New Class Website: Suggestions Please.

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by Bradley, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Just having the site up and running and constantly being improved is great. Let's not ever declare the site perfect or even good enough

    Remember when Borden 's ads claimed their milk was good because it came from contented cows??

    Troyer's Dairy in Union City, PA had a billboard:

    OUR COWS ARE NOT CONTENTED. THEY ALWAYS STRIVE TO DO BETTER

    We need to think outside the old box. If the website is going to become our new major tool for Class management, we should also consider reworking the entire operation of the entire association

    It sure would be great if we could find a way to compensate Bradley financially so he will WANT to continue for the long term...or at least until he turns 30 by which time I hope the old fart finds and trains a replacement for himself!!! Retired 30 year old Bradley should be sailing not managing a damn sailblat organization. Let the youngsters he recruited do that while he plays.

    Perhaps it is time to do as the ILCA constitution says and write up a set of By laws to "carry out the functions and responsabilities of the region." Our current system with an Executive Secretary and a mailroom may be outdated.
    If the information gathering and dispersal chores of our class management are going to be largely handled using tools maintained by different staff, the funding should be moved from the old newsletter, mail and phone staff to those who manage and gather information for the electronic media.

    Funds dedicated to information gathering and dispersal is a HUGE portion of annual NA Class Budget. Between 1999 and 2002 no less than $25,000 per year was spent on labor whose sole purpose was to gather regatta information, make schedules, get results, write articles and format the information for the newsletter and website.
    ( side note>>>I used to spend a few thousand bucks year on film and developing. We should have some available dollars from that budget with digital cameras in use)

    In recent years the class has listed under 30% of the events formerly publicized on our website and in our newsletter. Articles, results, and photos are nearly non existent in the newsletter and available for only a handful of events on the website.
    Since late 2002 the members have been able to bypass the paid staff and list their own events. Although the member contributions have been much greater than in past years, the total number of events and the timeliness of their scheduling has been pathetic.
    If the Class Secretary is no longer going to perform the vast majority of the information and scheduling task, we must consider re assigning the funds formerly allotted to the paid staff for accomplishing those tasks.
    How much money should we take out of the Secretary budget? $25,000 is merely a good number for discussion. If the website team can earn some money through advertising or merchandise sales ar some other schemes, the Class operational budget for electronic media could be much greater. Would the Electronic Class Management officer be a good concept for a Constitutionally defined title?? Should that person be elected or carefully hired by the executive committee?? I don't know. I do think we need that officer /manager.
    As JDE would harp endlessly>>> Someone needs to provide due diligence in the management of those funds as they are class assets.

    Certainly we could use those funds to pay website developers

    When the paid staff did the job, we used to have information about 300 or more regattas on line and in our newsletter. In recent years, at some times of the year, we have had as few as a dozen future events available for our sailors to read and become excited enough to plan a trip. The website has not had information about over 150 regattas at any time in the last three years. Nobody is doing over 75% of the work we used to pay someone $25,000 to do for us.

    If we really wish to organize a successful effort to solve the abysmal performance resulting from our under-managed attempt to "have people schedule their own regattas and publish the schedules on line." I believe we need to do a bit more than "make the website easy to use."

    Unless we want to do it ourselves, We need to give someone else a reason to do the work. How about??.....T$25,000 we used to budget for staff to do that. Suppose we were to have "bounty hunters" who could find regattas and publish "defined information which meets certain specifications" on our website. Then they could collect the bounty!!

    Using my $25,000 budget and assuming every regatta posted on line in 2005 was paid for we could have paid $250 per posting. We didn't. We didn't offer the money and we didn't get the job done. No one was told the money was available ONLY if that specific work was done!!

    I bet if we defined the necessary information and offered a $25 check for posting the information, we could get 500 regattas posted to our website in a year. That would use only $12,500 and leave the other $12,500 for those who develop and manage the site.

