International mooching ratio conundrum

April 10, 2008

Kirk McElhearn wrote me today to say:

Some thoughts on the mooch ratio. I was looking at mine:

It seems that getting a bonus for sending internationally makes sense, but shouldn’t there be a malus for receiving internationally? That seems to skew the ratio in the senders’ direction. It doesn’t seem fair that my mooch ratio is so low, since the actual totals are just about equal.

Kirk is pointing out an inconsistency in how the mooch ratio treats international receiving vs sending.

Specifically, each book sent to another country gives you the value of 3 books to your mooch ratio, but when you go the other way, and receive a book internationally, it only costs you 1 book on your mooch ratio.

The net result is that if you send & receive internationally a lot, you’ll have a much “better” ratio than seems fair.

I think Kirk is right, and think that mooching internationally should cost the same number of ratio points as sending.

However, it’s not that simple, as Kirk’s point works best for people who send and receive books mostly internationally.

Here is an example of where the current system makes sense: if you send 3 books domestically, and then mooch 1 book internationally, under the current system you’d have a .33 ratio (3 books sent for every one received). That seems right to me. If I changed the mooch ratio system to Kirk’s suggestion (which I initially thought was a good idea) then the ratio would actually be 1:1.

So, now I’m not so sure if I should change anything with how the ratio is calculated. If there’s a problem, it’s the extra bonus in mooch ratio BM is giving when people send internationally, because we wanted people who sent internationally to not be constrained by their mooch ratio and be able to actually use the extra points they earned.

What do you think?

89 Responses to “International mooching ratio conundrum”

  1. Carly said

    Is it possible to adjust the ratio so that when you request a book internationally, that request is counts for two books requested(what you’re actually spending), while sending a book is still weighted at three books sent? If you weight an international request the same as a send, then moochers who send internationally aren’t getting the full benefit of the third point.

    Alternatively, you could view the favorable ratio for those who send internationally as an extra bonus in consideration of the fact that, at least from the U.S. to countries other than Canada, the cost per point to send a book internationally is often still higher than the cost per point domestically even with the point bonus.

  2. Kirk said

    What about cutting it in half? Give a bonus for sending, and take half of the bonus away for receiving?


  3. StefanoC said

    I know I’m repetitive, but bear on with me.

    If the point system were balanced, there would not be need of mooch ratio limits.

    PS. found any interested economist ?

  4. mgpb said

    It seems that the whole point of the bonus on sending internationally is to ameliorate the symmetry problem — it costs a lot more money and work to send a book internationally than domestically. Even with the bonus point, it is STILL more expensive (per point) to send internationally. Why bother considering penalizing international moochers at all? How is it their fault that international mooches are more expensive? And with respect to changing the ratio — clearly, if I can’t USE the points I get from sending internationally, there doesn’t seem to be much point to shipping internationally any longer, right?

  5. caitlin said

    Hey, I LIKE being able to actually mooch books with the points I get for sending internationally. I agree wholeheartedly with mgpb.

  6. Claire said

    Why not just banish the ratio altogether? It seems inconsistent mathematically, and doesn’t really give any information of interest, other than showing a giver’s/moocher’s track record, which can be attained through their history.

  7. “…we wanted people who sent internationally to not be constrained by their mooch ratio and be able to actually use the extra points they earned.”

    Adding the bonus for int’l sending did that really nicely. At least it has in my case; it’s really nice to be able to use those points without anxiety.

    Question one: if adding a ratio “malus” for receiving internationally indeed results in a fairer-seeming ratio for those members “who send and receive books MOSTLY internationally,” what percentage of the BM community is that? How many people would see a significant* change in their ratios as a result? Two percent? Ten?

    (* – And how large a change is a significant one? What would the average adjustment be?)

    Question two: What would the effect be for those members who do NOT send and receive “mostly” internationally?

    Sorry if these are dumb questions; like the stereotypical novelworm, I don’t think so well in numbers… 🙂

  8. Michelle said

    I am in total agreement with mgpb. The sender is the one paying extra for postage and therefore should earn extra points and a higher ratio. Otherwise a lot of people would choose to mooch internationally and earn extra points/ratio but only send domestically which is a lot cheaper. I think that the system is perfect the way it is.

    One point though, isn’t there any way of deleting inactive members? It is so frustrating to find a book you want and then be told that the person who owns it hasn’t been online for months.

  9. Michelle (mitcho) said

    I am in total agreement with mgpb. The sender is the one paying extra for postage and therefore should earn extra points and a higher ratio. Otherwise a lot of people would choose to mooch internationally and earn extra points/ratio but only send domestically which is a lot cheaper. I think that the system is perfect the way it is.

    One point though, isn’t there any way of deleting inactive members? It is so frustrating to find a book you want and then be told that the person who owns it hasn’t been online for months.

  10. Julie06 said

    I’m a newcomer to Bookmooching but so far all the books I have mooched have been international because I havn’t found hardly any interesting books in my country(Spain). Funnily enough the moocher who is taking the longest to send me the books I have mooched is the only one I have mooched from my country. Working the other way all the books I have given have been international as well, I have not had one request from Spain.
    As a foot note I would love to have some of your Bookmooch hand out cards so I can spread the word and hopefully get more contacts in Spain. I hope you inroduce this in Europe soon

  11. Naima said

    I come from a small country and send and receive all my books internationally because there aren’t many active bookmooch members in my country.

    How will this affect me?

  12. Leah said

    I am frustrated regardless w/the entire ratio thing. Perhaps it encourages those to ship internationally? I don’t know. I agreed to ship a few internationally to improve my ratio which I presume it did. The ratio thing really stresses me as I try to give as well as receive but what I end up with are points I simply will never be able to use, which frustrates me and seems silly. The points aren’t really there then. There don’t seem to be many ways to improve your ratio regardless. Perhaps if there was some vehicle for that? I don’t like the ratio system at all. There, I said it.

  13. MissMac (UK) said

    I’m ok with things as they are, to be honest. It means I don’t worry about spending the points I have acquired by sending overseas.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep changing the ratio because then people will be more wary about spending their points in case they’re ‘caught out’ by an unexpected ratio change!

