WANTED: New Swap Guidelines

ann_tNovember 22, 2005

Because the forum is now open to anyone who wishes to join, and no membership fee is required, as word gets out we will be seeing a lot more new members. This is a good thing. But it makes planning a swap a little more difficult. In previous swaps the only condition was that a participant had to be a paid member of the cooking forum. This gave us a small feeling of security. Now that the forums are open to the public I think it is important to create a few rules. I've heard from some members that they are nervous about giving out their names and addresses to complete strangers with whom they haven't at least formed an online relationship.. We have had very few problems in the past and it would be nice if we could keep it that way.

IÂve been giving some thought as to how we can address these concerns. The simplest thing to do would be to put in place this eligibility rule  In order to participate in a Cooking Forum swap you must be a REGULAR participating member of the Cooking Forum for a minimum of three months prior to the Swap. This means that in the three months prior to the swap a new member must post enough times to be considered an ACTIVE member and not just a lurker.

I know that everyone was looking forward to our next swap scheduled to start sometime after the New Year. IÂm thinking that it would make more sense now to wait until March. This would give anyone who recently became a member and anyone who signs up between now and the end of the year an opportunity to participate.

If you arenÂt familiar with our Swap/Exchange, read some of the threads that are still available here on the Exchange forum. There are quite a few threads left from our last swap. If you have any questions please donÂt hesitate to ask.


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Not sure where that RE: WANTED came from. Just ignore it.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 7:26PM
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When did the no membership fee thing start? Is that for all the forums now? I think your guidelines make sense. And so does waiting. But do you think that too many people will want to swap? Could the group get huge?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 9:49PM
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I hope no one takes offense at this but IMHO I think trying to do a swap with so many is just asking for problems--unfortunately the few problems we've had in the past seem to have been with those who regularly posted just within the time framework of what that particular swap was--& then we never saw or heard from those particular "posters" again--sometimes never, sometimes just when another swap was in the works.

Now this is going to sound just AWFUL but---has Moe got 2 hats? One old and maybe one new?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 11:15PM
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AnnT, you're a braver woman than me! Best of luck!!! LOL

    Bookmark   November 23, 2005 at 12:52AM
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Ann, here are my relatively, newbie, I think, unparanoid thoughts.
There is nothing about the forum the way it was to prevent tracing us. (not sure who would be interested but it probably prevents me from advocating the disabilty of a former partner--kidding!).

That being said, you have been a pretty historical, albeit, welcoming group. I personally find that history and familiarity what I love about this forum.

I do not think getting rid of the $15 membership fee will do much, other than (maybe) encourage lurkers who are less than enthusiastic to post occasionally. If they really wanted to post frequently, is $15 that big a problem [not for most foodies]?

So . . . what the h*** did I just say? I am not quite sure myself.

My guess is that we will all settle down to some kind of equalibrium where there are posters and non-posters. If a non-poster wants to swap, well . . . the answer is "no' if we don't know 'em. How do e decide if we know them? We pick a committee of oldies (no offense) to decide.

This is being said from a stranger to my very first swap. Happy T day:)) Adele

[BTW- my Christmas wish is a software program that willing offspring will input all of my recipes into so I can post more easily]

    Bookmark   November 23, 2005 at 5:32PM
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This is not an easy one.

I love the swaps and for the most part they worked well. It wasn't the fact you had to have paid your $15, it was that we were, for the most part, connected to each other through our daily banter. No matter whose name you got it was like sending a present to a friend.

To be honest I am not inteested in "swapping" with someone I can't relate to, someone whose name just shows up now and then. Actually, not true, I could do that if we were just sending a few spices or trinkets. Maybe we have to rethink the types of things we swap.

I also don't think we can , or should, count one one person to sort it all out, in the sense of tracking who has been posting for how long, who is sincere, who is not..... very big responsibility.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2005 at 5:41PM
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I was just chatting with another long time CF'r the other day and this topic came up.
We both agreed that we should not swap for awhile.
Sure the forum is open to anyone now but we feel those who are really interested in food and friendship will continue to post and those who are not will drop off....it'll just take time.

Me personally, I agree with Sharon that a swap would be more fun if we really knew the person we are sending to. That will also take time.

