Wednesday, September 03, 2008

pssst, guess what?

Yep! Back-tack 4 is about to launch. Calm down! BEFORE you rush off to send us an email :) please keep reading and hopefully we'll answer all of your questions. If after reading you want to ask us something email backtackATgmailDOTcom.

The theme - Gold Frankincense and Myrrh
This one I LOVE. Alison came up with it and it's just gorgeous. Think the scent of pine needles, cinnamon, spices and baked goods. Think sparkles, sequins, linen, ribbon tied boxes and baubles hanging on trees. Just in time for Christmas, a little back-tack to send Christmas cheer around the world.

You will need to send a minimum of three things. As with all our back-tacks, there are strict rules for what is included - we like to get you to think! At least one item must be handmade, preferably all three items are handmade. You may use whatever mediums you choose - sewn, printed, knitted, sculpted. This time there are no colour, size, or material restrictions, all we ask is that you take the theme and run with it, and make 3 items according to the individual outlines below.

The first item is something that sparkles [the Gold part]- cards, decorations, calenders.....see where your imagination will take you. [It doesn't need to be gold]

The second item is something which has some sort of sensory aspect to it [the Frankincense part] - either smell or taste. Baked goods? Shortbread? Chocolate, soaps, the mind can run free here, but be mindful of customs regulations in different countries. Sealed food stuffs are generally ok, but check with your partner before sending anything.

The third item is a small gift for your partner for Christmas [the Myrrh part] Perhaps a small item for the tree, or mantlepiece. Quiz your partner to see what their theming is for this Christmas, and tie in your gift! or make them something they might like to use through the year - a calender, a purse, a scarf.

Interested? Great! We think it will be fun, and we know you will come up with amazing things. We're opening it up to a lot more people this time, and we're very excited to see what comes out of it! Now here's the big part - read through the rules and information below, and if you're still keen, come and sign up on the dates outlined. By signing up you agree to all the rules and information we've laid out below.

The rules
1. You need to be posting on your blog regularly. What's regularly? At least once a week.

2. You need to be contactable via email. To respond to us or your partner.

3. You need to spend a minimum of USD$50 excluding postage. You need to be prepared to send airmail if you agree to international partners - it is heartbreaking for people to receive things months after the project has finished.

4. You must adhere to the schedule outlined below, we'll also post it on the sidebar. We will check up, we will email you, we will be running a Black List again.

5. This swap is not anonymous, you need to get in contact with your partner once you receive their details.

6.Once you have received your parcel come back to the back-tack site where we will have a "received" form for your to you to complete, please don’t email, please use this form - this is important for later on. We need to know who has received/sent and who hasn't, and why.

The time line
Signups start - 30 September at 9:00am AEST. A clock has been added to the site reflecting AEST - please refer to it. Yes, it is correct.

Signups close once we've received 250 participants, or Saturday 4 October

Partners distributed - 11 October

Contact your partner, say hi, introduce yourself etc - by 18 October

Send by 29 November - onus is on sender to check their Christmas postal cutoff dates.
To arrive in the first couple of weeks of December.

Don't forget to take some pictures of what you send before you post it. Then once your partner has received it post a maximum of 3 pictures to the back-tack 4 flickr group.

The questions you may have
1. I'm going on holidays during sign-ups can I sign-up early? Sorry no, but you can get someone to sign-up for you, make sure they sign-up using your details.

2. What if I have some life changing experience during back-tack and I have to pull out? Well, please just drop as an email, you don't have to give us the details, but please, communicate. Even if it says "I have to pull out for personal reasons". We can find someone else for your partner so they don't miss out. The more warning we have, the easier it is to keep things running smoothly for everyone.

Similarly, if you know you're likely to have major upheavals during back-tack, please think seriously about whether you should contribute.

3. Something seems to have gone very wrong....what can I/We do? The majority of people who sign up to participate in back-tack have a wonderful experience and make some great friends, and meet new bloggers. There are, however, the odd few who for whatever reason, don't communicate, don't send anything, and cause a lot of people a lot of hurt. Most people take this very seriously, and the expectation is that everyone else takes it seriously too. We cannot, and will not, be responsible for other people playing unfairly. We cannot be held responsible for mail going missing. We cannot make someone write to you. While we would love to say otherwise, we cannot make 100% of people play the game properly. What we can do - and what we have always done - is make every effort to resolve the situation by whatever means we feel are appropriate. In the past we have run a Black List, and we will run it again this time too. We've found this to be the fairest and most accountable way of minimising risk. We also run angels in extenuating circumstances.

4. A Black List? A Black List is our own list of people who have not played fairly. That list is public, and anyone can see it. After the November 29 deadline for sending, we will allow two weeks grace, and then a list will go up on the backtack site with all the names of outstanding packages. That list will probably be quite long to begin with, and will be edited down very quickly as we receive notification parcels have been received, or if we receive notification from both parties that alternative arrangements have been made and everyone is happy. This is our way of minimising risk, and if you're not happy with that outcome, please don't sign up. Simple.

5. I don't want to send internationally, is that ok? Sure it is, but hopefully most of you will want to play internationally. You can let us know on the sign-up form.

6. How do match-ups happen? We stick your details into an excel sheet and are as random as we can be.

7. You guys sound hard ass, why all the rules etc. Nah, we just have found that from past experience we need to be clear about the expectations. We're repeating ourselves here, but it's not fair to sign-up for a swap and have your partner not deliver, especially when you've done your part. We also want to keep it fair for everyone and as much as we love doing back-tack it does require our time, which is precious to us. Spending time sorting out squelchers is not fun, and often takes weeks to resolve.

8. Why can't I comment here on the blog. It's also easier for us to not need to monitor comments here. Say it to us directly via the email link in the right hand column, see over there.

9. Is the swap anonymous? No it's not. Get to know your partner, have a chat via email, take the time to look through their blog if they're not familiar to you. Ask them about themselves in the context of this swap. A list of 10 questions which can be fun and quirky and revealing is always a good ice breaker.

10. I expected to do a bag or a stuffed toy because that's what you did last time...what's all this Christmas stuff? We have never run two back-tacks the same, we never said we would, and we don't intend to in the future. The challenge for us is coming up with something new and interesting which will keep you guys interested. If this theme doesn't suit, perhaps the next one will. And we promise it won't be 2 years between back-tacks...

11. Finally, who is back-tack? back-tack is Alison and Nicole. We met via our blogs over 4 years ago and between us came up with back-tack as a way to share the creative love amongst like beings! And yes, we will be participating.

You still here? Good! We'll see you on the 30th