Secret Quonsar 2012: Let's Talk About It October 25, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

It's getting to be time for Secret Quonsar (a gift swap that happens in December among a subset of Mefites. Anyone can join if he or she wants to) again. I'm willing to do it again, having learned a lot from last year's events. If people would rather I not do it, send me an memail (or call me out here!) and if I get a critical mass, I'll step down. I want to talk about the two big issues we had last year.

Issue 1: The spectacular cruddiness of trying to manage everything in one swap when there were all sorts of geographic restrictions Elfster wasn't terrific at handling (and which required me to go in and set for every person both the people they could send to and receive from on an individual basis.). That's why we had the initial swap sucktacle, and the redo, and I spent way too much of Thanksgiving cursing for someone whose grandmother was in the house. As a result, I started playing catchup in monitoring things from the start. I really should have had a spreadsheet instead of a mosaic of post-its on all surfaces around my computer. I know I missed following up with at least one person in March, and I apologize. The Solution? We will be having many different and separate elfster swaps. US Only. International. UK or Europe only. We can talk about the various flavors and add or remove as necessary. I do think you need at least 3 (and preferably) 4 people in a swap to preserve the secrecy of the swap until revelation.

Issue 2: MANY of the International swaps that included sending to the US through the mails were very late or didn't arrive at all. It was highly frustrating for everyone, and a big portion of the problems came from US customs and handling or lack thereof. The number of issues had a big uptick last year that was not proportional to an increase in participants. This was due partially to a rise in security concerns by the US Government, but I can not say with any confidence that it will get better this year. It also made it harder to identify the people who just didn't send something. Summary: So there's a bigger risk (and sometimes bigger costs) in going International. I don't have a solution for this.

Do people want to do this again? If so, I will open signups in November, do the draws on US Thanksgiving Day (November 24), and build the spreadsheets for easier tracking.

Also, if anyone has any other services they'd like to recommend instead of Elfster (whose staff has been proactive in trying to help us, and which has been the best solution for the past few years), I'd be happy to look into it.
posted by julen to MetaFilter-Related at 8:45 AM (178 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I'm in to do it again. I rather enjoyed the last two years.
posted by deezil at 9:01 AM on October 25, 2011


What do you think about having different people managing the different Elfster swaps? That way you're not taking all this on and having to confuse yourself with who is in which swap.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:03 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure, I'm in.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:05 AM on October 25, 2011


I had such fun last year, I would love to do it again.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:07 AM on October 25, 2011


We're already talking about Secret Quonsar and it's not even Jessoween yet? Man, it gets earlier every year.
posted by ColdChef at 9:13 AM on October 25, 2011 [33 favorites]


Sounds like something I'd want to be in on.

But can I get some more information? Price limits, thing to send, stuff like that? Is it a free for all go to the level of weird that only a MeFite would appreciate? That sort of thing.
posted by theichibun at 9:22 AM on October 25, 2011


I'll do it again. It was fun and I got a super amazing gift. I just wonder if Elfster really makes it better than doing it analog style. I didn't really use many of the Elfster features, and I got annoying emails from them until I went in and changed settings.

I think this thread really efers to Secret Quonsar 2011 though, right?
posted by Miko at 9:25 AM on October 25, 2011


I haven't done Secret Quonsar but I enjoy the mix swaps so much that it seems like this could be a lot of fun.
posted by immlass at 9:28 AM on October 25, 2011


I really enjoyed it last year and would love to do it again. I was also one of the people whose gifts was held up in customs- I finally got it in the middle of February. While it wasn't a big deal for me, I think the idea of the different groups will probably lead to a lot less confusion.

I also didn't love Elfster, but I don't know if there is a much easier way.
posted by Zophi at 9:29 AM on October 25, 2011


I have enjoyed both years that I did it. Last year I participated in the International swap. My Quonsee (recipient) was in Canada and my Quonsar (giver) was in Japan. Everything was late-- I got my gift sent out a little late (still before Xmas, but after the date set by the SwapMeisters) because I was confused on the due date. I didn't spring for fast shipping, but it did get there eventually. My gift from Japan came after Xmas, IIRC, but it was so fantastic and I love extending gift-giving holidays so I didn't mind.

theichibun, there is a price limit of like $10-15, but if you're participating in the International swap, it's possible the shipping costs could exceed that amount so you have to be okay with that (hence why we are having separate swaps this year). Some folks go over the price limit if they feel like it. Elfster allows you to set wishlists, which really helps the Quonsar to get ideas for what to give.
posted by sarahnade at 9:31 AM on October 25, 2011


Last year, I got the name of a MeFite who I adore, so it was fun to buy stuff for her. Count me in.
posted by ColdChef at 9:32 AM on October 25, 2011


I also would like to participate! Never done it before but I love mailing stuff/getting stuff through the mail.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:33 AM on October 25, 2011


I've always wanted to do this! I'm in!

