The STEP Program: Thoughts, Opinions, Information and What’s Next

On Friday, March 2nd 2012, Burners looking to get tickets to the Fertility 2.0 Burn took to the internet as they anxiously awaited the opening of the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP). The STEP site went live and was swarmed by the waiting masses. In less than a half-hour, the STEP site was closed and 2,000 people were in the queue for tickets. If you were one of those trying to get tickets through STEP during this time, one of three things happened:

  • You were accepted into STEP and received a confirmation email stating you were added to the queue.
  • You were bumped from the STEP site due to the high volume of Burners trying to access the program.
  • You received notification that the STEP system had been closed due to the 2,000 person limit being reached.

Both during and after the initial  STEP rush, Burners checked into the Burning Man Facebook page. FB comments ranged from the happiness of getting into the program, to anger that the STEP site was crashing.

In the days following March 2nd, Burners over on Reddit’s r/BurningMan pieced together information on what happened during the STEP sign up. They were able to find out that the STEP site had two major crashes in the half-hour that it was open. You can read more of the specifics of their findings at  the Burning Man subreddit.


Waiting for Tickets
While looking around for opinions on the STEP system, here were a few things that Burners had to say;

Burners who managed to get into the STEP queue and are still waiting for tickets:

What are your thoughts on the STEP program?
“I think it is fair. I like that they put a 2,000 person limit on the list because if everyone could have signed up, the list would be infinite and I feel there would be no hope for anyone.” – Nick K

Do you feel that the BMOrg is communicating with Burners in the STEP program well?
“The communication (from the BMOrg) is very poor. There are no updates from them on how many tickets have been sold through STEP.” – John O

“I am not getting any information from BMOrg and don’t expect to.” – Lucky Charm

“The BMOrg was very communicative and responsive before STEP registration had opened. Since then, they have been less communicative. Overall, they have provided all of the information that I was looking for and have been pretty transparent about the whole process.” –Ben

Are you confident you will still receive a ticket through the program?
“I’m about 30% confident that I will receive a ticket.” – John O

“I check my email everyday hoping that I will get an email saying that I will get a ticket.” – Lucky Charm

“No… (I) have already accepted the possibility of not going to the Burn this year and have started making alternative plans in case I can’t go.” – Ben

Burners who have received a ticket through STEP:
What are your thoughts on the STEP program?
“I did like the STEP program. It has worked so far for me… I think it was as fair as it could be. I believe the scarcity of tickets is due to the popularity explosion of Burning Man through social media… My confirmation email was at 12:08:09. … It was hard to stay positive at times but eh… watcha gonna do?” –L420

“It is a good idea but the 2,000 person limit and the implementation of the program was poorly done.” –Mayor Wheener

What other resources are you using to try and score a ticket to the Burn?
“I have a container stored out there so I am hoping they will make people eligible to receive tickets and as I am paying $800 (for the container) annually, I hope they can accommodate us. I will also utilize friends and associates who may not go and request they give me their tickets.  Running a camp you don’t just try to get tickets for yourself, you also try to get tickets for campmates.” –Mayor Wheener

Selling a Ticket Through STEP
Two days before the STEP site opened to Burners wanting tickets, the STEP program opened to people wanting to resell their tickets into the program. I managed to talk with one person (Grant aka Special Bunny) who sold his ticket through the STEP system.

What was your experience with the STEP program like?
“My experience with STEP was remarkably simple… I am happy that it (the ticket) is going to someone who has had their faith in BMOrg put to the test.”

 Why did you sell your ticket through STEP?
“It seemed like the most objectively fair thing to do… … I am assured that it’s going to someone who REALLY wants to be there and will, in fact, go.
I felt like it was my social responsibility to sell through STEP. We, as denizens of BRC, have to think about what’s best for our community. I feel that working within the system that is provided is the only way to accurately gauge what’s working and get information on how to fix what’s not working.”

What’s Next
Opinions are varied on whether or not the first 2,000 Burners in the STEP queue will get tickets. If they do, it is currently unknown how or when STEP will reopen to add new Burners to the queue. You can find more information on STEP at

Update: As of the publishing of this article, Nick K. and Ben have both received tickets through the STEP system.

2 Responses to “The STEP Program: Thoughts, Opinions, Information and What’s Next”
  1. ApolloPan

    As a STEP waiting man myself, I’m sure I’m the voice for many when I ask “why can’t we know where we are in line?” Knowing how far along the STEP line one is would take minimal effort from the ORG, and help many of us creating our own unfunded art projects & art cars choose whether to spend our savings on project upgrades this year or not. Personally, I’m going full steam on all my art car related expenses despite budgetary constraints, but other shoestring artists may have less available resources to dedicate if they have no hope of getting STEP tickets. Would also give folks the option of retracting their STEP bids as well, thereby possibly shortening the wait for die-hard artists waiting in the STEP.


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