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Atlas Quest

Help: Adding/Editing Letterboxes

  1. How do I add a letterbox?
  2. How do I adopt a letterbox?
  3. What’s the difference between the planters, owner, contacts, carvers and foster parents of a letterbox?
  4. How is the distance for a letterbox calculated?
  5. What happens to abandoned letterboxes?
  6. How do I add more than one photo to an AQ hosted clue?
  7. How do I add a box to a series?
  8. How do I remove a box from a larger series?
  9. How do I host a clue on Atlas Quest?
  10. How do I let AQ know where my clue starts and ends for remotedly-hosted clues?
  11. How do I add one photo?
  12. How do I change the box type if I made an error?
  13. How do I edit my letterbox?
  14. What are P-club and F-club restrictions?
  15. What are member group restrictions?
  16. What are whitelists?
  17. How do you go about planting and listing a letterbox?
  18. What is an unpublished box?
  19. Do new box notifications go out after a conversion?
  20. How do I find a list of my unpublished boxes?
  21. I made an error while entering a letterbox—how do I fix it?
  22. Can I list a letterbox whose clue is hosted on another website?
  23. What are keywords?
  24. What is a geocoded location?
  25. What is the radius for?
  26. How do I list coordinates?
  27. How do I create a mystery location?
  28. How do I list multiple stamps in the same box
  29. How do I list a bonus box?
  30. What are exceptions?
  31. What are dependencies?
  32. How do I link a town to my planted letterbox?
  33. I found a letterbox that is not listed on Atlas Quest. Is it ok to add a listing for it?
  34. How do I retire a box?
  35. How do I pick a color?
  36. What happened to reserved boxes?
  37. How do I add a comment to an existing box that I own?
  38. What do it mean to foster a box?
  39. How do I edit clues?

How do I add a letterbox?

Use the Add Letterbox link found under the Letterboxes menubar option.

You will be required to specify a name and type for the letterbox—the absolute minimum information required in order to list a letterbox—then you will reach the main editing page that shows all options that can be edited on the listing including the location, attributes and clues.

We also have a nifty video tutorial to show you the ropes:

How do I adopt a letterbox?

The owner of a letterbox can transfer ownership to you if he or she agrees to allow you to adopt their box by editing the box and changing the owner to you.

If you are interested in adopting a box that has been abandoned, that is not an option. Sometimes the planters come back years later and turn out to be very upset upon learning that someone “took over” their box.

You can, however, foster an abandoned box.

What’s the difference between the planters, owner, contacts, carvers and foster parents of a letterbox?

Find reports will go to everyone associated with the letterbox except the carvers, including the person who listed the letterbox if they are not already listed as the planter, owner or contact.

Only the planters receive credit for a plant. Some people like to count any letterbox they've carved the stamp for as a plant, but Atlas Quest does not for two reasons: (1) A hand-carved stamp is optional and it seems odd to get credit for planting a letterbox for a feature that's optional, and (2) if you later find the letterbox with your stamp, you can still record it as an official find. If you were getting credit for the box as a plant, you would not also be able to claim credit for it as a find.

Likewise, as much as we appreciate those who've adopted and maintain a letterbox, those are adopted letterboxes and do not count towards your P-count. However, they may count towards your F-count if you went out and found the box yourself.

The owner of a letterbox may change, sometimes quite often, and ownership can be revoked or transferred by the listed planter or owner. The carver of a letterbox cannot transfer ownership of the box to someone else—unless, of course, they are also a planter or owner.

Finally, there is a ‘secret’ piece of information included with every letterbox listing—the person who originally listed the box in the first place. Their name won't show up anywhere on the listing; it was originally designed to find people who list letterboxes without permission. However, if they have received permission to list the boxes, it also assumes you have permission to edit the boxes as necessary, and therefore the original lister of the box can also edit the boxes. Anyone designated as the owner or planter can edit clues, but not someone listed as a carver, contact or foster parent.

If the carver, planter, or owner do not have accounts on Atlas Quest, leave the appropriate option blank and give credit where credit is due directly in the clues.

Table summary (powers and privileges):
Status Notified of a Find Credit for the Plant Edit the clue Transfer Ownership Expected Use
Owner Yes No Yes Yes The person who maintains the box
Planter Yes Yes Yes Yes The person(s) who physically planted the letterbox
Lister Yes No Yes No The person who listed the box on Atlas Quest
Carver No No Yes/No Yes/No The person who carved the stamp. By default, when a carver is added to a box, he or she is also added as a contact automatically so most carvers will get notifications of finds. Additionally, under normal circumstances, carvers cannot edit a box’s listing, but if the listing becomes abandoned, they will get full admin rights to the box.
Contact Yes No No No People who should be notified whenever a find or attempt is recorded
Foster Parent Yes No No No Someone who volunteers to help maintain the box and update information about the box in the form of an addendum.

