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Dec 3, 2006, 11:57 PM
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Registered: May 20, 2005
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Routes Database Management
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Hi everyone,

Over the years the routes database on has become a very valuable resource for climbers worldwide. In our future vision of the site we also recognize its potential and importance. Hence we've given it prime real estate on the front page with the recent rebuild of the site. We're also carefully considering the management aspect of things to best support the vision.

On the old we had a team of area managers, responsible for different countries or states in the database. Any user could add or edit routes as well as sections, areas, etc in the database, and it was the task of the Area Managers to make sure things stay clean and accurate.

On the new site, we decided to change the model such that direct access to the database is not open to users anymore. All changes and new submissions must now be reviewed and approved by an editor before being published, except the "direct" updates that can be done on some fields while they have no data (e.g. entering a route's length of the value is blank).

Why did we decide to change things?

Our main objective is to improve the quality of data, and prevent the many problems we've seen in the past. On the old site we were very frequently forced to go and clean things up after users posted duplicates, incorrect information, and all sorts of useless data that gradually made the routes database less valuable as a resource. There were also a lot of problems related to information about areas on private land and other access restrictions, plagiarism, etc. So the bottom line was that we wanted to manage this process more proactively and prevent the issues. We argue that quality is better than quantity in the routes database.

The flipside of course is that it is more of a hassle for users to make submissions, and there is a delay to get information posted or updated. We are very aware of this and sensitive to the user experience. Finding the "best" solution is not easy, because it really depends on how you want to balance various things against each other. As such we really value your feedback. So far I've heard a mixed bag. Some users are downright annoyed that we made this change, however there are also many who think it's great.

One thing I want to point out is that we've had some serious teething problems with the editor interface used to manage things, causing a huge backlog and long delays in getting new submissions processed the past 3 weeks. (As of this morning it appears that most of the serious issues have been resolved, and we'll start working down the backlog. You should expect to see things go smoother and quicker in future. I apologize for the frustration this has caused some of you.)

We'd like to continue to run with the current model, especially now that the problems on the back-end are sorted out, and see how things go.

Who are the Routes Database Editors?

Prior to the launch of the new site I made various requests calling on the 100 or so Area Managers from the old site to let me know if they wanted to continue to volunteer on the new site, given the new job description. I've heard back from some, but not everyone. On the new site I only "set up" those that have gotten back to me. I've also added a number of new volunteer Editors. Some of them were for areas that did not have Area Managers on the old site. Others were in cases where the previous Area Managers indicated they did not want to continue.

For areas where I had a new volunteer as well as a previous Area Manager, I gave the first right of refusal to the previous Area Manager. This period (of giving first right of refusal to previous Area Mangers) has now ended, and as a result various areas are vacant. To see a complete list of areas, with current editors and vacancies, click here. Please contact me if you are interested to help as volunteer routes Editor.

Thanks very much to the various Area Managers from the old site, as well as the new route Editors for their commitment and contribution to the site. This is greatly appreciated by us as owners as well as the thousands of people using the routes database as a very valuable resource.


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