Exchange Fandom

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Name(s): Exchange Fandom, exchange regulars
Scope/Focus: Exchanges in general, but usually ones with roots on LJ or that now occur on Dreamwidth and AO3
Date(s): Very early 2000s to present
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The exchange fandom is the community of fans who moderate, participate in, or discuss gift exchanges. Like other fandoms, the actual amount of involvement needed to consider oneself or someone else part of "exchange fandom" can vary wildly, and because a good deal of community discussion occurs anonymously on yuletide_coal and fail_fandomanon or privately on Discord severs, it's not always obvious who's engaged to what degree. Often, those in exchange fandom participate in both single-fandom and multi-fandom exchanges, with part of the appeal of creating being that of the 'exchange'; one popular "meta-challenge" in exchange fandom is that of The Triple Crown of Exchanges fanwork challenge[1].

Yuletide is generally considered the main exchange of the year, as it's the largest and is the exchange that gets the most sign ups from people who don't otherwise interact with exchange fandom. Other exchanges are often surfaced on Fandom Calendar on Dreamwidth or similar compilations/exchange fandom discord servers.

Exchanges that are part of the exchange fandom usually post their administrative information to Dreamwidth (or, previously, Livejournal), while signups and work postings are done on Archive of Our Own. Fests, big bangs and other challenges may be tangentially related to exchange fandom — run by the same people, frequented by the same participants, or discussed in the same places — especially if they're run on Dreamwidth. Exchanges run on Tumblr (and other platforms) are often not considered part of exchange fandom because they tend to have very different etiquette, rules, and participants.

Notable Exchanges

Some Exchange Fandom Communities

Exchange Fandom Culture

Depending on where fandom exchanges are hosted, the culture of the exchange tends to also differ.

Multi-fandom vs Single Fandom exchanges

  • Multifandom exchanges tend to be algorithmically matched, while singlefandom exchanges are sometimes handmatched by moderators
  • Multi-fandom exchange culture tends to hold hard to the rule "optional details are optional". what that means is that your creator is only bound by your DNWs and whatever the matching criteria are; partially as unconventional fandoms are already hard to match. This tends to affect what is requested, with asking for a particular specific prompt being rare in multi-fandom exchanges but common in single-fandom exchanges.