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Thread: How to get broader appeal. A postive thread!

  1. #1
    Icenians Guest

    Default How to get broader appeal. A postive thread!

    Hi

    I've been accused of negativity towards the GAGB and to a certain extent that is true.

    So, to balance that a bit, I thought I'd give you guys some suggestions.

    One of things that strikes me most about the GAGB is how close it's aims and issues are with two other organisations, the BMC and BCU. Admittedly both these organisations have been around a lot longer than the GAGB. However, the issues for all are very similar. Non canoists will not be aware that you cannot just paddle down a river. In fact there is no right of access to any river and the river is owned by the landowners on either side. Furthermore the access to rivers that you can canoe on needs to be negociated. So here is an organisation used to dealing with many small landowners.

    The BMC has similar issues. They negociate access to crags for climbing, they champion walking access, etc. Can you see the similarity here.

    I've been a member of both of these orgaisations over the years and there is a big difference in the approaches these organisations take compared to the GAGB. These organisations activily take the fight to the government, to the landowners, (and they have a lot more landowners to deal with if you think of just a single river), and they interact with their members more. They also have various ways of getting non members to join.

    At this stage the GAGB couldn't possibly hope to work at the same level as either of these organisations. You don't have the time, the money, or the backing of the majority of cachers. But I'm gessing that'll change over time.

    The GAGB can however, do something about attracting more members and interacting better with those it currently has. None of this has to cost great sums of money.

    The first rule of any website is that it must have a reason to attract people in and a reason to make them return regularly. Very little has changed on the GAGB website from the very beginning. It is static. Even the forums see little action between the occassional flare up generated by some of us antagonists. Non GAGB folk use their own local forums or just don't use them at all. What need do they have of the GAGB ones? The biggest threads on this site are the word games. I'm not aware of and have never gone looking for a forum on either the BMC or BCU. That isn't what I look for from those organisations.

    Some suggestions for you. Competitions, and I don't mean forum based stuff. Run an annual championship based around caching. Reviews of some of the gear we all use. Both techie and outdoor clothing. Information. We all use the outdoors in this game. Where are the countryside code, the cRow information, the does and don'ts of the countryside? where are the regular updates on changes to laws and other info? Hiding everything in a forum just makes it all drift down the pile or end up with a pile of stickys at the top. Proper articles written with care from the more amusing authors on this site can be displayed better. They also don't need a string of comment below them degrading into petty arguements. Leave that for the forums.

    Webmasters, if you use a proper CMS tool then individuals can be given access to submit artcles while others publish them. The site becomes far more dynamic and interesting. A free one is joomla. It takes minutes to set up and offers loads of plugins for extending it.

    Don't just announce things on your forums and the other forums. You are just repeating the same information to the same folk and once again burying it in the forums. I never read the GAGB thread on GC so stuff would pass me by.

    While building a GAGB membership database, add a flag for a newslatter and get the email address. Send out a properly written newslatter regularly. Don't hang yourself with a monthly one, give yourselves time to produce it. Dish the work out to others with the skills and time. Set it out properly, not just a load of email text but perhaps html or pdf so it has some readability to it.

    Try and find ways of getting it out to none members, you might suck a few in.

    And finally, try to come across more as an organisation that is fighting for cachers causes and providing a wider range of services than a simple agreement database, that few bother to read, and a set of rules. Your rules and guidelines have a place but so does much more.

    As you get more members then so your oppotunities for persuading companies into member discounts increase. The kit we use is sold in walking shops. They ALL give discounts to one organisation or another. With a decent membership count behind you, so could you.

    Hope this helps. Just a view from a non member. Let's face it, if you can win me over you've cracked it


    Kev

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Location
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    Newsletter. PDF it, store on GAGB server.

    Email members, Latest newsletter here "linkylink" member visits website and can read newsletter, and/or download it.

    While members are at the website they may look around! (If they aren't regular visitors)

    Old newsletters available to non-members?
    If you want to read the latest, join, or wait until the next is published, to read the last. (eg if it's monthly, non-members can read Jan issue when Feb issue is published for the members.)
    I have a Geocaching problem...
    Work gets in the way!

    * Cache Walker -Caching by byway, not highway! CacheWalker.co.uk
    Walking and Caching in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire areas

  3. #3
    StuartP Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    I've been accused of negativity towards the GAGB and to a certain extent that is true.

    So, to balance that a bit, I thought I'd give you guys some suggestions.
    Many thanks for taking the time to air you opinions and suggestions, I'd like to take some time to respond to your comments.


