BEFORE YOU BEGIN

If you have not read the previous installments of this article, it is highly recommended that you do before proceeding: 

THE HISTORY OF SUMMITPOST Volume 1

THE HISTORY OF SUMMITPOST Volume 2

THE BUILDING OF SPv2

2005 had been a challenging year for the SummitPost staff.  In addition to the previously mentioned problems, there was no sign or indication that Josh was anywhere to be found,and a perceived indifference by some members began to concern the staff.  With nothing to go on, answering inquiries about SP’s fate was at best answered with a clueless response, because the staff genuinely did not know anything about the situation.

Then,in February of 2006, something interesting happened.  Kane had somehow stumbled onto SPv2 and got a quick peek around.  He announced it on the forum and Josh responded to the oversight, stating that certain securities were now in place.  But the word was out and members knew something was brewing, and Kane’s account of his short visit seemed to raise the excitement level.

The staff then received a lengthy email from Josh. The time had come to assure them that SPv2 was not a figment of anyone’s imagination.  As a matter of fact, the site was ready for the staff to inspect and get acquainted with, and hopefully assist Josh in fine tuning the new interface and look of Version 2.  He supplied a link and passwords for access and the enthusiastic staff members were let loose like kids visiting a new amusement park for the first time.

Aaron had hinted several times in thread discussions about SPv2 that the new site may have been under construction during the past year, which would explain Josh’s lengthy absence.  His hunch was apparently correct, and the initial exploration of Version 2 turned uppromising results.  Many new features,and a new system designed to quell inappropriate voting activities was in place.  The forum was expanded, with the contentious Prate and Prattle located at the very bottom of the forum page,labeled as “SP’s septic tank.”  Josh was adamant that any and all suggestions should be communicated to him, and he indicated he had help on his end.  A code building crew were assisting with the project. Together, this international team set out to fine tune Version 2, with something of a deadline in place.  Josh was hoping to transfer SPv1’s data and premiere SPv2 by mid to late February.

It was no surprise that lots of problems cropped up, and Gangolf, being involved in all things “I-T” anyway, began finding them right and left, and showering Josh with notices and suggestions.  All communications were copied to the entire staff and crew, so the problems and adjustments were being addressed at a fevered pitch.  Josh asked Aaron for input on the appearance of SPv2, which he admitted was not too great and “thrown together” to facilitate construction.  Aaron put forth his suggestions and reasons why, offering provided links to other sites for examples.  The purple (Aaron spelled it“poipal”) and beige bars were exchanged for the teal and blue bars.  The battleship gray on profile pages was darkened, small gray frames were placed around thumbnail photos to enhance colors, and larger neutral gray frames were added to viewed photos for the same reason.  The abundant “poipal” on the forums page was exchanged for teal and gray. Concerns about the length of the What’s New page were discussed but not addressed, and the Plans and Partners and Link Exchange sections were not yet developed.

Josh was also wondering about the SP logo. Certainly SPv1’s well established logo would look good on SPv2, but there was also a desire to illustrate SP’s moving forward by moving the logo“forward” in its appearance.  Several possibilities were discussed, including the logo seen at the top of this report, but it was decided it shouldn’t be too overbearing or “over the top.”  The transition should seem logical and reflect the past as well as being headed toward the future.  So the white logo was changed to blue and gold, with gold being used nowhere else on the site but on the logo.  The font size was increased, but the capital letters were exchanged for all lower case to keep the logo from being too overbearing.  Josh was very sensitive to the desire that SP’s logo be present enough to let people know they had arrived at the new SP, but that should be the extent of the logo’s role.  The new features and sections, along with the old standby features, should do the talking.

Hundreds of emails later, SPv2 seemed to be humming along.  With bug fixes and fine-tunings still pending, Josh asked the staff for recommended members that would be invited fora sneek peek of Version 2, hoping for more feedback and assistance.  Recommendations were made, and members that could spare the time were turned loose for their first exploratory romp.  Most members that looked around had suggestions, questions or caught bugs, all of which were quickly addressed.

No definitive verdict was in when Josh decided that the time had come to decommission Version 1.  Aaron had made a preview announcement about some of SPv2’s features to stir up the anticipation,so when Josh announced the change was coming, the excitement was brewing.  According to Gangolf Haub, the transition went as smooth as any transition he’s ever seen, although it took most of a weekend to complete.  SP members had to put their addiction on hold for that time, but it was no coincidence that the change-over was conducted on a weekend when most SPers would be enjoying the outdoors.

On February 13, 2006, Josh initiated a short thread:

Josh:  Just wanted to say thanks to all the Elves and the beta testers who have helped us get SPv2 off the ground.  Special thanks to Aaron Johnson and Gangolf Haub for their tireless, enthusiastic help and Nartreb for his knowledgeable copyright policy advice.  And of course, Ryle and Matt who are responsible for a lot of the code.  There are still lots of issues to work through, but things should become more and more stable as the days go on. Thanks to everyone for your patience while we get it all ironed out.

CharlesD(User #18554):  Many thanks to Josh et al. for all their hard work. The new setup has taken some getting used to, but it's clear that a lot of thought has gone into this new beast.

There was no doubt that the new beast was surprising to many members.  To tame the new beast, a learning curve had to be scaled by all members wishing to master Josh’s new marvel.  A predictable amount of members were unhappy with the aspect of relearning their favorite old web site.  The hardest item the members have had to master is first realizing they have a dynamic search tool at their disposal,and second, they have to master that tool to find what they need on the now gargantuan web site with any degree of expediency.  Josh was confident that those who really wished to stay active on SP would have no problem making the adjustments, and that given enough time, everyone would make the successful transition.  It would appear he was right, although a number of problems and concerns still presented themselves. 

Overall,after a restless adjustment period, things have quieted down and the members continue to grow more comfortable with SPv2. Just as soon as the membership had the hang of things, old problems once again cropped up, but this time around, things were a bit different.  Most of problems were adjustments in thinking by the members, but one problem that returned had not changed a bit.  Where did that problem originate?  You guessed it.  Prate and Prattle.

MASTERING THE BEAST

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the learning curve is to understand that SP’s search tool had an immense capability. This search tool is the best and most practical way to navigate SP and find what you want fast.  Even more importantly, it allows members to focus their screen time on what they are interested in and ignore everything else they may not be interested in.  One recent concern is that SP’s expansion into other areas of mountain activities, such as hiking and canyoneering,dilute SP’s original charter of being an exclusive mountaineering site.  The search tool allows members to keep SP as a mountaineering site, or anything else they want, by ignoring any other types of submissions.

The search tool has three interfaces.  The first one is in the upper right hand corner of each SP page.  By clicking the drop-down menu, members have four choices for search parameters: Objects, Forums, Images and People. In objects created on SPv2, keywords designated by the author for their given object will come up in an appropriate search.  SPv1 objects are usually keyed from the title or caption of the object.  When searching for an object, say Mount Rainer, simply type in “Rainier,” and all pertinent objects relating to Mount Rainier, from the mountain page to articles and trip reports will turn up in the results.  When searching Images, key words that may be in the photo caption are a good place to start. If you’re looking for the Hogsback Route on Mount Hood and you type in “Hood,” you’ll get tons of results.  By being specific and entering “Hogsback ,”the results will be suitably narrowed. For People, as in members, you need to know the exact name or handle the member goes by to get any results.  Once familiar with the SP community, this search feature is handy for getting to a member’s profile page quickly.  For Forums, simply type in the title of the thread if you know it, or some possible key words that are likely to appear in the thread you’re after.  You’ll usually get plenty of results which you’ll have to sort through.

Another interface is in each of the sections, such as Mountains and Rocks, where the search tool is presented in a simple form. A drop-down menu lets you specify the section or object type you wish to search for.  The next window is where you would enter the key words or phrases that may lead you to the quarry.  Then, simply hit “GO.”

The third interface is the most valuable version of the search tool.  It enabled the extensive research that was necessary for this article.  Next to the GO button is a link to the ADVANCED tool. There you can narrow your parameters and thus your search time.  Like a musical instrument, it takes a bit of thought and a lot of practice to master well, but it keeps you from wasting time wading through material you’re otherwise not interested in.  Most massive websites cannot boast such are fined and intricate search tool.  Even though the tool is not perfect, it’s as sophisticated as any web site could ever boast, and is really the only practical way to get around on a site as large as SP.

For those frequenting SP’s expanded forum, there’s the “Recent Forum Posts” link list on the front page, which saves much time by highlighting threads that have had recent activity.  Beneath this feature is the “Best New Stuff” feature, which gives quick access to recently submitted material that has received good ratings from the membership, listed by category.

There’s a lot to mastering the beast if you’re a contributor, because it is essential that you master the input interface, which only comes with time, research,commitment and practice.  Good places for new members to start this admittedly arduous endeavor are the FAQ page, and Welcome to SummitPost pages.  In the submission form and edit interfaces are small “i” buttons, which provide helpful information on a given feature or procedure.

There’s no doubt that the beast that is SPv2 draws people in and has them wandering inits vast domain for hours, days, weeks and years.  Eventually folks catch on that it is essential to master the beast if they are to have anything remaining of the rest of their life beyond SP.  The members are in agreement that in regard of SPv2’s layout and the search tool,Josh and Ryle’s design is unparalleled, and easily rivals any other web site out there with a large amount of data.

Yet much remains left to be done to move SP closer toward perfection, perhaps a goal that may never be achieved.  In the next section, we’ll look at some of the matters that members feel still need and deserve attention.

UNHAPPINESS

SPv2’s first and only photo voting dispute to date happened early in the first weeks after the transition.  The incident tested the new 10 point system and gave an indication of things to come.  A member had submitted some photos that had received some 10/10 votes, but one member chose to vote according to their own ranking and voted 6/10 or 7/10.  While these votes were not bad votes, it knocked the submitted photos out of contention for the display slots on SP’s newly revamped front page.  Not that it mattered, but the member understandably viewed the votes as malicious down voting and presented the matter to the staff as well as initiating a discussion about the issue in the forum.  The voter responded, explaining his votes,stating that by their system, they were good pictures with scenic value.  A 7/10 vote was a good vote, and that higher votes should be reserved for photos that included route beta specifics.

The voting member had a point.  Even though SP’s new 10 point system had a lot of positive aspects going for it, no system was going to be perfect, and the drawbacks of this system were made known in prompt fashion.  This was a good thing,for it was the beginning of ongoing effort in reprogramming the membership on how to use SP’s voting system when evaluating all submitted content.

