My mooch ratio was .85:1 and now it is 1.16:1. My understanding was that the bonus was to encourage international mooching. I have almost 200 points in my account and I can see where eventually, if I continue to mooch internationally (which I do quite often) I will get to the point where I will be unable to continue to mooch books (even though I earned the points by sending out books) because my ratio will be too high. At that point I will either have to discontinue using bookmooch or post even more books and get more points that I cannot use.
No, if you continue to mooch internationally and NOT send books internationally, what you write about will happen. If you mooch and give internationally in equal amounts, then there's no problem.
But, to look at your account specifically, you have: Mooched/given: 972/672
Think about BookMooch as a whole for a minute: how can the entire BookMooch economy survive if I encourage everyone to mooch more books than they receive?
You've received 1.45 books for every book you've given, and you've received almost a thousand books. It's great that you send internationally, and the fact that you've sent more books internationally (236 books) vs mooched internationally (176 books) is the reason your mooch ratio is 1.16, and not 2.02 (which is what it would be, taking into account your pending mooches).
I'd say the current system has rewarded you well: because you've sent internationally more than you've mooched internationally, your mooch ratio is well within the less-than-2:1 mooch ratio limit.
Isn't the (old) mooch ratio calculation (& extra mooch points) supposed to encourage international mooching??
It's supposed to encourage international giving, and it still does that.
If you give a book internationally, you get:
1) 3 points to spend in your country
2) a 3 point bonus to your mooch ratio to spend in your country
1) if you send a book to another country
2) you get to mooch 3 books in your country
3) OR, you can mooch 1 book from another country
Send a book to another country, get a book from another country -- that seems fair to me.
Or, if you don't see books internationally you want, you send 1 book to another country, and get 3 books in your own country.
One of my mooching acquaintances who is from a country with a relatively small mooching population has mooched 302 books and given 435. But because he has to largely mooch internationally, given the size of the mooching population in his country his mooch ratio is 1.72:1. In other words, he mooches books internationally, but gives quite a few to his fellow countrymen. This new ratio system seems to penalize moochers in countries where there are few options but to mooch internationally, especially if they want to read books in English and are not in an English speaking country.
This is an interesting case, but I think it's still correct.
The basic idea of BookMooch is the 1:1 trade. You give a book, you get a book.
Your example above is from someone who presumably has very few books that other people in other countries want to mooch from them. Therefore, they tend to mooch internationally but send books domestically.
That situation can't exist forever, it's essentially an imbalance of trade, with BM books flowing into that country, but not flowing out. On a macro level, that won't be good for the health of BM.
There are two solutions I see:
1) over time, other members will appear on that country who have books that people outside that country will want, and that will balance the country's trade balance out
2) this person needs to find books that people outside their country want, if they want to be able to mooch internationally.
It's very expensive to send books internationally, often more than 3X more expensive. It's important not to take this for granted. If you are willing to pay the extra postage cost to send a book internationally, I think you should be rewarded and be able to ask someone else to do the same.
My straight ratio, for instance, would be 1.27. But my adjusted ratio is 1.33. If i was to mooch my next 10 books internationally, but send my next 10 books domestically - which i can afford to do - my mooch ratio would rise to 1.37 even though i'd be mooching on a 1:1 basis. Keep in mind that as a Canadian, i wouldn't be saving money by sending these books domestically - far from it! I can't see how this change makes any sense. It seems that a desire for "symmetry" is outweighing concerns about encouraging international mooching, as many people are pointing out.
The goal of the points system and mooch ratio is *not* to encourage people to mooch a book from a foreign country if the same book is available in your own country. That would be a misuse of resources: more expensive postage, more airline fuel being used to send books further.
The goal of the points system and mooch ratio is to fairly compensate you if you pay the extra money to the postal system to send a book internationally. That's all it's trying to do.
Therefore, if you mooch a book internationally, that causes the sender to pay a lot more to their postal system. If you then give a book internationally, you've had to bear a similar cost, and they should cancel each other out.
Also note that in your example, you would still be way within the 2:1 mooch ratio limit, and not have any restriction on being able to spend your points.
I'm just adding to all the things said above, but it's still worth the repeating. You had stated previously that the ratio imbalance was a bonus to encourage international mooching. Logically, this change (especially on top of your proposed changes to the points allocation for international mooches) can only be because you no longer wish to encourage international mooches?
John, what's really going on here?
Two things prompted this change:
1) I've received many emails from people who have noticed that certain users have hugely imbalanced mooch/give numbers. Often, they would be mooching hugely more books than they were giving. They'd be mooching and giving internationally, but with the old ratio system, you could give as few as 20 books internationally, and receive 120 books internationally (2:1 ratio at a 3x bonus point).
2) As I posted elsewhere, there are some macro-economic signs in the BM economy that some corrections need to be made. Among the more troubling to me is that the total number of books in the system has been declining steadily:
The mooch ratio calculation as it was would contribute to this problem.
So, based on three observations:
1) it "feels right" to many people who wrote to me (and to me) that if you send a book to someone in another country, and pay the extra postage, you should be able to ask someone to send a book to you from another country. That's fair. But, you shouldn't expect more of a reward than that.
2) the old system in fact did lead some people to mooch internationally a lot more than they gave
3) there are some signs of ill-health in the BM economy at a macro level
So, that's why this change was made.
In addition, I saw that Admin Mark made a bunch of comments on the LibraryThing forum, and I'm copying them here as I think they do add to the discussion:
The ratio limit only comes into effect when one goes above 2:1, even with this change the accounts I have looked at thus far are still below it, but if anyone is over 2:1 now that was not before, an accommodation can be made.
Members quite often suggest something closer to a 1:1 ratio, which is what some other sites seem to favor.
I think getting two books for each one sent is quite generous, even though many people choose to either give more than they send or maintain a 1:1 out of their own sense of fairness.
The problem was generally perceived to be members in the largest countries, mainly the US, who were not sending books outside of their countries.
So the idea of the original change was to try and encourge these members to send more books outside of their own countries.
But as the bonus was not evenly applied, people who were equally sending and mooching to other countries had no real ratio limit as other members did, this struck some people as unfair.
Quite a few accounts would have been able to mooch 3 or 4 times as many books as sent in time due to this, which was not seen as healthy to the system overall.
He really, really does care a lot about international trading. There are many reasons why the other trading sites have not attempted to be international, it has taken a great amount of work to keep international trading growing as it has been through time on Bookmooch despite ever-escalating postal fees, cultural/language barriers, security issues, etc....
I can see how it does seem unfair, but he didn't have a way to make the change and not have it reflect one's entire trading history.
I'm sure John will respond. My sense is that he did not see many accounts that would go above 2:1 with the change so he did not see it as blocking people's ability to mooch, even those mooching many more books than they send.
The ratio acts more to let someone know that they might be approaching the upper limit, and so few people actually get too close to it.
Competing notions of fairness are very difficult to resolve. He is trying to find a balance between encouraging people to send internationally, but still having a reasonable ratio limit in place that is evenly applied.
I did look at a series of accounts that had mooched close to twice as many books as they had sent (some with thousands of trades) and they were still not over the 2:1 limit.
I hope it is clear how very rarely anyone is actually blocked from mooching based on their ratio limit, and even if it were to begin to happen, it could be lifted for a member in good standing who had points to spend.
1. Sending domestically is not always cheaper than sending internationally. Canada, Australia, etc.
2. The points don't work out. If you really want even ratios, then get rid of the extra point for sending internationally. (Note that I think _that_ change would kill the site for international members.)
3. Members who find and list wishlisted books do not necessarily get international mooches for those same books. This change in the ratio makes it even less likely for those intl mooches to happen.
4. People who live in smaller countries want any mooches, even if the other member does not send internationally.
5. Fair is not the same as good.
Edit: I just noticed this part, which is a reason for a change. "With the old ratio system, you could give as few as 20 books internationally, and receive 120 books internationally (2:1 ratio at a 3x bonus point)." Then change the ratio so intl mooches count as 2 books, not 3.
One quick question, can you clarify whether or not the point cost of international mooches has been changed?
The About/Points Explained pages still say that international mooches cost only 2 points (as of a few minutes ago). From what i can tell, this is just an adjustment in ratio calculations, but not a change to the actual point cost of international mooching -- is this correct? (It would definitely discourage international mooching if the point cost has gone up.)
I appreciate that you are trying to prevent mooch imbalance (as in the example you provided). Is it possible to say how many members will now be pushed to near or over the the 2:1 ratio? e.g. how many people are actually going to be negatively affected by this change?
Also, you are assuming that the declining curve of total inventory is due to some economic issues in bookmooch. It might actually be for some other reason, e.g. saturation among those likely to be interesting in book mooching, lower key participation due to our current economy, etc. Do you have any information on comparative numbers for other swapping sites?
John, I'm much newer than most of the members who are upset about this, but even I can see that making this change retroactive is doing a disservice to people who operated under the rules as they were provided. This is akin to a person favoring a certain airline because they have a generous frequent flyer program, then having that program changed retroactively so that the points are no longer as useful. It's not a good practice.
I understand you are always trying to balance so you can make as many people happy as possible, but changes should not be retroactive.
> with the old ratio system, you could give as few as 20 books internationally, and receive 120 books internationally (2:1 ratio at a 3x bonus point).
John, I understand that you mean well, but that just sounds wrong. To receive these 120 international books, one would have to spend 240 points. Sending 20 books overseas only gives you 60 points. The other 180 points have to come from somewhere, don't they? Either listing 1800 books (unlikely, but if it happened I'm sure a significant number of books in that inventory would find a new home pretty quick) or sending 180 points to fellow country people, etc. If you want to justify the 2:1 ratio and how the new system helps it be fairer, I'd like to read a more realistic example.
As an exclusively international moocher (both active and passive, because there are essentially no other BM members within my country that share my interests as far as book topic or language is concerned), I find it very difficult to understand the seriousness of what you consider problems in the BM point system - all I see is how the proposed solutions make international mooches rather less attractive. If your aim is to make sure that the number of listed books stops declining, I'm afraid your changes will indeed achieve this goal but for the wrong reasons: the number of listed books will remain high because less people will mooch them!
When I logged in this morning I was shocked, angered and very unhappy that my ratio was changed that drasticly without being warned before. Would you have announced those plans somewhere more openly, I, for example, would not have mooched so many books in the last two month, even if they were books I had on my wish list for a long time.
What I simply don't understand is how this change will help to increase activity here on bookmooch. In fact for me this is now a reason to think twice before I mooch a book in the future.
This seems likely to constrain participation in bookmooch at this point.
The best person I've mooched from (who has gone out of her way to find me books that I was looking for, or to suggest books and take pictures of them so I could determine if they make sense for me)has been suddenly dumped into the illegal ratio category. The fact that she's been able to get to the point where she has enough points to be in the illegal category is because people recognize that she's doing good things (setting up a local lending library) and have donated points to her. Or they appreciate her efforts after she sends a book and sends a "smooch". It's actually quite hard to get into the illegal zone without people really loving you... part of the community aspect of the site.
there are many more straightforward indicators of abuse of the system than your mooch ratio. I think one might be a "ratio of mooch requests from you to mooches ultimately sent" or "% of people canceling a trade on you before a book is sent." I think people spending points earned from books they haven't sent (and may never send) is the worst abuse on here.
Oh dear, John, you are seriously overthinking this. And it's all put forward in quite a hostile manner. Citing peoples' comments, and pointing out in front of the community how well they benefited!? What happened to you? And ill health at the macro level? For all we know this is due to the international economy or some other reason, like Lethe pointed out above. (This hasty misuse of statistics is quite a common mistake among journalists and amateur researchers.) Furthermore, you assume that we're out to get BookMooch and use it in the wrong way to maximise personal gain. My experience with the mooch community is that they're mostly very altruistic and solidaric people, regardless of the amount of points they have. John - relax a little, will you.
I think this works to make the system more fair. There's nothing unfair about two for one. I'm also unclear about how anything he said could be construed as hostile when he is being accused of "stealing".
