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Why can I no longer adopt abandoned boxes?

Atlas Quest used to have a policy allowing people to take ownership of box listings that appeared to be abandoned on Atlas Quest. This policy was discontinued after a small handful of people who had failed to maintain their listings on Atlas Quest later came back years later, absolutely irate about their boxes being "taken over." It didn't matter that we tried to contact them about their listings. It didn't matter that they had not logged into Atlas Quest for years. They felt it was unfair and a terribly rude thing to do.

So the current policy is no longer allow adoptions without the owner's explicit permission, regardless of how long the box has been abandoned. It is rude, anyhow, for them to burden active members of the letterboxing community to maintain their listings that the original owner is too lazy or cares so little to maintain themselves.

The policy of not allowing adoptions extends to creating new listings on AQ of adopted boxes. In other words, if you adopt a box on LBNA, do not list it on AQ without the explicit permission of the original owner.

You may personally choose to maintain the physical letterbox—and, in fact, we hope you do so the box doesn't become litter—but you will not be allowed to adopt or update the listing on Atlas Quest. If the location of the box is no longer viable or the clues no longer work, just remove the letterbox and we'll formally retire the letterbox. If possible, return the letterbox to the planter.

We've taken several measures to reduce the clutter of abandoned letterboxes in searches:

  • If the owner of the box has been MIA for one full year, ownership will automatically be switched to one of the planters (assuming a planter for the letterbox is still active on Atlas Quest).
  • If the owner and planters of a box have been MIA for one full year, ownership will automatically be switch to one of the carvers (assuming the carver for the letterbox is still active on Atlas Quest).
  • On the Advanced Search page, you'll see an option to Hide Abandoned Boxes which is automatically selected for most searches by default. Any boxes whose owners have been MIA for 12 months or more will not be included in the search results if this option is checked.
  • Also on the Advanced Search page is an option to Hide Strikeouts—boxes with an usually large number of consecutive attempts on them. If people are searching for abandoned boxes and coming up empty, there is a way to reduce that clutter. Most searches default to hide any box with three or more consecutive attempts.
  • And another option from the Advanced Search page is to Hide Most Ignored boxes. Maybe people who look for a box but don't find it won't record it as an attempt, but they will often ignore the box to declutter their searches. If enough people are ignoring it, there might be a good reason for it!
  • For members who are logged into Atlas Quest, you can adjust the 12 month span that a box is considered abandoned in your Letterbox Preferences. You can also change whether or not to show or hide abandoned boxes by default.
  • For members who are logged into Atlas Quest, you can adjust the number of strikes it takes to 'strikeout' a box from your Letterbox Preferences.
  • And again, for members who are logged into Atlas Quest, you can adjust the number of people who are ignoring a box from your Letterbox Preferences before it joins the 'most ignored' list.
  • Any abandoned box with a status of active will automatically be converted into a status of unknown if at least one attempt is recorded on it.
  • Any abandoned box with a status of unknown will automatically be converted into a status of active if a find is subsequently recorded on it.
  • Any abandoned box with 5 or more strikes will be retired.
  • Any abandoned box that's listed as unavailable will be changed to retired.
  • Comments on abandoned boxes are automatically approved immediately, so it is possible to communicate information about the letterbox through that means.

As a whole, these measures seem to provide a nice balance between respecting the ownership of boxes listed on AQ while protecting AQ from runaway abandoned listings cluttering up the results.