ATCsforALL Forums FAQ

Here you can find answers to questions about how the board works. Use the links or search box below to find your way around.

Who Can Host a Swap?

All Hosts must be active* members of ATCsForAll for the 3 months immediately prior to hosting a swap and have a positive iTrader rating of +15
*Activity is tracked by members forum posts. You must have your profile page filed in.

Potential Hosts must submit their user info to a staff member before submitting their first swap. This is to include:

  • Your Real Name
  • Your Address
  • Two working contact numbers
  • Your email address

New hosts are limited to one swap at a time, with a limit to the number of participants they can have per swap.

- 1st Swap - 12 Participants - (36 items received)

- 2nd Swap - 20 Participants - (60 items received)

- 3rd Swap - 30 Participants - (90 items received)

Once 3 successful swaps have been completed, then the host is granted full hosting privileges.

For members with no negative iTrader ratings:
Hosts must be active members of this site for at least 3 months prior to hosting a swap and have a positive iTrader rating of +15.

Members with one or two negative iTrader ratings:
The hopeful host must make every attempt to clear up negatives and any outstanding trades that resulted in the negative. Once this has happened to the best of the member's ability, then in order to host the member must have 15 positive iTraders in a row and 6 months of time since the negative was given.

More stringent rules will be in place for PAT hosting than for regular swaps. Members need to have positive Itrader of over 30; have run at least 3 successful swaps, and have been a member for six months.

We take swap hosting very seriously. Hosts who do not maintain their swaps in a timely manner, are non-communicative with participants, or violate other hosting guidelines may be put on a six month no-hosting probation at the discretion of the staff.

It is the choice of the host as to whether or not they participate in their swap.

What About MIA Members?

MIA Members:
If a member hosts a swap, goes MIA and then returns later wanting to rejoin the site, there are certain conditions that need to be met before that member is allowed to join or host any swaps.
The returning member will:

* return cards due to members to the best of their ability within 30 days of notification by a Moderator
----- players must be a member of this site
* have all Negative iTraders re-posted in their record from ATCards
* be on a 6 month probationary period, meaning no hosting of their own swaps or PIF threads
* the member will not be allowed to participate in any swaps, PIF, etc. but will be able to trade one-on-one with other members of this site until all the swap cards from previous MIA swaps have been returned to them
* If the member has made good on the returns, that member will be allowed to trade until the probationary period is over * Only once the 6 month probationary period is over will the member be able to host a swap with certain conditions:
-----Member will be allowed to host a 12 participant swap with a moderator overseeing the swap.
* The Board reserves the right to remove membership at any time

How Many Swaps Can I Host?

You may host no more than 6 swaps at one time (both open and active, and both mail art and ATC).

Members of out sister site, may host no more than 6 swaps at one time across the 2 affiliated websites, and

New hosts are limited to one swap at a time until they've completed 3 successful swaps.

Invitation only swaps

Invitation only swaps are not allowed.

Hosts may invite members to join in a swap, but 1/3 of the available space must remain open to all members.

How Do I Start a Swap?

Swaps must be started in the Open Swaps Forum. Please open a thread with the name of your swap as the thread title.

Put at the top of your swap thread:
  • Swap Due Date - Month Day
  • Sign up by date - Month day
  • Withdraw by date - Month day (same as sign up by date or later)
  • Number of Items - 3 for 3, etc.
  • Number of participants -
In the title box,put the swap name, then a comma, then the due date as Month Date. Like this: Pickles of Many Colours due January 1.
(If you don't do it correctly, our helpful Moderators will fix them for you as they find them)
  • If your title has an error, you can't edit it but mods can. Pm one of us.
  • Remember to ask PERMISSION before you post links to other people's art!

If this is your first time hosting a swap at this website, please supply your full contact information to by emailing or sending a private message to a Moderator. Your information will not be made public or shared with members of this site. Your contact information is only required in case we need to contact you offline regarding your swap.

Note: Swaphosts cannot impose a penalty for withdrawing from a swap on or before the withdraw-by date. Only Pick-A-Theme swaps carry a no-withdrawal rule.