(Dear Whoever Gets Me: I'm a secular Jew from the Soviet Union so you don't need to bust your ass getting it out before Christmas.)
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in, if you need help with the UK faction then let me know :)
posted by greenish at 9:36 AM on October 25, 2011


Yay! I love Quonsmas!
posted by phunniemee at 9:40 AM on October 25, 2011


If the international thing is an issue I would suggest having a North America version and a Everywhere Else version.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:43 AM on October 25, 2011


> (Dear Whoever Gets Me: I'm a secular Jew from the Soviet Union so you don't need to bust your ass getting it out before Christmas.)

…But if it's not there before January 1, Ded Moroz will hold you down while Snegurochka beats you to a pulp.
posted by Nomyte at 9:43 AM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I was five years old and still in Russia, they came to my house and gave me presents and danced with me! And gave me children's books describing the history and function of microcomputers and programming languages! I swear, I would give a finger to find those books again.
posted by griphus at 9:46 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm definitely in again! I love SQ!!

I really enjoy the potential to send to an International Mefite, so I would really hate to be segregated into a "North America" version. So please keep the International option available.
posted by Julnyes at 9:46 AM on October 25, 2011


(Also, I now want that Snegurochka image tattooed on me.)
posted by griphus at 9:47 AM on October 25, 2011


I'm in. I like buying stuff for people. :)
posted by SMPA at 9:48 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in again this year, happy to secretly Quonsar any Mefite regardless of geography.
posted by workerant at 9:49 AM on October 25, 2011


> And gave me children's books describing the history and function of microcomputers and programming languages! I swear, I would give a finger to find those books again.

I think you mean this. How do I collect the finger?
posted by Nomyte at 9:55 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, I know exactly where my worn-out copy of А я был в Компьютерном Городе is. The one I'm thinking of was slightly oversized, came in two volumes, had a glossy cover/glossy pages, and was a lot more detailed (more text and smaller/more utilitarian pictures) than that one.
posted by griphus at 10:01 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also have not done this, and I would like to this year!
posted by jgirl at 10:05 AM on October 25, 2011


I'd like to try this year. Count me in!
posted by vorfeed at 10:07 AM on October 25, 2011


I did it last year and it was fun to find something appropriate for the giftee based on stuff they said on Mefi.

It was also cool getting something off my list (which I actually even used last night coincidentally enough)

I am going to go with grab bag this year though...maybe some general guidelines and that is it.

Count me in!
posted by lampshade at 10:09 AM on October 25, 2011


I'm in again this year!
posted by misha at 10:10 AM on October 25, 2011


Griphus, there was also this one, which came in two volumes. Some scans are available here. I can't remember whether it was glossy, but it did have pretty basic line art.
posted by Nomyte at 10:11 AM on October 25, 2011


Last year was pretty sweet, I'd definitely be down to do it again.
posted by owtytrof at 10:13 AM on October 25, 2011


That comma should be a semicolon, obviously.
posted by owtytrof at 10:13 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am so sad I don't get to participate this year, but I will be in a rainforest with exceptionally sketchy mail service.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:14 AM on October 25, 2011


Nope, unfortunately that's not it either. I am like 75% sure the word "Microcomputer" was in the title. I think I'll try to seek it out in the world of .ru when I have enough concentration handy to use what remains of my Russian.
posted by griphus at 10:15 AM on October 25, 2011


I'm in.

If people would rather I not do it, send me an memail (or call me out here!) and if I get a critical mass, I'll step down.

I think you did an awesome job and the fact that you worked through all the setbacks without stabbing anybody is pretty impressive. You should give yourself more credit. On behalf of, well, I imagine everyone who participated last year, thank you for doing it then and for offering to do it again.
posted by bondcliff at 10:17 AM on October 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh, and I will ask once again. Two years ago I got stiffed, then someone else got my name, and that person sent me a few jars of barbeque sauce from Virginia. It was some of the best sauce I ever had and completely changed my views on mustard-based sauce as something only commies and criminals could enjoy to just about my favorite type of sauce ever.

It's been two years. Fess up, whoever you are.
posted by bondcliff at 10:19 AM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll participate again this year. I think you're doing a great job of organizing it, under the circumstances, and kudos for being willing to run it again.

Summary: So there's a bigger risk (and sometimes bigger costs) in going International. I don't have a solution for this.

I think there are two partial solutions. First, don't send anything too unique or expensive (and SQ gifts shouldn't be super expensive anyway). Second, maybe the shipping deadline for international SQ should be earlier than for the rest.
posted by jedicus at 10:21 AM on October 25, 2011


Would it be possible to have a list for people who are willing to send out gifts and not receiving them? I have a lot of karma I need to work off.
posted by crunchland at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am in, though I think I'd prefer sticking to the North-American one. That said, if Canada ends up being lumped with the International version, I would still be in.
posted by Phire at 10:26 AM on October 25, 2011


...and if I get a critical mass, I'll step down.

