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paul wheaton
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Posts: 22368
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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There are dozens of stories.  I don't want to go into all of them right now.  But they all boil down to the same thing:  people want to come here and check out all-the-things.  Maybe visit with me.  Maybe others.  Maybe, maybe, maybe ....   all-the-things ....

We've had so many people come through.  And people are so .... human.    And they seem really pissed at the $100 gapper fee.  So they then proceed to tell us how that is terribly unreasonable. 

I suppose there might be a big construction site and somebody wanders up and wants a tour.  "what are you building?  why are you doing it that way?"  They want the tour when they arrive - and they want the tour from somebody knowledgeable. 

"Could I speak to President Obama please?  Oh.  Well, tell him I'll be in town on tuesday morning.  Maybe he can show me around the white house a bit, and I will like to tell him a few things about politics."

When people pay the gapper fee, they have been super respectful.  For a while we had a couple of loopholes, and that generally didn't go well - there were excepetions.  But for the most part, people would want to exchange about 20 emails before coming, and then they would say they would arrive at 9am on tuesday.   So we make arrangements for somebody to meet them.  And around 10am on tuesday they would text to say that stuff happened and it would be 9am the next day.  And then they would show up at 3pm the next day - and be in a big fucking rush, so where the fuck are the people to meet them? 

Earlier this year ... around may or june ...  a guy called.  He wants the tour.  For free.  On his schedule.  He lives a few hours away, so he'll come by sometime in the next few days. 

For a long time, Evan was our tour guy.  So he would stop work to come down to basecamp ... usually re-arranging his day to fit smaller projects into the day.  Then he would arrive and sit around and wait. 

Oh, and if somebody didn't pay the gapper fee for some reason .... we still have to pay evan. 

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Last november, I had a few different people that wanted a few decks of cards when we were offering the sweet deal.  They wanted me to deliver them to their house.  And then they agreed to meet me in missoula.  All this so they could save a few bucks in shipping?

I used to do something where I would give a presentation in missoula, or would announce that I would be somewhere in missoula for .... stuff.  And three people would show up. 

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For a while we had a loophole for people that have listened to 90% of the podcasts.   And then we found out that about half the people who exercised that loophole didn't even know what a podcast was: "how do I watch it?"

For a while we had a loophole for people that were looking to buy land adjacent to our land.  About half of them didn't even have the money to buy land.  But they still wanted to see the land and get the full tour.

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I like to think that in a few years we will be in much better shape to give tours, or facilitate people who drop by any time, etc.  But right now we are under construction. 

The $100 thing works out.  If people pay it and then they cannot get here for some reason, then I guess I made an easy $100.   The people that are passionate enough to part with that much money are very respectful of the time taken to show them around and facilitate what they would like.   We can pay somebody to give the tour.   We can pay somebody to deal with the emails/texts/phone calls before and after.   

Rather than having a ten page menu of all the different things a person might do during their visit here, the $100 covers nearly all of it.   Maybe just a tour.  Maybe just a quick tour.  Maybe an overnight (tent? rv? back of a pickup?).  Maybe help the ants.  Maybe be part of the bootcamp for a few hours or a few days ...   Maybe visit with me for a few minutes.  

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People will insist that they are not like the others.  And yet, that is nearly the universal sign that they are either just like the others or that they will be true to their word and find a whole new way to disrespect the time of the people here.

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I remember doing the wwoofer program 12 years ago.  And several other programs like that.  And since then I have visited with dozens (hundreds?) of other folks that hosted that sort of thing, so the numbers were verified.   For every person that shows up, there were six that promised to show up using phrases like "I always keep my word" and "I promise", etc. 

The rate that people lie about their intentions and then possibly refer to that as "gaming the system" is well over 80%.  And then for those that do show up, 80% don't show up on the time and date that they say they will.  So, as with many things, 95% of the people fall well within the definition of "human" but outside the definition of "noble" or "dependable". 

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So, here are the loopholes at this time:

521:  big media.  Destiny has ways of verifying this. 

522:  authors and videographers and the like with a collection of impressive works. 

523:  Jocelyn invites people over for a potluck or feast night or movie night.

524:  anybody that has ever been here before does not need to pay the gapper fee.

525:  workshop - sometimes the price tag is less than the $100 gapper fee.

526:  tour days - the gapper fee is reduced from "$100 for the first person and $20 for each person after that" to "$40 for the first person and $20 for each person after that". 

527:  guest of a resident.

528:  a resident has undercut our $100 gapper fee

529:  classes - we've arranged for some classes to be taught here.  Or for other classes to come by en masse at no charge.

530:  the sepper program

531:  becoming a resident like with the ant village program or deep roots

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Much like the state of the jungle stuff that I have posted about in the past, I get a lot of people that write and their position is "why can't I come out for free?  explain it to me in detail."   And I suppose this thread is an attempt to do just that. 

Because we have a rich history ...   and because we are in a state of "under construction" we currently lean on the gapper fee system and we will probably come up with something better later.

More about the gapper program

Our general info about visiting here.

An overview of everything here

 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4222
Location: Missoula, MT
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paul wheaton wrote:
The $100 thing works out.  If people pay it and then they cannot get here for some reason, then I guess I made an easy $100.   The people that are passionate enough to part with that much money are very respectful of the time taken to show them around and facilitate what they would like.   We can pay somebody to give the tour.   We can pay somebody to deal with the emails/texts/phone calls before and after.   


I want to agree that those who pay the $100 gapper fee are generally more responsible and professional to deal with. It helps a LOT.

*And* I want to add in simple terms: we lose money at the $100 fee.

Besides the expenses of paying for help around here, if Paul or I are taking time out to help with visitor or gapper details that means we are *not* doing what we could be doing to earn (more than) a professional wage.

 
Julia Winter
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Posts: 2095
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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People who have never been to wheaton labs may not know that there are two properties.  (I'm sure this is posted elsewhere, but it's pertinent to this discussion.)

If you are arriving by car, you drive in to Base Camp, which has room for parking, the Fisher Price house (a double wide manufactured home that came with the property and has been upgraded with an awesome pebble bench rocket mass heater) and a few outbuildings, including many of the guest beds.  In order to see the wofatis, the tipi heated by a RMH, the future lemon tree spot, the ant village, etc. etc. you have to get up to the laboratory.

The lab is not far away, but it's too far to walk.  Biking is do-able, but the ride up the mountain is daunting.  When I visited I brought my bike and then I never took it off my car.      There are multiple cool electric vehicles used to get back and forth, but this takes time.  This is why you can't just "drop by" and "see a few things."  It's kind of a production to get the guest(s) to the stuff, and then show them around.
 
John Weiland
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Location: RRV of da Nort
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In many ways, it sounds as though you are operating an "educational-institution-in-progress" that goes beyond the traditional concept of educational institution.  And yet, alternative school or traditional university, I know of no institution that would generally accommodate 'drop-by' visits, unless they were some potential financial donor with known deep pockets.  Such institutions may, or often will, have routinely scheduled tour and visitation days for the public, and if you miss the deadline for applying or attending, then come back when the next tour is being given.  My own observations for those wanting to visit our property or even get together for garnering information on career or homestead related topics dovetail with those detailed above by Paul.  Unfortunate, but accurate.
 
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