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Subject: Math trade guide discussion rss

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Lindsey Dubb
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Please leave any comments on the “Math trade guide” in this thread. I’ll update the guide if I missed anything important or if there is disagreement about what I wrote.

For convenience, here’s a link to the guide.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/93555
 
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Alan Ferrency
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This is a very good description of Math Trades, from the perspective of a participant. Thanks!

One thing I'd emphasize is the importance of clear communication and active participation by everyone involved. Participants may need to answer questions about the quality of their games, for example, before the final game list is posted and want lists are submitted.


Are there any previous math trade moderators who want to give any hints/clues for those of us who may have participated already, and are considering moderating one of these in the future? It would be wonderful if others could learn from past experience to avoid future mistakes.

I can only offer advice from the perspective of a participant (and of course, if you can tell the difference between good advice and bad advice, you don't need advice). But the biggest recommendation I'd make to potential moderators is:

Choose the rules for your trade (max # of games, date it ends, etc.) and Stick To Them! Even if participants are impatient and request otherwise.

People should participate in the trades only if they're sure they'll be around when the trade results are due, so they have to know when that will be. Impatience near the end of a math trade is understandable, but it also puts undue pressure on those who are sending in their results close to the deadline.

Thanks!

Alan


 
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Mike Kollross
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It might be worth mentioning that a Math trade or an UT will result in one way trade requests. ei a trade request where someone is sending or receiving but not getting or sending anything in return. As a newbie I found the entries for one sided trades in the recent trades confusing until I participated in a Math trade.

I received my new game from the person up stream of me and traded nothing to them in return. Instead I traded my old game to the person downstream of me. I still got and gave a game but to two different people.

A short list in the guide might help illustrate it.

1 gives to 2
2 gives to 3
3 gived to 4
4 gives to 1

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Lindsey Dubb
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You’re welcome, and thanks for the suggestions!

Mike’s idea is definitely a good one — I’ve edited the post to emphasize that the trades tend to be circular. I didn’t include an explicit example of a circular trade (beyond the implicit one under “Why is a math trade worthwhile?”) mostly to avoid adding yet more text. But I’ll think about including a more direct example in a succinct way.

I think the emphasis on communication is already in there, so that will probably stay roughly the same. But the current note on asking questions about items is pretty deeply buried, so I’ll probably move it to another spot.

Yeah, it is pretty darned long. I was on a 48 hour train ride, and had a little spare time to do some writing.
 
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Lindsey Dubb
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You’re welcome!
RoamDog wrote:
Is an Ultimate Trade the same as a Math Trade? If not, how are they different?
They’re different — in a math trade, all the offered games are posted, everyone says which games they’d be willing to trade for, and a computer algorithm figures out who trades with whom. In an ultimate trade, one person posts a game for trade, then another person offers a game for the first game, another person offers a game for that game, and so on, until the first person sees a game they’re willing to take for their first game. There’s more to ultimate trades than that, with “forking” and other oddities, but I’ll leave that for someone else to write up, sometime.

Ultimate trades are mentioned briefly in the math trade guide toward the bottom under “What are the alternatives to a math trade?”

RoamDog wrote:
Do many of these Math Trades get run with a US shipping only restriction? I definitely want to participate but am no longer willing to ship outside the US (at least not at my cost). Just does not make economic sense.
I don’t remember if there have been any trades which were completely exclusive to the US. But many trades say that any extra between-country charges are paid by the game’s recipient. So if those are the rules of the trade, and you don’t want to pay shipping overseas (which is understandable), just be sure not to choose any games from people in other countries. It’s still be possible that you’ll be shipping your game overseas, but the person receiving your game will then be responsible for the extra shipping charges.
 
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Occu Pant
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Super. Thanks. What is the generally accepted amount for "extra shipping"? If there is not a genrally accepted amount (and it seems like it would be hard for there to be one given varying weights and sizes), who actually decides what that amount is for the given Math Trade then? I hate to be a jerk but I have shipped too many games overseas where the cost of shipping was more than the cost of the games. And while I want to participate, I definitely do not want to get into a situation where I risk a negative trade rating because of differing expectations regarding shipping charges.


Lindsey wrote:
You’re welcome!

RoamDog wrote:
Do many of these Math Trades get run with a US shipping only restriction? I definitely want to participate but am no longer willing to ship outside the US (at least not at my cost). Just does not make economic sense.
I don’t remember if there have been any trades which were completely exclusive to the US. But many trades say that any extra between-country charges are paid by the game’s recipient. So if those are the rules of the trade, and you don’t want to pay shipping overseas (which is understandable), just be sure not to choose any games from people in other countries. It’s still be possible that you’ll be shipping your game overseas, but the person receiving your game will then be responsible for the extra shipping charges.
 
