*** Stormtrack changes & recommendations thread ***

The recent Stormtrack reorg x2 has created a storm of controversy and discussion with much input from many. I've read many of the ideas and contributed some myself. I'm thinking that in a week or two Tim and the Mod's may want to review the state of things after the dust has settled.

I decided to try and list everything I had seen discussed briefly and hopefully concisely in this post with a number prefix. This should make it easier in the future to consider possible modifications to Stormtrack if and when the management decides to make any alterations. Perhaps I missed some of your ideas. If I did I think you are welcome to add them below the ones I summarized in your own post. However please make sure first that I haven't already stated your idea. If I have then please refer to my entry's # and then add how you would modify it.

If you have additional ideas then please provide them in sequentially incremented numbers from the ones I have provided. Please keep your ideas brief and to the point with no politics or opinions involved. Instead just include the bare 'skeleton' of your idea.

Here is a summary of the ideas so far as I have seen them:

1) Current setup: Keep the whole site membership and focus around chasers and chasing. 60% B&G means no B&G until below again. Old members remain as long as they follow rules. New members screened for per to be determined chaser application and selection criteria. No special or protected areas. But no posts about politics and religion


2) Doug M’s suggestion: Let anyone in (including non-chase types - meaning anyone) . Let everybody pretty much post as they please so long as they aren’t flaming. All areas are open and politics and religion aren’t off limits.

3) Have a protected or secondary membership for Target Area to minimize ‘noise’ in that area. Similar to last season. Whether it should be visible to all or not is open to discussion.

4) Have a special protected ‘Advanced Topics’ section that only administrators and moderators can post to, but that everyone can view. The advanced topics presented here are sponsored feature articles, studies, white papers, and technical briefs. These are presented by various meteorological and chase ‘experts’ in the field by invitation, or request and approval. This may include a separate area where peers can critique and discuss the various posts, or even non protected areas where everyone can discuss and ask questions.

5) Have a special section for chase newbies, wannabies, and weather enthusiasts. This would be an area for learning and more experienced members might volunteer to moderate and assist those learning and to help foster their education.

6) Provide a ‘Noise’ and ‘Flame’ button for each post whereby if participants feel a members post is noise or flame they can click it. If a certain level of votes is reached some type of disciplinary measure would be taken for that member either automatically, or by moderator review.

7) Provide application based Ebay type membership ratings or icons which display similar to avatars with each post and indicate a members chase / meteorological experience level or score. It may also be possible to secure certain areas of the site based on your level which can change as you mature and grow as a chaser / met. The benefit of this is people would have a clue if someone is really somewhat authoritative or just wasting their time. This is helpful for newbies requesting assistance, and general discussions. Downside is it could be inaccurate, possibly manipulated, or create self consciousness in some.
 
This is a controversial topic

Users are polarized on the latest changes, so we are imposing special guidelines. If you choose to participate...
- Tell us what is to be done and why (be constructive).
- Do not argue with other participants, name names, or quote people. Sorry, no debating.
- Do not come back to rehash your ideas over and over. Edit your post if necessary.

We have no plans to make immediate changes. We will, however, consider all ideas.
 
I was wondering why the specific wording for this rule was used in the Maproom rules:

(6) A post about any hurricane and tropical storm with the potential to reach the United States may be made; one per storm.

Shouldn't a post about ANY hurricane and/or tropical storm be allowed; whether it threatens the U.S. or not? I think forecasting discussions on any sort of organized tropical system are relevant to the content in the "Maproom" area. If a category 4 hurricane barrels into Belize, shouldn't that deserve a post, too? I think the words "with potential to reach the United States" should be tossed. Just throwing out my two cents.
 
Just my guess, but I am thinking that would make the storm more in the realm of the "weather weenie" than the "storm chaser," which would move it to a different forum.
 
Reproduced and edited from another thread....

I suggest is the addition of a forum called something like the Classroom where the (currently) armchair chasers and newbies hang out. I would then limit the Map Room posts for an event (FCST, NOW, REPORT) to members who will be or are themselves directly involved in chasing on a given day/event. "Directly involved" means being either on the road chasing themselves or specifically appointed as a "nowcaster/homebase" in a post by a member who is themself chasing, or residing within X miles (X=100?) of the FCST or NOW event. Those members not meeting the above criteria with respect to a storm event must open and/or post into a separate FCST or NOW thread in the Classroom forum.