How is the distance for a letterbox calculated?

The listed distance of a letterbox is the total length, in miles or kilometers depending on your preferences, required to walk for a letterboxer to nab all boxes within the series, as specified by the directions in the clue. It should include both the distance to get all letterboxes and to get back to the trailhead. You can estimate the distance, as long as the distance is somewhat accurate.

To measure the distance for your box, you have several options:

  • The easiest way, if possible, is to look up the trail's distance on a website or guide book for trails in your area.
  • Use a pedometer. It will count the number of steps on the hike, and if it is properly configured, it can measure out an accurate distance.
  • Use a detailed topographic map. Run a string along the length of the trail, then compare it to the scale on the map.
  • Measure the time it takes to do the hike. If you hike at a regular pace and know the pace, knowing how long it took to hike can provide an accurate method of measuring the distance you walked. Most people hike at about two miles per hour on level terrain.
  • Many GPS devices can track this information.

And remember, the distance does not necessarily have to be accurate to within 1/10th of a mile. Telling people that a hike is 5 miles long instead of 4.8 miles is not a problem. You want to give them an idea of how long and strenuous a hike is, and a rough estimate is better than no information at all.

What happens to abandoned letterboxes?

For a box to qualify as abandoned, all people associated with the letterbox (including the carvers, planters, owner, and the person who originally listed the box) will not have logged into Atlas Quest for one year. At this point, the status of the their boxes will be controlled automatically based on the finds and attempts associated with the box. The precise requirements to have the status automatically change is not public (and is subject to change), but as a whole, boxes that are found recently will have a status of "active," those with lots of attempts will be listed as "retired," and those boxes with just a small number of attempts will be listed as "unknown."

How do I add more than one photo to an AQ hosted clue?

You have several options. Atlas Quest will accept just one picture for the clue, but you can do anything you want with that picture. Using your favorite photo editing program, you can merge several photos into a single photo that can be uploaded.

Another option is to host the pictures somewhere else, then link to the photos from your clue. You can even host those photos as a private photo album in Atlas Quest.

Or, of course, you can also create your own website and use all the photos you need.

How do I add a box to a series?

Use the Edit Box button found in the panel of buttons. Then, in the "Series Details" section of the main editing page, fill out the "add box" form to add a new box to the series.

How do I remove a box from a larger series?

Use the Delete Box button from the box details page. It will give you an option to choose which boxes in your series should be deleted rather than delete the entire series—unless, of course, you tell it to delete all the boxes in the series.

The Edit Box button will also allow you to delete individual boxes in a series from the Series Info page. If the only change you need to make is deleting a box from a series, however, it's faster and easier just to use the Delete Box button.

How do I host a clue on Atlas Quest?

Begin with the Add Letterbox option (found under the Letterboxes menubar option). You’ll first be required to type in the name of your box and the type, so go ahead and do that.

By default, your box will not have a clue but once you are into the main editing page, you can select the "Add AQ-hosted clue" link in the "Clue Details" section and fill in the clue information.

Be sure to click the Save button of the main editing page for the your changes to go live!

How do I let AQ know where my clue starts and ends for remotedly-hosted clues?

Atlas Quest pulls information into its database for clues hosted on other websites. In order for the information brought in to be concise (no page headers and HTML from navigation links or other unneeded frames), place the following tags (without the spaces between the less than and exclamation mark) at the top and bottom of your clue.

< !-- aq -->
Your clue goes here.
< !-- aq end -->

Keep in mind that these tags should be comments in HTML and therefore will not be visible to people viewing your clue. If the tags are visible, you've done something wrong. Atlas Quest will still recognize the mistake and use the correct starting and ending points, but it still looks ugly for people who view your clue directly.

Note to Editors
Do NOT 'fix' the HTML comments to remove the extra spaces. The extra spaces ensure that the comments don't disappear from the help pages!

How do I add one photo?

To add a photo to your clue, the clue must be hosted on Atlas Quest. If your clue is hosted on LbNA or your own personal website, you will not be able to include a photo with your box listing.

On the clue page for AQ hosted clues there will be a location available to specify an image for uploading.

How do I change the box type if I made an error?