The 10 point system allows much more leeway for interpretation when offering a vote, which can also be easily amended as the submitted object is edited and improved.  The staff clearly saw and understood both sides of the issue, and in the end, decided non-action was the best action, to allow the system a chance to work, and also allow members to further discuss the issue and possibly arrive at a consensus.  Suggested guidelines were inserted into the FAQ, but no attempt was made to dictate how members should utilize the new system when voting.  One man’s 10/10 vote was another’s 7/10 vote.

An unexpected drawback lies with the voters. On SPv1, voters voted anonymously, although their votes could not be changed.  On SPv2, all votes are visible but easily edited by the voter.  This visibility has had a profound affect on voting behavior.  Compounding this new and perhaps unanticipated situation is a member’s rating. Established members who have contributed lots of content to SP carry a higher rating, and their votes are weighted accordingly.

An example would be Gangolf Haub, SP’s current contribution star and staff member,who carries the highest ranking.  A vote from Gangolf is a big deal.  It can boost the ranking of a given item substantially.  Conversely, a negative vote from Gangolf would have dire implications for the object in question. Low rated objects are detached from visible objects if their rating drops below a given threshold,essentially becoming invisible on SP, and then they are only visible on the submitter’s profile page.  This is a type of automated quality control, since deletion of low quality objects by the staff is an impractical solution given the volume of data being submitted to SP.  With so much added responsibility associated with voting, many members, particularly the prominent ones, have become reluctant to vote in most instances.

It has become a delicate balancing act.  The new system was designed to eradicate nefarious voting schemes and make sure only quality content was visible on SP. The system further relieves the duties of the staff, who before would have to deal with poor quality contributions in a manual fashion, utilizing a crude deletion process when notified of problem submissions.  The staff now has an arsenal of tools to assist members, including editing abilities. But when it comes to poor quality submissions, the system is designed to detached them and make them disappear, saving the staff a lot of trouble.Eventually, as the staff comes across neglected or outdated material, and as time allows, these items can be deleted.

But the system also makes people uncomfortable about voting.  Perhaps it’s good that the emphasis on voting has been reduced.  By having less importance placed on voting, less disagreements and confrontations take place.  But voting is a means the members have in deciding SP’s course in quality contributions.  Without it, it would be hard to determine what a good page is, and members know this.

But it gets more complicated than that.  Knowing that voting is an important part of the overall community contribution picture, members are showing a current trend in “voting safe.”  Unlike SPv1, where voters were anonymous, voters on SPv2 are visible, adding a degree of accountability to their vote.  This is usually done by offering constructive comments and suggestions to accompany a lower vote.  But most folks don’t have  alot of time to vote and comment (on SPv1, both could be done in the same step except on photos).  So, they just vote because it’s fast.  Because of their new visibility, voters will vote a 10, even though the object might deserve a 7,which is still a perfectly good and acceptable vote.

The previously mentioned photo wars saga that commanded an inordinate amount of the staff’s time was one of several motivators in the design of Version 2’s voting system.  Although not perfect, the new voting system on Version 2 did yield one positive result that Josh had worked hard to achieve.  The photo war epic seems to have come to an end, and nefarious avatar activity has dropped to practically nothing.

The weighted voting system gave established members more influence with their vote,and using an avatar for underhanded purposes no longer carries any weight when affecting an object’s overall rating. It would take many avatars and a lot of time to unseat a good photo from the Pic-of-the-Week race.  Plus, there are also Photo-of-the-Day and Hour slots on the Home page as well. Nefarious avatar activity has been for all intents and purposes,eliminated, something that pleases the staff to no end.  The staff now does what they enjoy doing:teaching members about Version 2’s features and assisting them with their contributions.

The system appears to be serving its intended purpose, but it still has some issues that trouble the members.

The following quotes are found in “New Vote Weighting System Bites”:

RFBolton:  Back when v2 first came online and the early feedback was coming in, I posed the question if a 10/10 vote could actually lower a score if the voter had a low enough voting weight. Never got an answer as far as I know. Well, if a 9/10 vote from a person with 93.25% weight lowers a score where there's already a 7/10 vote, I'm guessing the answer to my question is Yes. It seems to me that the scoring algorithm may have some problems, as several other observations I've read have suggested.

Holsti97(User#28647):  I took the time today to vote on many images attached to the pages of mountains that I have climbed. I thought that there were several pictures ranked too high or too low so I registered my opinion by voting on most of the photos on each mountain page. Several times I voted a 9 and the score went down.  On one photo I voted a 7 and the score went UP. When I voted an 8 or a 9 the score went DOWN lower than the 7 vote. Voting a 10 was the only vote that made sense...the score was highest then. When I tried voting a 6...5...4...3...2...1 the score registered the same as when I voted a 7.  I would think the score should have gone down a little when I tried a ONE vote!The photo had 11 votes from before SPv2…  …I can live with the 10 point voting scale (especially if people use more than just the 10), but some of these little bugs should be investigated.  In Aaron Johnson's article Summitpost.org Part Two he tells of SP Housecleaning that took place on May 11, 2005. Is this something that should be done annually? There are a lot of blurry photos and irrelevant images on some of these pages.

Lolli(User#20221):  …sometimes it's better that I don't vote, because if I do, I lower the rate of the page,and of course I don't want to do that, if I intended to vote high...that wasn't the point, was it?

Cruzit(User #330):  …here I am a member since September 2002, who has been a loyal Summit Poster since that time, and my voting weight under this new system is 1. Exactly the same as some yahoo who signed up this morning and added one picture.  Give me a break. I like to think my support and loyalty count for something. At least under the old system I felt like my old timer status gave my vote some weight. Instead, I am relegated to newbie status, even though I have contributed to Summit Post as I have been voting and commenting since September 2002.  So IMO, the new voting weight excludes us lurkers and part time contributors, who obviously know something about what's going on in the real climbing/mountaineering world and at SummitPost.

Scott Patterson:  Vote weight is a good idea. I find it amazing that often people voting the lowest are almost always (even with SPv2) the ones submitting the least amount of stuff. Apparently they do not know how much work making quality submissions is.(I'm not speaking of revenge votes, just critical votes). (For some reason the highest votes often come from people not submitting much stuff as well-go figure). It is nice to know that people who don't submit hardly anything don't have much vote weight. Further more, no one can create avatars either, at least not ones that are going to have much effect on vote padding or revenge. Vote weight is very good in this respect.  PS, you don't have to submit much at all to have much vote weight. Even submitting a few mountain pages and TR's will bring your vote weight way up.

Nartreb(User #18713):  Vote weight is by contributions, not time since joining.  In the old system all votes were weighted equally.  In the new system, you need at least eleven power points to boost your vote weight.  Power increases smoothly with contributions, but vote weight doesn't.  Power up to 10 points gives a vote weight of 1%   11 points: vote weight 41.66%    12 pts: 43.17%    13: 44.56   And so on.

Cruzit voiced a concern about power grabbers submitting poor quality material to get more voting weight, and some cited examples followed.  While the system is designed to deal with such submissions, the quality issue remained.

DaveDaly:  I spilled my guts on this topic a few years back on stupid photos of flat dirt roads, or campsite numbered signs, or Smokey the Bear wandering the campground.This new system I'm totally for. You may submit a page or a photo but part of its weight comes from whether it's viewed as a valuable resource (via voting).If there are consistent low votes, then it's viewed as crap. Put some effort into it and you'll see that your weight will come up in %....if that's what floats your boat.  Personally, I could care less about the points. I've been a member since Feb 2002. I'm loyal to making this a better site.  Pfffftttt....give me a zero for all I care. As far as voting weight goes, I feel you should contribute in order to get the voting weight.

Bob Bolton offered another angle to consider.

RFBolton:  I'm also very uncomfortable with this whole voting weight thing. 14 days from today I will have been a loyal SP member for 5 YEARS! I was a member within the first calendar month of SP's existence. Many times I steadfastly refused to retaliate when someone voted one of my photos off the the first page. I have tried to be positive and encourage people to contribute good stuff by voting high on quality material. Positive reinforcement. Yet when I am the first person to vote on a new submission, my 10/10 vote only gives them an 86.9 score (I think)even though my vote weight is 93.21%.

My point is that it seems to me that voting weight ought to be related to voting behavior, not to the submission-based "power" I wield. Why is one's voting history not the most important criterion for determining voting weight?

There have been plenty of examples of abusive voting by members who have submitted significant material. In some ways I trust non-submitters to be less likely to abuse than those who do submit. This new voting system has been defended on the grounds that avatars with no submissions have been responsible for much of the abuse. Is it not true that in most cases those avatars were "owned" by submitters who were trying to vote down their rivals' submissions? If this is true, then why are we penalizing those who don't abuse their voting privileges? I say give new or non-submitting members the benefit of the doubt, and they lose their voting weight only if they abuse their voting privilege. That's more like how we treat felons. Until they offend, their vote has the same weight as anyone else's.

So I suggest that for the purposes of voting weight, voting history should play a much more important role than it does now. The vast majority of members who don't prefer to contribute material would have much more incentive to vote. It's like anything else - desired behavior should be encouraged, and for non-submitters, the desired behavior of responsible voting is now not encouraged whatsoever.

It is incorrect to assume that lurkers don't know anything. I know a number of highly skilled mountaineers with far more climbing experience than I have who are SP members, but who will never contribute material. They would do a fair and knowledgeable job of voting if they chose to. The system should at least encourage those people to vote, even if they don't chose to do so.

It was Josh’s intention to give the greatest contributors more influence on the shaping of SP’s contributions, but it was a definite drawback to long time members that may not be prolific contributors. Given the curve cited by Nartreb, it’s easy for a beginner to attain a degree of vote weight.  Nevertheless, by a number of members, SP appears to have become a game of power and score rather than a mountaineering information site.

Fred Spicker:  …Or,perhaps all those places on the home page where it now says "Best" (Best New Stuff) should be changed to "Most Popular" or more accurately"Most Popular with the Most POWERFUL".  What I am saying is that there should be a system that places somewhat less emphasis on WHO voted. Having each member with a different voting power makes little sense - perhaps there could be "brackets" of POWER.

Mrh(User#20167):  This is likely one reason why so many people only vote 10/10. When they see any other vote causing the score to drop, they up their vote to a 10 then refrain from voting in the future unless its something they feel comfortable giving a 10 to.

