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Discussion: Online Membership & Registration Systems

in: Orienteering; General

Dec 31, 2010 3:58 AM # 
Orienteering USA's strategic plan calls for online membership and event registration systems to be offered in support of both federation (national) and charter club (local) needs. These systems are intended to be integrated with the (still relatively new) Orienteering USA website.

If you know of systems for online membership and/or event registration that should be considered by the Website development team, please email details directly to Orienteering USA VP for Club Services and Website team member Greg Lennon.

We look forward to your suggestions.
Jan 7, 2011 4:05 PM # 
Kent Shaw's O-signup system and the rapid, concise, customer-friendly service he provides have been a real asset to the registration process for the Georgia Navigator Cup.
Jan 7, 2011 9:58 PM # 
Agreed. Kent's system is easy to use both for event administrators/registrars and for orienteers (customers). Let's be sure we are focusing on improving the access to orienteering and increasing attendance, starts, and membership; not just re-inventing aspects that already work well. Any new system should fill a need expressed by clubs or existing orienteers, or have significant value for attracting new people to the sport. While I think the idea of OUSA offering an online system has great potential value, lets be sure we are focusing the most energy on the projects that are most likely to bring the greatest growth to Orienteering USA.
Jan 7, 2011 10:34 PM # 
I would like the same information that OUSA is gathering, ASAP. I hate reinventing wheels.
Jan 8, 2011 1:22 AM # 
I've used Kent's system 3 times; twice as the registrar -- including for the 2010 Flying Pig & US Interscholastic Championships.

It does require a lot of work to set it up prior to "going live". This is because each A-event is different, and -- until recently -- Kent was willing to spend time customizing the code (each event has its own code). It now has a user configuration capability that covers most standard A-meet options. That upfront time includes a lot of testing, because, once people start using it, it is very problematic to change the user interface and/or the database structure.

Given all this setup work, it is impractical to use it for local events. However, I would think that a stripped-down generic version could be set up that would cover most bases for use with local events.

On the other hand, while pre-registrattion -- even of a non-commital (ie no payment)nature -- can help with day-of administration at local events, I would not want to see it required. And I definitely would not want O-USA to mandate it -- which is what that "100% online registration by 2013" objective sounds like.

Requiring pre-registration would remove a LOT of flexibility that is needed to accommodate last minute I-can-go's, walk-ons who just happened to be on site, as well as emergency cancellations. Local events need the ability to stay informal -- including those using pre-marked maps, and e-punching. Doing otherwise could work against the primary desired objective of INcreasing starts.
Jan 8, 2011 5:18 AM # 
Yes but trail runs out here are 100% pre-registration, they all sell out, and grow at >10%/year.
Jan 8, 2011 6:15 AM # 
Wouldn't trail runs be analogous to A-events, or, at least B-events?

Even if not, the fact that they sell out means that there is pressure to register ASAP, and there can't be walk-ins. If local O-meets ever get busy enough so that the words "sell out" come into play, then the Strategic Plan would have been a smashing success.

BTW, if trail runs all sell out, how can they grow? Do the limits keep getting raised, or are there 10% more runs each year?
Jan 8, 2011 1:13 PM # 
@GuyO: Both.

As for re-inventing the wheel - there are plenty of registration sites out there already. Why are we building another one?
Jan 8, 2011 2:21 PM # 
Guy, you can have 100% online pre-registration and still allow for some walk-ups on the day. In my experience, requiring pre-registration only helps attendance. Also, having a large unknown variable of how many will show up on meet day is a logistical wrench that I would gladly have removed.
Jan 8, 2011 2:43 PM # 
...plenty of registration sites out there already....

Such as CAOC's use of Google Check-out for the past three years.

Money is collected by Google and transferred daily to the club bank account after deducting a ~6% fee (less for $50 season pass sales). Plenty of data is collected during the registration process and available in different formats. In addition, there are many other options are available such as follow-up marketing emails, canvassing, etc.

I think the weakness of such systems is that they are TOO easy. And the temptation to accept all inputs without review is very seductive...such as verifying that membership is current for all those who have registered at the lower "member" rate for instance. And then getting your Start crew to extract an additional $5 from those whose memberships have lapsed...just about impossible in a volunteer organization. No one wants to volunteer to be the "bad guy."
Jan 8, 2011 2:50 PM # 
Every competitor who takes care of his own registration , payment etc lightens the load on the volunteers manning the off course activities of the meet and just raise the quality of the whole experience for everyone .An O meet becomes a "turn up and run and have a fun time" experience instead of mess around with payment . lines at registration tables, issues around uncertainties about how many people will turn up (lack of maps, facilities etc , volunteers reacting to those uncertainties etc etc). On-line preregistration seems to me to be an excellent way to lay the foundation for a succesfull meet.
Jan 8, 2011 3:03 PM # 
Kent's system is user-friendly, customizable, attractive, and tried and true.
Jan 8, 2011 4:25 PM # 
Well Ian, I was able to set up a MNOC account as a club member, and register for your January 15 event at discounted ($4) member rates.

How do you (1) detect my non-member status, and (2) collect the additional fees I should pay before getting my map? Or do you just depend on me to know if my club membership is still valid, and pay the extra on the "honor system?"
Jan 8, 2011 6:33 PM # 
I see that if clubs start to use online registration it can be useful and hurtful at the same time. Useful if you are the type of orienteer that goes to every local meet no matter what. Then you would like to register ahead of time to make sure that you get a map for your course and take care of payment so that once you arrive at the park all you have to do is get dress and go to the start. It could be hurtful if required of everyone as there are people that won't decide until the day of if they are going or not. Then what about new people that are coming for the first time and didn't know that they had to pre-register. So you would still have to have a registration table for the newcomers as we truly do not want to turn any interested person, persons or group away so why require anyone to preregister anyway.. So it doesn't cut down on the number of volunteers you need to run a local event if you use preregistration just the amount of work the volunteer at the registration table has to do.

DVOA uses an express registration form for the club members that are regulars and know how the registration works. The beginning of every year a club member looks at the attendence of club members from the previous year and prints up new express registration forms which includes your name, your map number for the year, information about your vehicle and a line for you to sign. You sign it give the required fee to the registrar and you go. This then give the volunteer at the registration the time to help newcomers or visitors from other clubs. I for one think this works really well and other than giving the event director the course that you will be running the preregistration doesn't offer that much more. Also if you would register the day before the local event the course info is useless to the event director anyway because the maps are already printed by then.

No matter what we decide there are pros and cons to both so I would hope that we can fine a nice mix of both ways that makes the job of Local event directors easier and keeps us growing as well.
Jan 9, 2011 12:48 AM # 
@chitownclark- Clark - at MNOC we have a policy that we extend membership to the O community at large (especially those who have volunteered their time to other O clubs as you have ) so you were not even approached about paying a non -member fee. We want to have more members of our O community especially those who contribute their time . Those who abuse the member pricing would be quietly asked to pay their membership dues or pay the full non-member price. Maybe in the future our on-line reg will check the membership database if we see a need to program that in but in this case the personal touch seems to work .
Jan 9, 2011 4:53 AM # 
To followup Ian's comment - In 8 years of online registration we have also had zero registration-related incidents we care to enforce (and can count the others on one hand, all mistakes.) And occasionally there are "abandoned" orders that never complete the Paypal process. In practice, people are almost surprisingly honest. This community is just too small for anyone to consistently cheat us out of a dollar or two on at most a biweekly basis.

Surely that may not be sustainable on a wider basis, or even applicable to A-meets - nor should it be tolerated in principle - but it's worked for our local events. Empiricism and all that.
Jan 9, 2011 5:32 AM # 
Last comment aside, I'm inclined to agree that a nationwide (OUSA-sponsored?) registration system would be a Very Good Thing (™). The thing is, both Eric and Guy are right.

- Event registration should be a commodity service at this point and shouldn't need to be built locally and individually by tech-savvy club volunteers.
- Sites like or various federated marathon/ski race/whatever registration sites don't capture what's needed for O-meet registration - particularly at the national level. I'd guess there is no existing site out there that's "perfect" for us.

