Secret Quonsar: The run-up, the run-down, and general preparation (2010) November 3, 2010 7:35 AM   Subscribe

It's that time of year again! For the past several years, we've enjoyed swapping gifts in a secret Quonsar swap. I'll be organizing it this year (with the help of Indigo Rain, last year's organizer) My goal is to open signups on November 15, and do the ceremonial giftee random draw on (American) Thanksgiving Day, which is November 25th. Before we open the floodgates to this year's Secret Quonsar, there is one outstanding issue we need to resolve.

For new folks, Secret Quonsar is our version of a Secret Santa swap. You sign up, are assigned a fellow Mefite, find them an awesome gift, and ship it off. Shortly thereafter, you get a gift from another Mefite. Thanks are exchanged, and good feelings ensue. The minutiae of it will be revealed in a later post when signups start.

The outstanding issue: Last year, we did one big International swap, which concerned some people who felt that shipping costs halfway around the world were prohibitive. They strongly suggested that we divide up the swapping into super-regional or even national areas; Other people really liked the fact they could send and receive gifts from anywhere around the world and wanted that true randomness.

Over the summer, I spent a good amount of time trying to find a gift swap tool (we've been using Elfster the past few years) that would allow and handle the kind of complexity that allowing a geographical preference would add. I could not find one, probably because we're an edge case. This means that if we pursued the idea of regional swaps, we would either have to split it up into multiple swap groups (e.g. Everyone and Australia/NZ/Oceania only and/or Europe only and/or Americas only and/or[other region/breakdown]), or someone (I) would have to do the complex sorting and assignation by hand. Both solutions have their pros and cons, and I would like to open it up to discussion among folks who are thinking about participating. I'm specifically interested in: Is this still an issue? What breakdown of groups is reasonable? What threshold of people makes an individual group viable? Are there other aspects I'm missing?
posted by julen to MetaFilter-Related at 7:35 AM (83 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Would it be possible just to have something you could check to indicate your preference? One option would be people open to international shipping, and the other would be to people who aren't. People who aren't then would have their quonsar selected from other members in their country. People who select international would have the joy of possibly receiving a package from a distant land, several months after Christmas*

* Secret Quonsar: The randomness is a bug. And a feature!
posted by Ghidorah at 7:45 AM on November 3, 2010


Maybe do the US one using elfster, and do the International one (which would include US people who are willing to ship anywhere) by hand? Each international person would specify whether they are willing to ship outside their country.
posted by smackfu at 7:46 AM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Not that I have a huge problem with shipping internationally, but gifts tend to show up in late January.)
posted by smackfu at 7:47 AM on November 3, 2010


Oops! I wasn't clear: Elfster doesn't support the geographical specification. It's a one setting fits all, so you have no control over geography; that's something we'd have to have multiple swap groups or me do it by hand to do.
posted by julen at 7:51 AM on November 3, 2010


I have coordinated many swaps that involved international mailing issues. There isn't an easy answer. People in the US tend to outnumber the people not in the US, so the swap pool is immediately smaller just by that division; if the non-US pool then gets broken down regionally, there may be only a few people participating in, say, the SE Asia group. That's OK for some folks, but others get really bothered by knowing their gift came from one of five or six other people. That said, I know participating in our swaps was tough for non-US people since there were fewer of them, so it was more likely that random draw meant that they'd have to mail outside of their home countries than it was for US participants. I tried to match regionally where I could unless someone told me specifically "I don't care about postage".

tl;dr - I think you'd have to do it by hand. Individual groups should probably be at least 10 people if possible, if surprise is a key factor, but fewer is OK if cost is really an issue for shipping in a particular area. You might lose participants either way, so you could run two swaps, but that's too much work unless you get a partner organizer.
posted by catlet at 7:56 AM on November 3, 2010


Can you make different Elfster groups? Like, instead of Metafilter Secret Quonsar, there's:

1. MFSQ International/Free-for-all
2. MFSQ US Only
3. MFSQ Europe Only
4. MFSQ Asia Only
5. MFSQ Oceania Only
6. I was not represented here/I am a researcher on Antarctica, please contact julen directly.

