Another round of features

November 2, 2007

A few more significant changes in this blog update.

Site Map

I have made a “table of contents” of most of the BookMooch web site. If you are not a member (ie, not logged in), you get a different site map than if you are logged in.

The site map for non-members is in the Main “About” tab at

The site map for members is in the “About” section (which you reach from the main member menu), as is at the url:

Take a look, maybe you’ll find some features you were not aware of.

Mooch Ratio Explanation

From your “bio” page, if you click on the words “mooch ratio” you will now see a “Mooch ratio explanation” page

People have always been confused about how this number is calculated, so now the formula is shown.

In building this page, I myself got all confused about how this worked, and actually rewrote the code to make it clearer, so that I could also explain it.

It’s entirely likely that, in rewriting the mooch ratio calculation, I didn’t get every detail right. The good news is that now people can see how the number was arrived at, and point out any mistakes I’ve made, so hopefully I can benefit from the collective scrutiny of the mooching members to find my mistakes for me.

At the bottom of the explanation, I put the ratio into a sentence, which hopefully makes things a bit clearer:

4.16 books given for each book received

Note that the sentence structure is reversed if you mooch more than you give:

1.81 books received for each book given

Wishlist notifications and related editions

Emailed wishlist notifications now send to people who have related editions of that book on their wishlist as well.

This can sometimes mean that you’ll get a wishlist notification for a related edition that you don’t want, such as a translation of that book into another language, but most of the time this should be helpful.

This means that most of you will no longer need to add all the related editions of books to your wishlists to get the notifications.

The “Added to wishlist” message makes this feature change clear:

You will receive an email notification when this book (or a related edition) becomes available.

Smart redirecting to non-member pages

I mentioned in a recent blog entry that the pages under the /m/ directory at BookMooch now require you to be logged in. I also said that if you sent a URL to someone, please send the non-/m/ version, ie

NOT this:

but this:

However, since that blog posting, I found a way to automatically redirect people who hit the Cancel or Escape key, when asked to log in if they go to those pages, and they are then automatically redirected to a non-member version of the same page. This is currently in place for “wishlist”, “inventory”, “pending”, “detail”, and “friends”.

This trick works for people using these web browsers:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Opera

    This trick does not work for these web browsers:

  • Safari
  • OmniWeb

    Safari/OmniWeb both display a blank page if the user chooses to cancel a “HTTP Login” dialog box. I’ve filed a bug report with OmniWeb, to see if they’ll fix their behavior, but I don’t think I will bother trying to tell Apple about their bug (I can’t figure out how you would even report such a thing).

    FYI, for geeks, this trick involves putting a META HTTP-EQUIV=”Refresh” html command in the HTML document that is returned with the “401: WWW-Authenticate” response from the server. IE/Firefox/Opera all display this document if the user chooses not to authenticate, while Safari/Omniweb choose not to display it.

    Bug fixes:

  • The Widget feature has two small improvements
    • widgets for mooches should only show successful mooches
    • the “show a random set of my wishlist books” widget now works correctly, previously it was showing books from your inventory
  • A bug in the History page, where some items would show feedback from another item, when there was no feedback for that history item, has been fixed.
  • Condition notes on a book were lost if you rejected a mooch
  • 18 Responses to “Another round of features”

    1. Sophie said

      All these look great – thanks again for your dedication and hard work! I do have one feature request – it’s something that seems to bug people, but not quite enough for it ever to get brought up “officially” – when a mooch request arrives and the moocher has left a comment – which could be just “thanks in advance” or something waaaay more important – it appears down at the bottom of the email, and it’s quite easy to forget to scroll down and check that. Is there a way that any such message could be brought nearer to the top so it can’t be missed? Cheers and have a good weekend πŸ™‚

    2. mystfromthesea said

      About the mooch ratio. Why are lost books figured into this formula?

    3. Lottie said

      Nice one. πŸ™‚ Especially like the notifications for related editions, and the mooch ratio explanation. πŸ™‚

      Thanks so much!

    4. E. said

      Thank you so much for all these new features. I’m very excited about receiving email notifications for related editions.

      I’ve just gone through and weeded my wishlist for the duplicates. This took longer than I had anticipated, because each time I removed a book, the wishlist reloaded to the page with the first 20 books in my list. As I had about 30 books to remove out of 350, it this reloading method wasn’t very helpful. It’s only a minor problem, but one you may want to consider in future BM revisions.

    5. Erin C said

      I never understood what the mooch ratio was about-Thank you very much for the explanation!
      I still relatively new here and enjoy your blog:)
      I love BookMooch!

    6. Michael said

      John wrote: “I don’t think I will bother trying to tell Apple about their bug (I can’t figure out how you would even report such a thing).”

      If you have Safari running, go to the page that breaks and select “Report Bugs to Apple…” from the “Safari” menu. This page might also be helpful, though probably you will get more use out of the so-called bug-reporting FAQ. I’m guessing Apple won’t bother to fix Safari 2.x, though you might convince them to do something about Safari 3. It’s probably worth a shot.