It sounds like there are quite a few votes for Kent Shaw's registration system (which I have not personally used), but just to throw an option out there: Why shouldn't OUSA consider offering a contract to enhance that system, or build one from scratch, to a specification meeting their requirements? Dan F is basically asking people to hash out those requirements. This contract could be offered to Kent (as he seems to have a head start,) to anyone else interested in the O-community, or to an outside agency. Even were it an open bid, I suspect OUSA could get a rather reasonable price for the ROI.
Jan 9, 2011 6:13 AM # 
What about do you find lacking? I have a follow-up call to answer a few questions next week, but from my initial dealings with them, it seems they will do a fine job of handling reg for our A-meet next fall.

Note this is not a sarcastic response - if you know of a shortcoming, I'd like to hear it so we can address it with them.
Jan 9, 2011 6:55 AM # 
I always feel there is too much speculation and not enough empiricism. We can argue until our faces turn blue about what would or would not work, but until somebody actually tries it out, we will never know if we are right.

At GHO, we're very happy with, which we've been using for two years for all types of events and membership purchases. I've personally been the registrar for over 25 Zone4 registrations. Before that, we used other online registration companies along the lines of and we much prefer the level of control we get from Until recently, it wasn't available in the U.S. but now it is available to organizations like OUSA or larger clubs who would be willing to set up a credit card merchant account. (Canadians don't need to do this because we all share's merchant account but that's not practical across the border.)

We've discussed the merits/pitfalls of online registration on AP before so I won't enter into that. At GHO, we've made our volunteers a high priority, thus we have moved to online registration for everything. For local events, we usually announce on our website that 10 extra maps will be printed for race day registrations at a higher price. Memberships and A events are 100% online.
Jan 9, 2011 2:39 PM # 
It seems like nobody has mentioned a membership archive... ? With name, club, SI, age, sex...

Without that, repetitive online entries become a pain for the runner.
Jan 9, 2011 3:25 PM # 
It seems that there are a number of good online registration systems out there (so now need to reinvent the wheel, just need to select the right one) The OUSA process should be one of systematically evaluating what is out there against the needs (e.g. ease of use for competitors and club volunteers , support (what happens if system crashes at 10pm on Fri), security (financial and database ) and cost (what % of O$ ).

50,000 registrations/yr at $8 average and 3% charge is only ~$12k/yr for someone to run such a service. Of course the credit card companies already get 2% or so anyway .
Jan 9, 2011 3:50 PM # 
What about do you find lacking?

The 4% + $4 fee. You pay them that, and they own the data.

It seems like nobody has mentioned a membership archive...

Indeed, Kent's system with a membership database backend would be great for both the users and the enterprise (access to expanded member database for marketing etc.) I understand there's no willingness on behalf of the author to make further improvements, hence this thread.

To go further into my trail running experience: Registration is literally with a few clicks. I sign in without entering any details (they're all saved), check the options I want for the race (course, shirt, etc.), then check out with saved credit card info (I can also use PayPal with two or three more clicks). On site, there are typically 2 people to hand out race numbers and shirts—that's for 400–500 participants, and another person to handle a separate, short line of event-day registrations.

The local club that I am no longer a member of has had its long-time registration volunteers retire. A search for their replacements has not so far yielded fruit. BAOC is composed of some of the most technically savvy people in North America, and registration is indeed greatly simplified for members, but it still involves scribbling things on a piece of paper inside the event tent, and the human volunteer scribbling further things, or typing things into an onsite computer.

I was told that not automating away the registration is a conscious decision and that having a more-or-less elaborate on-site process furthers social interaction. This seems a fallacy. I think it won't make much difference one way or another for long-time members. For newcomers, I think the exact opposite is true. It seems like besides the insanely high level of technical complexity in our sport, we also put up this barrier of expecting them to become a member of a social club, to be further imbued with the philosophy (so that they would be, for one, more willing to volunteer in the future).

I think that's the opposite of what we want, if we want growth. The model should be serving the public, not being a member-service club (Eric Bone and I wrote about this to a great extent on AP). All aspects of event organization should be handled in an efficient and businesslike manner with as little manpower as possible. This yields increased availability of the product, and increased market penetration, at no sacrifice of quality. My expectation as a consumer of the product is to receive the quality; I am not necessarily buying the social interaction, I can also get it elsewhere.

P.S. Ultrarunners and orienteers are on the opposite ends of sociability. That may be the cause of the two models I just described, or an effect.
Jan 9, 2011 4:37 PM # 
50,000 registrations/yr at $8 average and 3% charge is only ~$12k/yr for someone to run such a service. Of course the credit card companies already get 2% or so anyway

Building a system that sits directly on top of the credit card merchant system is hard (the security issues alone require expensive expertise). Building a system that sits on top of a platform that has already done this (e,.g. paypal) is fairly easy (but whoever is operating it has to be at least aware of a different set of security issues).

I think a paypal-based system will cost about 3.5% of revenues if you build it yourself (but this would have to be verified). Its been stated that google checkout will cost 6% of revenues. To me, this is your build vs buy decision.

Given Ian's revenue number of $400,000/yr., the annual savings is 10,000/yr for the home-built system. So, if you can build (or bid out) a system for 10K that is as secure as a system such as google checkout, you break even after the first year, and come out ahead going forward, assuming all the preceding numbers are good. (Remember, however, that if there is a security compromise, USOF may be assuming that liability vs a google checkout type solution, where presumably google would be assuming the liability. It all depends on what data you are capturing, storing, and transmitting at the time, and how securely you are doing so. Whomever bids the work will have to explain the security profile to you, and an agreement will have to exist as to whether USOF or the builder is liable in the event sensitive data is compromised).

That is how I would analyze it, FWIW.

The one extra point for the home built system is that you are responsible for ongoing hosting and maintenance expenses. I would suggest that these costs would run less than $500/yr, but a proper analysis would have to include them. Hosting costs are fairly stable and trivial; maintenance costs would depend on whether they were volunteer or paid.

Regarding other points in the thread, I can't offer speculation or empirical data, but I can offer anecdotes.

I declined to go to a local meet in 2010 because pre-registration was a requirement. I wasn't sure if I would feel well enough to go, and when the day rolled around and I was, I couldn't because I had not pre-registered. I found a competing activity that did not require pre-registration instead. Not a big deal, just one start lost.

Ok, I will speculate -- given the the trail running example, we have the same thing around here, you have to know the date and time pre-registration opens to get a seat in some of these races.

But, I think the market is different, and comparisons are not apt. That market is sticky, and they will sit by their computers at the proscribed time to make sure they get a seat. Its a hardcore market. The local meet orienteering market, with the stated emphasis on recreational outdoorism, is not sticky. If they can't get a seat, they will do a competing activity that does not require pre-payment and pre-registration.

So, my recommendation, to echo some others, is don't make it required, and don't present it such that it is a turnoff to the non-sticky segment of the market.

Another anecdote is race information. In the past, a race director intentionally withheld material information about a race on the race description web site, that, given the nature of my injuries, would have been important to me, and, had I known it, I would not have gone.

Besides my not going to any races put on by that individual again, it brings up another point in this discussion. An ideal pre-registration system will disclose all details about the race before people commit to it. This will require course setting notes, all the course setting, and so forth, online and integrated with the system beforehand. No one likes to pay for a race beforehand, and then show up and get something else. If the red course is going to be 30% longer than normal, for example, some people may want to know that before pre-registering. With A meets, you get that without thinking, OTOH, some local course setters simply don't care about the consumer experience.

Finally, I am the sort of person who likes to choose my course when I show up, based on how I feel, the weather, and so forth. It would seem that a pre-registration requirement would preclude this. While such a system would lose my starts to competing activities when I cared about the freedom of choosing my course late, I'm guessing that this is not a widespread problem. However, I would think that it would be a point of analysis to see if there is a significant market segment that cares about late course choice, or if this segment is trivial and the benefits of such a system outweigh the handful of starts that may be lost.

Jan 9, 2011 5:20 PM # 
FWIW, I've used for several A-meets and several rogaines (along with our club's annual trail race for 7-8 years now, but that's not an orienteering event), and it works fine. It is very flexible and can handle the needs of orienteering meets and rogaines.