We can decide on exactly what regional groups are best, this was just a rough draft.
posted by phunniemee at 8:00 AM on November 3, 2010 [16 favorites]


I don't know if I'll participate, but I think phunniemee's suggested approach sounds the most practical, assuming Elfster won't object to a single organization using multiple groups.
posted by kalessin at 8:21 AM on November 3, 2010


Were any of the people speaking against international shipping costs not in the US?

It might make things a lot simpler to have 2 categories: US only and free for all. It would avoid there being only be 5 people in the Asia only category, for example.
posted by fontophilic at 8:29 AM on November 3, 2010


But then again, I think the global scale of the swap, even if I've gotta fork out $20 to ship something, is the whole appeal of something like this and would jump into the FFA category.
posted by fontophilic at 8:31 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Elfster apparently allows draw restrictions. (I've never done this before, never even looked at Elfster before, but I just looked at their FAQ to see how they work and this was right in there.) Could this be somehow utilized for our purposes? Anybody who doesn't want to draw an international person just put a draw restriction on all the international participants?

(I've never done Secret Quonsar before, am very tempted to participate this year, but I'm in a situation right now that requires me to be extremely careful about my spending, so I'd be in the "concerned about international shipping/mailing costs" camp.)
posted by Gator at 8:37 AM on November 3, 2010


Were any of the people speaking against international shipping costs not in the US?

Customs is also a bit tricky and causes delays and such. Like phunniemee left Canada out, but Canadians might want their own group to avoid having to send and receive everything across the border.
posted by smackfu at 8:50 AM on November 3, 2010


fontophilic: "Were any of the people speaking against international shipping costs not in the US?

Yes. I remember both Australians and Canadians being concerned, and it being mentioned by folks in Pacific Rim and European countries.

Gator: "Elfster apparently allows draw restrictions. Could this be somehow utilized for our purposes? Anybody who doesn't want to draw an international person just put a draw restriction on all the international participants?"

It would have to be done on an individual user basis. This would a) require Every User knowing who is not from your country (contact info is/can be hidden) or who is from a country that would be less costly to ship to, and b) a lot of work for individuals to do, particularly in regards to signups after you initially restricted people. I think that feature is a non-starter for practical reasons.
posted by julen at 8:55 AM on November 3, 2010


I think phunniemee's suggestion sounds best. Personally, I think part of the excitement is my gift could come from anywhere!! — and I could send a gift to anywhere. I do think it's good to have the option available to restrict it to your region, for those with less of a desire to spend their hard-earned cash on international shipping.
posted by good day merlock at 9:11 AM on November 3, 2010


I just seems kind of silly to spend $10 in shipping on a $15 swap.
posted by smackfu at 9:16 AM on November 3, 2010


Secret quonsar
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:28 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't care about postage.
posted by ColdChef at 9:28 AM on November 3, 2010


I also think phunniemee's suggestion sounds best - it allows the more price sensitive folks to the opportunity to play, and I think that's swell!
posted by stoneweaver at 9:40 AM on November 3, 2010


Wouldn't that make for much smaller pools of people from whom you might receive gifts, though? Sorry if I'm missing something, like I said I've never done this before. If I join the "US only" group, there'd be zero chance I'll receive some cute surprise from someone in another country who has no shipping concerns, right?
posted by Gator at 9:46 AM on November 3, 2010


It is extra special to get a gift from across the big pond. Hi and thanx again, knapah!

And it helps with my cool factor to my mailman.

If it isn't too much aggravation to the organizers, I think phunniemee's suggestion is great.

Thanks julen and IndigoRain!
posted by readery at 10:13 AM on November 3, 2010


I'll be participating this year again and I'm in the "I don't care about postage" camp, but I think phunniemee's suggestion appears to be best to accommodate the differing opinions.
posted by Julnyes at 10:15 AM on November 3, 2010


Wouldn't that make for much smaller pools of people from whom you might receive gifts, though?

