“Book owner never responded” leads to automatic vacation-status

May 4, 2007

People have long asked for a way BookMooch could identify members who have abandoned their BookMooch accounts, so that people don’t see their books as moochable and then get disappointed when the book isn’t sent to them.

Alternatively, if someone goes on a long vacation, and isn’t answering any mooch requests, it would be good for their account to be automatically put “on vacation” so that no-one mooches from them while they’re unresponsive, but when they come back all is set back to normal.

Many ideas for doing this were discussed on the forum, but the idea I liked best was based on the scenario of “I tried to mooch from this person, but they never replied”. I like this because a human being makes the judgement, which can then handle more odd cases than a computer judgement. For instance, if we auto-vacationed people who haven’t logged in since 30 days, that would remove people who would respond to mooch requests that would come in, but otherwise don’t use the service. Those people should be allowed to remain, it’s only non-responsive members that we don’t want.

So, here’s how the new feature works: if you go to cancel a mooch, and it’s been more than 7 days since you made your request, you can now indicate that “the book owner never responded”. This choice *only* appears on the cancel page if 7 days or more have elapsed since your mooch request. Here is what it looks like:


If you do indicate that “the book owner never responded” then the book owner’s account is immediately put on vacation. Vacation, if you don’t remember, means that the person’s inventory is set aside, so that their books don’t appear in searches and aren’t moochable. They then get an email like this:

Subject: Your BookMooch account is now ON VACATION
Date: May 3, 2007 10:40:50 PM BDT

Your BookMooch account is now ON VACATION

A recent book requestor has indicated that you did not respond to their book mooch request within 7 days.

BookMooch has therefore assumed that you are currently not replying to requests and has automatically put your account on vacation.

To undo this, log into your account by going to:

BookMooch does this so that people who stop using our service automatically have their books removed. That way, people cannot request books from people who are no longer using our service.

In the future, to avoid having your account go on vacation, we ask that you respond to all mooch requests within 7 days. You do not need to send your books within 7 days, but you should acknowledge the request.

If the book that was cancelled is on multiple wishlists, no wishlist notifications are sent out, since the owner’s account is put on vacation. This is an important improvement, because until now, an annoying cycle occurs when someone cancels a book from someone who is inactive, which then triggers a wishlist notification to others who want the book, they try to mooch it, and the cycle continues. However, if the mooch request is cancelled due to non-response, and the owner comes back from vacation a few weeks later, then the wishlist notifications are sent out then, as they should be.

Back to the cancel screen. If the requester has not waited 7 days before asking to cancel, then a message is displayed on-screen that says:

Are you cancelling because you haven’t heard back from the book owner?

If so, we ask that you wait 7 days before cancelling, to give the person plenty of time to reply.

After 7 days, if you cancel because the owner did not respond, BookMooch will automatically put the owner’s account “on vacation” so that other people do not accidentally request books from this person until they become active again. This helps other people avoid requesting books from people who do not respond, and is another reason we ask you to wait 7 days before cancelling.

Thereby encouraging people to be a little bit patient.

Note that if you go to cancel a book within 24 hours of your request, BookMooch assumes that you are cancelling it because you changed your mind, and no “please wait 7 days” plea is displayed, the cancel page works as it always has.

I’m hoping this fairly simple feature is fair and also effective at slowly weeding out accounts that have been abandoned.

24 Responses to ““Book owner never responded” leads to automatic vacation-status”

  1. Marianne said

    Great idea, I’ll be using this shortly

  2. Helena said

    I have a question about a book I’ve mooched recently. It’s from a guy in US, and he’s very new to Bookmooch, so he may still be learning about how it all works. Anyway, after I mooched, he sent a reply that he might not be able to send it, since the postage might be too much, because I live in Sweden. He would check it out and let me know. So he did e-mail as a immediate reply to my initial mooch.

    But now I’ve e-mailed him twice about wanting to cancel the mooch, and it’s been over three weeks (26 days). The status is still “Not sent”. I would guess it’s ok to cancel the mooch now, but I don’t feel really ok about saying I never heard from them (because I did once) and putting him on automatic vacation, because he’s new.

    So I’m guessing I should just cancel the mooch, but not leave this message about how he never responded.

  3. Dawn S/Elphie said

    Thank you John, this is awesome! I have been hoping we would have something like this set up soon & you are on top of it already! Great job!

  4. Laura said

    This is a great idea. Thank you very much for this feature.

  5. Amanda Connor said

    What a great idea! And yes, this will take care of those same book popping up in my email 5 times in the same day as we all realize they are non-responsive!

    This is an elegant solution to the problem.

  6. Angie said

    This is a wonderful solution! Thank you so much….

  7. jackie said

    I think this is a great idea.

    One thing I want to point out though… I think a big part of this problem is that when we mooch requests are sent with the moocher’s email as the “from” in the email. That results in many mooch requests ending up in people’s junk mail box, even if they’ve added nobody@bookmooch.com to thier safe list. My guess is that in many cases this happens to new users who assume that they no one wants thier books becuase they missed the notification.

