Archive FAQ > Collections and Challenges

What is a collection?

A collection is a group of works collected together under one heading: for example, all works that have been written for the 'Yuletide' challenge form a collection.

We have several Tutorials on various aspects of Collections and Challenges.

Where do I find collections?

The list of Collections can be found on the Archive navigation at the top of every page. Following the link in the name of a collection takes you to the Collection home page where you will find information about the collection and can browse and search works within the collection.

Who can add a work to a collection?

Only the author of a work can add it to a collection; however, there are plans to add a mechanism allowing collection owners to invite users to submit a work.

What does it mean that a collection is Open or Closed, Moderated or Unmoderated, Unrevealed, or Anonymous?

Collections can have a number of options that can be enabled or disabled at any given time. These options are independent of each other, i.e. having one enabled does not require another one to also be enabled. The current status of each option is listed in the collection's description (or blurb) on the main Collections page, and on its Profile page. These statuses give you information about the collection:

  • Open: the collection is open to new submissions.
  • Closed: the collection is not open to new submissions.
  • Moderated: each work submitted to the collection must be approved by the moderators before it appears in the collection.
  • Unmoderated: works submitted to the collection do not require prior approval, but the moderators have the option to remove them after they have been added.
  • Anonymous: the works in the collection are currently anonymous; you will be able to see your identity on any works you have submitted to an anonymous collection, otherwise all author identities are anonymous to public viewing.
  • Unrevealed: the works in the collection are currently hidden; rather than merely being anonymous, you cannot see any information about the works. Instead they will appear as 'Mystery Works' until the moderators choose to reveal them.

How do I add a work to a collection?

If you are posting a new work, one way is to go to the collection's Dashboard or Profile page, where there is a 'Post To Collection' link on the top right. That will take you to the 'Post New Work' form with the collection's name already filled in.

You can also fill in the name of the collection manually, although it is important to bear in mind that you need to know the name of a collection when adding a work to it. To locate a collection's name, go to the Profile page where you will see the collection's name and display title. For example: 'About Flufftastic (fluffy_fics)' - 'fluffy_fics' is the name of the collection and 'Flufftastic' is its display title.

To add a work to a collection from the 'Post New Work' form, go to the field titled 'Post to Collections/Challenges'. To add the work to more than one collection, enter the names of all the collections you wish to add the work to, separated by a comma and a space, for example: 'fluffy_fics, angst_and_emo'. If the collection is a gift exchange, you can also enter the name of the recipient of your work in the 'Recipient(s)' field.

You can add a work which has already been posted to a collection by editing it to add the name of the collection.

How do I browse within a collection?

From the collection home page you will find collection navigation in the left sidebar. These may include:

  • Dashboard: Here you will see either the five most recent works or five random works from the collection (the owner can set which option should be displayed).
  • Profile: This page provides important information about the collection, including its maintainers, their contact details if provided, an introduction, and other information if provided.
  • Subcollections: A link to any subcollections of the current collection.
  • Parent Collection: This will return you to the parent collection if you are in a subcollection.
  • Fandoms: This page lists all the fandoms for which there are works in the collection; you can then visit the page for an individual fandom to see the works in the collection for that fandom.
  • Works: This page lists all the works in the collection; you can user filters and sorting options to narrow the list down to the works you wish to read.
  • Bookmarks: This page lists any bookmarks which have been added to the collection.
  • Random Items: This page lists five random items from the collection.
  • People: This page lists the members of the collection; note that this refers to people who have officially joined the collection and not all people who have contributed works, as non-members can also post to a collection.
  • Tags: Tag cloud for the collection.
  • Settings: If you are the owner of a collection, you can change its settings here.
  • Rules / FAQ: These pages show only if they have been defined by the collection's owner.
  • Challenge Settings: If the collection is a challenge and you are the owner, you edit the challenge settings on this page.
  • Signup Form: If the collection is a challenge and signups are open, you can sign up on this page.
  • Signups: If you are the owner of a challenge, you can see participants' signups on this page.

How do I create a collection?

