Everyone buying too many tickets?

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Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby joshuaj » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:01 pm

Ok, so I've read the ticket FAQ and everything that's been published in the newsletter, and I've skimmed the forum, and I still don't see how this lottery thing is good for anybody...

Here's the thing: Me and my friend are hoping to go to Burning Man together, like we did last year. So, I'm gonna sign up to buy two tickets. But we know I might not get them, so he's gonna sign up to buy two tickets too, just in case.

It seems pretty obvious that any other groups planning to go to Burning Man are going to do the same thing -- try to buy too many tickets rather than risk getting too few. The number of tickets sold in the lottery is going to be much more than the number of people planning to go the event -- maybe up to twice as much!

After the lottery is over, many thousands of people are going to have extra tickets to sell, and the Burning Man organization will have absolutely no control over how much people sell them for. If I end up with extra tickets, I WILL resell them at cost, NOT at a profit, but if there are 20,000 other people selling too it's gonna be pretty ugly. And with all these tickets being re-mailed, that's more chances for stuff to get lost in shipping, and all sorts of added problems.

In short, I can't imagine any way that this lottery could possibly not suck for most participants.

(I can think of one really easy way to make it better... use the lottery system to assign everybody a number, essentially their place in line, and then in two weeks, when the lottery closes, let people make their ticket-buying choices in that order. So, if my friend and I both happen to get good numbers, one of us can buy the two tickets and the other person can choose zero, making the extra tickets available to someone else, instead of forcing on one of us tickets we don't actually want anymore.)

That's the most obvious problem I see. If for some reason you're still reading this endless rant I'll point out that it's actually even worse than that: Last year, I bought myself an expensive 3rd-tier ticket, and my friend, who couldn't possibly afford to spend that much, got a first-tier one. This year, since I won't be allowed to sign up to get one of each, I'm gonna have to sign up to get two first-tier tickets. So is my friend. So if we both get lucky, then that's 4 first-tier tickets... and someone else who was hoping for first-tier won't get any! Of course, eventually we'll resell two and then someone will get them, but... still, this seems absurdly complicated.

DISCLAIMER: I really like Burning Man -- the event and the organization. I think they are 99% awesome and support most of the organization's decisions. I don't mean to sound excessively negative and whiny: I promise you that this attitude is the exception, not the rule, for me. Also, I'm a designer at heart, and poorly designed systems *really* bug me :)
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:12 pm

And somehow
...use the lottery system to assign everybody a number, essentially their place in line, and then in two weeks, when the lottery closes, let people make their ticket-buying choices in that order

isn't complicated.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby JStep » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:11 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:And somehow
...use the lottery system to assign everybody a number, essentially their place in line, and then in two weeks, when the lottery closes, let people make their ticket-buying choices in that order

isn't complicated.


Yeah, the main flaw in that idea is everyone behind you in line having to wait until you decide to buy your tickets when your spot comes open.

Maybe simply registering the card numbers in the order in which they are received and then processing them in the same order until the tickets are gone would be more agreeable to everyone, but that's just the same thing we had before!
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby joshuaj » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:29 pm

The way I'd do it is: starting January 22nd, when lottery registration ends, email 500 random registrants every day saying, "Congratulations, it's your turn to buy tickets now! Come get them as soon as possible to guarantee getting the tickets you want!"

Once the cheap tickets are gone, you could start doing 2000 people at a time and be done within a month.

Heck, you might as well just send all the emails out on January 22nd, telling everyone what day they're allowed to come back and order.

In short, it's basically just like the old system, except instead of waiting in a virtual line for 8 hours, the site tells you what day and time you can come back and skip the line. So it can be spread out over a month or two, instead of a day or two. You could even keep the "two ticket limit per person" rule from the new system.

It addresses the problems with the old system, but also addresses the big problem I foresee with the new system: that it gives people an incentive to request tickets they don't want. (Whether it introduces new problems is left as an exercise to the reader. I think it's a start, at least.)
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby Eric » Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:49 am

joshuaj wrote:The way I'd do it is: starting January 22nd, when lottery registration ends, email 500 random registrants every day saying, "Congratulations, it's your turn to buy tickets now! Come get them as soon as possible to guarantee getting the tickets you want!"


How about volunteer for the LLC, work for them full time, look at the ticket issue with all the logistics they're trying to fulfill (not all of which are public, I'm sure), and then try to figure out a new system that doesn't get a chunk of 50,000 people upset because it's different than it was before.