I must admit that was my thinking when I first read about possible changes. It's supposed to be an international site of book lovers, we are not talking world politics - our currency is unwanted (and yes they are or they wouldn't be listed) second hand books. Nations will not fall if people accumulate points!
On a more serious note, I'm thinking of asking my brother to return the gift I bought him for Christmas as I spent more on him than he has on me. This whole retroactive way of doing things has really opened my eyes! In future all gifts will be bought on a strict £ spent = £ received basis.
John, you haven't addressed the retroactive nature of this change.
I assume it is simply easier, technically, to make the change retroactively -- but I think people would appreciate knowing this. And even more, they would appreciate you taking the time to do the more-technically-difficult thing, and fix it so this change is not applied retroactively.
Whether or not this new method is fair, or right, or good, you must acknowledge that people acting as they did under the old method were doing nothing wrong at the time. Their previous actions should not be retroactively punished, and they are understandably very upset about this.
infinite letters... not sure how easy it is to become a charity, but agree it would make sense,if possible.
Still,the point stands that by and large, people earned points, either directly or indirectly, by inspiring people to support them. .. I'm not sure that using the ratio to limit their ability to use those points, makes sense.
I appreciate your clarifications here, but in contrast to most people here I still don't feel this is a major deal.
However, I agree that the graph showing the number of books in the system *is* worrying. To me, the solution to that is to encourage more books to get into the system, not to mess with other parts of the system.
1) Getting more people to use Bookmooch. More people starting to use the site means more people adding their books to receive points to start mooching themselves (which is also an argument to not remove the points for listing books, at least not for the first 100 books or so).
2) Somehow giving existing users the incentive to add more books and more desired books.
-- I suggested before to give point bonuses for adding books that are on many wishlists, and I still think this would be a workable idea.
-- Someone else suggested the possibility of a bonus for adding books that are less than a certain age, which I think could also increase the average desirability of books added.
-- Another thing that could be considered would be to make it easier to swap magazines as well. As far as I can tell, there is currently no official way to say that something is a magazine. I suppose a binding type of "magazine" would be reasonable. Still, some people are entering magazines to their inventories but since this is currently somewhat haphazardly done it is sometimes a bit difficult to search for them. Even so, I have found and mooched a few and would happily get more. Some of the magazines I've gotten actually contain as much reading as many novels.
If you made a rule and people accrued points under that system you should not steal the points that they accrued. It is like the government saying we have changed the taxes to 10% this year instead of 8% now everyone owes us 2% for the last lets say 5 years...now pay up. It is silly to take peoples points...kind of like stealing...let people keep their points that they made up to the time of the decision, and from this point on make the changes. Unless you really do want to get rid of international mooching and if that is the case just keep stealing points and pissing people off that are mooching and sending internationally and you will eventually have a system that is exclusively american as it gives no bonus for international mooches and n-o incentive to mooch internationally.
It cost me 19$ a few weeks ago to send a book internationally and 20$ domestically but the prospect that I could get other books from a moocher either internationally or otherwise keeps me going. If you continue with the changes likely you will loose many contributors. It's sad but used on Amazon.com or ca is cheaper. it will put you out of business if you do not keep your contributors happy and onboard.
I thought BookMooch was trying to encourage international mooching. One of the ways you do this is a bonus point on international mooching, and you have said before that we should be able to spend those points as well. But now all of a sudden you think it is wrong to receive more books than you get, and you enforce this on us without so much as a warning. It does make me very afraid about what else is coming. Will you retroactively retract all bonus points? I'm almost afraid to write it down because I might be giving you ideas. Anyway, I used to trust BookMooch. I do hope I will be able to trust it again someday.
On a more neutral note: if you want to change the mooch ratio to make it more fair, why not change it to go along with the points? 3 ratio points for sending, 2 ratio points for receiving internationally? To me, that seems a lot fairer than the current situation.
Dude, I understand what you're trying to do economically, but it's just as short-sighted as protectionism was. In fact, it's a form of that.
In bookmooch economic terms, you're basically putting barriers around international trade. Before, you used to have incentives around international trade. Now you have an incentive for domestic traffic and a disincentive for international traffic. (Bit more complicated than that but let's not argue trivialities.)
If there's any reasonable lesson we can draw from the economies of international trade, it's that protectionism is, in the long run, not a good idea. And you are not looking at the long run here. Even a pure 1:1 ratio and point calculation would be preferrable -- it would remove the incentive from international mooching, but at least not disincentivise it. It would grow more slowly because of postage rates, but at least it would grow. This way it's just going to shrink.
Also, for someone who considers themselves savvy, it's a pretty glaring error on your part to have changed things retroactively. People get out of places where they don't feel protected by the law. You must cultivate a sense of history, because it's let you down.
Thanks to the person who pointed out that it may be a technical pain to implement points change *without* applying it retroactively. As programmer, John should have the final say as to whether certain changes are feasible. That said, retroactive change startles people who have acted in good faith. My own take on international mooching is that it's costly, but good to do. I have an international postage budget. When it's used up (as it is now) I won't send internationally until the kitty fills up again. My budget is based on my erratic income as freelancer. Moochers have been understanding and kind about my system. By being explicit in our status messages/bios about what we are willing to do re international mooches, we can transact happily with like-minded people.
Oh, another economic thought. You singled out someone's case and pointed out that they have received 3 books for every 2 they've given -- *as if that's a bad thing*. Are you really trying to make a 1:1 economy? Economies need growth to grow, by definition, dammit! Bookmooch's economy (I'll grant you that conceit just so we can talk in the same language) is small and you are trying to apply a huge change (again, let's not even discuss how not on it is to do so retroactively). Economies grow by value being produced (and not by currency being produced from thin air -- that's just a lubricant). Given how many people are taking value away by having accumulated a lot of points, I would think you'd want to jealously protect any source of value and tread carefully with any changes, lest they restrict that value.
I have done no accusations of stealing and no name calling and yet I was used as an example in John's response as if I were a criminal. I have not been gaming the system but rather using it as it had been set up previously. I have a flawless feedback record and have sent close to 700 books (international and domestically)in the past 2 years. I am a good moocher and always respond promptly and communicate delays effectively. For John to insinuate otherwise is insulting.
Incidentally, in 2 days it will be my 2 year anniversary of joining bookmooch. Happy anniversary, indeed.
Laddiebuck's post really strikes me as important... this is a form of protectionism, and a detriment to trade. As I have said before, the international aspect is what sets bookmooch apart from other sites. If you want BM to be more similar to other sites, what will be the impetus for anyone with the opportunity to use it over other sites?
I amassed a large amount of points within 2 weeks because I spent a large amount of money sending them. So yes, if I spend $20 mailing a book, I can get more than one book mailed from the states (Where it usually costs about $5 to mail to me). So what? How is that at all 'unfair'? Frankly it is fair. I live in Canada, and as others have said many Canadian members are now actively *refusing* to send within Canada. So now you have put up walls around countries, and in this case it is a country that has put up walls between provinces. Which leaves a very small pool of books indeed.
Making examples out of individual members is frankly beneath contempt. I *really* wish I could find a nicer way to say this, but I really can't. It does create a hostile climate. Why should you have to behave when it is your site? Literally I suppose you do not. Ethically you need to understand that there is a power differential there. I am a teacher. Despite the fact that some students can be quite rude, I would be punished for making an example of an individual student's work or report card.
Making these changes retroactive is disingenuous at best. It does seem as though you are consciously trying to punish those you perceive as having 'behaved badly' in the past. I am sorry if sending a large amount of international books somehow offended you. That does not make changing the rules retroactively the correct thing to do.
In the past I have tried to encourage friends to join bookmooch. Right now it is in a state of turbulence and unrest. I do not know what will happen from one day to another. Will I suddenly have points retroactively taken away from me tomorrow? Will my account be frozen for X reason? I have no idea, no control, and apparently we have no say (Because graphs from one environment without taking the global economy into consideration prove us wrong!). How can I possibly encourage friends to join in a situation like this? I loved bookmooch when I first joined, I wondered why it took me so long. Now I am very very concerned. PLEASE reconsider this John.. I do want to have faith that this system can work without resorting to punishing and belittling people.
I hope this post stays up. Also posting on LIbraything in case it is censored out.
"Thanks to the person who pointed out that it may be a technical pain to implement points change *without* applying it retroactively."
I'm sorry but that's ridiculous. We are not talking about implementing a network stack here. Based on our usage of the site, we already know the database columns are there to separate points by date, and the calculation is triviality itself.
Another idea: Before these changes had been made retroactively, I would have been willing to send a voluntary donation to a pool that could be used to by a large bulk quantity of whatever book is on the most wanted list and is easily shipable (or shipable from the manufacturer). The donation would have to be voluntary of course, but it would result in an influx of wishlist books, and a decrease of surplus points all around.
John, what was the reason for the ratio in the first place? Wasn't it to act as protection against scammers, who list a heap of desirable books, mooch from other people, and then disappear? Do these changes actually help that particular function? Because a lot of pain is being felt (and expressed) by people who are demonstrably valuable members of this site.
Maybe this whole problem comes down to your comment that “The basic idea of BookMooch is the 1:1 trade. You give a book, you get a book”. Because that is definitely not how many of us see things. I give books (plural) away and get books (plural) in return. I don't care if the person who mooches from me has done so on a one-to-one basis or a three-to-one (or four, or five, or …) basis. Give books: get books.
Is the economic model even relevant to this sort of system?
I would like to add that Belladonna is an extremely well respected member of bookmooch... Singling any one person out is bad enough, but why not highlight someone who is actually abusing the system, rather than berating one of your best members? For springing this on her as a surprise frankly you owe her an apology at the very least.
Just want to echo Teagirl here: as if it wasn't bad enough to apply these changes retroactively yesterday, singling out users in your post above was also just not on. You can make an example using yourself or people whom you have asked for their consent.
John, an economic model is nice, but you can't have an economy without a basic social contract and ideally rule of law. People won't participate in something they feel is detrimentally unpredictable, whatever its benefits might be. Deeply unpopular and unwise though the ratio change is, you wouldn't be seeing this level of furore if you hadn't made it retroactive.
I don't have stats to back me up here, but this is my emotional reaction:
Those of us who have a surplus of points got them by investing heartily in the system. My take/give is currently 610/579 and my now-ratio is .79:1. I have 282.6 points unused. I can tell you, though, that I have given away WAY more than those 579 books. I give away books 2 for 1 regularly, sometimes even 4 for 1, and internationally I only ask points to cost of the package, no matter how many books are in there. I give away my points all the time, to other members or charities, and sometimes I don't even ASK for points. I can do these things because 40% of my outgoing mooches are international. I can do these things because the Bookmooch environment made me WANT to do these things, to share what I have in excess. I give a little, too.
All the economics aside, my issue here is that there is an implication here that we are being bad or greedy Bookmoochers by mooching more than sending. I know that's not what you intend, and not what you mean, but that's how it feels, and I just feel that myself, and many of us with long histories (and I'm only here 1.5 years, which is not that long!) give more to the community than is evident through ratios and points.
I also don't think it was right to call out Belladonna directly with a link to her account. The last time I mooched a couple dozen books from her she donated half the points to a BM charity of my choosing.
It really is all about spreading the book love as much as we can afford.
I agree with laddiebuck. If the changes were made as of now, with existing statistics staying as they were, members would have a choice how to conduct their account in future, though I still think many would simply stop sending internationally as the incentive 'bonus' is no longer there. You haven't just moved the goalposts a bit, you've started playing a completely different game.
I really don't understand why the ratio is relevant on the user profile, or should be capped. It is of statistical interest; but all users need to see are the open, pending, and completed transactions. THIS tells us the quality of the other party and likelihood of a satisfactory transaction. And NOTHING should be set up that will discourage international transactions; they are what make this site unique!