If your box does not yet have any finds recorded on it, you can edit the listing and change the type of box directly.

If the box already has finds on it, you can contact an administrator who can change the box type manually.

If you reuse a stamp for a different box type, you should retire the old listing and create a new listing with the new type so people can record the type of box they actually found.

How do I edit my letterbox?

Make sure you are logged into Atlas Quest, pull up the box details or clue for your box, then click the Edit Box button in the panel of buttons.

Edit box button

What are P-club and F-club restrictions?

You can restrict your letterboxes to only AQ members with a specified number of plants and/or finds. Keep in mind, these restrictions are based on official AQ counts so members who do not record their plants or finds on this site may not be able to access your clues. AQ will not allow you to exceed a P-count restriction of 250 or an F-count restriction beyond 1000.

What are member group restrictions?

You can restrict boxes to people who share a common member group as you. By default, all boxes will go into the "None" group, that—not surprisingly—is not a group at all. It means that everyone can see the listing (assuming no other restrictions would prevent them from seeing it). If you want to limit your box to all AQ members, use the Everybody group. Every member signed up on Atlas Quest is in this group, so by restricting your listing to this group, the only people who won't see the listing are those who are not logged into an account. If you are a member of any protected or private groups, you'll be given the option to restrict your box to only other members of that group. Since anyone can sign up for a public group, those groups will not be available as options. (The Everybody group is actually a "system" group, in case you're wondering why that group has special treatment.)

What are whitelists?

A whitelist is a list of everyone you allow to see your letterbox—assuming, of course, they meet all other restrictions. A whitelist is a good way to limit your boxes to close friends or family.

Whitelists are specified as mailing lists. The primary purpose of mailing lists is to contact groups of people you know, but they also do double duty as whitelists and exceptions if you choose to use them in that manner. A letterbox with a whitelist restriction will require members to be logged in in order to see them because Atlas Quest needs to check if they are on the whitelist.

To apply a whitelist to your boxes, you must be the owner of the letterbox, then follow these steps:

  1. Create a mailing list if you haven't already. You'll probably want to give it a name such as "My whitelist" or "My friends," then add everyone who should be a part of that group.
  2. While listing a letterbox, change to the Restrictions page. If you have any mailing lists (which you should now, if you did step #1), they'll all be listed as options for whitelists. Select the appropriate whitelist for your restrictions.
  3. Save the box. You're done!

To add or remove someone from a whitelist, edit the mailing list that is being used for that purpose. You do not have to edit or change the box listing in any way to apply such changes.

How do you go about planting and listing a letterbox?

Before planting letterboxes of your own, it’s usually a good idea to find a few first to get a sense of what’s out there and what people are expecting in a letterbox. That does not mean you have to do things exactly like others do—but it’s at least good to know where you might be doing things different from the standards in your area.

When you do finally plant a letterbox, use the Add Letterbox page (always found under the Letterboxes menubar option) to list your box on Atlas Quest. Fill in the blanks provided. Many help pages are available by clicking the Help icon if you aren’t sure what is expected in a particular blank.

What is an unpublished box?

Some people like to pre-list their boxes. Some people want a box ID number they can list in their logbooks. Some people want to try listing a box to see how it works. And some people want to tweak their clues until things are just right before making their box live. And that’s what an ‘unpublished’ box allows you to do—list a box before it becomes live for the rest of the world to see.

It’ll be assigned a box ID number just like any other letterbox, but it won't show up in searches or in your logbook. (You will see an option to view “unpublished” boxes in your logbook, but only you can see your own unpublished boxes. Nobody else will be able to.)

When the box is ready to publish for the world to see, use the “Publish” button on the box details page or edit page to officially launch your box. There is no undo once the box goes live—this conversion is permanent!

Do new box notifications go out after a conversion?

When you list a reserved box, there are no notifications sent out. So that begs the question, what happens when the box is converted into a real type and becomes 'live'? As part of the conversion process, Atlas Quest will set the official list date to the current date at the time of the conversion, so for all intents and purposes, it will be as if the box was fully listed on the day of the conversion. Box notifications will go out like you listed the box that day. It will show up in the newest boxes list. Searches that sort based on the list date will be sorted as if the box was added the day of the conversion. To the outside world, it looks like you listed the box like normal. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that the listing was ever first listed as a reserved box type.

How do I find a list of my unpublished boxes?

Unpublished boxes will not show up in letterbox searches, but they will show up in your logbook. Make sure the action is set to Plants and the type is set to Unpublished. The unpublished option will only be available while viewing your own logbook—other people's unpublished boxes cannot be viewed.