Fred Spicker:  Without getting into fairness and abuse issues, it seems to me that a lot of the problems that people are having with pages being "buried" etc. would be eliminated by simply using voting / POWER / SCORE for only what they are intended instead of making nearly everything dependent upon them – in particular SCORE.  SCORE is the default for almost everything. You cannot even put an album together in a logical order – the photos are automatically sorted by SCORE.

JD(User#17563):  How is that a page can get buried when we have such a great search tool?

Fred Spicker: For me, they are not. I am completely comfortable with the advanced search tool. In fact, I use it a lot to avoid looking at a bunch of stuff in which I have no interest.  For the casual user, they might very well be buried. For many other people this is obviously a concern. The concern can be easily remedied.  My complaint is not "buried pages", it is the illogic and silliness of having the default sort for everything be its SCORE on a site that is supposed to be about sharing information. If this were a game site or a contest then SCORE would be the logical sort.

Gareth(Userr#16596):  While a weighted voting system is good for certain reasons, it also relegates many,in many cases undeservedly, to second class SP member status.  It’s a good thing that some members have contributed a lot of stuff (which others now can’t), but where does that leave the rest of us?

Mvs(User#547):  I've decided that the voting is so subjective, people bring such different criteria to it that it's not something you should think about too much.  …I tend to vote high when I vote - giving props to the guy who filled in this mountain page in a lonely area.  But other folks are helping to maintain this site, putting a lot of effort into voting according to a more-or-less strict standard. So you might have a mountain page with a couple of 9/10s and also a 5/10. The guy who voted 9/10 is psyched to see info on a mountain he wants to climb. The guy who voted 5/10 is saying "good effort, but I know what a truly good page is!"

The new voting system clearly has issues that will hopefully be addressed, but there’s no denying the initial set-up has worked in curbing nefarious avatar behaviors.  Will the membership adjust to the new scale?  Will 7/10 votes be deemed a fair and acceptable “good” vote?  Will the members use it to steer SP’s quality, or avoid it because of the “game atmosphere,” algorithm problems and voter visibility?  As Josh had announced after the transfer to V2, SP would be evolving and changing over time.  Perhaps after enough evidence and suggestions are offered, a course of action concerning adjustments to the vote system will be taken.  In the mean time though, the staff will at least enjoy the fruits of Josh’s hard-thought labor.

SP AND OTHER WEBSITES

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14ers.com LOGO-COLORADO'S SUCCESSFUL MOUNTAINEERING WEB SITE

On June 10, 2003, Kane started a thread with the announcement that FourteenerWorld.com, a mountain climbing web site based in Colorado, was going to start charging its members for access. There was much discussion about what would happen and how the fate of FourteenerWorld might be decided.  Years later, FourteenerWorld has survived, perhaps meagerly, but continues to be a revered web site for information concerning Colorado’s mountains.

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At that time, SP was comparable in size.  A minor fallout of members disagreeing with the FourteenerWorld fee “defected” to SummitPost.  Two members were banned from FourteenerWorld for their comments about the situation on SP’s forum.  Though an unfortunate loss to FourteenerWorld, these members were a tremendous gain for SP’s Rockies group.  The submitted material from these knowledgeable and experienced climbers was a tremendous boon to SP.  Members such as attm, RyanSchilling and Alan Ellis, rmjwinters and others became devoted SP enthusiasts.

If you read the “FourteenerWorld Will Soon Charge For Membership” thread, you’ll notice a number of differences between SP and FourteenerWorldFourteenerWorld claims copyright ownership on all submitted material, SP doesn’t. FourteenerWorld charges members a fee for access to its information.  SP charges no fee.  (2015 edit:  FourteenerWorld has since folded).

It made no sense that members building the site with their contributions should have to pay a fee to access it.  They should be able to edit their material, and own it as well.  The SP staff believes reasons such as these explain SP’s explosive growth since 2003. Understandably, there was concern that the fast growing SP might also be compelled to charge a fee as well.  SP certainly had justifiable reasons for charging a fee.  Several members wrote to Josh about it, and Josh responded.

The issue was not finances.  It was time and energy. Josh had no intention, and still has no intention to charge a fee.  Contributors own their material, not SummitPost.  And as for a site owner and webmaster, Josh is as hands-off as a webmaster can get.  The problem facing SP on the horizon was growth and the original design.  SPv1 was struggling under the heavy traffic and Josh knew it.  His effort to recruit volunteers for a design of an all new SP from the ground up was not successful.  Yet something had to be done, for SPv1 was beginning to buckle under the strain, and the staff’s daily maintenance issues were mounting.

In the survey conducted for this report. SP members are confident SP is the best site of its kind in the world.  A small minority said it was not the best, but suggested it was headed there.  However, they did not offer up an alternative web site for an example, either.  If SP is the best, why doesn’t it show up prominently in the web’s search engines?  There was a time after SP became a dot-org that Google searches soared and brought traffic to SP.

On March 6, 2005, Alpendave (User#11183) quietly stated in another Google themed thread, perhaps prophetically:  Actually, I think SP is getting too popular.

Given SP’s many positives and huge appeal, we took a look at some other web sites,and we conducted some searches.  Our findings are not scientific or conclusive, but nonetheless interesting, if not a bit confusing.

When doing a Google search with one key word, “climbing,” 14ers.com showed up on page four.  SummitPost did not show up in 15 pages of results.  When searching for“mountain climbing,” 14ers.com showed up on page one.  An article on Ed Veisturs showed up on page 14.  SP did not show up in 15 pages of results.  “Hiking” didn’t turn it up,either.  Surprisingly, “mountaineering”turned up zero as well.

So,we tried Google’s chief competitor, Yahoo. SummitPost turned up as item number 25 with the keyword“mountaineering.”  No results for“hiking.”  For “mountain climbing,” it was item 41.  SP might be the best website on mountaineering out there, but the masses don’t know about it.  What we did notice is that Peakware and Wikipedia, generally regarded by the SP membership as poor and inaccurate websites, often turned up in the results, and at times, in the first or second page of results.

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PEAKWARE.COM

We tried getting more specific.  On Google,searches for Mount Everest, Aconcagua and Mount Rainier turned up plenty of other sources, but nothing from SP.  However, on Yahoo, SP’s Aconcagua’s page by William Marler, one of SP’s most popular at over 70,000 hits, turned up as item number 2.  Peakware and Wikipedia turned up on the first page of a Yahoo search for Everest. SP was not in the first ten pages.  For Mount Rainier, SP was item 14, with Gorp and Peakware appearing before it.  Quick searches for The Eiger and Matterhorn on Google were fruitless.  On Yahoo, the SP Matterhorn page was the 4th listing.  Mount Elbrus was Item 60 on Google, and Item 5 on Yahoo.

There was reason to question why SP was so popular with such dismal search results,and why was Yahoo turning up consistently better results?  In 2003, SummitPost was not showing up in Google searches.

JOSH:  The problem has to do with the server not being able to handle the traffic. The best solution involves a code rewrite and site redesign.  During mid 2004, SummitPost changed to a dot-org web site.  Recurring problems with the then popular Google web site search engine indicated the change.  Google routinely updates its search parameters to display the most relevant and recent sources, so it was reasonable to assume that SP’s older material would not show up in a Googlesearch.  This annoyance was not lost on the members, who were interested in getting as much exposure for SP as possible, and it was discussed at length in numerous threads.

Ryle:  It's always a guessing game with Google, and hopefully SP will gain more visibility soon. A lot of webmasters are becoming disillusioned with Google though, as Google seems to put a lot of emphasis on how long links have been pointing to a page or to a domain, instead of the "quality" or relevance of that page to your search. In my opinion, the Google results were much better 2 or 3 years ago. It could be that the switch to the new site will hurt SP in Google for a little while.

If you create a new website and put it on a new domain name, it could barely rank at all in Google for up to a year. That's why many search results in Google seem stale. you can read more about it here . Note that we are using the same old domain name, so hopefully we won't have to wait nearly that long.

I wish I could recommend another search engine, they all seem to have their flaws. I've been using Yahoo a lot more recently.

Since then, other search engines have been closing in on Google’s success, and SP seems to appear favorably in other search engine results.

We took a look at some other web sites. Sites like Supertopo, renowned for its controversial and messy message board is built to a certain degree by its members.  SP and Supertopo at times are considered rivals, so there is no link reference between the two web sites.  Routes, photos and the forum are input by Supertopo’s members.  Peakware and Wikipedia are similar in terms of types of contributions, but most mountaineering sites provide information and are built and maintained by their webmasters or owners.  SP appears to be unique in terms of quality and quantity of member submissions, and in the fact that most of its massive database has been built by its members.

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Sites that sell mountaineering equipment seem to like SummitPost.  Alpkit has devoted an entire page of kudos to SP. Colorado’s Fourteener Initiative Organization references SP, as well as Devils Tower ClimbingArizona Highpointers refer prominently to SP on their Arizona County Trip Reports page, as do the Nevada County Highpointers.  A Russian web site’s mountaineering message board refers to SP.  Britain’s Mountaindays.net links to SP.  SP members often refer to SP from other sites, such as Around Colorado.  Other surprising sites that reference SP are Bootcamps For Troubled Teens, Looksmart Education, WebSurfing by Dick Kling,  Wilderness Medical Society, and Araz, an Iranian web page with contributions by SP’s Nader.  Of course, SP’s members like to feature SP on their own web site, too.

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THE PASSING OF THE AGE

In 2004, the first of several incidents that would indicate the SP membership’s coming of age took place.  What no one thought about in this still young website’s brief life span was the prospect of losing valued members.  Losing members over disagreements concerning contributions or inappropriate voting habits was becoming known and accepted.  Despite the dangers of the sport SP is devoted to, no one had thought about the loss of a member due to a mountaineering accident.

Sure,it was a given that an SP member would eventually die in a mountaineering activity.  That it happened so soon in SP’s short existence is what caught the staff off guard, and then, the question arose as to what should be done in an official capacity.

RahelMaria Liu, one of SP’s earliest prolific founding contributors, had suddenly and tragically died during an ascent on Mont Blanc’s Innomata Spur, on the Italian (south side) of the mountain. The announcement on SummitPost was a shock to the membership, followed by sadness, mourning and a yearning to understand how such a tragedy could happen.  Young and old, experienced and new members offered comments and condolences, along with links to information about Rahel and her unfortunate passing.

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RAHEL MARIA LIU JULY 2002

Rahel, if you recall from Part One of this report, was one of SP’s earliest contributors and had built a rapport with Josh that would later go awry over copyright concerns and disagreements with other members.  She was one of the first knowledgeable and controversial SP members, whose actions would later influence the refinement and emphasis on the importance of a copyright policy at SP.  Rahel regretfully ceased her participation on SP over these matters, but continued to stay active in her climbing.