If point inflation is the issue, stop giving the .1 for acknowledging receipt, and set the international points even at 3. Another factor may be the 'quality' of inventory. I will remove unmooched books listed 2 years ago or longer and take them to Goodwill. That will reduce my 'excess' points a bit, and encourage me to list newer books. Maybe other members with a lot of points might consider the same.
JF's idea of rewarding members who bring in new blood looks like a good idea.
Forgive me, and in agreement with Joanna Collie above, does the mooch ratio really matter? I understood the ratio an attempt to prevent people from mooching up to 80 books (as I have seen) without sending any in return, although I do not think it ever truly worked because books pending to send are included in the mooch calculations as sent. Is there a better way: for example that people are prevented from requesting new books if they have more than 10 pending to-send books? Or better yet adjusting the ratio calculations so that books which have been requested but not actually marked as sent do not count in the ratio?
Personally, I can see why this type of ratio change could be good but perhaps instituting it without notice was not the best way forward.
I totally agree with Rosemarie Larkin. If you are an established member, the ratio should have no bearing on anything. You earned the points, you should be able to spend them any way you wish.
Fortunately, I only have 2.6 points, so it won't kill me to walk away from BM, as I am seriously considering doing. I have given some of my points to charities and some to other members, just because, so I hardly ever have any! But, because I have done a lot of angel mooches and sent frequently internationally, I am one of those who has actually received more books than I have given. My ratio used to be 0.97:1 and now it is suddenly 1.34:1. I'm not in any danger of hitting the cap, but why does it matter to anyone? I didn't steal the points or get them somehow illegitimately, so why I can't I do what I like with them?
I would suggest that the use of macroeconomics is inappropriate in a situation which is cleary a microeconomy. If there were less books sent last year, could it be due to the shaky world economy? It seems to me the system has been humming along just fine until some of the recent changes.
Heather, I take your point (and thank you for responding to me), but since I have seen a ratio hit 80:1 before the user was barred from the site for fraud, the ratio as a fraud prevention tool is not working. More generally, I do not think these changes will improve the ratio's ability to predict or prevent fraud. I've followed these blogs closely this week and am not quite sure what the point of these changes to the ratio are. The strength of BM has to me always been that it is not a straight swap website, and perhaps this discussion has demonstrated there needs to be another tool to determine whether or not someone is a 'good' moocher.
I am disgusted at John for "calling out" a Great BM'er Belladonna is the cream of the crop and you chose her to set your example AND without notifying her you were going to do so???Shame on you! I am now rethinking my membership to BM as are many others. I also think that doing this retroactively was not fair to longtime members and I agree that it feels like we've been robbed!
Be assured the comments are being posted in both places - some are concerned their posts will be removed (which is not happening as far as I can see) as too inflammatory for this blog (happened before but an apology was issued) so leave a comment on LT just in case. And because we feel we can say things there that we can't here - as we have a community which understands the implicit meaning of our comments where we can wail a lot louder there without the feared repercussions.
The trouble with having a straight 1:1 ratio is what do I do? I have about a third of my mooches as angel-requests, which is why my stats are so skewed. If it was 1:1 I would not be able to get books for me too, and would not have any recompense for the high cost of postage I pay for all those angel-request sends! Think about that before you suggest it people - not just what affects you! which is where all these complaints came from originally - from members only concerned about their only selfish situations. Shame you are the ones that get listened to, while the members who strive to make this site so much of a community don't.
John, you could have used my account as a better example of a bad ratio between gives and gets; I don't do the deals belladonna does - I just send angel mooches non-stop! IMHO - disappointing. Poor decision that, along with the advice you seem to be getting. Entirely unwarranted too.
Whether or not your analysis is right (and I don't believe it is), there is still the ethical problem of making this change retroactive. You are changing the rules of the game and it is penalizing people who mooched and sent books under the old system. It's incredibly unfair to make this retroactive and I hope you will at least consider changing that.
It has really broken a lot of the trust that has been built up over the years between you and your members. Please reconsider.
Before John changed the ratio calculations, My Mooch Ratio was 1.16:1
Now my Mooch Ratio is 1.44:1
If we went to a 1:1 Mooch Ratio my ratio would be 2.2:1
So I must be a very bad Moocher according to BM standards.
I must be taking advantage of BookMooch!
I must be taking advantage of the BookMooching system by spending the points I have earned & been gifted. All points which have been earned by sending books out by myself or by others.
I angel Mooch & get books for others where I live. I donate mooched books to the library & get books for people at my church who can't get books for themselves & for their kids.
Most of the time when I angel mooch for someone, they also smooch me a point or two extra. Other moochers smooch me or charity me points when they see I'm low because they know that all the books I mooch are not for me.
I do smooch others & charity points, just not as much as I am smooched.
I followed the rules as were set out.
But I must be a very bad person and a very bad moocher!
You "picked on" Belladonna for her ratio. Well mine is higher.
So I must be a very bad moocher!!
I have 4 large copy paper boxes of books waiting to post on BM, but MY ECONOMIC SITUATION is such that I cannot afford to send out 150 books a month!! I want those books GONE!! But MY ECONOMIC SYSTEM says that I need to eat & pay rent & pay my heat & light bills. Those come first!
So, the world economic crisis doesn't affect BM? Baloney!!
That situation can't exist forever, it's essentially an imbalance of trade, with BM books flowing into that country, but not flowing out. On a macro level, that won't be good for the health of BM.
Since I have the good fortune to live in a country and a city with easy access to large amounts of English books, and have a postal system which makes it (relatively) affordable to mail internationally, I make a point to find and send books to moochers in countries with very small mooching populations whenever possible. I think in this case comparing these transactions to world trade is perhaps unfair. A better comparison would be international relief efforts;) Perhaps there could be a special accommodation in the ratio for moochers from countries with less than 20 members? "On a macro level" it actually has very little effect on the health of BM, there are not that many users in this category in comparison to those in the top two or three countries.
My ratio was rather silly, my new is quite reasonable, I have more points than I can use and have sent through charity or smooches approximately 1000 points to other moochers and charities over the years, so my concern is not for myself but for a) international moochers in countries with fewer members, or difficult postal systems and b) trying to figure out how to encourage more moochers in the U.S. and U.K. (the big two countries) to consider international mooching. I understand the "fairness" of this new ratio system, but the world economy is not "fair" (slipping dangerously into politics) and perhaps the Bookmooch economy should reflect that?
BTW "stealing" is a bit harsh. We haven't lost points, just had a rather sudden and shocking change in the TOS of this website we all feel rather passionate about.
It is remarkable that nobody is trying to see the problem from John's point of view.
Firstly, I am not impressed by the statistics and especially think the explanations are far from correct. I am convinced they do not explain the dynamics on the site. For example, international trade should be split in US--non-US trade and all outside US trade. Another thing is that trade seems dominated by book in English. Books in other languages hardly go.
I think John's basic idea that the site should strive for 1:1 is correct. The 1:1 principle means that everyone is always hungry for books, which will stimulate mooching. The current system leads to saturation. I have exchanged 720 books (out) for 1150 books (in). I am getting more books rather than less. It will be about 10 years of solid reading to read all those books! Basically, I should already stop mooching.
However, 1:1 works very well within a country. The international shipping fees require a different award, and I think the current point system covers that well. There is even room for small changes there, such as proposed in the other thread, although I would rather keep the points system as it is.
I would like to high-light this comment by John: "If you are willing to pay the extra postage cost to send a book internationally, I think you should be rewarded and be able to ask someone else to do the same. "
This is a concern many international members are worried about, nl that many US-members mooch but not give internationally, while BM mantra is that we have to serve them. Personally, I don't care where my books go, in fact, the US is the cheapest shipping destination. But changes as above will further sharpen this divide.
I think many people on the site respond like frustrated children. Nothing is taken away from us! The ratio is descriptive, it does not stand for points. I am sure with some creativity, you can make BM work for you.
Some people don't need BM, in their countries they have 2nd hand shops, yard sales, ex-lib books, amazon etc, etc. I need BM, there are no other sources of books for me. I must buy all English books at new-value imported prices and books in other languages are not even available anywhere on this continent.
BM is a great site, and it works very well,and I am sure it will, even with these minor changes. I don't think these changes will solve the problems, but they do not spoil the game.
I think these changes are fine. I don't understand the details of what the changes are expected to accomplish but I work hard to maintain close to a "1 book in-1 book out" ratio. I don't think people should mooch internationally if they aren't willing to send internationally - but that's just a personal thing; I love the site, and love the opportunity to send and receive books from all over the world. Now if I could only find more time to read all these great books! John - thanks for trying to keep the whole system up and running, it's a very worthwhile endeavor.
You are all missing the point here: if your ratio goes over 2:1 you are refused the ability to mooch. What in all names do you think we are getting upset about otherwise?
I tire of comments from members only concerned with their own small environment - which in some cases is by their own choice.
All I care about is for all of us, all of us, to be able to use the points we have paid for, with exorbitant postage fees, to mooch any book we want, when it comes available, by any means allowed. I don't believe I should be worrying about my mooch ratio when lots of my books are sent by (still very expensive sea mail) and my mooch ratio is dependent on their arrival and then me having to send a huge number more - and so accumulating more points - which I won't be allowed to use due to a sudden change in ratio calculation. Especially when there are so many members who won't send to me, have huge numbers of delayed mooches and books which are listed, then mooched and which will never be sent. The change in the ratio was to stop members mooching many, many more books than they sent - the international bonus was to help encourage sending internationality with much higher postal costs.
With the ratio issue, I am assured this won't happen - well I knew it wouldn't before; but I don't now. As long as there is a guarantee that members in good standing; who are have great feedback and send all over the world, are not going to be stopped mooching I don't really care what happens. But I certainly have a different opinion about BookMooch from the last few days.
"Think about BookMooch as a whole for a minute: how can the entire BookMooch economy survive if I encourage everyone to mooch more books than they receive?"
How can anyone mooch more books than they receive unless they get lost in mail? =D Anyway, what is it to the Bookmooch economy if people can mooch more books than the ones they send? That's the incentive, right, to keep the site alive? Hence the site is called bookMOOCH?
I would say that frequent users/ readers, even if they mooch 2 books and just send 1, chances are they will be adding those 2 books back to the inventory again, so no BIG blow on the Bookmooch economy that way? No certainty they will do that, but for how long has the site been functioning? If you make it all rigidly fair and square, many people will probably start double thinking the validity of bookmooching and for sure that will affect the economy and movement...
IMHO, and when talking specifically about international trades (so far something unique to Bookmooch), you should at least consider: 1) Shipping costs are not the same worldwide 2) Not all the books weigh the same/ cost the same/ have the same value 3) Even in US, there are valuable books you can only find elsewhere
Therefore, if a worldwide community is of any importance here, it isn't weird at all for people to be encouraged to mooch internationally and to be a bit compensated by doing so, even if just by points. That extra point was just a bonus, but felt nice, a little appreciation for the willing to send internationally and spend that money. Yes, you aren't only giving away the book, but also paying for the shipping costs. If the shipping costs s*ck and everyone just starts getting stingy about their points and books, then why bother? Just use that money to buy a used/ new copy of the book. Maybe it's even more helpful to the other party as well.
So many things that could work better on Bookmooch (like purging inactive members or at least preventing them from appearing in the search results, book listings, etc.), and you had to start with the point system? I would even prefer a book weight point system rather than an international-domestic one. Maybe that's just me though.
PS To point it out one more time, I don't care about books in the database belonging to inactive members. Those are useless.
As someone else correctly pointed out as well, you can't mooch 120 books internationally by just sending 20^^;; When you send internationally, you would gain 3 points, right? So by sending 20 books, you could mooch internationally 30 books, or 60 within your own country, NOT 120!
At this point I'm over this arguement about whether what has been done to mooch ratios was right or wrong. It seems to me faintly absurd for everyone to be so up in arms about this when so few people have been penalized by this change. Also I feel quite angered by the lack of respect that is shown throughout this forum, we are all adults and to stoop to things like accusations of stealing and calling John a liar just seem frankly ridiculous. Though people may not like the changes that have been made it seems like everyone just needs to relax and give John time to figure out the kinks of the system. Everyone who is a member of this site has experienced how concerned John is with keeping everything running well, keeping it fair and with addressing member issues and I highly doubt that this has changed suddenly.