The system the LLC has chosen to go with is similar to what other large events with more demand than tickets do, but they're trying to keep it as fair as possible. I don't see how your "lottery" is any different than theirs, other than choosing a tier.

It addresses the problems with the old system, but also addresses the big problem I foresee with the new system:


I love how much speculation there has been on something that hasn't happened yet. The pre-sale went mostly smooth, and I've yet to hear of anyone who entered & didn't get a ticket (doesn't mean it didn't happen), there is no reason to assume the main sale won't go just as smoothly.

Or you can continue to freak out about it. Personally, I'm entering the main sale fully confident I'll get a ticket, and I'm only trying for the one I need.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby TT120 » Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:03 am

Eric wrote:......... Personally, I'm entering the main sale fully confident I'll get a ticket, and I'm only trying for the one I need.


^^^^^^This.

There will be plenty of tickets to go around.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby trilobyte » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:35 am

That's great that you and your friend are not only down with hoarding, but that you're in a spot where you can both tie up all that extra money until sometime in June (well the hoarding bit's not great). I don't see the rest of the Burning Man community being in that kind of situation, both from the paranoia standpoint and the financial standpoint. If there's one thing I can think that would complicate and drag things out significantly, and pose a logistical nightmare, it's setting up a virtual queue with tens of thousands of people "waiting on line" for their turn to make a ticket purchase. And doing 400/2000 people per day batches introduces its own problems, since not all buyers will be purchasing two tickets. The biggest problem, to me, is that such a system doesn't actually do anything to discourage hoarding. In fact, it encourages it (and may also make it easier for scalpers to get through). The current system does a fair bit to keep hoarding in check because at the time of registration, you're committing to spend that money. If there's no commitment, then it's in your best interests to get everyone you can to register on your behalf in the hopes of gaming the system and giving you an early buying opportunity. Then just buy what you need through that person and leave the other registrations to fuck off, which only serves to complicate and drag out the process (it could, however, prove to be a great opportunity for scalpers).

The current system serves to deter gaming the system through bulk registrations (since you're on the hook for the cost of tickets you're registering for, if they should be drawn) and offers a pretty good opportunity to block scammers and scalpers. It provides more than enough tickets to cover the natural growth of the event, and the drawing serves as an even-handed safety valve in the event that a significantly larger chunk of tickets are purchased early or there's a lot of hoarding. Based on the results of the results of the pre-sale, I think everything's going to be fine.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby 5280MeV » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:36 am

joshuaj wrote:Ok, so I've read the ticket FAQ and everything that's been published in the newsletter, and I've skimmed the forum, and I still don't see how this lottery thing is good for anybody...


The point of the lottery is to avoid a single day rush on the ticket servers, and to spread out the opportunity to buy tickets over time. This it does. From the buyer's perspective it is roughly equivalent to the first-come-first-served old system, which becomes a lottery when 10,000 people are all trying to buy a ticket at once.

That is the whole point of the new distribution system, it is really just a minor change from the old system.

The JRS also mentioned that it begins to deal with the issue of ticket scarcity. I think that the deferral in ticket distribution until June helps with this, by making it a huge pain in the ass to buy a ticket for any reason other than to go to Burning Man.

joshuaj wrote: (I can think of one really easy way to make it better... use the lottery system to assign everybody a number, essentially their place in line, and then in two weeks, when the lottery closes, let people make their ticket-buying choices in that order. So, if my friend and I both happen to get good numbers, one of us can buy the two tickets and the other person can choose zero, making the extra tickets available to someone else, instead of forcing on one of us tickets we don't actually want anymore.)


All that does is reward people for gaming the system, and allow bigger groups better access at Tier-1 tickets. Bigger groups get cheaper tickets. The individual loaner is punished, and the system is way more complicated to administer.

This makes the ticket-buying process more failure prone, as there are more steps to the process: registration and account setup, emails out to tell people their number, then re-login with their account to make a ticket purchase, and actual sale.

joshuaj wrote: That's the most obvious problem I see. If for some reason you're still reading this endless rant I'll point out that it's actually even worse than that: Last year, I bought myself an expensive 3rd-tier ticket, and my friend, who couldn't possibly afford to spend that much, got a first-tier one. This year, since I won't be allowed to sign up to get one of each, I'm gonna have to sign up to get two first-tier tickets.


I don't understand how your friend cannot afford a Tier-3 (~$400), but can afford to buy two Tier-1s (~$500). That doesn't make any sense. If you really cannot afford more than $250, I would assume that the other $250 is going on the credit card, which means that you will be paying about $60-75 dollars in credit card interest until you finally get the money back from your second ticket realistically in July.