In otherwords, if I were chasing NOW and ST members A and B were armchair chasers I wanted in on the thread, I would open up my NOW posting slot and say, "Members A and B are nowcasting for me", and A and B can post. Everyone else stays the heck out of the Map Room thread, and can discuss the event rather freely in the Classroom threads. However, ad hominem kibbitzing or discussion of specific chasers' efforts shouldn't be allowed anywhere except in PM or unless initiated by the chaser or their designated armchair casters themselves. In fact I suggest it be a no-no to discuss specific chasers' efforts in this or other boards unless invited or initiated by the chasers' themselves. Egos are just too fragile and this is one of the main incitements for flaming, etc.

From my observation and experience, IMHO this should probably work ok and the veterans will like it, too! It should keep the Map Room thread quality and conciseness up and its content more timely.

This should also cover hurricanes, monsoons, snowstorms, etc. If the path or extent is anticipated to be near your location or you are chasing/spotting the event you can post in the Map Room; otherwise you should post in the Classroom. FWIW.
 
I'd propose that instead of making a forum just for the new people that a forum is made for the more advanced instead. I would make an 'Advanced Map Room' that is readable by everyone. However the ability to post should only be granted after a member has proven themselves and can be revoked if they start to cause problems. The one thing with this however is that it needs very very specific guidelines about who will be granted the ability to post and who won't. It should be based on posts from the Map Room and nothing more. Specific guidelines will avoid the problem of creating an 'elite' class among the people on ST.

Now the Map Room would be left as it is now with its current rules and the fact that everyone can post. Then what should be done is a mod to the forum so that all posts in the Advanced Map Room are mirrored over to the Map Room. This would allow everyone to comment, and create a more open atmosphere for learning, ect.

The people who just want hardcore met discussions can read the Advanced Map Room only. New people will get a place to post while they learn exactly how everything works on ST.

Finally, anyone who complains about Bar & Grill should have their ability to read it revoked. It should be a fun forum where people can talk about a variety of things. People who complain would rather it be gone, which it in effect will be if they can no longer read it.
 
1. Put restrictions back on the Map Room, perhaps using an application proccess where one can explain their chasing and/or meteorology background.

2. Have a forum for newbies, and restrict the accounts of newbies so that they may only post in that section, but allow them to read all other sections. Similar to how the FAQ was laid out awhile back, except they can ONLY post in that section.

3. Perhaps add a forum for "Advanced Meteorology Topics" or something. It would basically be the Weather Lab without the fluff. It would be open to only those who have access to the Map Room (using my suggestion number 1, of course).

4. Nothing hidden to registered users. Anyone who is a member of Stormtrack should have read-access to all forums. (with the exception of moderator and admin forums)
 
Originally posted by rdewey
1. Put restrictions back on the Map Room, perhaps using an application proccess where one can explain their chasing and/or meteorology background.
Hmmm... I could have sworn the posting restrictions were still on in the Map Room as they were in TA. I guess not. :?
 
Originally posted by rdewey
1. Put restrictions back on the Map Room, perhaps using an application proccess where one can explain their chasing and/or meteorology background.

2. Have a forum for newbies, and restrict the accounts of newbies so that they may only post in that section, but allow them to read all other sections. Similar to how the FAQ was laid out awhile back, except they can ONLY post in that section.

3. Perhaps add a forum for \"Advanced Meteorology Topics\" or something. It would basically be the Weather Lab without the fluff. It would be open to only those who have access to the Map Room (using my suggestion number 1, of course).

4. Nothing hidden to registered users. Anyone who is a member of Stormtrack should have read-access to all forums. (with the exception of moderator and admin forums)

This very much mirrors the suggestions I laid out in the other thread a couple days ago. The only way this can be implemented, the way I understand phpBB, is to create usergroups. What you are suggesting is very similar to what I am suggesting. Even though I did suggest a "hidden" board for advanced topics, I'm open to read-access for all members.

Above anything else, the change I would most like to see is the "FAQ/newbies" reinstated on its own again. This will keep these topics from being posted in WeatherLab. WeatherLab is too broad of a forum, and I think it will help keep the signal high.

