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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: OUSA Clubnet

in: Orienteering; General

Sep 26, 2016 2:58 PM # 
Since being elected to the Board of OUSA, I have been thinking of the best ways that Board members and other OUSA officials can efficiently communicate with OUSA membership.

We have ONA, which is an excellent means of doing just that, but it's one-way communication, and it is, by definition, periodical.

In terms of more immediate communication, we have the OUSA website, AttackPoint, and the USOFClubnet mailing list on Yahoo.

The website is good, but is also a one-way resource.

AttackPoint is good, but is limited in who it reaches.

So the Clubnet is left as the resource that reaches the most OUSA members and allows immediate communication. I would like to start utilizing the Clubnet more, but I am wondering why people aren't on it.

If you are a US orienteer and AP user and aren't on Clubnet, why not?
Sep 26, 2016 3:07 PM # 
Clubnet wasn't ever advertised as a national distribution list, even though it is maybe the closest thing to the old o-net.

From the Yahoo group page:

Discussion group for sharing news and information between the US Orienteering Federation and its member clubs

This group was created to help US orienteering clubs keep in touch with USOF and one another, especially with respect to national sport promotion and issues that affect all clubs. National Orienteering Day updates will be posted to this group, along with USOF news items, calls for volunteers to work on specific projects or committees, and announcements about upcoming events and opportunities (grants, scholarships, sponsors, media coverage,etc.). All members of the group are encouraged to share their ideas, stories, and expertise with one another as we work to better organize and promote orienteering nationally.
Sep 26, 2016 3:21 PM # 
I'm not on it because until recently, I wasn't aware it existed and that it was the primary means of distributing information. That tends to be the problem with email distros - if you aren't on them, you often don't know you should be. And those on the distro may assume you either know what's going on, or don't care.

In general, I avoid email distribution lists because they clog up my inbox, often with information I don't find relevant. Even being quite interested in all the current OUSA discussion, I'm not sure I want to volunteer for any more emails - having been pretty much off the grid for the past 10 days, they can really add up.

But I do want to be able to access information when I want it. I like to see information posted to websites - very transparent, searchable, pull it when you want it, subscribe to an RSS feed if you're afraid you might miss something.

Both methods have their benefits. Is there perhaps a way to replicate everything that goes out on Clubnet on the OUSA website (and perhaps, if Ken's willing, on AP)? Then you can push info to people who have self-selected that they want to receive it, and post it so those out there searching for information can find it.
Sep 26, 2016 3:26 PM # 
You can choose to receive it as a digest (one email per day) which eliminates a lot of the inbox clutter.
Sep 26, 2016 3:49 PM # 
Also, OUSA has another outbound distribution list that is currently used only for a monthly E-newsletter and ONA digital. I assume this comes from the member database.
Sep 26, 2016 3:57 PM # 
Email distribution is getting to be pretty clunky. If there's an issue that warrants discussion, you get all kinds of messages that include the whole thread, and once you delete them from your inbox they're gone, etc. A discussion forum like this one works better for that. Maybe we could have something like this discussion board, with certain channels for official news only (users can't post to that, but they can start a new thread to discuss it), and there could be an optional Headlines email that would just list what's currently being discussed (with links) so that casual users would know when it's worth logging on. (There's another website I know of that does something similar to that. )
Sep 26, 2016 6:34 PM # 
I agree with jjcote and cmpbllv, I strongly prefer a forum like attackpoint over an email list.

Perhaps start an AttackPoint group.

The OUSA website could have a link to the group or some recent threads.
Sep 26, 2016 6:34 PM # 
+1 jjcote / discussion forum over email
Sep 26, 2016 8:26 PM # 
Please keep Clubnet as the essential means of communication between O-USA and its member clubs and club officials.
Until recently I read EVERYTHING that came through Clubnet.
That changed with the political posturing during the recent Board elections.
Don't encourage it to become every members sounding board because then club officials will start tuning out the same way I did and as a result start missing the important messages that occasionally come our way.
IMHO persons should have to be verified as an O-USA club official before they are admitted to Clubnet.
Sep 27, 2016 12:54 AM # 
The annual recharter mailing used to ask that every club have at least one member who subscribed to Clubnet and then forwarded news of interest through their club's distribution channel. I would imagine that this is still true, but don't know for sure.