  14. andrea said

    I’ve thought about “malus” ratio before, but I disagree with the example that the negative bonus for receiving has to be the same than with sending internationally. If you were to send 3 books domestically and receive 1 internationally, with the adjusted system the ratio should be 2/3, 0.67, not 1. If you still had 1 point left over, you should be able to mooch another book domestically and then your ratio would be 1.

    I also agree that additional incentives for international shipping are good, so I would like for the ratio to remain as it is. It is a reward for those that are kind enough that even though they could spend less per point domestically, still send international. This international aspect is what makes me love this site best.

  15. Jacob Cord said

    As a frequent international sender, I would also appreciate being able to spend those extra points without worrying about raising my ratio to the point where I can’t mooch any more books.

    Wouldn’t the extra cost in points for mooching, and the extra reward for sending international be stimulating the BookMooch point-economy by virtue of circulating more points per transaction? Is that a sign of maturity and health? Where’s that economist…

  16. Claire said

    People who are worried about having too many points: give them to charity, for goodness’ sake!

  17. Tricia said

    I think that each book should be a mooch ratio of one for each book sent and one for each book received regardless of International or Domestic. The point of the mooch ratio is to prevent those who don’t want to send out books, but want to mooch books from doing that. The points are where we get the reward for sending the books out internationally and to recompense the extra expense. When I signed up for Bookmooch we were allowed to participate as long as we sent out at least one book for every 5 we mooched. It shouldn’t matter whether its domestic or international for that mooch ratio.

    I have sent both domestic and internationally. I have also sent out or have scheduled to send out more books that I have mooched. If you are in danger of not being able to use your points because you are not sending out enough books compared to what you are requesting, then that is what needs to be remedied.

  18. I think we need to look at this from first principles. The main reason that the ratio matters is that it is being used as a toggle to limit leech-like behavior: people who have received many more books than they have shipped are to be cut off. However, there are additional bits of “business logic” which his Buckham-ness would like to add to the toggle, which makes a lot of sense. I think the mistake may be in trying to consolidate all of the business logic into a single ratio.

    Basically, we have two different things going on:

    1) When you ship internationally, you get 3 Points – this provides an incentive for you to pay the increased shipping costs
    2) When you ship internationally, the denominator of your Mooch Ratio increases by 3 – this increases the number of books you can receive in excess of the number you have sent before you are cut off for being a leech.

    These two results are obviously related (points are useless if the system won’t let you trade them in), but they aren’t the same.

  19. Christine said

    I agree with Leah, Tricia and some of the other posters, I don’t know that the mooch ratio is really all that informative. A mooch ratio tilted toward more mooching than giving could be indicative of many types of behavior, not all of them abusive. A high mooch ratio could indicate that a person is more interested in receiving but not sending, clearly abusive. It could also indicate that they are spending extra points from international mooches, deals, charity, angel mooches, etc. Or simply that right now a lot of their wishlisted books have become available and they are taking advantage of stored points to mooch heavily for awhile, but they will get back to giving as soon as requests come in. A glance at the actual number of books given/sent is usually a better indicator of whether or not the person is engaging in abuse, and in those cases, the “abuse” button is there for a reason!!

  20. Jill said

    I agree with mgpb. I send internationally a lot. If I didn’t receive the added benefit from sending internationally I don’t think I’d make as much of an effort to spend the money involved in doing so. The int’l receiver is not putting forth any effort to get the book other than maybe being an int’l moocher themselves so that someone from another country will be willing to send to them to begin with.

  21. Margriet, Brussels said

    Thank you John for asking us this question. I also think that the three points encourage people to send internationally. I live in a small country and therefore I do not have much choice, (but I also like it!) but it is indeed expensive to send to another country. I am sometimes disappointed when I find out that a book I would really like is not available for me because somebody does not send it outside his/her country. So I keep hoping that more and more people from Europe, and people who are prepared to send internationally, will be a bookmooch member. I think that the system as it is now is very balanced. The three points encourage people to send books abroad; and the ratio prevents that someone can mooch a lot of books with the points they earned by adding books to their inventory without ever sending one. So for me I would propose not to change. If anyone has ideas how to make bookmooch more known in Europe, and what I could do about that, I will be very interested!

  22. Jacquelyn said

    I too like the mooch ratio the way it is. A person willing to send me a book internationally should be able to get (and use) the extra points they receive without penalty when they send out a book.

    By changing the incentive to ship internationally, many people may choose to no longer participate in world wide mooching. I know my cost to send internationally is typically higher (point to $ ratio) than domestically but I over look that because it’s fun and I’m getting 3 points to use in compensation.

  23. Jillian said

    For me, personally, I only send book mooches internationally because it is worth the 3 credits I get and the extra ratio incentive. Why else would I pay almost $10 to ship a book that cost me $5?

  24. Cathy (Australia) said

    As an Australian member most of my books are sent internationally and it can be quite expensive. Without the extra points and being able to use them it would not be worth it. The example is that I have spent over $200 in the past 2 weeks sending out books. I know this is because I am a new member and have added a lot to my inventory and it won’t cost as much in the future but if I could not use the points I would be better off buying new books.

  25. Wyndy said

    If a higher point “payment” for international shipping makes sense, wouldn’t it also make sense to have a higher cost and benefit for hardback versus paperback book mooches? I have several hardbacks listed on my inventory, and I’m thinking about removing them because they will cost so much to ship. Any thoughts?

  26. Zillah said

    To Wyndy, re: The hardback question

    Since there are both hardbacks and paperbacks of all sizes and weights (ie very heavy paperbacks and very light hardbacks) this approach doesn’t make sense – I guess you mean a weight bonus for heavier books?

    While I sympathise, I think it would unnecessarily complicate things further… if I have heavy books that are too expensive for me to send, I leave them off my inventory (and sell or trade them elsewhere), or I’ll write a condition note saying I’ll only send it within my country.

    Just my thoughts!

  27. Mary Ann said

    Why can’t the mooch ratio be calculated by actual books sent and received? Ignore the point value of each book, and just count one book sent as one, and one book received as one for the mooch ratio. Still assign whatever points you want for the points balance calculation.