In a swap where each participant makes an item for every other participant, hosts are required to include a Sign Up/Withdraw-by date so that participants will know exactly how many items they must create. Hosts are encouraged to offer a Waiting List so that withdrawing participants can be quickly and easily replaced.

If participants in these types of swaps withdraw after that date, then the host may give a neutral iTrader (leaving a neutral is optional). If the host chooses to leave neutrals, they must clearly write in their swap guidelines that a neutral will be given to anyone who withdraws after the withdrawal date. If the host gives one late withdrawing participant a neutral iTrader, the host is bound in fairness to give all late withdrawals a neutral iTrader.

How Quickly Should I Send Out Returns?

Hosts must send out return ATCs within 2 weeks of the swap closing date. Please return any late cards to the artist.

All Swaps must be completed in 90 days (or less), no exceptions.

Commitments of Hosting

Hosts must be prepared for the time and financial commitment of hosting a swap. Most players in the same country will send you a SASE for their returns. However, international participants may not be able to do this. You should be prepared to cover some of the postage of returns to international participants. If funds are short, please limit the total number of participants in your swap rather than not accepting international participants. Hosts are allowed to request only return postage from their players, either in stamps from the hosts country, stamps from the players country, well concealed dollar bills or PayPal.

Hosts who do not send out the cards received from swap participants will be asked to leave the site and permanently banned. If you are unable to fulfill your hosting duties, whatever the reason, just contact us and we will take over your swap for you and pay to get the cards from you to a new host. We do want to help if you're having a problem. Please don't run away with other peoples' cards.

Hosts are responsible for packaging and shipping cards in a manner that will minimize damage to returns due to rough postal service handling.
This includes: securing cards in the envelope so that they are most likely to arrive safely, by packaging them flat, even, and with proper postage. (Do not just toss them in the return envelopes!)
We recommend taping cards (in sleeves) to cardboard or to each other to ensure that they are flat and even.
We also require that all returns have return address labels and proper postage (please take your swaps to the post office to have them double check).

Hosts are expected to update members of their swaps in the thread at least once a week. This is so that all the members are aware of when their cards have arrived and so the swap doesn't appear to be inactive.

Closing Swaps

Life can change dramatically between the time a swap host posts a swap and the day the returns are sent to the players. Occasionally swap hosts are unable to finish a swap either due to their life circumstances or a change in their status as host in good standing. When that happens, staff must step in.

When a host cannot finish a swap, sometimes another host can be found to take over. This is desirable when the swap has been running for a length of time and many cards are en route or with the host. The original host will send everything to the new host - either a staffer or a player - who then completes the swap and mails returns to the participants.

Occasionally, if the swap is a new one or has very few players, the swap will simply be closed and any cards returned to the makers. When this happens, sometimes a player will reopen the swap as host. Other times, the players simply exchange cards among themselves or post to open gallery.

What Do I Do If Someone Sends in Sub-Par Artwork?

At AFA, members are welcome to participate in any regular Open Swap. A regular swap would be any swap that is not a PAT or personalized, and does not require an iTrader rating to play in. Hosts are encouraged to offer clear guidelines in the swap description so that members will understand clearly what is expected. It is especially encouraged to post sample cards for this reason.

Despite the best efforts of the host, members may send in cards for which there are no 'comparable' cards to swap (the majority of hosts attempt to match cards for effort/technique, etc) in the judgment of the host. In that case, the host should email a copy of the card/s to a Mod/Admin for review, where a final decision will be made.

How Do I Host a Pick a Theme (PAT)?

Make sure that you are REALLY committed to running a PAT swap. These swaps are a huge undertaking and you will have to stay on top of things every single day, be super organized with your lists and mail arriving at home. There is no such thing as too much communication.

To host a Pick a Theme Swap you must have an iTrader of +30, have been an active member 6 months and successfully hosted 3 regular swaps.

You must be very clear about how it will run. Give all the details that you can think of and ask for help if you are not sure about something or need input. Ask someone to proof read the information to be sure that it is clear.