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Lindsey Dubb
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RoamDog wrote:
What is the generally accepted amount for "extra shipping"?

I’m not sure that’s ever been stated explicitly. I have always figured it would be the real cost of shipping the package to the other country, minus what would have been the cost of shipping within the country. At least in the US, you can easily figure shipping charges for a package (sent within the US or overseas via USPS) online at http://ircalc.usps.gov/

RoamDog wrote:
I hate to be a jerk but I have shipped too many games overseas where the cost of shipping was more than the cost of the games.

Asking this is sensible, and doesn’t make you a jerk — It’s very definitely worth getting an answer to this kind of question before entering a trade list. I can think of at least one occasion when the need for overseas shipping charges caused an argument, so this is a potentially contentious issue.
 
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E.R. Burgess
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I recorded a podcast on Math Trades and will post it among the initial set of shows when I formally launch Boardgame Babylon very shortly. Just sorting out somewhere to host it. More info will be available at www.boardgamebabylon.com very soon.
 
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Roderick Schertler
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neutral or positive feedback for one-way trades
Excellent article, thank you for writing it!

A few months ago there was a discussion on the trade forum about whether one should leave neutral or positive feedback for the person who sends you nothing in a one-way trade. I believe the consensus was to leave positive feedback (if they'd shown reasonable communication), because of the potential negative connotation of neutral feedback. I'd suggest mentioning this in your guide.
 
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Matt Pritchard
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How hard is it to moderate a math trade?
I'm interested in getting one of these going for UK BGGer's I don't see any in the trade forum restricted to the UK atm so I'm thinking of moderating it myself.
Where would I find the algorithm software and how difficult is it to moderate a math trade? I have not participated in any trades on BGG yet but I've traded CCG cards etc. on the net through various methods before.
 
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James Perry
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I'm currently running the April Fools math trade so...

Moderating a math trade can be time consuming (especially if you have a lot of restrictions), so first make sure you have the time to dedicate to it.

Second, make sure your rules are clear so that there is no confusion.

Third, it behooves you to participate in one or more before running one to get a little experience with how the process works.

Fourth, make sure your rules are clear so that there is no confusion.

Fifth, the software that is commonly used right now is TradeGenie by Kayvon. You can get it here: http://www.kayvon.org/home.html

Sixth, make sure you have the time to dedicate to running the math trade.

Seventh, set a reasonable timetable for events, to long and people will get bored waiting, to quick and there will be limited participation.

And finally, make sure your rules are clear so that there is no confusion.

 
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Lindsey Dubb
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Yeah, those are all very good suggestions for people running math trades. I’d also add that the first math trade you run will be a learning experience, to some extent. So...

- Make the first time easier on yourself by limiting the number of participants (maybe to 50 to 100 entries).

- You can also save time by using as few restrictions on entries as possible. (The more you limit duplicates and such, the more you’ll need to comb the list to verify that every entry is legit.)
 
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Matt Pritchard
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Quick question..
When the tradelist is complete, is there an easy way to create the summary or is it just a case of manually copying game names?
 
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James Perry
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Kanedacorp wrote:
Quick question..
When the tradelist is complete, is there an easy way to create the summary or is it just a case of manually copying game names?


The only way I know how is manually copying names. One of the things I'd like to do is create a Math Trade manager which would help out. I don't know when I'd find time though.
 
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Lindsey Dubb
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Matthew Gray recently added an API to get the item names and some of the details for each item in a Geeklist:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/99401

It’s mentioned most of the way down the second page of the thread.

Quote:
http://boardgamegeek.com/xmlapi/geeklist/[LISTID]

Parameters:

start (default = 0)
count (default and max = 150)
comments (set to 1 if you want comments)
 
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Michelle Zentis
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One other helpful tip to Math Trade participants is to be reasonably polite to the trade moderator. It's sad that I even have to mention that, but I've gotten considerable attitude from one participant in the High Demand Math Trade who felt that I was being unreasonable when I asked him to comply with the posted restrictions. Most people on BGG are great -- just make sure you're not one of the exceptions!
 
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Jeff W
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from the guide wrote:
- If you used the trade manager, be sure to leave appropriate feedback after you receive your game. There is some debate about whether you should leave feedback to the person you sent the game; The consensus here seems to be that you should generally leave positive feedback to the recipient.