The main drawback, which would basically rule it out for local meets, is their cost structure, which is a fixed amount plus a percentage of the transaction (for transactions up to $150, the fee is $1.25 + 6.75%). Plus, there is a $3.25 minimum placed on the transaction fee. For higher-priced transactions like A-meets and rogaines, it's not an overwhelming percentage (our club has always either split the cost with the entrant, or else absorbed the entire transaction fee as a way of encouraging on-line entries).

But for local meets, which are obviously much cheaper than A-meets or rogaines, the "fixed" portion of the transaction fee would make the fee a prohibitively high percentage compared to the cost of the meet.

For example, for our local meets, the member meet fee is $3.00; the transaction fee would be $3.25, more than the cost of the meet fee. Obviously wouldn't make sense to use for this type of meet.
Jan 9, 2011 5:30 PM # 
Points on various technical aspects of this dicussion:

Stored credit cards:
PCI requirements are nothing to joke around with. Even if a registration system were customized to our liking, it would be strongly advisable to let a PCI-compliant third party handle that part. This implies that a per-transaction fee is unavoidable. It becomes a matter of A) who has the best deal, and B) how well do they fit into the workflow?

Any centralized membership or registration database (complete with demographics, location, and conceivably, family member info) would need some consideration about how it is to be protected from leakage, accidental or otherwise. True, it's not as bad as the various SSN/CC leaks you hear about from time to time, but it would still be a unnecessary black eye to OUSA.

This would be a fixed recurring cost, but wouldn't have to be separate from existing hosting costs for the rest of the website.
Jan 9, 2011 5:40 PM # 
Its been stated that google checkout will cost 6%

Get Lost!! pays less than half of this. I don't know if Google will want us to disclose the actual terms. Our sales volume is as of now less than that of almost all orienteering clubs.

we have the same thing around here, you have to know the date and time pre-registration opens to get a seat in some of these races.

But, I think the market is different, and comparisons are not apt. That market is sticky, and they will sit by their computers at the proscribed time to make sure they get a seat. Its a hardcore market. The local meet orienteering market, with the stated emphasis on recreational outdoorism, is not sticky

Only a few of the trail races sell out within hours or days; these are usually the ones for which the permitting agency is unwilling to authorize numbers anywhere close to the demand. Almost all trail runs indeed sell out, but only a week or two before the run, leaving several weeks for a leisurely registration process. I think the comparison is quite apt.
Jan 9, 2011 7:42 PM # 
For example, for our local meets, the member meet fee is $3.00; the transaction fee would be $3.25, more than the cost of the meet fee.

With the Google cost structure Get Lost!! enjoys, the fee for a $3.00 transacstion would still be about 10% of the fee. I would, however, suggest that offering a product to members at a price that is <~20% of what it reasonably costs to produce even at a New York minimum wage, epitomizes the failed member-service model. With miserable revenue, the club cannot purchase services that it may well enjoy on the open market, and locks itself further and further into the all-volunteer, unpaid model, which spirals out to impose unreasonable demands on club members' time if quality requirements are to be met.

(Services and products that can well be, and should be, purchased on the open market, not relied upon club members to generate, aren't core competencies like course setting; these are things such as graphic design/webmastering, or quality snacks/refreshments, that few clubs possess/offer, but that would increase participant enjoyment to the point of making a difference in event attendance.)
Jan 9, 2011 8:16 PM # 
I hope this effort by OUSA is the first one of many to help clubs get out of the failed member service model (all volunteer, unpaid ....spiralling into unreasonable demands as per Vlad).

Orienteers should be orienteering on the day of a meet and not doing menial tasks like typing a hundred names into the computer for "register on the day' folks (who don't want to commit ahead of time to a $5 - $10 expenditure and type their own names in on the web) , or providing food , babysitting etc . If not orienteering, orienteers should be socializing and enjoying/promoting the club atmosphere.
Jan 9, 2011 10:01 PM # 
I hope this effort by OUSA is the first one of many...failed member service model...orienteers should be socializing and enjoying...

Ummm...I may be unduly concerned. But the way I see it, the current Strategic Plan hinges ultimately upon increasing Starts. Since OUSA doesn't put on any meets or generate any Starts themselves, isn't it going to be us in the clubs, who will ultimately have to do all the real work? Putting on more meets, mapping more areas, training more newbies, etc. Volunteers may no longer be baking cookies, but neither will they have much socializing time if this plan is to succeed.

And since "the orienteers" are getting older and older as a group, this additional work will fall increasingly on the dwindling number of younger members in each club. Us older folks have already put in our years of service. Will these younger folks fall into line? Will they take up the challenge that we have outlined?

For instance, this month all OUSA clubs are submitting their 2010 financial results, and mailing in their annual checks. Their assessment is based upon "per start" in 2010; more starts = higher assessment. This year this assessment or "dues" is budgeted to raise a record amount ($38 000) from the clubs: up 40% from 2010 and nearly 200% from 2009 ($13 000). Will the clubs keep the "faith," and pony up without complaint?
Jan 9, 2011 10:36 PM # 
Following this with interest. Around here, the prevailing method for large events is a two-step one: online registration plus SEPARATE payment. The majority of payments are made by (internet) bank transfer which has a trivial cost to the payer. It does however have a volunteer cost for the club reconciling the bank statements.

The separation is not very elegant, but online registration methods which include the payment involve, as noted, special expertise with the banking system. Or (not unreasonably) payment of a fee to a service provider. Where credit cards are involved, a big part of that fee must go to the banking system, though a big provider may be able to negotiate a better c/c deal than a small "merchant".

For small events we sometimes ask for an indication of attendance. Initially by unstructured email, but clearly we can use the online registration method as above, WITHOUT the pre-payment; payment on the day as usual. A discount gives a carrot for pre-registering. The benefit for the club is (a) better estimate of map needs and (b) easier check-in process on the day. We don't see any sign of over-registering "just in case".

The expertise to put up a form with a few fields on a website is fairly widespread now and it hardly needs a national package - more appropriate would be workshops for sharing website techniques.

My feeling at the moment is that the solution for big events is probably different from these small ones; and the fee for a service provider may well be justifiable and affordable.
Jan 9, 2011 11:16 PM # 
And since "the orienteers" are getting older and older as a group, this additional work will fall increasingly on the dwindling number of younger members in each club. Us older folks have already put in our years of service. Will these younger folks fall into line? Will they take up the challenge that we have outlined?

Well, this is exactly what I mean by the failure of the member-service model. If the members feel they have been adequately serviced, certainly no amount of prodding by Orienteering USA will make them feel otherwise, or perform work that falls outside of the member-service realm. (Sorry about thread hijack.)
Jan 10, 2011 4:17 AM # 
Nice phrase...apt observation. How old is that quote?

But isn't ebone's concept of the "hobby" club just an outgrowth of the notion that people generally reject change? And if left to plan their own direction, will choose the familiar, whether friend, activity or social group?

That is why an external force is needed...OUSA. To instill some discipline, and help prioritize, plan and measure progress toward an agreed goal. For without this objective guidance, won't we continue to focus on the familiar? And ignore the 200lb gorilla in the room, to introduce a new phrase.
Jan 10, 2011 11:34 AM # 
One of the systems you might consider is
It's free, feature list is pretty big, and used more and more every year.
While it does not support online payments, it is something I am planing to add, and I just need a push from someone to do it.
Jan 10, 2011 1:15 PM # 
Threadjackers, I'm interested in registration systems.
Jan 10, 2011 2:07 PM # 
...Around here, the prevailing method for large events is a two-step one: online registration plus SEPARATE payment...I'm interested in registration systems[!]

I can see why gruver. That antiquated system you describe may be ok in New Zealand (and much of Europe), but I can't see OUSA considering it. Reconciling those separate payments to a list of entrants, and checking off all the other options such as dibber rental, extra map, membership renewal, etc, sounds like much more work than it saves you. And also bank transfers are very cumbersome and expensive to execute in America for some reason.

We now have the technology to take a quantum leap upward; it is important to consider pros and cons carefully before choosing. And for all of us to augment and massage danf's list of requirements to ensure an optimal system is chosen.

The one thing your kiwi system has going for it tho gruver, is CASH CONTROL. It keeps the cash out of the shoeboxes in the woods...where it is apt to "disappear."

