Monday, October 26, 2009


As you may have read on a previous post, I have been participating in swaps. I join via someones post on a blog, or a group I have joined. They call out for players. They all have their own set of guidelines, requirements, and "deadlines". Many people who sign up are familiar to me. I have been in other swaps, or see their names in posts on blogs. For the most part it has been fun, there have been disappointments, surprises, and even my first experience with someone who "flaked" on a swap leaving me empty handed. So where am I going with this post? Well I am truly and sincerely interested in why it is that a handful of people are being "allowed" to ruin this form of art sharing for the many? Yes, for it has reached a point in my short experience in this medium where I am really thinking of withdrawing and no longer joining or participating in swaps. For now the good still outweighs the bad, yet all it takes is one really bad experience that has required all your focus for a few weeks to get in the way of any enjoyment. For me joining a swap is a commitment, a contract. You have read and agreed to follow all the rules and deadlines. We are adults and should know if we are capable before we sign on. We should know for the most part what is going on in our life and barring a "coma" know that we have to fulfill our end of the swap, and take this part very seriously. You should also commit to doing your "best" work. The minute I sign on I start gathering, researching, and preparing. after all as I have heard it said on numerous occasions "life happens", and for most of us, it happens most often as we get close to the deadlines. So why is it that the same people are constantly late? Why do they sign up for every swap that catches their attention, knowing they cannot possibly fulfill the requirements, or even finished the ones they have started? Why? Another thing I ponder is why for some Communication is so darn difficult? Is it too much to ask for your partners, hostess, people who receive a giveaway, or gift, to drop you a line and let you know what's going on? I am not talking about e-mails that give excuses, or those that blatantly lie (i.e. "It's in the mail", when the truth is it isn't even started), but a simple, "Got your tag", "package received", "Tags sent", "Yes I am still in it", "My arm fell off and I may be a day late if I cannot get it sewn back on in time", etc. When I sent our a "Swap" or "Giveaway" I want to know your received it. It would be nice to know that it did not arrive damaged. Not to sit and wonder "did it arrive? did they even like it?Perhaps to some it doesn't matter, after all for them once sent, soon forgotten. I find this attitude so inconsiderate and hurtful. It is like being taken for granted, and who likes that? I am genuinely upset and cannot understand the lack of simple courtesies that seems to have disappeared from our behaviour. Is it because we are allowed such anonymity online? Do we think it no longer matters? Do you think no one remembers when you flake, are constantly late, or do rushed tacky work? Still another big problem is the partner, or participant you have to chase down like a fugitive to get your response, item, or even an excuse. The time it takes from my life cannot be replaced with a simple "oh I am so sorry". It takes away from any enjoyment, or fun that the whole experience could have been, if not for the one (or two) careless, inconsiderate, people who feel they have the right to blow you off, make you wait, wondering if you are okay, if you forgot, or are in that "coma". For goodness sake have you no conscious? Perhaps what worries me the most is that I have seen this type of behaviour ruin swaps at local shops. Sure you may get some new people to join when you vacate, or get tossed out, but how long before the turnover takes it effect. Eventually people lose interest and nothing, I mean nothing, helps discourage and destroy like unfulfilled promises, poor workmanship, or lack of gratitude. Now this lackadaisical attitude has become more and more common to online swaps. I have learned though. I now have to consider carefully each swap. Do they "screen" their sign-ups? Check them out? Their work? Do they have references to other swaps they have been in? I am even more impressed when they actually contact you to ask about a person's participation. I have pondered hosting, and thanks to my experiences have filtered it down to how I would run a swap. I would not allow those with reputations for dragging their butt's, or flaking to join. I would insist that all items come to me, so that I could evaluate them. Those not meeting guidelines, or time restraints would be sent back with a note reminding the participant of what was expected. While sending them out to each player seems better because it takes this burden off the hostess, it allows those stragglers, flakers, and just plain dippy-doodle heads to collect the hard work of others with no repercussion for their bad behaviour. Then you have to address those who somehow read the directions and send in something so totally off the mark as to leave you saying WTH? You know who you are. You not only are late but send in something that looks as though you waited till the night before you sent it to even make it. You plaster a piece of paper, slap on a print you hurriedly colored or glitter glued, and send it out. Do you think that we cannot tell? Are you really suffering under the delusion that this is your best work? I have to say how many times I sit here looking at a piece I received thinking "Really? you had four weeks and this is the best you could do?". For all the people out there saying "you have to accept there are all levels and some are beginners, blah blah blah." and to you I say "how long do you get to claim that title?" (I know someone who has been saying this is new to me I am just a beginner, for two YEARS). For the most part this statement of mine is for those who have been in the game a bit, or the ones who have received your work a couple weeks ago, (because like me you are early as opposed to waiting until the last minute), and see from your work what is expected and still hand in crap. Yeah, you heard me, crap. You should be ashamed to have harmed a tree making it. So the gloves are off, and I am going to say it and "Shame the devil" so to speak. I am going to refer to a recent swap for this example. Terri's Alice tag swap. Yet as sad as that experience was, the La Vintage one Terri was in was a real head trip. First you have a hostess that changes the rules daily (maybe she took the whole crazy Alice thing literally?), and the tags, Oy. I am thankful I pulled out after the date changed the second time, but back to Terri's swap.... For one thing Terri clearly stated right from the start "MAT board" as a base, not cardstock, not cereal box, not whatever your little heart desires, etc. Second she was very clear about "embellishment", yes this was the reason she wanted "MAT board", because it holds "more" embellishment better. Then I remember, but for those who wish to read it for themselves they