  28. Zillah said

    Mary Ann: Then, members who earn more points for sending internationally can’t spend them, or they’ll go over the acceptable mooch ratio.

  29. haramis said

    I don’t care about the ratio, but I do care about the extra point for mailing internationally. Even with tat “extra point” I still find mailing internationally to some countries like Canada still cost more than they are worth.

  30. Tricia said

    Even if you ship almost exclusively internationally the points are three to one. Since the acceptable mooch ratio is 5 to 1, There should be no problem being able to use your points. A one point mooch ratio per book sent or requested regardless of international or domestic is still the best and most fair way to gauge potential abuse.

  31. Emily said

    Why does the mooch ratio really matter that much for this to be such a heated topic? The system seems fine to me. People who send internationally are spending *much* more money to send books. They deserve a little extra credit.

  32. Tangent said

    I like it the way it is. I think encouraging people to send internationally makes Bookmooch more useful and inclusive overall, and that’s worth any slight “unfairness”–especially when it’s in the direction of rewards, not penalties.

  33. Ashleigh said

    I strongly disagree with StefanoC.
    I live in New Zealand and almost all of the requests I get are from international locations. Whilst it is my choice to send internationally, at times it has cost me up to $18.00NZ to send overseas. With the current exchange rate this equals $14.73US. (To keep things in perspective, I am a university student and earn $13NZ per hour).
    With the current ratio regarding international mooches I am more than happy to send overseas as a lot of my wishlisted books are from international moochers. I feel that receiving the extra points towards my ratio is my reward for chosing to send to international location, regardless of the high price.

  34. But the big question here isn’t about sending the books internationally (which most people are very positive about) correct? It’s about whether RECEIVING international books should be treated differently in the ratios, right…?

    But I’m curious; is having a slightly “better” ratio because there’s no penalty for international receiving really such a problem?? For how many people?

  35. UltraBob said

    Living in Japan, adjusting the mooch ratio as suggested would mostly mean that it would continue to be more expensive (monetarily) to send books out and become much more expensive (in-site currency wise) to receive books because there isn’t a huge number of moochers active here in Japan. Already the US doing away with surface mail has really hurt the usefulness of this as it is hard to get people from the major market to send anything. If you implemented the new ratio it would probably not be worth it to continue participating from Japan at all.

  36. Tasha said

    I honestly don’t think the mooch ratio is going to be an easy fix. Having it lowered meant i had to put a lot of books on my saved for later list and i’m much more careful on what i mooch. If you were thinking of preventing scammers from listing books and going mooch happy, then yes that is a good thing. But its preventing me and maybe other members from mooching books we would normally not think twice about because of the ratio mess. I admit its kept me with more points but its still annoying.

  37. amberlianne said

    First off — sending internationally means the shipper receives three points. However, the moocher only “spends” two points. Adjusting for this would not be a matter of multiplying by three, but by two, for the moocher — otherwise you may as well charge them the full three points.

    Secondly, I’ve always wondered what happened to people who, say, won 100 points from the Bookmooch lottery? Are those people then stuck with points they can’t use because it would screw up their ratio?

    Lastly, I would just like to point out that removing the ratio bonus for sending internationally would not only screw over a lot of people from non-U.S. locations, since it seems that most of them ship and mooch internationally, but it would really hurt for those of us who do a lot of Angeling — I send out a ton of Angel books every month, and because of that, my ratio was almost 3:1 before you changed the system — now it’s closer to 1.21:1.

    All in all, I see no reason to penalize those who mooch internationally. International mooching adds books and points to the system. Isn’t the real point of this site just to facilitate trading of books? It’s one thing to kick an obvious hit-and-run moocher who mooches several books with the points they get from adding inventory, then never sends the books they get requests for and just leaves… it’s another thing to penalize active members who are doing their part to send books out.

    And I don’t remember who said it, but please, can we do something to empty the inventory of people who have been inactive for months? It really does make me sad to see a book I want and click “mooch this book” to only find out it’s in the inventory of some person who hasn’t logged in for like 285 days. 😦

  38. Zillah said

    Tricia: isn’t it 2:1 now, not 5:1? Didn’t they change it?

  39. fillytilly said

    The USA has changed their postage options and when we send internationally we no longer have an option to send by land/ocean. Our only option is by air. (At least that is what my post office is telling me.)

    One example, I spent over $30 to send three books to Sweden making that person so very happy! But, if our points system and mooch ratio were any worse then how it is defined now I would not have acquiesced to sending.

    I would not like to see any of the benefits we enjoy now for sending internationally taken away or reduced.

  40. Winna said

    that makes sense and might be a good idea, but I have to point out that for people who don’t live in the US almost always have to mooch internationally. We always find books from book owners across the globe, which leaves us with less choice of mooching domestically.

    I’m not saying the mooch ratio isn’t unbalanced, I’m just saying that perhaps we should also take notice that people in countries with small numbers of bookmooch members might always have to mooch internationally and they shouldn’t be penalized for doing so.

  41. Jackie N. said

    When I joined BM last November the ratio was 5:1, but shortly thereafter changed to 2:1. I kept my ratio at about 1:1 for quite some time until many of my wishlisted books came available. Now I’m at 1.47:1 and praying for more mooches to get some points back on the board and my ratio more balanced. As I read books, I put them back into my inventory for others to mooch or gift them to family and friends. I haven’t opened my inventory to send internationally yet because of the cost, but may have to in order to get my ratio more balanced, but since I have lots of heavy books, I am loathe to do so. I only recently mooched a smallish book from UK that was on my wishlist to see how it works out. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the BM experience and appreciate the opportunity to read books I could never afford to buy. Thanks.

  42. Dovile said

    I just want to repeat what Naima said, because it also applies to me:

    “I come from a small country and send and receive all my books internationally because there aren’t many active bookmooch members in my country.

    How will this affect me?”

    Actually, I’m quite happy whith the present ratio system and see noneed to change it.
    BTW, what is the mooch ratio now – still 1:5 or 1:3 already?