You can create a new collection from your 'My Collections' page, which you'll find under My Dashboard. There is also a link on the Archive's main Collections page. You will need to supply the following information:

  • The 'Collection Name' - this is what will appear in the collection's url, so only letters, numbers and underscores are allowed.
  • The 'Display Title' - this is what will appear at the top of your collection's page. It can include letters, numbers, underscores and spaces, but no HTML.
  • You will also have to choose what settings should apply to your collection (for further information on this, please see What settings are available for collections?).

You can also choose to supply the following optional information:

  • An icon: this must meet the normal criteria for icons. For more information, go to the section on Icons.
  • The name of a parent collection (for further information on this, please see the section on Subcollections).
  • An email address - this will appear publicly on the collection page to allow the owners/moderators of the collection to be contacted by users.
  • A URL for a custom header image - this should be a jpg, gif or png file, and will appear instead of the default blue collection header on the collection page. It should automatically tile to fit the screen.
  • A brief description of the collection: this will be shown on the collection home page, and also on the page showing all collections, so it should give the user a short, general overview of what the collection is about. The maximum length is 1250 characters.
  • An introduction to the collection: this can be significantly longer (up to 100,000 characters) and will be shown on the collection Profile page.
  • A FAQ for the collection (up to 100,000 characters).
  • Rules for the collection (up to 100,000 characters).
  • A gift notification message (up to 1250 characters). If the collection is a gift exchange, this will be appended to the notifications sent when the works are revealed.

What settings are available for collections?

When creating a collection, there are six available settings:

  • Is this collection moderated? - By default, collections are unmoderated, meaning that any registered Archive user can add their works to the collection. The moderator of the collection can subsequently remove any works they consider inappropriate. If a collection is moderated, non-members can submit their works to the collection, but they will not appear in the collection until they have been approved by the moderator. Approved members of the collection can submit a work without it having to be approved.
  • Is this collection closed? - By default, collections are open, meaning that new works can be added. If a collection is closed, no one can add new works to it, even the owner/moderator.
  • Is this collection currently unrevealed? - If a collection is set to be unrevealed, all works added to it will be hidden until they are revealed. On the author's dashboard, the work will be shown as a 'Mystery Work' with a link to the collection. To reveal the works in the collection, the moderator can simply edit the collection and change this setting.
  • Is this collection currently anonymous? - If a collection is set to be anonymous, all works added to it will appear, but the author will show as 'Anonymous'. On the author's dashboard, the work will be shown as a 'Mystery Work' with a link to the collection. To reveal the authors of the works in the collection, the moderator can simply edit the collection and change this setting.
  • Would you like to show random stories on the front page instead of the most recent? - This is particularly useful for closed collections where it is possible the same five works would always show on the collection's Dashboard.
  • If this collection is for a challenge, please choose the type - If the collection is not a challenge, this can be left blank. At the moment the types of challenge available for selection are gift exchange and prompt meme; further options may be added in the future.

What membership levels are available for collections?

You can be the owner, the moderator, or a member of a collection.

  • Owner: this is the user who created the collection, though additional people can also be set to be owners. Owners have the power to delete and edit the collection (including revealing works for anonymous/unrevealed challenges), as well as to manage members and works in the collection.
  • Moderator: a moderator has the power to manage members of a collection - add new members and change their membership level. They can also manage the works in a collection, which means they can approve works which have been submitted, and remove works they feel are unsuitable. They do not, however, have the power to edit a collection's settings (including revealing works for anonymous/unrevealed challenges) or to delete a collection.
  • Member: a member of a moderated collection can post works to the collection and have them show up immediately without a moderator having to approve them each time.

Non-members can also submit works to a collection, but if the collection is moderated, the works will need to be approved first by a moderator.

How do I manage members of a collection?

On the collection's Dashboard and Profile pages there is a link to the 'Membership' page on the right. Here you can assign specific roles to members — for example, make them moderators. You can also add new members.

How do I manage works in a collection I own?

On the collection's Dashboard and Profile pages there is a link to the 'Manage Items' page on the right. Here you can see all the works which have been submitted to the collection, approve them, reject them, remove them, reveal or hide them, make them anonymous or lift anonymity.

How do I reveal works or lift their anonymity in a collection I own?

You can choose whether to do this for individual works or for all the works in the collection at once. To change the revealed/unrevealed or anonymous/non-anonymous settings for all works at once, go to the 'Settings' page for your collection, and untick the relevant boxes. To change these settings for a single work or only certain works in the collection, go to the 'Manage Items' page and untick the boxes for the relevant works there.

