secret quonsar: can you take over? October 19, 2019 2:55 PM   Subscribe

I apologize for the late notice on this, but we need someone to take over running secret quonsar if it is to happen this year. secret quonsar - which is our holiday-adjacent gift exchange - is a lot of work, but it makes the community happy.

This is a job for a team and not one person. If you choose to do this, you will be committing a goodly amount of time from late October thru February and usually into March. The exchange typically has 400+ people split into 5-6 groups, and the goal is to make sure everyone gets a gift.

We do have some existing infrastructure in place courtesy of Google Forms and Gmail. I also use thunderbird's mergemail system and my personal mail server to handle the initial notification of matches due to Gmail's anti-spam limitations. If you don't have your own email system, we can work something out. In the past, I also worked things out with folks adverse to Google via memail.

Responsibilities include:
  • Manage signups (remove duplicates, field change requests)
  • Manage groups (make sure there are least 3 and preferably 5 participants in a group)
  • Randomize the Swap Assignments
  • Notify Assignees
  • Be the Mail Middleman: ask questions or send updates on behalf of quonsees or quonsars.
  • Manage Dropouts
  • Remind people about deadlines
  • Update the group periodically with the swap status
  • Follow up with senders
  • Follow up with recipients
  • Determine if a gift is lost/stolen/spindled/mutilated
  • Build Second Chancer List
  • Assign Second Chancers
  • Nag people
  • Manage frustrations
I can provide more direct guidance/information for people who would take this over.

I sincerely apologize for the late notice on this. I tried really hard to find a way to make this work, and I just don't think it's possible. Last year was really tough for reasons other than quonsaring, and I let the side down at the end when I let life overwhelm me. There were a couple of people who still hadn't gotten gifts at the end of February, and I want to sincerely and publicly apologize to those people for not following up and ensuring they got a gift.
posted by julen to MetaFilter-Related at 2:55 PM (43 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

julen, you are amazing. Thank you so much for doing this for so long.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:56 PM on October 19, 2019 [78 favorites]

I unfortunately cannot step up, but just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to the team who have organised and run previous Quonsars. Giving and receiving gifts has been a unique joy.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:22 PM on October 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Julen, thank you for doing this for so long! You and your team have made holidays happier for so many of us over the years.

If/when we find a new quonczar leader, I would be happy to be a helper! Please let me know.
posted by mochapickle at 3:31 PM on October 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Julen you have nothing to apologise for at all. You have carried this torch for years and years, spreading rich, buttery quonsmas joy over so many mefites. Not single person here would blame you for anything.

Thank you for all your hard work.
posted by smoke at 4:13 PM on October 19, 2019 [15 favorites]

I've participated in more than one as well and want to nth: No apology needed.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:20 PM on October 19, 2019

Mods: would someone please add this to sidebar or pin it so more members see this? Thank you.
posted by terrapin at 6:14 AM on October 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't feel qualified to take it over, but I love Quonsmas, and will help in any way I can.
posted by theora55 at 10:20 AM on October 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:21 AM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also, julen, whatever's going on, if life is difficult right now, good luck. You deserve the best.
posted by theora55 at 10:21 AM on October 20, 2019 [10 favorites]

Adding to the thanks for your magnificent work.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:01 PM on October 20, 2019

There's no way I could do the parts involving responding to email or following up with people, but the sign-ups and matching are within my abilities. (Yes, I imagine confirming change requests involves responding to email, but that I can much I can do, as it just needs to happen before the match.)
posted by hoyland at 4:59 PM on October 20, 2019

I do like the idea of this becoming crowd sourced rather than all on one person. Sure you'll have to have a lead person who will, inevitably, get stuck picking up slack but it's still doable I think. Just my two cents on making it sustainable.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:05 PM on October 20, 2019

I may have made it seem like all work, no joy, but doing sq provides a really wonderful view into the community. You people are seriously interesting, charming, lovely, and fun, with a million different interests and not a few commonly shared ones. We took a vow of confidentiality, so the only people who know about your wished-for marmoset porn are you, your quonsar, and the quonsar elves for that year.

