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Sales, Swaps, Auction & Approvals/Approvals Disc. : Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
18 Oct 2014
01:24:34am
A set of simple rules are being implemented for Approval Books.

Ten months after launching this unique SOR resource, simple rules are being clarified and the enforcement mechanism put in place.

Bobby and I have been designated Moderators of the Approval Book Platform. Our role will be similar to that of the Auctioneer. Computer software is being brought on line by Tim for the purpose of streamlining the process. This software will allow some flexibility for special cases and exceptions.

RULES FOR APPROVAL BOOKS.

SOR Approval Books must be:
1. Substantial, with each item individually numbered,
2. Organized by topics, with limited duplication of items,
3. Mirroring the APS Approval Books,
4. Aimed (but not exclusively) at lower cost stamps

Precise clarifications to these rules are in a separate post, under Club Business.

rrr...

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
18 Oct 2014
02:01:02am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Nothing against the rule changes, but if you are going to have rules that have to be clarified someplace else, then those rules are deficient. Rules must be clear and concise so that they can be easily understood by someone reading them for the first time.

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philatelia
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18 Oct 2014
03:35:36am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Perhaps adding a link to the other post will make it easier for people to study the clarifications?

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin
18 Oct 2014
07:03:28am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

It was my suggestion that the Rules be place in several locations as I have noticed over the time I have served as DB moderator that many members use email notifications and only read limited topics. Don't fault Ralph for my over zealous nature.

This action (announcing and enforcing set rules for Approval Books) has been planned since the inception of the Books themselves. We wanted to give the system a chance to regulate itself, and for the most part it has. It was initially planned that the Rules would be announced 2-3 months following the launch of the Books, but several of us on the committee kept postponing it to see if the system would conform itself. Finally we decided we had to announce and begin enforcement before the books became unmanageable.

Please work with us and we can make an already great project a fantastic success story!

Bobby

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michael78651
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18 Oct 2014
11:07:32am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Like I said, I have no issue with the rules. I wrote policies, procedures and drafted laws and legislation for state and federal governments, among other similar things.

If the rules aren't clear, then people will make mistakes, and you'll only have more work on your hands going after people not following the rules that are scattered all over the place. Then the moderators will start to look heavy-handed, and more problems start. If you want people to understand the rules, you have to tell them what the rules are. Two years from now will a new member look at the vague rules, and then go to look for the clarification rules? That'll just be frustration. Put it all in one place in one rule. I don't understand why you want to list vague rules and then tell people to go look for the explanation elsewhere. That is not good customer service.

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BobbyBarnhart
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18 Oct 2014
11:19:31am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

OK. To simplify matters and permit feedback in an appropriate place, I have renamed this thread. You can also make comments in the Approvals/Auction discussion area if you so choose.

I agree with Michael. Ralph's statement of the Rules in the "Approval Books Rules" thread is very straight forward and needs no clarification. Anyone reading Ralph's post should have a clear understanding of the rules. If there are questions, however, feel free to ask.

Bobby

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auldstampguy
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Just one more small cover .....
19 Oct 2014
10:49:55am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I have implemented some changes this morning to support the new Approval Book rules. The main difference is that there is now a confirmation page in the Book Activation process that is asking you to confirm that your Book meets the guidelines.

Tim.

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philatelia
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APS 156650 25++ years!
19 Oct 2014
12:58:13pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

One concern; There have been comments on the discussion board complaining about going through an approval book that has had numerous items sold and being disappointed when the item the buyer wants is not available. This has encouraged me in the past to compress the material and reissue the book. But if I do this to make certain people happy, am I also violating the guidelines about re-issuing old material? Compressing is also helpful to me in that it frees up the stockpages I'm currently using in the book. Could we have some sort of compromise for this situation? Maybe the title clearly stating that it is a cleaned up reissue?

Thank you for considering this situation. Great job on trying to eliminate mishmash books! Thumbs Up

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
19 Oct 2014
01:35:17pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

It is not a problem Theresa.
What we don't want is for people to use Approval Books as a form of instantaneous "Auction" Board, or "Store". So please do not issue a book to get some immediate sales, and then retire it a few days later...with no intention of actually contributing a real Approval Book resource to SOR. If one's intent is to use Approval for a short term store like platform, it is not appropriate. This is not meant as a store!
On the other hand, if you sold most of your material and want to retire it, congratulations!

Retiring, editing, cleaning up depleted pages, consolidating, and adding (or not) to a depleted book is not only a legitimate process, but one that I think enhances the value of Approvals. As you said it, as a buyer, it is disappointing to go through page after page of sold items...much better to go through full pages. For the seller, it is often easier to do the "edit" as a new book, and I certainly think it is appropriate.
We also have no software implementation capability of indicating "sold" right on the page scans, as they, by design, have been left infinitely flexible to accommodate various formats, SOR templates, stock cards, uniplates, or even album pages. So simplifying the collector's search by editing and streamlining the remaining material in a book with much sold items is a good idea.
I would recommend stating so clearly on the book's Preview Description space. I would also recommend doing it when you discount some material. This information just helps the buyers make more informed choices...but it is just my recommendation not a mandated rule (let us have as few rules as possible).
rrr

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philatelia
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APS 156650 25++ years!
19 Oct 2014
02:58:47pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Thank you for the thorough answer. I agree with all and I'm delighted to hear that the moderators feel similarly about tidying up heavily depleted books. Adding notations in the description that all or a bulk of the material is a reissue is an excellent compromise and helps buyers discern if they have scanned the material before.

