Secret Quonsar 2020 interest questions August 13, 2020 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Yes, I know -- it's not even spooky season yet! But we're in some difficult times, and I'd like to get a head start on figuring out if we need to do anything different this year.

If this is your first time hearing of secret quonsar, please check out the MF wiki entry!

I've put together a simple Google form to try and capture the basics of what the barriers are going to be and what changes people would like to see. The form does ask for an email, so if you'd rather not share that right now, feel free to use the form as a template and memail me with your answers.

My current plan is to get all of the back-end stuff up and running next month, and open sign-ups in mid-October. I'm especially curious how the traditional swap groups are still holding up, and if any changes need to be made there.

Additionally, if you are interested in committing to either running or assisting with SQ 2020, please let me know via memail. I took over from julen last year with the help of Secretariat and mochapickle, but it has always been a community affair and I know there were a number of people last year who were interested in maybe taking up the torch long-term.
posted by curious nu to MetaFilter-Related at 5:39 PM (68 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

It's such a benefit to everyone who participates; I really hope this happens as usual. Everyone needs a Quonsar.

Given the times, we might have more people than before who could use funding help. As a past beneficiary, I'd like to give back and be a funder.

Re: The C-word.. As a mail plant worker (in Canada) I'm confident about the processes and the travel time involved making for a tiny risk factor. We're doing extra cleaning, increased distancing (in an already widely-spaced plant setup), staggered breaks, and have PPE provided in our mail depots. So I've felt safe enough to work throughout this pandemic, and have no qualms about packages, knowing how they're handled throughout the system. Just an FYI for those who might have concerns.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:34 AM on August 14 [11 favorites]


If it would be fun, I'd help organize a mask swap, to begin any time now.
Secret Q is really great, will be extra nice this year, as I won't be able to travel and won't be willing to be with groups, so any cheer will be welcome.
posted by theora55 at 6:16 AM on August 14


I'm down for secret quonsar as usual and I'm a fairly cautious immunocompromised person. I love sending someone a box of random stuff and am not worried about contagion through the mail.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:26 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Thank you for planning ahead and the organizational effort!
posted by jedicus at 8:53 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Personally I think it is time to re-brand this event.
posted by terrapin at 9:10 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


I'm game. I got an awesome gift last year.
posted by kathrynm at 9:23 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


terrapin, can you say why? rebrand away from December Holiday, from Quonsar, ??
posted by theora55 at 9:30 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Rebrand away from Quonsor. I have not participated over the years partially because I am one of those people who found the user less than an ideal community member. They have not participated in the site in 13 years. It's time to move on IMO.

Also, with the rise of the QAnon* conspiracy I find people saying "Secret Q" makes me feel uncomfortable.

* I have a theory that the Q is a K sound and it actually is pronounced "con on."
posted by terrapin at 9:55 AM on August 14 [7 favorites]


Thanks, curious nu! The exchange will be an especially good thing to look forward to this year.

For US-based exchangers who either can't or would rather not risk the post office right now, here's a link to information about USPS online shipping. I'll be trying it this way this time.
posted by mochapickle at 10:20 AM on August 14


I agree with terrapin. I've never liked calling it the Secret Quonsar. If it can be done without turning it into a huge mess with hurt feelings, I'd be in favor of changing the name. If not, I'll go with whatever.
posted by bondcliff at 10:28 AM on August 14 [5 favorites]


I wouldn't mind changing the name. The tricky part is coming up with a suitable alternative.

Secret Pixel? Project Holiday Blue? Operation EONAG (Everyone Needs A Gift)?

It's hard, y'all.
posted by mochapickle at 10:57 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


My vote is for Surprise Ponies.
posted by bfranklin at 11:00 AM on August 14 [24 favorites]


^ Okay, that's really good.
posted by mochapickle at 11:02 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


How about "The Metafilter Gift Exchange?"

I would vote for something that a non-Mefite could understand without needing me to explain sixteen levels of internet culture.

But admittedly I'm kind of literal and boring about this sort of thing.
posted by bondcliff at 11:09 AM on August 14 [24 favorites]


I used UPS last year for shipping to Canada and it was a totally awful experience. Do not recommend.

The US postal service is a better option, even with the current shitshow, but earlier shipping is a grand idea. With Brexit, who knows about the Royal Mail?

