Kevin L. Kitchens
Many of you know I've run several (well 9) math trades over the years. Early on I realized the difficulty in policing invalid items and dealing with arbitrage prior to actually running the trade, finding issues, and having to rerun -- usually after folks have seen (and liked) the results. About a year or more ago, I wrote a tool I called Math Trade Cleaner which would blank wants from invalid items and check and report on arbitrage issues.
I used this on my PC via a batch file to take an official wants file from the OLWLG, clean it, save a backup and then process the trade. After many successful trades using it, I've decided to add it to my onesuponagame.com website at http://mathtrade.onesuponagame.com/ for others to use at their option. This version will not run the trade for you (though I might see about adding that down the road, I figure most want that to be kept "in house" so to speak), but it will clean the wants file for you based on information you provide.
Please note, I do NOT keep copies of any of the files you upload nor get reports of its use, etc. So even if I'm involved in a trade as a user vs. as a moderator, I won't see anything. If you doubt me in that regard, then simply don't use it I'm sure the OLWLG developer likewise does not access data in any questionable way either.
How to use it is quite simple.
Keep a list of problems.
During the math trade, keep a list of any potential problems items. I screen each item as it's added and leave notes to the offerer for any issues with their listing so they can address them. Stuff like shipping issues, condition, editions, duplicates, etc. In a text file I keep a running list of the Geeklist item URL and the reason in question. Through the add items period, I can recheck these links to see if the issues have been remedied. I do this one more time after I lock down the list and before final sync, just in case I need to remove some items or make a final note.
Create the Final List of Problems
Once the list is locked down and synced over and the summary is generated, you can create your final problem list. This text block is what will be used by the Math Trade Cleaner to blank wants lists. You cannot build this before as people may delete items and the codes won't be created until the summary is created.
This file is simply nothing more than the code for the item, a pipe character "|" and the reason you want documented.
Sample Problems List wrote:
4200-WTP|Invalid Shipping Indicated
4201-AUGUS|Invalid Shipping Indicated
4202-OTSOB|Invalid Item Removed
4566-SPLEN|Version Not Confirmed
4728-AGRIC|Version Not Confirmed
4735-DIPLO|duplicate item per owner
4749-TRAJAN|duplicate item per owner
NOTE: If there were multiple copies added using the COPIES parameter of the OLWLG, you'd need to list EACH code -COPY1, -COPY2, etc.
Once the list is locked down it would be rare that an item could be properly corrected of an issue such that all users would be able to make an informed decision of wanting/not wanting the item. So I always err on the side of caution. However this is your trade and you can always revise your problem list as you see fit.
After the list is locked down, sometimes problems can arise that were not detected during the math trade add-items phase. So you can keep this list growing as you need to.
You will save the list on your own machine and then cut and paste to the site for processing.
When you process the list on the site, each item in the problems list will be blank listed (as if the offerer wanted nothing for it). A note will be attached to the entry via comments in the revised wants file:
"# >>> MODERATOR NOTE" and have the reason you gave added to it. These comments do not affect processing of the list and should be left in when you upload the wants file on finalization of the trade for transparency.
Geekgold for Geekgold and Gift Cards for Gift Cards arbitrage is detected automatically. However, these are done during the processing of the list and simply reported to you via a comment:
"# >>> ARBITRAGE WARNING:" and explain what was detected. In one math trade I encountered false positives of arbitrage in that the codes for true games fooled the arbitrage detection.
These were the games GiftTRAP and Carson City: Gold & Guns. The OLWLG created codes for them of 3568-GIFTT, 1436-CCGG-COPY1 and 1436-CCGG-COPY2 so the "GIFT" and "GG" in them caused issues. On the site there is an "Exceptions" block for adding a list of these codes that should be exempt from arbitrage checking. Add one to a line, codes only.
As I said, these have only ever happened to me in one trade.
After you review arbitrage, you will need to manually delete (in the revised file!) the wants from those items. You can either remove just the GG or GIFT items from the want list that are the problem OR the entire wants list (what I do).
The reason this is not removed automatically is because a user CAN edit their wants to remove the arbitrage issues before the final deadline. So adding the arbitrage issues to the Problems list would be, well, a problem too. You may want to contact the user in question and give them a chance to correct on their side.
While problems are corrected for each test and final run, you will manually do this step for each.
With those three chunks of information: the wants file, the problems list, and the exception (to arbitrage) filled in (or left blank if none), press the CLEAN button...
The wants file will be processed and a new, revised wants file will be generated in the first blue box. Copy this text and paste on your machine over the wants you downloaded from the OLWLG (keeping a backup of course!). Use this file to run the Trade Maximizer software and create the results.
The second blue box at the bottom of the screen contains a log of all the changes that were made including any potential arbitrage. This way you can see what was done without having to search the actual wants file unless you see something to correct.
I've found this cleaner tool to be valuable for eliminating problems before even running the trade. If like me, you're a fan of trial runs during the wants period, then this will speed up that process as well as you don't need to manually clean out the bad items each and every time.
If you have any questions on how to use the tool please reply on this thread. I hope you too find the cleaner useful in your moderation duties.