
- If you don't have any tag sets associated with your Prompt Meme, any canonical tags on the Archive can be used in any combination.
- If you do have associated tag sets, any tags within the tag set(s) can be used in any combination. Tags that aren't in the tag set(s) can't be used, whether they are canonical Archive tags or not.
- This is the only option which will allow participants to sign up to your Gift Exchange without choosing a fandom.
- Check "Fandom only" to require participants to select fandom(s) from the ones included in the tag set(s). They can then use any character or relationship tags associated with that fandom, whether they are in the tag set(s) or not. This can be an existing fandom association on Archive of Our Own (AO3), or one added by you via the tag set(s). If you have no fandoms defined in your tag set(s) and select this option, your participants will not be able to complete a sign-up. If you're not using a tag set, participants can select any canonical fandom on the Archive.
- Check "Tag set fandom only" to require participants to select fandom(s) from the ones included in the tag set(s). They can then use any character or relationship tags that exist in the tag set(s), whether they are associated with their chosen fandom or not. You must have at least one associated tag set if you are selecting this option.
- Checking both boxes has the same functional result as checking "Fandom only". However, where "Fandom only" populates the character and relationship tags' autocomplete fields with all associated tags across AO3, checking both boxes populates the autocomplete only with those tags you have included in your tag set(s). Participants can still add tags from AO3 that aren't in the tag set(s) by entering them manually rather than relying on the autocomplete.
These fields let you provide instructions to help your participants understand how to fill in the Prompt Form. What you enter here will depend on your specific Prompt Meme's criteria.
You can provide General Sign-up Instructions, which will be displayed at the top of the form; and Request Instructions, which will be displayed above the Requests section.
You can also change the "Prompt URL" and "Description" labels to something more relevant to your Prompt Meme. For example, if your challenge is to create a work of fanfiction based on an image, you might want to change "Prompt URL" to "Image URL" or "My prompt image can be found at:" or similar.
When you are done setting your Prompt Meme details on this page, select "Submit" at the bottom of the page to save.
Previewing Your Prompt Form
All owners or moderators of the Prompt Meme can preview the Prompt Form at any time from its dashboard, but it won't be available to other users until sign-ups are opened. We suggest that you review the form and have someone fill it out before opening sign-ups so you can double check that everything is working the way you expect it to.
If you need to change any settings, delete the test sign-up and then go to the Challenge Settings page to adjust. If you're unsure how to get to that page, refer to How do I return to my Challenge Settings page? For help deleting your prompt(s), please refer to How do I delete my prompt?
Running Your Prompt Meme
Before opening sign-ups, you will want to set dates for, advertise, and run any tag set nominations. If you're using one or more tag sets but not running nominations, this is when you'll want to make sure that your tag sets are up to date and ready to go. Check out the Tag Sets FAQ for more information.
Now that the initial setup is complete, you should be ready to begin the process of running your Prompt Meme. This will involve the following steps:
To open sign-ups for your Prompt Meme, go to the Challenge Settings page and check the box beside, or below, "Sign-up open?" then select the "Update" button at the bottom of the page. You can also edit the dates and times if you need to. If you're unsure how to get to this page, refer to How do I return to my Challenge Settings page?
Once you've opened sign-ups, your Prompt Meme will appear on the Open Challenges page until you've closed sign-ups, or your "Sign-up closes" date passes. You can also promote your Prompt Meme in your fandom circles outside of the AO3 site.
The "Prompt Form" link will appear on the Prompt Meme's dashboard for other users when you've opened sign-ups. Prompts already received will be available under the "Prompts" link, found in the same location.
When your sign-up period is over, return to the Challenge Settings page, uncheck the box beside "Sign-up open?" and then select the "Update" button at the bottom of the page to close the Prompt Form.
Note that participants must have an AO3 account to participate in your Prompt Meme. If you need to request accounts for participants, check out How do I request invitations for a challenge that I'm running?
For information on how to create an account, refer to How do I create an account?
To claim a prompt, go to the desired prompt and select "Claim". Participants can do this for as many prompts as they wish to fulfill. Multiple people may claim the same prompt, and you don't need to submit prompts to claim any.
You can check which prompts you have claimed but not yet fulfilled for this Prompt Meme via the My Claims page, available from the challenge's dashboard. If you're unsure how to get to this page, refer to How do I find my unfulfilled claims?
Challenge owners and moderators can review and delete all unfulfilled claims by selecting "Unposted Claims" from the challenge's dashboard.
Participants' completed works will automatically be added to the Prompt Meme's collection if they check the appropriate open assignment on the New Works page, or post their work by selecting the "Fulfill" button on their My Claims page. For more information on how participants can post their work, check out How do I fulfill my claimed prompt?
If your collection is moderated, any assignments that have been submitted will need to be approved by an owner or moderator before they're posted to the collection. Refer to How do I manage works or bookmarks in a collection that I own or moderate? for more on this.
You can reveal all works and/or creators simultaneously from the Collection Settings page. If you're unsure how to get to this page, refer to How do I return to my Collection Settings page? For more information, refer to "How do I reveal creators and works in an anonymous and/or unrevealed Prompt Meme?"
Managing and Troubleshooting Your Prompt Meme
You may come across some issues while running your Prompt Meme. Hopefully, the following links will help you resolve them. If you need help with something that hasn't been addressed here or in the Prompt Meme and Collections FAQs, please add AO3_Support as a co-owner and then contact us and we'll do our best to help you.
- How do I return to my Challenge Settings page?
- How do I reveal creators and works in an anonymous and/or unrevealed Prompt Meme?
- How do I deal with inappropriate prompts or works?
- There's a problem with a work created for my prompt!
Where can I get more information if my question isn't answered here?
If you need guidance on a particular part of collection or challenge creation, please check out:
- Collections FAQ
- Tutorial: Creating a Collection
- Gift Exchange FAQ
- Tutorial: Running a Gift Exchange on AO3
- Prompt Meme FAQ
- Tag Sets FAQ
Some frequently asked questions about the Archive are answered in other sections of the Archive FAQ, and some common terminology is defined in our Glossary. Questions and answers about our Terms of Service can be found in the Terms of Service FAQ. You may also like to check out our Known Issues. For help with your specific Prompt Meme that isn't covered in these FAQs or Tutorials, please add AO3_Support as a co-owner and then contact us and we'll do our best to help you.