I strongly disagree with using Attackpoint as an OUSA discussion forum. It's far too skewed toward more competitive orienteers. I do think it would be nice to have an OUSA discussion forum to supplement Clubnet, but this should be a part of the OUSA website.
Sep 27, 2016 1:31 AM # 
I don't think it should be on AP as the main forum because I think ousa members are only a fraction of the readership. I agree with smittyo, should be on the OUSA website, and not hidden several clicks away, with the possibility of notification of a new post if one choses that.
Sep 27, 2016 1:59 AM # 
While I'm not a US orienteer, my experience with other Yahoo groups isn't promising - I've found that if your mail server bounces a message (once? twice?) then it silently drops you off the list and you have to work that out, then resubscribe.

Email lists are old, clunky, hard to search and hard to use for all the reasons stated above. There are much better platforms, and if people want notifications they can subscribe to RSS feeds.
Sep 27, 2016 3:13 AM # 
What is a non-competitive orienteer?
Sep 27, 2016 3:30 AM # 
Anyone who's not on the ESC. ;)
Sep 27, 2016 3:31 AM # 
Right, my suggestion was intended to mean something that looks and works like the Attackpoint discussions, but located on the OUSA site.
Sep 27, 2016 8:44 AM # 
Something like this could be an example:
Sep 27, 2016 12:49 PM # 
I think that having discussion forums on the OUSA website is an excellent idea. How would we get community buy-in? In other words, how would we get orienteers to go over there and read and post? Would we be able to attract the part of the orienteering community that isn't on AP, or would it be just the same people over there?
Sep 27, 2016 1:06 PM # 
DVOA has a discussion forum and it attracts many members who do not read AP. The DVOA eboard has information that's relevant to them so they read it. It would take time (just as it took time for AP to get established when it first appeared) but if there was important information being posted on the OUSA site and it was clearly relevant to club officers and other OUSA members, I think it would attract a different group. There would be overlap of course, but I don't think it would just be the same people.
Sep 27, 2016 2:55 PM # 
It can be advertised both here and on Clubnet, as well as in O/NA and through the OUSA e-newsletter. Then you start posting interesting stuff there, and see what happens.
Sep 27, 2016 6:31 PM # 
As a followup to Boris's original post, I'm curious what the reach is of each mechanism of communication to the US orienteering community.

- ONA - goes to all OUSA members, which is about 1275 (some families in there)
- Attackpoint - ??? Perhaps a few hundred active US members; probably biased towards the competitive rather than casual community.
- Clubnet - Nominally official; 369 members. Number of clubs unclear. Effectiveness of secondary dissemination unclear.
- Website - ??? Presumably mostly OUSA members.

It's probable that all four of these resources combined reach a majority of OUSA members, but I wonder what the engagement rate is. If we put out info about a link that would give any OUSA member who visited it $10, how many would (1) find the information along one of these channels and (2) do it?

But more broadly, it seems clear we're not engaging the vast majority of non-OUSA members. According to Robin Shannonhouse's official data, OUSA clubs had 5211 members in 2015, i.e. fewer than 25% of club members in the US are also members of the national federation. How can we reach them?

I like the idea of a forum, especially one that doesn't require a login. Discussion and communication rather than security is our motivation; if for some reason trolls decide to visit the forum or advertise, moderators and admins can police or increase security. We need to figure out how to get the OUSA newsletter to everyone in the US community - perhaps it could be a mutually helpful perk of joining a US orienteering club. I don't actually know how many people receive the OUSA newsletter, but I assume it is just the federation membership. Linking to discussions on the forum in the newsletter might help OUSA learn about its membership.
Sep 27, 2016 7:37 PM # 
Facebook? Similar to Email
Sep 27, 2016 7:52 PM # 
I'm on Facebook, but post to it sporadically, and know little about the technical details/tricks. My sense is that many orienteers avoid it altogether due to baggage related to privacy, among other things.

One thing's for sure: Fb falls far short as a medium for posting large numbers of photographs.
Sep 27, 2016 8:35 PM # 
Guy -- what are the shortcomings of Facebook for posting large numbers of photos? I've used that for the last couple of years to post photos of our club's annual trail race, and from what I can tell it seems to work OK. I just make sure to have the privacy setting set to allow anyone to view the photos, whether or not they have Facebook accounts.
Sep 27, 2016 8:40 PM # 
Something like reddit is really useful - it allows breadth, in that each topic gets a post or subreddit, and depth in that each subject has nested comments underneath it.

See, e.g.

I think it's clear that we would want some solution implemented on the OUSA website.
Sep 28, 2016 2:30 AM # 
@RLS: Fb doesn't offer the flexibility and features of dedicated photo sites like Smugmug or Flickr.
Oct 1, 2016 6:31 AM # 
Both Clubnet and AP are fine for the proposed purpose. Just cuz one doesn't want to see controversial topics on Clubnet and just cuz another thinks the orienteers on AP are too competitive are absolutely silly reasons to waste time implementing another forum on the OUSA website or elsewhere.