I missed the whole debate, but it seems backwards to me. It seems like the feedback should be to the sender, that way you can comment about appropriate packaging, timeliness of the shipping, etc. I don't know what type of feedback you can leave for the recipient.
 
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Flying Arrow
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I agree. That seems backward.
 
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James Perry
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junesen wrote:
from the guide wrote:
- If you used the trade manager, be sure to leave appropriate feedback after you receive your game. There is some debate about whether you should leave feedback to the person you sent the game; The consensus here seems to be that you should generally leave positive feedback to the recipient.


I missed the whole debate, but it seems backwards to me. It seems like the feedback should be to the sender, that way you can comment about appropriate packaging, timeliness of the shipping, etc. I don't know what type of feedback you can leave for the recipient.


The debate wasn't about leaving feedback for the sender, everyone agrees that you should.

The debate was about what to do with the stragling "Requires Feedback From You" for the person you sent the game to. BGG does not have a mechanism to clear out those items without leaving feedback of some type. Even with that some believed that leaving feedback of any type was not appropriate, some think that you should leave neutral since no game was shipped, but the majority (and by a small amount I might add) think that you should leave feedback based on the recipients communication which is generally positive feedback.
 
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Sparr Risher
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The guide indicates that math trades all use a 'maximize trades' algorithm. Has any thought ever been given to using alternative algorithms to prioritize more desired trades? While participating in my first math trade I am torn between submitting short lists (higher chance of getting specific games, higher chance of no trade) and submitting long lists (higher chance of getting something new, better for the community). With any of various alternative algorithms, there would be more viable middle ground between these options.

As a possible alternative, what if you could give a 1-N score to each item on your want list, and the algorithm would attempt to maximize the total score of all trades?

Or maybe you have a total of N points to distribute between all of your wanted items. Again, total score would then be maximized.

Or, still with a total of N points, the algorithm could total the square roots of the scores. Thus you would have to "spend" 4x as many points to exclude one person from the final trade loop (by way of making your trade more valuable than your recipients trade plus another persons trade at the same score).
 
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James Perry
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This has been discussed many times and even experimented with in the past. TradeResolver has a feature that maximizes percieved quality, and run what have been called "Tiered" trades. There are a few problems with this:

1) According to an informal survey I did, most people prefer Maximize Trades (though admittadely more people preferred Maximize Quality than I originally thought would)

2) Some people submit want lists that are not necessarily order by desire (some just submit them numerically).

3) Tierred trades were a little confusing for some users (that is where you group you wants and seperate them by desireability, kind of like having a main trade and a second chance trade rolled into one).

4) TradeResolver is MUCH slower than TradeGenie which does not support any quality checks.

See these tagged threads for more information:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/tag/Math_Trade_Discussion

 
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Mark Crane
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The recent monster math trade had a small crisis when an error was detected and the moderator was out for the weekend. It was sort of like playing werewolf with rules lawyers. Anyway, there were some suggestions in that thread for additions to the math trade guidelines,i.e. addressing how to resolve conflicts with want list errors, etc. Two participants argued that fixing glitches in a single flawed chain through someone's largesse--donating a game, or something similar--is in violation of the essence of the trade, insomuch that it introduces the stink of human meddling, Mr. Anderson. It would be useful to see some language addressing this, perhaps.
 
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Lindsey Dubb
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I’ve posted a small update to the guide, with some new links, slightly changed formatting, and updated information on how trades tend to be run.


Craniac,

Is there a specific part of the recent math trade thread you were thinking of? I read the last few pages, which had some good hints (I especially liked JeffyJeff’s idea for using the “shipped” note in one way trades), but nothing struck me as right for adding into the guide.

So that leaves just 27 more pages for me to check. I knew there was a reason I decided to skip that trade.

Some of the tougher problems might be appropriate for Regai’s guide for moderators. I suspect he’s already aware of the issues, though.
 
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Mark Crane
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Lindsey wrote:
I’ve posted a small update to the guide, with some new links, slightly changed formatting, and updated information on how trades tend to be run.


Craniac,

Is there a specific part of the recent math trade thread you were thinking of? I read the last few pages, which had some good hints (I especially liked JeffyJeff’s idea for using the “shipped” note in one way trades), but nothing struck me as right for adding into the guide.

So that leaves just 27 more pages for me to check. I knew there was a reason I decided to skip that trade.

Some of the tougher problems might be appropriate for Regai’s guide for moderators. I suspect he’s already aware of the issues, though.


Yeah, I didn't want to check the whole thing either! I didn't realize there was a moderator's guide--it would be the best place for that info.
 
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Please add a definition of "mirror shipping" to this excellent guide.
 
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