Also, I never did this alone. In early days, Indigo Rain and I partnered up on this; in recent years Phunnieme and Arctic Seal backed me up. Neither one of them can take over the leadership role, sadly.
posted by julen at 5:30 PM on October 20, 2019 [9 favorites]

I can do the parts that hoyland can’t do, I think, but it would be a this year only thing.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:12 PM on October 20, 2019

I can help out with this, including emailing people, if needed.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 7:31 PM on October 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

julen, thank you for all of the work that you've done. Quonsmas has been a wonderful thing, something that has never failed to pick me up (magically, my quonsing has always come at the end of a rotten day, but then I come home to find a little box full of someone's incredible thoughtfulness and wit). When I have communicated with you about my difficulties getting my ass in gear and living up to the Quonspirit, you've been unfailingly helpful. Whatever difficulty you have now, please, please don't feel bad about needing to step away. As you've shown, organizing this is no mean feat even when everything is perfect in the world.

You've contributed a great deal to the happiness of people around the world, and at great exertion. There's no shame, you've carried it as far as you could, and asking someone to come help is more than warranted. Thank you, again, for all that you've done.

And seriously, your work has made a positive difference in my life. Thank you.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:35 PM on October 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

Thank you julen and Indigo Rain and Phinnieme and Arctic Seal and everyone else who's helped make this work for so long. I only just did this for the first time last year and I don't know why I waited so long, it was kind of magical.

Please count me in as another person who'd be afraid to own it but has the bandwidth to help in whatever capacity I can.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:19 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

* Phunnieme
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:29 PM on October 20, 2019

julen, thank you for all the work you've put into this. Also as one of the people who didn't get a gift last year (albeit under a different name), I totally get it and it's fine, seriously don't worry about it. We all get overwhelmed with commitments, especially when other life shit is raining down on us. Again, thanks for all the work and love you've poured into secret quonsar.
posted by sugar and confetti at 3:12 AM on October 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Secret Quonsar has seriously been one of the best things about the site for me, especially in the last couple of years. Thanks so much julen (and assorted elves) for all the work you've put into making it happen. It's totally fine to hand over the reigns and thank you for trying to do that instead of just telling us it's cancelled this year (which you'd totally be within your rights to do by the way). I'm another one who couldn't run the whole thing, not this year anyway, but would happily be a team member* in what ever way I can be of help.

*i'm assuming there's some kind of costume please
posted by billiebee at 3:47 AM on October 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thank you for running Secret Quonsar for so long. It really is one of my favorite things here, getting to send a box of random crap to an internet stranger. I cannot step up as I've got too much on my plate already, but I wanted to express my appreciation.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:18 AM on October 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

In an effort to give folks somewhere to direct their team-building, I've created a form where folks can register their interest and indicate what types of things they are capable of. I included a link to the responses in the "Your response has been recorded" message so that folks can begin to follow up with other people that are interested.

Please know that this form may end up being the most help I can offer this year. I don't post this to take on any sort of leadership or planning role, I just thought it would be good to have somewhere specific for folks to sign up.

My deepest thanks and good wishes to julen and the rest of the Quonsarmy. You have done great and good work, and I salute you as you step down from your post.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:05 AM on October 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Added my info to the form. I'm happy to own a subset but worry I would get overwhelmed if I took on overall leadership.
posted by brilliantine at 9:05 AM on October 21, 2019

*love and hugs* to Julen and team
posted by Mrs Potato at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2019

So, I’m thinking of volunteering for the leadership role. I do a lot of project management and this is in my wheelhouse. However, I’m a white person and I’m working hard to boost marginalized people where I can and not take opportunity from someone else.

If there’s still no one by the end of the week, I’m happy to do this. I’m also happy to co-lead if there’s someone out there that wants to get into project management but wants some more experienced backup. (Remote managing hundreds of gift exchanges seems like it’d be a pretty awesome resumé building opportunity!)
posted by curious nu at 9:34 AM on October 21, 2019 [33 favorites]

Thank you Julen and past teams for running such a fun and amazing gift exchange over the years.