It's not really a pool but more of a chain, so you only need three people to make it work.
posted by smackfu at 10:20 AM on November 3, 2010


In the interest of keeping the number of options manageable, how practical would it be to allow a binary "Only match me with someone from my own country" selection? Most of the objections I read above sounded like customs issues and, oh by the way, shipping costs... Doing it regionally would presumably address the latter, but not the former at all. Those concerned by those things would be able to limit the expense; everyone else would simply be entered into the pool as in the past.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:36 AM on November 3, 2010


I don't care about postage either. Maybe the division should be between the don't cares and do cares.

Also, cannot wait to be an SQ again.
posted by bearwife at 10:46 AM on November 3, 2010


So sorry, I totally didn't address this issue at all in my monster memail to you just now. I think that the most accommodating way to set up a swap like this (where it's a snaky chain of single swappers, not a group or a 1-to-1 situation (right?)) where there are folks who'd prefer to swap a certain way, would be to offer categories and then require as a condition of sign-up for swappers to choose a category.

My list of categories would look like this:

North America
Latin/South America
Europe
Asia/Australia
Worldwide

If someone only wants to swap regionally, then they pick a region. If they don't care, then they pick 'Worldwide'. So as people sign up and choose a category you can sort them into those general groups and it's only a matter of doing the matching within each group. I'd say 'NO' to people who only want to swap in-country up front as part of the rules, then work to accommodate complainers and special requests. It's easier to set the exception early and deal with the people who can't handle it than to offer special favors for all participants.
posted by carsonb at 11:12 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course, that's based on my by-hand approach to the music swap. I've never even heard of Elfster. It seems like this type of swap would be a lot easier to do by hand than the swapset type, fwiw.
posted by carsonb at 11:16 AM on November 3, 2010


My vote is what Phunniemee said but I, personally, have no problem shipping to anywhere in the world.

Why?

1. I live in the land of Santa Claus, just 8 hours away by train

2. He doesn't bitch about where the good kids live.

Just sayin'...
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:21 AM on November 3, 2010


I'd say 'NO' to people who only want to swap in-country up front as part of the rules, then work to accommodate complainers and special requests. It's easier to set the exception early and deal with the people who can't handle it than to offer special favors for all participants.

This reads a little asshole-ish. What I mean is that the music swap announcement thread contains a big ol' instructions/FAQ/guidelines/rules/etc. that explicitly point out that there are lots of US swappers and then several others scattered around the world. The 'NO' I'm talking about above takes form as 'International swappers will be evenly distributed amongst the swapsets, which means US swappers will likely have to ship 1 or 2 cds overseas and all INTL swappers will likely be sending lots of packages to the US.' This keeps the snowflake requests to a minimum because it narrows the options to SWAP and NO-SWAP right at the start. THEN, when I get the inevitable complaint/request to not ship overseas, I can likely accommodate the lonely snowflake.
posted by carsonb at 11:25 AM on November 3, 2010


I love SQ and can't wait for this year's. I also won't worry about postage, although phunniemee's and carsonb's regions seem seem like a good idea.
posted by angiep at 11:52 AM on November 3, 2010


Quonsar me, please!!

(Why is it called Quonsar? What is the history? My user number should indicate my lack of knowledge. There is a reason it is called Quonsar, no?)

I am willing to ship anywhere.
posted by zizzle at 12:10 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also do not mind paying extra for postage.
posted by spec80 at 12:23 PM on November 3, 2010


My gift will be the postage.
posted by maxwelton at 12:32 PM on November 3, 2010


i am in canada. i don't care about the cost of postage, but i do care that my package actually make it to it's destination (and vice versa). (maybe this is just an etsy thing but) the last three things i have ordered from american sellers on etsy have not arrived. various exhaustive arguments with the post office have not solved this issue. in summary: i would like to participate but only in my own country.
posted by janepanic at 12:47 PM on November 3, 2010


