Monday, February 25, 2013

The Letterboxing Police Are Out To Get You

There aren't a lot of rules on Atlas Quest, but there are a few of them. One, for instance, is that you are expected to follow any land manager policies when you plant a letterbox. It seems like a reasonable rule to follow. As letterboxers, I think we should project an image of responsibility and understanding to the rest of the world. We want land managers to support us, and respecting their rules and permit systems, annoying as they might be, is part of this.

For instance, the folks at Disney World have made it very clear that letterboxes are not allowed on their property. Don't complain to me that you don't like this rule--I didn't create this rule. But I will enforce it. I've posted here about that mis-adventure in the past, and I'll likely post about it again. The folks you need to talk to work at Disney. Get them to approve your box and you'll be able to list your boxes here. So hop to it. You probably won't succeed, but that's the only way I'll allow boxes to be listed at Disney World, period.

Another thing that's a big annoyance for people are boxes that are listed improperly--usually event boxes or personal travelers that get listed as traditional boxes, or multiple stamps in the same box being listed individually. These kinds of things clutter up search results and they will be fixed as they come to our attention.

Whine, cry, plead--it doesn't matter. The rules are quite clear--I write them directly into where boxes are added, and I'm not very sympathetic to those who can't or refuse to follow rules. If you don't like the rules, there's another letterboxing website you can use. However, they do have their own set of rules, so you'll need to be careful to follow their own rules.

As a whole, AQ is set up on the honor system. I happen to like the honor system. I'd like to keep the honor system. However, if this is too big of a burden to bear, there's another system that can be implemented. That's how the main geocaching website works: You need to get your boxes approved before they'll be added to AQ. This would help solve a lot of problems with incorrectly listed and deliberately disrespected land manager policies, but I will implement such a system if I feel it becomes necessary.

I don't care if you try to justify invalid listings by pointing to examples of incorrectly listed boxes. Being an honor system, there are people who will take advantage of that and plant boxes legally and incorrectly, and admins will "fix" these listings as they come to our attention. But just because some of them slip through does not make it okay or justified for you to do the same. It's a weak argument, and the kind of excuse a grade school student would give. "But Miss Marple, Jimmy beat up the kid yesterday, so why shouldn't I be allowed to do so today?" Sounds absurd, don't you think? It happens a lot when it comes to incorrectly listed boxes, though, and I'll say this right now: It's not an excuse that will work.

So let's review:

* If you want to plant a box somewhere, check the Land Manager's Policies on letterboxing. You are expected to follow them, and if you do not, your box may be deleted with little or no warning at any time if it comes to the attention of an administrator.
* A traditional letterbox is one that is hidden and requires clues for most people people to find. The clues do not have to be listed on AQ to count as clues, and statements such as "look on the table" and such do not count as clues since most people will likely find those boxes even without your half-hearted clues since the boxes aren't actually hidden.
* An event box is typically left out in the open--usually at events--that anyone who happens across is welcome to sign into and stamp. These may or may not have clues involved. Usually, if they have clues, it's because there's a lock or some sort of trick to access the stamp, but the box itself isn't actually hidden. (Hidden in "plain sight" does not count as "hidden.")
* A personal traveler is typically kept in your possession at all times and people who want it must find you in order to acquire the box. These often do have a clue--some sort of requirement before you can stamp in.
* Atlas Quest supports boxes, not stamps. From a practical standpoint, I don't bother wasting my time enforcing this rule for anything except traditional boxes, but technically speaking, an event box with multiple stamps should only be listed on AQ as one box. I know darned well that most people list every stamp in the box, and while I don't enforce this rule for event boxes (for now), I think it sets a bad example for traditional boxes (which I will enforce), and  if the day comes when I do decide to enforce this rule, as long as you're following the rules, it's not something you'll have to worry about in the future.
* Do not list boxes publicly that have not yet been planted. It clutters up the search results with boxes people can't find and such listing can and will be deleted as we come across them. There is a special type called reserved that you can use to "pre-list" boxes ahead of time. This keeps them out of the search results of other people until the box is ready to go live.
* If you create an event stamp that you later use as a traditional box or vice-versa, or a personal traveler that sometimes works as an event box, or whatever variation of the "it used to be X and now it's a Y" type of box, the proper way to list these types of situations is to list every type of box it was used as so people can record the type of box that they actually found. List it as both a traditional box and an event box (if that's what they were), so people who found it as a traditional box can record it as a traditional box and those who found it as an event box can record it as an event box. And retire the type that's its no longer being used as--obviously, both an event box and a traditional box can't be active at the same time, and they shouldn't be.

Follow these rules. If you see friends who aren't following these rules, encourage them to do so. If these became a big enough issue, I will implement options so all new listings will require moderators to approve all new box listings--and I don't think anyone wants to see that happening.


Jimmy said...

Wow, someone must have woke up on the wrong side of the bed with their panties in a wad. :)

BBStacker said...

Pretty strong message. There must be a few out there that are not with the program. Hopefully they'll shape up and stay that way because once AQ requires permission to plant a box I'll probably start a new hobby.

judithandsparky said...

Hi, Ryan! I hope it's just a few bad apples that are being a pain. It has always seemed to me that "da rules" are very simple and easy to follow but there are always some that think they can be the exception.

Anonymous said...

I'd hate for AQ to become a police state. Ryan's the one who runs interference between us and the authorities so let's do what we can to play by the rules. I got a nice email from a park ranger a couple of years ago about a box--it's a real wake-up.

mudflinginfools said...

I like the rules... they help keep things organized. What I don't like is being lumped in with those that don't follow the rules. If you are having issues with a few boxers - go after them. But the rest of us are happy to just sit and mind our own Ps&Qs... most of us respect the rules and play by them - if you have someone that isn't - give them the feedback directly and define the consequences. Good teachers support those that are doing things correctly without bringing down the group for the mis-steps of the few.

Today's word is smile... its all good : )

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making things so clear, and reminding those who need an occasional jolt that their actions impact others. Maybe they didn't know the rules (or didn't read them/) ~ maybe they're just taking liberties because they can, or think they have a good reason ~ maybe something else. Whatever it is, I hear you!

The V's said...

I hear you! Sometimes the truth hurts, and better to make a general comment to the whole community than to call a few out who might get their feelings hurt! I get/got the message! Loud and clear!

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! This is a common thread in conversations I have with fellow boxers and I support your position 1,000%

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said, Ryan. If we're all playing the same game, we should all play by the same rules.

HickoryHusker said...

Caretakers take care. That's what they do. Letterboxing is fortunate to count Ryan as a very good steward. I see nothing wrong with him requesting folks to follow the guidelines that he has had in place for quite a while.

In my opinion he has also simply stated that if you do not wish to follow these very basic rules...there's the door.

If there are those that wish to list their boxes in a different manor... Please list them on a different site.

I have taught school for 23 years, and I am always amazed by those that have the notion, "These rules are all fine and good, but surely they don't apply to me."

I guess I shouldn't be stunned when many of these kiddos grow up and feel the same way about other aspects of their lives.

Anonymous said...

So if we know of a box that is planted in a no trepassing area;we can report that box to you and then you'll take it off aq? Like u do disney boxes.

rnfrog said...

Just to clarify because I don't want to be a "bad apple" If I plant in an allowable spot with a box that hs a story where people add stamps to improve and add to the story the added stamps can't be listed as individual stamps within the box because they are in the same box? I'm a little confused if this is the case because then how do we"credit"the contributers of added stamps?

Ryan said...

You can credit the contributors in your clue, and the people who add a stamp can list the stamp as an "other" box.

-- Ryan