Active vs. Passive Swappers


April 29, 2015 by tessaraewilliams

Yesterday I was writing down every swap I’m currently in, and marking off my progress (or lack thereof) on each one.


Checks mean I’ve already started on my craft or I have my idea planned out. ~~ means I have a tentative idea but I’m not married to it. The circled question mark means I have no f-ing idea. That could be either because my partner’s interests are so different from mine, I can’t seem to come up with any idea that I like; or that my partner has been completely silent. I have multiple partners that have been seemingly AWOL since they signed up for their swap. No mosaics, no progress pictures, no fabric pulls. Nada.

Which got me thinking; why join a swap in the first place if you’re not truly going to participate?

My favorite thing about being in craft swaps (and the reason I join so many) is the awesome, supportive crafting community that comes with each swap! In real life, I don’t have any friends that do any crafting of any kind. And none of them really care about my current project(s). But in Instagram-land, easily 20 people like each of my progress pictures, and anyone who takes the time to comment is always positive.  I feel like these silent crafters miss out on that.

So, this post is a call to all passive swappers out there, and my hope is to at least get you thinking about what you’re doing.

What does active swapper mean?

My definition of active swapper is someone who makes it very clear that they are interested and excited about their swap from beginning to end. It is someone who takes the time to make a mosaic/collage of inspiration for their partner (I’ve had people ask me how to make mosaics, so look for a post soon on that). It is someone who takes time to think out their idea for the craft, and posts it so fellow crafters can see it’s at least on your mind. It’s someone who is transparent and makes it clear that they are invested in the swap and that they will not flake.

What is flaking?

Flaking is basically dropping off the face of the Earth. They give no correspondence with the swap host when she reaches out to them. Typically they post nothing on their Instagram about their progress, let alone joining the swap in the first place! To be clear, flaking is not the same as just dropping out of a swap. Most swappers that need to drop out let their hosts know ASAP about the issue, and the hosts respect that. It’s totally okay to drop out of a swap if you need to. Flaking is never ok. It’s running away from something that really does not need to be run away from. It’s just an annoyance of us swap hosts, and as much as we try to avoid it, it happens.

The reason I haven’t started some of my swap projects is because I think some of my partners are at risk of flaking, and I don’t want to waste energy and resources on them if they do.

Also a reason I haven’t started my projects for some of these silent swappers; they just aren’t as fun to make for. When I get an active partner who took time to make a mosaic, the pictures they choose often get my brain going and ideas flowing. When I can look through a partner’s past posts and clearly see their likes and dislikes, it makes it fun to learn about this person and gives me an idea of what this person would truly like to receive. Passive swappers who only ever post pictures of their cat or food don’t get the same reaction. If I can learn more about Mr. Whiskers then I can about you, there’s an issue. If I’d rather craft for your cat than for you, there’s an issue. Heck, if I’d rather craft for the food you eat more than for you, there’s an issue!

I’m not saying you have to spend every waking moment on Instagram. Being an active swapper doesn’t mean we need hourly updates on your craft. But just a once-in-a-while, when-you’re-working-on-it post is all your fellow crafters need to know that you’re invested.

I also am hosting a new swap starting Monday May 4 (follow the hashtag #MuppetCraftSwap!) and I keep thinking to myself that I hope my new swap is full of really active swappers. I know that this could be an insanely fun swap to be part of, but I want you passive swappers to really think before you join it, or any swap really. Will you take the time to make a mosaic for your partner? Will you take the time to post those much-appreciated progress pictures? I hope you’ll at least consider it.

Please follow the hashtag for my other swap, #favoritedesignerswap. And follow me, @tessaraewilliams.

If you made it to the end of this post, you’re a champ!

5 thoughts on “Active vs. Passive Swappers

  1. Kitty Nowack says:

    This is a great post. I’m new to swapping and a few of my partners are really passive to even non existent. Even with stalking and reading and re-reading their questionnaires I still don’t know if they’ll like what I’ve done. It’s just so frustrating.


  2. Kimberly says:

    I am currently in a couple of swaps and one of my partners posted a mosaic and then nothing. As a result, I am unmotivated to create for her, the project is due to ship in a week, I’m not done yet, but did get motivated to get ‘er done, not from my less than inspiring partner, but by the likes and sweet comments on my progress pictures on IG. I love doing swaps, but sometimes I do wonder why some people even join them.


  3. Karen says:

    A great post! I understand your issues! It is not always easy with swaps. We all have some of the same issues about flakes and giving thanks. A good thing my fellow swap mama is that she implemented with our pillow swap creating a mosaic when you registered for the swap…you had to make it beforehand! Good luck!


  4. Oh, my goodness. This is ringing so so true for me! I have 4 partners who just have shop fronts as their IG & for 3 of them, there’s nothing personal on their accounts at all – just items for sale, not even witty captions that let me get a feel for their personalities. Then I have 2 other partners who have not posted a mosaic, a craft they’re making, nothing other than extremely sporadic pictures of their food. I know all but one of these swaps these people are in had a rule about posting a mosaic and posting progress pics, so it’s super frustrating. I’ve basically deigned myself to just fulfilling the basics for those swaps and not do extras or try to put my heart & soul into it. Everyone thinking about joining a swap needs to read this!

    – @heatherleanne


  5. […] Because it’s important to me, and because I enjoy it, I put a lot of thought and effort into making my gifts unique to my partner. This aspect might not be a reason other people join craft swaps, and because of that may not put as much effort into it as others. Also, because I prefer partners with detailed answers, I try and give detailed answers myself. Some people don’t have this preference, so they don’t put as much effort into their forms. We’ve all gotten that vague partner; the one who puts the bare minimum into their entry form answers. Sometimes they skip answering some questions altogether. Sometimes these people also put little effort into giving any more information through Instagram for the rest of the swap. I’ve written more on what I think about these passive swappers here. […]


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