    Just think, some kid could spend all weekend Googling yacht club websites, calling a few people, making certain the information was correct and when he posted the results after each regatta next summer, he would receive a check for a 25 bucks per event. Local guys might hustle to post their own events so some snowed in Canadian kid with a computer in North Overshoe would not beat them to the post and suck up that $25 posting bounty which had been budgeted for trophies and beer!!!
    Not to pick on one kid but I bet sailor327 could find twenty events this weekend, get them posted, and find and publish the results later for that $500 which would become a new sail. Just turn him and the rest of the webbies loose to make our game great.

    The kids might become addicted to the money and post events years and years in advance. They could take out loans for college with their future "results payments" as collateral.

    On the website...which is the focus of this thread.

    of course you could disagree with me about doing this and ruin the future not just of sailing but of our world as the kids would have no money to go sailing or to school.
    Don't do it. But when the kids with no educatiuon find their way to the pool halls and end up as drunks on the streets, remember whose fault it was not!!!


    What else can we do with the website to make Laser sailing boom???
     
  2. Bradley

    Bradley Administrator Staff Member

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    Re: New Class Website: Good Discussion

    Hi Everyone,
    I will step in here to offer some comments and status updates on the new class website.

    First, as Tracy has mentioned we are aware of the 404 error. I haven't had a chance to completely review the problem, but over the next few days I will be working on that.

    Second, the website will never be finished. That is one of the greatest parts about the software that powers the website. There is always room for improvement, new plug-ins, features, versions, etc. We are in the early stages of the site. It was argued we should wait and get more loose ends tied up before launch, but we [the web committee] decided to go ahead with the launch and work out the details later since the existing class website was so horrible and outdated.

    When you find a bug, 404 error, 500 error, 102493 error, whatever, send us a message and let us know about the problem. We can't fix something that we don't know is broken. The address for all of us is dev@laserforum.org. We review over every email and attempt to fix the problems as they are discovered.

    Third, I think Fred's comments make sense. Since we are throwing around pretty numbers lets say the class website makes $200 a month in advertising. Now minus the cost of hosting, which is $12/month and domain name registration, which is $15/year. That leaves us $186.75 a month in pure profits from the website. Now lets say we offer $10 for every regatta posted. With the figures above, the class could support 224.1 regatta postings without taking money out of any other department of the budget.

    The best news of all this, the class website's value per month is much higher than $200, if sold properly (meaning sold directly to advertisers, not google). The site could easily pull in $300-400+ per month. The plan is to sell direct advertising in the future. The google ads are meant as building blocks and placeholders.

    These are just some thoughts and a lot of numbers. Please remember that not all the numbers used in this post are the actual costs / revenues but were used for representative purposes.

    Cheers,
     
  3. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    More website financing...sorry if I am boring people but we need to think about our future or not have one...

    The class collects funds from advertising, memberships, and generous support from Vanguard @ one US Membership price per new boat manufactured.
    There is about $130,000 total.

    $20K goes through us and on to the ILCA @ 4.5 pounds per member

    It takes a certain amount of money to gather the funds, count them, and pass out membership cards.
    We have decided to pay people to do all of the above described work for us and they need to be paid.

    Currently our budget is based upon an office staff that schedules events, creates newsletters and distributes those newsletters.

    The website management is, with respect to our budget, more of an afterthought than our single most impoirtant tool.

    When the newsletter was out single most important tool ( while Allan and I were setting up the budgets) we collected as much as $30K per year from advertisers to defray the cost of the newsletter. During my last year the entire cost of the four newsletters from compilation to layout to production to distribution approached $65K
    We felt the Class WAS the newsletter and we believed a super newsletter would spread our information and drive a super Laser sailing game.
    We put a lot of our money and resources into creating the newsletter.

    Now we believe the website is the class. A super website can spread our information and drive a super Laser sailing game.

    The question I cannot begin to answer relates to the percentages of our limited funds and manpower which should be optimally directed to the website and the newsletter and when we should pay for what kind of professional labor.

    The class probably still needs to have a staff who collect our membership funds, maintain our membership files, distribute membership cards and perform necessary accounting.

    As we change our emphasis from the printed and mailed media to the electronic media, I think we need to consider how we should redirect our resources.

