Collaborative Summitpost

Collaborative Summitpost

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News, New Year's Eve, 2011:: Well, I guess we discussed this to death, and it was a literal death too. At the end of the day fear of undermining what makes Summitpost special prevented us from doing anything at all. It even came out that if some people optionally had the ability to "wiki-ize" their own pages...that would be a threat too. time you think about a big change, maybe read this. Maybe it's a laundry list of what not to do, or how not to approach things, or what not to say. I'm not sure. I only know a lot of energy went into it, from probably two dozen strong voices on different sides of the issue. This was good! It did teach me that Summitpost will never change. That lesson has positive and negative aspects. Happy New Year 2012 :). --Michael

Note (November, 2011): Thanks everybody for the feedback and votes. BTW, I promise not to interpret a good vote for this page as support for the idea :D.

The central rationale for this idea:

As a technical climber, I deal in lots of small but important details. I don't have time to create full pages, and am more interested in up to date valid information. If I can provide small chunks of it here and there I would find the site more useful.

For years, we've recognized that the high bar for creating Summitpost pages keeps away many people with valuable information to contribute. Lately, we've recognized that technical/trad/advanced climbers are the most put off by this. There are several reasons, not completely agreed on but they might include:

  • Technical routes are poorly represented on SP. This makes SP unattractive for technical climbers.

  • The standard for a very good page on SP is high, and has risen over time. Technical climbers are less concerned with ownership than sharing and gathering information. They don't care to climb the "ownership" ladder and accumulate points. So they resist making "good" pages, and quit. Nobody likes to be a "bad actor" in a given environment.

  • Resistence to recording information available in books (topos, and copyright's hard to make your own topo).

  • Resistences to rulez, man!

  • Difficult to upload photos

  • Too much non-climbing content is off-putting

  • Other sites have more relevant and recent information

  • etc...

I think the 2nd reason above is something we can work on. This forum thread has a good member and technical climber saying goodbye after venting some frustrations, with a long discussion following that gave birth to these ideas below.

Largely, this idea represents what I've wanted for a long time in Summitpost. I'm not much of a page creator, though I have plenty to say and write. The problem is I'd rather contribute with little nuggest of information here and there on mountains and routes that I know. I don't want ownership. Somebody who values page ownership should have it. But with Collaborative Summitpost I would be able to add my 2 cents in a way that enhances the page, and allows me to contribute the relevant and recent knowledge I have, then get back out to climb some more.

What is it?

This list of features is not set in stone, it arises from an initial idea and a negotiation in the "Wheat vs. Chaff" thread.

Users with >= 20 Power Points can attempt to edit any page. When they press the edit button on a page they don't have admin rights to, they get edit boxes with the sections that are publicly editable. They can change these at will.

Collaborative edit featureHere is how the create/edit page would change.
The page owner gets an email notification that a change was made. He reviews the change if he likes. If he doesn't like it he could revert it and send a PM to the author explaining why. He could edit it a bit further, to maintain cohesiveness with the rest of the page if necessary. If the edit made him really unhappy, he could remove the section from edit. Finally, if this user is a real problem for him, he can add that user to the Content-Change-Ban list on his profile page.

Specifically, there would be:

  • A new Check Box on every page section indicating Public or Not.

  • A mode of the edit screen which only displays those sections which are publicly available for edit.

  • Notifications on page edits sent by email.

  • (Nice to have: a "diff" view to highlight differences between pages)

  • A new text field list of users in the Content-Change-Ban field of the user profile.

User Scenarios

Scenario A:

You just returned from a popular but remote climb in Red Rocks. You got your information from the climb from Summitpost combined with a xeroxed topo. You come back with some pictures and a story. You re-read the route description on Summitpost and notice that the 3rd pitch is described as needing large cams. As it turns out there is a bolt now at the wide crack, and you didn't need the #4 Camelot. You edit the page to add this remark.

Scenario B:

Very few climbers on Summitpost know about the Martinswand. You just discovered it, and did two 8 pitch wall routes, coming back with a pile of photos and good memories. You'd like to share them, but the thought of making a high standard page about it makes you decide to watch TV instead. But you are a good chap. You make a basic page, 3-4 pictures. You don't describe every route, just a decent description of the two you did, and a request for others with more info to add it here. Two Summitpost members take you up on it, each describing one more wall route. Over the next two years you curate new content, and eventually the page is very high quality, containing information you didn't know about before.

