There are two main points to today's post, so I'll break this up into two sections appropriately:
I. NO CHRISTMAS EXCHANGE
Yes, you read that right. The major Christmas bleach_exchange will not be happening. It's been a month since Halloween, and we're still missing at least 2 gifts, one from somebody who was overdue but said they would still be posting theirs, and one back-up. Now, even if those gifts were posted by the end of the weekend, I have to be able to hold sign-ups for at least a week (and we'd have to pimp this out massively during that time because a week is not a long time), meaning that by the time sign-ups close and assignments are sent out, it'd be only about two weeks until Christmas.
Now, I know that last year, we allowed gift-posting from December 24th until January 7th, and while I have no problem doing that again because it's unreasonable to expect everyone to post their gift(s) on a single day, this is a Christmas exchange, so ideally, the gifts would be posted on Christmas, or as close to then as possible. Now, I know that for a few of you, getting something done in two weeks is not a problem, but for most of you, I know that if there's only two weeks between assignments going out and Christmas, you're not going to have it done -- especially considering that you guys had a maximum of 5 weeks for the Halloween exchange, and only HALF the gifts had been posted on November 7th. I don't want a repeat of that experience -- if we're going to hold a Christmas exchange, then I want everyone to aim to post their gifts on Christmas if at all possible. The two weeks after that are really just a buffer period in case anything happens to prevent you from posting on Christmas.
So no Christmas exchange, and yes, this decision is pretty much final.
This isn't the end of bleach_exchange, though. I'm not ready to give up quite yet. If we're not having a Christmas exchange, then I'd like to go all-out and make the Valentine's exchange our big exchange. My idea is to hold sign-ups ASAP, have a fairly long sign-up period, and hopefully get assignments out around the start of Winter Break (for those of you living in the Northern Hemisphere), so that the most enterprising and on-the-ball participants can make use of the holiday time to get a head start on their writing if they so desire. Also, by having a pretty long time until February, we could make gifts due a week early (say, February 7th) to ensure that everything actually gets posted on Valentine's Day.
However, if we do that instead, then there are some issues that would need to be addressed, which is why I'm posting. If you care at all about how this exchange is going to be run/set up, then please, please, please comment with your ideas/suggestions/feedback. The concerns are as follows:
1. One other reason for making the Valentine's exchange our big exchange is that it was arguably the most successful of our mini-exchanges (although the April Fools exchange wasn't bad either). However, as you recall, the Valentine's exchange was a romance-themed exchange -- which does make sense in the context of the holiday. In most cases, this still wouldn't be a problem, as the majority of our (non-themed) Christmas exchange participants last year requested pairing-related stuff. Still, there are three potential problems here:
- Some people do enjoy gen fic/art/stuff, but if we're going to require everything to be pairing-based, then they wouldn't be allowed to request those.
- Some fanartists have trouble drawing couples, or drawing them in such a way as to suggest romance (or at least platonic feelings or somesuch), which is kind of the point of a romance-themed exchange.
- Again, if we're going to have a mandatory theme, fanartists and writers who find they have trouble with their requestee's pairings can't use gen fic as a Plan B (or "cop-out" if you want to be blunt) if they just can't manage to make the romance work.
> Any thoughts on any of these issues, or ideas/suggestions on how to counter/prevent them from being a problem?
2. One other thing to bear in mind is that bleach_exchange was originally not only for fanart and fanfics, but also for things like icons, LJ layouts, and moodthemes -- which is pretty different from most other challenges and exchanges, which are only for fanfics or fanart and fanfics. I did this because I think that being able to manipulate images and graphics really well is a talent that deserves to be celebrated just as much as writing and drawing; not everyone can draw, and not everyone can write. However, we didn't include the graphics in any of the mini-exchanges because, logistically, they did create a lot of trouble in terms of determining assignments, because lots of people only offered to do graphics and lots of people only requested fanfics and fanart. However, I did intend to bring the graphics back into the mix for the Christmas exchange. But if we're not holding one, I feel like they're getting the short end of the stick, because they haven't been allowed to participate in a year.