    One of things that strikes me most about the GAGB is how close it's aims and issues are with two other organisations, the BMC and BCU. Admittedly both these organisations have been around a lot longer than the GAGB. However, the issues for all are very similar. Non canoists will not be aware that you cannot just paddle down a river. In fact there is no right of access to any river and the river is owned by the landowners on either side. Furthermore the access to rivers that you can canoe on needs to be negociated. So here is an organisation used to dealing with many small landowners.

    The BMC has similar issues. They negociate access to crags for climbing, they champion walking access, etc. Can you see the similarity here.
    Indeed, I've even though of the GAGB as being analogous to The Ramblers association

    I've been a member of both of these orgaisations over the years and there is a big difference in the approaches these organisations take compared to the GAGB. These organisations activily take the fight to the government, to the landowners, (and they have a lot more landowners to deal with if you think of just a single river), and they interact with their members more. They also have various ways of getting non members to join.
    It's through the sharing of others experience that I and others on the committee can hopefully learn, and move the role of the GAGB forward.

    At this stage the GAGB couldn't possibly hope to work at the same level as either of these organisations. You don't have the time, the money, or the backing of the majority of cachers. But I'm gessing that'll change over time.
    Indeed, time is our biggest enemy, wouldn't it be great to be in a position where the GAGB can employ people to carry out some of it's work ?

    The GAGB can however, do something about attracting more members and interacting better with those it currently has. None of this has to cost great sums of money.

    The first rule of any website is that it must have a reason to attract people in and a reason to make them return regularly. Very little has changed on the GAGB website from the very beginning. It is static. Even the forums see little action between the occassional flare up generated by some of us antagonists. Non GAGB folk use their own local forums or just don't use them at all. What need do they have of the GAGB ones? The biggest threads on this site are the word games. I'm not aware of and have never gone looking for a forum on either the BMC or BCU. That isn't what I look for from those organisations.

    Some suggestions for you. Competitions, and I don't mean forum based stuff. Run an annual championship based around caching. Reviews of some of the gear we all use. Both techie and outdoor clothing. Information. We all use the outdoors in this game. Where are the countryside code, the cRow information, the does and don'ts of the countryside? where are the regular updates on changes to laws and other info? Hiding everything in a forum just makes it all drift down the pile or end up with a pile of stickys at the top. Proper articles written with care from the more amusing authors on this site can be displayed better. They also don't need a string of comment below them degrading into petty arguements. Leave that for the forums.
    If you're aware of any existing articles, or law changes that you think are pertinent to caching and can provide details, I'm sure we can look at what needs to be done to make these available on the GAGB website.

    Webmasters, if you use a proper CMS tool then individuals can be given access to submit artcles while others publish them. The site becomes far more dynamic and interesting. A free one is joomla. It takes minutes to set up and offers loads of plugins for extending it.
    You'll hear no argument from me here, indeed, the idea of a CMS is indeed something that is under consideration, and indeed discussion.


    Don't just announce things on your forums and the other forums. You are just repeating the same information to the same folk and once again burying it in the forums. I never read the GAGB thread on GC so stuff would pass me by.

    While building a GAGB membership database, add a flag for a newslatter and get the email address. Send out a properly written newslatter regularly. Don't hang yourself with a monthly one, give yourselves time to produce it. Dish the work out to others with the skills and time. Set it out properly, not just a load of email text but perhaps html or pdf so it has some readability to it.
    A newsletter is indeed a great idea, again, we'd welcome more suggestions on what to include, we'd be happy to have submissions from cachers, whether non members or members of the GAGB, even a photo or two of unusual cache containers ?

    Try and find ways of getting it out to none members, you might suck a few in.

    And finally, try to come across more as an organisation that is fighting for cachers causes and providing a wider range of services than a simple agreement database, that few bother to read, and a set of rules. Your rules and guidelines have a place but so does much more.
    And we welcome more suggestions of what the 'much more' should be.

    As you get more members then so your oppotunities for persuading companies into member discounts increase. The kit we use is sold in walking shops. They ALL give discounts to one organisation or another. With a decent membership count behind you, so could you.
    There are opportunites here, and this is something that is I'm sure going to have the attention of the committee in the near future.

    Hope this helps. Just a view from a non member. Let's face it, if you can win me over you've cracked it

    Kev
    If we win you over, I'll personally buy you a very, very large pint, heck make it two to welcome you to the GAGB.

