worldbuildingmod: Detail from Carta Marina showing Thule and sea monsters (Default)
[personal profile] worldbuildingmod posting in [community profile] worldbuildingex
The Basics

Links and contacts

The AO3 collection for the exchange is here and the tag set is here.

The exchange also has a tumblr here. This tumblr will primarily be used for promotion/announcements; the dreamwidth community should be considered the first port of call for any exchange-related information.

To email the mod, use this address:


The schedule post can be found here, and will be updated if there is a need for any changes.

Minimum requirements

For main gifts, participants are expected to create one of:

  • Fanfiction - at least 1000 words
  • Fanart - a finished piece of art, not on lined paper, with a total size of 400,000 pixels or more
  • Meta - at least 1000 words of in-universe meta

(Fanart is deliberately given as a total pixel size to allow for the fact that some worldbuilding fanart might not fit within usual boundaries, e.g. long thin maps.)

When you sign up, you will need to request at least three fandoms, and offer at least four. The maximum number for both requests and offers will be ten. Update: You may request/offer the same fandom in more than one slot, but the total number of distinct fandoms must still be three or more (for requests) or four or more (for offers).

What counts as "worldbuilding"?

For the purposes of this exchange, "worldbuilding" will be defined as any exploration of how a fictional world works beyond the information presented in canon. This includes (but is not limited to) more detailed extrapolation of information presented in canon, filling in gaps in the canon backstory, attempts to reconcile apparent contradictions in canon information, exploring the perspectives on canon events of characters implied to exist but not considered within the canon, etc.

Please note that it is absolutely fine for the gift you create to be an action-adventure story/shippy fanart/etc. (provided your recipient hasn't expressed a desire for you to avoid such things), so long as there are also worldbuilding elements present in a significant way.



The tag set is here.

You may nominate up to five fandoms. For each fandom, there are seven character slots and five "worldbuilding" slots. Because of the limitations of AO3 tag sets, we will be using the "Relationship" field for worldbuilding elements. Please do not nominate any type of actual relationship (/ or &); any such nominations will be rejected.

Please disambiguate all nominated tags with "(Name of Fandom)" at the end of them, rather than simply selecting an already existing AO3 canonical tag. This will help approvals run faster, minimise problems with tag set migration, etc.

Please keep an eye on the dreamwidth comm for questions about nominations from the mod. If you are nominating a particularly obscure canon, or one with complex issues, please feel free to proactively comment on the Nominations post to explain anything that might be unclear.

Tags will be approved on an ongoing basis throughout the nominations period. Please also see "How matching will work" under "Sign ups" for further details that may help you decide what tags you want to nominate.


Please nominate fandoms in a way that makes it clear which canons you are looking to receive/create worldbuilding fanworks about, whether the names match AO3 canonicals or not. It is absolutely fine for overlapping canons to exist within the tag set, since the worldbuilding ideas people might come up with will differ depending on which source materials they are considering.

As an example, it is possible (perhaps even likely) that we will end up with "Star Wars - Movies Only", "Star Wars - New EU", and "Star Wars Legends" as separate fandoms.

"Original Work" will be allowed as a fandom. For character and worldbuilding tags created under Original Work, feel free to append with either just "(Original Work)" or more detailed ideas such as "(Original Work - High Fantasy)", "(Original Work - Hard SF Space Setting)", etc.

Please check already approved tags before you start nominating, and try to be consistent with what has already been put in the tag set if your ideas are compatible.

Update: Real Person Fiction (RPF) has been disallowed as a fandom for this exchange, on the grounds that "real world worldbuilding", if it means anything at all, covers essentially all forms of human intellectual enquiry from quantum cosmology to celebrity journalism, and is therefore outside the scope of a fanworks exchange.

Character tags

Some participants may wish to receive/create worldbuilding fanworks which also feature the characters from the canon in question. For this reason, matching will be on characters as well as worldbuilding elements. On the other hand, some participants may prefer not to receive/create fanworks about canon characters at all. (This particularly applies in the case of in-universe meta.)

To help accommodate these differing preferences, if you are nominating a fandom which has not yet been approved in the tag set, please start by including "Original Character(s) (Name of Fandom)" and "No Characters (Name of Fandom)" amongst your nominated characters. (The desire to include these "default" tags for all fandoms is why there are seven rather than five character slots -- you can still choose up to five canon characters.)

