If you've been experiencing frustration with the airport locking mechanism on the Gateway, it's probably my fault! The logic behind this feature was changed recently and it kinda caught us out. All of this deserved an explanation, and some further tweaking from us to make things better.
To protect against two artists working on the same airport, some time ago we introduced the capability to "lock" an airport on the Gateway (for the duration of its development cycle). Originally this feature was unlimited, but was later revised to restrict the number of simultaneous locks that could be taken.
The original locking mechanism was better than nothing, but not much. There was no intelligence behind it, that is to say, nothing to prevent an artist from holding an airport indefinitely (by releasing and renewing the lock) and no taking into account previous submission history for a given artist. As a result, we sometimes heard from frustrated artists that a certain high profile airport was being held for a silly long time by a newbie. Another source of frustration was not being able to lock enough airports to keep busy, a direct result of us trying to solve an earlier problem that artists were occasionally holding too many airports!
So, we brainstormed a new design that took into account each artist's skill set and submission history. Higher skill sets = more airports that can be locked, more and longer extension periods. Locking an airport and then abandoning it without making a submission = fewer airports that can be locked, fewer and shorter extension periods. I signed off on the new design and Daniela (as always) did a beautiful job coding it to the exact specifications.
Shortly after we went live there was a noticeable drop in Gateway submission levels. This sometimes happens, and I attributed it to the normal ebb and flow. However, it has since become apparent there is more to this. The new "locking" mechanism that was supposed to make things better and fairer was having the opposite effect. At first I could not understand this–surely artists don't need to lock more airports than they can simultaneously work on? But of course this is wrong! The problem is that, during the wait period between submission and moderation, the airport must remain locked, and hence an artist potentially needs to hold onto a bunch of airports that are "in limbo". No doubt everyone in the community already knew this, but I failed to take it into account when signing off on the new logic.
The solution is to not tally airports that are waiting "in limbo". This means as soon as you submit your airport, it is no longer tallied against your lock total (but is still locked in an absolute sense, and therefore cannot be claimed by another artist). One thing to be aware of – when an airport becomes approved or declined, it ceases to be in limbo, and WILL be tallied against an artist's lock count. It's important therefore to manually release locks that are in effect, but no longer needed.
If you're reading this, it's already done. Things should be a little better!