Optional Details

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Synonyms: Request/offer details (especially in handmatched exchanges)
See also: Dear Creator Letter, AO3 Exchange, ODAO, DNW
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Optional details is the typical name for the part of an exchange request where the participant lists their likes and prompts. This is a name specific to exchange fandom culture, as by default the field is actually called "Description" and exchange mods must rename the field on the "Challenge Settings" page. The field is listed in the "Sign-up Instructions" section under the subheading "Change the Labels". The only other field that can be renamed in this manner is the "Prompt URLs" field, which exchange mods usually change to indicate that the field should be used to link a Dear Creator letter. Renaming the field in this way serves to remind participants that optional details are optional. The typical exchange participant never sees the field labeled "Description" so the field and its contents are always referred to as optional details.

Besides likes and prompts, the optional details field might also contain opt-ins, information about the requested fandom, shipping preferences, and anything else a creator might need to know about their recipient's request. DNWs are understood to not be optional ever, despite being placed in the optional details field, but typically must be clearly labeled as DNWs to be enforceable.

Some exchanges, like Writing Rainbow and Bulletproof do not allow use of the optional details field, usually in cases when the sign ups are meant to be quick and easy and/or when the focus of the exchange is on the creator's experience making a fanwork rather than on the participant's experience receiving a gift.

For other exchanges, including some level of optional details is mandatory. Fic In A Box, an exchange where all participants are default offering and requesting 10k worth of fic, the rules state:

You must include something in your optional details to indicate what you like or have an unlocked letter before signups close. This can be short (For example: "I really like h/c and fluff!") or long, but it needs to be present. If you're linking to a letter which already has publicly visible information to this effect, that is also acceptable.[1]

Handmatched exchanges like Multifandom Drabble ask for both request and offer details so that the mods can assign people to the best possible recip:

What makes for good request details? Do I really need to name all the characters I'm interested in?

Your request details will be used to match a writer to one of your requests, so good details will both let your assigned creator know what you want and will let the mods make an accurate match for you. As discussed in the rules post, this means that you should write request details that are useful for a mod who doesn't know your fandoms —we suggest listing your favorite characters or ships in a specific and clear manner and also mention what your favorite genres/tropes are for drabbles.[2]

Why do I have a details box for offers? What am I supposed to put in it?

This exchange is handmatched by the mods, which means we need you to put the details about what you want to write in the offer details box so we can match you with the best possible recipient. "What you want to write" can include characters, ships, canon installents, genres and tropes, etc — and we also encourage you to tell us what you don't want to write.[2]


  1. ^ fic_in_a_box_mod, FIC IN A BOX SCHEDULE AND RULES!, August 8 2020.
  2. ^ a b Multifandom Drabble FAQ 2021, posted by wafflelate but authored by all four 2021 mods. April 11, 2021.