I made an error while entering a letterbox—how do I fix it?

From the box details page, click the Edit Box button. That allows you to edit almost everything you entered about the letterbox—the location, the attributes, the name, the status, and whatever options are available.

Can I list a letterbox whose clue is hosted on another website?


When adding a letterbox, the clue section will initially be empty and ask for the type of clue. If the clue is hosted on the Letterboxing North American (LbNA) website, select Add LbNA-hosted as the clue type. You’ll then be asked to enter the box number for the listing on LbNA. The box number can be found on the clue page there, or in the URL.

If the box is hosted on some other website—any website other than LbNA or Atlas Quest—select the Add Remotely-hosted option. You’ll then be asked to provide the full URL to the clue.

What are keywords?

Many times, people want to search for letterboxes that match specific criteria that Atlas Quest simply does not support. Usually, requests come in the form of attributes-such as, "Can we have a cemetery attribute" to search on? The answer, invariably, is always no. There are an infinite number of special-case attributes that could be created, and a list with hundreds of possible attributes isn't particularly helpful when most of them are of no interest to most people. Searching the clues for specific keywords, such as cemetery helps, but it's not perfect either. Many times, the word is spelled incorrectly or the clue uses common variations of the word (cemeteries, graveyard, etc.)

So support for keywords has been created. In a lot of ways, it's like a member-created attribute. People will be able to search for your keywords, and it won't get mixed up with false positives that a clue search might generate. Four keywords have already been defined:
Keyword Meaning
cemetery The letterbox is located in or near a cemetery.
historical A vague term that means something interesting happened where this letterbox was planted, not including the fact that a letterbox was hidden in this location.
nightbox A box that should be found at night. Not that it can be found at night, but rather that it's designed to be found at night. In daylight, the box may be difficult or impossible to find.
restarea The letterbox is located at a rest area, rest stop, truck stop, travel plaza, or whatever you want to call them along a major road. Ideal for nabbing while on a long drive to get out an stretch one's legs.

A valid keyword must have between 3 and 15 alphanumeric characters in it, and must not use any spaces since spaces are used to separate multiple keywords. (This is why the keywords reststop and nightbox are one word.) If certain keywords start becoming popularly used, they may be added as a designed pre-defined keyword in the future. Keywords are not case-sensitive, so feel free to capitalize keywords if that makes sense or helps readability.

A full list of all keywords used by everyone can be found at

The following keywords are suggested by boxers, with guidelines on how the keywords are intended to be used:
Keyword Meaning
airport The letterbox is within easy walking distance of an airport so that a private pilot may find it without having to secure ground transportation.
artworkThe letterbox is located at or near a work of art (sculpture, mural, etc.), planted to call attention to that work of art.
hauntedThe letterbox is located at or near a location reported as haunted or where some sort of paranormal occurrence is supposed to have happened.
horseA good place to bring a horse.
InterstateA quick find along an interstate or similar limited-access highway, either in a rest area or within a couple of blocks of an exit. If the stop takes longer than a potty break, it doesn't qualify!
library The letterbox is located in or around a library.
mountainbikeA designated ATB trail. Don't use this keyword for paved bike trails; mountain bikers who would enjoy paved trails can use the keyword "roadbike".
picnicA good place to stop for a picnic.
restaurantThe letterbox is located in or around a recommended restaurant.
roadBikeA good place to bring a road bicycle. This generally means there is a good place to ride a bike, and it's paved. It usually means a good place for rollerblades, too.
scenicrouteThe letterbox is located on or near a scenic highway.
touristThe letterbox is located at a place recommended for tourists to visit. The clues can be followed by anyone without local knowledge, although they may require some google research ahead of time. If they do require google research, they have the Mental Puzzle attribute as well.
trail namesJust type in the name of any hiking trail, such as appalachiantrail or pacificcresttrail. Remember to omit spaces. As a general guideline, the box doesn't have to be directly on the trail, but it should be close enough that a thru-hiker would want to hunt for it.
TransCanadaThe letterbox is located somewhere along the TransCanada Highway which stretches from St. John's Newfoundland to Victoria, BC, either in a rest area or within a couple of blocks of an exit. If the stop takes longer than a potty break, it doesn't qualify!
tributeA box that is planted in tribute to a person or group of people. This is not intended for tributes to historical personages — we can use historical for that—rather, for boxes like the ones planted for weddings, loved ones who have died, special teachers, etc.
wildlifeThe letterbox is in a location where animals may be observed.