I'm running a challenge, and I need tags that don't exist yet. What do I do?

If your challenge does not require prompts, you don't need to do anything. Participants can tag their works as they upload them, and those tags will be wrangled as usual.

If your challenge is an exchange that uses prompts or is a prompt meme, you can use Tag Sets to create any tags you need that aren't on the Archive already. For more information, contact Support.

What is a subcollection?

A subcollection is a collection or a challenge within a collection. For example, Yuletide is an upper-level or parent collection, and each year a new subcollection is added for that year's challenge: Yuletide 2009, Yuletide 2010, etc. This would also be the case for flashfic groups, for instance:'fluffy_flashfic' could be the parent collection, with a new challenge added every week as a separate subcollection.

How do I create a subcollection?

You can create a subcollection via the normal New Collection form, by including the name of the collection it is to be a subcollection of in the ParentCollection field. There is also a link to create a new subcollection from a collection's Subcollections page. Please note that the parent collection must be one you control; you cannot create a subcollection of someone else's collection.

What types of challenge can be run on the Archive?

At the moment, we have specific settings coded for gift exchanges and prompt memes; we plan to add more types of challenge in the future.

How do I set a collection or subcollection to be a gift exchange or a prompt meme challenge?

When creating the collection, select ‘Gift Exchange’ or ‘Prompt Meme’ from the drop-down box for the type of challenge. You can also edit an existing collection or subcollection to change this setting.

How do I run a gift exchange?

First you will need to set up the collection or subcollection which will serve as the gift exchange. After defining it as a gift exchange, you will be taken to a page where you can define settings for your gift exchange. Here you can define the schedule for your exchange; please note that the dates you define are currently for informational purposes only (they will be shown on the collection's profile), and will not cause signups to be opened or closed automatically. You should also define your timezone if the times are affected by that, so that users can work out what time that will be for them. The 'Signup open?' box should be left unchecked until you have finished setting up your signup form and are ready to open up signups.

You will also need to define how many requests and offers users are required and allowed to make. The default is one request and one offer. If you can stick to that, it will make the matching process much easier! Bear in mind that a single request/offer can include multiple fandoms and other tags. Unless you want to do fairly complicated requests, you probably don't need more than one request/offer.

Then you should define what options are available for requests and offers; these need not be identical. This will depend very much on what kind of exchange you are running. For example, if you are running a single-fandom exchange, you needn't include Fandoms at all, as users will not need to specify a fandom. Instead you might want to ask them to specify a certain number of characters from that fandom.

When signing up, users can only select tags which the Archive calls canonical - those tags that appear on the fandom pages, the auto-complete, and in the filters in the sidebar when browsing the Archive. The Tag Wrangling Committee can add any required tags, or point you to the canonical versions of tags. A one month notice is requested for new tags to be added to the Archive for exchanges. You can contact the Committee by filing a support request on the Support page or via the Tag Wrangler's twitter account, @ao3_wranglers.

In addition to the Archive's tag categories, you can set your form to include a URL field (for example, if participants are to write a message for the person assigned them to write for, or specify a work), a Details/Description field (if they are to supply more specific prompts or other information), and/or an Optional Tags field (if you wish to allow users to specify supplementary tags beyond the fields or options you're allowing on the form).

After defining how many fandoms, characters, etc. participants can specify, you can choose whether to define Tag Options. If you define tag options for fandoms, for instance, participants will have to choose from those fandoms when signing up, rather than being able to specify any fandom. If you are running a challenge that is specifically for a given fandom or pairing or character, just leave that set of tag options set to no tags required or allowed - don't put in that one tag as the only choice. Tag options should only be used where you want users to have a choice.

Next you will need to determine the requirements for matching requests to offerings. The criteria for matching can be fandom, characters, pairings, etc. These settings will be used to determine the minimum level of matching required for an offer to be considered a potential match for a request. For example, if you are running a multifandom exchange, one criterion for a match would be one fandom in common between requestor and offerer. You can also require that a match be made only if there is a fandom AND a character in common by indicating 1 fandom and 1 character on the form. This is considered the minimum. Any matches above the minimum required number will be used to rank the quality of potential matches. Please note that if you alter these settings after you have already generated the potential matches for your challenge, you will need to regenerate potential matches before your changes are reflected.