To the staff’s knowledge, Rahel’s loss was the first of its kind at SP, and it brought home to the members just how dangerous mountaineering could be in a tangible, visual sense not previously experienced on the fledgling web site.

Aaron Johnson:  Frankly,we are at a loss as to how to handle the situation, because it had not happened to us previously.  What was the appropriate manner for SP to respond?  We were clueless!  It wasn’t until some suggestions in the thread concerning her passing about certain types of memorials were mentioned that we began to get a grasp of how SP should deal with the situation.  It was decided to memorialize her profile page.  Even though it’s virtual, it may ironically outlast many other types of memorials.  After some discussion, the task and honor fell to me to make the changes. It was difficult to compose, and probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a staff member. I was honored by the duty, but it didn’t make it any easier.

Aaron contacted Josh about the plans to turn Rahel’s profile page into a memorial.  Josh was understandably shocked and saddened by the incident, and he responded promptly.  He arranged for Aaron to access Rahel’s profile page and make the changes, the first time someone other than the member or Josh had accessed a profile page on SP. This unhappy event foreshadowed the need in the future for the staff to have more editorial access to objects on SP. With SPv1, it was a difficult issue that has since been remedied with SPv2.

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LOA ZHAO ZIYUNG

Then,as if in a one-two punch, Johan Heersink (User #16579) posted another notice of another SP member’s untimely passing. Lao Zhao Ziyung died on September 27, 2004 during a fatal jeep accident in the Ili Prefecture mountain region of China. Aaron repeated his somber duty by memorializing Lao’s profile page, now considered the standard official practice for such matters.

Misha:  …We will pay the best tribute to them by going out and climbing as much as possible.

Dragger(User#16428):  Please,let's all be careful out there and not read any more posts like these.

Gordonye:  A mountaineer living to be 71, that's damn good a life. I feel Lao Zhao must be satisfied for what he has accomplished, a life well lived.

Hgrapid(User #12344):  There is danger in the mountains, and we all take risks out there, and there is noway we should stay home. Let everybody else who is resigned to a sedentary life(and) are living a boring existence. Messner faced significant loss when his brother, whom he had climbed with his entire life, died in the Himilayas.  Rather than quit, Messner became the most prolific climber of his time.

Gordo, damn right that's a good life, and a life well-lived.

"The unexamined life is not worth living"

-Plato

"Keep Klimbin'"

-Jack Longrace (highpointers club - RIP)

In 2005, SP member Mathias Zehring had posted a notice that yet another prestigious SP member had died a year ago in 2004, one month after Rahel.  Stefan Weber, better known as Kletterwebbi on SP, had passed away.  Gangolf converted Stefan’s profile page into a memorial.

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KLETTERWEBBI

Gangolf:  Soon after I joined SP I came across kletterwebbi, first by searching for my fellow German SP members. He was among the top three, Mathias Zehring, Rahel Maria Liu and himself. Quite soon afterwards I noticed that he had submitted quite a number of mountains and climbing routes in the Gröden / Val Gardena area of the Dolomites, an area I am particularly fond of myself. We started exchanging comments and after a while I felt confident enough to submit my first mountain pages. Stefan (kletterwebbi's first name) supported my page and I hunted down an Italian Word-document about the climbing routes to Peitlerkofel-Sass-da-Putiafor him. We both spent some time trying to decipher the language.

After that, Gabriele and I came up with the idea of a Dolomites grouping structure and kletterwebbi was one of the dozen members who took part in that discussion which would establish the first group (or area & range)pages on SP. He took two himself, Saslonch-Langkofel-Sassolungo-Group and Sella-Group. You can still judge the quality of his submissions by visiting them - when I took over I added a pano or two and corrected his typos.

Then, in spring 2004, kletterwebbi vanished from SP. I didn't take it seriously at the time since on May 10th he had written to me that his job kept him so busy that he hardly had time for SP anymore. It was the last I heard from him. Over the time, especially in autumn 2004 I tried to contact him, first for help in identifying the mountains on the big Dolomite panorama I had taken (and which you can now find on the Dolomites page), then for advice on two mountain pages, which I had submitted and which I knew he had climbed by technical rock climbing routes while I had achieved the summits only by the scrambling normal routes. I received no reply and - for the first time - felt worried. I Googled for his name and pseudonym, trying to look up the web sites of the local press but didn't find anything.

About a year later a reshuffling of the Dolomite groups and pages presented itself and since it was initialized by me I contacted maintainers by mail. I received no reaction from kletterwebbi and asked MathiasZehring if he knew anything. In parallel we started to search the web and while I only found out that he had also stopped submitting to a local German climbing site about the end of April 2004, Mathias found out the sad truth. In a side note of the site of Stefan's section of the German Alpine Club we could read that"[...] the former webmaster of this site, Stefan Weber, a.k.a. kletterwebbi, has died in southern France in the spring of 2004 [...].  The wording of the German message made i tclear that he had died by an accident - whether traffic or climbing related we didn't and don't know. When writing the obituary I contemplated contacting friends and family but I couldn't muster the courage. Besides, I didn’'t want to open old wounds afresh.

2004 also ended on a very sad note for SP when a fourth member, Kristian Wang died tragically in an avalanche on Camel Peak, part of the Mont of Four Girls in China on December 29.  31 year old Kristian had been recently married, and his wife, on her first snow climb,survived the incident.  The announcement arrived on SP on January 5, 2005.

In one year, SP had suffered four serious losses to its community.  Given the risky nature of mountaineering and related activities, the odds seem to indicate it will happen again.  Having developed a standard procedure for such situations does not mean the SP staff is any better prepared for such a situation, but at least they now know what to do.  Like many other firsts, these events shaped the character that has become so readily evident even to the casual SP member.

These saddest moments are part of anyone’s life, and so it is with the life of SP’s community.  At the time of these losses,SP was also dealing with a host of other situations, all of which contributed to forming SP’s character and determined the path SP would eventually undertake.  Like any other individual or community, it was a rite of passage, and when SPv2 arrived, the “childhood” was gone.  As SP’s membership moves forward,this article hopes to instill a sense of historical relevance and heritage to the community.  With the passing of the age of SPv1, SP’s community now carries their favorite web site boldly into the future.

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PROMINENT SP MEMBER VERNON GARNER (SAINTGRIZZLY) PASSED AWAY PREMATURELY ON MARCH 1, 2011

SP MEMBERS SPEAK

There is no doubt SP’s members are an opinionated group.  They each have a unique perspective but also share many common visions concerning SP. This section will simply turn the floor over to SummitPost’s members and let them do the talking.  Survey questions were issued to roughly 30 members in a random manner.  About 60% of those polled responded.  In the interest of brevity, many common or duplicated responses are not included, and many brief responses simply were not utilized.  Some answers may have been edited for clarity, grammar, spelling or conciseness.


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SCOTT PATTERSON

WHY DID YOU JOIN SP?

David Kiene: Probably like most members, I joined because I was looking up beta on a few climbs and links to SP kept coming up.

RPC:  My wife and I had just climbed South Sister (an Oregon volcano) via the non-technical route and -having been hooked - were looking for beta on the other Sisters. Yahoo! SP! My first SP submission was this photo of South Sister.

Dave Daly:  Two reasons: do research for an upcoming trip and to post route descriptions with a degree of accuracy and/or highlights of that route.

Scott Patterson:  I joined mostly to find partners for remote areas and winter climbs, and also to share information on lesser known areas and climbs.

Dragger:  Originally -- to ask beta questions about hiking in the Sierra and to ask questions about prescription glacier sunglasses.

William Marler:  Back in 2000 I think, Josh e-mailed me after I have posted a couple of images on Peakware. I started posting tons of crappy images until I caught on what this place was all about.

Diggler:  …Was searching for mountain information after work one day, & found SP- thought it was(is) great that one could submit photos/information oneself & get info from others.

DingusMilktoast:  I joined at first for the climbing community spirit of the forums. I hardly looked at the mountain submissions for the first year of my participation.

Martin Cash:  I really liked the look of the site, and wanted to be an active participant in it.

Velebit:  Since the beginning of the internet I wanted to make pages about mountains I love very much and others that I visited. Had material and will but there was no good site to call home and web space was expensive then, to make my personal webpages (which was primary idea). Then in June of 2002, while doing net research for one Alpine peak, I stumbled on SP and that was IT! Immediately I knew this is the right place to be. Prior to SP I didn’t join any mountaineering site because they weren’t appealing to me at all.

Dean:  I joined it because I had accidentally discovered a page on Colchuck peak in Washington State by Fred Spicker and I was intrigued by the concept of a website about mountains that members participated in by sponsoring a mountain. I liked the idea that I could attach my pictures to his page and add a trip report and make comments to the person providing the page that might help him/her in their effort to provide the best possible result. I had seen nothing on the net like this and I was immediately hooked. I didn't put up any of my own pages for 6 months however, not until Bob Bolton encouraged me to do so and my first effort at sponsoring a page was Mt. Timpanogos in Utah. I immediately found out how much work it was to "put" up a page but yet how fulfilling it was to share information and gather information about a specific peak.

Mountwashingtonmonroe:  I joined SP because to me it was almost a revolutionary site when I first saw it.  I had never before been a part of a web site,community is a better word, where the members create the quality structure and database of the site.  My compliments as always go to Josh for coming up with the idea in the first place.  I also joined because I wanted to be an active member in using the detailed information placed at my fingertips since I have a love of the mountains as most members of the site do.  It's a place for acquiring more than just knowledge about the mountains that one might seek, it's for building life-long relationships in which people can share their passion for the mountains together.

Fred Spicker:  Thought I had found a site devoted solely to mountains, mountaineering and climbing.

MPBRO:  I found it somewhat randomly in June, 2001.  At that time, the site was basically California-centric.  Living in the SF Bay area, I was intrigued.  An interactive climbing encyclopedia of mountains.  I was put tinga lot of work on my website at that time, and I saw SP as a nice complement to the content on my webpage.

ATTM:  I initially joined when an SP member asked if I wouldn't mind posting a pic of mine that he saw on another website to one of his SummitPost (SP)pages.  A few months later I needed some information on climbing a peak in Colorado so I did a Google search on the peak and up came Aaron Johnson's Mt. Oso, SP page.  After emailing him for some information about the peak and him quickly responding, I was able to climb the peak and then add information to his page when I returned.  I was encouraged to submit other prominent Colorado peaks that were not yet on SP that I had already climbed.  The rest is history.