Many of us have extremely limited funds this year, so it may be worthwhile pinging all who signed up last year as a notice about this thread?
posted by mightshould at 11:27 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I'm definitely interested this year and fine with changing the name - I didn't even know it was named after a person. Maybe we split the difference with something like Surprise Ponies Gift Swap? Still a fun name but a bit clearer about what it is up front.
posted by brilliantine at 11:29 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I would love for a way for folks who like receiving home-made things to indicate that and for folks who are likely to make a home-made thing to indicate that and then some magic behind the scenes can connect those two groups.
posted by maxwelton at 11:31 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


I've also sent this via the form, but am cross-posting here as well for community input, because obviously I don't know how everyone's lockdowns have gone/are going.
---------
When we were in full lockdown here in Italy, failure to comply was penal in nature. And at some point Amazon.it was only shipping what they deemed as essential products. Other stuff was also on indefinite hold at the height of the crisis, but intra-Italy shipping was only moderately affected for those of us outside the major hotspots.

In light of that, I think that having a new field on the signup form asking for local (to the giftee) shopping links - which accept international payment methods if they are in a cross-border cohort - would be helpful should the fit hit the shan again. I think it would be helpful for both if the gifter finds themselves unable to get to the post office, as well as if the giftee's incoming regional supply chains hit the skids unexpectedly.

And as such, I think any imposed/missed deadlines might need to have an asterisk for this year. The 2020 Sucks, Get Out of Jail card, as it were.
posted by romakimmy at 11:34 AM on August 14 [5 favorites]


I offer * secret sparkle * as an alternate name
posted by mightshould at 11:49 AM on August 14 [6 favorites]


I'm 100% down with a rebranding, I'll be watching the suggestions! I've actually been thinking about this a lot over the last couple of days, about what the event is -- and it's essentially some community members volunteering to help other community members exchange gifts with each other. That's part of what got me thinking about the exchange regions, and maybe making that a little more free-form, depending on how folks respond.

so it may be worthwhile pinging all who signed up last year as a notice about this thread

One of the guiding principles is not keeping information from year to year, for privacy, so I can't actually contact everyone. The only thing that's tracked is a list of people who shouldn't be allowed to participate again without good reason (due to not participating in good faith), and that's a very short list of usernames only. I debated asking for a banner header for this, and might in a couple of weeks? We'll see. A "state of the site" one just went up so I think that one takes precedence for the moment. =)

In light of that, I think that having a new field on the signup form asking for local (to the giftee) shopping links - which accept international payment methods if they are in a cross-border cohort - would be helpful should the fit hit the shan again.

This is a GREAT idea, I'll be sure to include it on the new sign-up form! This might actually be its own category this year, even, for folks who want to do something but don't want to ship.
posted by curious nu at 11:53 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Might there be an option for local swapping only, for places with enough mefites to drop off packages on porches and whatnot?

Also, how about combining them to get Surprise Ponies: the Metafilter gift swap.
posted by Margalo Epps at 12:53 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


Call it :::My Secret Pony!:::
posted by jgirl at 1:11 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Silent Might
posted by terrapin at 4:37 PM on August 14


Rather than make the sorting process more complex, I urge MeFites to accept the randomness and delight of a gift from an Internet Stranger. I have never gotten anything I didn't like, and have gotten some nice surprises including crafted. I can shop for myself and be specific.

terrapin, thanks for the explanation. I am not particularly averse to, or in favor of changing the name, except that I like it being whimsical. If the name is changed, there could be a contest where the winner gets gobs of MeFi Winter(N Hem.) Summer (S Hem) holiday cards.

It is one of my most favorite things. I have participated a lot, and MeFites are really terrific humans, as well as a few dogs and possibly cats.
posted by theora55 at 4:57 PM on August 14 [5 favorites]


Totally agree with the rebranding.

Silver Beans? Jingle Beans? ("I've been Beansed!")
MetaFestive?
Winter Cabal?
posted by Miko at 7:19 PM on August 14 [4 favorites]


Oh, I kind of like MetaFestive or some variant. Just MetaFest, or does that sound like a concert?
posted by NorthernLite at 8:00 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


winter cables.
The rebranding usually means a decline in a participation of said product in this case a seasonal event that involves commerce and goodwill in a chaging environment.