Another vote for great job last year.

Face it, you are stuck with the job.
posted by lampshade at 10:27 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have never done this before, and would like to give it a try. :)
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:29 AM on October 25, 2011


I think this would be incredibly fun. I'm very interested. :)
posted by librarianamy at 10:32 AM on October 25, 2011


I'm in!

As for price limits: I think a $10-15 cap is suggested, but I also think we're all grown-up enough to understand that "It's the thought that counts." My own benefactor picked out a couple of nice jams from a local farmer's market in her neighborhood and sent those. (Although, that gave both me and my roommate a good laugh because I'd just finished scouring out more space in our hall closet to store the backlog of jams I'd made my own self; they were good, though, and I've already completely consumed one jar.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on October 25, 2011


I am so sad I don't get to participate this year, but I will be in a rainforest with exceptionally sketchy mail service.

That's OK, I don't mind getting my present late. I just so happen to have previously unknown to mankind, cancer-curing species of plants on my wishlist this year, so it works out nicely.
posted by phunniemee at 10:40 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Definitely in, with a us/rest of the world split for ease of customs.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:43 AM on October 25, 2011


I keep missing the MeFi Swaps somehow, so this year I'll do SQ for the first time ever!
posted by arcticwoman at 10:48 AM on October 25, 2011


I'm in! It's fun, and mefites really don't seem to mind receiving weapons for the holidays, so there you have it. Easy.
posted by heyho at 10:50 AM on October 25, 2011


Yes! Me! It was so much fun last year!
posted by good day merlock at 10:51 AM on October 25, 2011


I'm in again!
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:24 AM on October 25, 2011


Never tried it before, but I'm in as well!
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 11:35 AM on October 25, 2011


(a) in, and (b) also not a huge fan of Elfster, which seemed to add more kerfuffle than it removed.
posted by Shepherd at 11:37 AM on October 25, 2011


I am totally in!
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:37 AM on October 25, 2011


Count me in, too -- sounds like fun!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 11:42 AM on October 25, 2011


I'm in!
posted by kittenmarlowe at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2011


Im in...although i celebrate festivus.

Ok. Time for the feats of strength.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in again. It's been a lot of fun the past couple of times.
posted by gaspode at 11:51 AM on October 25, 2011


I've loved doing this the last two years. Customs out thwarted me so I had to resend.

I'm in.
posted by Gucky at 11:52 AM on October 25, 2011


I haven't participated yet, but I'd be happy to be a part of it this year.
posted by MustardTent at 11:52 AM on October 25, 2011


Sounds like a lot of fun!
posted by leslies at 11:54 AM on October 25, 2011


I have loved getting my quonsmas gifts both years, they've been put to a lot of use. I sent internationally last year and have no idea if my gift ever arrived. I don't mind sending internationally but would like to know if there is some way of notifying us that it has been rec'd? So if it doesn't get to the giftee, I can resend.
posted by googlebombed at 11:56 AM on October 25, 2011


Yeah, seconding this. My SQ was located in the US, so I assume they received. But I never knew if they did.

(On the other hand, perhaps it's better if we don't know. What if they hated it?)
posted by zarq at 12:03 PM on October 25, 2011


I'd like to do it this year, as a new participant.
posted by SeedStitch at 12:05 PM on October 25, 2011


I actually just used one of the clips my SQ sent me over the weekend (useful for holding origami bits in place, it turns out).

Yeah, I'm up for this again. I'm in the US, and happy to do wherever for shipping.
posted by nat at 12:07 PM on October 25, 2011


Unfortunately, Phunniemee, it'd have to be more along the lines of dehydrated monkey shit.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:11 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm in! Is there a way to a) let your SQ know that their present has been received (plus say thank you!) and b) be notified that what you've sent has been received?
posted by wiskunde at 12:12 PM on October 25, 2011


Usually your Quonsar will reveal their MeFi userid in the package, so you can send them a nice thank you MeMail. I feel this is standard etiquette, however some folks like to stay anonymous I guess and also Ms. Manners is not a mod so this cannot really be enforced.
posted by sarahnade at 12:15 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quonsmukwanzukahmas! I'm totally down for it.

