Main Sale catastrophe

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Main Sale!

Today is always exciting. Whether we get lots of tickets or just a few, it's scores of people that care about the camp working together for a common purpose.

Frankly I would love it if Burning Man raised their prices and we didn't have to stress about this at all (yes, I'm one of those), but it does have its silver lining.

Expecting to spend about $10,000 today. For the past three years we've had a 1 in 4 success rate with the Main Sale. We've got about 40 people (that I know of) registered to buy tickets. Ten of those should get through. That will yield 20 tickets or so.

Remember, I'm in Minneapolis, so the Main Sale starts at 2pm here.


Dann did not register. Super disappointed.


Graham thinks he is going to register today AND he forgot to bring his laptop.


Tony also intends to register today.

How do I get through to these people? In case you've never bought Burning Man tickets, there are several rounds of sales, none of which allows you to buy tickets if you haven't registered ahead of time.

I sent out several reminder emails and posted in the Facebook group. Tony and Graham both went to Burning Man last year. Tony was at the freaking meeting where we passed around a laptop so people could register on the spot!


Olivia didn't register.

She is especially stunned by this. Seems like she really tried. Looks like she successfully created a profile rather than registering.


Leaf didn't register, but thought he had.

Our numbers are dropping rapidly. Clearly I did something wrong. This is the worst participation rate ever. My messaging is way off somehow.


8 of us are scattered throughout the Hammer And Cyclery Command Center on laptops, desktops, and phones. All sharing the same wi fi. C'mon, Comcast, for once, don't let us down.

We're all logged in and refreshing our profile dashboard like mad. The button to enter the Main Sale leads to a page that says we're too early.

Last year there was a virtual "waiting room" by this point. Not so far this year. They've changed something. Hope they tested it thoroughly.


Elizabeth just called. She still can't log in. First technical difficulties of the day.

Here we go!


Nothing yet. Still getting the "You're early" notification.


Some people are getting in. Some are still refreshing like crazy. Those of us that are "in" are seeing this message:

What happened to the little Walking Man stick figure?

Seems messy. Seems like the people that are going to get tickets are the ones that happened to hit refresh at the exact moment Burning Man's servers hit 2pm (which did not match the moment my laptop hit 2pm).

A handful of people refreshed only to get this error:

I guess that's one way to hold a lottery, but it seems like something that super tech savvy people can hack and get an advantage over the rest of us.

Lots of confusion from people here. I miss the waiting room.


Everyone is "in" now. Or at least everyone is seeing the same new screen with spinning arrows, a warning not to refresh their page, and some Burning Man propaganda.

Now we play the waiting game. Not sure how to keep score though.


There are 35 of us or so now toggling back and forth between the spinning arrows and the Bike Builders, Unite! group on Facebook.

Some people still haven't gotten to the spinning arrows page.

I wonder why Burning Man did away with the virtual waiting room. That seemed especially fair. This is needlessly frustrating. I see some benefit in change to keep the scalpers on their toes, but there is a lot to be said for transparency and consistency as well.

Losing is easier to take if you at least understand the rules.


Brandie got tickets!

She got tickets last year too! Lucky lady. Remember to keep her around (she also works her butt off).


Okay, several people who were in spinning arrow pergatory got kicked out with an error message saying they already got tickets or tried to jump ahead in line. Amelia is now apparently banned from buying tickets this year.


Amelia's arrows are spinning again.

It took Shonda ten minutes and many random combinations of refreshing, turning things off and on, clearing histories, and so on to come up with this formula:
Clear your cookies
Clear your cached files
Do a hard refresh by holding down the shift key and pressing F5
Log out and back in


Alyssa got tickets!

This is the longest I can ever remember tickets being available in the Main Sale lottery and we're only up to 4. So far we are enjoying a 5% success rate.

Either a half million people are trying to buy tickets or Burning Man is experiencing some real technical difficulties.


It's technical difficulties...obviously. Alyssa says she had to reload each page several times throughout the purchase process.

I can't believe that worked without kicking her out of the system. Historically a refresh has meant going back to the end of the line (and not getting tickets).


This is officially the longest it's ever taken to get tickets except for going to Will Call that one time.

Tony put the Jeopardy theme on repeat.




This is a disaster.

Allegra is reporting posts on Reddit that show a sold out screen. We're still sitting tight with our spinning arrows, but we're going on two hours of being logged in and that's a really long time for 23,000 Burning Man tickets to last.


Burning Man is reporting technical difficulties. No shit.

At this point that's good news. It doesn't seem like they would bother letting ticket buyers (or ticket hopefuls) know that there are problems if there were no tickets left. They'd just say sold out.

So there are still tickets left?


People are starting to get to the purchase page and find they need a verification code.

No one has a verification code.


It's the last seven digits of your Main Sale URL.

Apparently this is an error left over from the DGS. Of course, I don't remember the verification code step during the DGS.


Nope. We are still struggling with the verification code.

That is all the Jeopardy theme I can take.