What are the participation level stats from the last 3 years? do they reflect the expense of changing the brand? I believe that's the economic question part of the event as to the goodwill aspect. well, Qounsar would never send me something like a pet rock, that's assumption but I could call him.
sorry. Take a vote or not. Bondcliff is right and is consistent, I wasn't a fan of the name but not my call. But from secret qounasar to q anon at first sounded... but with auto correct and grammar reconsidering, that could like a 30 comment Rik roll/forgotten/ thread pre moderation.
so, like the homemade idea of gifting though it might feel like shipping class c fireworks with special shimmer snowflake as a possible mail related identifier.
posted by clavdivs at 8:28 PM on August 14


The Festivus Annual Exchange.

for the rest of us.
posted by hippybear at 8:57 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


“Expense?”
posted by Miko at 9:19 PM on August 14


I loathe Seinfeld and would prefer not to rename it after that epically unfunny show. Metafilter Gift Exchange is simple and to the point, and while I'm not as into ponies as others I'd be down for one of the pony-themed names - I do often say things along the line of "I might as well wish for a pony" about things I am clearly not getting (reasonable government, good dating options, people to be kinder...).
posted by bile and syntax at 8:25 AM on August 15 [15 favorites]


I do often say things along the line of "I might as well wish for a pony" about things I am clearly not getting

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
posted by hippybear at 8:32 AM on August 15


I loathe Seinfeld and would prefer not to rename it after that epically [sic] unfunny show.

Chiming in to say I agree with you on this because I know how in the minority we are.
posted by terrapin at 9:40 AM on August 15 [9 favorites]


I like Seinfeld (the show, not the comedian) but I'm not big on festivus stuff. It's from a show, it's not a real thing. Stop trying to make Festivus happen.

The pony names are fine but again it causes the problem of having to explain things to non-Mefites. Even though I'm a firm believer in The War on Christmas and feel December Holiday should be a generic thing, when I tweet/instagram/facebook whatever I'm making for SQ I usually just say it's for "an internet Secret Santa" because everyone knows what that is.

"Pony swap" is actually sort of funny because I can imagine us all taking ponies down to the UPS store.
posted by bondcliff at 10:06 AM on August 15 [4 favorites]


I think whoever takes on the organizing should get to name it. That's a huge job.
posted by JanetLand at 10:11 AM on August 15 [5 favorites]


Rebrand away from Quonsor. I have not participated over the years partially because I am one of those people who found the user less than an ideal community member. They have not participated in the site in 13 years. It's time to move on IMO.

I understand if people want to rebrand, but I like the name. Quonsar was an asshole, but that makes it funnier to me and I like that the name is MeFi specific and that it doesn't contain any references to any real holidays.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:44 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


I am also in the 'keep it SQ' camp.

The Seinfeld idea would be a particularly egregious example of American cultural blandness stamping on an international phenomena.
posted by biffa at 11:18 AM on August 15 [5 favorites]


Just to kind of head things off, any renaming:

* won't be "festivus" or another pop culture reference;
* won't be reference to any real-world holidays;
* is almost 100% certain to happen, because it's 2020, world's (more noticeably) on fire, and "he is/was an asshole" is a pretty good reason to change things

I'll collect suggestions from this thread and put up another poll in a couple of weeks and ask the mods to banner it. Since the original name was put to a vote, seems good to do so again.

Thank you to everyone who has responded so far in either the comments here and/or the form! Vast majority of responses so far have noted no problem with continuing to participate, so I'm excited for the exchange this year. =)
posted by curious nu at 11:38 AM on August 15 [10 favorites]


I like the idea of keeping an in-jokey name because it feels secret and shared and special; it's a signal that we belong because we know the joke.

With that said, though, I utterly understand the other side of the debate, and would be perfectly fine with calling it something like 'Metafilter Gift Exchange'.
posted by kalimac at 11:39 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


"he is/was an asshole" is a pretty good reason to change things

Aren't we all arseholes in our own way? Don't we all want to be understood for the good we can bring to the world despite that? Can't we celebrate the good in all of us despite our individual failings? Where is the understanding? Where is the love? Let the true spirit of Quonsmas enter your hearts and be uplifted.
posted by biffa at 12:34 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


I like the idea of keeping an in-jokey name because it feels secret and shared and special;

I think this is something for the "yea" rebrand it column.

For the site to continue it must grow. For it to grow it must be welcoming. For it to be welcoming it can't be too cryptic and in-jokey.