There are currently no Usergroups for posting priveledges in specific boards of the Forum, even for the board f.k.a. TA.
 
I have just done some quick research into what is and isn't possible with the phpBB system that powers the ST board. It turns out that some of the things I would like to see are currently impossible - there is no way to implement user moderation, for example. Any limited access to portions of the board pretty much has to be done through usergroups as As Mike U has pointed out, although possibly you could setup a scheme based on moderator-given rankings. The "flame" button is definitely out, for now. But maybe not for ever...

What I mainly wanted to point out is that a new version of phpBB is in the works, to be released "sometime in 2005". Many new features will supposedly become available at that time. But keep in mind the fact that release dates for software are notoriously imprecise.

The gist of all this is that we can discuss the merits of various fancy additions to the ST board forever, or until the moderators get fed up and lock the thread, but the reality is that any implementing of these bells-and-whistle type features will have to wait upon the release of phpBB V3. I suggest that for the moment, we keep our discussion confined to what is possible under the current system. When the new board software is finally available, at that point maybe we can revisit some of the advanced ideas that have been suggested in this thread and previous to it.
 
Actually something very similar to the 'flame' idea already exists as a mod for phpbb. Its more commonly referred to as the Karma mod. After this its a simple hardcoded check to prevent posting if they have negative karma below whatever.

I saw another mod that managed user groups based on things like post count, something like this could be useful too.

You can actually do a lot with phpbb, its just a question of getting it done.
 
The 48 hour restriction on Map Room is kind of tight. Doesn't give much time to get pics ready and posted after a chase. I would expand the Reports threads to at least a one week time frame.
 
Originally posted by Lisa Wadlow
The 48 hour restriction on Map Room is kind of tight. Doesn't give much time to get pics ready and posted after a chase. I would expand the Reports threads to at least a one week time frame.

Hmmm....speaking of, I still haven't posted my chase accounts or pics of June 11th and 12th. This of course is a wee bit past the 48 hour deadline. :wink:
 
Originally posted by Lisa Wadlow
The 48 hour restriction on Map Room is kind of tight. Doesn't give much time to get pics ready and posted after a chase. I would expand the Reports threads to at least a one week time frame.
Agreed. For those of us who still shoot 35mm primarily, 48 hours is a stretch. It's generally agreed that 1hr photo is not the way to go to get quality prints (although I was reasonably satisfied in most instances), so that means 2 or 3-day service. By the time you get your photos back, the deadline has already passed. Ooops.
 
Reaction and suggestions

I don't post much, partly because sometimes when I do post, I get a reply that I've placed my post in the wrong forum, or I haven't complied with the rules exactly, or I've done something else wrong in my effort to get the post out. Although the message I get about my error says it's not intended to discourage posting, intent and impact are often not the same. For me, it does discourage posting. I don't have time to 1) memorize the rules of posting or 2) read the rules each time I want to post, especially if I'm chasing or working.

Just so I'm not complaining without making a suggestion, perhaps there could be a template available in the areas where the rules are strict so that people like me who need that sort of structure could just fill in so we don't screw up and it doesn't discourage posting. Like in the Map Room where the Subject Line has to conform to a certain format - which I always seem to mess up somehow.

It's discouraging to see what's happening here with so many people apparently feeling as if they and their contributions and views are unwelcome. Moderator comes from the word moderate, for which one definition is "not excessive or extreme." My hope is that there isn't too much of an extreme swing here by the moderators so that people are excluded for differing experience levels and viewpoints, there is such strict adherence to rules of format is followed so that information sharing suffers, and people no longer feel that what they came here for is being provided.

One major question that I haven't really seen answered is what is it that members want and don't want out of Stormtrack. It seems as if those who started Stormtrack have an idea of what they wanted it to be, but it has grown since then and obviously fills many needs for many people. It can't be all things to all people but knowing the target audience may help determine what changes are best. Using some basic marketing principles might help here - on-line focus group, member survey with some basic questions, etc. If this was done, I missed it but I got tired of the flaming and didn't come on for a while after chasing in the Spring. Hope this provides some helpful input.

Ericka
 
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