You should also add instructions to help your participants understand how they are meant to fill in the signup form; because you can customize the form so much, we can't provide detailed instructions for you! You can provide general instructions, which will be displayed at the top of the form; request instructions, which will be displayed above the requests section; and offer instructions, which will be displayed above the offers section. If it would be useful, you can also define more informative labels for URL and Description fields, to give users a better idea of what they are supposed to enter in those fields.

Once you are satisfied with your form (owners can view the signup form at any time, but it will not be available to other users until signups are opened), you can choose to open signups from the 'Challenge Settings' page. This will make a'Signup Form' link appear on the sidebar for other users too, as well as a 'Signups' link where you can view who has signed up so far and what they have offered and requested.

How do I sign up to participate in a gift exchange?

Go to the collection's Profile page. It will indicate whether signups are currently open; if they are not, the owner may have added dates to show when signups will open. Once signups are open, you can access the 'Signup Form' from the sidebar or the 'Sign Up' link at the top of the Profile page.

Exactly what information you will be required to fill in on the signup form will depend on the individual challenge; challenge owners have a lot of freedom to define what appears on it. They can also add custom instructions, which should hopefully provide guidance on how to complete the form correctly.

Normally you will have to supply information about what you would like to have written for you - your Requests - and what you are willing to write for someone else - yourOffers. You may be allowed to make one or more of both.

You may be asked to choose from a pre-defined list of options - for example, a predefined list of fandoms - or to type in your requests/offers yourself. Required fields will be marked in red. If there are numbers next to the fields - for example, 'Fandoms (1 - 5),' this indicates how many you can specify (in this example, between one and five).

Selected tags have to be what the Archive calls canonical tags - this means that they must be the name that you see on the fandoms page, or in the sidebar filters when browsing.

Once you have filled in the form, hit the 'Submit' button. If you wish to review, edit or delete your signup at any point after signing up, you can access it from the 'My Signups' page linked in the sidebar of your My Dashboard page.

How do I specify the recipient of a work I've written for a gift exchange?

When posting a work as part of a gift exchange, you can specify the recipient's name on the 'Post New Work' form, in the 'Recipient(s)' field. This will ensure the gift shows up on their Gifts page.

How do I find a work that has been written for me as part of a gift exchange?

If you participate in a gift exchange and a work is written for you, there are several ways to find it.

  • You should receive an email notification containing a link to it.
  • On your My Dashboard page, you will have a link in the sidebar to 'My Gifts.'
  • If you visit the collection's Works page, there is a search box at the top allowing you to search for works written for you.

How do I run a prompt meme?

First, go to the collections page and click the button to create a new collection. Halfway down the page there is an option for "If this collection is for a challenge, please choose the type." Choose Prompt Meme, and then create the collection.

You're then presented with a load of options. In most cases, the default options work fine for a basic prompt meme. See the tutorial on setting up a prompt meme challenge for more help, or contact our Support team.

Once you've created the challenge, tick the box to open sign-up, and invite all your friends.

How do I sign up to participate in a prompt meme?

Go to the collections page, and click the button to "See Open Challenges." Pick the one you want to participate in, then follow the link to "Sign Up." Fill in your prompts, and then "Submit" them.

You'll then be taken to the page of prompts other people have written. You can also get back to this at any time by going to the collection and clicking "Prompts" in the side bar. You can now click the button to "Claim" a prompt and then post a response to it.

How do I specify the recipient of a work I’ve written for a prompt meme?

If you've claimed a prompt and then clicked the "Post to fulfil" button or posted a new work with the "This fulfils a challenge prompt" option, it will fill in the recipient automatically. Otherwise, you can just add them in as a gift recipient on the 'Post Work' form.

How do I find a work that has been written for me as part of a prompt meme?

It will show up in the Gifts section of your dashboard (the page you get when you click your username in the header). You'll also get an email notification.

Where can I get more information if my question isn't answered here?

Some frequently asked questions about the Archive are answered in other sections of the Archive FAQ, and some common terminology is defined in our Glossary. Questions and answers about our Terms of Service can be found in the Terms of Service FAQ. You may also like to check out our Known Issues. If you need more help, please submit a Support request.