In her Dear Yuletide Author letter, Xylaria requested female characters for Pern, particularly Mirrim (but she listed several others as possibilities). She wanted femslash or gen for Mirrim or Menolly, and either of those or canon het for the others. What she got was "Queen," OMC/OMC slash in which the female character shows up only to dress one OMC's wounds.
Xylaria left a civil comment à la, “I didn’t request this, but it was well-written and I’m happy there are people who enjoy it.” For this she was called out in the comments of the fic, especially by “Cult of Nice” specialists Greer Watson and her sister FA Watson. A wankstorm blew up, and it hit FFA (see links below). The author added a passive-aggressive A/N in which he revealed that the fic was just a rewrite of something he was writing as a pinch hit anyway, and:
I’d never have guessed anyone would attach such political statements to which gender gets a break or that choosing the“wrong” gender would create such a vitriolic response. I’d surely have kept my distance if I had realised this. To me genders are equal. It’s not as if that story was about more than affection, emotions and finding one’s place in a sexist society. I’m truly sorry I assumed gender would make no difference with such feelings.
If the current recipient prefers to not be linked to a story she so obviously loathes, I have no problem with this and will unlink her at her request. She just needs to say so and I’ll do that, no hard feelings.
The wank hit -admin, -coal (see below), and wank_report. In her _admin OP, Elynross did not address the actual problem with the fic itself, only the comments left on it. People on that post, not realizing Xylaria had been polite to the author, bashed her too. Finally Elyn admitted that Xylaria had behaved appropriately, but she ended up screening any comments providing context for Xylaria’s response. The entire thread was a Cult of Nice love-in with gratuitous pearl-clutching over anonmemes, complete with the classic SJW wish that “the rude anons” — that is, anonymous commenters who criticized the author on AO3 — “step barefoot upon a Lego.”
The author orphaned the fic on their main account and associated it with a different one, “Unwinded.” Then he began to delete any critical comments. As of this writing, “Queen” has 45 comments, all complimentary. A good 7–8 others have been conspicuously deleted. Here's a screencap from prior to baww-leetion.
It has been suggested on _coal that the Watson sisters co-authored the fic, but this is not known for sure.
Nonnies and coalies were taken aback by bipagan's DYW letter, in which she elaborated at length upon her weight-loss journey, her post-partum depression, and the possibility that she would attempt suicide if her assigned writer didn't give her a Blue Bloods/Supernatural crossover for Yuletide. When politely called out for her bad-faith manipulation of a rare-fandoms exchange, she circled her wagons and started posting the IP addresses and locations of anonymous commenters on her journal. FFA discussion and screencaps are here and here. _coal discussion and screencaps are here, with a bonus of bipagan's friends popping up to vehemently stan for her.
On Sep. 25, a nonny complained, "Are people seriously butthurt that they can't request Steve/Tony Comicsverse Fic in YULETIDE?" One week later, it was reported that “Someone on my flist is determined to write an Avengers crossover, come hell or high water. But I don't know if she's planning to suggest that The Avengers be a nominated fandom or if she'll just crossover whichever small fandom she's assigned with it.” That unknown flister got called out on _coal: “If you're the person being discussed, you're a bad person. JSYK.”
In other news, two different fans tried to argue for inclusion of the show The Pretender, despite realizing that it simply didn’t meet eligibility standards. That, as well as attempted arguments for Rizzoli & Isles and Gossip Girl and the reinclusion of Lewis, were also snarked on _coal.
- A nonny nominated the previous year’s “Gay Bashing Dragon Fic” as a “fandom,” and Yuletide mods rejected it. Meme reaction was mixed.
- The Chromatic Yuletide Challenge. Mod elliemurasaki, known at the time as MercuryBlue (and a Slacktiverse regular; also known as Alex Seanchai), stated in the Yuletide LJ comm that the challenge was about “characters who have skin that cannot be described as ‘pale’ or ‘fair’.” She was taken to task by several commenters who said POC can indeed have pale skin, as race is often constructed along lines other than skin color. She also attempted to apply the Bechdel Test to race, which she eventually walked back. Her advice to white people trying to write “chromatic” characters was, “Try not to be a failboat.” As one nonny pointed out, such advice is woefully insufficient, because nobody tries to be one. Various memers of color expressed dislike of the term “chromatic.” There was a minor bit of FFA followup here, as well as a _coal thread.