Nelson:  Mostly to gain fame and fortune from amassing SP points and power. Beyond that I decided that the SP community was great fun, and that I might even have some stuff to contribute.

Tiziana:  Because SP is the best mountain site in internet and a great international community.

Gareth:  I originally joined in order to sign the Longs Peak summit log.  It was about a month after the actual climb,and I was in the midst of my “I’m finally climbing mountains in Colorado”autumn of ’03 kick.  So there I was inthe library at Kansas State University on the computer looking up stuff onLongs Peak, and I stumbled upon SP.


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SP MEMBER NELSON

WHAT DO YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT SP?

Nelson:  That I have made wonderful friends, and had great outings due to connections made through SP.Also, SP has increased my awareness and interest in mountains all over the world, both close and far from home. My list of places to I hope to visit has grown because of SP.  The information about gear and training is also extremely valuable. I always consult with SP before making purchases, including non-climbing related stuff.

Bob Bolton:  Probably the best thing for me is the chance to get and provide useful information about what is probably the most important topic for most of the members. Or it might be the camaraderie and friendships that have resulted. I also enjoy the absolutely fantastic photography posted by many members.

ATTM:  I like being able to easily post pictures and information about peaks I like to climb without the hassles of starting up and posting on my own website.  It allows friends and family to see what my latest excursions were.

Beldus:  The active exchange of materials presented by members is good.  I am always pleased to see diverse opinions on P/P.  I am surprised at the length of some of the threads...i.e., the wino thread was amazing.  The very much up-to-date on many of the potential hikes I might take  is always there...that is, if I need information, my request can be posted, and sure enough SP people respond...I 'yell' for help and the SP ers throw me buoys to'save' me.  It is a world-wide information gathering system.

Vid Pogachnik:  Its power. It enables us to DO things effectively, in collaboration with others.The concept and the programming is worthy of a genius. The concept has many attractive features for users. First - that we all build the site.  You simply can't resist: publishing stuff immediately, seeing and giving feedback immediately, competing a little and cooperating a lot. Darwinian mechanisms - what is good - survives (=gets attraction), what is bad dies (=gets buried) work well. Very important is also TRUST. When Josh and Ryle say: 'It's free and will always be' or 'server space is not an issue and will never be', you trust completely. Ethics is on the highest possible level. The commitment of the supporting staff is incredible,you have a feeling that everyone is passionate about contributing the most. I didn't mind if Josh and Ryle were absent for months from SP. It was programmed so good that it ran smoothly anyway. But when going on SPv2 a huge amount of energy and creativity was devoted again. You don't do that for free, unless you're really passionate about it. It's also fun to observe how cooperating on SP requires quite some social skills, even if we are not in a direct social contact. Praising, teaching, helping, avoiding and resolving conflicts, giving critique etc.

Saintgrizzly:  The pictures (first), then the writing on individual pages; some of the Community write very, very well! Also, I get a lot from different Forum postings. To date, I've used SP as a source of inspiration first, information second (interesting to me that with others it's the opposite).

Rlwhusker:  The absolutely magnificent collection of photographs available of the different mountains,most of them post card quality.  I think the mountain pages are fabulous, as are the trip reports, they are very helpful as you get many perspectives based on different conditions.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  There are so many positives to SP that accommodate the user and I think that is probably the best attribute in itself.  It's not just a random webpage created by some person across the continent that you'll never meet.  It's been lavishly decorated and honed by the same people you see when you're out in the mountains.  The site is a beehive for hands-on activity to anyone who takes interest in what they see. There is also the information side of the equation, which for the mostpart is as accurate as can be.  This site has easily reached a level of "informative grandeur" that will likely not be surpassed by many mountaineering sites anywhere.

Dean:  Where do I really start? There isn't much about SP that I don't like. I like the idea that I can find information on a mountain that will have pictures, trip reports, summitlogs, maps, topozone links, and a good foundation of information on how to get to it and often choices in routes and an overview. Some members include historical information about the peak and add information about flora and fauna I find interesting. I also have met many friends via Summitpost. I met Bob Bolton via SP and he has become one of my very best friends and we have done many adventures together in Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Washington. He got me into county highpointing and chasing prominence peaks as well. I really like the forums too, as most are great resources in one way or another.

DingusMilktoast:  The international community aspect. I think that is huge, a true global climbing community center.

RPC:  "Community feel". We've met a lot of folks thru. SP and have climbed with most of them. All have been very nice. Also love the SP get-togethers where both the conversation and the beer flow freely! Lastly, enjoy looking at climbing photos and stuff on company time.

David Kiene:  I really like the fact that it is a great way to meet people with similar interests.  I have met several close friends thanks to SP.  One of the great things, too, is that it is much more interactive than conventional guidebooks.  It is easy to ask questions from people who have actually climbed a particular mountain. Climbers are almost without exception easy to share what they know.

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SP MEMBER HOLSTI97

WHAT DO YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT SP?

Gareth:  The message board wars, which unfortunately haven’t been confined just to P&P.  I’ve been as guilty as everyone else.

Holsti97:  1) Too many albums. Would prefer pictures to be posted to specific mountain pages only. 2)Whining about voting. 3) Also it is addictive. I spend too much time looking at it! 4) Photos that do not apply to mountains or hiking.

Nelson:  The petty bickering that goes on about voting and points and so on. It gets tedious,though I'll admit I've been caught up in it myself on occasion.

ATTM:  Back in SP's infancy,most of the information and pictures that were submitted were of great quality.  Now with SP's notoriety, a lot of the information submitted is poor quality and clutters up the high quality information.

MPBRO:  It is intriguing to me to watch how climbers develop along with their SP personas and power.  Many people joined the site and were afraid of exposed scrambling.  After a few years on SP, they're doing serious multi pitch technical climbs in the back country.  Why?  Would they have done it anyway?  Probably not. I think there's a funny kind of "peer pressure" on SP.  Pressure to be “more manly” than the next guy-- this means no wimping out on an exposed ridge, going fast and hard.  Pressure to get more power and add better content than the next guy -- this means doing routes only for the sake of SP.  In my opinion, this peer pressure is what makes SP great and what makes it bad.  Undoubtedly, peer pressure leads to improved content and pushes climbers out of their previous comfort zone.  But I think the site has lost a bit of camaraderie and accessibility as a result.  The "bare minimum" page is incredibly detailed now than it was back in "the day".  But I'm probably just waxing nostalgic for a day that never existed.

Vid Pogachnik:  There's hardly anything. Funny - the advantages are at the same time disadvantages.Crap posting - because everyone can post so easily. So different behaviors of members - I'd like everyone to vote as much as possible. It still takes to o long that good stuff gets enough good votes. As there's no pre-described order (mountain groups, taxonomy, meaning of categories, ...) the initial 'chaos' only slowly comes in spontaneous order.

Fred Spicker:  POWER– voting based on power – sorting everything based on score which is based on power.

Saintgrizzly:  PnP (first);"hero" shots, and those using the site as a forum for nothing more than telling their friends, "see, I'm on the Internet..."; such individuals put up the worst pages.

Rlwhusker:  Although I understand the need for some of it, it seems elitist.  I don’t like people being able to vote on pictures.  I noticed a girl from Texas put her heart and soul out there with a few pictures she put on that weren’t great quality, but they represented a success in her life that she wanted to share with the rest of us.  She was awarded an average 1 star and a lot of people voted.  I would be surprised if her feelings weren’t hurt, and she wouldn’t contribute again.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  My least favorite thing about SP is also one of the reasons it is the best.  Vengeful voting and user disagreements in voting can sometimes prohibit an enjoyable perusal of the site, but these problems are things I'm sure every new member to the site goes through and learns to easily forget.  After a couple hundred posts you get used to it.  I would have to say that it's good people don't always give submissions 9/10 though at the same time because that's what makes SP so accurate and comprehensive.

Dean:  I dislike poor efforts on the part of members who sponsor a mountain and then put up minimal or crappy information on it. Fortunately, these people are in a small minority and I learn to avoid such stuff. Prate and Prattle on the old forum used to irritate me when people went political. I feel that on a website dedicated to mountains that the bickering and pettiness of partisan political beliefs isn't needed. However, I can choose not to go to that specific feature.

Velebit:  That anyone can post crap material.

William Marler:  Initially the race for points (which early on I was part of) but most recently the attacks on certain members which results in the member leaving the site destroying all his or her works. The battles and trolling in P and P. The bashing of various political and geographic regions. Makes for interesting reading sometimes but usually results in a lot of animosity between members.But to avoid this all one has to do is stay out of the fray by avoiding P and P.

Scott Patterson:  Personally,I do not like pages at all that are submitted with no hiking or climbing information.  This includes pages on places (hills?) that have only a road mentioned, or pages with just photos and no climbing info.

Dave Daly:  The submissions that are not related to mountaineering or climbing. I don't agree that this site should also include Class 1 hiking. Leave that to sites like GORP.

Gangolf:  Can’t say really- as an elf I don't like it when flame wars break out or someone threatens something to some other member, to the staff or to Josh.

David Kiene:  I think the internet can be a poor medium for communication, which I think has led to some hard feelings between people who might otherwise get along.

Diggler:  PnP, flamers.  (This was the most common response).


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SP MEMBER GARETH

WHEN SHOWING SP TO FRIENDS, WHICH PAGE OR FEATURE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOW THE MOST?

Dave Daly:  Mainly the Mountains & Ranges pages; to include route descriptions.

David Kiene:  I think the list of mountains submitted to SP is pretty damned impressive.  There are over 5000 mountains in the SP database from all over the world.  Most pages contain an incredible amount of information.  That usually gets them interested.

Dean:... and I like the ability to refer people to SP to get information about a specific peak that they are interested in. Most have been impressed by all the information shared at SP.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  I would have to say that the What's New feature and the overall wealth of the database is my favorite thing to show off.  Every time I show someone the site for the first time they're immediately struck by how gargantuan the mountain, route, and photo databases are.  I find it quite impressive myself even after being a member since 2003.  Also I answer the "What's New" feature because I think the organization of the website is brilliant and most new viewers that I introduce always agree as well.  It's easy to get around and fun to explore the different aspects of the site itself.

MPBRO: A good mountain page.  I mean, you've got pictures, history, routes, a summit log. How cool is that!