Thus you effectively just purchased a $320 Tier-2 with this scheme. If you can afford to just throw an extra $250 on the credit card, then why not just go ahead and register for a single ticket all tiers, and if you get a $390 just pay it off over the next few months?
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby BBadger » Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:53 am

5280MeV wrote:I don't understand how your friend cannot afford a Tier-3 (~$400), but can afford to buy two Tier-1s (~$500). That doesn't make any sense. If you really cannot afford more than $250, I would assume that the other $250 is going on the credit card, which means that you will be paying about $60-75 dollars in credit card interest until you finally get the money back from your second ticket realistically in July.


Anybody making credit card monthly payments to pay for BM tickets should seriously reconsider attending in the first place due to financial strain.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby theCryptofishist » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:48 am

5280MeV wrote:I don't understand how your friend cannot afford a Tier-3 (~$400), but can afford to buy two Tier-1s (~$500). That doesn't make any sense. If you really cannot afford more than $250, I would assume that the other $250 is going on the credit card, which means that you will be paying about $60-75 dollars in credit card interest until you finally get the money back from your second ticket realistically in July.

Really. If I have 600 to spend on tickets, I can easily buy two at the low tier, but only one at the high tier. It's taking a different approach to counting noses and then buying the appropriate number of tickets, but if, for instance, you were buying one for yourself and one to gift, then you'd skip the gift ticket.
At any rate, there are multitudinous of situations in which burners are buying tickets and myriad different calls that will be made. Not all are going to make sense to any one of us.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby 5280MeV » Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:02 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:At any rate, there are multitudinous of situations in which burners are buying tickets and myriad different calls that will be made. Not all are going to make sense to any one of us.


True, I guess I should be more understanding, but running the numbers on this ticket purchasing strategy show that it is a really bad idea.

Assuming that 40,000 people participate in the lottery, mostly in all tiers, then the odds for the two friends are the following:

They will NOT get any tickets with a 56.25% chance. They will end up with 4 tickets and $960 on their cards with a 6.25% chance. They will get what they want - two first tier tickets - with a 37.5% chance.

So the most likely outcome of their plan is that they will get dumped out into the secondary sale and have to purchase two full price tickets for about $800 dollars.

The expectation cost of their strategy is then ~$680 or $340/ticket assuming that they decide to make it work for the secondary sale. This expectation is about the average ticket cost (not including low income), so this is obviously a suboptimal strategy which will result in either the two friends not going to the burn or paying more than they are collectively comfortable paying.

A better strategy is for both of them to sign up for one ticket in all tiers, and for the more well off friend to swap costs if the less well off friend gets a high tier ticket. They will pay the following, with the same demand assumptions as above:

$480 with a 6.25% chance
$560 with a 18.75% chance
$630 with a 18.75% chance
$640 with a 14.0625% chance
$710 with a 28.125% chance
$780 with a 14.0625% chance

This also pretty much guarantees them each a ticket, and gives them a lower expectation value of $652.50 total, or $326.25 per ticket.

Furthermore, if they really cannot afford more than the Tier-3 + Tier-1 cost under any circumstances, they would be better off each registering for a single Tier-1 and Tier-2 each, and then balancing the difference between themselves.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby Sassy Britches » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:23 pm

joshuaj wrote: This year, since I won't be allowed to sign up to get one of each, I'm gonna have to sign up to get two first-tier tickets. So is my friend.


Nothing says you must register for two tickets, it only says ou can't request more than 2. So you can sign up for one at a higher tier and your friend can sign up for 1 at a lower tier.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby trilobyte » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:30 pm

Armchair oddsmaking is always good for a laugh.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby lucky420 » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:59 pm

Kudos to Trilo, Eric and Sav for having the patience to deal so calmly with this topic. You three are either angels, own stock in tylenol or kick cats (dogs for Eric)...
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby Sassy Britches » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:00 pm

I hope I wasn't misunderstood. I think everyone will get the tickets they want, especially if they are not going into paranoia hording mode, except for folks who wait too long after secondary sale starts. My suggestion was that Joshua and his friend each register for one ticket only, given that's all they wanted to end up with. And they would each then be able to pay the max price they wanted to pay for their respective tickets.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby Sassy Britches » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:00 pm

lucky420 wrote:Kudos to Trilo, Eric and Sav for having the patience to deal so calmly with this topic. You three are either angels, own stock in tylenol or kick cats (dogs for Eric)...