    7. Tony said

      On the new Wishlist related edition emails: Does that include sending notices when a Hardcover is available and you request a paperback? If so, we should be able to customize that somehow. I solely want paperback editions myself. I really don’t want to accidently mooch hardcover books that someone else might enjoy and I would not.

    8. Michelle said

      Is it possible to allow opting out of the wishlist notices for related editions? There are some titles on my wishlist that I only want in audiobook format. I don’t want to get notified for every printed format book that gets listed. It has already happened today and I was very disappointed to see that it was a printed book. The notice does not specify the format so I have to click the link and go to BM to see if it it is a true wishlist hit or a false one. This will get old very fast. Some people only want hardcovers and they will have the same problem. Another book site allows opting out of this feature and I think this is an easy way to please both those who want it and those who don’t.

      I like the mooch ratio explanation thingy. That is something that confuses a lot of people and the explanation should help.

    9. Heather19 said

      AWESOME on the mooch-ratio explanation!! I have always wondered about that… I kinda-sorta understood the basics, but ratios are one thing I sucked at in math, so it’s totally great to see a breakdown of it like that! Thank you John!

    10. Stephanie said

      I agree that it would make more sense for “lost” books to not be included in the mooch ratio.

      Other than that, it looks great! Thank you for your efforts!

    11. Amtep said

      The mooch ratio page would be a good place to mention the 5:1 limit.

    12. Tim said


      I’m in agrement with a few others. I almost mooched a couple of books that I most definitley did not want, but could not tell that from the mooch page, because it does not show the edition information there.

      An opt out of this feature would be a really cool thing. Thanks for your consideration of this, and for all the other great improvements being regularly made to BookMooch.

    13. mgpb said

      Overall, much appreciated.

      Some real concern about the automatic wishlist notification if “related” editions show up. Normally I know what I am looking for, and the related edition is not of interest (pb vs hc, for example).

      Really, the only reason I suspect you are even thinking of related editions is that the specification on the wishlist page is currently TOO specific — ie, down to a particular ISBN.

      A real cure (versus a patch like related editions) would be to allow wishlist (or search) entries to be more general — ie, use author, title, publisher, format, etc — where any unfilled field is considered to be a wildcard. Thus, “Jules Verne” by itself would be an instruction to send me a wishlist notification when ANYTHING by Verne shows up, but “Jules Verne / Mysterious Island” says to send me a notification only when ANY EDITION of Mysterious Island shows up, and “Jules Verne / Mysterious Island / Hardcover” says only notify me when a HARDCOVER of Mysterious Island appears. This could be very general for people looking only for any copy of a book, and very specific for collectors (picture the rare notification sent in response to “Jules Verne / Mysterious Island / Rare Editions Club / 1899 / Hardcover”.

      Your hard work is much appreciated. Most of what you are doing is great, but is mostly window dressing when the search/wishlist functionality is still rudimentary. Still very useful, but could be much better.


    14. mgpb said

      One item I forgot to mention:

      The proposed change to search/wishlist I suggested would also help simplify all wishlists. My wishlist currently has a combination of specific single items (I am looking to complete sets, for example, or only one hardcover edition was published). Other times I have a dozen entries for a single book, as I just want to read ANY copy that shows up, and I’m not picky about edition. I’d guess that I have approximately 40% duplicates in my 500+ item wishlist because of this situation.

      I will also agree with a previous poster that an easier way to delete multiple entries on a wishlist would be much appreciated. When I get a hit on an item that had a dozen entries, deleting them all (now that I have the book) is quite tedious due to waiting for the reload after every individual delete operation

      (Hope this seems more like constructive suggestions, not carping about your GREAT website that I recommend to everyone I know!)

    15. Samantha said

      I am so happy with the wishlist now. I am glad I no longer have to add all of the books by the same writer. Thank you for changing it! πŸ™‚

    16. Aliera said

      Would it be possible to opt out of related editions? Personally, for some books i want specific editions, like hardcover or paperback, or say, the revised updated edition of a book. Other times i don’t care and just want to read it, and just add all the editions to my wishlist.

      It’s much easier to mooch anything i get a notification for than to have to check the edition every time. ^^;

      At the least, it would be nice if the related edition emails were marked as such, like “Bookmooch wishlist: a related edition of “wishlist book” is now available.”

    17. DubaiReader said

      I have checked out your site map and wonder what has happened to the info about BookMooch Angels. For a while I accessed it via the news items on my Member page but it has now passed on.
      Personally I know I can get to it via Wikkipedia but new members won’t even know it exists to look for it – or am I just being blind??

    18. skwishmi said

      It’s stunning how much work goes into improving this service, and I too want to express my thanks!

      Regarding the related editions feature: If you have on your wish list LARGE PRINT editions of a very common books, you might get a lot of extra email. A person who needs large print might run into difficulties with this feature. Just a thought. πŸ™‚

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