    Bradley's note above suggests a website which is self sufficient. I believe our historical budgets indicate we should be subsidizing the website and paying for professional management.

    back when our website looked like this http://cerebus.winsite.com/laser/laser/
    I spent a few hours every day doing stuff to the site. Some of the time was spent on the actual production of the pages. More of the time was spent on gathering new and checking old information. Lots of what was on the site was copoed and pasted from the newsletter. The site was an afterthought but we knew it was becoming a major important tool.

    I could easily spend all day every day working on the new class website. My contributions would have nothing to do with the nuts and bolts of its operation. I would be gathering and publishing information. With no time allowed for actual site function development, there is more than a full time job to be done simply finding and placing information on the site.
    If there is an opportunity to sail Lasers in North America, our site needs to help anyone who might be interested. Not only should our site tell where to sail, it needs to tell when, with whom, how to sail the boats, where to get one, where to get parts, how to fix, when to fix, when not to fix, which rigging works, what does not, what clothes, where to eat, where to sleep, what's the weather, who else might show up, what other events are nearby, who went, how they did, how did last year's event go, where is next year's event, who almost won, who was last, who was nice, what the spouses did, who watched, how to watch, when not to be in the way, what are the rules, who wrote them, PHOTOS, VIDEOS, probably a class merchandise store, ...I could go on with this list all day. If our website is to be supre functional and useful..and seductive and entertaining....Somebody needs to spend years and years compiling the information so whoever might need it can access it.

    Then we have to make the interest translate from being at a desk to wanting to visit our site to wanting to check out what it is we know anybody who even tries it once will instantly fall addicted to and never ever stop for the rest of his or her life.... but if they do stop the website will be there to lure them back.

    That was the object of the newsletter and I believe it is the object of the website,,,

    for he who believes in Laser shall have eternal fun.

    Summary: It is not a question of if we shift our emphasis and funding. The question is about how quickly and how much and what we just quit doing so we can afford our new set of tasks.
     
  4. MasterMike

    MasterMike D22

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    Re: New Class Website: Good Discussion

    I believe the 404 was the long lost prototype for a single-hander based on the 505, no?

    Seriously, I just got around to finding the new site - looks great, Bradley!

    I am far from most of you, so the more information the better. Good thoughts and ideas everyone - ever forward! The idea of community cannot be underemphasized.

    Mike
     
  5. jon

    jon Member

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  6. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Leave it to the physicist to find the most complicated solution and ignore the simple one!

    Thanks Jon!!!

    I rest easier now. And, presumably, the 404 errors will decrease over time as people slowly adjust.
     
  7. MasterMike

    MasterMike D22

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    Re: New Class Website: Good Discussion

    OOP!...cannot be OVERemphasized!
     
  8. Michelle

    Michelle New Member

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    [/QUOTE]
    for he who believes in Laser shall have eternal fun.
    [/QUOTE]

    Now there's a bumper sticker.

    Fred rocks!
     
  9. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Aw Blush shuffle golly whiz. You going to bring friends this year who sail or let them spend the weekend building houses??

    About the calendar>>

    I am in central Texas. As it is I can only post regattas for District 15 or major, masters, or worlds.
    Most Texas regattas are attended by Texan and Oklahomans. OK is D-16 south.
    Houston and Port Arthur Regattas need to be posted for District 14 as well.
    New Orleans regattas need sailors from Texas and District 16, 17, 12, and 13.
    The Easter regatta in Austin regularly has sailors from districts 23, 16, 21, 20, 18, 10, 14, 13, 6, 25, 17, 28, and sometimes a few Europeans or Aussies.

    We need a way to post for multiple districts when we reasonably expect attendance from those districts.
     
  10. Bradley

    Bradley Administrator Staff Member

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    Fred, we are currently developing this technology you are talking about. All of us on the web development comm are aware of this problem. We are working on the best solution. Some recoding of the calendar will be required to make this work.
     
  11. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    and Bradley gets a new Laser when it s done??

    Maybe with a Lamborghini to tow it??

    And a gas card...

    Shoot high!!!
     
  12. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm just guessing here, but I'll bet if Bradley could have anything as reward it would be a new computer servor (sp?) so that he could serve even more classes of sailors. . . with a Lamborhini to tow it.

    Merrily
     

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