  43. Marina Bonomi said

    I’m a mostly international moocher (to the point that in my mind the average cost of a book is 2 points, not 1).
    Why? Well, as non-fiction goes, many books I’m interested in have never been traslated in my language and aren’t even available here, as fiction goes I found that reading something that I enjoy helps me a lot improving my
    knowledge of my ‘other’ languages, learning a language on grammars and textbooks doesn’t work well for me.

    I’m also a mostly international sender (out of 101 books sent, only 6 went in my country) if the aim of BM is to encourage circulation of books, I’m afraid that changing the ratio with regards to book mooched from abroad would discourage people (who already pay 2 points instead of 1) and penalize those who live in countries with few members and few books in other languages available.

  44. StefanoC said

    To Ashleigh:
    I also live in a country (Italy) with little BookMooch presence, and therefore send and receive most books internationally.

    That means that I get 3 point for every book I ship, and have to pay 2 point for every book I get. I know it’s against my interest, but this system doesn’t seem fair.

    It would be better if the moocher for an internationally-shipped book would pay the full 3 points the sender gets.

  45. Marina Bonomi said

    Sorry Stefano, I don’t see why. The extra point is there to encourage people to send internationally, intenational moochers already invest double points every time, making it 3 would only make things whorse for those that already have limited options to mocch (be it because their countries have few members or because the books they want aren’t available domestically).

  46. Kirk said

    Wow, reading these posts, it’s obvious that most people don’t understand what the mooch ratio is. It is an indicator of the number of books you have sent versus the number you have received. It has nothing to do with the number of points you have or can use (even though it is calculated with a number of “points” per book), but is simply a metric. Changing the way the mooch ratio is caclulated will have no effect on the extra points you get for sending internationally, nor on your ability to use any points you have.

    The question I brought up was that the mooch ratio is (in my opinion) unfairly skewed toward those who send internationally. Of my 240-odd books sent, and the same number receieved), about 90% were international – I live in France, but read much more in English, and don’t find a lot of English books among French members. So I raised the question with John whethere the mooch ratio should be calculated differently – it seems way too favorable to me.

    Another point: the mooch ratio has only one real purpose: to prevent people from mooching a lot of books withouth sending any. It is currently set so it cannot exceed 2:1, but when BM started it was 5:1. It was changed because of abuse; or, more correctly, to prevent potential abuse.

    Finally, to change my original suggestion, perhaps the best idea would be to count the mooch ratio the way points are counted: sending an international book counts as 3 points, but getting one counts as 2 (rather than the 1 currently). Note that any such change will NOT affect the points you spend, but ONLY the way the mooch ratio is counted.


  47. Marina Bonomi said

    “It has nothing to do with the number of points you have or can use (even though it is calculated with a number of “points” per book), but is simply a metric.”

    Sorry, but it *has* something to do with the number of points you can use, given that if you exceed a given ratio (2:1) you cannot mooch anymore until the ratio goes down again.
    I’d be curious to know what percentage of users would find themselves above or at the ratio if the way to calculate it was changed.

    Also, I’m sorry but I really don’t get what the problem is with having the ratio somewhat skewed in favor of international senders. Those who don’t aren’t penalized, and given that the aim, as it was stated, was to encourage people to send abroad, why it is ‘bad’ the way it is now?

  48. Laura said

    Hi there,

    I don’t think the mooch ratio for those who send a lot of books internationally is unfairly skewed. I send (and mooch) books internationally and not only am I being rewarded for spending more, I’m also sending out books that may not be easy to mooch, or even buy, in other countries (otherwise why would the moocher mooch them?). Some of these books, if read and given away within their own country, are then being spread around a wider reading audience.

    And having such a low ratio means I can mooch many more books than I send. As about half the books I read are put back up for mooching, I am also using those extra points to circulate titles that are not being put up by UK members – I have put up books that cost me 2 points (mostly from America, as there are far more American members) that are snapped up by UK members for 1 point.

    I personally feel that the skewing of the mooch ratio allows a faster cirulation of books between countries. However I’m sure someone far more mathematically minded out there could work out if that’s the case. If changing the way the ratio is worked out in favour of those that mooch internationally increases this movement of books, or leaves it unchanged, change it. If it slows this process down, leave it.

  49. Mikko said

    I agree with Kirk here – I think the ratio as it is is perhaps a tad too lenient for people who mostly send and receive international. If international mooching counted as two domestic mooches, that would balance it a bit.

    I mean, I’ve mooched almost twice as many books I’ve sent, yet my ratio is 0.65:1. With the correction Kirk suggests above, my ratio would be 1.26:1, well within the safe limits and a lot more descriptive of my mooching – after all, I’ve mooched a lot more than I’ve sent, so it doesn’t seem fair if my ratio is a net giver’s ratio.

    So, yes, I very much agree with Kirk here.

  50. Mikko said

    And one more thing: I don’t think making the correction Kirk suggests would cause any trouble, really. I send a lot internationally and thus get lots of points, I’ve also received lots of charity points – and still my ratio would be quite decent.

    I don’t see how making the change would prevent someone from using their points, unless they have a huge number of points from inventory. There the ratio would kick in eventually in any case.

    Laura, you would still be rewarded for your international giving by the same three points and the same international ratio bonus for sending. The change Kirk proposes would only affect you if you used your points to mooch internationally, and even in that case it would not really affect you.

    With the current system, if a member sends internationally and mooches domestically, her ratio will approach 1:1. That would be the same under the new system.

    If a member sends internationally and mooches internationally, her ratio will approach 0.5:1. Under the new system, her ratio would approach 1:1. Sounds fair to me.

  51. rachelsmdai said

    Good grief! and Whew! Anyone hear “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

    I’m a relatively new member and absolutely adore BookMooch. One thing that really excites me is that I can trade with folks all over the world. In fact, after one mooch I sent to Indonesia, the moocher was absolutely effusive about my sending a hardcover to her. And yes, it did cost a bundle…but I get great books when I mooch from abroad, and sometimes find books I absolutely haven’t been able to find from US BMers (like books in French – a language I’m trying to learn).

    If people are getting “rich” off sending internationally and feeling guilty about that, let them give points to charity.