And it is my theory that this is one of the main reasons behind OUSA's current interest in a nationwide registration system. The fewer hands that handle the cash, the better the cash control. A national system would lift cash control responsibility from even the shoulders of the club treasurers, and allow it to flow directly into OUSA coffers. From that point it could be properly accounted for, and paid back to the clubs as needed. Very tidy.
Jan 10, 2011 2:41 PM # 
A national system would lift cash control responsibility from even the shoulders of the club treasurers, and allow it to flow directly into OUSA coffers. From that point it could be properly accounted for, and paid back to the clubs as needed.

I would normally say "You have got to be kidding.", but I know you're not.
For the record Clark, although you speak of it with familiarity, you have yet to use our club's (Chicago Orienteering's) online registration system during its 3 years of operation.
Jan 10, 2011 2:49 PM # 
"antiquated system... in New Zealand"... "bank transfers are very cumbersome... in America"...
I, for one, would be willing to have an account with OUSA, or my local club, where I pay x dollars upfront (or get billed later), and then OUSA pays the organisers my entry fee, one bank transfer (sorry, cheQUE) for all the participants (or perhaps several at intervals for large events).
Then, when registering, all I would have to do is sign up for a course and tick a box saying charge my account. Or better yet, just charge me when the results are uploaded (automatically, one click, to ousa website).

This would probably be heading down the one employee route.
Jan 10, 2011 2:54 PM # 
...although you speak of it with familiarity, you have yet to use our club's (Chicago Orienteering's) online registration system...

Well at the time CAOC introduced the Google Checkout system, I was the club Treasurer. And I opposed the system, principally because it required a tedious manual reconciliation, and a subsequent collection effort before maps were handed out, that I didn't believe would be done.

As far as I know, that reconciliation is still not done. And if not, the club continues to lose money both from entry fees, and sale of memberships. It is a shortcoming of the Google Checkout system, as I tried to explain above on January 8.
Jan 10, 2011 4:36 PM # 
because it required a tedious manual reconciliation

Indeed Google requires advanced programming skills (or renting someone who has them) to make transactions magically appear in your database, instead of having to go fish them out on their site. But many merchants have implemented this function, and while Get Lost!! hasn't yet done it, we will shortly. I don't know what the corresponding feature set is at PayPal; I imagine things are implemented in a better fashion.
Jan 10, 2011 5:09 PM # 
As Bash mentioned earlier GHO is very happy with our experiences with 100% online pre-registration for events and membership through (though we do offer a limited higher cost on-day registration at some events). The rationale we use is that sure we could have our volunteers make our maps but we could also pay for a higher quality service through a professional mapper. We could make our own food for post-race food at races or we can buy from the local pizza store. ie., if there is a service out there to buy from we will buy it so our volunteers can focus on what they enjoy the most - and quite frankly are best at: organizing events, coaching, etc.

Prior to going with this system most clubs in Ontario used an online system designed by a orienteering club member in Ontario and while it did provide us much of our needs many members expressed their preference to 'pay more' through an organization that made online registration their business. Privacy issues, stability, professional service and availability were mentioned often for their reasoning.

GHO got around the 'high percentage service fee' for low cost events by increasing our club membership a little bit and making our small events/training events free. This way people pay one service charge for the annual membership and then get free entry to all of the other events. We keep our membership fee low ($20) since we make more money off a few high profile, high participation rates. was very nice in allowing us to permit a 'free entry' component to the registration system. Ie., GHO members can click a box that allows them to bypass the online $ portion of the registration since some races are free. gets nothing for this feature but it helps us a lot. The race organizer just does a quick manual check between our online membership file and the race entry file to see if anybody 'cheated'.

Also, in Canada parents that have kids in organized sports can get an income tax reduction with an official program receipt. Since we have had over 200 kids registered in our Adventure Running Kids program in the various sessions over the last year alone this would be a lot of work for a volunteer. The tax receipt is produced automatically from for ARK saving us a lot of time.

I should also mention that because many orienteering clubs in Canada now use we gain some exposure to our events (marketing perhaps) as athletes in other events such as trail running and XC skiing (the biggest component of 'see' our races on the database while signing up for other events.
Jan 10, 2011 6:37 PM # 
I created the system currently being used by CAOC for all local meets, and a variation of the system was used for the 2009 US Champs, hosted by the Badger O Club.

Some of the discussion in this thread seems to be about reducing the workload on volunteers.

Let me be very clear and direct on this point: an on-line system (for registration or payment) _has_not_ reduced the total amount of work required: it merely redistributed it.

Now, this has still been a good thing for our club. We used to have huge lines form at 9:30 a.m. for a 10 a.m. start, and the “crush” would last until 11 a.m., at which point the registration volunteers would be exhausted. Our on-line registration system has let us take care of the data entry and payment ahead of time, so that on meet day, please just walk up, have their name checked off a list, and get handed a map (and whatever else they bought/rented). There is nothing else to fill out, or sign, or check. However, approximately the same amount of time is required to process the on-line registration as the on-site registration. I can do it a couple of days before the event, at my leisure. This makes meet-day much easier for volunteers and competitors alike.

On-line registration and pre-payment does have a couple of other significant advantages.

1) by knowing who is planning on showing up, we can print a much small number of maps with courses already printed on them, which saves us money on maps, while still offering the convenience of pre-printed maps to participants.

2) we have an individual record of transactions in a database, which can be used for reconciliation, as well a tracking people down if there was a mistake, like under- or over-payment. We don’t always perform the individual reconciliation, as was suggested in another post in this thread, but when we want to do it, it can be done with at least as much accuracy as using on-site paper forms. Again, not less work, just changed work. When we used paper registration forms, this information was only theoretically available. I'm not aware of anyone going through all of the paper forms for the year and keeping track of who attended each event.

Google Checkout transaction fees are not a secret:

For most clubs, I would expect they would pay 2.9%+$0.30, which works out to net 3.5–8% for typical orienteering meet transactions. For example, a $7 meet fee has a $0.50 Google fee (7.2%). We have helped to reduce the overall fees paid to Google by implementing a season pass, which is a nice big transaction ($50), and thus a lower percentage fee ($1.75—3.5%).

If anyone would like help setting something up in their own club, I would be happy to provide all of the code for our current system and consultation on how it works. We could even work out some sort of hosting of the registration, like we did with the US Champs, if a club doesn't have their own web site with PHP and MySQL.

As a custom system, it can be configured to handle any kind of meets you’ve got, and any sort of additional features. It’s just a matter of time and programming. I don’t think I’ll ever develop it as a commercial product, but I would be happy if other clubs got some use out of it, and saved themselves the trouble of creating something from scratch, like we did. There are more things I’ll probably do to enhance our current system, and it’s been working very well for us for the last 3 years.

If anyone would like to test it out, feel free. I just ask that you put the word “testing” somewhere in your registration, so I know to not bother tracking you down for payment…. ;) You can even test out the Google checkout portion. You won’t be charged if you let me know you’re just testing (Google doesn’t automatically charge each transaction).

Michael Collins
Jan 10, 2011 7:32 PM # 

A lot has been said about Kent being unwilling to update his orienteering event registration program. I can't blame him for that at all since USOF has the stated goal of putting him out of business - at least indirectly - unless they choose to use his program. Not much point investing more time and effort until the issue is settled. Regardless, he made quite a few changes for us in the past few months for the GNC which we are very happy with, but we were very careful to only ask for changes that made sense in the most general way and not for changes that would have been specific to our event alone. One of the changes led to a bug which he fixed immediately.

Personal info...

Regarding the storage of personal info, I see no harm in an Opt-In system. If you are informed of the risks, and choose to store your personal info on the system, then what's the big deal? All the info I enter can be obtained from my tax commissioner's website and our school directory. Payment info is different, of course, but again I already use Paypal and have my payment info on tons of websites like Delta Air Lines, Bank of America and Amazon. Again, Opt-In is the key. For those that don't want their info saved, just don't say "Yes!" (Notice that I didn't say "Just say No!")

Regardless, USOF has told Kent that he cannot store this personal info due to privacy concerns. Maybe they just don't want another database out there that has all the A-meet orienteer info in it? I do find it irritating to have to fill in the same data over and over again for A-meets - even for the few that I attend, although the browser Auto-fill does a reasonable job. On the other hand, it would be intolerable to have to do it every time for local meets. Also, I would also gladly give him permission to validate my USOF membership status, especially if I don't need to remember my number!