You are very welcome to create specific tags for more detailed original characters if you desire, e.g. "Original 19th Century Wizard (Harry Potter)".

Worldbuilding tags

Please nominate fandom-specific worldbuilding elements as AO3 "Relationship" tags, in the format "Worldbuilding: Element (Name of Fandom)". These may be as general or as detailed as you like. For ideas about the sort of thing you might want to include, the tag set for the Coronation Ceremony exchange (a single-fandom exchange for The Goblin Emperor which used worldbuilding tags) might provide inspiration.

Tag set

The tag set as presented on the AO3 interface is likely to become very convoluted. The mod will endeavour to produce a cleaned up version in advance of sign ups opening, and certainly well before the sign up period closes.

Sign ups

Sign up period

The sign up period will begin as soon as possible after the tag set is finalised, and will finish at 07:59 UTC on Weds 1st Feb. Assignments will be sent by Sat 4th Feb, 07:59 UTC at the latest, barring extreme unforeseen circumstances.

How matching will work

Matching will be OR, on characters and worldbuilding elements ("Relationship" tags). That is, you will match on one (or more) character and one (or more) worldbuilding tag. From the point of view of your sign up, please ensure that you are happy to receive or create any combination that might come up. Update: The “No Characters” tag in a prompt means that the requester is leaving the use of characters up to their creator. It does not prohibit a creator from using characters.

There will also be freeform tags for the three categories of fanworks allowed in the exchange; you can sign up to receive/create between one and three of:

  • Fanfiction
  • Fanart
  • Meta - for the purposes of this exchange, this should be taken to mean "in-universe" meta (e.g. fictional encyclopedia entries, newspaper articles, propaganda pamphlets, textbooks, etc. etc.)

The boundary between "Fanfiction" and "Meta" will inevitably be somewhat fuzzy: if you are signing up to receive one but not the other and have strong preferences about which side of that boundary you would like your gift to be on, please make that clear in your request.

(Update: The rule that "No Characters" must be requested/offered in conjunction with Meta has been removed.)

Requests (3-10)

Update: You may make between three and ten requests, which must include at least three distinct fandoms amongst them.

For each fandom, you can request 1-8 characters (including the "No Character" tag), 1-8 worldbuilding ("Relationship") tags and one, two or all three categories of fanwork (fic, art, and in-universe meta).

You may use the AO3 optional details box and/or a separately linked letter to provide extra detail for your assigned creator about your likes and dislikes, specific prompts, etc. Alternatively, you may simply leave the tags you have selected to speak for themselves.

"Do Not Wants" (DNWs): Please ensure that anything you definitely do not want to receive is clearly stated in the AO3 optional details box. You may also repeat this information in your letter, if you write one, and provide further information on your likes and dislikes, but only DNWs in the AO3 box will be enforceable. (However, please do not use Do Not Wants in an excessive way to box your creator into making one very specific type of fanwork.)

Requests will be visible throughout the sign up period.

Offers (4-10)

Update: You may make between four and ten offers, which must include at least four distinct fandoms amongst them.

For each fandom, you can offer 1-8 characters (including the "No Character" tag), 1-8 worldbuilding ("Relationship") tags and one, two or all three categories of fanwork (fic, art, and in-universe meta).

Update: You may offer all tags in either or both of the Character and Worldbuilding categories for a fandom, by ticking the "Any" box. However, please be very sure before you do this. In particular, please bear in mind that "Any" Character tag includes the "No Characters" tag.

If your offer turns out to be unmatchable, you will be contacted shortly after sign ups close to discuss the situation. Please try to avoid deleting your sign up if your only reason for doing so is that you are worried that you are unmatchable: it may be that you are someone else's only potential recipient.

Optional details are optional

The general exchange principle that "Optional details are optional" (ODAO) applies. Matching is on character and worldbuilding tags, on an OR basis. As a creator, the only extra details you are obliged to pay heed to beyond the tags you matched on are any "Do Not Wants" expressed in the sign up form itself. As a recipient, you should only sign up if you are comfortable with the fact that you might receive something that does not follow any of your specific suggestions beyond one of your requested characters and one of your requested worldbuilding elements.

Assignments, Treats and Pinch Hits


The period for creating assignments is designed to last for eight weeks.