One keyword that is remarkably popular but not suggested is "park." The problem with this keyword is that it tells you absolutely nothing. A city park host to a child's jungle gym, a national park, a car park, and a ball park are all very different places, but without a qualifier, it's meaningless, you have no idea what it means. In many instances, people are trying to use multi-word keywords such as "state park"-but AQ treats those as two distinct and separate keywords. "State" by itself is as useless as "park," but "statepark" might be a legitimately useful keyword, along with nationalpark, countypark, citypark, ballpark, etc.

The following multi-word keywords are commonly misused by boxers. If multi-word keywords are used, do not insert spaces or hyphenate words.
Incorrect format Correct keyword
parking lotparkinglot
picnic areasee picnic
ice cream or ice-creamicecream
city parkcitypark
boy scouts or girl scoutsboyscouts or girlscouts
kid-friendly, family-friendly, child-friendly Remove the hyphen; ie. kidfriendly
boat requiredboatrequired
open spaceopenspace
post officepostoffice
nature trailnaturetrail
I-70, I-94, etc.AQ treats these hyphenated interstates as two distinct keywords, "I" and "70"/"94", etc. Use the keyword interstate and list the Interstate number in the synopsis, if necessary.

What is a geocoded location?

A geocoder is a system that takes an address or other location and converts it into latitude and longitude coordinates. You might hide a letterbox in Lincoln Park, Seattle, WA, but Atlas Quest needs to know the exact coordinates of this park to make sure it shows up properly when people run a search for letterboxes near Seattle. For most cities, parks, and other points of interest, AQ will figure this out automatically using geocoders. Entering a location here will attempt to convert your human-friendly text into a location that computers can easily read and process.

When listing names of places, it's usually best to type in the full, official name of the park or location. Use a name such as "Montana de Oro State Park" instead of "Montana de Oro SP." Use the city name "San Francisco" instead of abbreviating it to "SF." The geocoders might be able to figure out your abbreviations, but they make fewer errors and better matches when you don't use them. It also helps when you include commas to separate each part of a location, so a search for "Milan, MI" may work better than a search for "Milan MI" (without the comma separating the state from the city.) Other punctuation is usually best if it's left out. (A search for "SW 23rd St" is more likely to generate better results than a search for "S.W. 23rd St.") Usually these little things won't matter, but in rare cases, they actually can make a difference!

One of several things might happen when you attempt to list a location:

  • An exact match is found: This is ideal-it means the geocoder recognized what you typed and correctly figured out exactly what you were referring to.
  • More than one match is found: This type of scenario might happen if you specify a location such as "Portland" as a location. There are 28 states that use "Portland" as a city name, and that doesn't even include cities outside of the United States such. England and Canada also have towns named Portland. AQ will display a list of the most likely candidates (you're almost certainly referring to the Portland in either Oregon or Maine since those are the two largest ones), and allow you to narrow down your choice. If the actual Portland you wanted isn't in the list, refine the location you searched for manually by adding a state or country as necessary.
  • No exact matches are found: Sometimes you try a location and the geocoders aren't certain what you are referring to. This often happens if you misspell the name of a city or park, but it can also happen if the geocoder just doesn't know the location to which you refer at all. When this happens, AQ will display a list including possible matches due to misspellings as well as the 'closest' location it can find for your search. For instance, if you attempted a search for Lincln Park, Seattle, WA (notice that the O is missing from Lincoln), the geocoder won't find an exact match. But it might display a place called 'Lincoln Park' which seems to be pretty close, and it might also include an option for Seattle, WA. That last one may not be as accurate, but at least it puts your location in the correct city and that might be the best that the geocoder can do. You can also try adjusting what you typed for a location and try again.

Regardless of what happens, the last item in the list of possible matches will include a link to 'Edit Custom Location.' If it becomes clear that the suggested geocoded locations aren't what you're looking for, use this link to override the geocoder. Before clicking it, find the best match possible for your location-Atlas Quest will pre-populate the geocoder override with whatever match you select which can speed up the process. Click the best possible match from the list, then click the 'Edit Custom Location' link. (If you don't select a best possible match from the list, AQ will pre-populate the next page with the first location in the list.)

What is the radius for?

The radius of a location is roughly the distance from the center of a geographical area to the outer edge of the specified area. A small city, for instance, has a much smaller radius than a large city, and a large city will likely have a much smaller size than a state or province. While it's not generally important that this number be exactly right, it is important to make sure it's approximately correct since it's used to help accurately display search results. A location 'somewhere in California' is vague, while a location such as 'Lincoln Park, Seattle, WA" is very specific, and Atlas Quest needs to know how vague (or precise) these are to accurately display and sort letterboxes and events.