    One thing that I decided really inflates points is listing books that have numerous other listings. For example, I took off lots of books from my Inventory (and will donate them elsewhere) because more than 6 others have them listed. I had many books like that (Grisham and so on) so “lost” many points by removing them. If someone wants to “work” at inflating their points, overstocking their inventory with easily accessible books would be an “acceptable” way of doing that.

    Are we obsessing a little too much about the details and not enjoying the ride?

  52. Kirk said

    Yet another poster who is confusing points with the mooch ratio, the subject at hand…


  53. Laura said

    When I first joined I was set to “my country only”. My ratio allowed for only a slow turnover of books, I had to wait for mooches before I could mooch more. The skewing of the system was my incentive to send internationally. The added postage cost was offset by my being able to mooch more, and at a faster rate. Would I have done this if I could have had a faster turnover for only MOOCHING books from abroad but only sending within my own country? I would have saved a lot of money AND been rewarded. Where’s my incentive gone?

  54. Tricia said

    If the ratio is now 2 to 1 instead of the five to one it used to be, then how do the book charities get to use bookmooch? I think the bookmooch ratio needs to go back to 5 to 1 for the charities at least.

    Maybe the mooch ratio allowed should be at least 3 to 1 and put the ratio value at one to one regardless of domestic or international. Wouldn’t that make things less complicated?

  55. Andrea Schnitzler said

    I agree with Claire who said: “People who are worried about having too many points should give them to charity, for goodness’ sake!” In line with that, I have donated some of my points to two different BookMooch users who are grammar school teachers. Neither are official BookMooch charities, but both need books for their classrooms. Lowering the BookMooch ration to 2:1 has hurt these teachers. Is there any way the mooch ratio could be raised for non-profits, teachers and other “good causes,” as these are the people who need BookMooch the most?

  56. spentrails said

    Agree with Kirk but I don’t mind if the ratio stays unchanged either. I bookmooch to get rid of a surplus of material goods in my house.

    I particularly like being able to give my points to charity – sending internationally means I can give more.

  57. Coqueline said

    No one should be forced to give to charity because they can’t spend them otherwise. Those points are earned (or won, in case of lottery), so the owner should have options on how to use it.

  58. Diego said

    Shipping internationally costs more and is more inconvenient.

    If you change the ratio many people, like myself, will simply not mooch with international users.

  59. Mikko said

    Charities don’t have to care about the ratio. They can mooch as much as they want to. The good causes mentioned by Andrea should probably apply for official BookMooch charity status.

    Laura, the only scenario the proposed change would discourage is sending domestic and mooching international.

  60. alice said

    All of my books have been sent and received internationally and I am quite happy with the point system.

  61. Marianne said

    I haven’t read through the 60 replies so maybe someone has already said this. At the risk of complicating thing, two ratios: one for international give/mooch, one for local give/mooch, or even three, the last one for combined, as it is now. I’m not sure that the drama is all about: in my experience the ratio only slowed me down at the beginning. Now there aren’t the books I want for the points I have anyway. I don’t think the present system is a problem, so why change it?

  62. When I first read Kirk’s idea, I did not think it was a good one. Some non-US members who I’ve mooched from say that they prefer sending internationally to domestically, (I think Canada is the most common example of this.) and I think that changing the ratio would be a disincentive to mooching internationally (where the extra point already makes it a second choice for most people). I also figure that people who show they are willing to send internationally (and actually do so) are unlikely to abuse BookMooch, so it would be really unfair to limit a responsible international moocher by their mooch ratio, since otherwise he/she seems to be an exemplary BookMooch citizen.

    However, upon reflection, I thought of a reason why it would be advantageous to increase a member’s mooch ratio. I know that when I have a choice of who to mooch from, one of the data pieces I consider is the mooch ratio. Ceterus paribus (all else being equal), I will mooch from the person with the higher ratio. I feel as though I’m doing them a favor because I am increasing the number of books they will be able to mooch.

    While someone with a low ratio is obviously a very generous person who should be commended (particularly if they also send internationally), I think it’s human nature to strive for a balanced (1:1) ratio. Thus, I would agree that an international send should add 3 points to the denominator and an international request should add 2 points to the numerator of the ratio. This would allow for the ratio to be a more accurate reflection of someone’s BookMooch habits.

    Finally, someone commented on the BookMooch lottery and someone getting 100 points without having to send any books. Thus, they are getting points that they may not be able to use because of the mooch ratio. I’m not exactly sure what to do about that, but it does seem to be a valid concern. I believe I’ve mentioned before the idea of a progressive mooch ratio. In other words, as someone takes actions that show they are a good BookMooch citizen, he/she gets the privilege of keeping a higher ratio. I don’t know how easy it would be to program or if the community thinks its a good idea, but I just wanted to throw the idea out there.

  63. Nanci said

    Sending books internationally costs more dollars, therefore should earn more points. If people send internationally more often, or even exclusively, because of that, I do not see a problem. Some people are willing to invest more to receive more. As to the ratio, I was and still am mystified by how it works. I’ve had mine come down as more of my books were mooched, and go up as fewer were. I spend the points I earn (by sending books). What is wrong with that? I send nearly every book I have in my inventory when it is mooched. (except for my snafu a few months ago when I imported my wish list into my inventory–couldn’t afford to correct that). I’ve even sent books to Finland that cost me $20. Of course, I should get 2 points for sending. Extra points for mooching internationally–why? It doesn’t cost anything more to mooch at home or internationally. What I do wish would change is the “please eMail first”!! Since an eMail will be sent when the mooch is made, and the option of saying no is there, and since they can say right out where they will and will not send, why not eliminate that infuriating phrase!?!
    My rant for the day.
    My overall view of BookMooch is the less it is tinkered with, the better it remains.

  64. jenny said

    I joined bookmooch to get books not to be worried how I get points or what gives me more. I mooch books from overseas and my own country. I find that the authors I like aren’t available here or if they are only limited titles are.
    The reason I joined was that I could get more books from overseas so if I mooch overseas then I should be willing to send overseas. If this was a rule that you would have to do both or if you send only to your country then you only get from your country which would limit the books available. This would then work out as more moochers would have to send overseas. If moochers didn’t adhere to this rule then you could terminate them.