I don't want to anger anyone, I just felt it was important to offer a more neutral perspective. I just think everyone needs to calm down a little bit, take a breath and realize that this isn't such a big deal. Nothing has been taken from us moochers, we are not suffering because of this and we all need to try to remember that.
Emmy: It is not that it is 'so few', but rather that it is so specific. While the non-us members may be fewer than the US members, that does not mean that making sudden rule changes that will make life much more difficult for them is ok. The largest proportion of the negative effects of the changes will be borne by a very specific group
I think a large chunk of the anger come from the fact that these sudden changes are made retrospectively. As someone else has mentioned, it is a bit like trying to charge someone more money after the fact, or changing a points system so that you now need to spend more $$ to get the points, and taking away points retrospectively. While no points were literally taken away, effectively many might be. Many international users may find themselves unable to use the points they have accrued. Points they accrued under great expense with a certain understanding. If they had known what changes were coming, many would have behaved differently. That is where I see the anger coming from.. many will have spent a large amount of money on points that may become useless to them. The fact that this is not happening to the majority of users (In the US) does not excuse it.
Perhaps people are reacting strongly, however they may feel that they are not being heard. The responses to the past two blog posts may be leading them to conclude this. I sincerely hope that they are wrong and that we are being heard. I understand that John wants to keep the site running well, and that he puts in a lot of hard work... I sincerely hope he wants to keep the site running well for everyone (And not just the US members, or 'the vast majority' according to Emmy).
Clearly John isn't the only one wanting the site to run well and fairly... As users, we want it too! We aren't just complaining here, but tossing our points of view and trying to get a solution who works for everybody and helps the site at the same time?
Emmy, the "few" users you talk about are probably the ones who use and support this site and its features the most... In my view, and maybe I'm not even qualified to say so due to my little contribution, those generous people are what makes bookmooch the international community that it is and who keeps it going.
It seems that angels are now made to look like the greatest scammers of all since we accrue points by doing so much international mailing. I foolishly thought that spending considerable sums of money to internationally mail books I haven't even used for myself was a good contribution to the community. Now, even though my ratio is in an acceptable range, I feel worried that if I continue to do so much international mailing my ability to accumulate points and mooch books will make me look suspect. Over one third of the books I have mailed have been sent to other countries, and most of those have been angel mooches. I haven't really needed the points for some time and certainly could find other things to do with the money, but have continued out of a sense of goodwill. Now I'm not so sure.
If you mooch and give internationally in equal amounts, then there's no problem. As an angel I give internationally more than I mooch. While I have happily mooched a number of books from members of other countries, I don't find books that I wish for from other countries as often as I receive requests from international members to help them obtain books. The simple solution, of course, is to curtail my international sending to the number of books I find internationally that I want to mooch. But members from other countries already complain that too few US members want to mail out of the country. Do we really want to discourage international mailing just so that we won't look bad by accruing too many points, which gives us the ability to mooch too many books? Again, I realize that technically my ratio is not limiting my ability to do this, but the perception of being a "bad" BMer simply because I've acquired the ability to mooch more books than I've actually sent might. (And keep in mind that, for angels, not all of those books that we mooch have been for ourselves).
As an American, I can easily find most of the books I want in my own country and domestic mailing is cheap, so it would be very easy to join the many who simply send within their own country. That would be a simple way of maintaining a 1:1 ratio. Do we want BM to just become an American site?
This Change really confuses me. I make it a point to send more internationally if at all possible because sending domestically in Canada is so expensive. I agree with dip166 and most people on here. This change was not fair. I am also in agreement with dip166 about purging non active members. It would help things roll more smoothly because just cause those books are listed doesn't mean they are available. I had a really good ratio. Even spending extra money on sending books. I agree with what someone said up there though, the economy is not doing great and most of our first priorities are rent utilities food etc. I myself live on a fixed income and I still try to send as soon as I can. This past month I spent over $60 sending books to people even thought I'd only budgeted $25-$30 monthly. Reasoning was because of a financial issue I was not able to send for a few months(thanks to those who patiently waited btw)so I wanted to make sure they got posted. I have perfect positive feedback and the retro active change I agree is not fair. I wouldn't have spent so many of my points if I would have known this change was coming. I don't even 100% understand my new ratio...i don't understand what the changes mean in some sense I had an approx. almost two books sent for every one I received and now due to the new system, it says I have mooched more then I have sent but most of my books were sent internationally...how is that fair or my fault? I also urge you John at the very least to change this new rule to future mooches and not retroactively because it hurts people who are doing the best they can and have followed your rules or you should have given people notice and time. It seems more like it benefits american trades then anywhere else. i joined this site specifically because it did international while most other swapping sites are primarily us citizens only :( please listen to the majority John, reading this blog alone, a lot of people are unhappy or unsatisfied. That alone should be a good indication that something is wrong. I bet if you polled all active users, the users who are against this change would far out weigh the people who are for this change.
as a japan-based english-speaker i am horrified at this change. there will never be an equilibrium of books leaving japan vs. entering. NO OTHER COUNTRY SPEAKS JAPANESE and english is a minority language here. so i mooch internationally and only occasionally send internationally TO UP THE ODDS OF DOMESTIC ENGLISH BOOK MOOCHERS here. yet very few of the books i want are available here. i think lots of english speakers who live outside english-speaking countries are going to freak out about this.
a bigger objection is that this seems to fly in the face of what i loved about bookmooch: that each member does whatever she can. if it's too expensive, don't do it. but if you can afford it and you want to do it, then do it. there shouldn't be any requirements beyond sending books TO SOMEBODY and getting points for them. then we should be able to use our points as we like.
I think a better idea than this change (which seems impopular, at least among those writing here) would be -- as several people have suggested -- to put a cap on how many outstanding sends a member is allowed to have in order to be allowed to mooch further.
However, since this would be a problem for some angels, why not also take the opportunity to integrate angels a little more into the site and allow people to be officially recognized as such, and as part of that be allowed to ignore this limit of outstanding sends. This angel privilege of course needs to be clearly indicated on their profiles so that people don't think they are scammers. As long as official angel status isn't granted to new users, I can't see how this would be a problem.
As one who sends internationally but receives dozens of requests for international mooches from members unwilling to themselves send internationally, I do think that members ought not to be able to request international mooches unless they are themselves willing to send outside their own country. And by this I mean a proven track record of actually sending internationally, not doing what some do which is to have the "ask" option but then decline anything which is outside their home country, thus giving the appearance of sending internationally without ever having to actually send anything overseas.
I appreciate that Americans in particular have been hugely inconvenienced by the removal of the surfacemail/ground/seamail option by USPS, but it would be appreciated if Americans requesting international mooches would themselves appreciate that the cost of sending mail to the States from the UK is actually more expensive than the other way around. I have lost count of the number of mooch requests which the users have abandoned once they found out that I won't send the heavy book they wanted by airmail, and they aren't prepared to wait.
This morning I have had yet another international mooch declined by a giver in the USA and I am inclined to wonder how much the recent changes have contributed to this. I rarely decline international mooches, but I notice that others are not quite so generous.
I have no objection to people preferring to mooch within their own country, but please don't expect me to send a book internationally if you will only send domestically to others.
When requesting heavy books, please don't get ticked off if I won't send it airmail. I am prepared to wait months for books I really want. If you really need that book for your class project next week, then borrow it from the library, don't expect me to subsidise you.
When you offer an international option, please be clear about the countries you will send to.
Just adding my voice to what Julia mentioned as I am in the same boat and I know that many others are too. There are plenty of English speakers or bilingual who look for English books but are not based in English speaking countries and may have a mixed language inventory, in these cases we are more likely to go over the ratio.
I am puzzled as to why the ratio and points are crossing over.
The ratio of books sent/mooched should be just that - books and not points. Where you mooch them from/send them to is up to you as this is then down to points.
However, I do believe that points needs to be 1:1. It should cost the same to mooch as you receive to send and the 0.1 for listing and receiving should be compensated for by adjusting the mooch values to 0.9.
John, I know that you think that it's OK to count mooching internationally as 3x mooching domestically instead of 2x (to match the points), but I just want to add this:
I send 2 books internationally, I get 6 points. If I live in a country where there's some domestic mooching traffic, I would be able to use those points to mooch 6 books. My ratio would be 1:1 and everything would be great. If I live in a country with very few bookmoochers, or it just happens that all the books that I want are international, I could mooch 3 books with my 6 points. My ratio would then be 1.5:1. If I'm just spending my points, and I have little or no domestic options, why am I being penalized with a worse ratio for that? I just don't think that it's OK that spending 6 points is good for your ratio only if you have the chance to mooch domestically (and it's those on countries with few bookmoochers that are affected).
I just don't get how we can incentivate international giving if we discourage international mooching... it's two sides of the same transaction!
Changes with the points system may be coming... I agree that points for feedback have to go and points for listing books should be capped. Changing the international system... I know that it may be too generous points-wise but it's the international aspect that gives a lot to the community as well (I've given away books in Spanish to people all around the world and that's one of the things that I love the most about the site).
I had never even thought about the effect that these changes would have on Angels until I read the one of the posts above. I rely so much on these wonderful people, especially those located in Australia.
Reading the thoughts of those English speakers located in countries such as Japan and Finland who rely on international mooches because their domestic market is practically non existent...how cut off they must feel. Such a betrayal....
I have to say I'm now a bit embarassed to have actively promoted this site for so long and to have emphasised the international option which made it stand out from so many other sites. It seems as though it's becoming very much a site for American users only and if you happen to be unlucky enough to be located elsewhere, ....we might as well just hang up our reading glasses now.
I do not understand these fears about the Angels. The Angels mooch domestically and then send internationally -- that should only boost there potential.
People in countries without a domestic BM community can always receive 2 books for 1 given. The situation for people in Japan or Finland is no different from mine in .. China. My ratio has made a big jump, but I do not foresee an immediate problem.
I think the fear and worries uttered here do not warrant the actual effect of these changes. Do they? I agree the retroactive move is not elegant, but think everyone's worries are having a greater impact than these changes.
I've been somewhat reluctant to add to the enormous number of comments here, but having spent most of the morning reading (when I should have been working to earn money to send books out!), I feel that a couple of points arise - firstly, changing the ratio so drastically does seem like an odd move. Markwp has commented on the LibaryThing BM forum that: "... if anyone turns out to be 'locked out' they would have had to mooch a lot more than twice as many books as they had sent, but anyone who is can certainly write a support note and I'm sure something can be worked out." So, there's a ratio change but "something can be worked out"? Why change it at all, then?
Secondly, a fair few people have commented that John seems to be trying to destroy international mooching, but - really? He spends nearly five years and a lot of his own cash starting and running BM, and then decides - bwaahahaha! - that he wants to destroy the international element? I mean, unless he's had an entire personality change, that seems pretty unlikely to me! I'm sure once he wakes up and sees the enormous amount of opposition to this move, he'll rethink it, but personal attacks on him aren't exactly helpful.
I don't think anyone really believes that John is out to deliberately destroy international mooching. It's just that the changes he's made — which are probably well intentioned — will very likely have a negative effect on international mooching. It just doesn't seem very well thought out.
When I checked my wishlist this morning I wondered if I would mooch a wishlist book that was from outside my country. Multiply that hesitation by everyone on the site and that alone should tell us this kind of change is going to affect international mooching in a bad way.
I think that the strong reaction is fueled mainly by these factors:
The change was applied arbitrarily. There was no post stating that x had been chosen as a solution and this is how it would be implemented, as of this date.
The change was applied retroactively. Previously, mailing books internationally was considered a good thing to do. Some of us went so far as to "angel" books to people in other countries, thinking we were acting for the good of the site and its members. We spent the points we earned, or saved them up. Overnight that was revealed as a very bad thing and one of us was singled out for criticism. While we can decide not to do so anymore, we can't change our bad behavior in the past, nor even think of it properly as bad, since it was a good thing until yesterday.