If you are using a specific address, the radius can be very small--0.01 miles, for instance. If your location is a park, take a look at the size of it on a map. From one side of the park to the other, how far is it as the crow flies? Take that distance, divide it by two, and that's the radius for your park. Small parks might have a radius of 0.01 miles, but large parks can be several miles. A park such as Yosemite National Park might be 30 miles or more in size!

Cities and towns are usually at least one mile wide, but the largest cities can often have a radius exceeding 30 miles. Remember too, we're referring to the geographical size of a city, not the population. New York City has a radius of about 20 miles, but Anchorage, Alaska, has a radius that's over 30 miles. While the population of New York City is considerably larger than Anchorage, the geographical footprint of New York City is considerably smaller.

Counties, states, and countries can have even an even larger radius. For California, the geocoder assigns a radius of 412 miles. For the entire United States, the radius expands to 3,881 miles.

AQ will do some basic "sanity checks" on any radius you enter. For instance, AQ will not allow you to use a radius for a city that's larger than the radius of the county that it's located in. And a city that's 300 miles wide would certainly seem a little suspicious, even if it is in a county that's more than 300 miles wide, but it's really up to to you to make sure the radius is accurate.

If you aren't sure what the radius of a location is but you know the area of the location—Wikipedia often includes information about the area of a park or other location—AQ will also accept that and convert it into a radius for you. To list an area in square miles, type "m2" after the area. To list an area in square kilometers, use "km2" after the area. Example: Wikipedia shows that Seattle, WA, has an area of 369.2 km2 (or 142.5 sq mi). Instead of typing in a radius, which is not provided on Wikipedia, you could type "369.2 km2" or "142.5 m2" as the radius. It's important to include the "m2" or "km2" after the number so AQ knows that you aren't typing a radius! AQ will convert this to 8.08 miles radius. The actual radius, as returned by one geocoder, is 11.4 miles, so the area generates a result that's slighter smaller, but the important thing is to be approximately correct than precisely wrong! While 8.08 miles might be a little small, it's close enough for our purposes and is better than not providing an actual value at all.

Another thing that the radius is used for—when displaying maps showing your location, it determines how far to zoom in or out on the map. A location with a radius close to 0 will be zoomed in to the maximum extent possible, while a large radius of dozens of miles might zoom the map out to show the entire state, or an even larger radius of several hundred miles might show most of the entire country.

How do I list coordinates?

The coordinates of a location should, roughly speaking, mark the center point of the location with latitude and longitude coordinates. If you fail to include coordinates, AQ will attempt to make a best guess at it—perhaps using the city center of your location rather than the specific park.

Coordinates can be specified in a variety of formats including:

  • 50.3 -120.5
  • 50.3, -120.5
  • -120.5 50.3
  • 50.3 N 120.5 W
  • N 50.3 W 120.5
  • 120.5W 50.3N
  • 50 18 0 -120 30 0
  • 50 18 0N 120 30 0W
  • 50°18'0", -120°30'0"

Regardless of which format you enter coordinates, AQ will always reformat it to display the “50.3, -120.5” format, and that is the preferred format for use on AQ.

NOTE: One of the most common errors while entering coordinates is not using the negative sign for longitude coordinates. Most members on Atlas Quest live in the western hemisphere at a negative longitude, and forgetting the negative will put your location into the eastern hemisphere—usually in Europe or Asia somewhere.

Related Questions

How do I find a GPS coordinate for a location?

How do I create a mystery location?

If you plant a letterbox somewhere in a county, state, or country, and that area is the 'mystery area', just type the area like you would any other location.

Often times, the geocoders might support more non-standard areas such as "Oregon Coast" or "San Francisco Bay Area." If the geocoder cannot find your non-standard area, however, you can still create one yourself by following these steps for a custom location. Let's assume the geocoders cannot figure out what you mean by "Oregon Coast," so we'll have to create our own custom mystery area. Follow these steps:

  1. Fill in the name of the location with the label we wish to use: Oregon Coast.
  2. Leave the address blank. The Oregon Coast does not have an address!
  3. Leave the city blank. The Oregon Coast is not contained within the boundaries of a single city.
  4. Leave the county blank. The Oregon Coast is not contained entirely within a single county.
  5. Fill in the state as "Oregon." Yes, the Oregon Coast is completely contained within a single state—the state of Oregon, and AQ needs to know this.
  6. Fill in the country as "United States." Again, the Oregon Coast is completely contained within the United States, so we can (and should!) include the country.
  7. Pull up a map of Oregon and eyeball the location that, roughly speaking, marks the center point of the Oregon Coast. If you need help with this, check out How do I find a GPS coordinate for a location? In this case, eyeballing the center point of the Oregon Coast, we determine it's coordinates to be 44.347422, -122.645874. Enter that as the coordinates.
  8. Now eyeball how far it is from that center point to the edge of the area to be covered—in this case, the entire distance from the Washington border to the north to the California border on the south. The entire distance, north to south, is about 300 miles as the crow flies, and half the distance (near the center point), would be about 150 miles. Enter 150 as the radius.
  9. And save your changes! AQ now supports mystery locations for boxes "somewhere on the Oregon Coast."

Mystery areas can be of any size anywhere in the world. A mystery location for "Western Europe" that spans multiple countries would require that you leave the state and country blank (since it's not contained within any one state or country), but everything else works exactly the same. A mystery location for "Eastern King County" in Washington state would require that you fill in the county as "King County" since Eastern King County is contained completely within the one county, but everything else works the same.

You could even mark a mystery area that includes only part of a city, such as "Southwest Seattle." Since southwestern Seattle is contained completely within King County and the city of Seattle, you'll want to include the county and city names in their respective boxes.

And, for the particularly devious and creative people, you could even "invent" imaginary mystery areas such as "Narnia." Let's say you planted a letterbox and want it's location to be "somewhere in Narnia"—an area that you arbitrarily decide covers the entire mid-west of the United States—fill in Narnia as the name of the location, the United States as the country, and leave the city, county, and states options empty. (You could even leave the country blank if you do not want people to know that Narnia is within the United States.)

How do I list multiple stamps in the same box

Multiple stamps in the same box should not be listed as separate boxes, nor as a series of boxes. One box is one box, regardless of the number of stamps it contains. You can, however, list on the clue page each of the stamps in the box and who carved them. Some people may choose to list the extra stamps as 'other' boxes, which isn't really necessary but is an option if you absolutely have to list every single stamp you've carved on Atlas Quest.

How do I list a bonus box?

Use the Add Letterbox page like you normally would. The only thing that makes a bonus box special is that people have to find another box first before they can find your bonus box—usually because the clue is located in other box.

So to turn your regular box into a bonus box, edit the “Dependency” section of the “Restrictions” section. Let AQ know which box your bonus box is dependent on, and then it will automatically add the bonus box icon to your listing.

When AQ knows about this dependency, it will also hide your bonus box from search results unless the person doing the search has found the dependent box already.

What are exceptions?

An exception are people who you want to see a letterbox on Atlas Quest that otherwise might be restricted from seeing them for any reason.

Exceptions are specified as mailing lists. The primary purpose of mailing lists are to contact groups of people you know, but they also do double duty as whitelists and exceptions if you choose to use them in that manner. Exceptions, obviously, do not apply to anyone who is not logged into Atlas Quest.

Anyone on your exceptions will be excepted from all restrictions—including P and F-counts, group restrictions, whitelists, dependencies, and whatever other restriction options may be added in the future.

To apply an exception to your boxes, you must be the owner of the letterbox, then follow these steps:

  1. Create a mailing list if you don't have one already. You'll probably want to give it a name such as "My Exceptions" or "My Friends."
  2. Add everyone who should be a part of that group. A list can have any number of people including nobody at all.
  3. While listing or editing a letterbox, edit the Exceptions section of the Restrictions box. If you have any mailing lists (which you should now, if you did step #1), they'll all be listed as options. Select the mailing list you created in step #1. If you need to view or edit the list, click on the name of the list and information about the list will open in a new page.
  4. Save the box. You're done!

To add or remove someone from an exception, edit the mailing list that is being used for that purpose. You do not have to edit or change the box listing in any way to apply such changes.

What are dependencies?

In this case, you can restrict your box so that only people who've recorded a find on another box can see it. This restriction was created specifically for bonus boxes, but it's not restricted to them. You can add this restriction to any type of box and it can be dependent on the finds of any other type of box. For instance, if you put LTCs in one of your letterboxes for finders to take, you can restrict the LTC to people who've found that letterbox.