  65. OK, the USPS allows you to mail up to 4 pounds to just about anywhere in the world for $10.45–I think it’s called priority or first class–(I just sent three pb’s to India from Virginia) and if you ask them to mooch two books they use 4 points BUT you gain 6 points. I always send an extra book–or two!–(unless it puts you over the 4 pound restriction) so now they have 3(or 4) books for 4 points and you have 6 points which only cost $10.45 (a better than domestic pt-to-cost ratio if my math serves me right) which is as close to a win-win-win for them, me AND bookmooch as you can get!!
    To get the domestic ratio in-line I try to give two books for one point AND mooch two for one point which effectively HALVES the point-to-cost ratio (I ignore the cost of the book–unless one has a leaky brain, one doesn’t need most books once read).
    THE WHOLE BEAUTIFUL CONCEPT OF BOOKMOOCH IS TO GIVE NEW LIFE TO OLD BOOKS–which, btw, is the bookmooch logo if you see the swap page on Library Thing. Get them doggies off the shelves (where the only thing collected is DUST) and mooch away !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Which is why I LOVE Bookmooch more than the “other” swap sites!!!
    (OK, John, did I earn my biscuit for the day???)
    So, I vote for ALL of the above as long as books be movin’!!!!
    And yes, I am a teacher who LOVES to see people expand their horizons by reading!!

  66. Sending an average book nationally is € -,85. Sending the same book internationally is € 3,- with surface mail or €.4.50 resp. 6,- if surface mail is discontinued like in USA (rumors about this persist). I feel this should be taken into account if there is such a system of points given and gained at all.
    Sending and receiving internationally is what I love best at BookMooch, including all the mails in all the languages I have at my disposal sent to and fro during the process and, sometimes, afterwards.

    Susanne Krause

  67. Cynthia said

    I wish Bookmooch had been around when we lived overseas. This is mainly why I send internationally.

    I’m a word nerd, not a math nerd, so the whole ratio thing stresses me out. If I had points I couldn’t use, I’d be ticked and while giving to charity is admirable (and something I do both here and in the real world) I’m primarily here to support my family’s book habit (3 voracious readers on a limited budget).

    One of the things I love is the sheer unpredicitability of it all. Some books I’ve listed thinking they’d be snapped up right away haven’t been, while some I listed not thinking anybody would be interested were snapped up practically the minute I listed them. I’ve discovered authors I now love but would not have otherwise gambled on. I’ve enjoyed seeing my duds become someone else’s treasures. I’ve learned that even though I hadn’t read a particular book for years, it is possible to miss it once it’s gone and also have the opportunity to get it back someday. I love the adventure of it all.

    Life is stressful enough. The only ratio I’m interested in is the “ease of use” vs. “pain in the neck” ratio.

  68. Bella said

    Hmm have to say I don’t look at other members ratios that often but I do send internationally and consider the current ratio rate my reward for that. Too often I’m frustrated that so many books I’d love to mooch are with users who dont send overseas – without the extra points & ratio break I wouldn’t either. With rising postal costs there need to be these incentives to prevent BookMooch losing more and more international moochers.
    I love to be able to use BookMooch as the global library it should be BUT I do have financial constraints that mean mooching internationally is something I do to a budget and because I enjoy it. I don’t see that there are problems with the current system so why risk losing potential for greater international mooching by changing it ?
    Although it would be more complicated, if there needs to be a change then perhaps the ratio could be staggered according to world zones. For instance depending on a moochers location it will cost less finacially etc to send within a certain world zone than others – I’m in the UK so in the European Zone which could result in only a +2 ratio if I send there but +3 if I send to the US which is far more costly ? This may be a fairer system.

  69. Adeline said

    I am happy to send internationally by second class, and the points gained are a bonus. But I feel guilty that the US no longer has a second class postal system, so their books are so expensive to send to me. I truly appreciate the cost they incur, but feel maybe that they should get even 4 points to send their books internationally, as it is only relatively more for me to send worldwide, 2nd class[ but they tend to go 1st class, but don’t tell the Royal Mail!] than it is to send 2nd class to the UK. And there is so much more choice from the US.

  70. Adeline said

    What do you mean by ‘awaiting moderation’?

  71. Stephanie said

    I hate to post a “me too” post, but in this case I will.

    Julian said:

    Thus, I would agree that an international send should add 3 points to the denominator and an international request should add 2 points to the numerator of the ratio. This would allow for the ratio to be a more accurate reflection of someone’s BookMooch habits.

    Which I agree with completely. Changing the mooch ratio to correctly reflect the 3 points and the 2 points would make it fit closer to reality. (And yes, I agree with Kirk too, that many people seem to be talking about the point bonus in this thread instead of the mooch ratio.)

    As for charity points, I myself have been lucky enough to receive many charity points from friends. Even so, I’ve had no trouble keeping my ratio below 2:1. I think it’s currently around 1.5:1. What the ratio means for someone who gets charity points or wins the lottery or whatever, is that they *also* have to be participating in the system and sending out their own books, or at some point they will no longer be able to use their charity points. I think this is reasonable and fair.

    Thanks for all you do, John, including listening to all of us rant and rave.

  72. Patti said

    No comment on the ratio. I want to add my agreement to mgpb and Michelle — It makes sense to give 3 points for sending a book internationally because of the added expense and possibly paperwork. But why penalize the international moocher for requesting a book from another country? Why not charge every moocher one point per book?

  73. Stephanie B. said

    I haven’t seen this problem addressed, so…

    My personal problem with sending books internationally is that, since surface mail was discontinued, it costs roughly US$12-$15 to send a single paperback abroad. It costs the same to send 3 to 5 paperbacks to the same overseas address. For the same money, I can send 3 or 4 paperbacks to 3 or 4 different local addresses OR multiple paperbacks to 1 or 2 different local moochers.

    For virtually the same money, I can move more books out of here, where they’re taking up much-needed room AND to readers who really want them if I either send more books in the same package internationally OR send only within the “contiguous 48”.

