|Synonyms:||exchange, sometimes abbreviated "Ex" as in WBEx|
|See also:||Category:Gift Exchanges, Secret Santa, challenge, ficathon, Art trade, Exchange Fandom|
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A gift exchange (or just exchange) is a type of challenge in which participants create fanworks to give to one another. Exchanges are most frequently oriented towards fanfiction, but may allow or focus on fanart, podfic, vids, meta, or other fanworks. Exchanges can be single-fandom or multifandom, and may also have a theme or scope. It's common for exchanges run at any time of year to have an anonymous period, although this practice started with secret santas.
In many cases, the gifts are given anonymously, with the authors revealed only several days (or even weeks) after the fanwork has been posted. In such cases only the moderator will know who created the work; the etiquette on publically guessing the author or artist may vary from one challenge to another, but de-anoning oneself at any point before author reveals is usually explicitly against the rules.
Exchanges on Archive of Our Own use AO3's collections and challenges system. Some mods still handmatch, but one of the big draws of using AO3 is the automated matching system. Exchanges on Archive of Our Own are largely based off of Yuletide, the largest yearly multifandom exchange. Yuletide has been running since 2003 and formed the basis of AO3's collection and challenges system:
[Excerpt from AO3 News post: Yuletide Treasure on the AO3!]
Yuletide 2009 will be the first outing for our shiny new Collections and Challenges code, which will be enhanced and expanded in future. It's a great test case for us, because Yuletide mod astolat is one of our senior coders and has done most of the heavy lifting for this new code (which has meant VERY good communication between challenge mods and coders!). The Yuletide challenge is also fairly large and complicated to run, which gives us a good starting baseline of features for other fic-exchange-style challenges.
AO3 Exchanges usually communicate with their participants via other websites, like Dreamwidth, Tumblr or Discord. Dreamwidth is the usual choice for exchange fandom, although flash exchanges such as We Die Like Fen and Writing Rainbow have been run out of the exchange fandom discord Exchanges After Dark.
Exchanges on tumblr sometimes use the AO3 exchange system, but some exchanges don't. Tumblr exchanges may use Google forms to take submissions and may not have pinch hits. Fanworks exchanged on tumblr may include not just fanart and fanfiction but also graphics/manips, fanmixes, and gifsets. Some exchanges on tumblr do not let participants select which type of fanwork they would like to recieve. Some tumblr exchanges post their works to AO3 collections, but others have participants post their works to the participants' personal tumblrs and then reblogged to the exchange tumblr.
- Secret Kalex Santa - annual Gift Exchange in Supergirl (TV series) fandom, focused on the pairing of Kara/Alex (2018-ongoing)
There are blogs, websites, and fandom spaces devoted to tracking exchanges, or discussing them. TODO
For example, Fail-Fandomanon has a regular and busy subthread for exchange discussion.