Swampum: Swampumâ„¢ Help Page

Swampum™ is a free website community that helps users regain control of all the stuff in their lives.

  • Have a basement full of books or magazines you'll never read again? Give them away to people you know, neighbors or (if you want) complete strangers. You decide who has access to your posted items.
  • Have a garage full of tools you use once or twice a year? Post them to your inventory as lend items. You can share them with just your friends, or your church, or whomever--you decide!
  • Need to borrow a few outdoor chairs for a weekend party? Post a borrow request, or see if someone in your area has already posted them as available to borrow.
  • Love to read, but hate paying high prices for books you'll read once? Search for free and discounted books here!

Many of the tools and features available on our site are similar to what you're used to on other web sites: registering for an account, engaging in transactions, leaving feedback and forming or joining groups, among others.

Three areas of the site are somewhat novel, however, so we'd like to give them a little extra attention to help you navigate the site: the point system, the item-posting and inventory process and the customizable availability schedule.

The Swampum™ Point System

Many items available on Swampum™ are completely free. Others require some payment, but there's still no need for cash. We use a simple point system to allow users to exchange items of value.

The point system is designed to give users the flexibility to post items other than just things they are willing to give away for free. Sometimes you just want to give something to a friend or family member for free--those items can be listed for zero points. Other times you may have an item for which you would like to receive some value--those items can be posted for whatever number of points you think the item is worth.

So how do you choose a point value for your item? Think of points as a substitute for U.S. pennies-- so an item you think is worth $5 could be posted to your inventory at 500 points. To make it easy, remember "A point is a penny; a penny is a point."

And yes, you always have the flexibility during a transaction to reduce the point value of an item if you want to give someone close to you a better deal.

How do you earn points? When you register for an account, you'll receive 1000 bonus points (that's equivalent to $10!) just for signing up and adding your first item. As you post items you're willing to give away or lend to your inventory, you'll receive 10 bonus points each (up to 150 items, for a total of 1500 points). You can also earn bonus points by inviting people to join the site--you'll receive 500 bonus points after each user has completed a first transaction (up to 5 users, for a total of 2500 points). In total you can earn up to 5000 bonus points for signing up and using the site.

You'll also earn and spend points as you transact with other users. Giving or lending items (other than free items) will add points to your account. Receiving and borrowing items will reduce your point balances.

Finally, if you're willing to ship items to other users, you can accept points from the other user to compensate you for the cost of shipping the item.

  • Give items are things that you are willing to give to (or do for, in the case of a service like driving someone to the airport) another user
  • Receive items are things that you want to get from another user
  • Lend items are things you are willing to share with another user for a limited time
  • Borrow items are things you would like another user to share with you for a limited time
Your inventory is the collection of all the items (give, receive, lend or borrow) that you have posted to your account.

One thing to remember is that the item type is determined from the perspective of the person who posts the item. Just as you would post as a "Give" item something you want to give to a friend, so other users will post as "Give items" things they want to pass along. So when you are searching for something you want (something you would like to receive from another user), remember to look for their "Give" items. In the same way, if you would like to borrow something, look for other users' "Lend" items.

Availability Schedule

The Swampum™ Availability Schedule (patent pending) is the feature that gives you control over your inventory and when your posted items become visible to your various relationships.

On other sites, when you post an item that you're willing to give or sell to other users, that item is visible immediately to every other user on the site. While this makes sense when you're selling something of value and would like as large a potential buying audience as possible, it's overkill when you just want to give something to someone close to you.

Most of us, when we are deciding what to do with an unwanted item, go through a mental list of people or organizations close to us as we try to find the right recipient. It is human nature to prioritize these relationships--to give more attention to those closer to us--and the availability schedule allows users to do just that.

Your availability schedule is the collection of all relationships (both group memberships and individual friendships with other users) that you create on the site. Your first relationships are a ZIP code group membership created when you register your account and a "public pool" group membership that includes all Swampum™ users. And, whenever you create or join a group or tag another user as a friend, each of those relationships is added to the bottom of your availability schedule. You can then prioritize these relationships by assigning them to ranks (multiple relationships can be in the same rank) and specifying how many days each rank has exclusive access to your items before the next rank.

Your availability schedule can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like. The default setting is for your schedule to include your ZIP code group and the public pool group and for both groups to see your items at the same time. You decide if and when you want to add more relationships to your schedule and how you want to prioritize them.

For now there is one availability schedule for each user. In the future we will be adding the ability to have multiple customized schedules, so each user can have a different schedule for different items types (e.g., a "tool lending" schedule that limits availability to just friends in your neighborhood).