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Help: Postal Trackers

  1. What is the difference between a postal single and a postal ring?
  2. What's a postal tracker?
  3. I can no longer participate in a postal ring, who can I contact for financial support?
  4. What do the attributes stand for in a postal tracker?
  5. How do I delete a tracker once a postal tracker is closed?
  6. What do the subtypes in a postal tracker represent?
  7. How do you set up a Postal Tracker?
  8. How do you keep track of Postal Trackers you are participating in?

What is the difference between a postal single and a postal ring?

Those who sign up for a Postal Singleton Tracker do not make a Postal Letterbox. Only the host of the tracker adds a box and that box is the only one that travels around the group. It takes an average of one week per stop in any postal tracker, so those at the bottom of the list will be waiting several weeks or months to receive the Postal depending on the number of participants

Those who sign up for a Postal Ring Tracker each make a box that they attach to the tracker. It is akin to a shotgun start in golf, each box starts on the same day and participants receive about a box a week until they get their own box back home. Participants get more boxes in less time. So instead of one box going around to a handful of people, every person involved in the list gets a box created by everyone else. Postal Rings are often built around a theme, such as games, books, pets, or movies and each person's stamp and logbook must relate to that theme.

A multi-box Ring has a list of participants arranged in any order the ring creator decides, usually geographically. Each participant sends out the postal that they receive to the same person, the one below them on the list. For example, let's say Fred, Joe, and Andy are in all participants in the same ring. The postal Fred made would be sent to Joe. Joe's box would go to Andy, and Andy's box would go to Fred. After they have all stamped in, they each mail the boxes back out again in the same order. Fred would have the box that Andy made, and would send it out to Joe. Joe would have the box that Fred made, and would send it out to Andy. Andy would have the box Joe made, and would send it out to Fred. And the process repeats until everyone in the ring has received all of the postals that make up the ring and the postals finally return to the original owners.

As you can see—in the case of Fred, Joe, and Andy—each person paid for shipping three separate times. Be sure that if you get involved with a postal ring that you can afford the shipping costs of however many participants are involved! If 15 people are signed up in the ring, you will need to pay shipping for 15 different postals. It can get expensive if you aren't careful.

What's a postal tracker?

A postal tracker is a listing of boxes and people. It is used for rings and for singletons. Postal trackers make it easier to see all of the boxes and participants in a ring and they’re for making it easier to log finds and keep track of how the boxes are progressing around the ring.

The host listing a Tracker will set up the parameters for size, mail date, and theme so those wishing to sign up will know what’s expected of them. Generally the Tracker host will order the tracker geographically, but not always. Each participant will mail their box, and all subsequent boxes they receive in the ring, to the person below them on the tracker.

It is important for all tracker participants to periodically check the status of the tracker to make sure the boxes are moving. Some things to look for: Boxes are getting stuck at one stop, the person you mail to hasn’t mailed on the boxes you have sent to them, or the person above you on the tracker has not mailed boxes on to you that they have logged.

If you have any concerns, contact the host of the Tracker.

I can no longer participate in a postal ring, who can I contact for financial support?

Financial support is usually not an issue anymore since the advent and popularity of MicroPLBs. When there were dozens of Standard Postal Trackers available, some enthusiastic postal Letterboxers would get way overextended and drop-out mid-ring taking many boxes with them and becoming what is known as a Black Hole.

When you have concerns about a Tracker, you are encouraged to contact the host of that tracker. Also remember that paper trail and Jabber are always happy to help. Communication is the key if you are unable to continue due to "life" getting in the way or if you have concerns about how the Tracker is progressing. This is supposed to be a fun hobby, not add more stress to life.

What do the attributes stand for in a postal tracker?

The postals in these trackers have a movie attached! Stamp into the box, then watch the movie!
The postals in these trackers have music attached. Stamp into the box while listing to the CD included with it!
Surely you know where this is going, right? There's a book to read with these postals. These trackers will probably move a lot slower than most if participants actually choose to read the included book.
These trackers include an altered book with the postal.
The postal in these trackers can be anything under the sun—whatever floats your boat, and who knows what others might do.
These trackers have a theme that everyone is expected to follow.
It's okay to reuse an old postal for these singles or rings.

How do I delete a tracker once a postal tracker is closed?

There is no need to delete a tracker that has been completed. If you are the owner or admin of a tracker, you can retire it from the tracker details page when the postals have run their course. Trackers can be deleted by the owner or an admin of the tracker, but unless it should never have been listed in the first place*, it's usually best just to retire the tracker to preserve its history for those who were a part of it.

*Note: If you list a Tracker with the wrong Type chosen by accident (i.e. Traditional instead of Postal), it cannot be changed once it's published. In this case you delete the tracker and start over.

What do the subtypes in a postal tracker represent?

