So coming up on Pennsic, we have the perennial dance of allocating land for people to camp on. It's a tough problem, and the set of choices we've made about it has both good and bad points to it.
For those not in the know, what happens is we all divide into groups, report how many people are in our group (by pre-registering), and pick a block we'd like to camp in, along with a couple of alternatives. The powers that be then assign groups to blocks based on space and preference, giving weight to history, so that if you've been in a block before, you have priority over new groups who'd like to come in. The groups then negotiate where in the block they'd like to camp, draw up a map, and get it approved - and if they can't agree, the land staff arbitrates their dispute. I gather that if that latter process goes on for a significant time, the arbitration becomes more and more heavy-handed, but as I've never been part of that process, I can't really speak to it.
Practically speaking, the result of all this is that, +/- some space along your borders, groups pretty much camp where they did last year, or else improve if a vacancy opens by another group disbanding.
There are several good points to this: folks know where you are, so they can find you year after year; you get used to the place you are camping in, and so begin optimizing behavior to take advantage of the good features and minimizing the poor features of your usual campsite; the system allows for the people having different preferences - we like our campsite even with it's downsides, because it's pluses are very important to us; and for many of the blocks, "negotiations" are little more than a brief conversation along the lines of "same as last year?"
But there is what I think of as a very large negative to this system, which we downplay more than I think we should - the haves stay the haves, and the have nots stay the have nots.
By way of example, our camp has been in its spot for 25 years, give or take. It has a flat ridge that we put about a third of our tents on, an uncampable hillside with flat spots interspersed that we put the rest of our group in as we can; it is back off the road so the rest of Pennsic mostly disappears when you come into it; there's shade; there's protection from the elements. Basically, if you can stand the slope it's a very nice camp.
Behind us. for many years, was House Maxwell. All their land was slopey (though not as slopey as ours), there was no shade whatsoever, and a well-travelled road abutted two sides of their camp, so that noise was always a clear and present companion. There are certainly things they liked about their camp, but on every objective level, our space is better than their space.
Did we ever swap off so they got the good space, and we were out in the world? No, we did not. It never even came up as a possibility. I often wonder if it should have.
We have a new group coming into our block this year. They're small. I hope we treat with them both well and fairly. I'm sure we'll do our best, but for me, at least, I think that means at least a tacit acknowledgement that "our" land is a statement about the past, and not automatically one about the future.