Scenario C:

You own a very important page: Mount Fuji. You don't have much time for it these days, and the page has gotten stale. You hope to come back to it but just don't have the time. You heard about Collaborative Summitpost, so you go and open the page up to edits. Coming back two weeks later, you are appalled: the page is a mess! The problem is the page just has more activity than you care to keep up with. Sadly, you revert most of the edits, and lock the page back down again. Sigh. It's important that an owner can opt out.

Scenario D:

Two climbers on the site are great contributors, but they hate each other. High in Power Points, they create page after page, but snipe at each other in the forums. One of them gets the idea to make subtle and sarcastic changes to the other ones public page sections. "Heh!" Eventually the transgression is discovered. They end up banning each other from making edits to each others pages via the new edit box on the profile settings page. This is the correct outcome: an "edit war" has been nipped in the bud.

Special thanks

Thanks to Bob Sihler, ExcitableBoy, Mrchad9, and Fletch for helping develop the ideas!

Comment Integration

I've received comments on this page chock full of ideas, here I'll try to incorporate them in a way that the ideas can be browsed and considered. I'd like to orient them towards action, perhaps like a menu of implementation choices. That said, some of the comments are rather negative on the whole idea. I'll try to preserve the gist of those complaints, so they can be considered as well. I don't want to sweep concerns under the rug, I'd like everyone to have the full story in order to decide. At the same time I have to make clear that I have a bias towards action and change.

Subject Area Idea Instigator Support Detraction
Overall idea Support wiki-like editing on pages where the owner allows it mvs, many > 3 (rationale: I don't have time to create full pages, and am more interested in up to date valid information. If I can provide small chunks here and there I would find the site more useful) > 1 (ownership is the central idea here. It sets us apart from wikis. It's responsible for high quality.)
Defaults Default for a new route page: open Bruno 1
Barriers Minimum Power points to edit = 20 mvs 1
Copyright/ownership Owner becomes Maintainer, public domain copyright Bruno 1
Public pages with public content can't be deleted by the maintainer mvs
Upgrading Existing route pages become open after 1 year, unless marked private Bruno 1
Any route page can remain private indefinitely mvs 1
Granularity Individual sections are public/private mvs 1 1 (too complex)
Start with routes only as an option for public/private Chugach mtn boy 1 (increments are safe) 1 (not bold enough?)
Not only routes, but mountains, areas, etc. can be publicly editable Bruno 1 1 (some caution on rollout is required…don't alter the sauce too much)
The whole page is public/private Bruno 1 1 (some text is special, should be immune to change)
Internationalization Route grades in UIAA, French, British, etc. with conversion between them all ? lots (>3)
Metric or English unit of measurement as a preference Bruno 1 (This whole feature likely involves a db change for more preferences, why not do this too)
Reality checks This isn't our problem. Unrelated albums, too much hiking content, that is the issue ? considerable, I think Also considerable
Ownership is what drives this whole thing. Wreck that, and wreck Summitpost ? Unknown, but strongly felt This comes up again and again, there must be an issue here
Content creators will be nitpicked to death by uneducated, petty edits Redwic > 1 1 (The feature is optional, and the nightmare scenario is overdrawn for the size of the site and the nature of > 20 pp contributors)
"Scenario C" is plausible, likely (ie, good content creators fighting unseemly turf battles in page edits) Redwic ? 1 (It will happen, but most people are reasonable.)
If people would use Additions and Corrections we wouldn't be here. Why not focus attention there instead? rgg 1 1 (Personal (mvs) opinion: on any web site the opportunity to submit additional feedback just seems like an opportunity to waste time. You can't expect it to be acted on in any kind of near time frame)
Why not just make Routes be technical climbing only (YDS >= 5.0)yatsek 1 (former member knoback?) 1 (doesn't address the central point)

Comments on the table:

  • When I use the phrase "not bold enough," what I mean is that if we limit the scope to this action, then it'll just be like a small wave at the beach...quickly forgotten and the basic problem might remain. I also recognize we can be too bold and wreck something important.

  • My personal opinion colors the rationales on the support and detraction of an's not too hard to tell where my sympathy lies. I'll try to be aware of this and try to be fair. Ultimately, we have to rely on the Elves and Matt to sift these ideas and deploy something that balances competing needs. If we can present cohesive visions that can be accepted or rejected because their true content is fully visible then we've done our job. That is the goal of this page.