Thank you to those of you considering volunteering. I don't have it in me to commit to something like this but I would hate for it to end.
posted by bondcliff at 10:58 AM on October 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thank you Julen and the rest of the team! All you have done has been utterly amazing!
I wish I could volunteer but I already have way to much going on including volunteering.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:24 PM on October 21, 2019

I am interested in helping out. I don't have the email systems in place, but I am willing and able to do many of the other tasks.
posted by coppermoss at 4:38 PM on October 21, 2019

It does my heart good to see so many folks interested in organizing. While you guys are figuring out who will lead/contribute, I'll revise the guide for quonsarmongering I wrote many years ago, and get everything spiffed up and ready to handover.
posted by julen at 7:06 PM on October 21, 2019 [14 favorites]

Julen, you are a prized jewel in the Great Mefi Crown! Please don't apologize for stepping down!
You've built a great foundation for a wonderful tradition and I'm positive it will continue in your absence. Take the time you need to take care of yourself, and bask in the knowledge that you've brought immense joy to so many (myself included).
posted by chara at 8:52 AM on October 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

I filled in the form (thanks for putting that together, Rock Steady!), but figured I’d mention here as well - I’m currently in my last semester at school, so can’t take on a leadership role this year (though I’m happy to be involved in some capacity!), but if there’s someone out there that’s willing to take on the leadership role for just this year, I’d be willing to step in starting in 2020.

Thank you, julen, for all the work you have done with this!!
posted by okayokayigive at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’m interested in being a part of the team, and just filled out the the above form.
Jules, thank you so much for all you’ve done with secret quonsar. It’s something I’ve looked forward to immediately and just wanted to thank you for all the time and effort you’ve put in into making SQ work!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 10:24 AM on October 22, 2019

I just filled out the form - I've organized and co-organized several gift exchanges for a now-defunct message board (astonishing number of faked deaths in the crafting community when people can't/won't keep up their end of the exchange). But I generally prefer co-organizing to flying solo and my health sometimes surprises me by going kablooey all of a sudden, so I would prefer to be part of a team. It was a lot of work for two people to do this kind of thing even on a smaller scale, so thanks for everything you've done to keep Secret Quonsar going, julen.
posted by camyram at 8:53 AM on October 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

Amazing job these past fifty years or so you've been heading this up, julen!
posted by not_on_display at 4:50 PM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I can help! I’ll fill out the form.
posted by Secretariat at 4:24 PM on October 25, 2019

Okay, I think it's me! julen, I'll memail you again with my contact info and we'll get this rolling.
posted by curious nu at 1:57 PM on October 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

I signed up as a team member, and I should have noted that I have a particular interest in supporting the Second Chance process, particularly building that list and assigning the second chanceurs as needed. Definitely welcome partners in that endeavor, but also feel capable of rolling solo on it if needed. Sorry for not having my poop together when filling out the form.
posted by jeoc at 3:38 PM on October 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Update: got the keys and the deets. Busy work week, but I’ll work on getting a handle on everything and then start contacting people who have signed up to help as I figure out what we need to do. :)
posted by curious nu at 9:27 AM on October 29, 2019 [11 favorites]

julen, thank you very much for all of your hard work! No apology needed. It sounds like life is tough or is in flux right now; I hope it gets better/easier.

I can't commit to anything right now, but am sending good vibes.
posted by wiskunde at 4:30 PM on October 29, 2019

Status of Quonsmas?
posted by theora55 at 10:53 AM on November 2, 2019

Something’s in the works! Hooray!
posted by mochapickle at 11:38 AM on November 2, 2019

Sign up post will go up later this evening!
posted by curious nu at 3:37 PM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Post is up! Thank you to everyone who volunteered to help out in some way -- it looks like the teams have traditionally been pretty small but I'm keeping the contact list in case anything comes up and we need more assistance.

Also thank you to julen and all the past secret quonsar teams for keeping this going.
posted by curious nu at 9:54 PM on November 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

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