When a book hits around 40-50% sold, I feel it is time to compress, sometimes sooner if there were few items per page. As you said, it is tedious as a buyer to leaf past page after page of sold out items. That makes me think that single item pages are best placed at the end of the book. Once they sell, buyers don't have to scroll past them to find the more densely packed pages.

All these little tweaks will really improve the whole approval process for both buyers AND sellers. Happy

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BobbyBarnhart
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19 Oct 2014
03:25:49pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I am going to weigh in here to make sure you and Ralph are on the same page. Theresa, when you say you are compressing the book and reissuing it, I presume you mean that either the compressed material still meets the minimums or that you will be adding new material to the old to make sure the minimum guidelines are met. If you are merely reissuing the "compressed" old material, and the items in the book fall below the 100 minimum, your book will not be adequate. Compressing a book is just another form of editing.

Wouldn't it just be simpler to combine the unsold material with new material and create a new book?

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philatelia
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19 Oct 2014
05:15:45pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I agree and I think we're on the same page. With my USA or areas where I have lots of duplicates, I refill the book so they end up way over 100. With some smaller countries, for example my Falklands where I have no more stock, when that is compressed in the future I'll combine it with another British Commonwealth Island to keep the minimum numbers, or close to it.

The gray areas would be where there are lots of souvenir sheets and long sets that take up a whole page. Then, I am hoping, those would fall under the loophole for covers? I bet you'll have to play Solomon quite often monitoring these books! Personally I prefer to put most of my covers in the auctions - along with all the bulky odd items that just don't fit approval books well.

If we all just use a little common sense and aim for following the spirit of the rules, I'm sure it will be no problem and we'll all be happy campers!Happy

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BobbyBarnhart
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19 Oct 2014
06:46:10pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Any book which is OK when originally published remains OK UNLESS you edit it, which makes it subject to the Approval Books rules as if it were new. Therefore, you may have to live with "SOLD" items until you are ready to retire the book. I know you are concerned with aesthetics, but sellers of APS circuit books do not have the luxury of recalling their books and "compressing" them to make them more "eye appealing." I am not trying to be obstreperous here, but to avoid confusion and make the rules as even handed as possible, we must be firm on this point. Remember, you ALWAYS have the option of retiring a book, culling the unsold items, and using those items in a new book.

Yes, gray areas where exceptions are available would include things such as sets, packets, S/S, covers, postcards, etc.

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Patches
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Liz
19 Oct 2014
07:30:21pm

Auctions
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

How many packets would be acceptable in a book and what constitutes a packet (10, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 + stamps)?

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
19 Oct 2014
07:38:31pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Is lowering the per stamp price on a page considered "editing" a book? If so, then that will prevent a seller from doing a sort of "close out sale" on a book.

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philatelia
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19 Oct 2014
07:52:59pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Quote:

"you ALWAYS have the option of retiring a book, culling the unsold items, and using those items in a new book. "



When I say "compress" that is exactly what I'm doing. I take all the stamps out of the old book, rearrange them, add anything else I may have accumulated for that country or topic and upload a new approval book and retire the old one. Perhaps you were thinking someone might edit a book and keep the same book active? Yeah, that would be messy.

Good questions Patches and Michael - I'm wondering similar things, too. We'll get it all sorted out, eh? Cool

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BobbyBarnhart
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19 Oct 2014
07:55:33pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

@Liz Good question. Without asking for an exception, I would say a minimum of 20 packets of no fewer than 10 stamps/packet. I would grant an exception in certain circumstances, however. For example, I would look favorably on fewer packets if the quantity per packet were substantially greater.

@Michael Another good one. Price reductions alone are not considered events which invoke the renewed application of the rules. We encourage reducing prices to stimulate sales.

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
19 Oct 2014
09:49:37pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Thanks, Bobby.

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TuskenRaider
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19 Oct 2014
10:36:31pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Hi everyone;

Whoooooohh!!!


Quote:

"We will thus discontinue the mixture and packets category that does not serve this specific goal.....rrraphy"



In an earlier post that I read on here, it was stated that 'mixtures & packets' would be eliminated, in approvals. What gives. I thought Roy had a great idea. He has even asked for members (Canadian only) to help him break down collections.

I think it would be a mistake to eliminate a category if we can figure out how to make it work better.

this is the link to that post:
http://stamporama.com/discboard/disc_main.php?action=20&id=9459#65182

Keep on stampin
TuskenRaider

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roy
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19 Oct 2014
10:54:43pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Quote:

"I think it would be a mistake to eliminate a category if we can figure out how to make it work better."



I agree with the sentiment, but if the decision has been made to eliminate the category due to extensive disregard of the principle of the category (or misinterpretation of it) then I can live with the decision. (As I said in the original thread on packets).

Elimination of the category does not eliminate the idea of packets, they just need to be organized into the other available categories. While some of the categories are quite narrow (how many packets of "France and Colonies" could one guy make?), I think (hope) the managers of the program would be accepting of a book of packets that included packs of France, Germany and other European countries (packaged individually) but mixed into a single book and entered under "other Europe". Similarly for Canada, Australia etc entered under "British Commonwealth".

And you're right, I'm working on it!

Roy
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TuskenRaider
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19 Oct 2014
11:01:21pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Hi Everyone;

@ Roy;

Looking forward to seeing your offerings!

TuskenRaider

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Patches
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Liz
19 Oct 2014
11:23:54pm

Auctions
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Now I'm thoroughly confused. The following paragraph 2. is as clear as mud!

"2. The books are expected to be made available as a resource for some time. They are to be organized by collectible categories, for the benefit of the buyers. We will thus discontinue the mixture and packets category that does not serve this specific goal, and we will frown on books that are just a haphazard dump of material. Packets should conform to our categories, and if you mix packages in a book, the minimum requirements are still applicables."