If you have the resources to do that, I'd recommend instead that said resources be focused towards making the OUSA website mobile and SEO friendly, and just use one of the existing fora for Boris' proposed communication. Lack of this sort of common sense thinking, which really does seem to amount to counting the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin, as I read this thread, is part of the reason OUSA is so dysfunctional. Translation: there are bigger fish to fry, people.

So, aside from the couple of outliers alluded to above, I think we can all agree that creating another forum is a waste of time and resources, and common sense dictates leveraging either Clubnet or AP.

So, between yahoo (Clubnet) and AP, AP is better in so many technical ways. Moreover, it is open to non-members.

So, problem solved. Set up a thread board whatever on AP to discuss OUSA issues. Provide a link in ONA, from the OUSA website, and make a post on Clubnet and everywhere else you want to pointing to this forum. Do this repeatedly as a reminder.

So, now that that problem has been solved, on to more important things like deficit budgets, making the product better by replacing interval starts with mass starts, and board members attending trail races to understand why they are orders of magnitude more popular than O races.

and please, keep things in perspective, and focus on the things that matter
Oct 1, 2016 12:42 PM # 
Maybe. But that's asking Ken to fill this need. Attackpoint is an independent, worldwide platform, not an instrument of OUSA. It might be awkward if all of the IOF countries started using Attackpoint for national business.
Oct 1, 2016 9:51 PM # 
I like the idea of a forum that allows multi-way communication (or at least 2-way between OUSA and US orienteers) that's not email. (How DO OUSA board members and staff learn about what's happening at the club level, what the needs and interests are? How do clubs exchange good ideas?) Not sure of the mechanism, but think it should be an OUSA-sponsored forum, and should not require OUSA membership. Re: why I'm not on clubnet. I was on it a few years ago, not sure why I am no longer...? In fact, I forgot it existed until a recent reference to it on AP, which led me to clubnet, where it looked like I needed someone's permission to enter. Gratification not immediate enough so I didn't ask to be admitted.
Oct 1, 2016 10:11 PM # 
@randy: what would you personally be interested in taking on as a project to further orienteering? Or, what are you doing now, if you don't want to add anything more to your plate?
Oct 1, 2016 11:06 PM # 
There is a real attempt by many participants in these forums to hold informative and relevant discussions. There are others (to put it politely) who engage in off-point and irrelevant material. Often it takes a lot of interest to wade through this stuff and get to the real discussions. From personal experience the tentatively engaged will tend to become unengaged as a result. The wider the audience for an unmoderated forum, the more of this stuff it will attract.

Now I really don't know who would want to be a moderator, or even how one might work. However, for forums to become more attractive, somehow the garbage has got to be stripped.
Oct 1, 2016 11:30 PM # 
I like the idea of a moderated forum too.
Oct 3, 2016 3:20 PM # 
Hi, Randy - Clubnet and AP are both useful tools, as Boris points out, but one of our biggest problems is reaching the entirety of (1) OUSA membership, ~1275 (2) club members ~ 5500, and (3) everyone in the US orienteering community ~8-12k? Clubnet and attackpoint both reach a very small fraction of those users. Clubnet only has 370 members, and while nominally club representatives can share information from clubnet with their clubs, I don't think that's actually happening. Ken recently estimated 1250 US users on attackpoint. Even if we just restrict our intended reach to all US club members, we're at most hitting 25%.

A major challenge is communication is that the recipients of OUSA's services have little to no idea what OUSA is doing, and OUSA doesn't receive enough specific feedback from its community to cater and update those services. E-mail, for example, is grossly inadequate. A forum on the OUSA website might not solve this problem, but it seems a reasonable attempt to mitigate the problem. We will have to measure engagement after the fact.
Oct 3, 2016 5:07 PM # 
Personally, I check a very few websites and fora regularly (daily to weekly), and others extremely sporadically as needed. For me, a proliferation of fora would mean that only one of them got checked (i.e., AttackPoint, which had my training log, events, etc. ). I suspect that may be true of many other people. Adding further interesting material to an already popular forum might be the best way to reach a lot of people.
Oct 3, 2016 6:18 PM # 
This is a good point, Jim. Though to be honest, even attackpoint doesn't usually get much OUSA-specific discussion. Lately - with the contested election, the controversy about policy - there has been a flurry of OUSA-related activity on AP. In the past, this was usually only triggered by discussions about the ED.