Requirements regarding themes:

    1. Theme is the main focus on a PAT so themes must be checked and no obvious theme deviation should be sent to the receiver. Such as if someone asks for a green cat and a blue one is sent in the creator must be informed immediately that it is off theme and asked to do it again.
    2. Cards must be checked as soon as they arrive. Checked for theme, size, construction, weight of substrate etc.
    3. Any obscure themes must have a link to a clear image of the sort of thing they want, broader themes such as a film character must have a link to the character from the film site etc. If the host is not clear on the theme from the link it is likely the creator might not be so ask the receiver for another more clear link. Several links can be supplied if needed. Links must be shown next to the players name and theme. Inform players in the first post that if they are not clear of what they are required to do they must contact the receiver.
    4. When the cards arrive and you are not sure if the theme is correct. Scan or photograph the card/s in question and send the image to the receiver. Ask them if the card/s are what they expected. If they say it's not and you think they are being unreasonable send the images to a member of staff and we will make the judgment call.
    5. If you are unsure about doing a PAT that has complicated themes then ask that they be easy general themes or pick out several themes yourself for the groups and provide your own links.
    6. PATs involve more work than regular swaps. If you are unable to commit to the extra work, then hosting a PAT is not for you. The above requirements endeavor to be fair to both the host and players and following these guidelines should avoid off theme cards being submitted. (amended 5/2013.)

You need to require participants have an established positive trader rating of +15 in order to join these swaps because if just ONE person flakes out in a group you will have a problem. No exceptions! (Even an experienced member can flake out but this will keep a new member with little or no experience from causing a calamity.)

You must have a signup date deadline and a mail by date deadline. Strictly enforce your deadlines.

Your groups will be easier to manage if they stay at 5 participants per group. They can join more than one group if they want to. (Each group will produce 20 cards total.)

No more that 8 groups per PAT swap. That is a lot of cards (160) to keep track of. Certainly you can have less than 8 groups in your swap. We recommend you keep it around 5 groups of 5 participants. (100 cards total)

If they donít send all the cards for every member of the group by the deadline they should be eliminated from the swap and their cards returned. Do not hold the swap up and wait around until they get the work completed and to you.

Like other swaps, PAT cards should be mailed out within two weeks of the swap ending date. Occasionally, members of a PAT group within the swap will mail early, resulting in that group's cards being turned in well before the ending date. In such a case, swap hosts may choose to swap out individual groups as soon as all cards are received. In no case should mailing a PAT group's returns be delayed beyond two weeks after swap closing date.

When a participant flakes out or gets eliminated from a group the other memberís of the group must receive the card back that was made for that member, with their returns. You can not keep them.

No one will be allowed to run more than one PAT Swap at a time. No exceptions.

Feel free to direct participants to these guidelines if they try to Ďfudge the rulesí; please donít risk your good standing to accommodate them.

What is an Uneven Swap?

Hosts cannot host uneven swaps. An uneven swap is when participants are required to send in more cards than they recieive. If the artist is required to send in 3 cards for the swap, then they must receive 3 cards in return.

Additionally, you may never require that participating artists send you extra cards, or other items, in lieu of postage. An extra card is a gift should the participating artist want to thank you for hosting.

How do I Host a Circle Journal?

Circle Journal Hosting Guidelines
Anyone that wants to start their own Journal Group may do so, as long as they meet the requirements and these will be treated the same as Swaps here on this site.