The least popular option was chosen. A few options were suggested for lowering point totals. People wrote in, and the consensus seemed to be that while many did not think the system needed changing that the option to get rid of the 0.1 point for feedback was the least onerous option. Several people also asked that international mooching not be altered. So the least popular option was chosen, keeping the majority of moochers from feeling any impact and penalizing only those who engaged in the bad behavior of sending and receiving internationally.
The impression has been given that the owner of the site behaves capriciously and doesn't really care about those members outside of the majority. There has also been a clear indication that the rules can and will change without notice and retroactively.
I took a closer look at my own mooched/given books. I've mooched 50 books, of which 43 books are international mooches. So, If i'm not mistaken, 86 percent of the mooches I do are international mooches. Now, if I look at the amount of books I've given. That's 31, of which 25 were sent internationally. That means 80 percent of the books I send are international.
Still, I have a mooch ratio of 1.68:1. Isn't that weird? I suck at maths, but if you look at the numbers, and not at the percentages, it seems that I'm very eager to send books internationally, which isn't reflected in my ratio.
Next to that, I've got a few remarks, being from Belgium, a country the size of a peanut.
- In my country, we have three official languages (Dutch, French, German), of which Dutch is my mother tongue. Now, most books that are offered in my country are French apparently, a decent amount are Dutch and just a small percentage German. Too bad I suck at reading French.
- 108 people on Bookmooch are Belgians. They offer 1195 books. Half French, Half Dutch let's say. So, that's around 600 books, without making any closer into inactive accounts, books I'm not even remotely interested in.
- The only other big Dutch country in the world is the Netherlands, a country where mooching isn't that popular. If i want to mooch Dutch books, I almost always mooch internationally, since I need to get my books in this other country. In the real world, that would be like a 50-minute drive. In BookMooch-land, it would kind of affect my mooch ratio in a weird way.
- 135 people in The Netherlands are mooching. Weird for a country that has twice the population of Belgium. 1448 books are offered, even less than Belgium! Probably, it has to do with the small amount of Dutch books on here. the French-speaking people in Belgium have more opportunities to read books in their own language.
- Now, most of you guys live in the US. A mostly monolingual country the size of an entire troop of elephants (compared to peanut Belgium). John used a kind of ecological argument that people who mooch books international that they could get in their own country is not right. But ithat doesn't really seem a valid argument from a Belgian-Holland point of view. The books I get from the Netherlands (an international mooch) can be delivered by bike if possible, whereas a book sent from NY city to San Francisco would hurt the environment a lot more.
- I kind of get the feeling that I get punished (although I don't care too much about this change, I just point out the things that are weird from my point of view), because I live in a small country, because my country uses a language most other people in the world won't use, because i want to be a person with a cosmopolitical attitude (reading books in English), even though I am more than willing to send books internationally.
I never asked for the system of getting 3 points for every international mooch. I just used the site. I just did what I was supposed to do. Get books out of my house, get new books in.
I think the site's decline has other causes, and a lot of people seem to think likewise. the lack of new books added to inventories, the fact that people get points for just accepting a mooch, so that they can use those points virtually even if they haven't really sent out a book, the lack of U.S People sending out books internationally - which is normal, but still conflicts with the whole idea of an International book trading site.
You've probably thought long and hard about this, from your U.S Point of View. Now look at Europe or every other small, non-English country.
I'm an IT-journalist by the way who is about to write a review about bookmooch. I still think it's a great iniative, but it's getting less international - not just by this change. It's been going on for a longer time. For Europeans, there is no alternative. Most bookswapping sites are U.S Domestics only, and there are no local initiatives. (maybe a few very small ones, where someone trades books with himself).
Posting again this morning now that I've slept and will hopefully bit a bit more coherent.
1. My biggest problem with this situation is still that there was no warning and it was just implemented. It wouldn't have been so bad if it had not been a surprised.
2. Could the ratios be capped differently. As a lot of people mentioned people who have previously been the best moochers now seem like they are not so good.
Also, here's where the change still confuses me a bit. I don't use the site as much as others so I haven't traded as many books. Right now my ratio is at 1.1558. I've received 39 books, send 31. Alright so I have received more books than I've sent. That I have control over.
The amount of international mooches, less so. I'm set to worldwide. I've never rejected a mooch. I've also never been in a situation where the book I wanted was offered by so many people that I could choose my country. Plus as other people pointed out, a lot of Canadians won't send to Canada. I will. Am I being penalized for this?
3. People keep looking at this from an economical point of view. Let's look at this from a business pov. First of all, the idea that some people who have a lot of point would then not being able to use them really annoys me. If people have earned something (mailled the books with no problems, got smooches, etc) they should be able to do wathever they want with those.
We're trying to encourage more usage but if you tell you're new users: "Be careful when you send to balance local and international because if you don't and use the web site a lot some of those points will become useless. Unless you give them to Charity of course." Sounds like the worse advirtising I've ever heard. Once again, if the ratio is not limiting the same way as before (ex: those accounts could get "flagged" but if someone is being a great moocher, but just has a lot of points, you let it go)
Finally, if you are trying to go completely business on this website (just to confirm I don't really necessarily endorse this - just discussing). we should find who are the biggest book suppliers on this website. Let's be honest, if I decided to stop using Bookmooch, nobody would notice. If someone who spends 100.00$ or more on postage every month leaves, that hurts our system. So who are those people and how to they feel about the change? Just something to look into.
I'm a very new Moocher and have enjoyed a lot about the site since joining. Never did understand what the ratios were about and I still don't know what an Angel is, in this context. However, the general principle that a change should be mooted and dicussed rather than implemented by surprise, surely has to apply here. I Mooch and send internationally but cost is a problem for some people. Surely the site is here for Domestic AND International mooching - you can't compel people to do both, can you? That would go against what I felt to be the principles behind the site?
People with points to spend take books permanently out of the system for all sorts of reasons. If the real concern is to bring more books into the system and grow the community, surely there is a better way to do that than to weed out the most frequent users? I see the pent-up demand; of the dozen or so books I listed a few days ago, 11 have already been mooched, 2 internationally.
If the concern is to better balance the books/points in the system, there are easy fixes: set international at 3/3 and remove the fractional point for acknowledging receipt. A second, regional tier at 2/2 (certainly for the US/Canada) could help keep things moving and keep points/cost more in line.
This massive brouhaha about a statistic that isn't of interest to most users just seems counterproductive. The ratio need not be published; what a moocher needs to know is the number of acknowledged books sent. Far better figure out how to bring in new and better inventory, encourage international mooching, and improve users' ability to find books.
My two cents: Now that I've looked at it, I understand where John is coming from, but at the same time, I agree that the sudden (and unannounced) change in the ratio policy left me a little discombobulated. I freely admit to being one of these "bad guys" who has benefited from international mooching. I have mooched significantly more than I have sent out (currently at 583 received and 329 given...and 54/13 pending). My mooch percentage is about 63% international mooching versus about 48% international sending. I'd love to send more, but the highly wishlisted books that were in my inventory are already gone. Two days ago, my ratio was at a nice 0.7 but now I'm at 1.6...what have I done?!? I'll also say that my mooching of international books is a little high because I try my darnedest to make the postage/points ratio as advantageous as I can for the senders. When I find a book I've got a hankering for, I always take a look in the moochee's inventory to see if there isn't something else that tickle's my fancy. Some of these are books that I'd likely not mooch on their own but will happily mooch to help convince a reluctant sender or just to help out with points. I imagine I'll have to curtail that practice somewhat in the future. Add to that the fact that I've been blessed with quite a few charitable friends who've given me some points over the last few months, and "voila", there is the 1.6...Now, I'll have to look into ways of ameliorating the ratio, I guess.
I think it is possible the number of books in the system has decreased, not because there are fewer to go around, but because books are getting snapped up *faster* than they used to be. If this is the case, it is not at all a bad thing! Reasons that a book may get snapped up faster than it used to:
1) Reserved or wishlist e-mails being read more quickly (thanks to portable devices), hence those books mooched more quickly.
2) I'd be very much surprised if there aren't an increasing number of BookMoochers who log in to the site to browse (and mooch whenever they see something interesting) on a regular basis.
3) The site's been around long enough that lots of people have had time to form relationships with BookMooch friends! Given this, there may well be more recommendations flying around (officially and unofficially) than there used to be. Do you have any data on this?
Have you been able to look at the number of books mooched, and compare it with the number of books available online? If the number of books mooched has been steadily growing, and the number of books available has been steadily shrinking, that *might not* be an alarming sign -- it may simply be a sign that people are mooching things more quickly.
You never know what books people are going to go for. I have some really old penguins and pelicans that I listed because these are the kinds of books I mooch when I find them -- my WL is basically wishful thinking, even s0 I get a notice once in a while. I don't think I have a single "best seller" in my inventory, and any number of "who could want those?" books have been mooched and duly sent out. Sure, most of the stuff on offer is romance, scifi/fantasy and gore, but I have found unlikely gems trawling the recently added books. If a book does not fulfill my expectations, I just put it back in circulation and sooner or later someone asks for it. I gladly send anywhere on the globe, whether they moochers do or not: I can well understand that there are financial constraints. And I wait patiently, especially in the winter when the North Wind doth blow. Sooner of later the book arrives, and in the meantime there are (or should be) plenty of books worth re-reading.
So would the easiest answer to this be that any extra points we gain by mooching should be donated to charity accounts, and no more uncounted unofficial 2 for 1 deals? If i had known there was going to be a punishment for ratios that would be retroactive, then perhaps I would have mooched differently over the past several years. When I think of how many books i threw in as a bonus extra book with a mooch before the 'smooch' function was available, and were never officially counted in my stats and ratio as books I gave away.... sigh.
Obviously it's good that people care so much about BookMooch. I've loved my time with BookMooch because the assumption has been that people are generous book lovers who are all trusted. Any changes to the site have been simply explained and discussed before they've been implemented in the past; it's a real surprise to find that this one has just been abruptly decided especially as it's affected people's ability to spend their points retrospectively. These points were legitimately earned after all. I've honestly never been aware of the ratio limit; I actually think a feedback score is more important to me.
I've felt rather lost and excluded by all the charts and complex economic explanations as if that justified going over people's heads. This site is about having fun swopping books after all or that's what it has been. I applaud John for all the work he has done and his imagination in creating this site. I sincerely hope that it will continue with the same ethos in the future although I am unlikely to be mooching books from abroad now the point has been added.
I'll also say that my mooching of international books is a little high because I try my darnedest to make the postage/points ratio as advantageous as I can for the senders. When I find a book I've got a hankering for, I always take a look in the moochee's inventory to see if there isn't something else that tickle's my fancy.
I do this as well, for whenever it offers a financial advantage to the sender, and have mooched many books I am only marginally interested in, or looked for books for my school, church, friends and family. Although John posted in a previous blog entry that he wants to encourage multimooching, this change actually will discourage that.
I think books should be weighted in the ratio equally regardless of whether they are international or domestic mooches. I did think the old ratio system was silly and weighted too far in the other direction. But I think it should be one book in one book out is 1:1. This would adjust bio:andyboi ratio to the positive side (thanks Andy for using your ratio as an example).
I think the fact that English readers in non-English countries are often net importers of books and then share them with their compatriots is not a bad thing and is one of the services Bookmooch contributes to the world reading community.
About the ecological argument: As in many places in the E.U., there is no green benefit from mooching domestically over internationally in Canada, in fact the reverse is true. There are many U.S. states which are closer geographically to me than much of my own country (or even my own Province).
And I apologize, Rebel Sun, for any trouble caused by my charitying you points, and to all my international mooching friends for whom I have scoured charity shops and used bookstores, I am sorry if my efforts have caused your ratio to be skewed;)
I'm curious what could be causing the decline in the bookmooch inventory. Personally, I have 60+ points that i'm unlikely to use so i've stopped posting new books.