To create this sort of dependency, enter the box # of the "parent" box—the one that has to be recorded as a find before the one you're listing will show up. If the parent is a series, click the "Restrictions" button to save your changes and reload the page, and AQ will display each of the boxes within the series so you can pinpoint precisely which box in the series is the trigger to reveal your listing. If you don't select a specific box within a series, AQ will use the first box in the series by default.

The owner, planters, carvers, and anyone in your exceptions list will be able to see the listing without recording a find on the parent box.

How do I link a town to my planted letterbox?

Only traditional boxes have locations, and even then bonus boxes—which are supposed to be surprises—do not allow you to include a location.

If you pass those two hurdles, you can link a town, address, park, or area when you add or edit your letterbox. To edit your letterbox, go to the details page (or clue page for AQ-hosted clues) and click the Edit Box button near the right side of the page. Go to the Locations page and enter your location!

Related Questions

What is a geocoded location?
How do I find a GPS coordinate for a location?
How do I list the coordinates of a location?
What is the radius for?
How do I create a mystery location?

I found a letterbox that is not listed on Atlas Quest. Is it ok to add a listing for it?

Never. The only letterboxes that you should list on Atlas Quest are the boxes that you have planted yourself. If a webmaster, administrator or moderator finds that you have listed a box that you do not own, they will delete the listing. Listing these boxes is also unnecessary, as there are several ways for you to record a find on a box that is not listed.

How do I retire a box?

Be sure you're logged into Atlas Quest--AQ has to know who you are before it'll let you edit your letterboxes!

From the box details page, you can change the status of the box directly. The status is a drop-down menu, and you merely have to select a different option. Your changes will be saved automatically.

Variant 1: You can also edit the status from the "Series Info" page when you use the "Edit Box" button near the right-hand side of the box details.

Variant 2: The "Update Status" button near the right-hand side of the box details page not only allows you to edit the status of your box, but it also also allows you to record maintenance visits and add a public comment to the box for others to see.

How do I pick a color?

The color-picker—that is an official term for the control—on most modern browsers will display a solid block in the currently selected color. To edit it, you can either click directly on it with a mouse, tap it with your finger if your screen can detect taps or tab over to it until it has the focus. The full color options will pop-up and you pick from, quite literally, any color that your monitor supports. Exactly how this box looks and how it works varies by browser and device so there is no one set of directions that would be applicable to everyone, but it is typically easy to figure out just by playing around with it.

The following image is a screenshot of a color picker from the Firefox browser on a Windows machine. You may see something different, but it will work similarly.
Sample color picker

If you are using an older browser or one of the few that do not support a color picker, you will see an ugly text box with numbers and letters that might look something like #ffffff or #ff0080. These are hexadecimal numbers that computers use to represent colors and unless you are a computer programmer, they will probably look completely foreign to you. Computer programmers will know what to do, but for the rest of the you, the easiest thing to do is look up the color you need on a color chart. Just copy the hexadecimal number (including the # sign) into text box and save.

What happened to reserved boxes?

You will no longer find an option to mark your box as reserved because all new box listings are reserved by default until you ‘publish’ the box. If you are editing an unpublished box, you will see an option to “Publish” or “Save” the listing. Publishing the box will make it live for the world to see and saving the box will save the information to the database but it will not be available publicly for the world to see.

Once a box has been published, it cannot be ‘unpublished’ so the “Save” button will go away. Editing a box after it has been published will only allow you to publish changes but not save them.

How do I add a comment to an existing box that I own?

A comment can be added when you create a “maintenance report,” and also allows you to note that you “found” a box and reset any strike counts to 0.

What do it mean to foster a box?

Fostering a box allows you to receive notifications about the box such as find and attempt reports (including both public and private comments). You cannot edit the box itself, but you will have access to add or edit an “addendum” which will show up on the box details page as well as AQ-hosted clues. If there's information about the box that people should know like the clue has changed or needs maintenance, this is where you can tell others about it.

Boxes become available for fostering if the owner hasn't logged into AQ for some time and the listing becomes abandoned. Anyone can foster a box, but boxes can only have one foster parent at a time. If the owner of the box later logs back into AQ, you'll lose your fostering status. If a box is available to foster, you'll see an option to foster the box on the box details page.

How do I edit clues?

From the box details page:

  1. Click the “Edit box” button in the button panel near the top of the page.
  2. Click the Edit link in the “Clue details” section or in the “Clue preview” section.
  3. Edit clues as desired.
  4. Click the “Continue” button to continue modifying your box as needed.
  5. Click the “Publish” or (if your box is not yet published) the “Save” button.

You’re done! Clue has been edited.