This discussion is on the "Letterboxing.org Chatter" board, and is about how things are done there, not here. Let me give some definitions of terms I'll use, so this isn't confusing:
LbNA is letterboxing.org, a website maintained for free by a small group of volunteers, currently headed up by Choi. It is a simple, robust database of traditional letterbox clues with very little else to muddy up the water. Its primary focus has always been on the CLUES.
AQ is AtlasQuest, a for-profit website owned by Green Tortuga as a community for enthusiasts of letterboxes and several similar activities whose only common thread is the STAMP, and that is the focus of this site.
The LISTING is the online information about a letterbox, the clue, location, etc.
The LETTERBOX is the actual physical container, stamp, logbook, etc.
The PLANTER is the original creator of those two things. On LbNA this is the only name initially attached to a listing, regardless of any collaborators involved, and in recent years it was changed to OWNER. On AQ you can list planters, carvers and others, but there can be only one OWNER, who is the person ultimately responsible for the listing.
To MAINTAIN a letterbox is to keep it viable, insuring that a stamp and logbook are where the clues say they are. EVERY SINGLE letterboxer can (and should) maintain every box they encounter.
To MAINTAIN a listing is to remain a currently active user of the website it is listed on and update all relevant information, whether that is updating the clues of an existing box, or archiving (LbNA) or retiring (AQ) a missing box that will not be replaced.
ADOPTING a letterbox means to take ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of the physical box and contents. This is difficult to fully do if you don't also adopt the listing.
ADOPTING a listing means you have become the owner of the online information. You may maintain, update or archive/retire as you see fit. This is where we get into hot water.
Due to an incident many years ago when GT allowed abandoned listings to be adopted and an owner returned to using the site after a long absence and was angry that their boxes were no longer under their control, he has maintained a strict policy. The ONLY person allowed to transfer ownership of a listing is the original owner with direct permission. If that person is unresponsive to all communication, NOBODY else may have control of the listing. The longer it is abandoned, and the more "attempts" it receives, will determine how AQ will automatically alter the status to retired.
This is a strict policy! However, it only involves the LISTING on AQ, which GT has FULL authority over, as it should be. It does not involve the physical box, which the community as a whole controls. It does not involve the listing on LbNA.
On LbNA some years ago, in an effort to clean up stagnant areas of their database, many listings were manually archived, and many others were put up for adoption. The planter's name was replaced with "Adoptable" which you could click and become the new owner of the listing. They later added a second field that showed the original PLANTER and the adopting OWNER. This new owner has full authority over maintaining the listing in the eyes of LbNA. Again, this does not involve the physical box.
The actual letterboxes? Folks, understand this fact: the moment it is released into the wild, you are fully dependent on the kindness of strangers. There are muggles, park rangers, landscapers, geocachers and creepy letterboxers who make up their own "rules". We have guidelines. We have traditions. We have best practices. We have rules of thumbs. What we DON'T have is control or authority.
If you want to find a box whose owner is no longer around and simply check on it once in a while, replace logs and containers if needed, and leave a comment when a landmark in the clue changes, go ahead. I do this for dozens of boxes.
If you want to find a box by a planter who moved to another state, then get their permission to adopt all their AQ listings, go ahead. I did, and some of those boxes still get finds seven years later because I've replaced containers and logs as needed.
If you want to find a box with a missing stamp, photocopy the image on the logbook cover and carve a new stamp of that image, go ahead. I did, and the planter sent a very nice thank you, because they no longer letterboxed, but still got forwarded emails.
If you want to find a long-forgotten box planted by a 10-year-old who never logged in again, replace the logbook and adopt the LbNA listing, go ahead. I did and it got a dozen more finds over the next three years before disappearing.
If you want to NOT find a mystery box because construction in the park destroyed it years ago, but adopt the LbNA listing and create a whole new box, go ahead. I did, using their mystery and simply modifying the final directions to fit the newly designed park. The long-lost owner, suddenly getting forwarded emails of finds after five years, went and hunted MY version of THEIR box and sent an excited find report thanking me for doing it, and telling me they liked my stamp image (since I had no idea what their original had been).
If you want to find a box that was listed on a third party site that has since gone defunct, dig up the clues on archive.org, find the crushed container, damp logbook and intact stamp, replace the container, add a new logbook, email the owners who quit boxing years ago and ask if you can list their long-lost clues on AQ, get their permission (save the email in case Ryan asks) and list a dozen of their forgotten boxes, go ahead. I did, and now they are getting multiple finds all over the state after not being found in as long as EIGHT YEARS, and the whole community is happier.
If you want to find a box that has been crushed and turned to soggy mush, throw it into a trash can and never tell anyone, go ahead. I've done it and feel no remorse or guilt whatsoever.