I think this example (multiplied by thousands of moochers) is the answer to why there is a decline of books being posted on Bookmooch. Some of us continue to post books (although in my case somewhat reduced) and send even though it has resulted in more points than I can use, especially given the change in the ratio.
If BookMooch is going to establish a ratio that costs its members privileges, I think the most useful would express the number of books sent out against the feedback score, with an allowance for new members. That would be most descriptive of "good" and "bad" members.
My current ratio demonstrates my willingness to send books internationally (which is expensive in cash to me, but good for the reading community) while seeking to mooch most of my books domestically (which saves resources and cash for everyone).
So I'm a greedy member, according to the metrics. It's true, I'm greedy for books. That's why I joined.
I have been informed that I really shouldn't complain about the changes because I am supposedly not adversely affected. But my friends are concerned about the negative impact, and that gives me the right to an opinion. I have come to cherish my BM friendships and book sharing that is an important part of my life and I don't want that to change.
All these comments have begun to just rattle around in my muddled mind, seeing that this has become a forum for complaints that have yet to be addressed. John will, in his own time, address them (I hope).
After reading so many comments and due reflection, I have decided that I'm going to go right on as if nothing has changed. Mooching too many books, angeling books that are needed in other countries, and giving away BM points where I see a need... I can't help but feel we will find a way around the disadvantages, and somehow - as a community- we'll thrive.
Being a non math person, I have never understood the ratio. I always looked at the # of books received and the # of books sent and as long as I was well balanced, I thought I was okay. I also looked at the explanation of the ratio which was more beneficial to me. Prior to this retro change that number was 3.44 books given for each one received. I have sent 940 books (165 international), received 361 (40 international) and my ratio is .35:1 which means nothing to me. But I now see that I have sent 2.82 books for each one received. I thought that was good but maybe now it means bad. Can I continue to mooch or will others think I am greedy? I am just not sure anymore. I want to be able to mooch books from my favorite Canadian friend and I want to continue to send to moochers in other countries who want my books but I am confused.
Setting aside the whole fairness thing of this new system and ratios etc, applying it retrospectively is a different question. How about a poll among members: who is ok with applying it to points earned before the change was made?
And setting aside the theory and all that economics which few of us follow, when did any business or any organisation or any collaborative effort continue to work when 99% of members were against a change that was implemented?
Btw I have mooched internationally because that was the only way my wishlist books turned up, and have sent both domestically and internationally (iirc) because that was what moochers asked for, and most of the time I couldn't send books (before I emptied my inventory) because no one was asking for them. Must be my fault for not, in general sharing popular taste in reading matter ... though I'm sure that applies to plenty of other people too.
I think to be honest, the mooch ratio is an academic detail - gun to my head, I couldn't honestly have told you what my ratio was (though I could have roughly known my points). Points are what rule my mooching. I don't think my ratio has ever gone anywhere near the 2:1.
What does bother me, and what is very unusual I think within BookMooch, is that in the past John has always proposed something and then listened to BOTH sides. At least if a decision didn't go the way a moocher wanted, they knew they'd been listened to. And that maybe the next time, the decision would work in their favour. That was key to the spirit of BM - knowing that the moochers had some say in the way it worked - we would be listened to. Maybe not always agreed with, but at least listened to ;-)
But this time, one group of people complained and a decision was made. The group that might have argued the other way never got a chance to have their views aired. They weren't even aware complaints were being made, so had no change to argue an alternative view. It's almost out of character for BM, for a decision to be taken without all views being heard.
I've not BMed in a while, as I moved to London and left my inventory with my parents (as well as having less funds for postage). But I'm hoping to get back into mooching again now I'm more settled. I don't think the mooch ratio will make much difference - I've always chosen to receive books domestically if possible, due to the lower costs. And it's just happened that most of my posting out of books has been domestic to. Entirely by accident, my ratio has been good.
What is a slight concern, is that it might well happen that through no fault of your own, the books you want only come up abroad, and the only people wanting your books are domestic. Then you either drive your ratio to the point where it might freeze your activity, or you have to decline mooches/not request books, because it will affect your ratio. I don't know how much activity would be required to make such a change. Mine is very close to 1:1 so I hopefully won't find out.
The ratio to me is largely an academic detail. But the points are the dealbreaker. The points are in effect a currency - tied to the money you pay in postage. If the point amounts for mooching abroad/domestically were changed, that might well stop mooching. If it costs 3 times as much to post abroad as domestically, you have to EARN 3 times as many points. Otherwise basic maths would take over and people would only post domestically - and global circulation of the BM inventory would stagnate.
John - you and your team do an incredible job running BM. Please know that, and know that it is appreciated by a great many people (many of whom probably think it but never say it). You invest time, energy and money, and so thank you for all you do. But part of what made BM such a success was the community here, and the fact of feeling that our voices were heard. Sometimes changes would go in our favour, sometimes not - but we were always listened to. It's what makes BM a stand out place.
Now to get back to reading, so I can restock my inventory pile!
I don't usually comment on any changes, but I have read all the comments and have comments from many, many long-time and valued moochers and feel I must respond. The ratio has never really effected me because I tend to send out more books than I mooch. I send internationally and mooch internationally, when I can (many people won't send to the USA, as not above). I am an active participant in the BookMooch journal project, so a lot of my international mooches (in both directions, are from journals). I have been here for many years and my stats look like this:
Points: 277.9 (I am always donated points to charities and Friends who need them) Books to Send: 7 Books Sent: 8 Books to Receive: 9 Books Mooched: 502 (International - 92) Books Given: 663 (International - 176) Ratio: .67:1 (Mooch Percentage - 694/1030, 1.48 given for 1 received) Feedback +660
I only have 32 books in my inventory at present. I used to have many more (100+), but I have had to limit the number of books I can mail out due to being out of a job for almost 2 years and only working part-time for the last few months. I don't want to list a lot of books and then have the moochers waiting for months to get them because I don't think this is fair. I also want to keep the journals moving as fast as possible, so I tend to list and mail them more frequently. I have 538 books/journals on my Wishlist and 128 on my Save-for-Later list. Between the two lists, only about 13 are available to mooch! I would love to spend more of my accumulated points, but I can't find books to mooch as frequently as I would like. I think this points to one of the major "problems" with BookMooch - lack of availability of very popular/current titles, people willing to send internationally and more members having to reduce their BookMooch sending due to the real world economic system.
I worry that the continuing real world economic crises and the new changes to BookMooch will force some of my best BookMooch "friends" to opt out of journalling and/or sending books internationally - especially members from Canada, the UK and Australia where the shipping costs are very high.
I agree. In some instances I can't mooch domestically---well I try and most won't send due to the cost of sending province to province is so high. I am also a international sender. I have only rejected two mooches because sending them would be over my book sending budget... even then I felt bad about not being able to afford the $14 to send, etc. I have also always tried to send out books as soon as possible; but sometimes things come up unexpectedly and leave me scrambling. I try to keep good contact with people to let people to know the changes, but I have received books too as 2-1 deals and such and I feel bad for those who lost out on those points. One of my friends does there best to send books sometimes not even asking for a point. I'm sure if they knew doing that would increase ratios etc they would have thought twice. It seems like maybe John should take a look at this board, I don't feel heard, does anyone else? I wouldn't be surprised if changes are not made, people may start going "under table" with books (some having so many points they don't know what to do with them; and are in fear of ratio skewing by accepting more) and sending e-mails and sending out without the point exchange to protect their ratio. I sincerely hope it doesn't come to that. But as long as I have been a member people have been very nice and understanding that I had to wait to send because of financial circumstances. Perhaps a lot of people on here are on fixed incomes as well, and doing best we can. Unlike others on this board, if I want to continue book mooching, US people can go to other sites, I can't cause I am not US citizen. So Canadians and other countries are left with a bad taste in there mouth and no other site to switch to. I am addicted to books and I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't swap anymore. It is high postage rates, yes, but sometimes its cheaper for people to pay postage as opposed to paying the high rates for books new.
I'm proably stupid but I have never understood the point ratio thing and really don't care to. What I do care about and what has always been posible is giving and getting books. You say the books inventory isn't there. Wrong, to prove a point I put in almost 30 request in ONE day and could have proably mooched more. All this excitment about the point thing is crazy. The only complaint I have EVER had with this site is people letting you mooch then not sending the books. I love the unlimited mooches! I love choosing which books I want to mooch! I love choosing who to mooch from. I love choosing where to mooch from. So to sum it up. Whole lot more to love!
Overall, I don't have a problem with this change - but my question is what happens to "forced received" books; off the 200+ books I have post 7 of them, 4 of them internationally, were not marked as received by the moocher - I'm guessing because they abandoned the system prior to receiving but who knows - so I had to mark them as forced received, largely by the time I did this the moocher was inactive. Do i get the credit for posting these books? Re less books being added to BM; like many other posters I am listing fewer because I can afford to post fewer and I don't like to have a huge number of books to send or to keep moochers waiting and due to my decreased income I sometimes look to see if the book is saleable now, rather than automatically posting everything on BM. With increases in postage costs I now give larger, heavy books to my local thrift store or footpath library, rather than list them. I still love BM and I certainly appreciate all the effort and thought John puts in
I also follow up here on my post on the previous thread. This change is terrible for international angels, or in any case for users who mooch internationally and then repost the same book in their own country - which I thought was a great way to help spread the BM word to new territories! But now I get punished for that... I did it a few times, and that's what I get: a brand new mooch ratio of 1.4 books received per book sent, while my physical ratio is (68/80)=0.85 books received per book sent.
I have been an angel for as long as I am a BM member. I send Worldwide and my bio says: "Don't care if you send Worldwide. You can mooch from me without asking."
Now I'm going to change that. This way I can't afford being an angel anymore and I'm going to change sending into: ask first.
I wish I mooched more books the past months instead of waiting. The way things are now it probably won't be possible anymore to spend the points I got for sending books overseas.
I waited to long and now I'm fooled by a new system.
Zjanette The Netherlands
Update: and I forgot to say that I understand the new system. I think it is correct. But to change it for people who have been on BM for a long time and who (like me) didn't spend all their points as soon as possible, this is a disappointment. Why wasn't it possible to change the system for future mooches only and leave the ratio of longtime moochers as it was.
Perhaps the mooch ratio should only be used as an indicator, and people shouldn't be prevented from mooching if they go above 2, except for, say, new users (create a number of books before they have to meet that requirement). Most of the people posting here, have, like me, sent 100, 200, or several hundred books, and I don't think such people should ever not be allowed to mooch because of a ratio thing.
I live in Italy and it's already difficult like this to have people living in the US ( who are 80% of the moochers today ) accepting to post books abroad. With these changes it will be nearly impossible. Also, less angels will be available for help.
It's a mere illusion to think that points earned in international book sending can be easily used to mooch nationally: in our little European coutries domestic moochs are much more difficult to arrange. Or do you honestly think that the chances I have to find something interesting in the 700 inventories of Italian subscribers are the same I would have if I lived in the US, who has 17.000 subscribers ??
Please rethink about it, John. This change will kill BM in all European countries.
Still don't know what an angel is. Or what the 'journal project' is.
How do you find out this stuff?
Meanwhile I will stick with BM to see what happens, but I agree with the somments above that Jihn needs to respond in this thread and that the retrospective changes need to be revisited, if not the whole change. Time for a vote.
About your comment on BM economy, John, and your concern about the decreasing amount of exchanges, I'd like to point out just one more thing:
don't forget that last year has been very difficult for many of us, so that many "leisure" expenses - books & shipments of said books included - have been drastically cut. If you go and check on Publishers Weekly you'll see how high was the decrease of books sales last year. Some publishers discontinued their pb series ( one name for all: Dorchester ), some big online libraries are close to bankrupcy. The huge increase of postal fees in many countries didn't help moochs either.
So please, don't take as a BM system issue what is the result of a worlwide economical crisis.
It's a shame this change was not flagged in advance, because I think that is partially responsible for moochers feeling aggrieved.