For main gifts, participants are expected to create one of:

  • Fanfiction - at least 1000 words
  • Fanart - a finished piece of art, not on lined paper, with a total size of 400,000 pixels or more
  • Meta - at least 1000 words of in-universe meta

(Fanart is deliberately given as a total pixel size to allow for the fact that some worldbuilding fanart might not fit within usual boundaries, e.g. long thin maps.)

Your assignment should be a new fanwork for your recipient, in the sense that it should not consist of work which has been previously available in public. (To be more specific: If you have drawerfic that is a good fit for your recip's prompts, and the exchange gives you the impetus to finish it, no one except you is going to know. If it's something you've posted large chunks of in venues such as the WIP threads on FFA, that's a problem.)

Please keep your assignment secret until creator reveals. If you want to ask your assigned recipient (or a recipient you are considering treating) anything, please go through the mod in the first instance.


For written fanworks, getting a beta is encouraged, but not required. There will be a post on the dreamwidth community to help writers and potential betas to find each other.

Due Date

All assignments will be due on Sat 1st Apr, 06:59 UTC, as per the schedule. If you think you might need an extension, please contact the mod asap. (I would much rather be granting extensions that people later turn out not to need than scrambling at the last minute to sort things out.)

You are not expected to use the tags used in sign ups for matching to tag your work once it is posted. Please tag in the same way as you would any other work you post to AO3.

You are welcome to edit your fanwork as much as you like in the period between the due date and reveals, but please ensure that the version that exists in the archive when assignments are due is of a quality that you would be comfortable with your recipient receiving if circumstances were to prevent you getting online again later.

When assignments are revealed, you are encouraged to redate your work to the current date, especially if it is for a high volume fandom where it is unlikely to be seen by fans browsing the tags rather than reading the collection if not redated. To do this, simply click on the "Edit" button for your work, click on the box for "Set a different publication date" in the Associations section, and change the date in the dialogue boxes which then appear.

When works are revealed, please do comment on your gift(s) to thank the creator.

After reveals, there will be a one-week anon period. Exception: Artists may sign their work or otherwise indicate that they are the artist, but please do not crosspost until the anon period is over.


You may default for any reason at any time, by using the "Default" button on the AO3 assignments page. The only penalty will be that if you default and your assigned creator later defaults themselves, you will not go out as a pinch hit.

Pinch Hits

Initial pinch hits generated by the matching process, and any pinch hits which become necessary due to defaults, will be posted to the exchange dreamwidth community with comments screened. Claim by commenting with your AO3 username. Comments on these posts will not be responded to; if you see that the pinch hit has been claimed and you do not have a new AO3 assignment, then unfortunately you missed out on that occasion, but please do feel free to treat the participant in question.

There is no need for potential pinch hitters to sign up to any separate pinch hit list. You may claim pinch hits even if you are not signed up to participate. Pinch hitters who are not signed up to the exchange will be invited to submit prompts for possible treating (unless they are heroic very-last-minute pinch hitters, but hopefully none of those will be needed).


Treats are very much encouraged. Treats do not have to adhere to the minimum requirements for main gifts, but should still be of a quality that you are comfortable giving as a gift.

Please respect the recipient's expressed preferences (e.g. do not give "Meta" to someone who has not requested it). If you have a preference against any particular types of fanwork that fall below the minimum requirements, please make this clear in your sign up to ensure that everyone has a happy treating experience. Since this is an exchange in which treats are encouraged, sign ups containing such preferences should not be negatively perceived as "expecting" treats. (See "Assume good faith" in the general section below.)

As a general principle, treats will not become main gifts. The archive will only open when all participants who have not defaulted have a main gift.

You may give treats even if you are not signed up to participate. Treats may be added to the archive at any time up until creators are revealed. (Sat 15th Apr, 06:59 UTC)


Mod availability

The best way to contact the mod is directly via email to but other methods are available (e.g. DW messaging, tumblr asks, commenting on posts here in the comm). I will endeavour to check my email at least once every day while the exchange is running (more often at peak times), but this may not be at the same time every day. Factoring in the effect of differing time zones as well, please allow 48 hours for a response. If you don't hear anything after that, feel free to assume your message has gone astray somewhere in the wilds of the Internet and resend.

