Saturday, May 19, 2007

MIA sock pals: idea for future Sockapaloozas

As one of the (apparently many) people who haven't heard from their pals, I'm wondering if there's a way to address this issue along with the problem of folks never receiving socks at the end.

For future Sockapaloozas, maybe there could be a requirement that you look up and contact your sock pal within a certain amount of time and that the sock pal has to at least respond and say, "Yes I'm out here" . . . and people who don't do this get removed from the group. Then all of the waiting folks could get reassigned to other waiting folks. The idea is not intended to be at all mean or ruin anybody's fun, but just provide some reassurance that socks will materialize (pun intended) and appreciated. I don't want to invent more work for Alison, but I imagine that it's work to try to find knitters to knit extra socks for those who didn't get any when August 2 has come and gone, so this might actually be easier in the long run.

I realize that communication between pals doesn't guarantee that socks will be made. I think it does demonstrate some level of commitment to the project, though, as well as creating a level of accountability to an actual person.

What do folks (especially Alison, who has to manage the logistics after all) think?

I'm also thinking that suggesting that people create an "anonymous" e-mail address for Palooza purposes might be part of the problem, since if people don't remember to check this (possibly new) account, they won't be notified of the availability of their pal assignments and then it's "out of sight, out of mind". I'm not sure what the solution to this problem is - maybe suggesting that people provide their usual email address for messages from Sockapalooza and the pal who is knitting for them, and reserving the "anonymous" address for communications to the pal they are knitting for.

Sorry if this isn't clear. It feels like it may appear more complicated in writing than the concept that's floating around in my mind. These are just ideas, but it feels like they might head off some bigger problems now that Sockapalooza is getting so big! I'd love to hear others' comments.


Elizabeth said...

I'm going to second what someone said in the post below. There's no requirement to contact anyone, so everyone needs to relax a bit. The main thing about Sockapalooza is the swap -- some people might not be regularly checking the blog or the pligg -- not everyone is able to make that kind of time committment. There are sock saviors in place to help out with drop-outs, so all will be well.

Trust your fellow knitters. This is supposed to be fun, not something that creates pressure and stress.

the frog princess said...

Hrm. The way I read the rules/suggestions was that your common email address is used for the signups/public face, and your "anonymous" address is used for communication with your pal - this makes sense, especially if you already have a blog to which that common email address is attached.

Kimberly said...

I personally think that a "Hi I'm here" email is not too much of a commitment to make. If one can't find the time to do even that, how are they going to find the time to knit a pair of socks!

I think your idea is a good one. Personally, I don't know why the exchange needs be secret. The odds of being paired with someone you already know are quite small.

erin/pinkerbell said...

It's an interesting idea, but pals are not required to contact their people. Being a sock sister last time around, people dropping out in the beginning was not the problem,(at least in my experience) the bigger problem were people dropping off towards the end. So maybe have a sockpal "check in" a week or so before the deadline would help.

I think many do not check in because they do not want to set up anonymous accounts, and don't want to give themselves away.

Carola said...

I do agree with Elizabeth, Erin and the former post. People, relax!
I can understand that people get stressed out about the huge number of participants this time and want to be reassured. However, try to see the magic of Sockapalooza in that you will receive a pair of socks in the end - from a stranger, made with love and send "out of the blue". There are other secret exchanges which are based on dropping secret messages and spoiling your pal rotten with surprise parcels now and then. But Sockapalooza is a sock swap, declaredly the biggest in the known universe, but "just" a sock swap.

On the technical side: funny named "anonymous" emails from yahoo, hotmail a.o. ("yoursecretsockapaloozapal@...) tend to end up in spam filters and loooads of people don't allow anonymous comments on their blogs or simply don't have one.

Suzanne said...

I think the requirements for Sockapalooza should be that people need to chill and let Alison run the swap the way she runs the swap instead of complaining in public and trying to create a bigger mess than needs be made.

If your pal doesn't knit for you, then someone else will. It's that simple. It may be me knitting for you, since I've already finished my required socks, and I have more stash to enjoy.

Let's not all go control-freak on Alison, ok? She's doing a damn good job, and the chips will fall where they may.

Lavendersheep said...

I like the idea of an initial contact email, it definitely is reassuring.

This is my second time doing Sockaplooza and I must say that this is one of the more relaxed swaps when it comes to emailing and such, but I still really love it. The first time I did it I actually did not receive a pair of socks from my pal. Instead I got a wonderful sock angel who not only knit me a gorgeous pair of socks, she became a regular reader and commenter on my blog. It really isn't that bad if your pal flakes out, because there are tons of other great knitters out there who are willing to take up the needles in your honor.

Even though I had that bad experience last time I was still really eager to sign up again for this one. I love sockaplooza and I try to think more about my downstream pal than my upstream one. I'm sure that you will have fun too!

Seanna Lea said...

I love Sockapaloooza the way it is. It is flexible to the requirements of the participants, because you can make as much or as little of it as you desire.

Some people email their sock pal and ask more questions or let them know that they've started knitting. Others just get to work, looking at the blog or the specifications, and the miracle is socks. Not just your socks, but everybody's socks flying around the world.

Last year I was in Sockapaloooza, and my pal didn't flake out. She had a few life crises and they were sent late, but I got them and I appreciated them all the more because I understood how hard it was do this amazing thing when life just hits you in the gut.

