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Sales, Swaps, Auction & Approvals/Approvals Disc. : Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
28 Jan 2015
12:04:23pm
Just a reminder. You will see this summary of the "rules" on the very last screen, just before you activate your Approval Book. Here they are for you to read BEFORE you attempt to list your book. I have added a few comments that are worth considering.

Quote:

"Approval Book...

Activation Questions
#1 All stamps are clearly numbered from 1 to n on each page? Yes No

#2 Each stamp has its own individual number, clearly associated with the stamp (no numbering by rows etc.)? Yes No


#3 The book offers a minimum of 100 stamps, or 20 covers, with a substantial selection in the chosen area and no more than 3 copies of any individual item?
NOTE: You may wish to combine smaller books into one larger book to meet the minimum item requirement. The minimum item requirement however is also subject to Moderator review. The Moderator may grant an exception for covers, s/s, sets, and countries/topics where a limited stamp selection may make the minimum item requirement unreasonable. You may wish to contact the Moderator first for these exceptions.
Yes No

#4 The book offers stamps in topics clearly described by its title? Yes No

If your answer to all these questions is YES, then you may publish your book. If you are unsure of an answer, you may message the Approvals Moderator for an opinion. If you publish your book and the Approvals Moderator subsequently determines it is not in compliance with this list, he/she may deactivate your book until it is edited appropriately.
"


Quote:

"WARNING: Do not repeatedly relist old material as new after short periods of time. This defies the purpose of the new books list and is unfriendly towards other member-sellers and buyers alike. Stamporama reserves the right to revoke selling privileges of members that do not play nice."




Now for a few comments.

Rules 1 and 2 are designed to avoid possible confusion. When you use your own template, the number should be clearly associated with the stamp. I have noticed a few cases where one is not quite sure if the number relate to the stamp on the right or on the left, so please make sure that spacing and number positioning is not such that a buyer has to guess. The numbers should relate to the stamp unequivocally! Or use the ready made templates that SOR has provided.

Rule 3. The indicated 100 stamps is a MINIMUM. The key notion here is that Approval Books should offer a SUBSTANTIAL selection, without too much repetition, and should be intended to STAY as a resource for members for a significant time period. If you want quick turn around and intend to retire your books quickly, please use the Auction platform. If you intend to list several books of 100 stamps each, please combine them into ONE bigger book!
Think of Approvals as a LIBRARY of available material for our members to explore at any time they need to work on their collections. If you plan to retire your book a few weeks after listing them, you are NOT meeting the intent of Approvals! So refrain from using Approval as a short term store listing!
Read the WARNING at the bottom of the list!

Exceptions are for sets, s/s, covers and for collections where 100 items are impossible to meet due to the nature of the subject....(subject to Moderator Approval)

Rule 4. I think this is where MOST books fall short! The title should be precise and detailed enough, so that a buyer does not need to open the book to find out what is in it. I have not regulated this aspect of Approvals, but I will shortly. The book description should be enough for a collector to know if he should open it or not! PLEASE add more information in your titles! World wide or generic descriptions such as Asia, US etc...are NOT ENOUGH. Please be more precise and give more details on the content.

As Approval Moderator, I have been pretty lax and have allowed a lot of latitude. I think we are all collectors, and any rule bending may be just a mistake or an unintentional lapse. But please help make Approvals a better product by going beyond the Minimum requirements and if in doubt about anything, please contact me.

Ralph (Approval Moderator)
rrr....

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
28 Jan 2015
12:46:07pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

More on RULE 4, as a guideline:
COMMENTS ON APPROVAL BOOKS TITLE DESCRIPTIONS:


From the New Books listed as of today, here are a few examples of UNACCEPTABLE, INADEQUATE and EXCELLENT Book descriptions in contrast to one another!
Not singling anyone in particular but PLEASE IMPROVE YOUR BOOK DESCRIPTIONS. I will start emailing you individually, before DEACTIVATING books that fall short of rule 4. Rule 4 is meant to facilitate the BUYER'S experience by giving enough information about the book.
The Approval Book listers should make every effort to me more precise in listing their books. And avoid generic titles that are just too broad and vague.

Unacceptable:

South America
South East Asia Fillers
Stamps from Africa

These are just too generic, and do NOT meet the intent of rule 4 which states:

Quote:

"#4 The book offers stamps in topics clearly described by its title? Yes No"




INADEQUATE Not enough Details:

Hungary
US used, nh
Brazil
Spain Used Stamps
Used stamps from Australia
etc..