ATTM: I like showing people my mountain pages.  I am usually too lazy to write up a trip report, so a mountain page is the next best thing to show them what I have been up to lately.

Gareth:  The photos, and probably more often or not some of my better photos.  If the internet is somewhere, then some of my photos are there to.  I often talk about stuff that I learn on the message boards with people.

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SP STAFF DEVOTEE VID POGACHNIK

HAS SP PROVEN TO BE A VALUABLE RESOURCE TO YOU?

RFBolton:  Absolutely! Invaluable actually!

Gareth:  Absolutely!  I have learned an incredible amount of information on SP.  Both from the formal submissions, as well as message board chatter. Although I am a Kansas resident, I feel that I know Colorado fairly well, and much of my knowledge has either been the direct result of my mental“plugging into” SP, or has been from other sources (personal experience or books) and has been cultivated or given a spark of life through SP.  There’s a certain personal spirit that that colors stuff on SP that guidebooks either don’t have at all, or is generally limited if they do.  Even the best guidebooks are sterile, SP lives due to human interaction.  Some of my best climbs have been on rather obscure peaks that I never would have known much about, or at all, if someone had not taken the time to post pages for them.

Nelson:  Absolutely, as noted above: friends, places,gear...

Holsti97:  I have learned a lot about climbing, equipment, routes and beta on mountains, and met some very interesting people.

ATTM:  I have climbed most of the 14ers and many of the more popular peaks in the southwest, but am more interested in the less traveled peaks now.  SP is sometimes the only place to find beta on these peaks. When I wanted to climb Mt. Oso, CO, SP was the only place that had the information that I needed.

Beldus:  It is a site of friendship connections.  It is a site of seeking safety for trips.  It is a site of experiences gained by me via input from SPers.  It is a site that I have a self-seeking physical and mental and spiritual relationship.  When a fellow SPer experiences a tragedy I often pray for that individual's well-being.

Vid Pogachnik:  Yes,definitely. I know well my neighborhood mountains, but for other areas I have a good overview which area are covered well on SP and which are not. It's growing quickly, so, yes, it is a great resource.

Saintgrizzly:  Yes, quite valuable, but to date that value has been more along the lines of a motivational factor.

MtwashingtonmmonroeAny information I need on literally any place on earth is almost always readily available for my use.  The vast dispersal of members from around the world is another very attractive aspect of this site.  I can find a mountain and accurat einfo on climbing it from members who live almost anywhere I could think of traveling.  It's nice to be able to have such a large and satisfying database at my disposal anytime I want to head into the mountains.

Dave Daly:  Yes!Only second to the FA original topos and narratives. The work that has been put into SP is beyond words.....priceless.

Gangolf:  Not really. So far guide books have been the better resource. However - so far I have vacationed at places where there have been no SP pages, which might explain.

David Kiene:  Definitely,not only for finding specific climbing beta, but also for allowing me to learn about and appreciate peaks from all over the world that I previously knew nothing about.

Fred Spicker:  Yes!  (This was the most common response).


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WILLIAM MARLER

WHAT UNPLEASANT EVENT, IF ANY, HAPPENED TO YOU THROUGH SP?

Gangolf:  Made a fool of myself by posting on the boards. It's been two years now so I don't bother anymore.

Scott Patterson:  Perhaps just arguments about proper submissions, which was a one time thing.

William Marler:  Bad memories on SP. Well the first one would be when I asked Ivanho G what was going on with him when he posted about 200 trip reports in a 6 hour period. All the reports were useless in nature and were eventually deleted. But he had a complete meltdown and left the site. In hindsight I wished that I had e-mailed him directly and given him the chance to delete the material himself. Thus saving face and perhaps staying on. As I result the incident became public flogging which I felt responsible for. Very ugly and I felt very stupid. The second would be when I produced a fake poster of various amazing shots that had caught my eye on SP. I received an e-mail from a prominent member who basically demanded that I never use one of his images on one of these poster ideas. I had not used one of his shots so this was not an issue (may have been what triggered the reaction). I assured him this was for SPers only and that I would respect his wishes. But it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I will probably not do another one. Lastly, when Rahel Maria Liu died on Mount Blanc.  We had conversed a little over the years even after she had left SP. Her death hit home. Although we never met it felt like the loss of a friend.

Diggler:  Various altercations on P&P with certain members in which friends were insulted.

Velebit:  Only one. A member copied my photos from one of my pages and then posted them on his new page.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  I can't say I've had any really unpleasant events.  The closest thing I can think of to unpleasant is when after only being on the site a few months, I created a page for the peaks of RMNP and spent a couple days making it.  I then got low votes because I wasn't from the area and many said it wasn't useful at all.  I grudgingly ended up deleting it.  That's pretty much it for me though.

Rlwhusker:  Getting banned by the elves, admittedly I was being a troublemaker, but I felt being one of the few conservatives on P&P that I was being unfairly singled out by what I perceived was a liberally minded management of the site.  I thought P&P was advertised as the site where “anything goes.”  I felt I was being dumped on more than I was initiating on P&P, but was enjoying the debate.  If an elf had just sent me a note, I would have canned it.  I also was negatively affected by Climbwild’s assisted leaving SP.  I don’t know all the facts, but I think a member knew what buttons to push to get him to go over the edge.  There was also a call to eliminate ATTM, and if that happened I would probably not have continued.  They both were/are great contributors, not irreplaceable, but Monster climbers in my opinion with a lot of helpful advice.

Saintgrizzly:  Two things: the occasional implosions of individuals who get so upset over criticism/suggestions (some of which, admittedly is not very tactfully put, and which is in itself a problem) they "take their pages and run"; also,when the political bigotry overflows PnP, it's almost unbelievably unpleasant and offensive--it's come as a surprise to me that there are those individuals who apparently simply don't care that that is the case, and don't understand that quiet, informed, points make more progress in a discussion than offensive presentation. I just don't get those people!

Kenzo Okawa:  SP was frustrated by photo wars.

MPBRO:  I think Bob Burd,John Wang, and I were the first helpers. There really wasn't that much work to do in those days.  It started getting tricky and irritating once the forums gained prominence in the site. With ~500 members and no Iraq war, the topics mainly stuck to climbing.  As the war heated up, passions heated up and more off-topic (off-climbing) posts appeared.  The posts got personal.  There came a certain point (can't remember when) when we got to a fail safe point.  I assumed the avatar of "moderator" and started deleting off-topic posts en masse.  Unfortunately Josh was on vacation and there was insufficient communication between myself, sp elf,and Josh.  "Moderator's” actions were without precedent or warning and looked capricious to many.  Josh was forced to relent and put the deleted posts back, but at that point he did create "Prate and Prattle" as the SP trash bin.  If things had gone a little differently, SP would have no PnP. I can't say if it's better or worse.

ATTM:  I was nearly banned for posting political opinions on an SP message board that is specifically designed for these types of posts. One of SP's moderators seems to have a bias against certain types of posts. If it wasn't for other moderators, I would have already been banned.  Ordinarily I wouldn't mind as a message board moderator is a dictator and is appointed by the webmaster to moderate how he wants, but the thought of wasting 100's of hours of work after being banned is not a pleasant thought.

Nelson:  A jerk down voted a bunch of my photos that I had just spent many days working on a page, and scanning photos. I did get pissed.

Gareth:  Several P&P flame wars.  Moral of the story: The less you post in P&P the better.

RFBolton:  I suppose the worst thing was finding out that someone was specifically voting down my photos so they'd drop from the first page. I got disgruntled enough that I was largely absent for maybe about 2 years.

DingusMilktoast:  None.  (This was the most common response).


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GANGOLF HAUB

WHAT PLEASANT EVENT, IF ANY, HAPPENED TO YOU THROUGH SP?

Nelson:  Too many to count. Positive feedback on my submissions, numerous friendly conversations on and offline with SP members. And of course, great days in the mountains, what it is really all about.

Vid Pogachnik:  Meeting Sasa Gospic (Velebit) personally, cooperating with some other members. Just recently one of my friends wrote a guidebook in Slovenian language. I will contribute many pictures, but pictures of some mountains were missing. It took me exactly 2 days to get high resolution pictures from SP members (Gangolf,Mathias, Klaus) and they even didn't want money.  You'd expect something like that only from your best friends, and we even don't know each other personally. I'm also pleased when SP members address me for info, when coming in Slovenian mountains. Otherwise I'm pleased whenever my posting results in a positive feedback. And that's often.

Holsti97Some compliments on photography. Interesting discussion with others on forums and using the PM option. Had fun discussing the rabbit tracks and owl picture that I posted.

Rlwhusker:  I was allowed back in (by a certain elf well known to yourself) I would like to thank you again Aaron for going to bat for me, and hope in your mind  that I have kept up my end of our bargain.  That is always in the back of my mind when I respond to posts on P&P. I also very much enjoyed the Winter Gathering.  I have made some new friends.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  …this site to m eis more about building relationships from a shared passion and also working together as a team to make SP one of the best sites out there.

Dave Daly:  I married my climbing partner who is also involved on SP!

DingusMilktoast:  Um,met Bob Burd and did a couple of easy peak bags with him. Cool dude. Hooking up with folk like that is one of the primary 'features' of an online community.

ATTM:  I have met over 2 dozen SP members and some of them will no doubt become lifelong friends and climbing partners. Some of them I have met on regional SP gatherings and some I have met after exchanging emails with individual SP members.

Gareth:  A couple of years ago when I thought that I was going to make a life move that would seriously limit future opportunities to visit the mountains, I was able to get in contact with some people members who really helped me plan what I wanted to do in the mountains with the time I had left.  Two great trips were the result.  Thankfully,I don’t have to worry about giving the mountains up anymore.

RFBolton:  The best events have been meeting Dean Molen and Don Nelsen, who now are great friends. There are others too, like Radek Chalupa (and Shirley of course), Brian Jenkins, Karl Helser, Eileen Bistrisky, and others.

RFBolton’s response was the most common and it appears the overwhelming benefit of being an SP member is making new friends with common interests-namely mountains.


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BOB BOLTON (right) with DUANE GILLILAND

DO YOU THINK SP IS HERE TO STAY?

David Kiene:  It depends on Josh and Ryle to keep it going financially or (heaven forbid) in case they should die or lose interest. But I believe that the membership is large enough and committed enough to keep it going indefinitely.

Dave Daly:  Without a doubt.

Dragger:  I sure hope so.

William Marler:  As long as Josh enjoys it I am sure SP is here to stay in one form or another. But in this life nothing is certain. I hope it has a long life.