A postal single is a single postal box that will be mailed to a group of people, one at a time. Only the owner of the tracker may add boxes—everyone else is just along for the ride.
A postal ring is a concept where each person who joins the ring contributes a postal to be mailed in a circular fashion. Person A mails a postal to Person B who mails to Person C, and eventually returns to them from Person Z. All members of a postal ring can add boxes, but they can only add postals that have them as the listed owner. The ring leader may add postals from anyone.
No subtype is the wild, wild west of postal trackers. It's not a single nor a ring, which are the most common organizations, but what it is is anyone's guess. Any participant can add postals they own, and the tracker's owner can add any postal they need to, much like a postal ring, but the organization of who mails what to whom may not follow conventional rules of rings.

How do you set up a Postal Tracker?

From your home page go to the my "My Page" tab upper right and go down to "Trackers". At the top of that page there are three options, click on Create Tracker. Then you need to fill in the blanks and click the appropriate buttons. Clicking the yellow pencil will open up the areas where you can add or change information.

Name it and Click "Postal" for "Type".

Pick a "Start Date" and and if it's going to be a Ring, make sure it's far enough in the future so others have time to complete their boxes (4-6 weeks). Since all Postal Ring Boxes should start on the same date, pick "send by date" for that option. If you're listing a Singleton, as soon as your box is ready you can mail it. You just need to put it far enough in the future to allow for maximum sign-ups.

Of course you'll need to pick a theme, or make it a potpourri--whatever you want. A theme should be something that there are several carve-able images available that others could choose from. You don't have to supply ideas, but some hots will include links to lists or suggestions.

At the next screen just ignore "Location" and move to "Max Signups." START SMALL seriously! Ten to 12 is a good place to start, it takes an average of one week per stop, so that equates to 3 months. A lot can happen in 3 months to cause life issues to impact a smooth running of a ring, especially during times when people are gone on vacation, or there's a pandemic.

"Status" click the pencil and your options come up. The default is "Open" which means anybody can sign up, but some will chose "Limited" and expect boxers to ask to join or solve a puzzle.

"Subtypes" chose "Ring" or “Singleton” depending on your preference as defined above.

"Attributes" pick whatever you decide to do that's on the list. You can pick more than one.

"Owner" will default to your name. "Admins" you can pick somebody who's helping you or leave blank.

"Restrictions" are only based on PFX numbers from traditional in-the-wild LBs. So if you set a restriction that limits to only those with 50 plants or finds, even though they have done 100s of Postals, they will not be able to see the listing and sign up for your box if they don't do much Traditional Boxing. A "Whitelist" is used by some to limit the number of boxers who can see the listing so only they can join--kind of the opposite of a blacklist. You can add or delete members as you wish.

"Description" this is like the clue. Basic rules you want joiners to follow, etc. You can look at some other listed Postal Trackers to get an idea of what others include.

When you're all done click "Publish" and it will show up on the website.

If you need to make a change just call up the listing and click on the yellow pencil, it is your friend. Warning: If you pick the wrong type, i.e. Traditional instead of Postal, you cannot change it after publishing. You will have to delete the tracker and start over.

How do you keep track of Postal Trackers you are participating in?

Doing a lot of Postal Trackers can become overwhelming. Keeping track of start dates, mailing lists, etc. Theoretically you could have four different types of Postal Trackers to keep track of and multiples of each one all at the same time. This level of involvement is not recommended for newbies. The four types are: Singles you list that others sign up for, Singles you sign up for that others list, Rings you list that others join, and Rings that others list that you join.

You can pick and label a tab for each of these 4 kinds of Postals. On the Tag chart that automatically shows up on each Tracker’s page, you can change the wording and assign a category for each type of Tracker you are in. Premium members have more options for tagging.

When you sign-up for a tracker it automatically goes to UNTAGGED category. From there you check on a defined tag and it only shows up under that category. You always have to remember to click on “Save Changes” once you’ve assigned a tag to make the assigned tab stick.

Label your tabs like this:

Also consider tabs labeled (remember Premium Members have more options):
Something has gone wrong and there is a short delay
Something has gone horribly wrong and I will never see this again.

So when a tracker is done, completed successfully and you no longer need to keep track of it, check the COMPLETED tag and make sure to uncheck the original tag it was listed as. Save the changes and that listing will go into an archive of all your completed trackers.

You can also use the tags to label trackers for LTCs to do and LTCs done and sent; and Traditional Trackers you’ve signed up for stamp donations.

There is a Countdown Widgetyou can add on your home page where you can add items with due dates and keep an eye on upcoming deadlines. There is also a Calendar Widget that automatically puts things you've signed up for on a calendar grid, including events, all types of boxes, LTCs etc. It puts a little icon on the date that you can hover over and read what's happening on that day.