Do we or do we not want packets (mixtures) in the Approval books? What 'I' think the meaning of the paragraph is that packets are OK but should be listed in a country category (i.e. not a bunch of packets from different countries in one book) and the category 'mixture and packets' will no longer exist.

Liz

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Cactusjack
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20 Oct 2014
12:12:23am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Well, what a shock. I just tried to upload a book and I find that the suggested 200 items limit has just become the mandatory rule. My personal opinion is that the mandatory 200 items rule will kill the goose that laid the golden egg. On a quick look at current books I would guess that 90% or more of current approval books have less than 200 items. If the new mandatory 200 item rule would have been in effect since the beginning it would have eliminated 90% of current approval books. I believe that the recent increase in membership is directly related to the wide availability of reasonably priced stamps in the approval books.

To me there has to be a better solution. The 200 item mandatory limit just about limits approval books to minimum catalog value stamps selling at 5 cents to 10 cents each. In my opinion the mandatory 200 item limit will kill the goose that laid the golden, i.e., the wide variety of approval books with reasonably priced stamps, 90% of which do not have 200 items. I feel certain that our recent increase in membership growth is due to the advent of the approval books.

We have people, me for one, who sell higher catalog value stamps and I have customers who buy them. My sales average is around 50% of each book I have listed. The current limitations take away my ability to sell my MNH stamps. There is no way with widely varying catalog values (all items on a page must sell for the same price) and many sets of stamps to come anywhere close to getting 200 items on 24 pages.

Are there any options available for me or do I need to search for another place to sell my lifetime collection of stamps? There is no way that I can meet the mandatory 200 item limit.

James M. McCain
Cactusjack

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
20 Oct 2014
12:23:24am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

@TuskenRaider: No packets are not eliminated:

Quote:

"Without asking for an exception, I would say a minimum of 20 packets of no fewer than 10 stamps/packet. I would grant an exception in certain circumstances, however.
For example, I would look favorably on fewer packets if the quantity per packet were substantially greater."



What is not welcome is the category of "worldwide"..or to simplify the concept, just "Stamps". Approval Books aim to help collectors with their collections not provide a penny box of anything and everything thrown together to rummage through.
Even the packets should assemble stamps in defined categories..but as Roy stated, you certainly can broaden your categories, if it makes sense to reach the goal.
And your moderators will certainly entertain exceptions if they are warranted.

rrr...

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
20 Oct 2014
12:43:34am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Hmm, the dis-allowance of "World-Wide" as a category is unfortunate. I have a few books that have countries in them that follow the Scott catalog breakdown, like "C-F countries". People do like them. Even the APS has global categories.

@CactusJack - I double-checked, and the minimum tally for each book is 100 stamps, not 200. You had my heart skip when I read that.

Just curious, but are some of these rules the result of a couple of members trying to eliminate personal pet peeves? I haven't really seen alot of complaints about some of this except from a couple of people who happen to be the ones who created the rules.

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
20 Oct 2014
12:52:35am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

@Cactusjack:

Where did you see 200? It is 100! And by the way that is the minimum!

Quote:

"#3 The book offers a minimum of 100 stamps, or 20 covers, with a substantial selection in the chosen area "



Furthermore if you are selling sets, covers, S/S, packets etc, something other than stamps, then the 20 item rule may apply to you. (check with the moderator)...and again 20 is the minimum.

Now for the second point:
Quote:

"We have people, me for one, who sell higher catalog value stamps and I have customers who buy them. My sales average is around 50% of each book I have listed. The current limitations take away my ability to sell my MNH stamps. There is no way with widely varying catalog values (all items on a page must sell for the same price) and many sets of stamps to come anywhere close to getting 200 items on 24 pages."



How about Auctions? If you are putting one stamp per page it belongs in Auctions, not in Approvals. We are talking BOOKS with a range of choices, and we are talking mostly (but not exclusively) the lower valued stamps, so a single price for all items on a page makes a lot of sense. Higher priced items usually round up a book offering, and consists of a minor addition to what makes the bulk and what defines it as an Approvals Book.
What you are doing is essentially turning Approvals into your Store or an Auction platform (Buy it Now). So why not use the platform that already exists for this purpose?

Please take the time to read my (lengthy) post on the philosophy behind Approvals. We did not open up a Store, we set up a resource mirroring the APS Approvals adjusted for the Internet, for Approval Books. Please make the necessary adjustments (in Approvals or use Auctions), and I am sure you will continue to be successful, as clearly there is a demand for your material.
And again, if an exception is warranted, please contact the moderators to see if it is acceptable.

rrr...

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BobbyBarnhart
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20 Oct 2014
01:03:30am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Michael

The makeup of the Approvals project committee was such that "pet peeves" (of which there were admittedly a few in the beginning) did not make it through the vetting process. The categories were mirrored from the Auction categories. There never was a "Worldwide" category to eliminate.

It was observed over the first few months that the Mixtures/Packets category was being abused and a decision was made to eliminate that category after is was determined that mixtures and packets could very easily fit into the remaining categories.

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rrraphy
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20 Oct 2014
01:12:56am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Michael: re:

Quote:

"Just curious, but are some of these rules the result of a couple of members trying to eliminate personal pet peeves? I haven't really seen a lot of complaints about some of this except from a couple of people who happen to be the ones who created the rules."