"MetaFilter Gift Swap" or "MetaFilter Gratitude Exchange" or anything that doesn't mention a particular holiday (fictional or not) and is understandable by a larger section of the community as a whole is a win.

Those who wish to celebrate such things, are not being asked to not/never celebrate Quonsmas (or any other holiday) rituals or to not remember community members past — alive or who have closed their accounts. Please continue to do so!

I hope I don't go down in MetaFilter history as "the Grinch who kill Quonsmas," but I am also okay with that.

Just try to get it to be animated and don't let Jim Carey play me,k?
posted by terrapin at 2:06 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]


I participated for the first time last year and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Would certainly be happy to do again/contribute to financial aid. Unfortunately I have no suggestions at this time re: new name. I didn't even know the origin of "Quonsar" until I looked at the wiki, and definitely thought it was just a fun nonsense word from the mists of the site's past; if folks prefer to re-brand I've got no objection.
posted by peakes at 2:07 PM on August 15


I think this is something for the "yea" rebrand it column.

No, its something for the "nay", don't rebrand it column. Its change for the sake of change, it undermines the site history for no reason than because you can.
posted by biffa at 2:16 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


I always underplay compliments, I guess. What I meant to say is that I have *always* gotten something very thoughtful, interesting, cool, nifty, and that a few gifts have been even more so. Recipients should give good clues, givers should pay attention and put in some effort, and everybody should appreciate that an invisible friend tried to make you happy. There's precious little of that in the world. I avoided calling out specific gifts, but a couple crafted ones were really, really nice to get. Crafters should not be worried about their time and effort being valued.

I'm not unhappy with the name, but it could be nicknamed Secret Q. possibly a bit weird because of QAnon, but let's not let those guys make an entire letter of the alphabet toxic. also, ref.
posted by theora55 at 3:11 PM on August 15


It's the most magical time of the year, of course I'm in.

One etiquette caveat is that the way things are now in Chile, I do not see me going down to the post office, standing in line with people without masks or with their nose poking out. Would it be gauche to order something from aliexpress or wish and have it delivered to the quonsee?
posted by signal at 5:14 PM on August 15


Secret Solstice
Decembering
Decembrance
Winter Wonder-What
Mystery Mathowie
Holiday Hamster Bingo
Long-Distance Hug
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:39 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


i totally read that as Dismembering and i needed a sec
posted by mochapickle at 6:47 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]


i totally read that as Dismembering and i needed a sec

The Holiday Where You Just Fall Apart
posted by curious nu at 6:53 PM on August 15 [9 favorites]


Whatever we call it, and honestly I'm open to almost anything, I think the MeTa posts and whatever sidebar points to it it should use some sort of name that makes it obvious as to what it is. If inside the thread someone wants to tell the story of the first Quonsmas, that's fine, but any new members shouldn't have to dig through a FAQ to find out what this Quonsar or Cabal or Pony thing is.

I've been here 20 years and I only vaguely remember Quonsar and sort of remember him as not being very well liked by a lot of folks? Like he caused trouble or trolled or something? I don't even know. I don't remember why or when it started being called the Secret Quonsar, but I didn't participate in it for the first couple of years so I guess I missed that. I have nothing against the guy but it always seemed weird to me that they named this thing after him. I mean why not Secret Miguel Cardoso?

I don't have any super strong feelings either way but I do believe there was a push to make this place less in-jokey and this might be a good way of doing that.
posted by bondcliff at 7:14 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]


mean why not Secret Miguel Cardoso?
We tried that his first Christmas.

Amontillado prices went through the roof.

naming it after a Miguel would be bad idea, Miguel doesn't deserve that.
I propose if a name for any member is used, email it to the organizer, some folks might find there username bandied around kinda creepy.
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


I like an inside-joke name. I don’t like the idea that to be welcoming you shouldn’t have to learn about a community or that to be welcoming there can be no inside baseball stuff. I didn’t know anything about this stuff when I joined, but I learned over time as I became more familiar with the site. I don’t see any reason that we have to keep the site at Metafilter101 levels.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:46 AM on August 16 [7 favorites]


I definitely want to be in on this again! Sadly, due to COVID-19 related restrictions, sending parcels overseas (if you are in the US, overseas = where you are) is currently impossible or a lot more expensive for most of us here in the EU. So I might unfortunately need to choose to be assigned to a EU-only group this year.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:13 AM on August 16