Couldn't agree more.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby Eric » Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:07 pm

I would never kick an animal unless it was attacking me (and I have the scars from that battle still... ). Three purring kittehz do wonders for stress, combine that with The Boyfriend & I'm mostly set for low stress levels.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby jkisha » Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:43 pm

Well I'm going to buy 8 and a half tickets just to be on the safe side.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby brcprincess » Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:29 pm

Everyone I know is worried about not getting tickets so they plan on doing multiple registrations using their own credit cards, friends cards and families cards. They plan to sell any excess tickets they win. My husband and I are both registering, just in case one of us misses out, so I guess we're in the same boat.

The people who thought this system up should have taken into account the anxiety that this system is generating. Unfortunately, people are going to wind up buying too many tickets and that excess is going to push up the tier prices for everyone in the main sales. It's also going to create a glut in the secondary market.

Hey BM. I hate to say it but this system is already a fail. Sell all the tickets at ONE price and everyone will be happy! I would gladly pay an average price and be done with all this worry and stress.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby 48_love » Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:45 pm

caches in the hills and whatnot ... apocalyptic stuff to be sure! lol
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby Eric » Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:46 pm

brcprincess wrote:The people who thought this system up should have taken into account the anxiety that this system is generating. Unfortunately, people are going to wind up buying too many tickets and that excess is going to push up the tier prices for everyone in the main sales. It's also going to create a glut in the secondary market.


Funny, I think the people who can afford to hoard tickets & are using every method they can think of to do it should think about how they're a larger problem than the drawing itself. Of course, that's just me, and I'm sure you have perfectly legitimate reasons for trying to game the system to your own advantage (and other Burners who get screwed because of it can just be damned). I mean, who cares about the rest of the community, right?

Burners who hoard make scalpers look like saints. At least scalpers are just greedy, hoarders would screw over their own neighbors to get a ticket. Disgusting.

YMMV.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby trilobyte » Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:00 pm

@brcprincess - I hate to say it, but I think your attitude (as well as that of your friends) is what's a fail. Don't be overcome by fear, uncertainty, and doubt. I mean, woohoo that you guys can all spare twice as much cash for tickets (they won't be fulfilled until June, don't expect the ability to transfer will call tix before fulfillment happens), but I don't think the majority of participants feel the same way you do (or are in the same financial situation).
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby Elliot » Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:02 pm

Sell all the tickets at ONE price and everyone will be happy! I would gladly pay an average price and be done with all this worry and stress.

Hear, hear!
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby theCryptofishist » Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:59 pm

brcprincess wrote:I hate to say it but this system is already a fail.

Too bad you weren't around to tell me that my husband would die 15 months after the wedding...
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby joshuaj » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:30 pm

Good lord, what's going on here? This is NOT the sort of attitude I'm used to when talking to burners. Are you guys saving up all your friendliness and open-mindedness for the one week a year that you're at Burning Man? :?

People are putting a lot of words into my mouth, and making a lot of totally unfounded assumptions. Let me summarize my opinion as clearly as I can. (Which, apparently, is "not very"):

I think most people think of themselves as good people, and don't go out of their way to try to be a dick. But if you give them incentives to do something you don't want them to, many of them will do it. I think the lottery system that's about to start fails to take this fact into account.

Trilobyte, Eric: There's no possible way to NOT game the system, because a lottery IS a game. Consider: If my friend and I each register for a single ticket, and only one of us gets it, we'll probably have to sell it. (Neither of us feels like going alone.) Signing up for two tickets each also might also result in us having to sell extra tickets later, too. Or, one of us could sign up for two tickets, and then choose how much money we want to gamble by selecting a tier -- choosing a tier that's a bit higher than we can comfortably afford will give us better odds. The question isn't whether or not we "game the system," but which way we choose to play the game that is presented to us. You have to make the same choice yourself.

5280MeV: I have enough money in my savings to temporarily incur the price of 4 tickets, even for several months. No credit card debt needed.

If I register for more tickets than I want, and I happen to get them, then I plan to try to resell the extras immediately. Why would I wait until July? Especially If I get any tickets that are less than $390, I'm sure there will be people who would prefer them to the secondary sale tickets. "hoarding" 2 tickets for a couple of weeks doesn't decrease the number of burners who get tickets at all. It simply makes it slightly more inconvenient for 2 other people. However, reading over all the chaos and anger in this conversation, mostly from "supporters" of the lottery, makes it clear that the main sale is pretty inconvenient to begin with.

(Also, thanks for running the numbers - that was actually pretty informative.)