Local meets are different...

I think it is obvious, too, that whatever works really well for A-meets will probably not be so great for local meets unless there's an easy way to turn off A-meet features and save the info. For us the biggest and simplest difference is that we just have color-coded races at local meets. We have a fillable PDF that can be populated with all the necessary info, printed and most importantly, saved for editing and reprinting. Runners can print a bunch and leave them in their glovebox and check the course and sign the waiver on the day. Our biggest check-in issue is getting the runner info into the epunch system - we use SI and Or - but the regulars with their own sticks are in the system already.

Mass entries...

In the end, though, all of this is a bit trivial when you consider that the biggest hiccup at local meets occurs when hundreds of JROTC kids show up and you have to wait 30 mins just to get to the check-in - even if you have pre-registered online and have your preprinted waiver. The last thing a JROTC instructor wants to do is enter the info for 30 kids, one at a time, into a computer - especially when they never know if the kid is even going to show. They also don't want to deal with the forms, so they have the kids fill them in. Then some poor soul has to try to enter these things that look like chicken scratchings while the rest of us wait in line. Something as simple as a standardized spreadsheet which could be used over and over again could be emailed in advance. If a kid doesn't show, then no big deal. Or if on-line registration is offered, a table that the spreadsheet could be cut and pasted into would be great.


Suppose 40 clubs spend $500 a year on their own online registration sites. That would mean that the US O community would be willing to spend $20,000 a year on online registration sites! (I realize that I could be way off, here.) It would seem to me that it couldn't possibly cost as much to run ONE good site that everyone might like to use than to support many different sites for every club that wants to run one. It has been pointed out that there are big multi-sport sites that exist and work well, but the main benefit would be that it would be O-specific - could validate USOF membership, for example - and another major benefit would be that it wouldn't be operating with a profit motive and therefore at some point ought to be cheaper. Presumably it would be provided at no additional cost beyond the club assessment.
Jan 10, 2011 7:43 PM # 
USOF has told Kent that he cannot store this personal info due to privacy concerns.

How can this possibly be true? I don't see how OUSA (or any single person in OUSA) can tell Kent that he can't give people the option to opt-in to having their information saved. There's either something missing from that statement or someone at OUSA is saying something whacky.
Jan 10, 2011 8:13 PM # 
The last thing a JROTC instructor wants to do is enter the info for 30 kids, one at a time, into a computer - especially when they never know if the kid is even going to show. They also don't want to deal with the forms, so they have the kids fill them in.

There appear to be a number of ways this situation can be improved with the help of technology. Presumably all of the kids have internet access. A condition of their participation in the program could be them registering, once per season, on the Orienteering USA or GAOC site, and entering personal details (no waiver). The registration system would e-mail back a single-page PDF that can be copied and printed as many times as needed, with a barcode (better yet, QR code) and a standardized waiver, with a place for the parent/guardian to sign. You the organizer then get a stack of pages on the event day, which you scan, say, with a smartphone connected to a laptop running Or and some bridge scripts. The troop leader doesn't have to enter any details whatsoever, except to sign away—nor does the organizer. At the end of the day, the club can generate a single bill to the school/program.
Jan 10, 2011 9:46 PM # 
14) Some sort of ability to process international applications with payment in other currencies
15) Interface with registration systems in other countries so that OUSA members and clubs could easily register and pay for European events
Jan 10, 2011 10:17 PM # 
Item 14 is automatic courtesy of the credit card companies. Item 15 is, unfortunately, not technologically feasible.
Jan 10, 2011 10:31 PM # 
The financial side is what is not feasible, not the information-transfer side. With the exception of the UK/Ireland, all European organizers expect a bank transfer, which are nearly free within Europe (in the expanded sense of the word) but cost at least $16 from the U.S./Canada. They seem to have figured out cards and PayPal in Britain/Ireland.

If you say "let's run an account on our side and an account on their side and settle it all at the end of the year in one big transfer", that'd be a good idea if not for the U.S. antiterrorism laws. I'm sure whoever will be running this would have to file FINCEN forms daily, or else be charged with operating an illegal hawala. That's also the reason Google and eBay haven't already facilitated something like this in some intermediary fashion.
Jan 10, 2011 11:20 PM # 
registration of large groups - " The last thing a JROTC instructor wants to do is enter the info for 30 kids, one at a time, into a computer - especially when they never know if the kid is even going to show. They also don't want to deal with the forms, so they have the kids fill them in.

O clubs have to quit enabling other people to transfer their lack of organization (i.e. messes ) onto O clubs volunteers to sort out ( e.g. type 50 names into a computer) . JROTC and Boy Scouts etc are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow. They can just as well get themselves organized (either individually or one of them as the appointed entry person) and be online registered (or pay the higher price for day of reg) as anybody else.
Jan 11, 2011 1:59 AM # 
@iriharding - I hear you loud and clear. The problem is that they are being led by the leaders of the past! ;-)
Jan 11, 2011 10:31 PM # 
Clark what's this concern with "cash control"? Never had concerns about money going missing, and current methods don't change the proportion of pre-pay events or the amount of cash in the forest. Cash has the lowest fees of any transaction system and, for small events, its pretty easy to handle?
Jan 12, 2011 12:26 PM # 
...Never had concerns about money going missing...

Nor have I; I'm not in that business anymore. But when you have hundreds of uncontrolled dollars in a shoebox that 4-6 people are digging through, making change, handing out maps, etc you have a situation that is ripe for loss. The wad of registration slips that may, or may not, have the correct amount scrawled on them are a very loose form of control. At the end of the day, you'd better have more cash in the shoebox than the total on those slips. That's because any errors are those of omission: forgetting to write down the extra $5 received for dibber rental, etc. But how many times has the total cash fallen short? And what do you do then, with 4-6 persons involved? No control.

And at the end of the meet, one person takes all the cash and slips and goes home. That's another cash control weakness: no single person should ever have control of both the cash and the cash records. Too easy to "adjust" the total. Sure cash is the easiest to receive; it's the easiest to lose track of too.

And how about the casual spending decisions made by the meet director? To buy $100 worth of cookies and pop for the meet? Or buy $300 worth of hamburgers and fixins' and hold an impromptu BBQ afterward? I've seen it all. Nice ideas...but really, are these the best uses of scarce O revenues? For my $6 entry fee, should I also expect to be fed? I'm not saying there should never be a free cookie at a meet, but shouldn't there be more guidelines for such expenditures?

And finally, how about the spending decisions of the club officers throughout the year? Is there really any control, budget, or audit imposed upon them? Many of these expenditures are undertaken at the behest of a single officer; indeed, some clubs are completely controlled by a single person. Up until now, USOF was satisfied to just receive their annual "dues," which were based upon the club's own reported "starts"...a shaky metric already discredited in this thread. But what happens to the rest of the club's funds each year? Could the disposition stand up to hard scrutiny in the full light of day?

So on many levels, there is good reason to believe that a nationwide registration system that offers better cash control, could be the first step in imposing better, stronger centralized control of orienteering in the US, and more revenues to promote the sport across the country.
Jan 12, 2011 2:35 PM # 
Aren't these mostly club issues and not OUSA issues? I do not see how a nationwide registration system would "fix" them.

The Canadian Orienteering Championship website just opened and they are using Zone4. It seems to work pretty well for them and I recommend giving it a good look if they are now available in the US as indicated by Bash.
Jan 12, 2011 3:14 PM # 
Sure, these are ALL club issues...right now.

And all this is only my theory about this seemingly innocent Strategic Plan item. But Cash = Control. If the cash starts out in the hands of OUSA, I believe that will give them the opportunity to assert more control. Not immediately. And not totally. But eventually, after much discussion I'm sure, OUSA will be in a position to bring more operating efficiency and profitability to the whole sport, by instigating some top-down management control. Mapping, meet scheduling, recruiting, many areas that could benefit if they were addressed on a coordinated, national basis...don't you think?