Sockapaloooza to me is about the sweetness of people (through knitters, but people in general), when they are allowed to do something nice in a way that speaks to them.

Alotta.knittin said...

I am all for the status quo. This isn't a contest. I, myself, felt a little panicked when my pals didn't contact me but I realized I wasn't in this for the socks but rather for the comraderie and community that sockapalooza generates. (And then there's the bonus of all the yarn I'm stashing as I look for just the 'right' yarn for my pal's socks!!)

This is my first swap and I sincerely hope it will not be my last (hoping, hoping, hoping that Alison will continue in her efforts). Let's keep things as they are. This is a voluntary effort on all our parts. For me, I get the most 'bang for my buck' from reading everyone's posts, seeing what terrific stuff people are working on, getting tips on knitting and life, and just being part of this terrific community. The socks in August are the icing on the cake!!

OK. Enough said. I need my moring coffee!!

Sarah said...

I like that Alison asked for sock saviours in the first sign up. That will take care of a lot of lost buddies. There's always someone who can't follow through for whatever reason, so planning ahead was a good plan.

Hopefully if someone's going to have to drop out, she will get some advance notice.

I do think just sending off an email saying you're my buddy is nice though, I'm glad mine did that for me.

Jennifer said...

I don't think it should be required to contact one's pal, but I definitely was glad to hear from mine and think my other pal was happy to hear from me.

One possible change for future Sockapaloozas would be to have boxes to check off stating whether participants are interested in contacting and being contacted by their pals (for example: "I'm planning to contact my pal, and would like my other pal to contact me" or "I don't plan to contact my pal, and it is not necessary for my other pal to contact me"). That way, pals who want to have contact can be matched up and those who don't want to can still participate in the swap. Unfortunately, this would create some more work for Alison, but hopefully it would eliminate the uncertainty of whether or not one should expect to hear from their pal. No matter what Alison decides to do, she's doing a great job of organizing this and making sure everyone will get a pair of socks! :)

Anonymous said...

This is my first Sockapalooza and I honestly didn't realize that I should contact my pal or expect to hear from my pal until I started reading about people who hadn't heard. Then I realized that my pal may be worried and I e-mailed her. I also received an e-mail from my pal knitting for me. This all happened a bit after the matches were made. I do think that it would be a good thing to require, or at least suggest, that participants contact their pals. I don't think it would be a strain on people's time to drop a quick note to their pal. Also, by putting that in the requirements it would let first timers know that it's a good idea.

I don't think that Wendy was complaining about how Sockapalooza is currently being run; I think she was just trying to make a helpful suggestion.

Michalooney said...

I expected that I would have a problem remembering to check my anonymous email. I use gmail for my regular and sockpal email, so I set it up so that the sockpal emails forward to my regular account. I also set it up so when I reply it looks like it's coming from the sockpal email. It's all in settings, takes a few steps, but it's made everything very convenient.

Wendy J said...

Thanks to everybody who weighed in on this. One thing that's clear is that there's a real diversity of opinion about this!

Julie is right, I wasn't complaining, just floating an idea. And, echoing what some others said, I'm fine about going with the flow and just enjoying making socks for my pal (and checking the blog & pligg when I have time so I can marvel over everyone's beautiful socks in progress. It feels great to be involved in this mass effort of more-or-less random kindness among knitters (and, hopefully, among people in general), and I definitely appreciate this overarching goodness that lies at the heart of the exchange. While I hope to receive socks at the end (that it, after all, the purpose of a sock exchange), I am not stressed about that and can take the broader view that, after all, it's just a pair of socks.

And I completely agree that Alison is doing a fantastic job - I'm completely in awe of her ability to set up something so huge . . . and even quickly coming up with the pligg when the blog got overwhelmed. It's truly amazing and mind-blowing. My comment was in no way intended as criticism of her or of Sockapalooza. If anybody interpreted it that way, I apologize.

I was just brainstorming about something that seemed to be causing unease for some of the participants. With 1000+ participants, it's not possible to make everyone happy all of the time (nor do I think it is Alison's job to make us happy!). But if Sockapalooza continues to be this large or grows even more, I imagine that some issues might come up that don't make as much difference or are easier to handle than when the exchange was smaller.

If the Sock Angel "rescues" still work well for everybody, including Alison, then I agree - don't fix what's not broken. But I have no idea how many participants don't deliver, or whether there are enough Angels to accommodate the demand (which will surely be bigger with a bigger exchange), or whether figuring out who still needs socks and the process of reassignment to Angels is (or will be) something that's difficult or time-consuming for Alison.

Since quite a few participants DO seem pretty worried about whether the exchange will "work" because they haven't heard from their pals. I was wondering whether a tweaking of the rules - for future Paloozas, not this year - might help. But I certainly didn't intend to sound like I was trying to control the process. It's Alison's, not mine, and I would never presume to know more than she does about it or try tell her how to do it.

As far as the second part of my comment (about the use of "anonymous" email addresses): yes, obviously, I misunderstood the instructions about that. But I know I'm not the only one. Being a newbie, I didn't know exactly how the assignment & notification process works until we were well into it. This is REALLY not a biggie (and has easy "fix" solutions even at this stage), though, and I take responsibility for getting confused about it. Sorry about that.