The Yog-Sothoth forums are doing Secret Shoggoth. But Secret Quonsar is even funnier.
posted by Zed at 1:09 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with zizzle. Why is it called Quonsar and not quonsar?
posted by found missing at 1:14 PM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Julien, thank you for organizing this awesome event.
posted by theora55 at 1:32 PM on November 3, 2010


quonsar?
posted by chairface at 1:42 PM on November 3, 2010


Ah, quonsar.
posted by chairface at 1:45 PM on November 3, 2010


Back in the day, quonsar was the fourth estate of mefi.
posted by found missing at 1:45 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't think of any way to do it that doesn't involve a lot of manual work, but I like the idea of having an "I'm willing to maybe pay a bunch of shipping charges in exchange for the chance to get something extra cool from another country" group and an "I am not willing to pay ridiculous shipping charges, in-country swap only plz" group.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:50 PM on November 3, 2010


I hate the idea of sticking non-US Quonsarites into a series of special little gifting ghettos. It seems neither friendly nor inclusive of the whole community.

Is there some reason the budget can't be $10 or $20 or whatever including postage? If your gift giver happens to be nearby, the postage won't be much; if your giftee happens to be overseas, find something awesome that fits in a small envelope and ship for very few bucks.

In other words: don't ship bricks to Antarctica and you should be OK, no? Can we not solve this with guidelines that work for everyone rather than special rules for people in "special" places?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:42 PM on November 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


I hate the idea of sticking non-US Quonsarites into a series of special little gifting ghettos.

I'm pretty sure that hasn't been suggested. The idea behind offering categories like phunniemee's or mine is that anyone who wants to swap regionally can do that, everyone else goes in the regular 'MFSQ International/Free-for-all/Worldwide' group.
posted by carsonb at 2:58 PM on November 3, 2010


Well, I am very excited.

That is all.
posted by functionequalsform at 3:56 PM on November 3, 2010


I, too, wish to Quons again.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:12 PM on November 3, 2010


Is there some reason the budget can't be $10 or $20 or whatever including postage?

Postage for < 2kg delivery to the US with DHL from Germany: EUR 13,90 = $19,60, so that might be tricky, even if the gift fits into a padded envelope < 2cm of height it's still over $8. I don't really care about postage and I participated in the music swap in the past, but I can see why it might be an issue for people.
posted by starzero at 4:35 PM on November 3, 2010


Is there some reason the budget can't be $10 or $20 or whatever including postage?

In my experience, the harder you make it to mail the thing, the less chance you will get a gift back in return. Even in our lovely MeFi community, there are a bunch of deadbeats.
posted by smackfu at 4:49 PM on November 3, 2010


I get that it might sorta suck to feel like you're being shunted off into the "International" ghetto. But for some people, the cost of postage is completely prohibitive. Sure, for some people the extra $20 might not mean anything, but there are a lot of people for whom that's the difference between being able to participate and not being able to. This isn't a phantom economic consideration, it's a real one. People can still make the choice to be in the free for all if they want. But otherwise, it's really swell to have the opportunity to get to play at all.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:53 PM on November 3, 2010


DarlingBri: " Is there some reason the budget can't be $10 or $20 or whatever including postage? If your gift giver happens to be nearby, the postage won't be much; if your giftee happens to be overseas, find something awesome that fits in a small envelope and ship for very few bucks. "

I think in the past we've left that up to your discretion, whether or not the $10 or $15 included postage or not. Are we bumping it to $20 this year?

I'm leaning towards Carsonb's suggestion that it's assumed everyone is ok to ship worldwide unless they otherwise specify. But Julen and I will talk it over some more, I'm sure.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:17 PM on November 3, 2010


I have an idea. Back when I was a poor undergrad i used to make collages for friends birthday's based on what I knew about them. One was even done on an opened out roll from the toilet paper.

Those who end up with a SQ that's international and prohibitive could get creative electronically with all the freemium stuff available online and make something nice - music? a mixMP3? a song? a blog post? a flickr set? hm?
posted by The Lady is a designer at 5:29 PM on November 3, 2010


stoneweaver: Sure, for some people the extra $20 might not mean anything, but there are a lot of people for whom that's the difference between being able to participate and not being able to.