For instance, if a club lost its mapper five years ago, and hasn't made a new or revised map in all that time, what has the club done with the money they would have spent for those 5 years? Could be $25 000 or more. But they've probably frittered it away...I've seen it happen. A large club bank balance = careless spending. Wouldn't it have been better for OUSA to keep it, and transfer it out to, say, Laramie Range, New Mexico or North Carolina where there are few orienteers but lots of pristine, accessible terrain none of us have ever seen? Then perhaps we could enjoy several week-long O-fests each year....along the lines of the SF model.
Jan 12, 2011 4:23 PM # 
Is there any national orienteering federation, leaving aside places small enough for the nation and the territory of one club to be virtually identical (Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Hong Kong) that operates in such a top-down, centralised way as Clark appears to be advocating?
Jan 12, 2011 4:57 PM # 
The Canadian Orienteering Championship website just opened and they are using Zone4. It seems to work pretty well for them and I recommend giving it a good look if they are now available in the US as indicated by Bash.

Fyi, when Greg first opened this thread, I put him in touch with Dan Roycroft, owner of Zone4, so it is one of the solutions that will be reviewed by OUSA. In the U.S., organizations using Zone4 will need to have their own credit card merchant account because of cross-border issues. This makes financial sense for larger clubs or groups of clubs working together, e.g. OUSA or an informal group. In Canada, the system can be used by any small club working independently because we all share Zone4's Canadian merchant account.
Jan 12, 2011 5:05 PM # 
Back to the OP, HMRRC uses Wild Apricot for 2000+ person club. Based solely on what I've heard in business meetings (not personal experience), it sounds like it deserves a B-/C+.
Jan 12, 2011 6:08 PM # 
Fabian4 in the UK is one O specific online entry site that has worked very well for me as a competitor . (I have suggested it to GregL)

see (lots of good stuff that helps an O meet director )

and home page
Jan 13, 2011 1:12 AM # 
a nationwide registration system that offers better cash control, could be the first step in imposing better, stronger centralized control of orienteering in the US,

As someone else noted: You've got to be kidding (but I know you're not)

Do you really think that the O-clubs in this country, particularly the larger ones, would willingly submit to such an arrangement? I wouldn't bet on it.
Jan 13, 2011 1:25 AM # 
Having electronically auditable registration records can be made a necessary condition of club recharter. It's by far less restrictive than other conditions imposed on clubs that wish to charter with Orienteering USA (the mandatory 501-c-threeage, in the former ED's interpretation of such, being the most draconian).
Jan 13, 2011 2:06 AM # 
501c3 was difficult, but once it's done, it's done.

Expect strong pushback on any such requirement. IMO, it is a solution in search of a problem -- as is all this talk of centralized control by O-USA.
Jan 13, 2011 2:42 AM # 
Exactly! We already have a bunch of centralized systems (,, etc). The problem is one endemic among academics and orienteers - we're to convinced that we know best to pay somebody else to do it for us. Well, have at it. I, on the other hand, have no problem offloading that piece of work to a competent vendor while I concnetrate on what I really can do well: putting on a meet.
Jan 13, 2011 3:23 AM # 
do you really think anyone would *want* to control and manage all the clubs?
Jan 13, 2011 6:15 AM # 
Chitownclark tell me you're joking!
Jan 13, 2011 11:23 AM # 
I hear the Swedish Assn is working on a system planned for use beyond Sweden.
Jan 13, 2011 12:10 PM # 
...You've got to be kidding (but I know you're not)...
....tell me you're joking!....

Geez guys...I'm not advocating any kind of totalitarian system here. Please don't over-react. But what reason do YOU think that OUSA is planning to take over local meet registration in two years?

And before you answer, tell me how you feel about the following two situations:

1. Tom Hollowell, an American, has proven to be an extremely talented orienteering organizer. He volunteered for many years for USOF managing A-meet scheduling. But when he wanted to step up to the next level, he had to leave the US and emmigrate to Sweden, where he took over management of their largest O-fest...the Swedish 5-Days, or O-Ringen. Yes, he's an American who's selling O to Swedes! I don't know the details, but why did he leave us? Shouldn't we have found a way to allow him to use his talents to sell and improve US orienteering? Perhaps he would have stayed if there was a similarly challenging national position here.

2. Swampfox (SF) for years has lived and mapped in the Rockies. I don't know much about how he does it. But we all can tell that it is his passion. And he has provided me, and probably many others, some of the best orienteering we've ever enjoyed...EVERY YEAR! And although he is regularly assisted by many others who generously contribute their time and talents, the impetus for these annual O-fests are the creation of this single guy. Wonderful for us, but is this the way the US orienteering world should run?

Some of us contemplate the work of these two remarkable orienteers, and wonder "Why hasn't OUSA been more involved here?"

In hiring an Executive Director a couple years ago, I believe OUSA is attempting to embark upon a new course. To make the national organization more relevant, and no longer content to sit on the sidelines and observe the passing O parade. Those of us who have helped manage local clubs know there is tons of money to be made here...we've only scratched at the potential. But it will take better organization, seed money NOW (donate!), and an assured income in the future.

It makes sense to me that OUSA is making this system a priority only in this context: to give them a tool to tighten up financial control, reduce losses and careless spending, and manage a better O program for all of us. Rather than becoming an unwanted Big Brother, I believe OUSA is attempting to step up to the next level...and take all of us with them!
Jan 13, 2011 12:36 PM # 
Tom Hollowell, an American, has proven to be an extremely talented orienteering organizer. He volunteered for many years for USOF managing A-meet scheduling. But when he wanted to step up to the next level, he had to leave the US and emmigrate to Sweden

I think there's a bit of confusion here, involving two different people (father and son)...
Jan 13, 2011 4:52 PM # 
As was once explained to me by a former car salesman... "Never let the details get in the way of a good story"
Jan 13, 2011 5:30 PM # 
manage local clubs know there is tons of money to be made here

At $3 or $6 member rate? YGBK. Multiply by the high-end 100 person attendance, subtract an honest rate for the mapper, amortized over 10 years, and divide by the number of hours it takes to put on a local event; you'll be a factor of at least 3 below min wage. There won't be any money until the member-service, all-volunteer, 501(c)3* model goes, or at least loses its stranglehold.

(*) 501(c)3 as understood by the former ED, and forced upon clubs and Orienteering USA. There's certainly a lot of money in, say, Division I college football programs, all of which are run by and within 501(c)3 organizations.
Jan 13, 2011 9:13 PM # 
It makes sense to me that OUSA is making this system a priority only in this context: to give them a tool to tighten up financial control, reduce losses and careless spending, and manage a better O program for all of us.

Where is the evidence that US orienteering clubs are losing money or spending it carelessly? This comes waaaay too close to challenging the integrity of the volunteers who make orienteering happen.

Are there best practices that could be shared and more widely used? Probably. But the way to do that is not by imposing top-down bureaucracy and red-tape. While Clark denies that any of this would require a "big brother" approach, the words above suggest otherwise.

Having an O-USA-based online registration system could be a great tool -- for clubs, not just for O-USA. But it should be just that: a tool -- something a club can choose to take out of the box and use. If it works well for them, a lot of clubs will use it. If not, they won't.
Jan 13, 2011 9:31 PM # 
I agree - Tools for clubs are what we are looking for . If the tool is good and has value it will get used in preference to other systems. Mandated use by O-USA would NOT be an acceptable mode of operation.
Jan 13, 2011 9:34 PM # 
What Ian said.
Jan 13, 2011 9:46 PM # 
What GuyO said. (And what Ian said.)
Jan 13, 2011 10:43 PM # 
It's not the designation. It's the interpretation. Out in this land the edict from the former ED was taken to mean there cannot be paid club officer positions, nor paid course setters. The local interpretation is, it's OK to co-sponsor a for-profit event with a for-profit company; the for-profit is essentially utilizing the services of the non-profit club. But it's not OK for the club to engage in the same activities by itself.

I don't think that's what the IRS means by 501(c)3, but that's what trickled down, in essence.
Jan 14, 2011 6:21 PM # 
Interesting. Why would anyone think it was impermissible to pay course setters but permissible to pay mappers? In practice, sure, it's easier to recruit competent volunteer course setters than competent volunteer mappers but the theoretical underpinnings of this interpretation elude me.
Jan 14, 2011 7:21 PM # 
Supply & Demand? ;-)
Jan 15, 2011 1:02 PM # 
Slippery slope? ;-)
Jan 17, 2011 10:25 AM # 
I hear the Swedish Assn is working on a system planned for use beyond Sweden.

