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30 June 2013 @ 11:55 pm
Frequently Asked Questions  
Last updated: Jul 2, 2014


What is Rare Characters?
Rare Characters is a fanworks exchange for underrated characters in all media fandoms.

What kind of fandoms are allowed?
All of them.

What do you define as a rare/underrated character?
Less than 250 complete fics of 1000 words or more in English on AO3 (see picture for how to search on AO3). But we'll consider the relation in bigger fandoms to the total amount of works and the works in which the character actually appears in a major role.

Example: Mrs Hudson is the landlady of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The section for the TV series Sherlock has about 33,000 fics on AO3, roughly 3,000 of which have Mrs Hudson as a character tag. Usually, that would put her on the ineligible characters list, even considering the size of the fandom. However, in most of those fics, Mrs Hudson is only a minor character, making the list of fics that focus on her considerably small.

Who can participate?
Everyone with an Archive of our Own (AO3) account.

I don't have an AO3 account; can I still participate?
You need an AO3 account to use the signup form. You can either add yourself to the invite requests queue or contact the mods. They may still have some invites.

What kind of fanworks do you allow?
Fanfiction, fanart, icons, podfic, you name it. (Honestly, do. We're happy to let you create the fanwork you want to create or receive.)

So, what's the plan of action?
  • Jul 1 - Jul 15: Nomination period
  • Jul 16 - Jul 30: Signups open
  • Aug 1: Assignments go out
  • Oct 1: Assignments are due
  • Oct 8: Works are revealed
  • Oct 15: Authors are revealed


How many fandoms/characters can I nominate?
6 fandoms and 15 characters per fandom.

How do I nominate?
Until July 15, you can find the nominations form here.

What exactly can I nominate?-
Every character with less than 250 complete English-language fics above 1,000 words is definitely eligible. But because not every fandom is the same size, we have added a 5% rule (see below).

What if the fandom I want to nominate is huge and I know the character is underrated, but still doesn't meet the criteria?
1. If your preferred character is tagged in more than 250 fics, check how many complete English-language fics above 1,000 words there are in your preferred fandom overall. If the number of fics for the character is below 5% of the fics for the fandom (the same parameters of complete, English and >1000 words apply), the character is good to go. (If you're unsure, post the numbers)
2. If that still doesn't help and you really do want to write for that character, sort the character-tagged fics by date (most recent first) and check either the first 100 fics or the fics that have been written during the past year (whichever comes first). Tell us how many fics you think revolve around this character, based on fic summary, relationship details, placement in the characters list (first, second, last?). Give us all the numbers and we'll decide.

I'm going to be away during nominations. Is there a way I can still nominate?
We'll have a nominations post open in the community. Have someone else nominate in your name.


How many fandoms do I have to request/offer?
You can request 3-6 fandoms à 2-15 characters and offer 3-10 fandoms, also à 2-15 characters.

Can I request/offer a crossover?
Yes. Crossovers of two fandoms are allowed. But keep in mind that you can only choose 15 characters per request. You can, however, always choose to include Crossover wishes in your optional details.

What if I only want to request/offer fic/art/podfic? Can I offer fic in one fandom and art in another?
A: The form will let you specify media type. This can be different for different fandoms and different for requests and offers.

Can I give my writer/artist more detail?
Sure! Just write a letter. Most people post these places like DW or LJ. We will have a post up on the two communities for people to either link their letters or post them directly in comments.

What should go in my letter?
Themes you love. Squicks. Prompts you might like to see written. You could link to favorite fan art. Basically, anything that gives your recipient a better idea of your tastes is fair game.


Can I have another assignment?
If something went wrong with matching, we will assign you to someone new and send your old assignment out as a pinch hit. If you just can't think of anything to write for your assignment, consider defaulting. We won't judge you.

I'm not comfortable with the details; do I have to write them?
No, they're optional. But if your recipient listed their dislikes, please make sure you don't include them, Otherwise it's up to you.

Do I have to use the requested characters?
Yes, at least one of them. Unless your recipient indicates in their optional details or a separate letter that it's ok to not use them.

How many characters do I have to write/draw/use in icons?
You have to include at least one character and are allowed to use all of the ones your recipient requested. Again, please respect your recipient’s wishes to the best of your ability if they specified any.

My recipient requested a character/fandom I didn't offer. Can I create something for that as well?
Yes. As long as it's on your assignment, you can choose whatever fandom/character you want.

I like the prompts; do I have to create only one fanwork?
You only need to finish one. You're welcome to write/draw/podfic as many works as you like.

I've made a mistake in the story I've submitted; can I correct it?
Yes. Until the works are revealed you may edit what you see fit.


What if I can't finish my assignment on time / have to default?
Use the 'Default' button under your 'Assignments' tab on AO3.

Will I be banned if I default?
Not if you do so before assignments are due.

Pinch Hitting

What is pinch hitting?
Sometimes an assigned writer has to drop out of the challenge. In this case the mods will try and find another writer so that everyone has a story.

However, if you default and so does your writer before we assign a pinch hitter for your requests, we will not look for a pinch hitter. You will not receive a story unless your original writer pulls through and/or someone writes you a treat.