Perhaps if someone is sending internationally you can have a big bold huge text suggestion saying "send early if you suspect customs will be in any way difficult"?
posted by Mizu at 12:15 PM on October 25, 2011


I participated for the first time last year and had a delightful exchange! Count me in!
posted by Monster_Zero at 12:16 PM on October 25, 2011


WINNER GETS A PISSING ELEPHANT IN THEIR STOCKING
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm in!
posted by liketitanic at 12:26 PM on October 25, 2011


I loved it last year! I'm in, though my circumstances have radically changed... but I'm still in!
posted by patheral at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2011


Count me in. I'll be better about sending my gift off on time this year too! I promise!
posted by knapah at 12:41 PM on October 25, 2011


Where I'm from, we observe Pentecortex the tenth day after Mattscension.

The Feast of the Tazfiguration is not as widely commemorated, but oh, it's growing in popularity.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:44 PM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm in! I always miss the sign-ups for these things, but not this time!

julen, if you want help with spreadsheets I can totally help. I have to work the fucking day after Thanksgiving, so I will be stuck in my office with Excel and nothing to do.
posted by grapesaresour at 12:45 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm in!

But is Elfster really the only option for organizing? I always have issues logging in and signing up to Secret Quonsar each year.
posted by LN at 12:59 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm in. Local or int'l makes no difference to me; Canada Post will probably annoy me no matter what.

I'm still patiently waiting the follow-up thread for the reusable grocery bag swap. You can tell how quietly and patiently by the small text!
posted by flex at 1:14 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in. I used to do this on favorite message boards (back in tha day) and I miss it.
posted by introp at 1:30 PM on October 25, 2011


Part of me loves this idea but the rest of me is like OH GOD A PERSON ON THE INTERNETS WILL KNOW WHERE I LIVE AAAAAAAHHH. So.
posted by elizardbits at 1:32 PM on October 25, 2011


Ideally we could incorporate some kind of dead drop.
posted by elizardbits at 1:32 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


do it.
posted by radioamy at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2011


elizardbits, you could also use "general delivery" (a.k.a. poste restante) -- you just need to call your local post office to find out the specific instructions for addressing the package, including which is the nearest post office to you that does it (not all branches do in a bigger city).
posted by argonauta at 1:51 PM on October 25, 2011


OH GOD A PERSON ON THE INTERNETS WILL KNOW WHERE I LIVE AAAAAAAHHH.

elizardbits, I have done this twice now, and not once have I been axe murdered. That's, like, a 200% success rate. DO IT.
posted by phunniemee at 1:55 PM on October 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


I am way too lazy for something like that, although oddly not too lazy to construct an elaborate plan for a dead drop.


it's not about axe murder at all, it's a vague sense of SOMEONE MIGHT COME OVER AND MOVE MY CHEESE. idek.

*clings stubbornly to irrational and largely indescribable neuroses*
posted by elizardbits at 1:56 PM on October 25, 2011


Or, someone might come and play with your wind chimes and then where would you be?
posted by Lynsey at 1:59 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


i really just want to set up an awesome superspy dead drop of deliberately terrible 70s mixtapes now basically. oh internets.
posted by elizardbits at 2:00 PM on October 25, 2011


I guess I'm tentatively in.

elizardbits, if you live in Montreal, I would totally do a dread drop. Because that would be awesome. (I think Montreal is the closest actual city to where my mother lives. I don't actually know where my mother lives! Relative to anything else, that is.)
posted by hoyland at 2:07 PM on October 25, 2011


I am totally in for a dead drop as well.

That's where you hide it in a corpse and drop it on the person waiting for their gift, right?
posted by griphus at 2:32 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in!! Always wanted to do this....Yay!!
posted by pearlybob at 2:46 PM on October 25, 2011


I love secret Quonsar! I'm in again. I actually used two of my previous gifts today and many other days (one holds coins, the other, water.)
posted by cobaltnine at 2:57 PM on October 25, 2011


Sounds fun, but help a noobie out, please! (I've only been here since Feb., forgive me, oh great hive....) How does this work?
posted by easily confused at 3:03 PM on October 25, 2011


"Yay! I love Quonsmas!"

It's actually Quonsaa.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:05 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Me me me me me!!!!

I had an amazing Quonsar last year, so while I am sad that I will likely not have him back this year for myself, I hope he joins up again because DAMN, his Quonsee will be blessed :) Definitely gave me some good ideas for my own Quonsee!
posted by Madamina at 3:12 PM on October 25, 2011


I'd like to participate this year, if you'll have me. I utterly failed in my first Quonsmasukkah assignment, though, and you might not want a shiftless heel who's yet to prove their worth. I have, on the other hand, managed to participate in one of carsonb's cd swaps, if that gives me any kind of credibility.

In Japan, most likely willing to send anywhere.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:20 PM on October 25, 2011


I would like to be considered for secret Quonsar inclusion. I've never done it before, but it always looked like fun.
posted by winna at 3:20 PM on October 25, 2011


Sounds like fun. I'm in.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:23 PM on October 25, 2011


I would like to be included.
posted by Saminal at 3:24 PM on October 25, 2011


Count me in.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 3:32 PM on October 25, 2011


Well heck, I'll play! The responsibility of owing a gift TO THE INTERNET might remind me to do the rest of my Christmas shopping this year in some kind of timely fashion.
posted by pemberkins at 3:33 PM on October 25, 2011


>> Sounds fun, but help a noobie out, please!