This statement is almost correct. And may need some background explanation. In Sweden we have had a centralized membership and event registration system for about the past 10 yrs. This system was supplied free-of-charge by the National Sports Federation until 2009. Then they made a change in their IT strategy and separated a central membership registry for all sports, from the specific systems required by each individual sport. (This makes good sense by the way, so no argument there).

But this meant that the Swedish Orienteering Federation was in a position 2008 where we needed to replace/create a new event registration system for our events. And we needed to fund this ourselves. Orienteering has been far ahead of nearly every other sport in Sweden in this area so we couldn't take someone elses solution, and decided to develop our own system specific for orienteering.

The board decision however was that we should also look at making the system we develop available either to other swedish sports federations or to other international orienteering federations. In other words develop to our needs but keep in mind the needs of others so that we can expand its use later. The idea not being that we make money, but rather secure our investment and future development possibilities.

The system called Eventor was introduced for the 2010 season, i.e. has been operational for the past year and has functioned above expectations. If someone is interested in the basic functionality visit, there is an english version, in fact international orienteers can already use the system to enter Swedish events (except O-Ringen which still has its own system). On-line payment functionality is not yet available, but will be starting this year as we integrate O-Ringen entries into Eventor also.

We have just come to an agreement with the Norwegian Orienteering Federation to use Eventor as their system also starting with the 2011 season. We have found that it is more appropriate to offer the system to further international orienteering federations rather than further sports bodies in Sweden as orienteering functionality is quite specific.

Note that when creating Eventor our focus has been on providing value-added service to our member clubs and individuals, not to exercise "control" by the federation. Our internal processes are of course improved by the system, but this is dependent upon a high adoption and usage rate by the clubs and individuals so focus has been on providing services that they appreciate and that make their lives easier.

PS It was rather flattering to be confused with my father, who was a very accomplished orienteering volunteer and organiser during his active period. However, my reasons for moving abroad had nothing to do with wanting to be professionally employed in orienteering. As a lot of other things in life, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and jumped at an opportunity. I do however stongly believe that orienteering globally needs to make use of more professional resources without for that matter compromising the volunteer nature of the sport. A very tough equation to balance and I can assure you it is just as highly discussed here in Sweden as on AP.
Jan 17, 2011 10:20 PM # 
Has the eventor sysytem been developed by orienteers or did the orienteers fund an external company?

Has anyone created a list of all known online membership/entry systems that are or could be used for orienteering? Understanding what is currently available, the functionality/limitations of each system and the environment it has been developed in (both in regards to programming language/framework, open/closed source, still actively developed/maintained and whether it is/was created by an individual or team) would be of benefit to the community. If there are people interested in helping create such a list I am more than happy to coordinate the effort. Feel free to contact me directly craigfeuerherdt at gmail dot com.

The idea of each country developing its own system seems wasteful in terms of time and money however, given some of the issues acknowledged in this thread there may well be practical reasons why there has to be separate systems. Having said that, there is no real reason that individual systems couldn't be based on the same standard framework and be adapted to suit the legislative requirements in each jurisdiction.

I agree with TyrTom that any electronic systems should be about "providing value-added service to the clubs and individuals, not to exercise control".
Jan 17, 2011 10:35 PM # 
Obewan - my understanding is that Mats Troeng is working on it... according to Evan anyway who took him on a 'training camp' to the beach last week. If I had known I would have asked him one of the evenings he was staying at our place last week. Would have invited you over. Missed opportunity to pick his brain about the system. Best option is probably to contact him by email. Nice bloke.
Jan 17, 2011 11:07 PM # 
There are probably easily over 100 different event registration systems, and over 100 different membership management systems, all of which "could" be used for orienteering. It's probably more relevant to spend time and effort studying systems (1) that are sports/competition oriented, (2) integrate the need for multiple defined membership categories (including relationships such as parent-child) renewing at minimum annually with single/multi-day event registration by multiple participant types (individual, team, family, etc) at events hosted by multiple entities (e.g. clubs as well as national federations), and (3) have multiple payment processing options yet are still affordable to use for local O'meets.

Then you can start thinking about country specific issues. For example, bank transfers as discussed by Vlad, or the requirement in IdrottOnline (used by Eventor) that each person provide their social security number.

Most US-based member based registration systems balk at using social security numbers, for example, yet having a national ID number (or the equivalent) that is unchanging and unique can be quite useful in such systems. Would the US orienteering community be supportive of using SSNs?
Jan 17, 2011 11:18 PM # 
Would the US orienteering community be supportive of using SSNs?

You have to be kidding. Quite apart from the legal issues that would arise if SSNs were ever lost.

A unique identifier is fine, but using the SSN is a non-starter. The IOF manages fine with country code plus IDs given out in sequence from 1 (USA1, USA2, ...). Plain old sequence numbers from 1 (or by state, NY1, NY2, ...) would work fine. And think of the fundraising potential from auctioning prestige IDs!
Jan 17, 2011 11:21 PM # 
I agree totally glennon. The key thing is to start the list and refined it as the functionality of each system is understood.

The system we all desire should be flexible and adaptable. However building a system for each country (potentially) is ridiculous when 95% (perhaps 99%) of the requirement is the same. Is there any possibility that we can all work together to create what we all need?
Jan 18, 2011 12:49 AM # 
At the Aussie national conference (national executive and state presidents) the same idea was mooted... ie. almost every Aussie state is independently at various stages of moving towards an online database and entry capacity. It seems likely to me that at least a couple of states will beat the national body to it - even though it was agreed that reinventing the wheel should not occur. Volunteer burn-out, lack of paid (OA) staff and 'herding cats' syndrome are quite effective at keeping orienteers at cross-purposes! As with other countries we have state-to-state variability in entry fees and also independent vs state-controlled club structure.
Jan 18, 2011 9:20 AM # 
Has the eventor system been developed by orienteers or did the orienteers fund an external company?

Eventor has been developed by the Swedish Orienteering Federation using multiple external resources, all orienteers. Project Management has been provided by the federation. Mats Troeng has been the technical project manager and is employed by an external consulting company. As most probably know, Mats also has his own company and has developed globally used tools like WinSplits and QuickRoute. Additional programmering resources have been provided by 2 other orienteers/IT professionals who have also programmed and support our national meet administration/timekeepimg system called OLA. So all 3 resources have a longstanding relationship doing development work in orienteering and for the federation. They more or less work on a retainer basis.

The system we all desire should be flexible and adaptable. However building a system for each country (potentially) is ridiculous when 95% (perhaps 99%) of the requirement is the same. Is there any possibility that we can all work together to create what we all need?

Exactly our thinking! No federation, including Sweden, has the long-term investment and maintenance funding needed to keep this kind of system current and fully developed. And believe it or not, 95% of the issues we face in Sweden are the same as the rest of the orienteering world.

I am aware of the potential sensitivity and fear of becoming dependent upon "the big guy", and therefore we have proposed that these issues be handled via formal agreements and a commitment to building an auditable structure for support and development. Now that we have taken the first step, i.e. spreading Eventor to Norway, we are committed, there is no way back.
Jan 18, 2011 7:02 PM # 
The reason people keep reinventing the wheel, at least in this particular case, is not the fear of big-guy dependency. It is true that 95% of the issues/functionality are the same. But it somehow always happens that you must have these 2% that seemingly nobody else wants, or thinks they are important. And for the big guy, to go the extra 2% is 10% or more of the overall effort, and they don't think it's important to anyone except you, so they won't do it, and they tell you so.

For example, I'm sure Eventor is great. But given the conditions for which it's been developed, I'd also guess there wasn't much thought given to its applicability in the North American financial context. So I wouldn't expect integration with PayPal or Google, only these Euro bank transfers that only work inside Europe. (Big thanks to the IOF for trying to get this point across in recent communications, and it should have been started 15 years ago.) Google requires quite complex efforts to integrate on the merchant/club's side, and I wouldn't expect Eventor creators to have gone this far.