I'd like to pinch hit. Where do I find them?
Thank you, that is greatly appreciated. Pinch hits will be posted to Google Groups.

Do I have to be a participant to pinch hit?
No, anyone can pinch hit, but if you get a pinch hit you are then under the same constraints as participants regarding any "penalties" for not completing or submitting an inappropriate story.

I didn’t get a pinch hit, can I write a story for that person anyway?
Yes! You can uploaded it as a treat for that person (see below) - the more stories the better!


What is a treat?
A treat basically is a gift fic that is not your official assignment. You write a 'treat' for someone who left a prompt.

People can leave prompts that are unrelated to the official exchange. Things you didn't think of in your sign-up, or that maybe didn't fit, or just prompts that you didn't want to put in your sign-up but would still like to leave for other people to see. Or once the exchange is over, requests that weren't fulfilled can be posted there as well so that maybe someone else will have a go at it.

A treat isn't subject to any requirements, it can only be 300 words for example. Also, it isn't due on a specific date or assigned by us to an author.

It boils down to the treat collection being a prompt meme. People prompt things and writers who feel inspired can claim them and write a 'treat' for the prompter without the restrictions of the official exchange.

Where do I post treats?
Post them to the Rare Character Treats 2013 or 2014 collection, if you'd be so kind. Type in rarecharactertreats___ (where ___ stands for the respective year) under Post to Collection when you Post your Work. (It might not show up as suggestion, but your work will be submitted to the Collection.)

Wait, do I spy Prompts in the side bar?
You do in fact.

Why does your treat collection have a prompt meme?
Because we have a lot of fandom nominations with only two or three characters, there is a lack of characters to choose from and not everyone might want to request/offer the ones available. So, we want to give you the chance to request individual characters. (Or use it as a way to extend your sign-up, but pssht, we didn't say that.) There is, however, no guarantee that any of your prompts will be fulfilled.

How does it work?
Choose a character or several (well, up to 3) and leave a prompt of what you would like to see. You can be as specific or as open-ended as you like. Be advised that "Oh, I'd love anything" prompts are not permissible here.

How many prompts can I leave?
Two for now. After the main exchange is over, the count will upped.

Do I have to participate in the main challenge to leave a prompt or claim one?
No, everyone is more than welcome here! This is just a little extra that runs alongside the Exchange and has no connection to it other than the characters you can nominate.

How many prompts may I claim?
One at a time, please. We do not want to put a cap on you, but if you want to claim more than five prompts, consider waiting to see if no one else wants them.

What are the minimum requirements?
It's a gift. There are none.

When are the claims/treats due?
There is no due date for claims or treats. Fulfilled claims and everything submitted to the Collection will be revealed along with the works in the main challenge (the actual exchange). That means you will have until Oct 22nd, before your treat can actually be read.

My favourite prompt has already been filled. Can I still claim it?
Sure! But consider looking around for an unfulfilled claim that might need your attention first.

After the reveals

Do I have to comment on my gift even if I don't like it?
Yes. It's a gift. At least thank them for making something for you.

Can I answer the comments I received right away?
Yes, you can. Until the authors are revealed AO3 will hide your username and post your answers as 'Anonymous.'

Can I remove my works from the collection?
No. These are gifts. No takebacks. You may, however, orphan your works any time you want.
Tags: ,
sirvalkyriesirvalkyrie on July 2nd, 2013 03:03 am (UTC)
Links & Spam
My fandom rec was marked as spam with links to youtube. Can a mod please unspam it?
rc_modrc_mod on July 2nd, 2013 08:00 am (UTC)
Re: Links & Spam
Done. And thank you for the rec.
sirvalkyriesirvalkyrie on July 3rd, 2013 05:37 am (UTC)
Is matching based on all or one character? Do we have to use all the characters in a particular request?
rc_modrc_mod on July 3rd, 2013 02:34 pm (UTC)
That depends on what people will signup for, really. We're currently thinking of letting AO3 match on only one character, and manually checking if there are better matches. That, of course, depends on how many signups we'll have.

But you don't have to use all the chacters. Pick your favourite, pick three, whatever you like.
Trobadoratrobadora on July 3rd, 2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
How many characters do we have to offer? You only say 3 to 6 fandoms, but nothing about characters.
rc_modrc_mod on July 3rd, 2013 08:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you for pointing that out! You have to offer at least two and up to 15. Same goes for requests.
redcandle17: the ocean at nightredcandle17 on July 4th, 2013 12:50 pm (UTC)
I'd really like to nominate the character Catelyn from A Song of Ice and Fire. There are 650 fics at A03 tagged with her name but the vast majority of those are about her children and only feature her as a minor character. I'd estimate that less than 100 fics are actually about her.
rc_modrc_mod on July 4th, 2013 02:31 pm (UTC)
The only Catelyn AO3 has is Catelyn Stark. Is that her? Looking for complete English-language fic over 1000 words in the ASoIaF Fandom the results are 265. And going by what the first page results show, we can safely assume that at least 15 fics do not focus primarily on her.

tl;dr: You're good to go :)
redcandle17: the ocean at nightredcandle17 on July 5th, 2013 02:03 pm (UTC)
Trobadoratrobadora on July 21st, 2013 02:20 pm (UTC)
Hi, just a question - are you reviewing nominations in any particular order? Just wondering because some of mine have been reviewed for weeks, and others haven't ...
rc_modrc_mod on July 21st, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
We're terribly sorry it's taking so long. We've encountered some AO3 hiccups lately. It throws a lot of Internal Server Errors when we review the nominations.