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Viewing: 1-20 of 59
Bob Sihler

Bob Sihler - Oct 19, 2011 9:04 pm - Hasn't voted

Not enough pictures

This page will be deleted soon. ;-)

Seriously, though, thanks for putting this into words so well. After the weekend, I'm going to start a forum discussion about potential changes like these and probably send a Global PM encouraging people to chime in. I'll either include your ideas in summary fashion of put a link to this (or do both) in the thread.


mvs - Oct 20, 2011 3:08 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Not enough pictures

Haha! Thanks for your thought experiments on the idea, Bob. Yep, let's gather and refine this stuff for a while. Everybody on the "Wheat vs. Chaff" is a longtime member...we aren't going anywhere and can afford to create something elegant.

Yep, it'd be good if this page serves as the central idea point for the collaborative feature. The other things (removing albums, etc.) are topics in themselves and they probably need their own articles.


Bruno - Oct 20, 2011 5:58 am - Voted 10/10

Some preferences and suggestions

Wow, thanks MVS for putting this topic on the table again with clear proposition! I was thinking about creating a thread to discuss the possibility to go "semi-wiki" since a long time, but was too lazy to do it, and suddenly I found your very nice proposal!

I personally think that the "going semi-wiki" idea should not be linked to the "technical / non-technical" debate, but more as a kind of "SP V3" to help Summitpost becoming more attractive again for members and increase the quality of its content. In past discussions about "wikifying" SP, some members have expressed their concerns regarding quality, I think to the opposite that a "semi-open" SP would allow maintaining content much more updated. For example, I'm quite interested in mountains in the Himalaya, but have noticed that several peaks in Nepal contain totally outdated information regarding red tape, transportation, security, etc. That information was certainly relevant 5 or 8 years ago when the page owner wrote it, but has become meaningless nowadays, and there is a lot of wrong beta that can be found in some pages. So I would wish this article should promote the proposed changes with regard to "quality", "updated information" and "collaboration between members" rather than "technical / non technical".

Here my personal preferences and/or suggestions:

1) Default when creating a new page ("Open versus private"): I would vote "Open"

2) Minimum point to be able to contribute open pages: 20 sounds reasonable

3) Copyright: Open pages would be considered as public domain, without copyright, in a true spirit of a collaborative website.

4) Reverting edits: that's a bit tricky, should the page creator keep the possibility to revert edits if he gives his page as "open"? Should he have the possibility to revert the option Open/Private. I would rather say no, once you open it remains open. That would surely simplify copyright issues, but I could also understand the opposite option, where the editor can opt back for "Private". In such case, this might include previous edits by other contributors, who might be "pissed off" to see their additions under a copyright owned by someone else. A middle way would be that "open" pages cannot be reverted back to "private", but that the page creator remains the "chief editor", with the right to delete the edits he doesn't like.

5) Existing pages: send a PM/email to all registered users informing about the changes. Members who have not been active since a certain time (e.g. 1 year) would see their submissions (except. TR, articles, etc.) automatically passing to the public domain and open for edition. For active members, we could imagine that they would have to choose between "convert all my mountain/route/... to open" or "keep my ... private" when they log in once the change has been implemented. So with a single click all the contributions would automatically become "public" or remain "private". One by one changes later one should remain possible.

6) Ownership: I would like to see the ownership gone for area/mountain/route pages that have been labelle "open", but I think this is not possible unless we go for a full wiki. The best would therefore be to keep the owner/maintainer in a preferential situation, such as capacity to revert edits and receive "power points" for the page (if we remove power points for open pages, then some good contributors would pass below the 20 points threshold). But to make the "open/private" status clear, the term "owner" could be used only for "private" pages, while the term "maintainer" would apply for "open" pages. I personally don’t like the term "owner" and would prefer to be labelled "maintainer" for the pages I created. For pages whose creator has been inactive since years, I think the ownership should be maintained (as a "maintaineer, with the status passing to "open"), unless we create a third category totally open for all edits. The "adopt a page" concept can be maintained, but will lose importance (personally there are many pages of non-active members for which I would have made some edits, but for which I have no interest to adopt).

7) Open / private for the whole page or for each section: I would prefer one option only for the whole page, and not per section, which sounds complicated to implement. Basic information should also be open for edit, e.g. country/altitude/latitude-longitude as it is quite often missing or wrong.