So, as an organizer, would I use something great that is integrated with a database that I can't access, and uses payments that I can't process? Most likely not. I'll write something myself, if I have the expertise, or use Active and pay the 6.75%.
Jan 18, 2011 10:19 PM # 
One major difference between the systems and the culture (in USA and Canada)you´re talking about and what Eventor supports is that in Sweden all payments are made by the club and not by individual runners. And as far as I understand you can´t even use Eventor to register for a meet if you´re not a club-member with your own ID. Your personal ID number (similar to Social Security Number) has to be provided to get this, but as RunnerID you´re then given an independent number.

I don´t think (but I may be wrong on this point) that Eventor even supports online payments within the system. The organizers of course can use the system to import data into their usual administrative system (OLA or OLEinzel) to produce a summary( i.e. a bill) for each club but this can then be paid in several different ways - usually some kind of transfer of money between bank accounts - outside Eventor.

Very often even entries on the day for Open courses are billed to the club and not paid in cash (definitely an honour system, but I´ve never heard of anyone mis-using it).
Jan 18, 2011 11:15 PM # 
Dan: fresh one. Don't know how it happened, trying to identify and plug the leak...

18. The ability to handle all communications with the participants server-side, i.e. a setup in which contact info never has to be downloaded by the registrar. The download-ability should be there, but also a way to not exercise it unless absolutely necessary.
Jan 18, 2011 11:17 PM # 
One major difference between the systems and the culture (in USA and Canada)you´re talking about and what Eventor supports is that in Sweden all payments are made by the club and not by individual runners.

... and then we all have to be honest with ourselves about that 95% number... can it possibly be that it's not really 95% and more like 45%? if so, the Australian experience certainly becomes easier to explain.
Jan 18, 2011 11:25 PM # 
I'm still hopeful but I haven't yet seen any sign of the holy grail here.

It seems that integrating payment is quite a big obstacle. Eventor doesn't yet do it in Sweden though there is perhaps experience with the O-Ringen system to draw on. But the banking environment is very different between countries.

Bubo mentioned the cultural difference between entry by clubs vs individuals. This may hide another difference, that of the scale of events between say Scandinavia and North America. Take software in general, there isn't just ONE universal photo-editing package, HR system, General Ledger etc, but differing products pitched at different scales of enterprise. SI software is another example that has its variants. I am doubtful that Eventor is the answer for a tiny country down under. I am even doubtful that a solution for North America is the answer for me. For example I go to more events than most people, but I don't have a problem with typing my name, contact details and SI number in each time.

I keep thinking that if the payment process is separated off (remember its sufficiently hard that Eventor doesn't do it yet) then the task of providing some information to the organisers (names, SI numbers, course from a menu, etc) by electronic means is quite easy. Not trivial, but the sort of expertise with website facilities that we could share. Reconciliation with a separate payment process - not a big deal. I am registrar for events from 10-500 people.

Think back a decade or so. One or two gurus would write crude event management software in programming languages and the rest of us had to request changes from them. (Some of this ancient stuff is still on the IOF website software list FCS.) Now many of us can do this kind of thing in a spreadsheet, enabling the wrinkles that ALWAYS crop up to be catered for on an event by event basis.
Jan 19, 2011 12:25 AM # 
' I don't have a problem with typing my name, contact details and SI number in each time.'

I don't have a problem with writing my name, contact details and SI number, or with reaching into my pocket to pull out some cash.

I know there are some benefits with pre-entry and pre-payment, but for events with <100-120 entries (ie 90% of the events in Western Australia, and I suspect NZ & USA) the economies of scale are minimal.
Jan 19, 2011 2:04 AM # 
'Economies of scale are minimal'
Yes, if you design the rest of the event infrastructure to match the scale of the event. But if you mismatch, you end up with two computers, network, power supply and someone typing in 100-120 names SI numbers and class in an uncomfortable environment.
Jan 19, 2011 2:50 AM # 
Not so long ago I'm sure people were arguing that the economies of scale of pre-printed maps weren't worth it for events with only a couple of hundred people attending. Traitorous and confronting change occurred and now we have preprinted maps at (almost) every event. There will always be a place for minor events (in particular) to have enter on the day and cash payments, particularly as our aim should be to welcome all comers - not place barriers to newcomers. However, from a volunteer retention and simplicity point of view the more we can change the culture to be accepting of pre-entry the better. Here in Western Australia we are testing the water with pre-entry for our 'badge' events this year, once that proves successful it will likely expand. The database side will come later with Orienteering Australia's involvement - we hope.
Jan 19, 2011 8:40 PM # 
bubo is almost right also, but not quite.

Yes, the prevailing culture in Sweden is that entry fees are billed to the club instead of the individual with one big glowing exception, O-Ringen. The O-Ringen entry system accepts credit card payments globally. When we looked at creating Eventor we looked at using the O-Ringen system, but decided that it was very specific to O-Ringen and would be difficult to "down-size" for all event types. So instead a new platform was used for scalability from very small to very large. Eventor is used for club events of just a few starters as much as for larger events.

Since we have a functioning system for O-Ringen (which includes on-line payments) and the prevailing culture for other events was club payments, then payment functionality has not been a priority in the first development stage of Eventor. However, the development of direct payment capability has been planned right from the beginning, as well as using Eventor for O-Ringen entries. As I wrote previously O-Ringen entries and payments are now in development stage.

One thing that bubo is wrong about is that you need to be a club member to obtain an eventorID and register for events. Anyone can do this. The ID used in Eventor is not SSN based. (However, in Sweden only, Eventor replicates with the national sports ID database which is SSN based) Note: Norway which does not have a functioning national ID database will be using only EventorID functionality.

There is also a trend in Sweden that more orienteers would like to pay directly per event for their entry. Personally I'll comment that it is no fun getting a large bill for entries from the club once or twice per year. I would really prefer to pay for each entry directly and spread the cost over the year. This will be possible in Eventor going forward.
Jan 19, 2011 9:32 PM # 
It sounds like Eventor is heading in the right direction. Obviously no system can provide all the required functionality from the start and quite often functionality which people/clubs/organisations think they need end up being left out because other items come to the fore.

I agree payment is a large one however it is really only practical at large events ie 100+ IMHO. Speaking personally, online registration for local events may offer some advantages however they are designed to be more accessible and a paper-based system will continue to work at this level. Naturally the paper information should be put into a system to record attendance etc. Having said that, providing the functionality to pay membership fees down to a club level is important. Allowing countries/clubs to select the preferred 3rd party payment system google, PayPal etc etc

It appears that Eventor is heading in the right direction. Is there a publicly accessible requests/caveat/issues system ie TRAC, JIRA etc? Even if it was view only it may provide everyone with a clearer picture of where the application is hosting.

I am interested in finding out more about the (non-commercial aspects of the) agreement you have put in place with Norway. I would also be interested in knowing whether it is about creating a commercial system or is it more an open source model? If it is the later would there be opportunity for other like-minded geeky orienteers to contribute to the development?
Jan 19, 2011 9:43 PM # 
I know there are some benefits with pre-entry and pre-payment, but for events with <100-120 entries (ie 90% of the events in Western Australia, and I suspect NZ & USA) the economies of scale are minimal.

I've been running meets on that scale for years now, and I am totally fed up with trying to handle everything at the meet. For some reason, the meets I organize tend to have larger than average turnouts, pushing the upper limit of "small meet". They are basically B meets that we have been running like C meets. The last couple of meets, I started ad hoc pre-entry and pre-payment with anyone who seemed open to it, and this made a huge improvement in operations on meet day.
Jan 19, 2011 9:46 PM # 
The differences between group and individual registration are important. JROTC groups come with anywhere from 4 to 40 cadets, and all arrangements are made with instructors.
Jun 19, 2011 3:16 PM # 
@glennon, how are things going with respect to the Online Registration System? (By all accounts, the Online Membership renewal has been well received.)

Unlike membership renewal, online registration will need to serve somewhat more diverse needs. It might be helpful to share, in some detail, schedule, features, requirements and progress with the clubs, registrars and registrants that will be expected to use it. It might also be helpful to provide some forum for evaluation and feedback before things become set in stone.

In the absence of any new information to date, the 2012 US Individual Champs will be pushing ahead with O-signup, although I am told that O-signup will likely be retired due to the introduction of the new OUSA system before 2013.

Incidentally, is it envisioned that use of the new system will become compulsory for A-meets?

This discussion thread is closed.