These are huge collection areas and a more clearly defined title should be provided, to help buyers know what is in the book, without having to open it! This is even more objectionable when the material clearly relates to a narrow time period, or subject matter. Please describe the book more fully IN THE TITLE, and make your book selection meaningful, not just floor droppings thrown into a book!


Excellent:
Just a few examples:

BELGIUM- Used singles (from scott 2043 to 2281) & Birds, (various)
Cyprus, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Ireland, Jersey, Malta..all different
GERMANY-BERLIN Mostly used 1948-1990 with scott numbers
RUSSIA 1964-1965
British Commonwealth 1930s-1940s only (Reformatted Book)


Now, I know this is all subject to interpretation, and I don't intent to be a policeman, but please keep in mind the INTENT of Approval Books, and improve the titles of your books by giving more details.
Please comment if you feel I am being too demanding!

rrr..
Approval Book Moderator

Thanks Rick (Rickben2) for his comments of January 13. I was out of the country at the time, but these go beyond the title but are indeed very much reflective of the point made above: BETTER DESCRIPTIONS!
Quote:

"I would like to see more descriptions of the stamps being offered in the approval books. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if stamps are in mint condition based on the scans or if they have hinge remnants or disturbed gum on the back. I've received stamps that have thins without being aware at the time of purchase. Very few of the sellers give any kind of description of the condition of their stamps. It seems to me, better and accurate descriptions would result in better sales for the seller and a more appreciative buyer."



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Philatarium
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APS #187980
28 Jan 2015
01:17:45pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

Could I make a comment about just one of the points you've made?

Quote:

"If you intend to list several books of 100 stamps each, please combine them into ONE bigger book!"


I'm speaking only as a buyer (but hope to list some material in the future), but I would actually prefer smaller books to larger ones. I already feel like I'm often looking for a needle in a haystack, and if the descriptions are more robust (a point I very much agree with you on), then a smaller book with a good description makes it easier to determine whether or not I need to look through it at all. Also, the larger the book, it seems more likely then the broader the description would end up being. (And, by the way, is there a size or character limitation on a description? If there is, then my point is even more true.)

I'll make another post to bring up a second point.

Thanks, Ralph!

-- Dave

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Philatarium
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APS #187980
28 Jan 2015
01:33:11pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

I have a suggestion for a future enhancement. I've been reluctant to propose it as of yet, because it would mean more development work, but, with some limited application development experience in my background, it seems like it would not be tons of additional work.

It's this:

It would be very helpful, and I would look at more approval books, if I could "skim" a book, by just seeing, on one page, smaller versions (but not thumbnails) of the approval page images. If I could just scroll down one page to see what the book specifically offers, I can easily make a determination of whether I should delve into the book and likely make purchases.

There doesn't need to be price or condition information or anything else, just the images themselves, on one page, so that it doesn't require clicking through page by page to see if there is the possibility of items I'm looking for.

Consider it like an executive summary page for the approval book.

I know I would look through ^many^ more books this way. I find it really time-consuming (and a little physically challenging) to click through 10-20 pages to see if there is even the possibility that there is material I'm looking for in just one book. (That's a little bit why I shuddered at your suggestion to make the books even bigger!)

Additionally, with a summary page, I might also see items that catch my eye, that I didn't even know I was looking for! (That happened with some of the material I bought from you, Ralph.)

Again, it seems like this wouldn't be a huge technical challenge, but I do recognize that it would certainly require some additional work and thinking-through on how to present this information and incorporate it into the existing structure.

What do other approval book buyers think about this?

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cardstamp
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28 Jan 2015
01:50:58pm

Approvals
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

Well I just went back and tried to update all of my book titles. I had one book that was shown as Unacceptable and one as excellent - so I was all over the board ! In my case it is just a matter of discipline and taking my time as I put up new books. I agree some of my titles were lacking but I have a few folks that look and grab material out of my books so quickly that I do not think they even look at the titles !!

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Soundcrest
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28 Jan 2015
05:06:24pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

"Cyprus, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Ireland, Jersey, Malta..all different"

I thought the stamps in a book all had to be from the same country. What is the minimum number of stamps allowed per country? I am always hard pressed to find a country that I have 100 stamps for.