    Of course people will say that it is the book owners fault for not setting up rules about bookmooch as a keyword and all that. I think its unreasonable for a new user to be expected to know that they may not recive book requests from the same email they get other bookmooch info from.

  8. Anastasia said

    One addition – after canceling a request due to no answer, my name is still added to the “Previous moochers” list, even though I didn’t get the book. It’s misleading. Same for “Previous givers” – if the book isn’t actually given as the result of the cancellation, then the giver’s name shouldn’t be added there.

  9. Liz said

    What if you really want the book, but it is annoying to wait so long without notification that you cancel, the book owner receives the notification and signs back on. And someone else gets to mooch the book. Is there some way to be the first person to try and mooch when they reactivate?

  10. Debra said

    Awesome. Thanks so much John for adding this feature, it will definitely improve the site. πŸ™‚ Debra

  11. Kirin said

    Great! I will probobly use this soon!

  12. Angela said

    I mooched a book from a woman who took three weeks before sending it out. When she got around to sending the book she sent me a note asking whether I still wanted the book. I was very busy and didn’t quickly respond. Also, since I hadn’t cancelled the book, I’m not sure why she was asking. Three days after sending me the query the sender cancelled the email and listed the reason as “never responded.” So I had to reorder the book from her and say that I did still want it. If you set up an automatic vacation, please make sure people can only use it when a moocher is unable to contact a book owner, and not vice versa, or for general queries… which a person may not always be able to keep up with.

  13. Greg said

    It didn’t put them on vacation. There book is still on the list!

  14. William said

    Great improvement!!! It also lets me finally be able to add some things to my Wishlist – I never could add a book to my Wishlist if there was a dead copy already on BookMooch owned by an unresponsive account. That had always bothered me. I had to mooch the dead copy, knowing I’d never get it, before BookMooch would have none available so I could then put the book on my Wishlist.

  15. Wonderful solution. I’ve been noticing an increase in the number of “possibly inactive” BMers, and wonder what could be done.

    By the way, William (above), you don’t have to mooch the “dead copy” if you first move the book to your “save till later” list, then move it from there to your wishlist. I found that out by accident.

  16. Dewey said

    I have a further suggestion for this very welcome feature.

    When people don’t respond to me, I generally just leave the pending action sit, because I don’t like to cancel. It shows up on my account, in the “cancelled requests” category Just now, to try out this feature, I went through and cancelled 4 pending mooches that were never answered for a month or longer. They all show up on my account as cancels. I now have 12 cancels, which I think makes me look flaky, like I just go around saying, “Ooh, I mooched this, but now I’d rather have the point back for THIS!” In fact, all my cancels are due to lack of response.

    So my question is, could this new feature NOT give the person who is cancelling due to lack of response a point in the cancelled tally?

  17. kim said

    This idea is fantastic. I’ve had to cancel requests because people just did not respond, so this feature is really going to be fantastic. I hate to cancel a request, but if I don’t get a response, I feel like I have to.

  18. Frances M. Bothwell said

    The vacation idea is OK, but wouldn’t it make sense to have a mechanism so that one can notify an actual vacation instead of having someone mooch while one is away and then have the setting placed on the account? I usually check my bookmooch account a couple of times a day, but will soon go an a lengthy vacation (more than 30 days) and feel a bit put out by having the site unable to cope with a planned absence.

    Any luck in just TELLING you guys that I will be away for a bit?

  19. Rachel R. said

    Very well thought out! Thanks. πŸ™‚ I agree on the option to be the first one able to mooch if/when the person returns from vacation, and having the notification email sent from a bookmooch account so it doesn’t so readily go to junk mail. I’m “sitting on” a book request I made months ago, because I’m VERY interested in the book. πŸ™‚

  20. Stephanie said

    Frances, you *can* put yourself on vacation! And when you do, the books in your inventory will not be searchable, etc. until you come back and take yourself off of vacation. This has existed for awhile, actually. Only the part about someone else being able to control that setting is new.

  21. Peggy Davis said

    I certainly can see the need for the “vacation” option. However, I did not received any mooch requests for over a month, and did not realize that I had been put on “vacation”, and all my books de-listed! I had planned to remove many of them, due to lack of interest, but would it be possible for someone to e-mail me if my account is considered inactive?

  22. Frances M. Bothwell said

    Ok, I just got back from vacation. You had put me on vacation status because I did not answer a request. According to Stephanie above, I could have put myself on vacation status, but I couldn’t find out how before I went.

    Now I can’t find my inventory, only two of about 350 books I had listed. Can someone help me out there? I need to check on a couple of titles, but can’t seem to get into my own inventory.

    Perhaps more experienced moochers have a better knowledge of the program and how to navigate it, but many functions seem to remain a mystery still to me.

    Thanks for the help.

  23. natalie said

    What about people that haven’t responded but you see that they were just logged on 2 hours ago? I have been waiting for a response for a week now and am finding it to be very rude to see that they have been on the site but not responding to my mooch request one way or another.

  24. Alan said

    I agree with Dewey (May 16, 2007).

    It is not really fair to have the book cancelled due to a nonresponsive member count against us.

    I am a new member and do not want any negative feedback to my bio.

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