- _coal, as is its wont, complained about people’s DYW letters. Their debate over the meaning of “any” in a request letter devolved into worldbuilding vs. character wank. Coalies complained that some people weren’t linking their letters in their signup comments, which led to snark about one recip who asked for hetfic of a canon gay character and another who was angling for issuefic (further discussion of the latter topic here). There was a complaint about slash requests bashing canonical female love interests. Finally, there was the “2012 bad letter collection” thread and “Worst DYW letters, Round Two.”
- _coal talked about people to avoid. The names that came up were Kitty deSade, wook77, and whoever wrote the “Gay Bashing Dragon Fic.” In a separate thread, about changing one’s offers in order to avoid someone, a wank over how writing someone porn or asking them for porn could trigger them broke out; a reprise titled “LOL @ all of the sanctimonious gen lovers in this post” popped up in a separate thread.
- Coalies snarked the Misses Clause Challenge for the misspelling in the title, its Christian-centrism, cissexist language from the mods that the mods themselves downplayed, and their Bechdel test criteria.
- Minor wank, basically griping, over what constitutes “fandoms.” In late September one nonny asked, “Should I nominate FFA as a Yuletide fandom?” Some nonnies approved; others called this idea “twee and gross” and asked whether the ATRT wanted “Yuletide full of any self-satisfied lj comm (or whatever tumblrs organise themselves into) asking for fic of its injokes?” The nonny ignored the naysayers, and as a result 2012 was the first year FFA RPF was nominated as a Yuletide fandom and had fics written for it. In another post, a nonny confessed to the urge to troll by nominating “my favorite letters of the alphabet as my fandoms and then spend the next three months berating people and making fun of their letters and starting as much wank as I possibly can." They were told, “Why force it? It’s Yuletide. The wank will come.”
2013 marked a change in the Yuletide moderating team, as well as an attempted policy change. On Sep. 1, a post went up on yuletide-admin highlighting a new nominations procedure:
We are also trying out an experiment in which fandom nominations will only be approved if 2 or more people nominate them. This is to control the tag list bloat that happens every year and strains both the archive and signups (which no one, outside or inside Yuletide, wants). It also gives us a tentative positive sign that there are at least two people who want to request or offer said fandom.
This was not popular; FFA discussed the developments here and here. One nonny pointed out that bridgetmc, the new mod who had posted the announcement, was no longer listed as a maintainer of yuletide-admin. As another nonny said, “The stupidest move I can see so far is bringing in new mods and new rules at the same time. It would be far smarter to limit YT disruptions to one type at a time. Introduce the new mods, run the exchange with the same old, same old rules, then next year start bringing in rule changes.”
Another mod posted an update on Sep. 2: “By popular request, we are dropping the rule that fandoms would need to be nominated twice. As the number of fandoms would still be a concern, we are considering ways to tighten the eligibility rules on less rare fandoms, and are considering the number of nominations people will get.”
The mods, being unfamiliar with Marvel Comics, grouped Spider-Man (Ultimateverse) under the rubric of “Marvel Ultimates.” As this nonny explained,
People looking for fic in one are unlikely to be looking for fic for the other, in the same way that if you want to watch Avatar: the Last Airbender, Game of Thrones is unlikely to scratch that itch. Yes, there is character crossover, but there’s also character crossover between Hawkeye and Young Avengers (Kate Bishop) and those weren't conflated. … Once the characters were all put together under one umbrella and people explained the problem with that, including breaking down how to re-separate the characters, there was absolutely no reason to boot Gwen Stacy out of the tagset. That came of as jenn[_caelen] being a jerk and trying to be right at all costs.
See the rest of that comment for more explanation, and also dudski on LJ for a timeline of the wank. One of the _admin exchanges featured Jenn saying to a fan trying to engage her in good faith, “Noted,” which became symbolic of her attitude (and something of a meme on _coal).
The earliest FFA discussion on this began Oct. 4 in the thread titled “The Yuletide wank corral.” Nonnies shook their heads at “the mod’s sulky guilt-tripping” over suggestions they rename the fandom (which would allegedly have been “a lot of work”); criticized the “solution” of deleting Gwen Stacy from the character list after separating the merged fandoms; praised the fans for “show[ing] incredible patience and grace in explaining something that wouldn’t need to be explained if [mods] had just approved the fandoms”; and jeered at mods for shutting down comments anyway. (Some fans went over to the main tagset post to complain further.)
