Thursday, October 22, 2009

The "rude" button

There's a new button on the message boards of Atlas Quest, that I affectionately call the "rude" button. Basically, it's to be clicked whenever you think someone's post has crossed a line--it's inappropriate, unnecessarily harsh, or just plain rude. I expect everyone to be civil to each other, and while disagreements are fine, being just plain mean is not.

Unlike the other buttons, you will not see how many people have clicked the rude button--this button is basically for the moderators to keep an eye on potentially problem areas. There's a special widget available only to them that allows them to see which posts are considered the most rude or might require more attention than usual. If you've clicked on it, it'll show a 1 in parenthesis so you can see your own vote--but that's as high as you should ever see the number.

It doesn't show the real counts since there are people on the boards who may think it's funny to click the rude button on posts by people they don't like even if there's nothing at all rude about it. I don't want someone who's abusing the button to be able to hurt the feelings of such people, so only moderators can see the real rude counts. It's really for their use anyhow.

On a related note, AQ does do some extra processing with these clicks. If you do think it's funny to abuse the button by clicking it all over the place, AQ will stop reporting the clicks to moderators. Essentially, if you cry wolf too often, we start ignoring you. =) So if you want your clicks to count for something, it's best not to abuse the feature.

Right now, the rude simply helps keep moderators informed of potentially problems that are brewing. I've thought about adding auto-timeouts for those who regularly cause problems on the message boards, and it may still happen at some point, but for now, it's purely a moderator tool. Regardless of your opinion about a subject or person, however, you are expected to act in a civil manner. Remember that--you don't want to draw the attention of moderators to your posts, and such posts are considerably more likely to do so now.

If you haven't read it yet or it's been awhile, you might want to review the message board's Best Practices. There's always a link for it under the 'Boards' menubar option, and there's good advice in it. Use it. Believe in it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let's Review Some Basics

I got an e-mail this morning about a box that was listed more than a dozen times. It's one of those boxes that gets planted by one person, who then invites everyone who finds it to add a stamp to the box. Which is all fine and good--no problem with that. In fact, it's a lot of fun to see all the additions people add to such a box over time.

The problem happens when everyone who contributes a stamp to the box decides it needs to be listed on Atlas Quest. The thing is--it's still just one box. It doesn't matter how many stamps are in it--it's just one box.

So I fixed the listings by changing the "traditional" boxes into "other" boxes. This has two distinct advantages. One, everyone's P and F-counts stay accurate. (Or at least more accurate than they otherwise would be.) And two, it keeps the search results from getting cluttered up with multiple listings of the same box over and over and over again.

I posted about the change to the state board it was applicable figuring everyone in that area should know what was going on and, in the future, to list mere stamp listings as "other" boxes rather than full-fledged "traditional" boxes.

Wow--throughout the rest of the day, I've been getting a blizzard of messages pointing out other boxes that were similarly listed incorrectly, and have been fixing them as fast as the reports come in. Boxes in Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, yadda, yadda, yadda. Who knows how many more reports I'll get before the dust settles.

One thing I've learned, however, is that this problem is much more widespread than I thought! It's happening all over the country!

So I'd like to set the record straight. It doesn't matter how many stamps are in a box--it should be listed as just ONE traditional box. If you feel that it's absolutely necessary to list the individual stamp contributions, you can do so either in the clue itself or by listing the stamps as "other" boxes, which is actually the most accurate listing for such boxes.

To make it easier for people to record finds on all of the "other" boxes, you have two options. One is to create a massive series of "other" boxes, though technically it'll throw off the "other" P and F-counts. Seeing as there are no standards for what counts as an "other," it's not like counting "others" has much meaning anyhow, however. It is more work for the person who created the original box, however, having to add new listings every time a new contribution is added.

The other option is to create an "other tracker" that's open to everyone, then in the clues for your box link to the tracker with the instructions that they can join the tracker and add their "other" box to the list. That'll make it much easier for people to find a single list of all stamp contributions, and each person is responsible for adding their own contributions to the list if they choose to.

It doesn't really much matter to me, but the one thing that DOES matter to me is that anytime multiple stamps are tucked away into the same box, it should be listed as a single traditional box.

If you've planted or found such boxes, you might notice that your official P and F counts may have gone down--in some cases, by as many as 40 or more. Sorry about that, but be honest with yourselves. You didn't really find that many boxes in the first place--you found one box with that many stamps, and now your counts will reflect that.

So please, in the future, let's be more careful about distinguishing between planting a real, honest-to-goodness letterbox and merely adding a stamp to an already existing box. If you've planted such a box, it might be a good idea to explicitly state in the clues that anyone who adds a contribution to the box should list their stamp as an "other" to make sure anyone who adds to the box knows how to list it correctly. There's obviously been a lot of confusion over the matter, so as a planter, help your finders by explaining how to add their contributions correctly.