My suggestion is to wait until maybe late spring-early summer and then start out with a mini swap....one store bought-one homemade and one cookbook ect...just to get the swap ball rolling again.

I encourage all newcomers to post as much as possible so we can all get to know you!! We are a large friendly family and in all big families, there is always room for more at the table!!


    Bookmark   November 25, 2005 at 9:26AM
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As a person who posted occasionally, long before the cooking forum became a paid site, then stopped until recently, I agree with the suggestion. However, I also suggest that the first swap in early spring be a "mini" swap. Something small, perhaps that shares your interest or community. The idea would be to use a mini swap to get to "know" the new or returning posters that haven't been part of your online community.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2005 at 11:22AM
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I was just thinking about this. A couple of thoughts flashed by, might be doable, maybe not, just adding my 2 cents worth.

Idea #1
Maybe we could give the first time swapper an earlier ship by deadline. The receiver could post that they received it but hold off on describing the contents. That way if the 1st timer didn't ship by the given date we would know not to ship a gift to them. Is banned from future swaps going too far? After the 1st timers swap pkg has arrived, whenever that is, but in advance of the deadline the person that has their name could ship to them whenever.

Idea #2
A 'first timers swap'. A sort of mini swap that 1st timers must participate in before being allowed in the 'big swap'. Maybe this would be easier to keep track of. I see a few side benefits to this idea and doesn't seem like it would hurt any feelings.

I do agree that some type rules need to be made. It's for every ones protection.


    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 2:52PM
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Nancy, both of those suggestions make me cringe. It's like prove you're worthy to be part of the group.

I think it's a better idea to just get to know new members for awhile. No need to put them on trial.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 6:36PM
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Last thing I would want to do is have anyone feel like they were on trial. Not my intention at all. I was just trying to think of a way to help.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 11:34PM
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Nancy, I think a mini swap could be a great idea! We could all be involved but not to the extent of our usual big deal.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 2:16AM
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I like the idea of a mini swap too. BUT, trying to limit the number of items sent to just 3 or 4 has been a problem in the past. If we could get everyone who would like to participate to agree to a mini swap that would be wonderful. I think that it is still important though to have some sort of initiation period so that as Cindy mentioned we get acquainted with a new member. As Sharon mentioned most members prefer to send to someone that they have come to know and not a total stranger.


PS. Nancy, no it isn't going to far to ban someone from future swaps. Anyone who has signed up to participate in a swap and not met their committment and sent their partner a swap box will not be given another chance.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 12:32AM
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I like the idea of a mini swap.....it is low risk, fun and a great chance to get to know each other a bit better. Now we all would need to abide by the rules.....a mini swap, is a mini swap.....no cheatin'

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 9:30PM
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Can I hear a second for the motion presented that then next swap be a mini/get aquainted swap?


(Whose son made the state finals for Mock Trial. Due to, I believe his great debating skills!)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 5:41PM
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I'll be honest and tell you I stopped doing swaps because they're so expensive. Really don't want to spend 75-80 bucks or more, including shipping for gifts that someone may or may not like . I know everyone speaks glowingly of the things they receive, but what are the chances that that's really the case?

Anyway, small swap, mini swap, $25 max swap ... all makes a lot more sense especially with the new open field. And no cheating, no oneupsmanship, is an important criteria.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 11:25PM
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I think the definition of a regular participating member of the cooking forum may be very hard to define. After all I think in the last swap to Annie, who sent me my wonderful package, I was a regular, but many others would not have considered me to be a regular poster. Does this mean swaps would be limited to folks who post a lot always?

I wonder about also doing some swaps that are not secret swaps. I remember reading that the original swaps here meant that everyone had a partner and they would e-mail eachother for a while before sending out a package.

Also maybe swaps can be for a limited number of people. So maybe the first 36 to sign up or something. I think a swap with 100 people could easily lose its excitement.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 10:15AM
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Another plus for swaps -- CF history. Karigraphy sent me a binder with some historical recipes and some favorites . . . certainly personalized the experience for me. Not that this is expected, but it sure made me, a "first time swapper," feel welcome. Maybe swaps should focus on non-monetary, but more personal/CF, stuff. Just a thought. It would certainly require more involvement. Adele

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 11:03PM
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Cindy, I agree that the swaps get pretty darned expensive. I have let some pass by simply because I couldn't afford to participate.

