Sunday, March 21, 2010

Swap Rulz

There just has to be rules. If no rules, chaos would ensue and nothing would be accomplished. This applies to the letterboxing world, as well.

Every so often, on our favorite letterboxing website, a situation develops that we not-so-affectionately call a 'black hole'. A black hole is when one or more 'boxers mail items, be it postal letterboxes or LTCs (Letterboxer Trading Cards) to a host or ring participant with the agreement that they will fulfill their end of the bargain (sending out the swap or mailing the postal along) and they fail. The items are lost into the black hole with little hope of resurfacing. Contact with the suspected black hole is limited or non-existent, causing much distress to all involved. Bad stuff.

Sometimes there are perfectly good reasons for black holes - sickness, emergency or unexpected family situations. All those are understandable and excusable, to be sure. But, for the most part what happens is people get overwhelmed or just simply procrastinate, then feel embarrassed to communicate. Unfortunately, avoidance usually makes things worse.

I have lost a good many postals to black holes, and it was one of the reasons I got out of postal letterboxing. Lately, I have been involved in an LTC swap that is just sitting...languishing in a black hole. I have little to no hope of ever seeing the cards I created being shared. My efforts, and those of the other swap participants, seem to not really mean much to the host as they didn't even try to keep their end of the bargain. I can imagine all the little packets of cards lovingly made just sitting in a corner somewhere gathering dust. But, come on...they're just LTCs, right?

I always feel bad when folks post that they are involved in a black hole situation - been there, done that. So, I'd like to suggest some rules - simple really - that if everyone just acknowledged and applied would makes things so much simpler. This is not rocket science, just good common sense and courtesy to all involved. None of these things are asking too much. In fact, doing anything less is inconsiderate and irresponsible, in my view.

When one commits to participate in a swap, they agree to:

1. Create and mail their contribution so the host has it when they request. If the participant cannot, it is their responsibility to let the host know as soon as possible.

2. Send enough postage for their package to get there and to be returned.

3. Package their contribution appropriately and to make sending it back as easy for the host as possible.

4. If the participant is new to swaps, it is their responsibility to find out how things are done prior to signing up to make sure they can meet the commitment.

When one decides to host a swap, they agree to:

1. Be clear on what is expected (theme, packaging, number of cards needed, postage, due date) and provide their address in a timely manner.

2. Be available for questions and input concerning the swap to the participating members, keeping communication open and honest.

3. Be respectful to all participants by not sliding the due date of the swap multiple times or indefinitely - this behavior is grossly unfair to all who made the effort to get their contributions in on time.

4. Sort and mail out the swap when promised. If this is not possible for whatever reason, the participants must be notified of the change, new dates established and promises kept.

Rules are a good thing - they keep things organized and orderly for all. Respect your fellow crafters, treat others the way you want to be treated and build a reputation as a trustworthy 'boxer by keeping the commitments you make.


Mama Cache said...

Well done. Thanks so much for posting.

No one can say that you've ever broken your own rules; I, for one, appreciate that immensely.

Elaine Waters (FourWaters) said...

I have bookmarked your post to refer back to when I do my next ring or trade. I agree 100% with how you feel about our work languishing in a corner somewhere. My cards mean a lot to me, in a very "small" part of my life way. But they still are important.

Ari C'rona said...

I couldn't agree more, my friend. I definitely refrain now from joining swaps with a host that has a less-than-responsible history.

Thanks for stating things so clearly! :o)

Anonymous said...

I feel the frustration! I am wary of doing GAQLBE again, as my last box/logbook/FF prize was mailed to Texas and still not planted almost 9 months later. This person visits AQ nearly everyday, so I know they are not too busy/overwhelmed!

Karen, The 3 Foragers

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