The rules have always existed...just read the very first descriptions for Approvals. We chose not to be heavy handed. We chose to keep our hands off for many reasons. We also needed to develop software mechanisms, descriptive material and to find willing long term moderators (both Bobby and myself are temporary Moderators), and quite frankly all this takes time, lots of time...Tim in particular has a lot of other tasks of higher priority on his plate, and we are all volunteers!
We also wanted you all to have fun and explore...testing the limits of your imagination, even if we knew that some would take bad habits, and complain if we set limits!
But it was ALWAYS intended NOT to be a store, NOT to be a Grab Box, and NOT to replace Auctions, for all but the lowest priced stamps. It was always intended to be a vehicle for acquiring and disposing the pesky lower valued stamps that no one wants to deal with one by one in Auctions or Stores. You can read how many times this was stated before.

So now the mechanisms are in place, the software has been debugged, the documentation put in place, and the simple rules are finally functional. We are also remaining flexible, or we could have dispensed with the moderators.

But the collective vision and hard work of the team who developed Approvals is what you have to play with, so your last comment is not fair and is unkind. It is not whim...it has always been the stated intent of Approvals.
It will be a better product with these rules. It is not meant to eliminate anyone. Just asking some who have drifted away from our initial intent to make some adjustments....the rules just help define the concepts we all agreed to . It is Approval Books.
Is that so difficult?

rrr...

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
20 Oct 2014
02:54:48am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Ralph, it seemed like some people were starting to get defensive over the changes - clarifications. When that happens sometimes it means that there could have been a small number of people driving the change to meet their ends, sometimes overlooking the larger picture. Bobby's explanation is sufficient for me, and I was not intending any disrespect. I apologize if you took it that way.


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Cactusjack
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20 Oct 2014
03:59:59am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Unfortunately I do not agree on the mandatory rules. As guidelines, yes, but as mandatory rules, NO. I have no quarrel with people who came up with the mandatory rules but I just do not agree with them. I don’t see a problem. Maybe I am not seeing the problem. I also do not think the mandatory rules would pass on a vote of the membership. To me rules should be there to improve a situation, not to degrade it.

Tonight I tried to save to Active a book of MNH Greenland. It has 22 Pages and 33 Items. They are nice MNH Greenland sets, singles and a booklet. The catalog values vary from 40 cents to $17.90. The sale prices vary from 18 cents to $8.06.

The rules say that each book is to be:
1. Substantial, with each item individually numbered.
2. Organized by topics, with limited duplication of items,
3. Mirroring the APS Approval Books,
4. Aimed (but not exclusively) at lower cost stamps

In another place it says:
#1 All stamps are clearly numbered from 1 to n on each page?
#2 Each stamp has its own individual number, clearly associated with the stamp (no numbering by rows etc.)?
#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?
#4 The book offers stamps in topics clearly described by its title?

My book is substantial and properly numbered, organized with no duplicates, mirrors an APS book. It is not aimed at lower cost stamps. But that is not exclusively required. So, to me, it meets the major requirements. There is a guideline (now rule) that a book must 100 items. To me that limit should be based on the type of material enclosed in the book. Different sized pegs do not fit into one hole.

The Rules say:
"The Moderator's task will be to insure that this vision is met. Rules will now be enforced.

1. Books with less than 100 stamps or less than 20 covers/sets, s/s, are not considered to offer a substantial selection and should not be posted."

This is where I disagree. I consider my book much more substantial than a book of 100 5 cent and 10 cent stamps with duplication. Currently my book is blocked by the Stamporama software because I have to answer no to the question “Does your book have 100 items?”

The committee that designed the Approval Books did an outstanding job. The books were originally designed to contain cheaper stamps that were clogging up the Auction. The books worked as originally designed. The committee was tasked to design a “Ford Pinto” to take care of cheaper items. However, over the past 10 months the “Ford Pinto” has evolved into a “Ferrari”. To me the Approval Books are the “gem” of Stamporama. They have exceeded all expectations. And I believe they are the major draw for new members. To try to force the “Ferrari” back to a “Ford Pinto” just does not make sense to me.

The Rules say:
“But it was ALWAYS intended NOT to be a store, NOT to be a Grab Box, and NOT to replace Auctions, for all but the lowest priced stamps. It was always intended to be a vehicle for acquiring and disposing the pesky lower valued stamps that no one wants to deal with one by one in Auctions or Stores. You can read how many times this was stated before.”

So what if the approvals are called a “store” or a “grab box” and even replaces the Auction. If it is super successful (and it is) and serves the need of members what difference does it make. The original intentions were good but I believe the original intentions have been superseded by the current success of the Approval books.

Can anyone be more specific on the “problems” that the new rules are designed to solve? I think that you will get a lot of good suggestions on how to attack the actual problem if the membership knew what the problem is. I personally do not see the problem. If the problem is that we are running out of space I have some suggestions there.

James M. McCain
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20 Oct 2014
04:59:53am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

When the Approval Books were put into circulation, it was a trial to see if the membership took advantage of it. At first we had issues of people not creating "books" but would simply include 1 to 5 pages with a handful of stamps. Those of us who started with the Approvals were trial and error.

Having seen too many "books" that contained 3 pages or less or a dozen stamps to the other extreme of books that were in excess of 30-40 pages, it permitted those who designed the Approvals section a chance to see the trends in order to create more concrete trends of usage. Thus the maximum pages were created.

From there, I see the next logical step is to create a minimum of entries into a book. When a book is depleted, it should be retired, items removed and a new book created.

The Auctions section is the appropriate avenue for higher value items and like the Approvals, it can be set at a BIN. If you want to create it so that it is NOT an auction, simply state the "opening bid" as your BIN and you have successfully created the exact same purpose you are currently attempting to achieve using the Approvals.

If you've already created a successful "market" within the Approvals, the same buyers will spend the exact same money you are currently or have been asking in your Approvals within the Auction section.