    I try to be generous whenever possible, but with hubby constantly harping for me to “get rid” of these books… I must consider what is the most economical method for me to get rid of books as soon as possible.

    I would like to see international moochers mooch 3 or 4 paperbacks (or 2 hardbacks) from me at one time, regardless of whether or not I get any extra points beyond the initial extra points for international sending. I would even be okay with sending extra books to the international moocher “gratis” if they truly didn’t have enough points for more than one book.

    John – my husband suggested that an international mooch request earns the sender 3 points for the first book in an international package plus an additional half point for each additional book in the same one package. In this system change, it would/should only cost the international moocher 1 point per book requested in the same package. The break-even point in such a change would be approx the 5th book; the sender would have garnered 5 points and the moocher would have paid 5 points. Please note this idea refers to paperback books or smaller/thinner hardbacks.

    The only down side I see to my husband’s suggestion is how to limit/cap the number of books requested in one package. The idea only works if the books fit into a packge costing the usual cheapest amount in my experience, US$12-15, charged to an American for an overseas package.

    Have you, John, (or other bookmoochers) got any other ideas on how to limit or cap to protect senders?

  74. Coqueline said

    I’m with Bella, supporting a second category of ‘Regional mooch’ in addition of ‘Same country mooch’ and ‘Worldwide’. It shouldn’t be too hard (well, depending on BM’s back-end system) to group countries in 4-5 regions (North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific), and then assign point systems that are more fair than they are now, putting all international mooch in one clump, regardless they are from neighbouring country an hour down the road of halfway around the world. Maybe keep the current point system for national and worldwide mooch and adds for regional mooch 1 point for mooching and 2 for sending?

    Just an idea.

  75. Julie said

    In the short time I’ve been with Bookmooch, I have appreciated the extra points for sending books to other countries, but it points in and of themselves do not motivate me to send or not send. I’m happy to do it whenever my budget allows it. When it doesn’t, I change my status to “only to my country.” I do feel that if I’m willing to send to you, in another country, I’d appreciate that person being to send to another person too. I know, I know, you’ve hashed all this before! Just weighing in on the ratio thing in a different way. I LOVE Bookmooch. Thank you so much!

  76. Nymeth said

    I am one of the people who would be penalized with this change. I live in Portugal. I will send books worldwide, but most of the requests I get are from people from my own country, for the simple reason that most of the books in my inventory are in Portuguese. For a similar reason, most of the books I request are from international senders – I’m looking for books in English, and those are mostly available in other countries.

    If the ratio system is changed, I will possibility get to a point when I can’t spend my points. I think this would be unfair, because I already “pay” for those international mooches by spending two points rather than one. The new system would also penalize those who send internationally – it would discourage people from mooching internationally, and thus they would get less requests.

    What would bother me the most about the change, though, is that it seems to imply that those who mostly send books within their own country but request from international senders are somehow taking advantage of others, when really there could be hundreds of different reasons for that. The points system already accounts for that anyway. You send two books within your country, you get two points, you request one international book.

    Like many others before me pointed out, the reason why the ratio system exists is to prevent abuse. I think it does that just fine the way it is. If this change were to take place, it would go beyond that. It would start penalizing honest moochers.

  77. evolve said

    Changing the way the ratio is calculated wouldn’t actually benefit anybody, but it could potentially be unfair for some (people who mooch internationally, but send domestically).
    So why do it?

    I have come across a lot of people who will only send internationally to people who themselves are willing to send internationally. This seems like a pretty good way for people who are bothered by this discrepancy to govern it themselves, without the need for further tweaking of the mooch ratio.

  78. Rachel said

    My mooch ratio recently reached 2:1, and I had to stop mooching, even though I had some points. It wasn’t that I wanted to just receive and not send, but I just hadn’t received any mooches for a while. And until another book sale, I didn’t have anything else expand my inventory. It wasn’t until I received another mooch and a couple international books arrived at their destination (giving me the international bonus) that I was able to start mooching again. (Which I was very glad of because one of my wishlisted books became available!)

    I definitely do not want to see the change under discussion because it would discourage me from mooching internationally. I have already held off on mooching internationally at times when I didn’t have many points and did not want to spend two points. If I also had to worry about my ratio with mooching internationally, I would really think twice about getting a book I wanted just because it was in another country. And sometimes what you want is only available in another country.

    I think that just as sending internationally should be encouraged, so should mooching internationally. After all, without international moochers there would be no international senders! I was so happy when I got my first international mooch, and I think others are happy also when I mooch internationally from them. Why discourage that in any way?

    I can see what Kirk is saying, but it seems to me that the real issue is not whether to give a “malus” to the ratio for mooching internationally, but whether the bonus for sending is too great. If the bonus to the ratio for sending internationally was just 1 additional point instead of 2, that would fix the problem. I don’t think mooching internationally has anything to do with it.

  79. susan said

    As many times as I have tried to figure out my ratio… I still don’t get it. I just merrily send books that have been mooched from me and mooch away and hope for the best. I guess I understood that I just need to wait to mooch only after a book has been mooched from me.. too simple I guess…. Now you all have confused me! The two times I have mooched from another country it took so long it ruined my ‘flow’.
    But I sure agree with Michelle that I wish we could rid ourselves of inactives who don’t bother to officially retire!
    Great job John… and whatever your ratio means I am sure it is fair! Plus, reading all these emails has given me a new appreciation of moochers from countries with fewer members.. But, sadly, I still don’t get the ratio.

  80. David said

    I completely agree with everyone who thinks the system is fair as it is.

    I love being able to mooch and send books internationally, but I wouldn’t want to if I couldn’t use the extra points I got from sending books internationally.