We had got used to a generous comfy system, although I'm sure I'm not alone in not having the maths capacity to understand fully how mooch ratio was/is worked out. I tried, I even got a former pupil who is a post-grad. Pure and Applied Maths specialist to try but he said it was impossibly complex to explain simply, well to ME anyway!
However, I had realised when I joined Bookmooch that it seemed like a pyramid selling system and that without constant expansion the point system or something would have to change, give or collapse.
I've taken time to look at the changes, noted that it would have been impossible to instigate the change without including one's entire history, that there will be accommodation made for people who have unwittingly made their mooch ratio dangerously high and that the actual points have at present been left as they were, and it does seem a more equitable system.
People complain it should not have been done retroactively, but come now, if one collects airmiles, frequent changes to the points required for flights has devalued all the points I have collected over years, so obviously in the real world retroactive changes to savings of all sorts frequently do occur.
I think we need to think up strategies we would prefer rather than condemn John for trying to consult, and then make changes based on feedback.
My suggestion would be to confirm that an interim 2 points awarded for continental sending (N. America, C.& S. America, Asia, Europe, Australasia, might be worth investigating. One could still pay 2 points for the mooch as now, but not receive the bonus point from Bookmooch.
I tried to do the maths on angelling but fail to understand why people predominantly mooching from their own country but sending internationally, would be disadvantaged by the change.
As for people who are point-poor - students wanting study books for example - I will be more likely to remove a second book from my inventory and send with one mooched to Bookmoochers like that that I know, now, than I was before, although, like many here, it is something I have done previously.
Does not seem fair, we must take into account the books canceled or rejected. I have many, just international calls, which never went unanswered and had to cancel. It turns out that those ARE INCLUDED when doing the ratio!That can not be, would be taken into account.
It seems to me that ratio is mostly affected by the current mooch to send ratio. If you have alot of books to send it affects how many books you get to mooch. THAT is how it should be. People will be more careful about mooching from others who will not send for months. If you send as soon as requested, then your send to mooch ratio stays low, no matter how many books you mooch. Like I said before I never understood the ratio but have been experimenting with what affects it. Seems to me alot of people have gotten spoiled. Have you bought recently on Ebay and Amazon? I have! Have you bought recently at Barnes and Nobles? I have and guess what. I really appreciate Bookmooch. Thanks John.
I tried to do the maths on angelling but fail to understand why people predominantly mooching from their own country but sending internationally, would be disadvantaged by the change.
I think you are correct. I don't think this change should adversely effect angels. However, that said, that doesn't mean it won't, and as we have heard from some comments, it seems it will. The problem was the change happened without prior notice or clear communication of the effects this would have on how we can mooch. Some moochers are angry and confused. As you said, the math is hard to understand, trying to predict what will happen based on possible future choices even harder. Perhaps a system-wide email explaining that as long as you *send* books internationally, you are free to *mooch* books either internationally or domestically. The reverse is not true. You can't *mooch* internationally and *send* domestically without messing up your ratio (a mistake I think). You also can't just use all the banked points you have earned (through the 3rd point from mooching internationally) and keep mooching books without sending; it messes up your ratio (sigh). I understand why that latter point needs to be true, as painful as it is. There are too many of us with more points than we need (in spite of giving away many, many points) with no motivation to post any more books. That is what will cause the Bookmooch economy to collapse. However, "all we have to fear is fear itself": Moochers panicking and deciding they had better stop mooching and sending internationally because it will mess up their ratio will also cause the Bookmooch economy to collapse. The mistake was in how this was instigated and communicated.
So in practical terms, what should we do to make sure that our ratio doesn't hit the limit? None of us wants to have points sitting around that we are not allowed to use.
The ideal would be to send internationally as often, or more often than one mooches internationally. But even though I agree to send worldwide, it's not under my control who mooches a book that I put up. If someone in my country gets to it first then I have to send it to that person. It would be ridiculous to tell them "no, I'm waiting for someone in another country to decide they want it..."
It is under my control how often I mooch internationally, but like many people here, I have a long wishlist of books that rarely come up. If a wishlisted book pops up in another country and I have the points for it, I will definitely mooch it.
It seems like it will be pure luck whether my ratio stays acceptable or not. If international moochers like my books better than domestic moochers then I'm in good shape to spend all of my points. If domestic moochers take a lot of my books then I am going to end up with a backlog of points that my mooch ratio won't let me spend.
If this is how it has to be to keep BookMooch healthy, then okay, but it promises to be frustrating.
The ratio itself is not going to adversely impact angels. I think the thing that has taken the angel community by surprise is the idea that an angel had her profile linked on the blog as an example of what is wrong with the system. Let's face it, an angel is always going to have more books mooched than sent. You mooch for others and pass them along, but you also want to mooch books for yourself. While we can and do list our own books as well, it doesn't seem unreasonable that we ought to have some compensation for having our own points tied up for a sometimes considerable amount of time while waiting for the angel requests to come in to us, and then going to the time and expense of passing these books along to those in other countries. The compensation, besides the very real satisfaction of helping members in other countries, is that we also accrue some additional points with which to mooch books for ourselves.
Another problem with the perception that angels mooch far more than they give is that many of the books we mooch are never read by ourselves. We are simply a conduit to pass them along to other people. They show in our total books mooched, however, and if that sets us up for criticism as people causing inflation in the system, as happened to belladonna (how can the entire BookMooch economy survive if I encourage everyone to mooch more books than they receive? ), then I think that many will say they may as well just step back and not deal with the hassle.
Basically, angels would like to think they are doing a service to the community, and many will be tempted to quit because of public criticism even if they aren't having a problem with the ratio itself.
I agree with you. The people that this change negatively impacts are those, like you, who are net importers of English books into a non-English speaking country. I think this is a mistake and is contrary to the spirit of Bookmooch (at least the community of international Bookmoochers of which I am a part). It has almost no effect on the vast majority of American moochers who largely mooch domestically and always send domestically. And if there was a "poll" I think most would indicate that they don't care one way or the other. Nothing against all those Americans, they have little to gain (and a fair bit to lose ie spend and risk) to send internationally. Other than, of course, the wonderful experience of sending books to like-minded readers all over the world.
It is true that the angel transaction itself is a one to one exchange. But if angels are not allowed to use the points they earn from the transaction to then mooch for themselves (which would then lead to more books mooched than sent), where would the incentive be to participate? I think that many would quit the system if it were simply a matter of spending large sums of money to help other members obtain books with no compensation, which is what would have to happen in order to maintain the 1:1 ratio on those transactions.
> Your example above is from someone who presumably has very few books that other people in other countries want to mooch from them. Therefore, they tend to mooch internationally but send books domestically.
> That situation can't exist forever, it's essentially an imbalance of trade, with BM books flowing into that country, but not flowing out. On a macro level, that won't be good for the health of BM.
Taking a step back, is imbalance of trade a bad thing? Seems to me it's The Way Things Are Done in the real world, as innovation pushes older products into other markets. What you seem to be promoting with the new system is "let new and old pile up in the countries that produced it". But people like to share, and they're perfectly happy to let the umpteenth copy of "The Colour of Magic" disappear into countries that don't produce much of interest to them. Who knows, eventually writers in those countries may produce such books because they've been reading them, and the flow will reverse.
It seems to me that you need a sytem that does allow and encourage such unevenness between countries, but somehow protects against abuse of that system. Wasn't that why you changed the way the ratio is calculated in 2008?
Stephanie just said: "The new ratio calculation only hurts someone who is mooching internationally WITHOUT sending internationally."
I wanted to add that it also hinders those that mooch and send only internationally, as if they spend all of their points on international mooches (as there is no option for them to mooch domestically), their ratio will be around 1.5:1 (and they'd have all of the 0.1 bonuses leftover, I'm not counting those). Someone who exclusively mooches and sends domestically (no bonuses) would have a 1:1 and I don't think that either moocher would be a better bookmoocher than the other (as the ratio would seem to indicate). I know that a 1.5 ratio is OK, but it's still pretty high... Most people who mooch and send only international do so because there are very few bookmoochers in their country. I'm from Peru and there are only *3* active members there (and they are all friends that I invited to join).
So if people want to go on and still mooch international books, they should stop sending locally, right? Then I need a new status that says "only to other countries". Sending books to my own country would affect negatively my ratio (more than sending them to another country). Still don't know what I would do with the extra point though. I guess I'd have to force myself to mooch some books locally to keep the ratio under 2:1, since mooching *only* from other countries isn't allowed anymore (I don't get how that's supposed to help increasing international mooches by the way).
We're also gonna need a new kind of Angels, those who have a ratio good enough to mooch from other countries and send the books locally to those who can't.. :-)
I am going to try to explain my thinking but forgive me if I jumble it up a bit. I am a very active angel on BM with lots of both incoming and outgoing international mooches. Those are the ones that cancel each other out. Then you add in the fact that I am mooching and sending domestically and those are supposed to be 1:1. Right?
Ok, here is my point. If I continue to add books to my inventory in order to send these books out, I will continue to accrue points. I already have 200. I will never have a way to successfully use all or most of my points (under the new ratio changes) without continuing to send more books out so it doesn't affect my ratio, thereby adding more points to my account that I can't spend. People say "Give points away" or "Give deals on multiple mooches". I do both of those things regularly but I also don't appreciate being told what to do with the points that I have accrued by sending out books. I have earned them and feel that I should be able to "spend" them however I wish.
Until this change, I wasn't ever concerned about any of these things. I sent books out as an Angel for the joy of getting books to people who really wanted them and I mooched "almost 1000 books" according to John because I am a book lover and like to surround myself with them (and read them and try not to create avalanches with them).
Another though is what if I have to discontinue my Angel mooching for financial reasons at some point. I have no control over who mooches from me out of my normal inventory. I will have to begin to pay careful attention to that and only mooch internationally the same amount of books that are mooched internationally from me. What a pain!
I guess ultimately I am mostly saddened by the way that changes are occurring on BM and less by the changes themselves. There is a huge sense of community here and I have made what I consider to be very dear friends. Regardless of what John does, I will continue to be here. I will continue to mooch and be mooched from and I will do it because I love many of these people and I love books. :)
John, ohhh, John. With all respect, and with deep sadness, I have to tell you, badly done, John.
Even though you are the 'creator, programmer and head dishwasher' of Bookmooch, and you may clearly do as you like, as you have shown a few times in the past, on similar Sunday mornings when we have come to find a surprise blinking on our screen before - some welcome, some not - but never as ill conceived as this one.
This time it is the ill-informed and singleing out of one member for the wrong reasons, no less, to which I must strongly object. You justify your change to the entire system with its overall health in mind, which is reasonable, no doubt. You've praised the Angel Network and it's existance in the past, now you slap it by publicly using one of its members profile as the example for what was wrong with Bookmooch causing all ills from inflation to scamming? You've missed the point, John. The problem with Bookmooch is not the Angel Network nor its members, it's the economic environment, the market move from physical paper books to e-books and the imbalance of shipping cost to and from various countries. I've likely missed a few points, but it certainly isn't its members. You ask for feedback and surveys are conducted by the Ohio University. I for one would like to know how this information factored into the decision process? Did it? Ohhh, John. opus17
I think what some posters fail to understand is that we have invested real cash (Large amounts of it especially those of us outside of the US) that may be tied up and risk becoming useless with this new system.
I have about 190 points (and 57 books winging there way around the world as we speak). . Say somehow I manage to spend all but 40 without screwing up my ratio (unlikely). In Canada that is at least $3 a point, but more likely 4 or 5 (Overall). This is taking into account the .1's. That means that I would have between 120-200$ of my own money (prepaid!) trapped in the bookmooch system due to these changes. Posting more books is simply cycling in and out new points, it would not help me access $200 worth of banked but potentially useless points.