We have two distinct selling places within SOR aside from the personal classified ads.

Yes circuit books can contain higher values but the purpose here on SOR was to eliminate the "penny" lots and low value common stamps that were clogging the Auction section and provide an avenue whereby they could be easily sold using circuit books as a basic approach.

I truly believe that any seller who has built up a base within Approvals and moves their higher values to Auctions using the BIN option, the equivalent to the Approvals, will find that his/her buyers will also look in there. People are not neglecting the Auction section now that we have the Approvals section and they should be used hand in hand. Low value common stamps in the Approvals and higher value in the Auctions.

Bear in mind that if you have an Approval Book, it has already been stated that within that book you can make a note that higher values of the same category/topic/country are available in the Auction section and your buyers will then go to the Auction section and purchase the stamp at the "set" minimum bid that is the equivalent of the BIN stated.

It's a win/win solution. It provides one outlet for low value stamps and one outlet for higher values. And as mentioned, it provides a loophole in regards to the rule against self-advertisement of Auctions by placing a note in an Approval Book of the same topic.

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michael78651
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20 Oct 2014
10:47:34am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

So, if the approval books are clearing up a problem in the auctions by removing lower-valued items from the auctions, why not place a system-enforced (meaning programmed) minimum opening bid / buy-it-now on auction lots. That way, low-priced items can't be placed in the auction unless part of a larger auction lot or individually in an approval book?

Looking at the first 120 auction items that are closing in the next 24 hours, only 2 items have opening bids over $1.00, with almost all the others having opening bids of less than 15 cents, and are minimal-valued stamps. Seems like the problem is mostly in the auctions, and not the approval books.

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20 Oct 2014
11:10:06am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

There are different interpretations as to the purpose behind the Approval Books and the Auctions. While I was part of the committee which put together the Approval Books, I do not sign off on Ralph's interpretation of the reasoning behind the approvals. I think of the Approval Books as an alternative to the Auctions, and assert that the Approvals compliment the auctions and vice versa. While Ralph and others on the committee anticipate the approvals ultimately eliminating the 5c and 10c auction lots, I simply believe that it gives Sellers an alternate venue upon which to present such items. Just as there is no upper limit on price in the approval books, there is no lower limit in the auctions - and I do not believe there should be in either case.

However, because the Approval Book concept is very different from the Auction platform, a different set of governing criteria is necessary. We are trying to make the Approval Books as good as they can be, and I believe that neither the Approvals nor the Auctions should detract one from the other. In my opinion, a comparison between the is like comparing apples to oranges - each is a delicious fruit grown upon trees, but each has its own unique appeal.

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amsd
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20 Oct 2014
11:54:11am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

As auctioneer, I would be loathe to exclude folks from putting their wares in the auction. For many, it seems that the approval books are a godsend, but i don't believe it was intended as a means to split hi/low between auction/approvals. I see no reason to mandate it. Each has its own allure. My hat's off to Ralph, Bobby, Arno, and Tim for making it a reality that many have taken to like RWs to water.

David

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20 Oct 2014
11:54:49am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

From the very beginning, the Approvals vision was clearly defined and the team members who developed it have gone a long way to explain this vision. It was purposely left open, to encourage use and to learn from it.
But you can go back to the discussion that began the very first day of the Approvals announcement...December 28, 2013. There are no surprises in today's clarifications as some seem to suggest.
I will just list a few relevant comments:

Quote:

"*Remember...this is intended for "Books" not auction items or pages, which should go under Auction as before. 28 Dec 2013 ralph

* Remember the intention is to allow people to put multiple pages up for sale; if you only have one cover or a couple of stamps, consider using the fixed price option in auctions instead. You can tailor each page of a book to have its own price... 30 Dec 2013 peter

*We created a quite flexible system, but the "vision" was that of approval books that allow member-to-member offerings for the bulk of less expensive stamps. I see that some offerings, and questions concerning allowable offerings, "test" the limits of the system. Specifically, posting 10,000 "books" with one page each with one stamp on the page, would indeed use the approval book system to introduce BidStart/ebay-style Seller stores through the back door. Let me assure you, this is not going to happen.

The name of the module is Stamporama Approvals, because it based on the idea of an online version of APS-style approval books. One stamp is not a BOOK; one page or two pages is not a book. If you only have one page of Sweden and two pages of Denmark, and 2 pages of Norway, then make ONE book of Scandinavia etc. OR -- simply sell the whole page as BIN in our auction, if this is what you prefer. 30 Dec 2013 Arno

*The five of us on the development team had many common goals and a few individual goals. One of those common goals was to promote the hobby by getting low cost, more common material into the collecting stream, while at the same time moving members' duplicate accumulations into new homes where they can be appreciated. 31 Dec 2013 Bobby

*Remember, that while we currently have no firm and fast rules regarding size, this program was never envisioned to accommodate one or two page books, so please add new items to get additional pages up... 12 Jan 2014 Bobby

*Let me provide yet some more context. What member can post are called "BOOKS" for a reason. Like with the APS approval books, the idea was that sellers put a selection of stamps together, circulate online, and retire books once depleted. For members who do not have enough material to make single country books, books of several countries are an option (Caribbean Islands, Scandinavia, etc.) 12 Jan 2014 Arno"



So now the original team vision is backed by 9 months of experience, and rules have been clarified, with computer aided enforcement in mind. We have arrived here through a lot of reflection and hard fought compromises..there is only one agenda: To make Approvals better for all.

So, it is time to play by the rules.
Until now, what we did not have was a mechanism for enforcement, nor moderators to handle the fluid areas that will still arise. We also have 9 months of actual experience with the platform in use. Remember, this is totally new territory and we are opening new grounds! The rules are clarified so that there is no more confusion.