Libby got tickets!

We're up to 6. Ugh. This is messed up.


Amelia just got a fake out message letting her know her credentials were being checked before entering the sale. Then back to the spinning arrows.


Brandon, who has been struck on the verification code page for twenty minutes, just emailed Burning Man.

Well...nothing else seems to be working, so what the hell. I wonder if they're getting any other emails right now.


Reddit is blowing up. Lots of anger. Lots of snark. Lots of funny. Reddit.

Sold out. Again.

Amanda got to the purchase page. Now there are only vehicle passes left. Ironically it seems like you can't buy vehicle passes without buying tickets, so it's really just a tease.


Brandon finally logged out and in and refreshed enough times to get past the code just in time to get to the same place that Amanda just arrived at. He is now allowed to buy as many as 0 Burning Man tickets.


Valerie left her arrows spinning and went to get tacos.


Some people seem to be having better luck with phones! (According to the internets.)


Hey, BMOrg...


UPDATE: This is ridiculous.


Alyssa still hasn't gotten a confirmation email. Brandie's came right away. More technial difficulties. Maybe we're back down to 4 tickets purchased so far.


Shonda is suggesting incognito mode.


Amelia is in! Needs a verification code.

Incognito mode! Incognito mode!


Error. Refreshing.


Back in. Now it wants a presale code. Refresh.


Still refreshing.


Sold out.

I'd say this photo pretty well sums up the 2019 Main Sale experience:


Brandon is back to trying random things to get passed the code walls.


Amelia got 2 tickets!

She absolutely refused to accept sold out. Refresh, people, refresh!


Claire got tickets!

That's ten (assuming Alyssa's ticket are legit).


Mark is out. People are really frustrated. :(

We're three hours into this. Ugh.


The latest refresh effort is sending everyone back to the "you're early" message that we all got before the sale started.

Early for 2020 tickets?


It's over.


The profiles dashboard is now showing a message that the Main Sale is over.

It still isn't saying sold out, but no one can get back into the spinning arrows of death page anymore. My best guess is that Burning Man has ended the Main Sale prior to all of the tickets even being sold because it was such a cluster fuck.

We had 9 people at the shop trying to get tickets (Joanna came late). Only Amelia was successful.

Our camp had 40 people registered. Only 5 of these got tickets...after 3.5 hours.

Our success rate was cut in half this year. So were there really 200,000 people trying to buy 23,000 tickets or did the system break...repeatedly?

Something went wrong. Also there is not enough transparency in this process.

I am exhausted. The 2019 Main Sale ticket lottey was nothing if not exciting. It was also boring. Three and a half hours standing at my laptop. I can't believe my battery lasted.

This year was disappointing, frustrating, confusing, surprising, and so on. I think epic would be a fair term as well, though not in a good way. Thanks for keeping us on our toes, Burning Man.

More than anything else though, THANK YOU to everyone that stuck with this marathon for THREE AND A HALF HOURS! Especially our volunteers that aren't even going to BM 2019.

Best. Camp. Ever.


David brought a tray of Subway for Build A Burner night! I love these people.


Lots of people tonight! Lots of bikes getting built. Lots of new skills! Some new faces. Some I haven't seen in a while (Amanda). I look forward to Wednesdays all week.


Pawel just showed up with a padded envelope containing a 2006 DVD documentary about Burning Man 2001 and 2002. He's being very criptic about where it came from though.


The envelope also contains about two dozen stickers from Burning Man over the years. Apparently he has some "contact" that is shipping him Burning Man swag. He is focused on getting stuff from 2009, Amelia and my first year (though we didn't know the other was there).

I am officially starting an Instragram account for graphic arts (stickers, medallions, posters, etc.) at Burning Man.



Don't go look now! It's not ready yet!



Mark's arrows are still spinning! Makes me think most of us on that page were just seeing smoke and mirrors.


People are pissed. Lots of discussion threads on FB. Already have several forlorn DMs from comrades that didn't get tickets.

I don't think Burning Mas was deliberately trying to mess with us. What they need to do is hard. Most of the time they get it right. This year they didn't. I guess, next year was way better anyway.

And at the end of the day, our catastrophe is that we have 64 tickets to Burning Man. We're still doing better than last year. We still have time to problem solve. We're still going to Burning Man.


The Main Sale is done. 2018 taxes are done. 2017 taxes are redone. Time for the Placement Application and SRP permit.


Oops. Just kidding. Nevada wants some tax money. Last year BLM required us to get a Lovelock business license. Lovelock wouldn't give us a business license without a NV state tax ID. So now we are required to file a zero dollars Use Tax form with Nevada every month. Only, because it's zero dollars, I always forget and they periodically send me a delinquency notice (for zero dollars). It's like a game of tag where I'm always it and I'm not allowed to stop playing.

NEXT: Placement application bureaucracy

Hammer And Cyclery and Re-Cycle, Inc share no official affiliations with Burning Man or Black Rock City, LLC.


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