Theoretically, of course, there's nothing to say that we wouldn't be able to include them in the Valentine's exchange, but having some experience with graphics myself, I know it isn't easy to suggest romance where it really isn't always there. After all, Bleach, as a shounen manga, doesn't have many, if any, canon pairings, and from my experience, a good portion (if not the majority) of our regular participants support pairings that are not even almost-canon. Is it possible to suggest a pairing like Urahara/Ichigo using only existing images? How would you show Ikkaku/Yumichika, in a romantic way and not just as friends? I welcome any thoughts here, though especially anyone reading this who would only be able to offer graphics, I want your insight.
3. I have previously played with the idea of, at some point, trying a "reverse" exchange of sorts where, instead of me assigning you the person I think can best handle your requests, we either post "ads" with everyone's requests and then each participant tells me which person's requests they would like to be assigned (like naruto_wishlist did last year, I believe), or where we post "ads" with what everyone is capable of/willing to write/draw/make/etc. and then each participant picks which person they'd like to do their gift, with specific requests based on what that person offered (like what yaoi_challenge is doing for its Valentine's Day), or something along those lines. This could potentially make the logistics of assigning people a little easier, but I want to see how people feel about us possibly mixing things up a bit before I run too far with this idea. So, speak up! Be honest! Would you like us to stay with our current way of doing things, which has essentially stayed the same for all four exchanges, or would you be open to us trying a different approach at least this one time?
All comments/thoughts/questions/concerns/insights/ideas/suggestions are welcome. Since we're still waiting on the last Halloween gifts, we've got time to talk it out and see how everyone feels about this. So, talk!
II. GIVING THANKS & FEEDBACK
My other point for this entry was to bring attention to something that I think is one of the things that we, as a community, still REALLY need to work on. I recently went through all of the Halloween submissions and found that, for a good half or so, the recipient had not left a comment thanking their secret ghoul/santa/person for their gift. Since there were only a couple of people that have been completely MIA, there should be NO REASON why this is the case. I know that a lot of the time, the gift you got probably wasn't anything like what you were expecting, but in a way, that's the beauty of this process, and anyway, even if you were a bit disappointed, there's still no reason not to thank your santa for going to the effort of making your gift for you -- because they probably did go to a lot of effort to make this gift for you. bleach_exchange isn't just any challenge community -- we're all about the joy of giving something hand-made to a stranger (or, in a few cases, a friend who wasn't expecting it). So even if they didn't interpret your request in the way you hoped they would, if nothing else, GIVE THANKS. It takes, what, five seconds to post a comment with "Thank you! ♥"? Probably even less than that for some of you.
Aside from that, there's also no reason not to give feedback on gifts that weren't made for you. Some of the gifts have less than 5 comments (some of them have NONE) and, with a good 150 watchers, I see no reason why this should be the case. Yesterday, amanuensis1 posted what I thought was an excellent post about taking the time to give feedback as a kind of Christmas gift. Not only are you probably giving someone warm fuzzies, but your insights might spark their imagination and help them become a better writer/artist in the future.
Think about how feedback makes you feel and how nice it'd be to have someone say, "My fandom world is better because this story was written and I got to read it."
Her post anticipates the posting of the results of Christmas exchanges all around, and true, we're not having one, but I think this applies to all exchanges; there's no reason why you can't go back even as far as last year's exchange and comment on some of the gifts you think are really nice. Those gifts are still here in our archives; they don't just disappear after the exchange is over! So take some time out this Christmas and comment on some of the past submissions that you really enjoyed. In the next week or so, I'll (finally) be updating the memories, cleaning up the tags, adding new tags (by pairing, character, author, AND recipient -- yes, we'll be creating a HUGE index), so it'll be even easier to find fics/art/icons you'll enjoy. In other words, no excuse for not leaving feedback!
I think I've gone on long enough. I'm sorry for spamming your flists; I'd lj-cut but both points are ones I think are really important for people to read. Anyway, take some time to respond to my queries in (I) and some time to think about my points in (II). I'll be eagerly awaiting your responses.