  4. #4
    Icenians Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartP View Post
    Indeed, time is our biggest enemy, wouldn't it be great to be in a position where the GAGB can employ people to carry out some of it's work ?
    I did say that you guys can't hope to compete with these other organisations in those ways. However, things like producing newsletters and articles does have to be done by the comittee. Caching contains people from all walks of life. I would mind betting a few volounteers could be found out there to produce a realy good newsletter. In these days of the internet a lot of stuff that was expensive to do is now free apart from time.
    Quote Originally Posted by StuartP View Post
    If you're aware of any existing articles, or law changes that you think are pertinent to caching and can provide details, I'm sure we can look at what needs to be done to make these available on the GAGB website.
    Here's one on cRow. Obviously from a BMC point of view but you get the idea. We should be able to come here and find all this stuff.
    http://www.thebmc.co.uk/Pages.aspx?page=100

    How about artices on hill safety? Caching can take people into places they are not used to going. Did you know we have Mountain Rescue team members that cache? I bet they would provide advice.

    The important thing is for a site to be updated and refreshed to keep people coming back. Websites are often likened to a shop window, the only trouble is nobody knows where the shop is in a maze of streets full of other shops and if it's full of cobwebs then nobody will come in

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartP View Post
    A newsletter is indeed a great idea, again, we'd welcome more suggestions on what to include, we'd be happy to have submissions from cachers, whether non members or members of the GAGB, even a photo or two of unusual cache containers ?

    And we welcome more suggestions of what the 'much more' should be.

    There are opportunites here, and this is something that is I'm sure going to have the attention of the committee in the near future.
    Producing a newsletter regularly does take effort, I know I've done it before, but if you get the right team together then it can be done. I've seen people post in this forum and on GC who obviously have a way with words, there are people with all sorts of experiences to share, tips, techniques, etc.

    I think the important thing to remember is that the comittee are for steering the ship, not steering it and stoking the boilers as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartP View Post
    If we win you over, I'll personally buy you a very, very large pint, heck make it two to welcome you to the GAGB.
    Well, I'll be at the mega event so I wonder what can be achieved in 8 months

    Oh, and if you can get me to sign up, I'll buy the beer. You'll have earned it

    Last edited by Icenians; 28th January 2009 at 07:15 AM.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    Webmasters, if you use a proper CMS tool then individuals can be given access to submit artcles while others publish them. The site becomes far more dynamic and interesting. A free one is joomla. It takes minutes to set up and offers loads of plugins for extending it.
    A good post with some excellent ideas, I hope the committee find ways of implementing at least some of your suggestions.

    You mention Joomla which many people may not have heard about. I'm assistant webmaster (VERY assistant actually ) of our village website www.dilwyn.com which is Joomla based. The guy who actually runs it has done a good job of exploiting Joomla's capabilities so I'm just mentioning it so you can see what can be done.

    Peter

  6. #6

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    Great thread!
    I echo what the OP said. I'm in the BMC and the Ramblers (and others).

    The latter does have an active forum, but relatively few members bother with it although it does have its uses (mostly for dating!). Years ago it tended to flame up every once in a while (a lot worse than this one or the GSP ones) and I don't think that the mods could cope; it seems to have settled a bit now. In both organisations, the "access" work is done in the background really; if you're not that interested you can easily ignore it.

    Newsletters; IMO, the best version is a simple e-mail. As it won't be too long, you tend to read it straight away and you don't care that it's not formatted ideally. There can be links in the e-mail to articles on the website for those who want to see more detail. Important news is also posted on the massively popular and vibrant UK Climbing website (http://www.ukclimbing.com/). Take note of the format of this one, as it works really well; although climbing news tends to be a bit more exciting and glamorous than geocaching news!

    Access agreements; the BMC is much more similar to geocaching than the Ramblers. The latter has basically succeeded in negotiating access virtually everywhere, and problems are few and far between nowadays (and the public has a strong legal standing in such matters, thanks to their efforts).

    The BMC has to keep an eye on thousands of small locations throughout Britain, many of which are in sensitive areas (bird nesting, rare flora and fauna, military use, farming etc.). Back in the 1970's, they'd often have to give in to various officials and groups, and climbing bans were fairly common. But they kept on arguing the climbers' case in the face of a lot of scepticism Now, there's more give and take, and (for example) you can access cliffs where rare birds are nesting, where rare plants are protected and where the cliffs are within army ranges. Climbing has a much bigger impact on a site than geocaching, however, so it should be much easier for us. Should you want to visit an unfamiliar location, you can look up access notes on their excellent Regional Access database (http://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmccrag/). Here's an example with ongoing problems; http://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmccrag/ViewCrag.aspx?id=798.