Please read my post. I specifically said "$10 or $20 or whatever including postage." Including. Meaning that you would spend no more than $20 or whatever this year's budget is including the postage.

I am not insensitive to budget issues. As far as I know the amount set for Quonsar has always been an upper limit and not a guideline. These are supposed to be small gifts to brighten someone's holiday season; you certainly do not have to spend the limit. Write a poem. Upload a song. Make a collage. Send origami ornaments. Make badges. Print a photo. Craft a handful of bookmarks. Great stuff can fit in a regular mailing envelope.

You can also buy online in the recipient's country for direct delivery, use Amazon or Etsy, or source from a seller with international postage included. (FWIW all my online Quonsars have been international shipping for me and I have always worked it out. OK so sending baked goods isn't an option but I think my giftees have been happy.)


starzero: Postage for < 2kg delivery to the US with DHL from Germany: EUR 13,90

So why would you ship DHL? Ship regular Deutche Post.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:49 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just a note: I have a list of gifting scofflaws from last year and they can't participate this year. Thanks to our lovely volunteer second Gifters, most of their recipients got gifts (one or two declined a second shot) later, but I took notes about people we heard about not following through. I'm just like Santa in that way.

Hopefully, with a slightly longer purchase-and-send period and stronger "hey, if you can't participate after all, let us know!" messaging, we'll have little to no need of the volunteers this time.
posted by julen at 6:05 PM on November 3, 2010


I'm excited about this!!!
posted by jeoc at 6:59 PM on November 3, 2010


just wanted to say thanks for organizing! i love Secret Quonsar.
posted by gursky at 8:58 PM on November 3, 2010


Don't make it regional, that would suck for those of us in small, out of the way regions. As it is I'm basically certain to only ever swap with someone in the US (which is actually fine, just kind of boring eventually). Just make two swaps, one for people in the US who don't want to post internationally, one for everyone else. If there are enough people in other regions that want to only post in that region then they can set up an extra swap, but it's probably just a handful so not worth automating.

Any yeah, the monetary limit should be for everything including postage and is definitely an upper limit rather than a suggested ballpark. It's not that hard if you think about it a little. Last year the gift I sent cost exactly US$15 including international postage, and that's given I live somewhere with a weak currency and a long way away. My sister lives in Scotland and for my birthday she sent me an awesome bookmark, it arrived in a normal envelope and postage cost her something like a pound.
posted by shelleycat at 10:14 PM on November 3, 2010


a) I would like to be a secret quonsar.
b) Presumably we find out on or around Nov25 (whenever the draw happens) who our giftee will be. And is there a date by when gifts are supposed to be mailed?
posted by bardophile at 2:02 AM on November 4, 2010


I don't mind posting internationally again (in fact, I just ordered something online and had it shipped directly to my Quonsee), but my great hope this year is that my Quonsar doesn't forget me again :-(.
posted by ukdanae at 2:25 AM on November 4, 2010


Couldn't we possibly just have a MeTa post for people to swap if they got a location they couldn't ship to? People could post that they'd like to trade and then MeMail each other? Or is that too chaotic?
posted by maryr at 8:16 AM on November 4, 2010


I am very excited. And would suggest that people self-select into groups. For those much hyped 6 participants in SE Asia, they should be warned that "regional" means they will only have a small pool sending to them, and "international" means they likely will be sending their thing abroad.
posted by arnicae at 9:10 AM on November 4, 2010


I don't care where you are, you'll get my gift before December 25th...


That is not a threat.