should refer to the sign up post, you were to be people who "took pride" in "doing good work". Yet some chose not to use Mat board, other's felt two little sequins were more than enough embellishment on a digital art print-out, another stuck a b&w print on a tag and some glitter glue, etc. A couple were late, and one, Deb McNutt who signed up for the white rabbit still hasn't sent hers and the mail out date was October 5th! * this is the third swap I have been in with her and the third time she was over 3 weeks late! I don't get it. I hear people grumble about todays children, employer's, and government. How they do not follow directions, follow through on their promises, and commitments, do their best work, or just plain tell the truth. Yet feel it is okay to not follow directions, ditch deadlines, hand in less than acceptable work. Why? How can you criticize the poor scruples, lack of discipline, double talk from others and then do the same? Sure a country will not fail, a child will not become a delinquent, and no one will die, but this is your REPUTATION at stake here. You are an example to others, and is this the one you want to set? After all it isn't the thing itself that is important but the intention and truth behind it! Are you reading this thinking, oh she is taking this all too seriously. I would answer, it depends. Yes, it depends what you consider serious? I take giving my word seriously. I think that if I sign up for something I have made a contract, a commitment. It isn't an arbitrary agreement where I later get to decide to change my mind and do what I want. Many may say "It's only a tag, or just paper". Is that how you want me to think about your work? Is that how you feel about mine? I would like to think there is a mutual appreciation for the work that we do. A persons art should inspire, not aggravate and exacerbate. Your work should make one think "Oh this is cool". You should have a hard time using that tag on a package, not thinking, good lord I can't use this, people will think I did it. I want people to see my name on a list and want to sign up because they know they will get a well made piece of art, and that it will be on time! I do not think it is unreasonable to expect the same. I also want to admonish hostesses who do not call these individuals out when they do this. We do no service to fellow swappers by letting participants go along doing as they please. When I have a hostess (fan swap) tell me she is "being nice and patient" with a swap partner because she does nice work, (even thought she is over a month late), I have to be nice or she may not send it to me", I cringe. Really? is anything she does so worth having to babysit, cajole, and wait until such a time as she sees fit to do her part? NO! She should have been chewed out and as far as I am concerned not allowed to sign up anywhere until her obligations were filled. (Yeah Deb I mean you). Instead this person was and is signed up for numerous other swaps while making everyone wait. I was recently floored to learn that the hostess of a swap in an Alice group knows of this persons flagrant disregard for deadlines, as well as the person who runs the site and still allow her to sign up for more!!! Come on ladies grow a couple! Maybe this behavior would stop if people like this knew they risked getting the boot? Maybe not, but is would sure make life easier for the rest of us. In this time of the world where Wall Street Tycoons, Bankers, Politicians, and various others think the rules do not apply to them, do we want to allow and encourage this even in these small parts of our lives? Do we teach our children and future CEO's, Public Servants, that it is okay not to do what you say? I hear so many whining about the next generation wanting everything for nothing, not knowing what it is like to wait, not have good work ethics, and then you come to where "adults" who supposedly know better are, and it hits you, that's where it comes from. From you and me, from people who tolerate abuses, poor quality, and a sense of entitlement where rules do not apply to them. I spoke today with Terri, who was a bit shocked when she received e-mails telling her it was no big deal. So then these people feel it is okay to allow this from swappers???? Perhaps you think your work does not rate enough for a return swap? Comments like "your beautiful tag makes up for a person's flaking? Is she like the town savant? We let her run amok (I am finding many, many, many, swappers with the same issue with her, yet NO ONE seems to have the guts to take a stand). Where are the keepers of these sites? what happened to statements like "Flakers, non-communication, and constant tardiness will get you expelled from the group?" Was that an empty threat? Shouldn't she and others who do this be told "Sorry we see you signed on for yet another swap. We know you have yet to fulfill your obligation on other swaps so we must exempt you from further participation until you have fulfilled these promises.". Was that so hard? Of course to do any good you have to mean it, you must stay the course. When I hear statements like "oh we know, and I don't want to be her partner, (what the heck let some other poor unsuspecting fool get flaked on) make me want to reach through this screen and give you a little wake-up tap on your head." I cannot believe we have all become so apathetic that we would just let people walk all over us. That a your word means nothing, and crime does pay, because no one wants to be the one to take a stand. When did swapping become the "politically correct" zone where gosh forbid we follow through with rules, and deadlines because, oh dear, we might hurt this persons feelings?They may be forced to act like an adult and , dare I say it, take responsibility for their actions! It isn't just this one person there are others. Will you just stand there and let it happen? I suppose now that I have had this "soap-box" moment I may find myself the one shut out. Maybe people will be afraid to swap with me. I have had to chase down a swap partner when after a month she did not fill her end of the swap, and like Deb, lied and said it was sent. I am not afraid to email people and nudge them along. I am also not afraid to say "no" enough is enough. I do not want it happening to me, and knowing that a person like this is, and has been doing this I certainly want to warn people ahead of time to watch out when they see a name on a swap. I started out asking, why? I think I have just answered my own question. I think I now know why they do it.... Because they can.......... they know you will let them. ______________________________________________________ ****Update**** I want to Thank Rebecca. She has a Mail Art Group and is the first hostess I know of that has drawn a clear and definate line with regards to lateness and flakers. She is the first (that I am aware of) that has actually enforced those guidelines! Thank You Rebecca! You have restored my faith and give me hope that perhaps, there will be a safe place to swap. Not that this will prevent all future flakes, but maybe it will happen less often!


