Monday, January 26, 2009

Premium Member Rates

Just one last warning--if you're thinking about becoming a premium member on Atlas Quest soon, rates will be going up $3/year next month. If you're already a premium member, you won't see any change--as long as you continue to renew your membership, you'll still get the same rate you've always been paying. But for those of you who are thinking about it or planned to sign up soon, you'll save a few bucks if you join before the end of the month! =)

If you prefer to send a personal check--not to worry, just mail it before the end of the month. Even if it arrives late, I'll still honor the old price so long as it's postmarked by the end of the month.

Happy trails!

-- Ryan

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No More Abandoned Boxes! =)

I'm rather surprised at the number of people who complain about the abandoned status. Seems like it could be useful information, but people complain that they can't adopt such boxes. They complain that boxes that have been found recently and confirmed to still be in play aren't listed as active. They complain that boxes that are known to be gone and missing don't have a status of retired. Strangely, it seems like few people at all actually *like* the abandoned status--everyone prefers to complain about what the status "should" be.

And I realized--that abandoned status really isn't actually necessary. If you all want recently found boxes to be listed as active, fine. I'll make them active. If you want boxes that are known to be missing, fine. I'll list them as retired. And if the boxes may or may not be there but we aren't sure, I'll list them as unknown.

There are over 2,000 abandoned listings on Atlas Quest, and I have no intention of maintaining them all manually, so I've developed a new nightly task for Atlas Quest. It does some number crunching, checking the list of finds and attempts, and makes a best guess for the status of an abandoned listing, setting the status to either active, unknown, or retired. If there's an abandoned box that you want to make sure the status is active, record a find. If there's an abandoned box that you want to make sure the status is retired, record an attempt on it.

No guarantees that you can force the status to active a specific state, however. AQ considers a number of factors, which I'd rather not make public for three reasons:

One, nobody would ever agree on what factors should be used to determine the status of abandoned box listings.

Two, I'll likely be tweaking the calculations used to improve the results over time. Even if I told you what factors were used, it probably won't stay the same!

And three, the more one knows about how it works, the easier it is to "beat the system"--which I'd rather not have people trying to do to force a specific status.

The abandoned status was a fun to try, but seeing as it never seemed especially popular, I'm going to Plan B and having Atlas Quest auto-set the status for abandoned listings.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tempest in a Teapot

Some people feel that finds and attempts are terrible things to share. Mostly due to the fact that I lost my temper, I left it up to a vote to determine whether people could opt out of sharing such details about their boxes, and the idea went down in flames.

Time has passed, and I'm feeling much more rational than during those heated moments. A number of months ago, I finally decided that the option should be there. It likely won't be a popular option seeing as how soundly it had been voted down before, but it's the right thing to do. If it bothers you that you may not be able to see recent attempts or finds on a box, or possibly not even be able to see the last found date of a box, don't look for it.

You can even ignore all of the boxes by people who won't provide such information. Go to their profile, click the "Ignore Member" button in the upper-right corner of the page, and tell Atlas Quest to ignore their boxes in your searches in the future.

You can set this option in your Miscellaneous Preferences. The bottom of the first big box of options. You can hide just the attempts on your box, both the attempts and finds on your boxes, or the most draconian option available--hiding attempts, finds, and the last found date on your boxes.

I also have a challenge for you. =) Trying to hide this information from people who don't want others to see it is a tricky little business. It oozes. It leaks. People will still record finds, and they'll want it to show up in their logbooks as finds.

So I've tried to hide the pertinent information about your own boxes that you don't want shared, but I'm not entirely convinced I found every single possible place where it might have oozed out. So I've currently set my own boxes to hide everything--finds, attempts, and the last found date. I'd like to challenge some of you find some of that information. If I did a good job, you won't be able to find any of that information.

Admins--this challenge does not apply to you. There are certain places were restrictions are relaxed for admins, so you might be able to find data that others can't. =) Also, when it comes to showing finds and attempts, anyone who can edit a box can see the entire list of data, so it doesn't count if you find data on a box that I share with you. Carvers, planters, authors, owners, and listers of my boxes don't get fully restricted from the information, so if you want to participate, you need to find data on a box we don't have in common.

Let me know if you find any leaks anywhere so I can plug them up properly. =)

After a week or so, I'll return my box settings so you can see the attempts, finds, and last found dates. (I don't have a problem with that! I'm only changing my settings for testing purposes!)

Happy trails!

Premium Member Rates

Just as an FYI, I'm planning to raise the premium member rates from $35/year to $38/year at the end of the month. This is for NEW premium members--those who are already premium members, so long as you continue to renew, you'll continue getting the same rate you're currently getting. At this point, I plan to raise rates more-or-less at the rate of inflation every year or two. If I have to pay inflated costs for everything, so does everyone else. ;o) It's now been two years since the last increase, so I figure it's about due for another minor increase--and even then, it only applies to new premium members. All ya' old timers keep your old rates. =)

But I did want to give everyone who's not a premium member fair warning about the upcoming increase so you can lock in the current rates while they last. (Truth be told, however, I'd just as soon prefer y'all sign up next month! *wink*)

The 100-year membership is based on your current price for premium membership if you're already a premium member. If you're a premium member, AQ charges your current yearly rate multiplied by 5, so someone paying $30/year, the 100-year membership would cost 30 x 5 = $150. That won't change. You'd still be paying $30/year, and a 100-year membership would still cost $150.

If, however, you aren't a premium member already, AQ basically charges one year for an annual premium membership, then applies your current rate times five so the rates are applied fairly. Right now, that amounts to $210, but with the rate increase, it becomes $38 + ($38 x 5) = $228. If you want to get the 100-year membership can't afford it now, you can "game the system" sort of speak. Sign up for one year now at $35. Then you'll have a year to pay $35 * 5 = $175 for the hundred year membership. (The total cost being $210, or $18 less than waiting until next month to sign up.)

Clear as mud? =) Long story short--if you want to pay the lower rates, you'll want to become a premium THIS MONTH if you aren't a premium member already. If you buy the one-year premium membership, the cost of it will be applied to the 100 year membership if you choose to do that option later--but at the lower rate you've locked in.

And like I've said already, if you're already a premium member, this message does not apply to you. Just ignore me. =)

Happy trails!