It would be a lot more constructive, and some have already done so (thanks), to adjust what you have been doing to the rules rather than fight them. For most, it is a simple process. If you feel your intended Book falls outside the norms, contact the Moderator. If your material does not fit this platform, use Auctions, or trade directly with interested members.

rrr...

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philatelia
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20 Oct 2014
12:41:13pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I don't submit low volume approval books, but out of curiosity, do low volume books really damage the whole approval system? Are they really hurting anybody? Do they bog down the system or increase expense or something not outwardly visible? I'm playing Devil's advocate here so please don't blast met out of the forum LOL!!!

The small books are a way for folks to sell a small group quickly and are easy for beginners to assemble. They allow small groupings to be separated - I mean I don't have to wade through 20 pages of Turks & Caicos to find the Bermuda in a Caribbean grouping for example.

How about a compromise? How about a category "beginner books." These could be small books that are allowed a limited time on the site - maybe 30 days? They would be separated from the REAL approval books that meet the standards. Would that make everyone happy??


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20 Oct 2014
12:55:11pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I've just been a small buyer on here, all from the approval books. There's been nothing offered in the auctions in my area of collecting that I've wanted to pursue, so my first purchases on SOR were from the approval books.

So, as a buyer, I pretty much agree with what Cactus Jack has written. I appreciate a book that has a mixture of lower-value and higher-value items. If I see some lower-value items I'm interested in, I look to see if there might be one higher-value item as well that would either justify the postage or meet the seller's minimum requirements for PayPal. If I find a higher-value item I'd like, then I go back really thoroughly through the lower-value items and pick up what I need. In most cases, without the higher-value item(s), I couldn't have justified doing the transaction at all. The higher-value item was the tipping point for the entire purchase.

What about a compromise at 50 or perhaps 60 items per book? Don't you think that might meet the intent of preventing small 2-3 page books but not making too high a hurdle for offerings such as Cactus Jack's?

Is there a possibility that the 100-item minimum overcorrects for the perceived problem?

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20 Oct 2014
01:01:52pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Theresa & Philatarium

It took 6 months for 5 of us to agree on, formulate and launch the basic Approval scheme. Then we needed 9 months for 4 of us to observe and fine tune the basic rules we eventually propagated. If we open this process up to the general membership, we can be here until the next millennium and still be arguing. What we put in place is the result of many arguments, endless emails and messaging, and even some yelling (electronically), gnashing of teeth and extreme angst among the members of the committee. There were a lot of compromises and many ideas which just didn't make the cut.

The idea of small, 1 page books was discussed as was minimum requirements much higher than 100. 100 items was a compromise hammered together despite ourselves. Please give the format we came up with a chance.

For those interested in small, one page books who do want to go the auction route, do not forget the For Sale sub topic in the Classified section of the Discussion Board.

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michael78651
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20 Oct 2014
01:05:39pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I agree with your "where's the harm, where's the foul"? I don't agree with the beginner books idea. That would preclude others who are not beginners and have a smaller than 100 group of stamps to offer in the approvals.

But what exactly are we trying to do here? Are we trying to impose absolutes, or trying to provide guidelines to help members create better approval books? I think in some way the posts from committee members have alluded to that, by the "contact a moderator if you want an exception for you book". Why the unnecessary extra work for members and moderators? Yes, there need to be some absolutes, but none that would tend to stifle the process.

Instead of moderators scouring the approval books looking for violators and terminating those books, how about using the moderators to help members who continually fall short of the guidelines? Put things in a help mode rather than law enforcement.

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michael78651
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20 Oct 2014
01:16:21pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Quote:

"If we open this process up to the general membership, we can be here until the next millennium and still be arguing."



So don't permit the membership to have a say in how their club works? This is a club, isn't it? Committees should never have autocratic rule over the membership. Committees serve the membership and submit proposals to the membership for approval.

And, no, if the process is properly handled, it would not take a millennium to make changes to how things work. It is arrogant to state that the membership doesn't have the ability to discuss and compromise over proposed changes, and that only an elite few can say what is best for the membership.

A committee submits proposals to the membership for a specific period of time for review and comment (say two weeks). After that, the committee goes back to review the comments, makes revisions and submits a final draft to the membership for final review (one week). Any further comments that result in modifications would be made. The final proposal would then be posted for a vote.
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d1stamper
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20 Oct 2014
01:38:55pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Quote:

"A committee submits proposals to the membership for a specific period of time for review and comment (say two weeks). After that, the committee goes back to review the comments, makes revisions and submits a final draft to the membership for final review (one week). Any further comments that result in modifications would be made. The final proposal would then be posted for a vote."


Well said.

This is something that I have never understood. Who elects the committee and why does the membership not have a vote on things that happen or change?

All clubs and organizations, the members get a vote to elect officers etc.

Doug

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20 Oct 2014
01:54:48pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

To the Committee: I really appreciate the work that went into this. It's a great product, took a lot of work to pull together, and takes more behind-the-scenes work to manage it than we on the outside would know.

But, perhaps unintentionally, by posting this change in rule enforcement, you've elicited some feedback from both buyers and sellers, saying why this might be a barrier to listing and buying, and that it might be an overcorrection.

This is the first time this rule enforcement change has been giving a public airing outside of the committee. What about, instead of saying that we should give the committee's enforcement change time to work -- since you're hearing some plausible feedback right out of the box -- is that the committee give the 50 or 60 minimum a chance?

If, with the passage of time, your review tells you that it still hasn't addressed the problem you're trying to fix, then you'll have a stronger argument in place and the supporting data to go to a 100-item minimum.


