Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some feedback from the survey feedback

Some of the comments in responses to the post-season survey posed questions that I can answer, or reported problems that are already addressed. There were also a couple that seem to be based on mistaken information, and I'd like to clear those up too. So here they are, in no particular order...

A comment on last year’s Board meetings said:

“One meeting date was changed to a date before the original scheduled one and it made it impossible to attend. Not all reps check the blog or web site daily.”

I’m not sure what this is referring to. No dates were changed, and all meeting notifications and reminders were sent by email (as well as being posted on the blog). The entire slate of 2008 Board meeting dates was announced in email sent to all TSA Reps on November 29, 2007, which pointed to the previous day’s Blog posting. All were held on the originally advertised dates, except for the April one, which the Board voted at the March meeting to cancel (as we usually do when there is no more TSA business to discuss before May). Each meeting (as well as the cancellation) was also heralded by an email reminder and a new blog posting a day or two in advance of the event.

A couple people wished there was a way to train Stroke & Turn judges on the web:

“If this is on DVD, it should be made more readily available for past stroke and turn judges.”

“Since the content is all there on line we should have an on-line clinic.”

This is entirely feasible technically, but impossible for legal reasons. The dilemma here is that the video clips are an essential part of the training, but we do not have the rights to distribute them electronically because they are copyrighted material owned by USA Swimming. We are allowed to use them in person because we actually own two separate copies of the training DVD from which they are taken; we can thus conduct up to two (but not more) simultaneous S&T clinics that display this material.

A comment about the meet result entry part of the web site suggested:

“Consider adding another option for the meet results: NO SWIM. This would address situations where weather does not permit swimming and each team agrees not to swim. Right now you have to call it a tie, but another option may be more descriptive.”

We actually do have that capability already. One of the meet status values (along with “Completed Full Meet”, “Completed Partial Meet”, etc.) is “Meet Not to be Completed”, which is intended for exactly such situations. A canceled meet is scored as a tie, but the 0-0 score does convey to next year’s Leagues & Scheduling Committee (and anyone else) that no actual meet was held.

Another rep had trouble seeing meet results:

“…as a TSA rep, it would be helpful if I could see the results of our Away meets as entered by the other TSA rep on the website. As far as I could tell, I could only see the Home meet results I entered and if I wanted to go back to review the results I entered at a later time, I had to go through all the steps to see them.”

I’m not sure what the problem is here. Once a meet’s results have been entered (always by the home team’s rep), the results are visible to everybody by just clicking on the date of the meet from the schedule/results table on either team’s page. The results include all the triple-winners, double-winners and new pool and team records that were set. Results for all meets held on a given date can be seen by clicking on one of the date links on the “scores” page of the site.

A comment about a different part of the web site suggested:

“It would be great if we could add a couple of text boxes to the club information page to list the type of timing system and software, with a contact name. This would help facilitate communications before meets on sending meet manager files, timing, etc.”

The site already has this feature too. Log in to your TSA web site account, click on the “club” tab and then on the “Update your club’s information” link. The “Notes:” text box can be filled in with multiple lines of arbitrary text information, which will be displayed near the top of your club’s page.

Two reps wanted email notification about blog postings:

“The website is fine and so is the blog. I still think it would be nice to get an email if there is important information in case Reps don't check the blog.”

“The website is well organized; the blog was helpful. It would have been helpful to me if every time someone posted to the blog if I had gotten an email with perhaps the subject line because once the season started, I didn't always remember to go out to the blog to see what was new.”

The tradeoff here is information vs. annoyance. I instituted the blog in the first place to cut down on the amount of email that I was sending to TSA reps. I still try to make sure all important communications go out in email (in addition to being reflected in the blog), but less urgent items can be blog-only instead of cluttering everyone’s inbox. However, those who want immediate notification of blog postings can subscribe to an RSS feed of the blog, or use an external notification service such as Blog Alert to generate automated email.

One rep noted that it’s getting harder to get meet results printed in the community newspapers:

“What was the deal with the newspapers this year? I submitted results for all of our home meets and one away meet ... and they never published them or responded to my emails. We need the TSA organization to exert some influence.”

I don’t have a good suggestion for this. The newspaper industry’s slow secular decline seems to have suddenly accelerated in the last year or two, and all papers are cutting back. The “news hole” has shrunk everywhere, from the community weeklies to the News & Observer. All of the local weekly papers for the suburban towns used to be happy to print meet results involving local teams, but they may not be willing to any more. (For instance, I know that he Cary News no longer does so.) However, they may still post these results on their web sites, even though that may not be as exciting for the kids as seeing their names in print used to be.

No comments: