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New board section for newbies/enthusiasts

There is a new set of forums on Stormtrack, which are hidden from view. When you log out, you will be able to see them. They are being kept out of sight because we realize that a lot of Stormtrack users may not be interested in them.

For a good chunk of the week, myself and the moderators have been discussing the issue of people we are turning away. We are obviously not able to approve all memberships, because Stormtrack requires chase experience or educational credentials. There are a lot of armchair chasers, enthusiasts, photographers, and spotters who don't quite make the cut, or are discouraged from sending in their membership essay.

So tonight we've set up the board so that users who register and reply to the confirmation message will be able to immediately post in these new forums, which we are calling Stormwatch. We have also approved 17 members who had registered since yesterday (I have no idea how many of them sent in essays).

Nobody has the slightest idea if this will work. On one hand, these users may not have too much interest in chasing or may find Stormtrack too intimidating, and may be happy with the newbie boards. On the other hand, the users may resent not getting a "full fledged" pass into Stormtrack. We don't really know. So this is being run as a sort of experiment to see if this idea can work somehow. If it is counterproductive we'll be getting rid of it. If it works, though, it may attract participation from our experienced chasers, and it will have some really useful educational benefits.

As far as all you are concerned, the question is how you want this Stormwatch board to appear. Here are the options that are feasible with our current software:
  • Stormwatch is invisible, viewable only when you log out and view the site as a guest
  • Stormwatch is visible only by requesting a "hybridized" account from an admin
  • Stormwatch is visible normally on the list of boards (you can actually make the entire forum disappear by viewing only the Stormtrack Forums category -- http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/index.php?showforum=20)
For what it's worth, only Stormtrack members are able to view Information Desk, so you can make comments here without worrying about guests and Stormwatch members seeing them.

Well, i don't know if they would go for it, but I think it is a good idea for people who are just getting into or have a slight intrest in chasing. At least this way they will still be able to ask questions and all of that good stuff.
I personally would vote for having them visible to a sort of committee or group of moderators that are members here that would be available to answer questions. Other than that, it is best to keep them to the general view only.
As a member I would like to have acess to view and respond to these sections. As far as forums go the more members on it the better.
I like it the way it is now, but I'm betting you're going to have the whole elite debate resurface on the new boards in a few months when you have more members. As long as the whole thing doesn't spill over onto the Stormtrack forums, I'm happy. I do like the idea that you've found a way to bring people together who don't actively chase and I hope the Stormwatch forums work out. Anyway, I say leave it like it is now - invisible while I'm logged on.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out as there are a number of general weather interest boards. I have no opinion at present but will check out the new part now and then to see what is going on.

Bill Hark
I am what you would call an armchair chaser. I am not even sure how I was able to log in because I never replied to the email or sent an essay, all because I am not a chaser (can't afford the equipment yet and don't have enough knowledge). I just want to say that the opportunity to post in the forums is something that I have wanted, partly because I could have done some storm spotting and reporting on those storms that rolled through the Kansas City area on March 12th. I don't know about other newbies, but I don't plan on posting unless I have relevant information and I know what I am talking about. I don't want to interfere with the credibility of this board, or annoy the chasers that know what they are doing.

Lastly, I would like to add that even if I am not allowed to post later, I will still use this board because the chasers provide such great information. I was on this board all last weekend (among other times) tracking the storms. This is one place I come to for up-to-date, accurate information. I thank all of you for doing what you do.

As much as I am interested in weather, and the science that makes it work, I still think that there are things I could learn from the newbie boards. I do know a bit more about the science behind weather than the average Joe, but I still have an immense amount to learn, both in practical applications and in pure knowledge. That being said, at this particular juncture, I think it would be advantageous for me to be able to see and post on both sets of boards. While I know some people know everything about weather, and the newbie boards would not be of interest to them, I would imagine that there are a fair amount of people that could learn something from the newbie boards, maybe some old school folks.

To those who are not interested in the newbie boards, nobody is making them read them, so I do not see why they should be invisible to to them. Passing some of of one's knowledge to up-and-coming enthusiasts is not only a noble gesture, but potentially might have an impact on a young mind that will carry the storm chasing banner further after we are no longer able to carry that banner. At some point, everyone here knew less about weather than even these newbie members, until they got some formal education or got taken another person's wing. These new folks are reaching out for knowledge; who are we to decide what they should or should not know? This leads me to my next point.

I can understand the need to avoid newbies posting newbie questions in critical areas of the boards, but why not allow the to read them? This board, and the site as a whole, is a treasure trove to the thirsting mind, so why not make the normal boards read only for these new members? I know before I joined, I spent hours and hours reading these boards, gaining knowledge above and beyond what I could learn in a textbook. why deny them this opportunity? Knowledge should be shared, and when it is, it makes the world a better place.

In summary, this is what I think, and this is only my opinion.

1. Allow full members to see and post on the newbie boards.
2. Allow newbie members to post on those two boards, and read the normal forums.

My two cents, thanks for listening.
We've decided to undo the Stormwatch experiment for various reasons, the most obvious being the lack of use. The Stormwatch forums are now gone and the entire membership application procedure is back to what it was before last week. So this topic is now moot. However, we can continue discussion about how (and whether) to accommodate non-chasers.

Users who signed up during the past 7 days are being grandfathered in.

Here's perhaps a middle ground approach. Limit membership to those with at least some tangible experience with severe weather. This could include demonstrated interest in meteorology or coursework in meteorology or geophysics. Those who demonstrate the requisite interest but haven't yet met chasing reqirements can read all forums, PM all members, but only post to a "special" forum, perhaps called Wannabes.

Once a "wannabe" member has attained the necessary experience and demonstrated that their board behavior is as bad -- uh, good -- as the rest of us can apply to the ST administrator for "full" membership. JOPO.