SSR Confidential matching - behind the scenes

I was going to leave tomorrow but it's now pushed back to Tuesday, which is AWESOME because instead of spending today hastily packing and doing all the errands I haven't done yet, I can do my errands in a leisurely way, chill, hang out online, and write fanfic.

I was also remembering that I'd meant to post about my SSR Confidential matching process, after the reveals were out so I didn't risk giving away anyone's assignment. It's been a REALLY long time since I ran an exchange (actually I can't remember off the top of my head if I've modded an exchange like this before -- ficathons and prompt communities, yes; straight-across exchanges, possibly not). So I was pretty much operating from scratch on how to do this.

I tried running AO3's automatic matching algorithm, but most of the results were terrible -- I mean, they technically matched, but most of them matched only on one character, and all the ones I spot-checked were not going to work well (people being matched to writers who hated their favorite character/OTP, and that kind of thing). So I decided to hand-match all of them. I'm not entirely sure if anyone else does it the way I did it, but it worked really well for me.

I downloaded all the requests, put them in a text file, and printed them out. I did it twice, on different-colored paper, so I had each person's full sign-up on two different colors of paper (for requests and offers). Then I cut them apart and ended up with a bunch of slips of paper that looked like this:


(These are already partially paired off, at left. I just paper-clipped the assignments together.)

As I went through the requests, I realized that broadly, they all fell into one of three general categories, which I thought of as the Jack group, the Angie group, and the Howard/Jarvis/female-character group. That is, nearly everyone who wanted Jack ALSO wanted Peggy, Daniel, and ships involving those characters, so they were all pretty good matches with each other. Most of the people requesting Dottie, Whitney, the Jarvises and Howard wanted at least three of those four. The Angie people basically just wanted Angie or Angie/Peggy. If I broke up the players into those three divisions, they were almost all compatible within each subgroup.

So I divided the requests and offers into those three groups, and first of all went through doing the best possible matches. There were a handful of people in each group who were SUPER compatible -- they wanted almost all the same things, or they had the same rarepairs, or someone was offering to write exactly what another person wanted to receive. So I did those first, to make sure as many people as possible would get the best of all possible matches.

Then I separated out the people who only had non-fic requests or non-fic offers, because doing the remaining people was going to be like a jigsaw puzzle anyway, and I didn't want to have different media types to further confuse things. So I matched those ones next.

Then I went through and matched the remaining people. Some of them got good matches anyway; others ended up matching on only one or two characters. In the end, I had a number of different stacks that were labeled like this:


I did actually end up having to switch some people around when I went and entered all of the new assignments into the AO3 panel, because in one case (ironically involving me) I had accidentally done a direct assignments swap (I was writing for them, and they were also writing for me) and I didn't want that. I think I also had someone who was assigned to write for someone whose request TECHNICALLY didn't match -- from the way their requests/offers were written, I think it would have worked fine (it was basically a case of, they requested X and Y, and offered X/Y, and I assigned them to someone who requested Y), but AO3 wouldn't take the match. So I did some shuffling. Since I was writing in the exchange myself, I was also able to use myself as a wildcard; I was willing to write basically anything, and also to accept a less-than-optimal writer match. In the end I did end up giving my writer a difficult assignment, since we only matched on one character and none of our ships, but they did a great job with it. :D

Basically it worked great and I'll probably be doing the same thing next year. I also had several people mention how much they loved their assignments, which, yay! \o/ I tried very hard to make sure everyone had an assignment they would enjoy.

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Ha, yeah. I don't think I'd have wanted to do it with any more people than we had.
It's amazing what goes on behind the scenes and wow, I'm impressed with your matching skills! Thanks for all the hard work!