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alyn
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20 Oct 2014
02:11:44pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Wow,

I am not sure if this should be here, or the steamroom, but why are people who get to sell their stuff for free taking offense to now having to follow a set of rules. I think we are missing the poit here. SOR is providing a free service for those collectors (and dealers) to sell here for free. If the requirement is now minimum of 100 or whatever, your choice is to meet the requirement or not use that venue.

As pointed out you can use the auctions or the classified areas at StampoRama. For those not happy with that register a website, pay ebay, bidstart, stamps2go or any other sites that charge you to sell.

Personally I believe that we get great value for what our membership fees are.

Alyn

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amsd
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20 Oct 2014
02:38:34pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I am jumping in to correct some misunderstandings.

First, everyone has the opportunity to influence any project; all they need to do is volunteer to help.

This is a little different from APS or other membership organizations. At APS, work is done by paid staff whose jobs depend on the satisfaction of members; some work is done by the volunteers, and, often, the volunteers put forth the visions, such as the move to Bellefonte or renting space or putting color in the magazine. I think that most projects are announced, and calls for volunteers made. That's the time to have influence.

As Bobby described, more than a year went into working this project, from an idea to a refined product with refined rules.

We often ask the membership for input. Tim is famous for this. Perhaps because he works alone, he more easily incorporates others' suggestions. I don't know. In this case, a group explored options; that was the same group that came up with an idea and then worked out the logistics of it; then developed the rules that were informed by the structure; and provide the moderating of the ongoing product. They put ENORMOUS time and energy, creativity and compromise, into this thing. I think we owe it to the group to allow them to be in control of the product they created.

David


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michael78651
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20 Oct 2014
02:57:47pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Alyn, "Love it or leave it", is that how to run a club? Not very welcoming.

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20 Oct 2014
04:01:00pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

When it come to people complaining over what they are getting for free absolutely. The first real complaint is included the standard "I will sell my wares somewhere else". In my opinion this is the issue with the over commercialization of StampoRama. That being said there are options here, if people don't like them they can go. Why should the volunteers here be questioned and badgered. Everything here is free, none of us has the right to demand and or demean them with snide disingenuous comments.


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philatelia
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20 Oct 2014
04:30:43pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

If someone wants to get the waiver for a lower than 100 book, how would the committee like to be contacted? Should the members private message Bobby or rrraphy?

The suggestions made about using the "sell" section and the BIN auction option were very useful and helpful.

And, I'd like to add, my comments were made in the spirit of "let's work together and compromise". I'm certain most of us making comments are not out to belittle the excellent work done by the volunteers. These are all simply suggestions and constructive criticism made in hopes of tweaking the system so that everyone is happy. I put in my idea after reading the disappointment of some of the sellers trying to submit smaller books. I felt sorry for them as they seemed so bummed out! This is a club for our hobby and we're here to have fun. Let's not lose sight of that. Peace out! Angel

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michael78651
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20 Oct 2014
04:38:45pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

@ Alyn - Ah, so this is not a club, but a private country club where outsiders are allowed in as guests to play as long as they keep quiet. You can't have it both ways. If you want the site to grow and prosper, then there will be more people coming here. They will bring differing opinions, and want to be able to do more on and with the site. That is what keeps things fresh and keeps things moving forward without stagnation. Web sites that stagnate die. That's a known fact.

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20 Oct 2014
04:42:19pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Alyn, Thanks for your support, but it is not necessary. We knew there would be criticism, suggestions for alternative solutions and complaints, but it is welcome. Nothing is written in stone, but we are resolved to letting things play out for a period of time, after which there will be a review and (maybe) changes or revisions. The Approval Books are like a child, and like a child, they need to grow; part of growing is change.

For the most part, all comments and criticisms have been respectful and aimed at improvement. I, and I am sure Ralph, Arno, and Tim, welcome all comments and suggestions. Keep the remarks, positive and negative, coming. I request that members not pull away from the Approval Books in protest, but will not go so far as to ask that everyone embrace this new structure. Go on record with your comments but give the system time and space to either sink or swim.

I promise that we will revisit the "Rules" at a later date after there has been sufficient time to evaluate the performance of the Approval Books under them.

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BobbyBarnhart
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20 Oct 2014
04:52:56pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Theresa

Contact either moderator (Ralph or myself) via email or private message if seeking an exception.

If anyone wants general comments as guidelines for situations where exceptions might apply, we can certainly address that in this thread, so that all members can have the benefit of our thinking in this area. Please, however, provide serious, not frivolous, scenarios upon which you wish comments from the moderators.

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20 Oct 2014
05:16:05pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

@Michael

Why is it that when someone has an opinion that is different than yours they are accused of the country club mentality. No where in my posts is this implied. What is "country club" to me is the comments that are made to disparage people simply because they don't jive with what you think.

I take issue with the characterization that peoples pet peeves are responsible for all that is wrong here. I take issue with people who have the nerve to complain about having to follow rules to partake of a free service for primarily their own benefit. If my comments are seen as promoting stagnation then I guess it is full speed ahead for growth where the norm is to criticize those who give of their time freely.

Sometime staying the course is important as well. I would argue that people who feel that the free services currently being offered don't benefit them enough perhaps aren't as committed to the "club" as to their own personal gain.

@Bobby, it is never OK for a volunteer to have to take flak. You and all the other volunteers here deserve to be treated with respect.

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michael78651
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20 Oct 2014
06:18:15pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Quote:

"Why is it that when someone has an opinion that is different than yours they are accused of the country club mentality. No where in my posts is this implied."



