These are just some thoughts and opinions on the swap idea, and are just meant as that, my 2 cents.
I love the swap idea. But I may not be up to this task skill wise. I have been tying off and on since I was 15 with many yearly lay overs. However I have only so much pattern experience, materials, and skill level.
I have seen outstanding tying skills here. I like the idea of a wide open swap. Many fishermen have many different approaches to tying and I break away from patterns, and tradition, trying to hit what works locally. Others use color combinations that work .
The approach to a swap, I think, is important. For me what's most important is the follow through to give not receive. To share patterns with like minded folk that have produced fish.
I only tie for trout. I only tie what I need locally for sea run brookies. Sometimes my tying supplies are low and improv. is the name of the game. If the swap had categories like Proven Trout ,Salmon or Other patterns, and that's it. Whats important is that they are proven.
Then there is no pressure no one has any big expectations or standards to have to meet then it is just plain fun. Once the swap partners are determined, they can workout any additional details of their swap through private messaging.
Folks should enter a swap prepared and wllingto accept the fact that they may not receive anything or what they do receive will be of lesser quality than what they give. This way it is all about sharing, keeping the 'teacher/student' approach and preserving the culture of this wonderful art form.
The most important part if the swap is to be within the deadline. This way nothings holding up the swap coordinator and people can get the flys back in a timely fashion.
One other thing is moaning. If you have a complaint do it in a pm so no one gets singled out or gets embarrassed. If you can't solve your complaint that way then speak to an administrator . No moaning in public!
"I was born to fish" Lee Wulff
"There's more B.S. in fly fishing then there is in a Kansas feedlot." Lefty Kreh
" It ain't over till it's over." Yogi Berra
"Your not old,you've simply acquired a patina." Swirlchaser
On the UK site, the originator of the swap becomes the coordinator - but that would require a US-based initiator or coordinator. It would though really spread the burden around.
Here's a for instance; our swaps went off track in the past year. We have had some members host swaps that did a wonderful job of it in the past also. Now after both the good and the bad, we're going to try to re-organize things a bit.
What I'm going to say now is my own opinion and not anything else. If there is no control over how many swaps are running at once or who is responsible for coordinating those swaps............. I can see a possibility for problems. I believe where the swaps went off track was when we had a whole bunch going at the same time. Granted we had one guy trying to handle all of it but the shear number of swaps made it hard to follow. I think that if the forum is going to be a hosting site for these swaps, then we need to have some means of making sure things run smoothly.
Taking on the responsibility for receiving 144 flies from 12 different members around the country may sound like a fun thing to do (not to me) but it will be just that; a responsibility. I think it would be a good thing if we have a few members who are willing to do the collection and dispersal to let them do it and to develop a system that works.
Ard, thanks for seeking input on the fly swaps from the forum members.
Most of the other forums I have been on or browse have the swaps setup so that anyone who wants to host a swap can do so and that person is the organizer. The results have always been pretty good. This way, the person who actually wants to start the swap has a little more motivation to get the packages and disperse them. I for one could not see getting flies in every month collecting and dispersing. That would get old pretty fast, at least for me. When I retire, I might have a different opinion on that but for now, no way I'd want to do that repeatedly. This is a pretty solid group of active members here, I think this could work here too.
Disclosure: Of the 4 swaps I have been in, I hosted one of them.
I won't ask or speculate on what has gone on in the past, but if it is determined that things should be dialed back to 2 swaps at one time with 2 designated coordinators, then that's OK by me too.
I am also one who thinks that most swaps should be open to all tiers. I remember doing my first one and there is a bit of nervousness sending out a batch of flies to guys who are much better than you. Those guys were always pretty good to me in terms of accepting my fly and even giving me pointers. That's what I like about keeping them open. Camaraderie. Having said this, I also like the idea of from time to time, a theme being a newbie swap or an advanced swap. Just to mix things up a bit. Toe tags are kind of a pain but do-able. I like Eunan's idea of posting a photo with some instruction in it. Saves trees and it also is a great reference for the entire forum. In case somebody doesn't have a camera, I'm sure another poster would be happy to take the photo and the tier can post the recipe.
I do like the idea of a set timeline, though maybe around Christmas or other holidays/major events, there can be exceptions. Again, most of the forums I have been on the deadline is set by those participating. The other thing that I always thought cool was that they tied extras for the mods or the host. If nothing else, I think an extra fly or two for the host is a great touch and good form. This was more or less an unwritten "rule".
As for postage. Everyone should be responsible for their own return postage. If you don't do it, you don't get your flies. Period. Use whatever box you like, mail it however you like and make sure that return packaging is included. What's worked for me is to get a foam envelope from the PO or wherever, take to the counter, pay for shipping on one and the return shipping on the other. Simple. An extra trip to the PO, sure, but worth it to me to get my flies and not place burden on the coordinator.
Last but not least, update the sticky with the new protocols. That is probably a given though. Everyone in the swap can be referred there for questions, instructions, guidelines, etc. Every swap is done with the same protocols and how they are run is clear to all. Maybe there should be a minimum post requirement to help keep active members in the mix? Also, maybe a no tolerance policy or a feedback system of sorts? Not sure how that can be done. Maybe a designated moderator overseeing the individual swaps? Maybe a requirement to run a swap? Just some random thoughts here. 99% here won't have any problems, I'm sure.
Thanks for taking time to solicit opinion and for reading my thoughts.
Unfortunayuely for many reasonsI can't volunteer my services,the main one being the Costs involved for everyone as it usually cost $10-$12 to send a Small Packet to The US,that's why I usually like to go in 3 or 4 Swaps at once.
I can only send an Envelope/Packet without Stamps as The Return Swaps have to have US Stamps on them as,naturally,ours aren't recognised.
The Last thing I wouldn't like to see would be someone out of Pocket,as to speak & as mentioned most costs will be different,also it would be good if I could Tranfer Funds or pay through USPS to cover costs,I know I can do it via Pay Pal.
Sorry about that Liphookedau, didn't meant to purposely exclude or offend any of our non US/North American members. My previous comment about postage assumes US members which clearly should be revisited. There should be a precedent for folks from other countries because I'd hate to exclude anyone. Sounds like you have a pretty good system worked out from past swaps that should be taken into consideration.