Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Easiest Boxes on Atlas Quest!


So I've heard the complaints for years about people going out to hunt down a several boxes and coming home with absolutely nothing to show for their efforts. It's frustrating and annoying, and I've been pondering for years how to help alleviate that problem... and the solution has finally arrived!

This feature will have you turning your frowns into smiles
and turbo-charging your F-counts!!! Angel Winks gives the
feature one thumb up, but only because she's holding a
letterbox she found with the other thumb!

Now, every box on AQ goes through a complex calculation to determine how likely you are to find a specific box. It takes in all sorts of data including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • The status of the box
  • How many strikes it has
  • How long its been since it was found
  • Your previous success rate at finding boxes (the find vs. attempt ratio)
  • The success rate previous people have found finding the given box
  • Your experience level
  • If you often have help finding boxes
  • How recently the clue has been updated
  • How long the box has been known to survive
  • The rating people have given the box
  • Keywords used in the comments for the box (lots of cuss words, for instance, means that it was probably hard to find or that it wasn't found at all)
  • Last login date of the person who owns the box
  • How many people and who is ignoring the box
  • Local weather conditions for the box
  • Whether fires or floods have affected the area recently

It's a pretty extensive list--part of the reason it's taken me so long to implement. That, and I needed a little refresher course for calculus to make sure the regression analysis is correct. It's been a long time since I needed to use calculus for anything--and it annoys the heck of me that my high school calculus teacher was right when he said I'd be using this stuff in the future. (I argued that it was pointless--there's no way I'd ever need calculus in "real life." But I'm sure Mr. Cross is getting the last laugh now.)

But I digress.... 

A small sub-set of premium members have been helping test the new feature for the past month or two to make sure it actually worked well. AQ would predict the changes of them finding a box, then they'd report their successes and failures and compared it to AQ's predictions. Even I was surprised at the results with a 99.92% success rate! (And I'm still not entirely convinced that Wassa didn't sabotage the one "alleged" failure.)

I realize that some people might be offended if their box is labeled as "impossible" to find because people are too stupid to understand their clues or whatever the case may be, so I planned ahead and group the boxes into easy-to-understand categories that nobody would find offensive:

  • Incredibly easy: These boxes, if you choose to look for them, will have a high chanced of being there and the likelihood of finding it are better than 90%.
  • Super easy: These boxes, if you choose to look for them, will still have a chance of being found, but the chances of success might have fallen below 90%.
  • Very easy: These boxes, if you choose to look for them, will still have a chance of being found, but perhaps a little less than a super easy box. (Maybe somewhere south of 85%.)
  • Easy: These boxes will be the hardest ones to find, and the chances of success might be below 80%.

Another successful hunt by Angel Winks and LaLaBirds!

I've also added a handy-dandy widget which I've added to everyone's My Page which shows the easiest-to-find box on all of Atlas Quest! If you want as close to a sure thing when you go out to find a box, the one listed in the widget is the way to go. There's a better than 99.999% chance of finding the easiest-box-on-AQ. If you've provided your location in your Account Info, then you'll also be provided the easiest-to-find box within 50 miles of your location that will give you at least a 90% success rate. Unfortunately, for sparely populated areas of the country (or world), there may not be any boxes that AQ determines will have at least a 90% success rate of you finding. If the perfect option if you find yourself with some extra time and want to know what box within easy driving distance is the easiest one to find with the highest likelihood of success.

AQ automatically detects even the tiniest changes in the rankings for all boxes every 1/1000th of a second so you never have to worry about the data being out-of-date. Unless, of course, you consider something less than 1/1000th of a second as "out of date."

Anyhow.... you'll see the results of this feature scattered all over the place. They'll show up in several places:
  • On the Advanced Search page, premium members can sort boxes based on how easy they are to find.
  • On a page of search results, you'll see each box color-coded based on how easy it is to find. It's also listed as text for our color blind members. (If the listing is a series, it'll use the results of the easiest-to-find box within the series for the entire series.)
  • On the box details page, you'll see detailed information about how easy the box is to find including the precise chance that you can find the box, and the degree of certainty with a 99% confidence level. (Scroll down to the Series Details information since different boxes within a series may have different results.)
  • On the clue page, it'll just display what category of easiness the box is located in.
  • And, of course, there's the widget on My Page.

A big shout out to everyone who helped (and Wassa) for testing and giving feedback on the feature! I'll accept any and all praise for the feature. Any faults, if you happen to find any, are the fault of the testers for not finding the problem.


"My fingers have never been clean since I started testing this feature!"

-- Wise Wanderer



tinkerbell said...

What a wonderful feature. Can't wait to use it!

moonstone said...

I am all about easy. Good job, Ryan. I always look forward to your new ideas.

Mosaic Butterfly said...

Knowing ahead of time will really help me gauge how much effort the box will take. Sometimes I need easy and sometimes I want a challenge!

Dawnmarie @ EnjoyingtheDays said...

This is the best feature so far for finding letterboxers. Kudos to the team who collaborated to inplemt this feature because who wants to actually have to work to find any boxes? Though, it I may say so, I do think that AQ could improve upon this feature. For example, perhaps you could encourage boxers to simply start leaving boxes at one another's front doors. That would truly help us find the easiest boxes, it would save us money on fuel, save us travel time, AND we could avoid being outside too much because letterboxers are not the kind of people who want fresh air.

christmas6 said...

My easiest box is almost an hour away and I have looked for it with no luck :(

Angel Winks said...

I have been testing this feature for the last several months for GT and it is almost full proof! It's absolutely amazing. I mean, who doesn't want letterboxing to be easy, easy, easy? No effort is the goal, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Best use of calculus ever. Thank you, Ryan!

Wise Wanderer said...

Thanks for doing all the work so we don't have to. Easy has always been the top goal of letterboxing, and now we have it!!

Rocklun said...

Yay! Now that I know that Dingus Dufus's boxes range from super easy to incredibly easy, I'm sure I'll find them with no trouble. Thanks, Ryan!

Blogger said...

Hmmm, you know what today is right... Ryan loves his April Fool's Day... Right!

Anonymous said...

As we long-time boxers get older, we appreciate this feature which will make it easier for us to keep up with the whippersnappers! Thanks, Ryan!


Seagull said...

Dounds incredibly wonderful! Hope it is not an April Fool post!

Kurious Jo said...

It seems like the "Easiest Box Near Home" should be a box that is "Incredibly Easy" rather than than the less easy "Easy". Perhaps the program needs a -1 in there somewhere? :-)

Unknown said...

PlumCrazy...Thanks Ryan.

Siuslaw girl said...

I found a letterbox yesterday April 22nd 2024 Earth Day. It hadn't been found since 2013 was the last log in and it had been there a long time. I live in Springfield Oregon. Siuslaw girl..