Frequently Asked Questions


What is all this about in the first place?

c3bottles is a bottle drop and collection management system for chaos events. Collecting all the empty bottles is a hard task at every event since they appear in large numbers at places and times you cannot always anticipate beforehand. Bottle collectors need to roam the area all the time and check it periodically for any left empty bottles.

To make this job a lot easier, bottle drop points were invented: Empty crates are placed at spots in the area where a high level of empty bottles is expected, e.g. exits of lecture halls, lounges or the main exit/entrance of a building. The visitors are advised to leave their bottles not at random but rather only at the designated bottle drop points. The bottle collectors then only need to visit these points to do their job.

However, there are some caveats: In a large building like the CCL nobody is able to memorize all the drop points and some of them may be forgotten and overflow without anyone noticing. In addition, if the planning in advance was not perfect (as always), some drop points in popular locations may overflow very quickly making the job of the collectors a lot harder. At an overflowing drop point, they can't simply exchange a full crate for an empty one but instead have to put all the bottles laying on and around the more than full crate into their fresh one. In the worst case they then have lots of full but no empty crates left in locations with a high bottle drop rate. If that ever happens, the bottlecalypse is inevitable.

c3bottles aims to solve this problem using modern web technology combined with crowdsourcing: A database tracks the state of all the drop points and visitors noticing full or overflowing drop points can report that fact. The bottle collectors will be notified and can react promptly. They track their tour and the system can notify them of drop points not visited in a long time or needing immediate action. Statistical analysis allows for continuous optimization of drop point placement by scaling drop points according to the demand or abandoning drop points in remote locations which are not used much anyway.


How does this work?

During placement of bottle drop points, every drop point is registered in the database with its number and position. It gets a label telling the visitors to report full drop points using a URL specific for every drop point. On the website, the visitor can report the drop point as needing attention by simply clicking a button. Optionally, the visitor may inform the bottle collectors about the filling level of the drop point.

The other end of the web interface shows a list of drop points to visit ordered by priority: Drop points reported a lot lately get a high priority which is even higher if the respective drop point experiences a lot or traffic and is reported multiple times. Drop points not visited for a long time get a high priority too, so the collectors can check their current state.

A map shows the location of all the drop points so new members of the bottle collector team can find them easily and visitors can always find the nearest drop point to their current location.

The bottle collectors track their actions when visiting drop points by clicking a button whenever they empty a drop point. In addition to that, bottle collection supervisors can add and remove drop points or change the location of existing drop points if needed.


I'm a visitor and want to help. What should I do?

Great! Helping is easy: If you spot a bottle drop point that seems to need attention, just visit the URL printed on the sign posted there. You are presented with a website containing a few buttons. Just click on the one you think fits most. Congratulations! :)

Please do not abuse the system like reporting the same drop point multiple times since it can only work as good as its input is. If you accidentally pressed the wrong button and e.g. reported an overflowing drop point as empty, don't hesitate to report it again with the correct state. The system will react to this accordingly.

Any report of a drop point is helpful, even if it is not overflowing. Reports of empty or only sparsely used drop points help the bottle collectors prioritize their visits, plan their tours optimally and rearrange crates or moving drop points as they see fit. The optimization works better the more detailed the reporting is. Last but not least, the statistics gets more impressive with larger numbers.


I need some manual labor and bottle collection sounds like a thing for me. What should I do?

The bottle collectors are volunteers and help is always appreciated. More hands collect and sort more bottles more quickly. If this is a congress and you already are an angel, just search and register for bottle collection shifts in the angel system. If this is a congress and you are not yet an angel, ask for heaven, go there and tell the friendly people there want to help.

If this is any other event in the chaos family, it should work similarly to congress but the names heaven and angels might differ. Just ask some people who look like they could know what's up. In doubt, just report your nearest drop point and wait for the collector team to show up. They should know what they're doing.


What do the report states mean? What state should I choose when reporting?

Every drop point at all times has a state that describes its filling level. When drop points are being reported, the reporters should select a state roughly corresponding to the situation they see. The state column in the drop point list as well as the markers in the map indicate the current (last reported) state of the drop point in question:

Unknown The drop point has been reported, however, the reporter was not sure which state to choose and reported the default state instead.
New The drop point has been just created and has not been reported yet.
Empty The drop point has been emptied recently and hasn't been reported since or has been reported as empty.
Partially filled The drop point starts to fill up, but no action is necessary yet.
Reasonably full The drop point is reasonable filled and should be visited soon.
Completely full The drop point is more or less full and should be visited as soon as possible to prevent overflowing.
Overflowing The drop point is overflowing. Cleaning up the mess can be troublesome, so the team should try to prevent drop points from reaching this state.
Missing The drop point is missing, online the sign is there. This is a grave situation, immediate action is necessary.

What is the priority and how is it calculated?

Each drop point gets assigned a visit priority and the idea is that the bottle collectors visit the drop points in order of their priority.

The priority is calculated by taking the time since the last visit as a base value relative to a base visit interval that determines how often a typical drop point should be visited. Each report of a drop point adds to the priority, where the severity of the report (the most severe is obviously "overflowing"). The latest report counts the most and earlier reports count less and less. The crate count of the drop point gives an additional bonus so that larger drop points get a slight increase in priority since a higher throughput is expected in such locations.


I'm good at coding and think this site could need some help. What should I do?

I started this project because I finally wanted to get my head around modern web development techniques. It is written in Python using the Flask web framework. The database is accessed using SQLAlchemy and the backend of choice is PostgreSQL. If you are (or want to become) familiar with all that stuff and feel comfortable with the choices made, you are invited to contribute.

The link in the footer of this page will lead you to the GitHub repository where development takes place.


I'm the organizer of some event in the near or far future and like the idea. Can I use your software?

Absolutely. In the end, that's what I created it for. Feel free to download the source code from GitHub and set up your own copy. If you still have questions, find my contact information here.


I'm a l33t h4xx0r and think this is fun.

Good for you. Here's your fish: <°)))><