  7. #7
    Icenians Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Hornet View Post
    A good post with some excellent ideas, I hope the committee find ways of implementing at least some of your suggestions.

    You mention Joomla which many people may not have heard about. I'm assistant webmaster (VERY assistant actually ) of our village website www.dilwyn.com which is Joomla based. The guy who actually runs it has done a good job of exploiting Joomla's capabilities so I'm just mentioning it so you can see what can be done.

    Peter
    Excellent site Peter. I'm rebuilding our village one in Joomla, mainly so I don't have to admin it, and I may well pinch some ideas

    For those that don't know of software such as Joomla, I'm a developer so often fall into acronyms leaving others none the wiser it's a Content Management System. The idea is the webmasters build the site and framework if you like while others, non web developer type people, use their skills in writing to submitting articles. The site admins, or others, OK the submitted articles and decide which bit of the site they belong in. So the webmasters and comittee members are freed up from delevelopement changes to the site simply to publish information.

    Kev

  8. #8

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    Just an idea about spreading the good word about the GAGB, why not instead of putting calling cards in caches members printed out a small flyer for the GAGB and place that in caches they visit. I always have a quick look through the calling cards so maybe others do and then they will spot the info on the GAGB. SIlly I know but an idea all the same.
    Kev, if I ever meet you on my travels I will be happy to buy you a pint as well.

  9. #9

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    Excellent post by Kev - very positive and some great ideas.

    I think the tech reviews would be particularly helpful. My colleague at work has just upgraded from a basic etrex to an IPAQ for the full paperless caching experience. I tried to help in choosing a PDA with GPS, but found it very difficult to decide on one - especially as they appear to be becoming a little obsolete with smartphones and so on (which she particularly didn't want)

    If I knew of a site which reviewed the various models, with particular relevence to caching, this would have been so much easier - and I'm fairly 'up' on the various devices. A complete newbie would struggle.

    I know the GSP forums can help - but they are VERY fragmented...

    So I propose that folks volunteer to write a detailed review of their own stuff, pros and cons, features, and so on, for inclusion somewhere on the site. Ideally, we'd have one reviewer, and maybe at some point we can pursuade the big gear suppliers to provide one FOC to test - but we need more clout before then!

    I'm happy to write soemthing up about my MIO P550 - I'm sure others would be the same!

    Following on from this could be a detailed tutorial on paperless caching - cross-linked to the various GSAK macros (and other options such as GeocacheLog), and also linked to a forum thread to ask questions about it. I'm happy to help here, and I'm sure MrBlorenge would be too - and I could possibly talk to BigWolf as well - who is very advanced at this stuff!

    As Kev says, apart from the forums, there isn't much reason to visit (to be rather blunt) - this type of stuff could be the incentive!

  10. #10

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    On the suggestion of having gear reviews, surely there's an obvious opening here.

    Some years ago there was a geocaching (online) magazine, which was popular; but eventually the editor became too busy to keep it going and nothing has replaced it since (despite the increase in number of geocachers).

    Now is the time for the GAGB to fill the gap with their own version; news, reviews, articles, humour, videos, "cache of the month" and so on. All written by various people recruited and press-ganged by the editor; no need for the contributors to even be members. Free to members and non-members alike, but with plenty of opportunity for the GAGB to improve their profile (at least in the GAGB News section!). The mega-event organisers would surely want to have an article in the first edition...

  11. #11

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    agreed, and I can see gear reviews being published in a newsletter. I also think that it would be good to have them on the web, possibly in a well organised (searchable?) list, broken down by category (boots, GPS devices, PDAs, coats, etc) in a single area - rather than ONLY being part of the newsletter.

    this bit could start off ASAP, to get them online, and then there'll be a 'stock' to publish one per month (or whatever) when the newsletter is released?

  12. #12

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    I would go for a newsletter AND an online mag. The former to be a brief quarterly summary of what's going on, and links to more detailed info; the latter more colourful and entertaining with emphasis on the game rather than the "business" side.
    Personally I'd prefer something with "issues" that appear on a certain date (quarterly or whatever suits) rather than it being a continuous "blog" style. Then, you have something to look forward to instead of just checking whether there's been an update.

    I wish I could volunteer to get actively involved with this, but the most I can offer is to contribute an article or two.

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