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The opinions stated here in this ‘blog or elsewhere on my web site are my own. Any or all facts (real or imagined) are typically presented from my personal point of view. Furthermore these facts and opinions do not necessarily represent or even agree with those of my family, my employer, the US Government, any other organization, or entity (real or imagined). Any similarity (real or imagined) to other individuals, animals, places, items or concepts is purely coincidental.


AVA Forum Feedback 

Jan --

    I think your efforts launching the new AVA forums are well intentioned, I wish you the best of luck and will do what I can to help.

    But, based on my thirty plus years of experience with on-line communities, I think that there is not yet enough organic critical mass on-line in the AVA to support phpBB forums. 

    Over the past five years the list has averaged less then 15 posts a month.  This means that, even if all the traffic was on the AVA forums instead, on most days members who bother to check the forums will find that there are no new messages and they will feel that they wasted their time checking.  Other AVA Yahoo lists get even less traffic.

    IMHO, mailing lists really are the best solution for communities, like the AVA, that tend to have less then one posting a day.  The AVA might do better with some other forum package that has better e-mail integration and support for RSS [or similar] subscriptions, much like Yahoo Groups does.  The down side to running a mailing is that many ISPs are blocking independent mailing to prevent spam and charging thousands of dollars to unblock them. Thus service providers like Yahoo Groups, MSN and Google are the current best options for low traffic groups.

    Another way to kick start the forums, is to make sure there is something new and relevant posted at least once a day.  For content to entice people into the forums, you might want to dig through the message archives on the yahoo lists [here & here] and post some summaries on various topics to the forum, then announce your posting on the various yahoo mailing lists. 

    When you mail your announcements about the forums, be sure to include a direct link to your forum post.  To get from your e-mail to the AVARegionIII list to your post in the AVA forums I had to:
  1. type the URL of the AVA Members site [] from memory;
  2. if I hadn't already been logged in I would have had to also type my username and password;
  3. then click on the "Forums" button on the side bar (or the featured item button);
  4. then refer back to your message and click on the "General Information" subject link,
  5. then click on the "ARMBANDS and Vaulter numbers" subject link.
    From a members perspective, that was a lot of effort to discover that your post only had questions in it and not any information relevant to me or my club. 

    Other content ideas to kick start the forum might include e-mail interviews with AVA notables, like WEG participants, Judges, respected horse trainers, "A" Team coaches, etc.

    I hope this is at least a little helpful.

    BTW -- I've been kicking around the idea of starting a monthly vaulting podcast with some of the content ideas that I'm giving you above. I've even got the "" domain name registered.  At this point I'm looking for a co-host that's willing to commit to an hour a month of prep time and an hour a month on the phone recording.

    Tom Sayles
    Region III, Mover & Shaker


Wanted: Star Map 

A couple of recent news articles reminded me that I never learned the constellations of the night sky. Over the years I've looked for a sky map in a particular form but have never found it. What I'd like is a map of the night sky in a Mercator projection with the celestial equator across the middle and the celestial poles at the top and bottom. I'd also like to have the Ecliptic shown (as the appropriate sign wave) and marked with the sun's position on each day. Of course, I'd also like the star names and constellations shown.

If you have access to the tools to make such a map and can produce a 11"x17" or bigger plot for under $20 I'd be very interested in getting a copy.