TL;DR: You can't say, "This system is perfect, as long as everybody uses it exactly the way I want them to." That's called a poorly designed system. If it were well-designed, you wouldn't have to qualify it.

I'd like to mention one thing I REALLY DO like about this lottery: the old system gave people an incentive to choose the cheapest tickets available, if they managed to get in early. The new system gives people an incentive to choose the most expensive tickets they can possibly afford, because it increases their odds. Thus, the odds of getting in are actually *higher* for people who really need low-cost tickets. The system I suggested doesn't do that... If only we could retain this feature without also encouraging groups to buy extra tickets, we'd have a nearly perfect system.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby brcprincess » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:35 pm

Hey Guys, don't shoot the messenger. I'm just passing on what people around me are doing. I don't agree with it and have tried to reason with them but hey, it's their deal. Just pointing out how some people are reacting to the new system.

I'm not registering under multiple names or credit cards, just me and my husband each for two tickets at the two lowest tiers, and if we wind up with four we will either sell them to friends or family, or at face value thru the BM system.

As for dead husbands, well I can't comment on that.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby theCryptofishist » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:39 pm

Have you considered that the system only appears to be a failure because your friends are making judgments without having tried it and are talking out their asses?

My friends have turned out to be wrong about all sorts of things. I've turned out be wrong about all sorts of things. It happens all the time.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby Eric » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:57 pm

joshuaj wrote:Trilobyte, Eric: There's no possible way to NOT game the system, because a lottery IS a game.


So stop thinking of it as a lottery, and think of it as a random draw for your tier. The only way people aren't going to get tickets is if (a) they only enter at one of lower tiers & don't get drawn, (b) more people enter than there are tickets available (which means hoarders actually make it more likely people won't get tickets, which is why I think it's worse than scalping)

Is there a chance more than 40k people will enter the main drawing? Yes, but absolutely NO ONE can say for sure because IT HASN'T HAPPENED YET. Everyone who says that there won't be enough tickets is guessing and spreading panic, plain & simple.


If I register for more tickets than I want, and I happen to get them, then I plan to try to resell the extras immediately. Why would I wait until July? Especially If I get any tickets that are less than $390, I'm sure there will be people who would prefer them to the secondary sale tickets. "hoarding" 2 tickets for a couple of weeks doesn't decrease the number of burners who get tickets at all.


Physical tickets do not get mailed out until June- if you "resell" before then you have to hope to find a buyer who will by them without you having anything physical to actually sell- basically they'll be buying on spec. You won't be "hoarding 2 tickets for a couple of weeks", you'll be holding them for almost 4-5 months, and you've screwed two other Burners who entered the drawing out of tickets. You can call it what you want to justify your actions, I still think it's about as self-centered as you can get.

And, yes, I would call someone who hoards an ass on the playa itself, just like I do here (just like we throw people out of our bar if they walk in with a "miracle ticket" sign). You're saying that you're more special than I because you can afford mass amounts of tickets when I can only afford one- well, guess what, I'm entering for my one, confident I'll get it. If I don't, and I hear hoarders talking about the extras they got, you can sure as fuck be certain I won't be blaming the LLC for the fact I didn't get a ticket, and I bet a lot of other folks won't be blaming them either. If it happens, hoarders will be the new "scalper", y'know, the group everyone blames for tickets running out....
Survival Guide * First Timers Guide * Ticket Info

Regarding Ticket Scalpers and Scammers

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Eric ShutterSlut
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby jkisha » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:22 pm

Eric wrote:
brcprincess wrote:The people who thought this system up should have taken into account the anxiety that this system is generating. Unfortunately, people are going to wind up buying too many tickets and that excess is going to push up the tier prices for everyone in the main sales. It's also going to create a glut in the secondary market.


Funny, I think the people who can afford to hoard tickets & are using every method they can think of to do it should think about how they're a larger problem than the drawing itself. Of course, that's just me, and I'm sure you have perfectly legitimate reasons for trying to game the system to your own advantage (and other Burners who get screwed because of it can just be damned). I mean, who cares about the rest of the community, right?

Burners who hoard make scalpers look like saints. At least scalpers are just greedy, hoarders would screw over their own neighbors to get a ticket. Disgusting.

YMMV.


It's not just you, I agree and concur.
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Re: Everyone buying too many tickets?

Postby jkisha » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:54 pm

I put about as much faith in the ten principles as I do the belief that BM is a no commerce zone. Most theme camps spend thousand of dollars pre-event to make the event no commerce. A rediculous distinction. Same with the art and everything that makes the event what it is.
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