First, no I don't, and second, yes it is a "country club mentality" and it is implied when you say, "...if people don't like them they can go".

People are voicing their opinions that are different from yours, and you are telling them to leave the site. I have never told anyone to leave if I didn't agree with their opinion. I don't know where you believe it is all right for you to do so.

If you want the younger people to join the hobby, then "staying the course" won't attract them. They have a different mindset and thus will have different collecting habits and needs from those who have been in the hobby for half a century. One of our newest members commented that he doesn't want to collect in a "painting by numbers" format. We have to embrace those different attitudes f we want the hobby to grow and survive.
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TuskenRaider
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20 Oct 2014
11:15:11pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Hi Everyone;

I'm very grateful for everyone's hard work and time spent to make approvals a success.

However, lets give the rules a chance. SoR tested the waters with this experiment, for several months, to give us all what we have now. If the moderators think it can be improved upon, why not give it a trial period.

Lets go along with their plan, but with a condition. The moderators should monitor how sales volume and number of books/pages listed, and number of individual stamps/items listed over time and report to the membership on a quarterly or monthly basis. They can just give us the raw numbers and then we can give them feedback afterwards.

If it improves our sales numbers and quality of product, then we have a win-win. If sales go south then the moderators will need to adjust the rules in other ways to fix whatever is wrong.

Just a thought from the sand people of Tatooine
TuskenRaider

Another after thought; maybe there can be a category, that is exempt of the rules, to only be offered after the software has detected that the book doesn't conform. This would satisfy all the sellers that don't feel they can meet the requirements.

In other words, one would submit a book for activation. The software would approve that book by a electronic scan and test of its contents, or it would reject it and a alternate button would be offered to the seller, only after it failed to meet guidelines. This extra category would not be offered to all sellers, but only those that fail the test.

Some websites that are a selling venue, have a category named "everything else". The buyers that are looking for a better buying experience, could choose to look in this category or not to. Almost all successful stamps stores have a penny box of junk. I have spent many an hour perusing them over the years. Beginners and younger collectors especially like them for the low cost factor. This would ensure quality is maintained in the bulk of our approvals, but offer an alternative for sellers that don't feel they can meet that standard.

Just a thought from a Ghorfa of the desert wastelands
TuskenRaider

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alyn
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21 Oct 2014
07:57:24am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Quote:

"People are voicing their opinions that are different from yours, and you are telling them to leave the site. I have never told anyone to leave if I didn't agree with their opinion. I don't know where you believe it is all right for you to do so."



No I am telling them that if they don't like the conditions where they can sell for free to sell somewhere else. It is right for me to point out that it costs a person absolutley nothing to sell here, if they are not happy and choose to sell in a manner not permitted by the rules, they can sell somewhere else where it generally costs them something. It is you, who placed the all or nothing condition. Furthermore, if "growing the hobby" is what is truly intended by the sellers why aren't they donating there excess stock to the numerous organizations that will provide free stamps to youth and teachers.

It is this continued sense of entitlement to constantly question and complain about the work of the volunteers that is an issue for me.




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adam31415926
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21 Oct 2014
11:35:38am
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

Some observations:

Looking at the auction page, it looks as though it is clogged with low value stamps. I was scanning the discussion and it looks like the intention was that approval books would be for lower value stamps and auctions for higher value stamps. Maybe there ought to be a lower limit for auctions, like say $5.00?

It also appears that many folks are not using the auction page, that probably should be.

A question:

How do you list a lot of duplicates? For example I have about 40 Scott #499 (U.S.) stamps MNH (CV about $1.00). Is that something that should be on an approval book or listed as as a auction lot all included?

Thanks!

Adam Smith



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Patches
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Liz
21 Oct 2014
12:44:23pm

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re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I totally disagree with setting a minimum price such as your suggested $5.00 on material listed in the auction.

Most sellers on Stamporama list at between 5% to 25% of catalogue value which would mean that the majority of us who have very few duplicate used stamps cataloguing more than $20.00 (if listed at 25% of CV) would be disqualified from listing in the auction.


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Bobstamp
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21 Oct 2014
01:34:32pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I agree with Liz. I've had limited experience selling stamps, but I well remember one potential client who returned the approvals I had sent with the comment that if she had $10 to spend, she certainly wouldn't spend it on stamps! I myself, even after I returned to collecting as an adult, rarely spent more than $5 on a stamp, and usually far less than that, as in 10 cents each. I'm guessing — and I have no statistics to back me up — that most members of Stamporama have small budgets that don't support the purchase of "expensive" stamps.

Bob

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michael78651
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21 Oct 2014
01:41:00pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I too was thinking of a minimum opening bid for the auctions to put a line of separation between the approval books and auction lots. However, Dave's response regarding wanting to leave both options open to sellers regardless of selling bid/price convinced me to change my mind on that.

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BobbyBarnhart
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21 Oct 2014
01:58:00pm
re: Discussion of the Approval Books Rules

I helped create the approvals without a personal vision of replacing low cost items in the auction. I envisioned simply an alternative which, in its difference, would attract buyers and sellers who wanted to make outright purchases at set prices. A lot of members buy from both approvals and the auction and a lot of sellers utilize both. There are also buyers and sellers who shop only a single platform. And we are now seeing another incarnation of a trading circle on the DB.

All the venues for acquiring or distributing stamps have rules. The Approval Rules we ultimately adopted are simple and few, and extremely easy to comply with. I am sorry we upset a few people, but I do not make apologies for the short list of simple rules.

We are all stamp enthusiasts or we wouldn't be haunting this site. Whether we buy, sell, trade, play with the hoard we have accumulated over the years, or just enjoy talking about stamps, we are all here to have fun.

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