DingusMilktoast:  Um,no actually, I don't. I think within 10 years most of the online climbing communities will fade or morph into something else. I think casual climbing and the current fad popularity of certain aspects of it will fade too.

Dean:  I sure hope so.  I've invested a ton of time in my pages and contributions as have so many others.  It is the best resource on mountains on the internet, nothing touches it.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  I pray and hope that it is.  I don't really see how it could ever disappear because there is obviously a grossly underestimated need for a site like this.  I'd been looking for a site like this forever and when I found it it felt like finding a new mountain to climb.  This site allows users to learn, gather information, make friends, plan trips, and share stories about the shared passion of the mountains that its members all hold.

Fred Spicker:  I don't know, it exists at the whim of the people who pay for the web space - all that hard work could be nothing but free electrons in a nanosecond.

Vid PogachnikI hope so, very much! My attitude would be like the one of Gauls in comics of Asterix and Obelix - they were fearing only of one thing - that the sky doesn't fall down.

Kenzo Okawa:  SP has the significance of existence.

Bob Bolton:  I thad better be here to stay. An awful lot of people have poured out their hearts and souls into providing the content.

MPBRO:  Yeah, it's pretty impressive.  But philosophically, it seems to have bifurcated into two camps: 1) the encyclopedists, 2) the PnPists.;-)  Certainly you have cohesive communities among both camps, and that's enough to make it stay.  But I sometimes wonder...where are the climbers.  Again, the old man in me comes out.

ATTM:  I don't really know.  I think it will all depend on Josh.  If he disappears for a couple of years like he did last time, questions will come up as to the future of SP.  If he at least makes an appearance every onc ein a while, people will probably be satisfied.


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ALPS AND CASCADE CLIMBER FRED

WHAT IS YOUR OVERALL OPINION OF SPv2?

RFBolton:  I think v2 is a very welcome improvement, but it still has some nagging annoyances. I particularly like the ability to relate objects together, and to create more types of objects like lists and albums.

Gareth:  I like it better.  However some important bugs still need to be worked out, notably an apparent vote weighting anomaly.

Tiziana:  Overall I appreciate the individual effort of each member building pages, uploading photos, updating things, the new website is fast and complete and easy if you have patience and if you read the guide lines.

Holsti97:  It took awhile to get used to SPv2. I like the What's New Section. I preferred the 4 point voting scale. Too many vote only 10s with the new voting system and are afraid to vote below 8 on anything.

Nelson:  Generally a big improvement over v1, but there are some things that need tweaking. Too much stuff on the "What's New" is a big one, making it less often that I look at ANY new stuff. But it is what it is, better than I can do and the best site of its kind.

ATTM:  I think some minor changes to SPv1 were probably needed, but I am not sure we needed such a drastic change.  Even though the search engines are now more robust, I think it was still easier to locate information on SPv1.  Simple is sometimes much better.

Kenzo Okawa:  The fairness improved. 

Fred SpickerFormat and features - very favorable. POWER / VOTING / SCORE emphasis - VERY unfavorable.

SaintgrizzlyOne technical problem for me with V2 has to do with the difficulty of knowing exactly where images are going to end up on a page, without a sometimes lengthy trial and error. Although I'm getting better with practice, is there any way this process could be made more straightforward?

Rlwhusker:  I like that photo down-voters can no longer hide, I also like that our email is now hidden from people that might disagree with you in an abusive way who are too cowardly to do in on P&P.  The PM ability to the elves has also been helpful when problems arise.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  I LOVE IT!  …I think it is very well organized and there is a better balance of power in terms of voting and submissions.  I think that the new layout better fits new and old members alike in a very positive and encouraging way.

Dean:  I didn't like it at first but I am slowly learning that it is an amazing concept and the potential is incredible. So much information and so much more fun. There is a learning curve and the need to let go of the old format and the warm fuzzies it provided but if people will give the new SPv2 a chance, I think they will begin to appreciate it and enjoy it. It has a few quirks but I'm impressed with it overall.  Kudos to Josh and those who have brainstormed this and put all of this together.

Velebit:  Simply GREAT! No ta single thing bothers me. Improvement is enormous.

RPC:  I think the"What's New Page" had lost its functionality. I rarely visit it anymore. Now I simply look at a friend’s profile page to see who's been climbing what. I think - and hope that this is only temporary - that SP's communal feel has diminished a bit. Can't exactly put my finger on it - maybe it's the fact that people's votes don't show up on your page and there's no "quick" way to thank them for it (other than pm).

Diggler:  Luke warm; some features were overdue, some good new ideas, but overall complexity deterring.

Dave Daly:  A maturing site with some growing pains. But that's to be expected. Again, hard work and dedicated members have made this evolutionary process a success.

Gangolf Haub:  Very good for submitting and organizing new pages. A bit hard to learn for most of us. The possibility to submit inline pictures easily has messed up quite a number of pages as people tooled around with the features. Still people are getting better.

William Marler:  …hats off to those involved in recreating the site. Especially Josh whose brainchild this is. The new look is very clean and functions well. As graphic designer I would say this is a big improvement look wise. More than expected as the first site was excellent in itself. I am still getting used to the new interface. I find it perhaps more cold and less personal than the previous version. But I think that is just a matter of me getting used to the look and functionality.It was always a great site but is now a first class site look wise. Two thumbs up.

Scott Patterson:  It’s great other than the default method of arranging mountains/areas by quality.  I like it for photos, though.

Most responses were positive about SPv2.

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LONG TIME SP MEMBER DRAGGER

DO YOU PLAN ON BEING AN SP MEMBER FOR A LONG TIME?

David Kiene:  Yes,my commitment to remaining with the site is as strong as ever.

Dragger:  Yes. Anything I can do or give back to such a great site -- I'm always game.

Dean:  Oh yeah. Consider me a 'forever' member.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  I'll be a member of SP until either it dies or I die.  I hope it is the latter because I'd love to see fellow mountain enthusiasts have the opportunity to share the same enjoyment in the future that I have received in just three years.

Fred Spicker:  I will probably not quit and delete all of my stuff, but I do not plan to be very active unless changes are made in the POWER / VOTING / SCORE area.  I really believe that this emphasis detracts greatly from the site, making it appear more like a game or contest rather than a serious place to share information.

Vid Pogachnik:  Till either SP or I am dead.

Tiziana:  Yes if possible.  There are a lot of mountains that are missing yet.

RFBolton:  The rest of my life with any luck. But I realize that it could fall by the wayside.


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SP MEMBER TIZIANA

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE SP THAT CONVINCED YOU TO JOIN THE SP COMMUNITY?

This question was sort of a trick question that most of the members did not catch onto.  The earlier question of “why did you join SP?” made this question seem redundant. But this question addresses the appeal of SP’s community, not SP itself.  Several members noticed the difference and responded.

Gareth:  Useful and in the end positive interaction with some of the members on what is now the Colorado thread.

Tiziana:  SP improves the knowledge about mountains and people in the world.

Nelson:  Good vibes from people willing to share their knowledge.

ATTM:  Interaction with SP members.  I haven't met one yet I didn't like. Many of them have even welcomed me into their homes.

Rlwhusker:  I thought that this site was a great community that cared about fellow hikers/climbers…never is it more apparent then when a climber passes away or gets hurt like when Nelson did in the avalanche last year, or when Deb has to go to Iraq.  I also felt that there is a lot to learn from those more experienced than I.

Mtwashingtonmonroe:  Organization, the wealth of information, the people, the stories, the kindness of its members,and the dedication of its members left a strong implication in my mind to join up.

Dingus Milktoast:  The world spirit of the forum community primarily. Very interesting viewpoints and I really dig conversing with climbers from other areas, even when, perhaps especially when the topics are not strictly climbing related.

Dragger:  I liked the people -- they are all as nutty as I am about the mountains.

Dave Daly:  The feedback from my submissions and that SP presents a more mature audience than other sites (i.e. Supertopo and RC.com)

MPBRO:  I didn't so much see it as joining a community as creating something new from the ground up.  It was a great distraction from gradschool, and Josh and I had some very interesting discussions about how the site would evolve.  It was fun to be a part of the conceptual development of V2, although Josh and I have never met in person.

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RPC-LONG TIME SP MEMBER

PRATTE & PRATTLE IS STILL ON SP—ARE YOU GLAD WITH HOW PnP HAS BEEN HANDLED ON V2?

David Kiene:  I think P and P serves a useful function and can be a nice diversion, although I know that there is a lot of disagreement over whether P and P should exist at all.  I think V2 is better in that it de-emphasizes P and P (although it is still the most popular board on the forum) by not listing recent posts on the first page and by putting it at the bottom of the main message board page.

RPC:  I think it should definitely stay around though I rarely participate (I do visit passively sometimes). Why should I give a shit about someone's political views - I'm not going to convince some staunch Bush supporter that Bush is a fucking idiot.

Gangolf Haub:  Do we handle P&P on SPv2? I haven't - as far as I know - things have been quite smooth as far as I can tell. I'm glad we have a board like P&P - mostly because I usually get a good laugh out of it when I sneak a peek twice a week.

Dave Daly:  Every site needs an "outhouse". Someone has to be the janitor or the whole place starts to stink!

Dragger:  It has its place and, frankly, I enjoy it sometimes!

Martin Cash:  I don't read it anymore.  Really hated it before.

Velebit:  Don’t really care about PnP. Don’t know if I ever posted a single sentence there. But for the freedom of speech and those that love PnP I’m glad it wasn’t removed.

Rlwhusker:  Yes, I am glad it is still available, it is fairly civil, but lately it seems to be more boring to me.  Good idea putting it on the bottom of Forum for it could be easily missed by internet wanderers.

Saintgrizzly:  …it seems to me that many individuals in PnP aren't the least interested in mountains, just their own opinions. My belief is that those that are interested in mountains,and what this site is really about, can just learn to write about mountaineering, and understand life won't end if they can't express their politics in a hostile, bigoted, yelling, profane manner on this site. Having said that, I do understand that there are emotional issues having to do with environmental topics, land usage, and so forth, which NEED to be aired and discussed; maybe PnP could be converted, limited to that sort of thing.  Also, do we want SP to be an informational source for places currently having us blocked? Much of that negativity comes,as I understand, from the profanity on PnP.

Fred Spicker:  I am happy to see it down at the very bottom of the page where many probably don't even notice it.  I am NOT HAPPY that recent posts continue to show on the home page.  One day I logged in and found an all caps F**K something there - a really nice welcome to SP for someone browsing........(PnP posts have since been removed from SP’s Home Page).