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TuskenRaider
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28 Jan 2015
06:01:33pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

Hi Everyone;

@ Soundcrest;

That is a good question, and a lot of new sellers may not be aware of this. If you are
selling, say; "BRITISH COMMONWEALTH & COLONIES", then they can all go in the same
book. If I were to list a large number of different colonies, I would attempt to group
all the stamps of one colony together, however you will still have to keep all stamps
of the same price on the same page. Also I would try to include in my title, the names
of some of the largest colonies, or the regions of the globe that they cover, so that
buyers are better informed.

I think this is what Ralph is trying to get folks to do.

Also if you want to list in these broad categories,

OTHER WESTERN EUROPE
EASTERN EUROPE
AFRICA
ASIA
MIDDLE EAST
CARIBBEAN

try to put something in your title, like;
British Africa, MNH/used, singles
French Africa, used, complete sets,
Asia; China-Japan-Korea-Mongolia, short sets,
Eastern Europe; Romania-Czech-Albania, CTO etc.
Try to list the countries names that make up the bulk of your book quantity wise.

@ Ralph;

Have I got this right Ralph?

I think what Philatarium is referring to is the page thumbnails used by members to show
galleries of stamp pages, when they show a collection off under the heading "EXHIBITS".
So we probably already have the code available and could easily import it into "Approvals",
or maybe not so easy. But I agree that it would be a HUGE asset to our approvals section!
Probably worth the effort even if not so easy, and would make approvals much more user
friendly.

Just some thoughts....
TuskenRaider




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Webpaper
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28 Jan 2015
07:51:31pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

I agree in principle with all, although as Philatarium points out there are advantages of books in the 100-200 stamp range rather than having all of them in the 400-600 stamp range.

You state "If you plan to retire your book a few weeks after listing them, you are NOT meeting the intent of Approvals!".

Previous threads on this subject seemed to lead me to the conclusion that if a book has been active for over 4 or 5 weeks and is over 50 per cent sold out or more it was time to think about deactivating it, and in several weeks or a few months adding to it, or combining it with another deactivated book from the same area. Is this acceptable as long as there is a decent period of time prior to reworking the book ?

Thoughts appreciated.

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
29 Jan 2015
12:44:53pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

Thanks for all the comments

On many of these points discussed, there are not set rules and no uniform preferences, it is clear. I am looking for ideas! Just looking at the best suggestions to make Approvals more valuable to all. As Approval Books Moderator, I will only enforce our rules, but I will certainly keep looking for ways to make Approval Books better, and I will make individual suggestions. Don't forget that we are pioneers, as no one else has offered anything like this, on line.

I like bigger books, because, when you factor in duplicate stamps, a 100 stamp book may just offer 40 or so different stamps! But it is a matter of choice. Bigger books have also a better chance of staying on the shelf with material of interest, long after the first day sales!
In my books, I add duplicates for two reasons. To give the buyer a choice (cancellation, condition, grade, perf) and also to give the buyer who comes some time after the book is issued a chance for nearly the same range of material as when I just post the book...assuming the book is not totally depleted.
And if you tire after looking at the first 4 pages, or 100 stamps, nothing prevents you from putting the book aside till later. One book of 500 stamps relieves the listing clutter that 4 books of 120 stamps creates. I would prefer less books to sort through, as it is more efficient for me as a collector, but it is a personal choice, I know.
Now smaller books that are accurately described, and offer material in well defined range are certainly a plus (Example: Russia 1964-1965). But a book with say 100 stamps of "Hungary" to just pick an example, with no organization and no order, I find annoying and a waste of my time to explore. As a collector, I almost feel insulted, or as if I am looking at the box with a pile of all the floor droppings one find at stamp shows for 1c 3c or 5c a stamp!

I am still surprised by the instantaneous level of sales new books seem to get. I just did not expect such a hunger for the range of lower cost stamps that seems to exist, and such a daily rush to pick first. WOW, stamp collecting sure looks healthy!
Approval does seem to address a BIG need out there, that no other store, auction, dealer really addresses well. As most books seem to reach depletion rates of 25% to 50% on the day they are issued, I wonder if my vision of a Library of Books as a resource to collectors is a bit off the reality check list! Still hoping we will get there, once the novelty wanes...but it does not look like it yet!

Retiring a book is left as a personal choice. The design team had discussed instituting mandatory benchmarks (depletion %, or time, or time with no sales) but decided against making a public announcement, or setting a strict rule. Better to give folks more personal choices.