Signups in November
Draws on US Thanksgiving Day (November 24)


Check out the SQ link from last year. Then wait for the instructions post for this year when the swap actually begins. You will be assigned a recipient and someone will get your name and address to send you something. For now, just express your interest in this thread..

Note that Elfster may not be part of the swap this year. Julen is considering options now and that will be announced.
posted by lampshade at 3:38 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm in again.

I'm running out of gold bricks to give, though.
posted by maxwelton at 3:38 PM on October 25, 2011


Wow. Lots of comments. I'm going to have to organize my answers.

People: There were a few people really unhappy with me last December, and I don't know if they were the tip of the iceberg, or just a few people. That's why I'm giving folks the chance to object while there's still time to transition the swap without killing the new organizer.

How it works: When I make the announcement about signups being open, I'll include all of the relevant details (timing, dates, money, how to do it, and etc.). That's when you can decide if you want to and can participate. Anyone can do it, unless you've gotten an mail from me telling you to take a year off for being a Quonscofflaw (i.e. not sending a gift). After gifts start arriving, there are usually a thread or three of thank yous.

Why keep using ElfsterThe best benefits of Elfster are to the Organizer. Notably, the swap notifications. Sending out 280 notifications by hand would suck. It also allows people to update their wish lists frequently even after the swap date. On the negative side, there's no way to mail everyone from Elfster, so I had to grab everyones emails individually and then write the email. Then I had to figure out whose fake spamcatcher email addresses matched up to memail handles. And their default notification settings are obnoxious. And people have had issues signing up. And it's weird twitterlike stream wannabe thing that only Facebook could have made worse.

Why stop using Elfster If we didn't use Elfster, I'd need a tool I could feed a spreadsheet into and it would mail the right people the right information. There are benefits to this method. I could make sure that I had an address from everyone participating in the swap (as opposed to chasing people down after the swap when their sender realizes they have noplace to send their gift) and a MeFi handle and some guidance up front, so that's a potential delay taken care of.

Giving, Not Receiving
The best way to do this is to be one of our Second Chance Giftors. These are people who step up when someone's gift goes awry, a sender has a sudden unplanned emergency, or a sender is suddenly AWOL and there's no gift. Our Second Chance Giftors are a mixture of people who participated in the swap and want to give more, people who just want to give, and a lurker or two who see it as a way to give back to the community without signing up.

Managing multiple swaps
Having different folks take on different sub-international swaps is a good idea if we use an automated tool like Elfster. The only fly in the ointment is managing the second chance gifters, but that could be handled.
posted by julen at 3:43 PM on October 25, 2011


I would like to participate.
posted by smoke at 3:45 PM on October 25, 2011


Oh, HELL YES, I'm in.

One of the first things I did in my new home this year was to hang the pics sent to me by the wonderful fairytale of los angeles (disabled account: insert sad face here) last year.

I also did a kind-of unofficial thing last year, sending a gift to someone who'd made a comment about something they'd like, and that was a lovely warm'n'fuzzy moment to hear that she'd received it and was delighted. So I apologise for adding to julen's workload by hassling her to hassle Dash for her home address.

I never heard if my official Quonsar recipient received their gift. Maybe US Customs were the problem. Perhaps this year I'll try a different method, buy online and have it delivered directly rather than buying it here in the Australian boondocks and mailing it to the other side of the planet.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:47 PM on October 25, 2011


I would like to be a part of this as well.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:02 PM on October 25, 2011


I've never done it, but I'd like to.

Do we have separate Quonsees for the Airing of Grievances and the Feats of Strength?
posted by cmoj at 4:22 PM on October 25, 2011


I had a lot of fun doing this last year (though I never did find out who my secret sender was), and I thought you did a nice job of running it smoothly, julen. I'm happy to do it again this year.
posted by keli at 4:23 PM on October 25, 2011


SQ virgin, but I'd love to do it this year.
posted by Roman Graves at 4:24 PM on October 25, 2011


In, please!
posted by shiny blue object at 4:42 PM on October 25, 2011


I really enjoyed this last year, and would love to do it again this year. It's been a sucky year here in Tokyo generally and a rather blah one on a personal level as well, so I really want to end 2011 on a positive note. Also, I really wanted to send you a little something for your efforts last year, julen. Thanks for volunteering to do this again this year.
posted by misozaki at 5:26 PM on October 25, 2011


A virgin and a bit of a lurker to boot, but I enjoy getting packages in the mail almost as much I like giving gifts. I'm in!
posted by miratime at 5:35 PM on October 25, 2011


The best way to do this is to be one of our Second Chance Giftors. -- Count me in for this.
posted by crunchland at 5:45 PM on October 25, 2011


The best way to do this is to be one of our Second Chance Giftors.