In the (very unlikely) event of circumstances keeping me offline for an extended period, I will do my very best to post advance warning here on the dreamwidth comm.

Feedback and discussion are always welcome, but the mod's decision will be final in all eventualities.

Closing times

Closing times for nominations and sign ups will be strictly adhered to in order to ensure that the overall schedule runs smoothly.

If you need an extension for your assignment, please contact the mod as soon as you feel it may be necessary.

If it becomes necessary to postpone the opening of the archive, notice will be given here on the dreamwidth comm and a new time for reveals posted.

Assume good faith

I will be adopting the principle of assuming good faith from participants at all stages unless and until such assumption becomes completely untenable. Please extend the same principle to all interactions between participants. If you believe that you have seen deliberate bad faith behaviour at any point, please contact the mod privately in the first instance to get things straightened out.

I very much hope that the exchange will run smoothly and be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. However, if any cases of extremely egregious breaches of exchange etiquette occur, I reserve the right to call out such behaviour for the sake of warning mods/participants in other exchanges. (Examples might include, but are not limited to: writing deliberate spitefic, deliberate abuse of large numbers of sockpuppet accounts, and deleting main gifts from the archive between the assignment due date and reveals.)


Many thanks to the various nonnies at FFA who inspired this exchange and made suggestions/acted as a sounding board for working out the details, sirvalkryie for writing very helpful exchange-running faqs (and then appearing in the comments with crucial advice) and extrapenguin for running the Coronation Ceremony exchange. (Disclaimer: I'm not in Goblin Emperor fandom but its successful use of worldbuilding tags is definitely one of the inspirations behind this exchange.)

And a very, very big thank you to Morbane, for all manner of behind the scenes help and advice.

Date: 2017-01-17 12:57 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is super cool, thanks for modding this exchange! I have one more question, though: How many fandoms do we need to request/offer?

Date: 2017-01-18 10:40 pm (UTC)
morbane: pohutukawa blossom and leaves (Default)
From: [personal profile] morbane
Hello! I have a question that builds on that - since it is OR matching, and you are allowing multiple media, will participants be able to request (or offer) a fandom more than once, in order to, say, request one set of tags for that fandom with art, and one with fic?

Pros: allows the above scenario; cons; makes more work for you, as it can lead to 'illegal' sign-ups where someone signs up with lower-than-minimum requirements.

I don't have a preference either way, I'm just wondering which it is. Thank you!

Date: 2017-01-18 11:05 pm (UTC)
morbane: pohutukawa blossom and leaves (Default)
From: [personal profile] morbane
Cool, thanks!

I haven't heard of repeated fandoms causing matching gremlins. However, I've never personally run matching on an exchange that allows this option. One person to ask might be BridgetM, the mod of Not Ready for Prime Time (, as she has allowed duplicated fandom requests in her exchange.

I do not think it's an issue, though, as there are several single-fandom exchanges where people divide up their offers and requests in some way and therefore require more than one use of the same fandom in each section of their sign-up.

Date: 2017-01-19 04:52 pm (UTC)
amyfortuna: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amyfortuna
I ran [community profile] innumerable_stars last year which allowed matching on multiple fandoms and had no problems. It was quite a small exchange, though (about 20 signups).

Date: 2017-01-17 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
In one of the fandoms I'm nominating, there are two historical characters who are never seen but who are referred to consistently as one unit, since they're twins. Would it be okay if I nominated them under a single character slot ("Character A & Character B (Fandom)")? Not because I think twins are a single character or anything, but because anyone requesting or offering either of them in this particular exchange would almost certainly be expecting to get both as a package deal.

Date: 2017-01-17 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is so cool I'm definitely signing up I'm so happy I came across this <3

Date: 2017-01-18 12:58 am (UTC)
subjunctive: (blue reeds)
From: [personal profile] subjunctive
For fictional worlds, can we nominate specific regions/places we want to explore, e.g., Worldbuilding: Yi Ti (ASOIAF)?

Date: 2017-01-23 09:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Could you clarify for me what is meant specifically by 'in-universe meta', I suppose as opposed to another kind of meta? With examples please, for I am slow, and also plan to offer meta. Many thanks for your dedication to detail in running such an intriguing and unique exchange!


worldbuildingex: Detail of Carta Marina showing Thule with sea monsters (Default)
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