... it's a warning.
posted by Elmore at 10:37 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I did this last year, but I never received anything in return.
posted by at the crossroads at 11:38 AM on November 4, 2010


I received great stuff last year, and would like to do this again. never heard if my thingy made it to its recipient, though.
posted by maxwelton at 1:38 PM on November 4, 2010


Elmore, this December 25th of which you speak... Has that some special... "significance" in all of this?
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 1:38 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I'm so sorry to hear that people didn't get gifts last year that we couldn't resolve or didn't know about. Hopefully that won't happen this year as we apply lessons learned (getting an earlier start and ship by date, making some sort of geographical change, etc). If you don't get a gift in a reasonable amount of time this year, we'll be happy to follow up on your behalf. And once again, we'll be keeping a list of jerks and cads.

I'm currently looking into 2 solutions for handling the two levels of Swapping: the International anyone anywhere variety and one that allows for trading within a region or country only. I'm pretty optimistic. What I'm hearing here and in mail is that people are less interested in regions than in country-only (shipping to another country isn't particularly less expensive if it's in a region than halfway around the world). They/you are concerned variously about shipping costs, dealing with customs issues, being able to be confident that a gift makes it to the recipient, love your countrymen to the extent you wish you could send them all presents, etc.

When we formally open sign-ups, we'll have a full list of guidelines, dates, reminders that people who failed to send a gift last year can not participate (and it will be enforced), some broad, common sense gift guidelines, and the like. I'll also ask the mods to sidebar it so people will know it's happening.
posted by julen at 4:52 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Julen may be the best thing that's happened to Secret Quonsar. :)
posted by IndigoRain at 6:03 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll do it! I'm in the UK but am happy to ship worldwide as long as it's not too heavy. I'm super busy in the run-up to Christmas but I work near a post office. I like the idea of being able to send things that can't be gotten where they're going.


As long as it's not haggis, we can't post that overseas.
posted by mippy at 4:27 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good News! Peter, the CEO of Elfster, and his team contacted me and have a way to handle this.

People who want to swap within their country would put the name of their country in parentheses after your signup name/handle when signing up to Elfster - e.g. Morris the Cat (Costa Rica). People who don't want to swap within their country would just enter their handle - e.g. Fred the Cat.

Then, just before the automatic draw goes, I can go through and set restrictions so that everyone who specifies (Canada) gets Canadian-dwellers, everyone who specifies (US) gets US-dwellers, everyone who specifies (Australia) gets Australia-dwellers, etc.

This means that if you are the only person from your country to want to do the in-country only swap, you will not be assigned to anyone and will have to wait until next year.

If you do not put anything in parentheses, I will assume you are participating in the Will-send-anywhere International swap (which, thanks to the randomness factor, may mean that you get picked by the guy down the street).

I'll explain this again when I open up signups in mid-November!

P.S. Gator, you were right and I was wrong. I apologize!
posted by julen at 6:07 AM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


So if I specify (US), I might still have a chance of receiving something from a foreign land? It's only a one-way restriction? If so, very cool.
posted by Gator at 6:14 AM on November 5, 2010


That is very superduper cool! Thanks julen and Peter!
posted by stoneweaver at 10:15 AM on November 5, 2010


So if I specify (US), I might still have a chance of receiving something from a foreign land? It's only a one-way restriction? If so, very cool.

Oh, no, game theory! If everyone values international gifts over domestic ones, but wants to minimize their own costs, everyone will put their country. But then no one will send international gifts, so no one benefits...
posted by smackfu at 10:25 AM on November 5, 2010


So if I specify (US), I might still have a chance of receiving something from a foreign land? It's only a one-way restriction? If so, very cool.

As someone basically guaranteed to be sending internationally I don't like this. I'm not even sure why, it doesn't really matter where the other person is sending and I'm not keeping score. It just seems like I'm going to a lot of extra trouble for someone who, well, isn't. Still, this solution does work better than setting up different swaps and in the end there is no perfect solution. So might as well choose the least unperfect!

Personally I still don't see how you're all spending $20 on postage anyway. I buy stuff from the US all the time so have an idea of just how big things need to be to cost that much going by basic USPS. Seems like a lack of imagination really, small things are just as much fun as chunky ones.
posted by shelleycat at 2:55 PM on November 5, 2010


Gator: "So if I specify (US), I might still have a chance of receiving something from a foreign land? It's only a one-way restriction? If so, very cool."