Yep, me too. And I'll also be a first chance giftor but I need something to help stoke the flames of my longtime love affair with the post office.

And also I use my reuseable shopping bags ALL THE TIME and that was a great swap also, so hey!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:54 PM on October 25, 2011


I can be a Second Chance Giftor, too!
posted by misozaki at 5:58 PM on October 25, 2011


I'd like in this year please!
posted by Cuke at 6:14 PM on October 25, 2011


I want a hippopotamus for Quonsar.
posted by decathecting at 6:44 PM on October 25, 2011


Missed it last year, but am looking forward to it this year.
posted by notquitemaryann at 7:02 PM on October 25, 2011


ME ME ME
posted by not_on_display at 7:08 PM on October 25, 2011


I'd love to do this again. It seems as if my local post office is going to close soon, so here's hoping it is open until quonsing has occurred.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:16 PM on October 25, 2011


I was in last year, had a great time, would quonsar again, and julien, while there were bumps, your communications and clarifications were very clear. Vote of confidence.
posted by rainbaby at 8:14 PM on October 25, 2011


Been doing this since the very first year, and even ran it a couple times. It's always great fun! I am so thankful for Julen and all her hard work. :) I am definitely in.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:25 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have really enjoyed it the last two years (I have worn my fuzzy blue hat from last year several times this fall already!) and you did a great job as far as I'm concerned, Julen. Bummed that I can't do it this year.
posted by gemmy at 8:41 PM on October 25, 2011


Oooh yes please! I was so mad at myself for missing the sign-up deadline last year. I can't wait to get my quonsar shop on!
posted by addelburgh at 8:43 PM on October 25, 2011


Ooh! I want in! Presents!
posted by purenitrous at 8:56 PM on October 25, 2011


Missed last year, and would love to get in.
posted by Sphinx at 9:14 PM on October 25, 2011


Count me in. I would also like to be a second chance giftor. I love to shop.
posted by cairnoflore at 9:36 PM on October 25, 2011


Yes, please count me in. No problems the last time.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:44 PM on October 25, 2011


I want some of this quonsar action
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:19 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm in, didn't do it last year and I'd like to participate. Have to figure out the best way to mail from China.
posted by arcticseal at 11:55 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm in.
posted by Zed at 12:24 AM on October 26, 2011


It's beginning to look a lot like Quonsar, everywhere you go...

Count me in please.
posted by AD_ at 3:26 AM on October 26, 2011


I do remember sometime last year or even early this year there was a notice from Australia Post saying that any packages to the US will be charged extra for security purposes, which may be a concern.

Either way, I'm in. I can help with a Asia/Oceania list if you want?
posted by divabat at 4:40 AM on October 26, 2011


I'm in.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:07 AM on October 26, 2011


I started writing out a suggestion for how to manually manage swap-ees, and then I started thinking about the logistics of swap organizers trying to deal wit hanonymous messages from gifter to giftee without the beauty of Elfster, and started to cry a little. Julen, I don't know how you find the energy. The interface for Elfster could not be more irritating, but if it makes your life easier, I'm all for it.
posted by Phire at 7:38 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in again this year! My first giftor fell through or decided he/she hated me or something, because Julen had to have someone else send me things. I wonder if it was the same person bondcliff is talking about up there because I, too received wonderful bbq sauces from Virginia.
posted by cooker girl at 7:55 AM on October 26, 2011


I'm in!
posted by functionequalsform at 8:16 AM on October 26, 2011


I would like to participate again this year. Thanks for your great organizing work last year, julen!
posted by mlle valentine at 9:46 AM on October 26, 2011


Also julen I think you did a great job considering the giganticness of the task, so I'm totally AOK happy if you're willing to do it again and would also maybe suggest you find a helper if you find the task too overwhelming. I'm happy you're doing this!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:48 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In. julen, you did a wonderful job last year, detractors be damned. My international swap worked out just fine as well. Also, I have picked up a number of new skills this year which I can't wait to incorporate into a gift! Who wants a jar of home-pickled beets lovingly wrapped in a handknit personally monogrammed cozy?
posted by Polyhymnia at 11:13 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


cooker girl: "I wonder if it was the same person bondcliff is talking about up there because I, too received wonderful bbq sauces from Virginia."