That thread also contained this vent:
You know what actually is in the process of ruining this Yuletide for me, when other chaotic ones haven’t? It’s the assumption that were are all fuckups, liars, and cheats. We are going to try and sneak in non-legit characters and non-legit fandoms. We are going to input improper characters or screw up our fandom names. It’s just so... fuck you mods. Fuck you all, I am not a toddler or an asshole and stop treating me and everybody else like one.
Nonnies later discussed an update on _admin from Jenn. First reply: “I noticed that the word ‘sorry’ or any conjugation of ‘apologize’ doesn’t appear anywhere in that post.” It wasn’t until another admin post, wherein hhertzof announced the end of the fandom vetting period, that the Gwen Stacy issue was resolved. Dhampyresa brought it up again, and Jenn replied, “[Gwen]’s been added to the tag set and will be associated with the fandom before signups.”
For her recipient, Colacube, Alby_Mangroves wrote "Wherever You Go," a fic based on the movie The Eagle. Colacube left this lackluster praise: “Hi Yuletide author, thank you for the Yuletide fic. I’m really glad you enjoyed writing it.” When Alby apologized for apparently “getting it wrong,” Colacube claimed that the fic “ignores my Eagle/Eagle of the Ninth prompts/request.”
Most of the resulting wank occurred on _coal, starting with a Dec. 27 thread titled “weird recip drama.” Coalies analyzed Colacube’s now-deleted DYW letter and declared that the fic did, in fact, follow her requests very closely. They guessed that she had “some sort of weird headcanon about what ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ mean” — she had asked for top!Marcus and pushy bottom!Esca; Alby wrote them as engaging in frottage rather than anal, and Esca telling Marcus, “I would ride you.” Coalies also speculated that Colacube was expecting BDSM without having requested it specifically.
That initial thread was followed by four more, two of them nearly immediately, calling out _coal for supposedly buying into the Cult of Nice. The first thread was the most bizarre, the OP analogizing Yuletide to sex:
The general tone of comments here is that “Thank you for writing for me” is the kiss of death and recipients should pretend to love every single fic. But sometimes, try as they might, some people just don’t get the job done. I don’t see why anyone should be obliged to fake an orgasm pretend to like to a fic they don’t.
Coalies reacted by saying Yuletide was more analogous to prostitution (the phrase “Little Yuletide Whorehouse" was used), pointing out that sex is not a thing that one person “gives” to another, and observing, “I don’t fake, but I’m also unlikely to say, ‘Thank you for fucking me. I’m glad you enjoyed it.’”
The next thread was titled “Wow the Cult of Nice is Strong on Coal This Year,” and the OP insisted, “Nobody is obligated to pretend to like a fic more than they do. Nobody has to LIE about things that they didn’t like. You are not owed that for writing a fic.” As with the previous thread, this one drew responses of, among other things, “Hi, Colacube.” A third thread was a little more measured in tone, but still insisted,
seriously, what is wrong with leaving standard concrit where you point out a story’s good qualities and the parts where the author screwed up SPaG, and you can’t buy this character acting this way, and btw did you have to tag is HDM when there’s only daemons? That being verboten is what I consider dangerous levels of Cult of Nice, not “Leave a good comment for your author, even if they blew goats in the actual text.”
Coalies pointed out that unsolicited concrit has been considered gauche at best in fandom for some time now, and it would be especially tacky on a gift fic.
The OP of a fourth thread went with a less-fraught metaphor than sex:
...It’s a fucking sweater. Sometimes, people can hand-make amazing sweaters that you want to gush over.
Othertimes, grandma makes an ugly fucking sweater that has two shades of pink that clash with her hideous fuzzy orange “reindeer.”
When the latter happens, I politely say “Thanks for the sweater, grandma.”
I do not go on and on about how the sweater will match my one pair of pants, or how the pink matches my favorite pair of earrings. I thank her and move on to the presents I do enjoy.
That’s all that is required of your writer when you give them a shitty gift. A thank you.
The reply was that nobody tells Grandma, “Thank you for the sweater. I am sure you really enjoyed knitting it,” but instead just thanks her and moves on.
On Dec. 28, _coal discovered that an anonymous commenter called Colacube a “douchebag” in the comments to the fic. On Dec. 31, it was noted that Colacube had deleted her accounts on both LJ and AO3.