Friday, July 20, 2007

Excuse me...

I know I'm not supposed to publicly say anything negative about the Secret Pal swaps. But somehow this absurd rule, while meant well, prevents the knitting community at large from understanding some of the problems that happen here. All you see surfing blog to blog, are happy-warm-fuzzy posts about getting packages full of wonderful stuff. This is why I signed on to SP9 and SP10. I want yummy things, and I wanted to shop for yummy things for someone I with whom I share a common interest.

The problem is, though, that the swaps can go sour, and we're not allowed to address it. They tell us to go to the hostesses. But what happens when they don't answer e-mails?

For SP9, I was sending lovely things to Carmen. If you scroll down a bit and behold that lovely silk garden scarf? I sent her that silk garden. Oooh, makes me proud! The person spoiling me dropped out about a month in, and I was rescued by an angel. My angel (and original, still anonymous spoiler) each sent me one lovely package. (Thank you to Unfurnished Brooklyn, who made me quite happy.) It seemed pretty nice, really, ignoring the fact that life had gotten very complicated for the first person assigned to me. The hostesses were into it, and my old hostess even sent me a prize for winning a contest! How fun! I had new blogs to read, Bowie DVDs, and heaps of pink yarn and Swedish Fish.

So, what the heck happened to SP10? It's been "done" for a month, and I never, ever got a package. I sent three to Jill, and had fun doing it, but the point is that it's supposed to be a swap. The hostesses are suspiciously absent. I have to look at my original e-mail telling me to spoil Jill in the first place to remember her e-mail address. No contests this time, rare updates, sparse e-mails, some of which were somewhat harsh. Sorry, but mass-sending out the message of "YOU WILL BE BANNED IF YOU DON'T SEND A PACKAGE!!" to EVERYONE doesn't help; why aren't the problem people isolated and contacted in private to see what's going on rather than using scare tactics on all participants?

It's frustrating. It's exciting to shop for someone else (especially when going in with a two-for-you one-for-me mentality), but the biggest excitement in these swaps is supposed to be the part where you get a package filled with goodies tailored to your interests. I've sent a couple of e-mails to the hostess asking about it, and still nothing. Last I heard there was going to be an angel package, but, um, I'm moving in five days. I didn't think that a June 30th (my birthday!) deadline would run into my late-July moving day.

If this post gets me banned from all future SP events, so be it. I have no intentions to participate again anyway. I thought the SP9 angel-necessity was a fluke, but apparently knitters are flakier than I had wanted to believe after getting blown off in SP10. Maybe the SP dynasty is too old, and the hostesses' hearts aren't in it anymore? It's hard to say. I know it's a lot of work to organize it all, but it's too easy to let participants slip through the cracks when there are hundreds and hundreds of them. If I want to swap stuff, I'll have to find my fix through smaller events. (Any suggestions?)

*ETA* 7/21/07
I have since heard from my hostess, who has had computer issues throughout this round of SP-ing. All should be resolved soon. I shouldn't doubt these ladies.


Amanda said...

I participated in SP10 too (it was my first SP) and had a really positive experience. However, I've participated in some non anonymous swaps in the past where I never recieved a package, even after contacting the hostess, so I understand where your frustration comes from. It all seems a little hit and miss to me, which is why I probably won't be participating in SP again. Even though things worked out this time I don't want to risk it.

Also, I agree that the ban on negative feedback isn't at all constructive to the whole swapping process. We should be allowed to openly discuss when we've had a bad experience without the fear of being blacklisted somewhere.

Unfortunately, I don't have any smaller swaps to recommend to you, other than this list, but you could always seek out one of your blog readers to swap handmade care packages with.

rosebrier said...

Given my experience with secret pal 10 I will never participate again.

While the stuff I got from my pal was great, I did not have an enjoyable time dealing with the host I had. Way too many e-mails. Way too nit picky controlling. So not worth the hassle involved.

I was under the impression that the ban on bad feedback was more like if you thought you got tacky crap you couldn't say it so you wouldn't hurt peoples feelings. Not that you couldn't complain if you didn't get anything at all.

I have done some swaps on swapbot. I think it really is bad that you didn't get anything and they didn't respond. It happens in all swaps and they are supposed to make up for it.

rosebrier said...

That reminds me that I need to send you a thank you card. You should send me your address.

Rose Red said...

Was discussing this same issue with knitting friends yesterday - our conclusion was that it's better to arrange swaps with people you know (whether personally or through blogging) - takes away the fun of the anonymity but at least you know no-one will flake (or if they do, they'll make up for it).

Jenn said...

I stumbled on your blog....I was reading a Raverly post and liked you pic, so I clicked on it, came to your blog and started reading....

Funny thing is, I am a SP host! I was going to say that you should email ME and I will help you out, but I see you have heard from you hostess.

In my book, you will NEVER be banned for expressing your thoughts. The rule is there so that people don't "bash" us. For example, I had a woman leave nasty comments on my blog, including cussing at me, because she didn't get a package in the first month.

Feedback, negative or postive, is fine by me. But the name calling isn't.

I hope you signed up for SP11. I will add you to my group and make sure that you get someone great!!!

Jenn said...

oh, if you know what blog RoseBriar belongs to, I would love to contact her. I have a feeling that I know whose group she was in. I can personally guarantee that that is not how SP is run.