Heh. It is the same person. She's a lurker who won't sign up for an account, so second-chancing it is her way of giving back to Metafilter for always having something to talk about when she's out and about. I think she's the one who first sent me a link to MeFi way back in the day, actually, although she claims I was the one who told her about it. This year, she says, she has a different idea for what her second chance gift will be, should there be someone out there going tragically giftless.
posted by julen at 1:23 PM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really glad she participates in some way, at least. Those sauces were flat out amazing!
posted by cooker girl at 1:39 PM on October 26, 2011


She's a lurker who won't sign up for an account, so second-chancing it is her way of giving back to Metafilter for always having something to talk about when she's out and about.

Thank you, whomever you are. Selfless acts are rare these days.

Email in profile if you ever want to fess up. I will do something nice for you, or someone of your choosing.
posted by bondcliff at 1:45 PM on October 26, 2011


Oh, definitely in - I missed last year, but the year before was a blast. Thanks julen for your willingness to organize this herd of cats.
posted by faineant at 2:53 PM on October 26, 2011


Is there any interest in rolling our own secret quonsar site? I could probably put something together which would allow folks to sign up, specify regions (location & destination), and allow easier tracking for the organiser.

Of course, there's probably someone else out there who could do it better in about 1% of the time, but I'm willing to give it a shot if people would use it.

I've never used Elfster, though, so I have no idea - what're people's objections to it?
posted by coriolisdave at 2:53 PM on October 26, 2011


I had a dream about this last night - I dreamt I got assigned this epic spreadsheet for Asia/Oceania that had everyone's usernames, email addresses, avatars, and a checklist of if they've sent their package and if they'e received theirs. (It was probably more savvy than that but that's what I remember.) My subconscious *Really* wants to help.
posted by divabat at 3:01 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would like to participate please!
posted by illenion at 3:06 PM on October 26, 2011


In!
posted by Go Banana at 5:38 PM on October 26, 2011


I would like to do the US version!
posted by rmless at 6:26 PM on October 26, 2011


I've never heard of the term "second-chance-gifting". Anyone care to elucidate?
posted by Phire at 7:22 PM on October 26, 2011


In a gift-exchange grab bag, if someone flakes out and doesn't send their gift to the recipient, for whatever reason, someone else swoops in and gives them a second-chance gift.
posted by crunchland at 7:26 PM on October 26, 2011


Crunchland is right.

Thanks everyone for the offers of help. I'm going to look at the technical solutions first, so I'll be contacting folks who have offered to help with homegrown or semi-manual solutions first, and than the organization help folks next. I'm writing up our must-have requirements first.
posted by julen at 7:44 AM on October 27, 2011


I wanted to come back and echo Jessamyn, in case I sounded too critical. I think what you're doing is wonderful and your willingness to organize this brings a lot of fun and holiday joy. I just wish it were easier on you! Thanks for volunteering.
posted by Miko at 8:20 AM on October 27, 2011


Huh, neat. I would totally sign up to be a second-chancer, if instituting that secondary list doesn't add too much extra work for julen.

(Would be happy to help out in whatever capacity is necessary.)
posted by Phire at 8:37 AM on October 27, 2011


In like Flynn. (That's a thing, right?)
posted by maryr at 2:54 PM on October 27, 2011


YES!! Even though I never got anything last year, (oh well, it's about GIVING, durrrr, and I have so much fun buying gifts for people) (ok, agonizing over giving the right gift) (YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN) I am totally 100% in.

Because the internet is awesome and I love you all.
posted by bibliogrrl at 8:00 PM on October 27, 2011


The second chancer list is definitely not too much work - it's important that we try and get everyone engifted, and having a group of reliable folks who want to give is fabulous. It's actually one of the easiest parts of the whole thing.

After assorted experiments, we're going to try something different this year: an email/spreadsheet solution. This is how it will work:

You will join via an email. This means that I can make sure that I have all necessary information for each recipient, including MeFi handle, a valid email address, and the extraordinarily minor detail of the mailing address, before the swap, and people have all the info they need when they get assigned their giftee. You will get a confirmation that you are in and I have all the data I need. (Or that I need data!)

I will use a google spreadsheet to manage the swap, the regionalization, and the automatic notification of the swap (I'll do this in several waves so Google doesn't shut down the account for suspected spammery). This solution also means that we can handle region groups from 2 people to much larger groups because the swap groups won't know how big they are, so if there is only a penguin and a puffin signing up in Antarctica, they won't know they are almost certainly each other's giftee until the gifts arrive.

When you get the notification, you will also get all the information you need to go swapping (handle, name, address, wishlist/guidance info).

I'll use the spreadsheet to keep track of who has gotten a gift, who hasn't, and who needs to be checked up on.

I think this solution will streamline the process and make the swapping run more easily. Plus, if the spreadsheet goes kablooey, I have all the emails as a backup mechanism.

A few days before the swap, if you are the only person to have signed up for a region, I'll contact you and we'll figure out what to do next.
posted by julen at 6:36 AM on October 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Julen, this seems like a solid plan. Rock on. And thank you!