I really like The War on Christmas.
I'd also like to point out that I've always gotten amazing gifts. I have one on my nightstand right now.
posted by signal at 5:30 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


I also had no idea Quonsar was a person. I don’t care either way about changing the name, except to the degree that it takes up energy that could be used for the actual swap.
posted by corb at 9:41 AM on August 17 [2 favorites]


Mx Molerats and I are partial to 'sneaky beans' or 'secret beans'.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:19 PM on August 17 [1 favorite]


On reflection I'd prefer to avoid any references to actual religious holidays (including Solstice).
posted by Miko at 6:37 AM on August 18 [1 favorite]


I didn't know Quonsar was a person either. I do like the name, because I like the goofiness of the word and all the derivatives (Quonsing, Quonsmas) that have been created.
posted by PussKillian at 8:44 AM on August 18


Quonsar annoyed me to no end, but I feel like by now the association between the annoying person and the gift program is pretty attenuated. I think it's kind of funny that many people had no idea that he was a user; it sort of proves the point that that using his name for the program is not in any way a celebration of the person, it's more like an appropriation of the word for something totally different.
posted by Mid at 8:57 AM on August 18


I always enjoy participating in this, and hope to again this year! I enjoy the silliness of the name Secret Quonsar, which has a great ring to it; I smile every time I say it. I want Metafilter in general to be open and welcoming to new people, but I don't think that the holiday gift exchange is a core part of that; like, a store can be welcoming to shoppers without having the stockroom and break room on full public display.

I don't remember interacting a lot with Quonsar, but my impression is that he was prickly and a jerk, but not like, an active stand-out bigot. That would change the calculation.

My preference for name, in order:
Secret Quonsar
Literally any other name
Actual holiday names
Festivus and other stupid shit from someone else's pop culture (hint: every piece of your favourite pop culture is "someone else's pop culture" to most people)
posted by Superilla at 10:10 AM on August 18 [1 favorite]


I would rather keep the name, but if we move away, I’m with bondcliff on switching to something descriptive.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:31 AM on August 18 [2 favorites]


GiftMe
posted by Miko at 12:35 PM on August 18 [4 favorites]


I am finding this conversation fascinating. Around the world people are renaming things that have a troubled past. We have a no-no list of words we can no longer use on Metafilter, but we want to keep the name of a troublesome user who is no longer here for an annual gift giving.

Yeah, I don't understand.

Have fun!
posted by terrapin at 6:11 AM on August 19 [1 favorite]


I think it is time to retire the Quonsar name. I've always liked the idea of the in-joke, but inwardly cringed at the backstory.

I like Secret MeFite. Or maybe GiftMe or some variant of that concept?
posted by initapplette at 12:07 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


For the site to continue it must grow. For it to grow it must be welcoming. For it to be welcoming it can't be too cryptic and in-jokey.

As someone who came to the site well after quonsar left, I didn't have trouble figuring out what was happening with Secret Quonsar because someone gave me a one-sentence explanation. I don't think "hey, this is just what we call our winter gift exchange" is too cryptic or in-jokey - people can figure out what the deal is fairly easily - I did, and didn't have to dig around to do it.

There are definitely mefi jokes that are a lot weirder and less accessible to new people.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:50 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I don't think Quonsar ever consented to the name appropriation, either. Another thing that doesn't feel right these days.
posted by Miko at 10:13 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I filled out the survey before any holiday peak shipping premiums were announced. Depending what they are, I might be in favor of rescheduling to avoid up-charges.
posted by daisyace at 6:08 AM on August 21


Quick update based on the results after ~a week:

* 90% of respondents don't foresee anything keeping them from participating, the rest are "maybes" depending on how we can accommodate, assuming nothing else happens, etc.
* The traditional mailing zones seem to still be the popular ones, couple of requests for SE Asia

So that's pretty encouraging! I'm figuring out how to do the "I will buy something local to you" option, but other than that the exchange should go ahead like normal. I still want to do the rename question in a few weeks, and I'll ask the mods to banner that so we make sure to get as much participation as possible. Thanks everyone who's responded so far.
posted by curious nu at 3:11 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


i think "secret pee tape" has a certain ring to it. but what the smock do i know?
posted by pee tape at 7:33 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I’d like to slightly revise my earlier comment: although I don’t personally feel the need to change the name, I certainly don’t mind changing it given that other mefites who actually remember the user in question are suggesting it.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:49 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


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