8) Open/private option should be available for area/mountain/route and similar objects (canyon, huts, etc.). Articles, TR, and similar would remain private (or private as default)

9) Additional features that I would find interesting for a new version of SP (independently from the "semi-wiki" status):

a) Prominence for mountain pages (same as currently we have altitude).

b) Possibility to edit in "my preferences" whether you want to see pages in metric or US units as default (including search engine, e.g. setting your default for km/miles or metres/feet)

c) Climbing routes: possibility to enter other systems than the YDS in rock difficulty (e.g. for routes in Europe, where nobody is using the YDS system). This would potentially encourage technical climbers from other countries so submit more stuff.


mvs - Oct 20, 2011 6:16 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Some preferences and suggestions

This is excellent feedback, let me look it over carefully. I do agree that this has escaped the bounds of "how to retain technical folks" into a kind of V3 scope. But...I'm pragmatic. If we try to do *everything*, we'll do *nothing* for long enough to create discouragement. Maybe we figure on 2-3 weeks of thinking about it, with a plan to implement by a certain date. (Of course, all this depends on Matt! We are in essence trying to schedule his least donated Black Butte Porter beer should be involved I think!)

Energy will be preserved with an equal mix of aggressive creation and reflection. Anyway, let me do some other work and come back to integrate your thoughts.


mvs - Oct 25, 2011 3:43 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Some preferences and suggestions

Hi Bruno, comments integrated.


dmiki - Oct 25, 2011 11:25 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Some preferences and suggestions

Good comments and feedback Bruno!


Bruno - Oct 25, 2011 12:00 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Some preferences and suggestions

Thanks a lot for integrating all these comments! Just two remarks:
1) For the field "upgrading", I was not meaning that route page would become open automatically open/editable/public after one year, but I rather support the idea that area/mountain/route pages whose owner is inactive (e.g. 1 year or other specific duration without login) should become editable. But nothing should become automatically "open" for regular users (except a possible last chapter which is under discussion in the forum thread).

2) Regarding open/private status for whole page or per section, I will join the apparent majority who thinks that it is better to let owners able to chose which chapter they want to make public (that might motivate more members to share at least part of their pages, or for the other who want to open everything it will still remain possible... So you can just delete the part where I gave preference for the other option :)


mvs - Oct 20, 2011 2:18 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Grades thought

Yes, I was thinking about that too, Borut, and so was Bruno above. It would be really good. Like, a page owner could enter the route grade in whatever system he preferred (French, YDS, UIAA, etc.), and next to it would appear automatic translations into other grades. Thanks for the energy on that idea!


SoCalHiker - Oct 20, 2011 9:21 pm - Voted 10/10


for putting your thoughts into this. Unfortunately, I've been very busy the last couple of months so I could not follow those ideas in the forum as much as I would have liked.

But I completely support all of those ideas and hope some (or all) will eventually be implemented in SP. Any one would make this site ultimately better.

Again, I honestly appreciate all of it.

Cheers, Guido


mvs - Oct 25, 2011 3:47 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Thanks

Thanks SoCal! Your support is meaningful.

chugach mtn boy

chugach mtn boy - Oct 21, 2011 5:53 pm - Voted 10/10

Great thinking here by mvs

A couple of small thoughts to add to the mix:
1. If there were a desire to roll this wiki idea out slowly to see how it works out in practice, it could be limited to "route" pages. Mountain pages, with all the work that goes into them and Bob's carefully developed "overview" text etc, could remain private for the time being.
2. Before he left us, Knoback was on to something. Maybe in addition to (or instead of) the "routes" category we should have a page type called "technical routes." And this page type could be wiki-style.


mvs - Oct 22, 2011 3:25 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Great thinking here by mvs

I like the idea of just starting with route pages. As for the technical route thing I think it would be better to just add more structure to the route grade section. If it was clear from the grade field if it was just walking, scrambling, or technical rock or ice climbing then we could search for the types of routes we want. Technical climbers just set the dial to somewhere over 5.6 YDS.

Also, we should have automatic conversion to and from French, UIAA and British grades.


Bruno - Oct 23, 2011 11:41 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Great thinking here by mvs

I see your point, but I still believe the "open for edition" status should also be allowed for area/mountain pages, and not only routes. I just take the example of the 8000ers: 9 out of 14 are located on the border between two countries and most owners of these pages may not have approached the mountain from both sides. Would these mountains be open for edition, it could be very easy to add the relevant information for the approach from the other side. Same when the owner is not active anymore.

In the end, opening pages for edition would only be done on a voluntary basis by current page owners who wish to open their own pages for whatever reason they have. But even if a minority of members will do it, this could help to make SP a more dynamic site.

Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis - Oct 21, 2011 6:02 pm - Voted 10/10

You win my Approval

This article wins my Stamp of Approval! I love it!


mvs - Oct 22, 2011 3:21 am - Hasn't voted

Re: You win my Approval

Haha, thanks man!

guhj - Oct 23, 2011 5:51 am - Voted 9/10


I've wanted wiki-style editing on SP since waaay before I became a member. There's always small things to fix that I can't be bothered with contacting a page owner for. I've never understood why there seems to be resistance against wiki-style editing here on SP; it works great on Wikipedia, why woulnd't it work here?

But any way to get the ball rolling is a good way, and your suggestion makes a lot of sense in terms of being a good compromise between wiki-style editing and traditional one-author style. Taking the step from 'ownership' and 'censorship' to 'shared responsibilty' and 'review' is a good first step, and might shed some light on whether Wikipedia and SP are similar enough for wiki-style to work here. I believe they are, but then again I haven't been involved in the community for long enough to know whether SPers are a different breed altogheter.

I really like your suggestion, and would like to see it implemented as soon as possible.


mvs - Oct 25, 2011 3:49 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice!

Thanks very much! I like the way you state the sea change: "ownership/censorship => shared responsibility/review."

There is definitely resistence to "turning SP into a wiki," and I understand that. Therefore, we are trying to figure out a way to allow owners to become curators only if they want to...and probably to keep a stronger ownership link to their creation even as it benefits from public update. We'll see if we get off the ground!


rgg - Oct 23, 2011 8:35 am - Hasn't voted

Worth a try

Seems like a useful idea to me, although I'm not completely convinced that it will work better than the Additions & Corrections. I mean, if people would use that feature properly and the page owners would take it up, there wouldn't be a problem either. Still, I'll be happy to try it and will check the Public Access checkbox on my pages if this is implemented.

By the way, there is an SP page about the Martinswand in France, but I'm guessing that you were referring to the Martinswand near Innsbruck. It's really a shame that there is no page for this great wall. There's a difficult via ferrata there as well, and climbing it all the way is high on my to do list (I bailed at the grotto a few years ago), so who knows, perhaps at some point in the future we can collaborate!


mvs - Oct 25, 2011 3:51 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Worth a try

Thanks for the note, rgg! Yes, I was talking about the Innsbruck Martinswand. I've done 3-4 wall routes there, and the via ferrata a couple of times. I love that place. I'd love to contribute to content here, but frankly I see page ownership and maintenence as a burden. I want to start a seed, and let it grow with community support.


Redwic - Oct 23, 2011 9:36 am - Voted 10/10

Not Sold On The Idea (Yet)

I think Scenario C would be very plausible. Different people have their own ideas of how to make SummitPost pages. But that is what makes SummitPost great; there is a lot of variety between page authors.

I do like reading such propositions, and there is no right/wrong answer. However, I also believe it would create new problems and frustrations, especially with those people who have created a lot of pages and those people who do not log into the site regularly.

For those SP members with a lot of pages, this opens the door for a lot of page scrutiny, nitpicking, time spent reviewing edits rather than being in the outdoors, etc. For those SP members who do not log into the site regularly, this opens the door for a lot of frustration if being bombarded with a lot of edit requests to review each log-in. For these reasons, I think this would hurt SummitPost.

In my opinion, the real problem with SP collaboration is three-fold:
First, the point system. If the point/voting system was correctly weighted, and if everyone voted their gut, then there would not be so many "10/10" votes. Then people could really focus on what pages do and do not need improvement. But even that theory has flaws, as not every mountain/rock is worthy of a "10/10" vote no matter how good the page is. That is just a fact.
Second, the "Additions & Corrections" section is not always being used properly. As SP member "rgg" wrote above, if people would use that feature, *AND* if the page owners/administrators would follow-through with those requests, there would not be much of a problem. Heck, just writing an update in the "Additions & Corrections" section can be very helpful, even if not on the main page. The problem with that is many people avoid ever using that feature. That means that many people would also avoid your proposition.
Third, as I just eluded to, the real problem is interaction within the site. Most people fail to mention inaccuracies, updates, etc., and unfortunately even your proposition does not fix that aspect of people. If people would just take the time to use the "Additions & Corrections" section properly, and if page owners would review such comments and implement them (if needed), there would not be a big issue.

I am not completely poo-pooing the idea. I am just trying to look at this from another angle. You are making this proposition as a respected SP member who obviously wants the site to be as good as it can be. Those of us who log in regularly and who are regular SP contributors want the same thing. I do not know what the right/wrong answer is. You can try changing the site, but you cannot change how people are.

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