  1. You must meet these requirements before you are allowed to start a Journal Group or participate.
      You must have a trader rating of +15 minimum and be an active member on the site. These swaps requires a long-term commitment and we do not want to lose anyone's pages due them. No exceptions.
      You must have successfully hosted 5 regular swaps.
    • These groups require a dedication of both time and money (for shipping costs, for materials, etc).
    • Please do not sign up to host if you are not sure you can provide both.
  2. Most journals are 2-page SPREADS and "6x6" or 8x8". We have a number of articles, hints and tips on construction.
  3. The Group Leader is responsible for the following:
    • getting complete contact information for each member (real name, street address, mailing address if different, telephone numbers, email, etc.)
    • arranging and posting the mailing dates
    • pairing partners for each month of the rotation according to the format template in the Circle Journal Sticky
    • posting each month's pairings
    • checking to see that members are actively posting to thread, sending reminders when needed
    • checking to see that members post the pages before mailing them
    • posting when pages are mailed by each member
    • posting when pages are received from each member
    • -If a player gets behind and the circle members are uncomfortable about leaving a negative iTrader, the Host shall, after notification to AFA staff of their intent, leave a negative iTrader for the delinquint player upon approval from AFA staff provided that the player:
      - has not responded to PM's from the Host despite logging in at AFA
      - has not posted to the thread for (2) weeks
      - It is the Host's responsibility to PM members who seem to be lagging behind in posting weekly and/or completing and mailing pages. If Hosts do not keep up with the members of their swap, AFA staff will assist.
  4. We mail our 2 page spreads to each individual directly, like a PICK A THEME swap. This means that you will have mailing partners each month, each month to the next name down the list until the circle is complete. This will save postage costs and heartaches due to a whole journal getting lost. People list their "theme" and page spreads are done for each person in the group.
    For example: Group Leaders set up monthly partners:
    • A & B - 1st Month.
    • C & D - 1st Month.
    • A & C - 2nd Month.
    • B & D - 2nd Month, etc.

  5. Media: These circles are set up by different media.
    • Fabric Groups: Due to the time needed to make pages, fabric pages are ONE page, art on the front and the back is usually the place to add info about yourself.
  6. Limited sign ups for first-time participants. Individuals new to circle journals at can only sign up for one journal group initially. After the successful completion of their group, they are welcome to sign up for multiple groups but must check with a Moderator before signing up for more than three(3).
  7. Please ask questions BEFORE you sign up.
  8. Because these are treated the same as Pick-A-Themes (PAT) each person that completes a spread is entitled to a TRADER RATING. Likewise, if a person does not fulfill their obligation to their partner a Negative Rating is posted if one partner sends and is received, but never received a spread from their partner.

Journal Group Participants

    As a participant, you are required to
  • check in with your Journal Group at least once a week
  • report to group when you will be away from net or out of town and where you stand on spreads at that time
  • report when pages are mailed (it is suggested that you photograph the stamped envelope containing the page with the recipient's address for verification of mailing)
  • report when you receive a spread and from whom
  • notify the group and your partner if you cannot mail on time
  • notify your next trading partner, if you fall behind, not to create or mail a page for you until you are caught up.

Note: If you do not post to your group thread or to a Group Host for more than two (2) weeks, the Group Host may report you to the Moderators and your membership in the Circle Journals will go on suspension. Your name will be taken off the rotation and pages will not be sent to you. NO EXCEPTIONS. We expect active participation in all the groups.
You will be notified to PM your Journal Group Host with your FULL contact information (Name, mailing address, email address, and all telephone numbers).
A Start Date is selected either by your Journal Group Host or there may be discussion in your group.
You are required to check in on your Journal Group at least once a week to let us know how things are going. If you are going to be away from the 'net' or on vacation or whatever, please let us know in advance so that people aren't worried about their spreads! If you do not post to your group thread or to a Group Host for more than two (2) weeks, the Group Host may report you to the Moderators and your membership in the Circle Journals will go on suspension. Your name will be taken off the rotation and pages will not be sent to you. NO EXCEPTIONS.We expect active participation in all the groups.
Delivery Confirmation Numbers (for USA) on packages are no longer mandatory for page spreads, but if you do use them, post the # in the group thread.

Who can host a PIF? MMH?

PIF/MMH Guidelines:

  • You must have an iTrader rating of +3 to start or participate in a PIF or MMH.
  • When setting up your PIF/MMH please require players to send out their item before accepting another/offering trade.
  • Encourage them to post pictures of what they have made in the thread.
  • Players should agree to a 2 week maximum mailing dead line, and keep in communication,
  • If not a Negative iTrader should be given.
  • No chatting in the PIF threads - this makes them really hard to follow.
(If you edit your original post to note when you mailed out, or to post a picture of your work it will help to keep the PIF/MMH threads in the correct rotation and running smoothly.)

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