Even if there is some way to eventually gain permission to use our points, people may behave 'punitively' if they think my ratio shows that I am taking more than I give. People are already refusing to send internationally to those who will not, therefore this is certainly a real risk.
it's much more expensive to send from the USA to Canada, then Canada to the USA, which causes disequilibria. This is not true. It is more expensive to send from Canada to the U.S. not the other way around. I can send a small paperback to the U.S. for about $5. Someone in the U.S. can send one to me for about $3, last time I looked. And our dollars are at about par (the Canadian dollar has actually gone higher than the U.S. dollar a couple of times recently). It is just that it is so much less expensive to send to the U.S. than to send within Canada that we all prefer to send internationally ($10 for the same paperback).
Links if you want to check the prices for yourself:
2) a 3 point bonus to your mooch ratio to spend in your country
That's fine and all, if you mooch almost exclusively in your country. This is good for the US or UK moochers. But what if you have to mooch almost exclusively internationally to get the books you want?
Forget about the macronomics John, and focus instead on why there are less books in the system and why people are declining in their participation. I am a 4 year member who has essentially slowed to nothing. Here are my reasons why: 1) It used to be I was offered from 5-10 WL books a month and once I took them, I had to replenish my points by posting more of my own books. However, about 2 years ago in one of the gizmo upgrades, an RSS Feed of wishlist books was added to the site. The number of WL book offered to me declined drastically after that. What's the point of a wishlist if the books get sucked out of the system before anyone gets a crack at them? 2) I used to send and receive internationally. Postage has gone up so badly that I can't afford to send internationally any longer, so I also no longer request. It was nearly $10 each to send to Japan and England last time. For $10 each, I can buy 2 of my own wish list books directly off of Amazon or ebay and get them on demand, not tie up my money in a point system that I have a hard time spending. 3) You always stated that BM was a self policing community, and among your US members, it has definitely become that, although not in the way you had hoped for. I cannot count the number of times a person has posted a WL title, I have gone to mooch it, only to find a message in big red letters that due to financial, they will not be doing any mailings for 3 months. Yet, they have no problem taking someone else's point and spending it on themselves. BM has also earned a US reputation of being the site where everyone dumps off the books they own that don't meet the quality standards of competing sites. So yes, the decline in participation IS a result of self policing. I choose not to accept crappy books with senders who may not send. 4) It irritated me in your opening post to hear you refer to BM as a giving site rather than a getting. Yup, I'll give all day long as long as it doesn't cost me. Otherwise, I expect to get in equal return. There are sites in the US where the requestor pays the postage. It costs me nothing to give and, frankly, I do. A lot.
Worry about getting the books back in the system John. Not about some stupid point ratio that went in place to defeat the scammers.
ETA: My tone is snarky and for that I apologize, but the content remains, so I'm leaving as is with the additional of an apology for the snarky tone.
I agree with Heather, this thread was over three months ago and affected a lot of people. I like can't afford to send every week but I try to keep good communication so they know they are getting there items. I'm sure a lot of people are on here who can't afford to send often but do send.Some of us have a budget to adhere to, so maybe they should go by feedback rather then ratio; but Wendell it did affect a lot of us!!!
Sending a book costs me about as much as buying one in a charity shop, and my budget is about £20/year. That's perhaps 6 to 10 books. Except when my will fails me and I get carried away and spend £7 in one go... ;)
I've never had one of my wishlist come up from my own country. Almost always the book's gone before I get the email about it, though checking my email is one thing I do manage every day.
Do people decide who to send to on the basis of how active they are in BookMooch? It takes me 3 weeks to read an average novel. I know I'm not typical but surely systems like BookMooch should work as well for us 'gradual' users as anyone else? I can't help it that I'm into the writers that are less often offered.
Thanx Heather. And sorry, looking at what I put yesterday it is far more crabby than I meant to be.
A long wait is ok; it's not so much that I'm looking for authors that are little-known, as authors little-known in the UK. Others have said this on here, too - BookMooch is a great choice for books rarely found in shops over here, but would be better if the random moochers were emailed, say, half a dozen at the same time in order to give us all an equal chance (with the time difference). On Freecycle there's the same problem unless the giver chooses to wait 24 hours for all requests to come in.
I bet some people do prefer the active moochers, when they have a few to choose between, but that's humans for you and I don't believe in legislating / enforcing / nit-picking to that degree. As for checking my wishlist, if you mean searching for those books on it instead of waiting passively, it's in the category of activities I would do if I was able to spend longer on the computer. One of the drawbacks of disability, just like low income, lack of social life, and being unable to visit Machu Picchu.
I'm not simply whinging. I'm aware of detailing my own specific problems, but also aware that I can't be the only one, and surely things like this need to be inclusive.
Every single book I would have liked to mooch in the last four months was
a) only available abroad and b) owned by people (USA) who no longer sent internationally.
In fact this has often been the case, but the change has made it much worse. I see that no protest had an effect and understand the reasons behind the change, but even months later, the mooching situations for me/us Europeans became the opposite of what has been predicted by the changer.
I can only guess that apart from being miffed at first, the new system will never work because there's so much nationally on offer in the US that this "incentive to send" turns into the opposite; I don't quite understand why this hasn't entered John's reasoning? Maybe I missed it
I think the change was warranted and is the correct response to counteract point inflation. I've always sent internationally and have never turned down any request, even when it cost me over $20.00 USD to send some beat up hardcover to Japan or Australia. However my propensity to send internationally has dramatically increased my usable point balance on several occasions to the point where I've donated points to charity to bring my balance down. Even now, I'm finding my point balance has crept back up to over 200. I find that I never need more than 50 or 60 points to accomodate my book mooching needs, so I'll probably be donating again. Of course, the lower international point acquisition will probably reduce the frequency of my charitable donations, but I'm not sure that would be a typical side effect of the change.
@irisin I'm also in the UK and have had great difficulty previously mooching books abroad (particularly US) and immediately after the change many inventories seemed to disappear or be vacationed. However over the last weeks I have been able to mooch more books I have had wishlisted for a long time, many from the US. This may be pure good luck, or it may be that those who have remained are more willing to send abroad, particularly, in the case of USians if one multimooches so they can use their economy flat-pack envelopes. The cost to them then is often less than my postal costs abroad, certainly less than our airmail costs from the UK - and surface mail is our equivalent economy rate.
@John. You say "If you are willing to pay the extra postage cost to send a book internationally, I think you should be rewarded and be able to ask someone else to do the same."
Many of us agree with this and I notice a proliferation of "I'll only send to you if you also send abroad" messages in bios. I also know that some people in the past were suspended for saying this publicly. Many of us continue to send whether the recipient posts abroad or not, but I do think people should have an option in preferences saying "Will send anywhere to those who also send abroad". That would certainly coincide with John's fairness principles.
I am also shocked that when new members join the "About" and "Points explained" sections still say you pay TWO points for a book, and believe this and the promised change in wording about much-wishlisted books and BMjournals should be made. I spend much too long each day chasing up journals that moochers have decided to keep permanently or worse still throw away because they requested them not understanding journalling. A mention in the introductory notes would considerably help us journallers!
No system can be devised that is 'fair' to all moochers in all countries. Postage costs, book prices, average salaries, ecological concerns all vary from place to place.
I specifically quoted what John had said in this blog" "If you are willing to pay the extra postage cost to send a book internationally, I think you should be rewarded and be able to ask someone else to do the same." I also said I do send worldwide, despite financial restrictions, whatever the status of my moochers, but I recognise the rights of people who like to send overseas but also have limited budgets, to be able to choose who they send to. Many already discriminate without mentioning it in their bio, whereas those who do say it risk suspension, because as you say, and I inferred, it is against the current rules. The rules are changing. If we want to be 'fair' we might give Americans three point for agreeing to send three books abroad because in a flatpack it costs the same as sending one book; give UKians extra points for any book deeper than 2.5 cms. packed as it costs more than one the same dimensions and weight but thinner, give people without surface mail or economy options extra points, give Canadians 3 points for inter-country mooches because of their postal rates. I do not advocate any of the above, but I do feel having a preference available which many already operate without stating why, is both pragmatic and realistic. It would mean people would be able to request an angel instead of having their request rejected and often missing the book entirely. Until then I will go on advising people, where I see them state they will only send abroad to others who do, that it is against the rules, and may cause them to be suspended.
@Heather, the fewer "bonus" points for Int'l (for US) wouldn't really work because you can't monitor who sends flat-rate, and who doesn't. I'm using the German post to send my int'l because it's cheaper than the US rate, usually, but not always. But it may not be cheaper than the flat rate.
I think keeping it simple is better...otherwise it would be way too much work for the admins.
However, there could be *some* special cases, like the Canucks, I just don't quite know how that could be made to work.
I wonder if a special case could be made for internal Canadian post by simply awarding 3 points for all internal post as well as external for Canadians? It might go some way to easing the usual solution of many of them, of sending only out of country. Is it even possible?
I was never sure how this affects my mooch ratio but I am now offering 4 for 3 on international mooches and 2 for 1 on domestic mooches. I even had a lady mooch 3 books from me and 1 was listed as a freebie because it was in poor condition, so she got 3 books for 1 point. I can do the 4 for 3 on internatioanal because the USPS has FLAT rate Priority envelopes and I can fit 4 paperbacks into 1 of these. So they mooch from me then I smooch them back the points for the 4th book, 2nd book domestically. However I have been canceling a lot of my mooches because people have NOT been honoring them. 3 weeks and they don't even accept the mooch?! COME ON!! That is what will truly kill BOOKMOOCH. International mooches are YES or NO right away and they follow through with the mooch!
For Canadians, bookmooch is dying. Not so slowly, either.
It's too expensive for me to ship within Canada. I can always ship internationally more cheaply than I can ship domestically.
Unless somebody wants to mooch at least 3 books, no Canadian bookmooch user will allow another Canadian to mooch from them. It's just way too expensive.
Watch the Canadian stats - if John changes things (for Canadians only) so that all domestic shipping counts as international, I'm CERTAIN that there will be more usage by Canadians.
And they'll be happier too.
How would you feel if you had to pay almost $12 to ship a book to the next town over? (And our CDN dollars are worth more than US dollars, also.)
But the same book would be about $7 to ship overseas (or about $5.50 to ship to the US).
Hmm... 1 domestic point for $12, or 3 international points for $7.
It's a no-brainer. Bookmooch is essentially dead for Canadians UNLESS they can focus only on the international mooches.
And now it costs 1 point more to mooch from me (before, a user in Ohio could mooch my book for 2 points, but now it costs him 3 points). So this Ohio user is more likely to simply wait until the book is listed somewhere in the USA and bypass mooching from me.
Joyn... at least allow Canadians to mooch from each other for the 3 points. All Canadian domestic mooches should qualify as international.
@Thomas Nufer It's even worse with a few journallers who wait months to send (5 months I had to wait before one was posted that was my own journal), and do not respond to reminders or reply to emails even when I offer an alternative address in their own country from where it can be forwarded - all this after promising to send "in a few days".
Why worse? Because there is only one copy extant of each journal and once stalled or lost it deters journal creators from participating in journalling. A journal tends at present to average 4 entries a year - say 8 pages, so a 100 page journal would take 12 or 13 years to complete! Often one journaller will keep a journal for a year despite the rules specifying that journals should be relisted within two weeks.
At least with a book cancelling and looking for another copy s a possibility.
What I noticed since the change, is that I'm getting way less mooches, especially from US and UK members (as compared to what I was getting before), even if I'm adding to my inventory constantly (which isn't that easy as I'm in a non-English speaking country and can't simply go to a used book store). Adding this to no-more-extra-point and no-0.1-for-received-books, and now I'm constantly out of points:(
My mind boggles thinking about ratio, but then I am nearly 80 and never was any good with math. I have to mooch outside of France as I don't speak the language and there are only so many English moochers here. It costs twice as much to send within France, so I don't mind sending afar. I have a large TBR group of books so I send more than I actually mooch at the moment, hopefully that will give me a better ratio??? Will it?
@June - no, there'll always be "just that one more" to mooch, one more than you're going to read right now. I think it's a problem more accute for those of us who can't walk into a bookshop and buy a book!