I don't think OUSA topics will need perpetual discussion. There are some seasonal items on which I expect thorough debate and feedback - budget, club services, event structuring, encouraging people to become OUSA members, and junior development. But we also need to offer as much opportunity for hundreds of individual club and OUSA members to weigh in and have their voices heard. Our current means for engaging the public are inadequate, and we must do better. Posting board minutes in the dark recesses of the OUSA website is not enough.
Oct 4, 2016 12:48 AM # 
You can't maintain a decent conversation in any unmoderated forum, as well - AP can't work as an official medium (in its current incarnation) for many reasons, not least of which is the seagull-like flock of Aussies flapping in to poop on everything and steal your chips.
Oct 4, 2016 1:27 AM # 
If you are a US orienteer and AP user and aren't on Clubnet, why not?

I'd never heard of it.

I don't want to be on it because I can't control which topics are dumped into my inbox. By contrast, when visiting a forum, I control what topics to read about (and then chime in on).

Of course, that then puts the onus on me to visit and read the forums.

Also, I go through long periods of visiting zero of the forum topics because I get jaded by the cranky energy or put off by the amount of non-sequiturs.

So, I think moderation is important.

There's not going to be a silver bullet platform, but it is important to have a robust communication strategy across multiple platforms. And by that, I mean: promoting the various platforms, moderating them, and staying engaged by proposing questions as well as answering them.
Oct 4, 2016 4:51 AM # 
I read some surreal stuff in here: supposedly only a small fraction of orienteering community is at AP. In reality -- as evidenced by race results -- it's above 80%.

This urge of moderation of AP and "stripping the garbage" I attribute to the threat perceived by Peter Goodwin and the old boy club in Towson-town from AP community to their plans for continuing abusing US orienteering federation.
Hence the need to restrict information to only privileged "elite" via channels no one ever heard of.
Oct 4, 2016 5:25 AM # 
I read some surreal stuff in here

This urgent need of moderation of AP

Oct 4, 2016 1:52 PM # 
In reality - as evidenced by race results - it's above 80%.

I'm not sure where you're arriving at this data. Looking at recent race results (NAOC), most of the courses don't come close to 80% AP membership - and that's a result from a major competition. Local races do far worse. If there are 5500 members of US orienteering clubs, and only ~1200-1500 are active on attackpoint, then there are at most 20-25% of US club members on attackpoint. Furthermore, race results are not equivalent to people, since some people are represented disproportionately highly. You could achieve 80% of race results having a corresponding AP user and still miss most users.

I suspect that the very problem we're facing might be hard for attackpointers to follow - we're not reaching large swaths of the US orienteering community on attackpoint. Obviously if you're reading about this on attackpoint, you are not one of the people we're failing to reach.

Need for moderation

Open discussion is important, but one of the barriers to entry for attackpoint is that you have to register for a username. I would argue that it is important for an open forum (say on the OUSA website) to lower the barrier to participation as much as possible. Given the prevalence of spam bots, moderation may be necessary to keep the forum functional. Furthermore, while people should feel free to express themselves candidly, moderation may be necessary to deal with the most egregious trolling and counterproductive banter. I can assure you that the objective of moderation would be basic function, not an effort to restrict information at all. Quite the opposite.

At the end of the day, we need to do an experiment to see if (1) people not on AP and clubnet would use an open forum, (2) whether the forum would lead to constructive dialog and information exchange, and (3) whether that additional flow of information would help OUSA do its job, communicate its activity, and receive feedback.
Oct 4, 2016 2:33 PM # 
Sounds good to me, iansmith.
Oct 4, 2016 5:35 PM # 
Note that you need a username to comment, but not to just read. And creating a username doesn't require submitting any information that would be made public; you need an email address, which only ken can see if you like, and you can conceivably lie about everything else. (I was talking with ken a week ago, and it turns out he doesn't know who sammy is, so anonymity on Attackpoint is very doable.)
Oct 7, 2016 1:14 AM # 
I admit it: I,m old, I,m a boy and I,m from Towson. Only feeling slightly abused, Yuriy illustrates an important point. Stripping the garbage is not the same as censorship. Who owns that point anyway? Maybe Boris in this thread? Can't think of anyone else offhand.

Beyond posters that can't be tied to a result somewhere sometime, I don't see the efficacy of censoring anything. The garbage, however, can be placed in a gray font, or set aside somehow, so that a reader can easily skip it; yet, it is still available for discussion. The object here is to make broader forums more attractive and inviting to the tentatively engaged - whatever the location or form.

This discussion thread is closed.