No, it's going to be a 2 way restriction; if you specify your country you will only send to and receive from people in that country. If you are the only person to specify your own country, you will not be matched, and you would have to live vicariously through other's gifting odysseys.
posted by julen at 7:26 PM on November 5, 2010


Will the forms have usernames or, even better, a little blurb with what the person likes on it? It might help avoid rubbish generic presents.
posted by mippy at 5:16 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


This makes me so happy. I work at home now, and yet I don't have to miss the secret-x awesomeness!
posted by freshwater at 1:49 PM on November 6, 2010


mippy: "Will the forms have usernames or, even better, a little blurb with what the person likes on it? It might help avoid rubbish generic presents."

Yes. You are encouraged to put your username in the box next to your real name (or put your real name in the Line 1 of the Address Box, and thus your address in Line 2, if you want to keep your real name hidden) and there is a place on Elfster for you to both link your online wishlists, or simply state what kinds of things you like. Also you are encouraged to stalk your giftee's Mefi profile for their interests.

Last year, quite frustratingly, my giftee didn't list any kind of interests, and I ended up sending a bunch of novelties from Archie McPhee.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:17 PM on November 6, 2010


For once I didn't miss the Quonsar thread! Totally signing up the second this goes live!

And I'm a boring American! I live on the East Coast, so that's faster-than-average for roughly half the country, and perfectly reasonable for the other half if I ship via Priority.

Anyway, I consider region anywhere in the US and maybe Canada (Canada's just, what, $5 more?). But if your algorithm is more regional, that's cool, too. But not too regional. I might know some of these people from meetups, which would make it less interesting than finding something great for a stranger you only know via web comments.

And is it a faux pas to enter your sockpuppet, too, even if he is willing to send another gift? Sorry if that's a dumb question.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:48 PM on November 6, 2010


I am so in on this. I love the idea, and seeeeekrit gifts are the best ever.
posted by bibliogrrl at 12:44 PM on November 7, 2010


Last year, quite frustratingly, my giftee didn't list any kind of interests, and I ended up sending a bunch of novelties from Archie McPhee.

I have been trying to remember the name of this AMAZING catalog we used to get when I was much younger, and it's been driving me up the wall for about a month now. It was Archie McPhee. THANK YOU IndigoRain! You have saved me from a certain nervous break down.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:04 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


mccarty.tim: "And is it a faux pas to enter your sockpuppet, too, even if he is willing to send another gift? Sorry if that's a dumb question."

I'm not going to ban them, but I would encourage folks to participate only once in the swap. If the urge for gifting is great, you might want to consider volunteering to be a second-chance gifter, if someone flakes out and their recipient doesn't get a gift. You won't get anything in return but good feelings, the triumph of finding an excellent gift, and the satisfaction of knowing other people's experiences were a net good.

On the other hand, no one is going to flake this year, and everyone's gifts will arrive to shouts of delight and holiday-related egotism ("Mine! MINE! MINE MINE MINE!") and volunteers will be unnecessary. Right?
posted by julen at 7:07 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to play! julen, I hope you'll post a reminder on Nov 15 that sign-ups are open...because some of us (e.g., me) might be a bit forgetful...
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:16 PM on November 12, 2010


*cough*
Are we signing up today?
posted by Madamina at 11:18 AM on November 15, 2010


yes!
posted by julen at 5:00 PM on November 15, 2010


Do you mind adding a quonsar, gift, exchange and swap tag here? I had a heck of a time re-finding this post. Thanks. :)
posted by iamkimiam at 10:41 AM on November 30, 2010


D'oh, there is a swap tag already!

wtf is wrong with me? can I not spell 'swap'?
posted by iamkimiam at 10:43 AM on November 30, 2010


done!

Don't feel bad. I recently misspelled my own name. It was a moment of shining ... uh, glory.
posted by julen at 1:23 PM on November 30, 2010


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