As for a particular order, there is none per se, although very small fandoms or fandoms with the most characters that already exist on AO3 do have priority.

Again, we are very, very sorry for the inconvenience. If you want, you can tell us the relevant characters/fandoms either here in this thread or here so that we can review them next. Anonymous commenting is enabled.
Lady Mercury: Hawkeyeladymercury_10 on August 4th, 2013 10:05 pm (UTC)
I have a question about comics fandoms. Both Marvel and DC show up twice in the tagset--for the purposes of counting fandoms in an offer/request, would Marvel (Comics) be considered the same as or separate from Marvel-616? (And the same of DCU and DCU (Comics)?)
spooked croon: smile popepenombrelilas on August 5th, 2013 01:13 am (UTC)
Correct me if I'm wrong (I am not familiar with Marvel or DC continuities), but I understood Marvel 616 as a subcategory of Marvel Comics. Same goes for DCU (Comics) and DCU.

This idea is solely supported by the way AO3 handles the Fandom tags. Apart from DCU and DCU (Comics), you can also search for DCU (Animated) and DCU (Movies). The DCU tag then comprises the other three fandoms. So, if you e.g. wanted to request someone from the Animated Batman Series, you would choose DCU.

Likewise, if you receive an assignment in which the recipient has only chosen DCU and not specified which 'verse they want your story set in, you can choose freely.
Lady Mercuryladymercury_10 on August 5th, 2013 01:20 am (UTC)
Yeah, that makes sense, they would be subcategories. But would it be possible to request, say, DCU and DCU (Comics) as separate fandoms, or would you only be able to count one towards your total offers/requests?
spooked croonpenombrelilas on August 5th, 2013 01:41 am (UTC)
Yes, it's possible to request them as seperate fandoms.
Lady Mercuryladymercury_10 on August 5th, 2013 01:44 am (UTC)
Okay, cool, thanks. :)
Snicksnickfic on August 16th, 2013 12:13 am (UTC)
This feels like a dumb question, but are we matched on/assigned one of the characters a person requests in our matching fandom, or all of the characters?

EDIT: never mind, I see my question was answered above. :)

Edited at 2013-08-16 01:06 am (UTC)
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Liliaethliliaeth on July 20th, 2014 10:46 am (UTC)
I was wondering, would Scott McCall from Teen Wolf count. It's rare to find fics with him as the main character, and even when he does show up, he's usually sidelined. Hell, half the fics he does show up in, he's barely given a cameo role. I've had to get in a habit of filtering out any and all sterek fics to find some fics with him in it, and even then, half of them still only have him as a supporting character.

But Sterek fans have such a habit of tagging any character and pairings, no matter how small a part of the fic they are, that it's nigh impossible to find fics for rare pairings or characters that aren't Stiles or Derek.
rc_modrc_mod on July 20th, 2014 01:15 pm (UTC)
We've heard about overzealous tagging in Teen Wolf. It's really hard to judge for us since we're not in the fandom ourselves, so we have to rely on the numbers to a certain extent.

If I remember correctly, a character from Teen Wolf was eligible if they were tagged in about 1.2k fics or less. Scott McCall is, as you probably know, way above that limit. Even without the Derek/Stiles tag, they're still a good deal above. So, based on the numbers alone, Scott McCall wouldn't qualify for the exchange's definition of 'rare'. However, if we had for example more than one person from the fandom confirming that they are indeed much rarer than the numbers suggest, we might reconsider rejecting them. No guarantees, because we have to stick to our guidelines to be fair to everybody, but if we have more than one person arguing for a character, we're bound to take a closer look.
Liliaethliliaeth on July 20th, 2014 01:44 pm (UTC)
thanks, if it helps, I just checked under characters: Scott McCall and then filter under the results: -Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski
and I ended up with only 234 results.

And a lot of those are stydia or Stiles/Peter, all of them focusing on Stiles.

I'll see about getting the news out amongst Scott fans.
Rebeccareeby10 on July 15th, 2015 04:35 pm (UTC)
Is this fest running this year?
spooked croonpenombrelilas on July 15th, 2015 09:19 pm (UTC)
We've talked about it and while we wouldn've have been against it in principle, running an exchange - especially the nomination part - is too time-consuming for us at the moment. We've considered not checking nominations and leaving it up to the participants to decide what's rare, as has been suggested last year, but my co-mod feels that in the interest of fairness a "rare" challenge needs to have a some sort of system in place to determine what's rare.

In short: sorry, but no.
Rebeccareeby10 on July 16th, 2015 02:19 am (UTC)
Sorry to hear that, but thank you for the response!