  81. Michelle (mitcho) said

    Not all mail services are as cheap as they are in England thus sending within my own country, Greece, costs about 2.00 to 2.50 Euros and either within Europe or anywhere else internationally anything from 3.50 to 6 Euros per book. So the zones suggested by Adeline and Bella would not only be confusing but also unfair to bookmooch members living in smaller countries who depend on international mooches to receive the books they want. (So points and ratio do matter)

    If a member who sends internationally was not receiving a higher ratio to make the cost of sending worth his while, then obviously many members would refuse to send internationally.
    This fact would affect all members living in non-English speaking countries who want to mooch books from the UK, the US, Australia, Canada where the market for English novels is bigger. If senders are not rewarded for their effort and expense by a higher ratio, they will refuse to send to other countries. We already see that many US members who can find what they want within their own country don’t send internationally. Why should they, when they don’t need to? The ones who do, though, should be rewarded – the higher ratio is a good motivation for book lovers.
    It only seems fair to me that since a member spends more on postage to send internationally he/she should have a higher ratio, so with the price of sending one book he/she can mooch more books to make it worth his while.
    Conclusion? No changes should be made to the current system!

  82. Jackie N. said

    How about this idea?

    If one has “domestic only” turned on, then his/her ratio is 1:1. For every book mooched, one book must be given. This would prevent any abuse and keep the number of books mooched reasonable, for otherwise TBR piles start forming in our homes. If we have mooched 50 or a 100 books and have only read ten or twenty of them in a year, what good is that?

    If one has “international” turned on (willing to pay more to send internationally), then his/her mooch ratio is 2:2 making it worthwhile for out of country folks to mooch more than one book and making it worthwhile to spend more to send books out of country.

    The meaning of a ratio is to keep it balanced as well as possible, right? Right now mine is tipping too far to the mooch side, but the only way I can get it more balanced is to stop mooching and only give to those who want the books I have to offer.

    Maybe culling our wishlists to a limited number would help us not to mooch so much. It’s really hard to resist when a wishisted book comes available. Not to mention Save-For-Later!

    Just throwing out ideas out…

  83. Sandra said

    Stephanie B: Another downside: Maybe this would work with the US. But a lot of other countries do have another postage fee system. Like my country. Here the postage is based on the weight. (for example overseas survace: 350g $ 7.33, 500g $ 8.80, 1000g $ 16.12, 2000g $ 25.80). Such a system like the suggested sure would stop me from sending more than one book overseas. I do like it as it is right now.

    And I agree with Michelle that the zones suggestion sounds a bit unfair (thinking again about my own little country with about 10 active bookmoochers). We mostly depend on international mooching.

    On topic: I think it’s fine as it is right now. I do not look at the ratio at all. But if there has to be a change, why not calculate with 2 points for international mooching instead of 1 and raise the ratio to 3:1 so the ones with the lottery points etc. wont get any problems when mooching.

    Sorry, if this sounds somehow weird, I just got up *yawning*

  84. caitlin said

    I’m still not sure why there’s so much stress about this ratio – I’m going to follow other commenters here and ask why we can’t just do away with it. I’d be wary of any changes, because, again, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, but to be frank I ignore the mooch ratio entirely and just look at the person’s mooched/given and pending mooch/give.

    I’d be really disappointed if you changed anything to make international mooching less attractive, because I depend on international mooches from the States, and I find that American moochers on the whole seem reluctant to mooch/give internationally because of the expense – there are enough books in the State that they can afford to do this, and if you remove their incentive to mooch from me, suddenly Bookmooch gets a lot slower and more expensive! (Yes, more expensive – I like getting three points for 10$ worth of postage!)

  85. fillytilly said

    Hi, from Denver, Colorado.

    We have to boil this debate down to what exactly is Book Mooch trying to accomplish or prevent with the Ratio?

    Right after I joined I found my ratio approaching 2:1 and I knew that unless I could “entice” someone to mooch from me I’d be unable to request more books.

    The choice was simple…I said “YES” to my first internat’l request and I haven’t turned down any since. Even though I think my cost is high I’ve justified it through the ratio advantage.

    For example: I’ve sent 5 books internat’ly and spent $42 (4 HC & 1 PB.)

    With our current ratio system I can mooch the equivalent of 15 books (Mooch 3 books for every 1 sent → 3 x 5 = 15)

    Result: $42 spent divided by 15 future mooches means an invested cost of $2.80 per book. That totally makes it worth my while to send internat’ly.

    Now, if I’m looking at this wrong (dollars & cents) let me know. But, for me, cost IS a factor. If I was spending a lot and not receiving very much value I very well would not participate, internat’ly; or domestically for that matter.

    It seems to me that a clear definition of the issue must be understood… “What is Book Mooch trying to accomplish or prevent?” & “Is the system being abused?”

    I don’t know, I’m a newbie, is it being abused and if so, how?

    In my opinion being able to request 2 books for every 1 that I send is a GREAT value and I will continue to be loyal to Book Mooch for this reason!

    BTW, what do the “Angels” in the Angel Network think about this discussion?

  86. josterch said

    Do charity gifts improve your ratio? Maybe they should.

    If you’re approaching the dreaded 2:1 and no mooch requests are coming in, you could give a few points to charity instead.

    I was fortunate enough to win some points in the last lottery and have been very concerned about spending them on mooches and destroying my ratio. This seems to be a good solution.

  87. alwaysabroad said

    I don’t necessarily get the ratio thing (not a Maths brain). But, could the ratios be based on the number of books you mooch/give a way? You should maintain a min of 2 mooched to 1 given away, maybe.

    Changing the points system will make it even less appealing for those in the US to give their books away internationally. As it is, it can be very hard to mooch off people in the US (angles notwithstanding). I think sending internationally should be rewarded with an extra point. Already mooching internationally costs an additional point to that mooching at home.

    Some of us are living in non-English speaking countries and are grateful to obtain books from the UK or US or Canada. Please don’t change the points system. Please?

  88. rodrigo said

    I am in Chile where there’s just a handful of members, and only 2 or 3 active ones. I have never sent or received locally.
    I don’t really see the reason for the ratio system. Any points you have were come by honestly, no? You should be able to spend them.

  89. Ann said

    I don’t understand the ratio system at all, but then, math was never my forte.

    However, if something changes that makes domestic mooches equal to international mooches, I think that’s going to hurt a lot of international users. Particularly ones in small countries.

    I have found it getting more difficult to get someone to mooch internationally, esp. from the US. Could it be the economic slowdown is having an effect on discretionary spending, including postage for bookmooch?

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