But books that are fairly well depleted, and do not seem to get any more attention, deserve another look by the seller..and a relisting eventually. Maybe it is time to add some material to it, or put the rest in a packet and sell it on Auction?
I find that deactivating or retiring a book (I always de-activate my books and keep them for several months as a reference, and until I get back to the subject matter), and then I start a NEW book and re list the material in the new book. This works better for me! Please state so, for the sake of honesty to all, when you do so! I find that adding more material to an existing book does not work well for a seller, as the book does not get relisted as a new book, and thus misses out on the first rush of sales all new book seems to get.

For older books, some have noted that sales timing is always surprising. A book issued 6 months ago suddenly gets a whole bunch of hits....so one may want to give the book a chance to sit on the Library shelf for a while before removing it and reworking its material. As long as it offers ""substantial selection in the chosen area"". I personally like to leave my books as Active for 4-6 months irrespective of traffic, as long as they still have 50% of the stamps in them...but I also will discount my prices several times before retiring the book for good. Again, it is a personal choice.
Having older books on the shelf always help, because buyers like to reach a critical mass of purchases before being invoiced (save on shipping...makes sense). I noticed that every time I list a new books, my older books also get picked at! Keep that in mind before deactivating your older books.

On the issue of the book title, and in particular referring to the example I gave which elicited the response:

Quote:

""Cyprus, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Ireland, Jersey, Malta..all different""

yes they fall under the rule of combining related countries when a seller does not have enough stamps to meet the 100 minimum rule. Here, the point I am making is that this title is much better than "Misc Commonwealth" for example.
For a collector who just collect "Malta" for example, it tells him whether or not to look in this book. More relevant title description is a plus!. It would have been better to post separate books, but not all have enough material to offer. This broadens the potential participation of all.

Finally, for design and software enhancements, I appreciate your inputs, but as everything goes through Tim who is more than maxed out, and has already put a major chunk of time and effort to get us where we are, I have agreed to not push for any more changes for (at minimum) the next 12 months...but ideas are welcome, and I keep a list of them for the future. Of course any vital bugs or problems are dealt with as they occur.

I think a lot of improvements can come from HOW WE LIST AND USE Approvals Books, and I am hoping that this discussion will help us make the product better, without having to re-write software! So keep bringing up suggestions and ideas, and spend just a little extra time to view how your books can be made better, for the collectors. And keep experimenting and provide feedback on your experience. We are all explorers here!

rrr...
(Approval Book Moderator)

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Philatarium
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APS #187980
29 Jan 2015
09:04:04pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

Quote:

"I have agreed to not push for any more changes for (at minimum) the next 12 months"



Once the lock comes off for future changes, I really hope you'll champion this, Ralph. I think it would make a huge difference. We saw that there was support for it even among the limited comments on this thread.

Keeping my fingers crossed, when the time comes.

-- Dave

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
03 Feb 2015
11:14:59am
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

About Book Titles:
Thank you all who have beefed up the Approval Books titles with more specific and pertinent information to make it easier for buyers to know the content of your books from the titles, without having to flip through every page. You are all terrific, and the books are much improved. It is a pleasure working with you all!
rrr...
(Approval Book Moderator)

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Larryd
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05 Feb 2015
12:49:57pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

I'd like some guidance on the best way to handle approval sales that have been cancelled by mutual agreement. For example, I had a few sales of $.05 approvals that amounted to less than $1.00 from a buyer outside the US (where I'm located) back in December. I didn't invoice the sales in hopes that the buyer would find some additional stamps he wanted from my other offerings. Now that it's February I contacted him to find out if he wanted me to continue to hold the stamps or if he would prefer to cancel the transaction. He has responded that he'd like to cancel, which is perfectly acceptable to me given the circumstances. Since the "purchases" have never been invoiced, what is the best procedure to close out the transaction? I don't want to just leave the "transaction" in limbo in case there were some additional purchases a year later that would pick up these cancelled items (which might be long gone). Should I invoice the items together with a note to the "buyer" telling him to ignore the invoice and then close the invoice? Inquiring minds want to know!

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05 Feb 2015
01:07:48pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

I just reopen the invoice and mark the status "closed".

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Larryd
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06 Feb 2015
01:14:24pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

Quote:

"I just reopen the invoice and mark the status "closed". "



Thanks for your response; I was under the mistaken impression that an invoice could only be closed if it had already been sent to the buyer. Thus, the "problem" I described existed only in my own simple mind! On a tangentially related topic, does anyone have a good source for anti-stupid pills? I obviously need to order some soon!

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philatelia
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APS 156650 25++ years!
06 Feb 2015
02:09:03pm
re: Guidelines for Approvals and a few comments about the "Rules"

Awwww you're just being human like the rest of us!

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