Jenny S said...

I got one for ya! I signed up for a Halloween Swap, when I got my partner's info, she did not have a problem. I emailed her and got a message back from her HUSBAND saying that if I wanted to email her I needed to put her name in the subject line or else he might not forward it. OKAY???? Then when I FINALLY get an email back from her...SHE DOES NOT LIKE HALLOWEEN!! What the hades did she sign up for a Halloween swap then? Also when I asked about what she liked, antiques? vintage? color...
"No, I hate antiques, nothing vintage and my colors are beige and cream in my house.And I do not like craft items"
HUH??? WHY???? Why sign up for a swap? arrggghhhh!

Terri said...

Seems this post is already having an effect for the good as it was intended.

Renee said...

You know me and you know I am laughing.

Even though I am laughing I am in complete agreement.

It is just the societal norms and niceities we are asking for.

Love Renee xoxo

Her Art Nest said...

Hi Deb, Very cool background! I'm so sorry that these swaps are so distressing for you. You just need to find the right group. I think you are going to find slackers and flakers in any nationwide group.

Just move on....maybe what we need are references for participants with submission of previous work before they can be approved to join the group.

Cheer up. This is supposed to be fun!

Hugs, Nance

Pretty Things said...

I have so much to learn to participate in a swap like these that I don't even dare until I've practiced. I say this because I've participated in jewelry swaps where people obviously sent their "Z" work when others sent in their "A" work.

What was distressing to me was not the newbie who was clearly trying their best, or the person with a limited budget who couldn't afford to go all out. I enjoyed their enthusiasm and helped them along when asked.

No, it was the well-known artists who were cheaping out. THAT bugged me. I quit participating after a while and just did private swaps after that.

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