Don We Now Our Gay Apparel (popslash fic exchange)
|Name:||Don We Now Our Gay Apparel|
|Date(s):||2001 through 2006|
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Created in the year 2001 by Pet and Georgina, the DWNOGA (or SeSa) fic exchange included slash fiction written about 'N Sync, The Backstreet Boys, crossovers between the two, and the secondary characters in the fandoms. The format and general idea were based on the original Buffy Holiday Fanfiction Exchange, which were created by Kate Bolin and were used with her permission.
Participants would enter a few general "wishes" about the story they'd like to receive, and the moderators randomly selected who would write for whom, based on those critieria. Criteria could include general preferences about stories ("funny," "I love angst," "no deathfic please") and a primary and secondary pairing preference, so the author could choose which pairing to write and what direction they should take the story.
Authors knew the identity of the person they were writing for, but the recipient had no idea who had written their story. Complete anonymity was encouraged; some people writing for their friends went so far as to write "dummy" stories to throw their recipient off the mark until after the reveal.
The first year, the mods paired authors and recipients manually, through their email submissions. One by one, the emails were sent out to each participant, with the guidelines for their story. Authors submitted stories via email, and they were hand-coded into the archive, so people could read the stories anonymously once the project went live on Christmas Eve. Then, after the new year, the authors were revealed.
After 2002, Georgina created an automated page, archive, and email interface; matching recipients was easier for the mods after that, and authors could upload their stories to the archive themselves. The LJ community SeSa Discuss was set up, so that participants could post recs, reactions, thanks to their authors, ask for beta help, and participate in a real community surrounding the challenge. Newcomers to the fandom could request help from more experienced writers, and it became an annual tradition for many in the popslash fandom.
At its peak in 2003/2004, there were more than 300 participants writing and receiving stories. Even as the fandom grew smaller, the DWNOGA challenge continued until Georgina left fandom in 2006. The stories are all still available at the DWNOGA Archive, where stories can be searched by band, author, or recipient.
Even in the "worst" year, the greatest number of pinch-hit or replacement authors we had to find for dropout or no-show authors was, I believe, only six. With 300 participants, this percentage was a great example of the amazing people who were writing popslash at the time. There was never a year when a single participant was without a story written specifically for them at the time the project went live. Oftentimes the mods would write replacement stories themselves, to ensure that everyone got a story; generally, however, there were more volunteers to be backup writers than there were stories to write!
There was, of course, occasional drama. Once or twice, people took exception to the name "Santa" being used, even in a secular sense. On a few occasions, people took offense or disappointment in the stories they had had written for them, and posted and complained publically about them, causing hurt feelings and upset. However, these were definitely in the minority.
In 2007, other fans took up the project and kept it going. Make The Yuletide Gay continues the tradition of a Popslash winter/holiday fic exchange, and is a lively and thriving challenge and project.