I think a mini-swap would be a good idea, I've done a couple of those and enjoyed them greatly. I'm not sure a dollar amount is the best way to regulate a swap because prices vary so widely from area to area but whatever is decided, everyone would have to agree to follow the guidelines.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 2:13PM
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So glad I read this. I didn't know the forums are now free, that explains a few things. I recieved an email several weeks ago advising me that it was time to pay again and tried the link provided and was unable to find where to pay. Then I got so busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas that I barely checked my mail. I finally got back here a few days ago and was surprised to find that I could post even though (I thought) my membership had expired. Well, glad to be back and posting although, like many others, my name is now all lower case. I was looking forward to a swap as I was too busy to participate in the last one and whatever Ann and the group would like to do is fine with me.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 9:25PM
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Count me in also as a vote for the mini-swap. As much as I have loved our swaps, they can get very expensive. I also like the idea of including homemade items, but I for one have more than enough cookbooks - lol! But I would follow the rules of the swap if a cookbook was to be included.

We have had as many as 50 people in past swaps and even then that seemed like a lot to me.

I agree with Ann's opinion that a person is not allowed in the swap if she/he did not follow through in a previous swap.

BTW, we have had some problems in Quilting with mailing our swap blocks to Canada. I just hope this isn't a sign of more trouble to come.

We had a small swap on the Quilting forum where we sent some fabric, new kitchen towels and potholders, a recipe and candy. That swap was probably under $25 and was a lot of fun. When you are limited by what you send, it really makes you think about what you want to send.

Maybe we could so something similar: one homemade item (food or not), a spice, blend or dry seasoning and a recipe that would use the spice, a not expensive gadget and candy/chocolate - or something on this order.

Thanks to all who participate in the swaps!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 7:38PM
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I can see nancy's point about newbies, but then again you could have "oldies" like me who would like to participate finally even though we've been on the boards for years. Obviously I am a trusted name on the cooking forum...just have never sent anything before. (Ok, I'm being a bit facetious here! LOL)

Anyway, I can see where dollar amounts would get out of control...but if I had like three months to think about it it might not be as bad as say a two week deadline. I think within reason is key - I would hate to receive a very expensive, decadent box only to have sent out something puny in hopes that someone liked it. LOL (Read my swap paranoia thread over on the discussions side, LOL).

What kind of guidelines are already in place? Or is that already a moot point right now? (Duh, Phyllis!)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 8:02PM
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Phyllis the guidelines for this swap are posted on the current swap thread. I hope you decide to join us.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 10:10PM
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Phyllis: I have a solution to your perceived 'problem', having been there and done that. If you really feel you short-changed your swap partner (I don't think it will happen in a mini swap!) you could always send a 'surcie' somewhere in the future. Keep in mind - it's your issue, I'm sure your partner will be thrilled with whatever you pick!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 11:30PM
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I agree with Phyllis about having some equity of the dollar amount of gifts sent. If you stick to the minimum dollar recommendation, your package MAY seem less than someone who sends more. However, the person who sends more MAY have made some of their gifts from scratch which is invaluable.

Also, some swap participants may be paired with someone who they feel they have a closer relationship with and therefore send more. As a relatively new swapper, I have felt awkward about it.

I would recommend that swappers stick close to the recommended dollar and number of gifts outlined by the swap guidelines. IF you want to sent more, send it separately as a surcie.

That way, whether you are an experienced swapper or a new swapper, you feel comfortable about the value of your gift (given or received).


    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 8:53PM
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We set the minimum limit low so that most members that want to participate can. We don't set a maximum because costs vary not only between States but also in Canada and other countries. I've given this example before. I believe it was Cindy that bought the microplane with the interchangeable graters and paid around $10.00 for it. It cost over $40.00 in Canada. I can't buy even the original ruler style microplane for less than $19.95 in Canada. So if I had a partner that didn't have a microplane but indicated that he/she would like to have one, I would be limited from including one in my swap box because it would basically include the whole limit. So that is why we don't set a limit.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 10:20PM
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