Just in case this wasn't part of your plan, and just so you know, you can create a Google Form that will go directly to your Google spreadhseet. This could take a lot of labour out of making sure you have all of the data you need, because you can make those fields mandatory. It will for sure email you if you'd like it to, I'm just unclear if it would email a confirmation to the person who filled it out.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:10 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dibs on the puffin.
posted by phunniemee at 7:38 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had totally forgotten about google forms! Even better! Plus it has that handy summary page so I can see what swap groups don't have critical mass (in this case 2). Sweet.
posted by julen at 3:41 PM on October 29, 2011


So it seems like the one piece of Elfster that this system won't facilitate is the queries after the wishlist has arrived. Last year, my person asked what kind of music I liked, something I hadn't put in my wishlist. Is there a way that, say, some other individual could volunteer as anonymizer? Maybe have access to your spreadsheet, so what they would do is accept and redirect emails to giftees from gifters? For instance, if I was anonymizer, a gifter could write me and say "Please ask Julen if they are allergic to any foods" or something, and I would translate the message back and forth to obscure the identities.

I don't know what volume to expect or whether this is really feasible, but I'm trying to think of a way that function could be maintained without you, julen, having to do it yourself.
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on October 30, 2011


So it seems like the one piece of Elfster that this system won't facilitate is the queries after the wishlist has arrived.

I'd volunteer to be (an?) anonymizer!

I COULD KNOW ALL YOUR ALLERGIES.
posted by phunniemee at 7:19 AM on October 30, 2011


I'm in rural East Africa, but I'd love to be a part of it! I can send a gift to anyone, but I'd prefer within Africa, if possible.
posted by hasna at 2:02 AM on October 31, 2011


I have gotten a bunch of offers to help out. I will end up tapping some folks to be second chancers, and then two people to help out with actual swap admin stuff: 1 during the wish list anonymizer phase (Thanksgiving -> Mid-December), and 1 during the trackdown phase (December 28ish->January).

I will be talking to folks who have volunteered here or in MeMail via MeMail this week to outline timeframes and what would be involved.

I will post the sign-up link (with swap rules and guidance) later this month and will post a link to it here, so it will pop up in everyone's recent activity.
posted by julen at 8:04 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here I was thinking it was way too early to be on the lookout for Secret Quonsar! This will be my third Quonsmas and it's one of the many things I love about Metafilter.
posted by sweetmarie at 3:01 PM on October 31, 2011


Three cheers for Julen!
posted by Phire at 11:53 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I COULD KNOW ALL YOUR ALLERGIES.

Oh no. I am totally out of this if there's a chance phunniemee may find out I am deathly allergic to large amounts of unmarked and non-sequential hundred-dollar bills.
posted by griphus at 11:59 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, I am NOT deathly allergic to large amounts of unmarked and non-sequential hundred-dollar bills, so go right ahead.
posted by Madamina at 12:37 PM on November 1, 2011


Yay! I am in!

But I'm horrified that people were so upset at you last year.

I would suggest that anyone who is going to be that upset at not receiving a gift should just not sign up.
posted by exceptinsects at 11:53 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh and PS I will also be a second-chancer!
posted by exceptinsects at 11:53 PM on November 2, 2011


I appreciate all of you who have offered to help Julen out. I would have, but due to some family health issues I don't think I'll be up to it this year. But I am still in for the swap.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:25 AM on November 6, 2011


I'm in for the swap too.
posted by theichibun at 8:03 AM on November 6, 2011


Oh sweet. I loved SQ last year, so I'm definitely in again. Can you post here when you create the official signup thread?
posted by MsMolly at 7:18 AM on November 9, 2011


I'm excited to be involved (my first year!)
posted by Cheese Monster at 2:48 AM on November 10, 2011


Sign-ups are open! Read all about it here.
posted by julen at 12:25 PM on November 11, 2011


Just to bump this guy back up since a few people in the other thread said they had almost missed it...

SQ signups are OPEN! Whee!

posted by phunniemee at 8:24 AM on November 14, 2011


Got my Secret Quonsar pick today and I couldn't be more excited!
posted by ColdChef at 3:23 PM on November 24, 2011


whee! got my SQ pick, and I think I know just what to send along. yay!
posted by rmd1023 at 3:29 PM on November 24, 2011


Talk about service - sent a question off about my SQ and got a response back in minutes! Thanks, Julen!
posted by arcticseal at 6:18 PM on November 24, 2011


We've had a lot of folks taking advantage of our "we'll ask your quonsee for more information" service so far. We're happy to keep doing so. just send us an email.
posted by julen at 6:21 PM on November 24, 2011


Got my quonsee, item purchased and sent. Thanks guys this is great!
posted by smoke at 7:10 PM on November 24, 2011


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