Nelson:  Yes, it's better at the bottom of the page.

Gareth:  Yes.  The Forum needs a miscellaneous/crap bin.  PnP is also more isolated now.

RFBoltonI find that controversial dialog doesn't agree with me, so I avoid it. But in general I think it's a good thing - members will use the regular forums for that sort of interaction if a special place is not provided.

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PROMINENT SP MEMBER DEAN

IS SP THE BEST MOUNTAINEERING SITE IN THE WORLD?

Tiziana:  Yes it is!  (This was the most common response).

MPBRO:  All my bitching aside, yes!  Main reason is that Josh never got the urge to commercialize it, or it could have been sold a long time ago.  People bitch about Google ads, but those are really trivial and much less intrusive than on most other sites.

Nelson:  Best I know of!

ATTM:  Absolutely.

RFBolton:  I sure think it's the best mountain site I've found, but maybe not the best mountaineering site around. Cascade Climbers.com is a very good mountaineering site, and I'm sure there are many others that I don't know about. But any two sites are enough different from one another that it's sometimes difficult to judge better vs.worse. SummitPost is certainly better than Peakware or any other general-purpose site I've seen, but I'm sure I haven't seen them all.

Rlwhusker:  There is no doubt in my mind.  It is the single greatest source of information regarding mountaineering on the internet.  The SP community is worldwide whose membership is comprised of great people with diverse interests all linked together by SP with one common desire-mountaineering.  What a great site!

Dean:  In my estimate,it is the best. Nothing comes close. Josh's concepts and ideas are genius level in my view. It took incredible vision to put this together. The fact that volunteers (called elves at one time) help make it a better place is unique and important.

William Marler:  Humm let me think about that one….. Duh. What do you think?

Dave Daly:  No.  But it's getting there.

RPC:  Yes I think so.Sometimes I'm concerned that it's so good that we might be screwing guidebook authors somehow OR at least that's how some of them SEEM to see it. For example, I've exchanged some emails with Eric Bjornstad regarding route updates for his upcoming new edition of the desert towers guidebook. The email exchanges stopped immediately after I had enclosed a link to an SP page. Not sure why? Mountainproject.com does the same thing as SP and that's where Eric's been looking around for new beta. Probably means that SP does a much better job? Same thing happened with Greg Orton of Oregon climbing guidebook fame.

David Kiene:  Without a doubt.  Some sites cover specific climbing activities or areas well, but SP’s got it all covered!

DingusMilktoast:  I think it is the best 'open source' climbing site I have ever seen. The commitment of the owner to keep the copyrights clear, and to provide users with a fantastic opportunity to 'create,' is unique in my experience, a one of a kind. Declaring it "Best" implies a level of experience with other international climbing sites that I simply do not have.

Fred SpickerNO,for one thing it is no longer a mountaineering site - it is now:  a collaborative content community focused on climbing, mountaineering, hiking and other outdoor activities.  In other words, it is a general outdoors site with a mountaineering / climbing section.  My impression is that there are more and more hiking related pages being added and fewer and fewer mountaineering / climbing pages.  There are pure mountaineering / climbing sites on the web tha tcontain better information.  But, most o fthem are very regional in focus.  Also, there are a large number of personal web pages devoted to individual peaks or areas that contain far better information than some of the pages on SP.  These are easily located using GOOGLE.  (BTW - GOOGLE no longer brings up SP pages near the "top".)  I have been researching climbs for this summer and quite frankly have been having better luck with GOOGLE than with SP.

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SP MEMBER BRIAN JENKINS

HAVE THE GROUP/AREA PAGES BEEN A SUCCESS?

David Kiene:  I'm not certain how useful some of the pages are, at least for U.S. areas or groups.  It will be interesting to see what kind of feedback submitters get after people have had a chance to use them to obtain climbing information.

Brian Jenkins:  I like them.  It's another way to attract people to a broader area and hopefully the mountains within.

Fred Spicker:  Yes.

Nelson:  Yes, in general they are successful, IMHO, a good place to start when researching an area.

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SP MEMBER MPBRO

WHAT NEW OR ADDED FEATURE ON SP IS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL AND THE LEAST SUCCESSFUL?

David Kiene:  I think the most successful features are the PM and the enhanced search functions.  The PM allows people to communicate with other SP members without having to publicly display e-mail addresses.  That's nice.  The search feature is simply incredible, but ironically it might be the least successful feature since some members, at least initially, had problems understanding how to use it properly.

Gangolf Haub:  Shared page posting perhaps, multiple attachment to different pages, exchanging photos.

Brian Jenkins:  Least successful-the What's New page.  It's too junked up with objects like canyons and trailheads and albums and items that are diluting SP away from climbing mountains (you know,"SUMMITING").  The way the previous mountain pages were set up was much better in my opinion although as stated above, I like the ranges/areas. Most successful- I like the Private Messages and ways to interact with other members.

Fred Spicker:  LEAST SUCCESSFUL - BAD SUBMISSIONS - PEOPLE ARE NOT WILLING TO OPENLY CALL FOR THE DOWN VOTING OF A "BAD" PAGE - THE ONLY PERSON TO PUT UP A "CHALLENGE"PAGE SO FAR IS NOT WILLING TO ACTUALLY CHALLENGE THE "BAD" PAGE - SO WE HAVE A SITUATION WITH DUPLICATE PAGES. YOU WILL ALSO NOTE THAT NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE.............LAST ENTRY 6 DAYS AGO...........BY ME.  I recommend going back to the old system of quietly transferring bad or abandoned pages to anyone who tries to get them another way and is willing to go to the trouble of asking to take it over - this indicates that they will actually do something with the page. Better than having a bunch of duplicates. ALSO - THE NUMBER OF 1/10 VOTES NEEDED TO HAVE SOMETHING DISAPPEAR FROM THE LISTINGS SEEMS TO BE FAR TOO HIGH.

RFBolton:  Least: The default sequence by score. I especially hate that when you're going through a series of photos using the Next or Prev links, then you vote on one, the list is dynamically re-sequenced and you either miss some pix or see some twice.  Very bad!  Most: Lists, albums,attaching.

Larry Versaw:  The redesigned home page – it draws you in quickly.

Nelson:  I think one of the most successful (and apparently popular) are the albums. They must be easy to make (I haven't tried yet) and they seem to generate a lot of activity.People still like to look at photos, in spite of the constants gripes about them. The new What's New page still turns me off. It is not as easy or as fun to navigate as the old What's New page.

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SP MEMBER VELEBIT

HAVE YOU MASTERED THE SEARCH TOOL?

David Kiene:  Yes,and all of its features are very impressive.

Brian Jenkins:  I have used it, don't know about mastered.

Fred Spicker:  YES,the search tool is EXCELLENT.  BUT - it takes some getting used to and is probably not that easy for first time or casual visitors to the site.

RFBolton:  It’s easy!

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SP MEMBER MISHA

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE DEFAULT DISPLAY OF SUBMITTED ITEMS CHANGED TO MOST RECENT SUBMISSIONS?

Larry Versaw:  There are pros and cons, but on the whole I think the current default is best.

David Kiene:  No.  I like that a lot of crappy photos fall to the bottom of the muck under the new system.

Brian Jenkins:  Yes,definitely, 100%, yes, yes, yes, most assuredly YES!  (This was the most common response).

Gangolf:  Yes, with a couple of exceptions - pictures on the profile page and in albums.

Fred Spicker:  NO!!  I think that Areas & Ranges and Mountains& Rocks should be have a default display arranged ALPHABETICALLY.  Routes - unimportant since most people will not be searching or even listing routes by themselves - routes go with Mountain & Rocks - one would logically search for the mountain - then look at the routes.  Images - OK the way it is now - it is easy to toggle between SCORE and Most Recent.  Articles - ? - Hard to say what would be logical here - by subject area?  But that would probably be too complicated - too many possible subjects. I really don't know with these.  Trip Reports - like routes, these go with Mountains & Rocks,so not very important.  People would be searching for the mountain then the trip report.  Ditto with most of the "Other" categories..........MAIN THING - PLEASE CONSIDER CHANGING THE DEFAULT LISTING OFAREAS & RANGES AND MOUNTAINS & ROCKS TO ALPHABETICAL.

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THE MYSTERIOUS DAVE K

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

The members were afforded the opportunity to add any additional comments they wanted to offer for this report.  We go ta wide variety of responses. Here is a sampling:

Dragger:  Thanks to all who give their time to build this community. It's a great example of synergy where"the whole is a greater than the sum of its parts." I'm thrilled to be one of those (albeit small) parts.

DingusMilktoast:  There is a tolerance and maturity to SummitPost management lacking in other sites in which I participate. These other sites I frequent have matured over time, lost some of their Children of the Corn aspects. Things are managed here such that for the first year at reading the forums, I did not know what an elf was, nor their purpose on the site. Management actions are exercised with minimum fanfare and very little back biting.

Rlwhusker:  Aaron, thanks for putting this together, I can’t wait to read it! Babysitting a group this size must be a Herculean event.

Vid Pogachnik:  One tough 'homework' for Josh, Ryle, elves: How to attract some real professionals in climbing and mountaineering? OK, there are many among us (I'm not one of them), but when I invited some best Slovenian climbers, experienced members of expeditions in Himalayas, even good friends of mine, they just saw the place,but never wanted to contribute. I was disappointed and couldn't understand. I could understand that a guide in Chamonix doesn't share some info, because he makes climbing for living. But that was not the case with these guys.

MPBRO:  In my opinion, we should not have a PnP.  In the battle between the encyclopedists and the chatters, I'm definitely with the encyclopedists.  Rahel Maria Liu.  She was the first true encyclopedist at the site.  She really ruffled some feathers.  The funny part is that you had a California attitude clashing with a European attitude.  We Californians were laid back with respect to quality; we thought the Euros were perfectionists and tome-writers.  My personal philosophy was that an SP page should be something that you stick in your pocket and go climbing with!  And I've done it before, many times.  Nowadays you've got three pages of background before I know how to get to the trailhead.

RFBolton:  One thing I've been disappointed with is my own inability to find the energy to work on my pages. I don't want to give them up, but I see what others are doing with their pages and wish that I had that sort of drive and energy. Part of the problem is my work - I come home mentally drained day in and day out, and the last thing I want to do is sit and concentrate even more on compositional activities. I've lately been making more of an effort, but please don't hold your breath. I have always appreciated the way you handled taking those 14ers off my hands. You handled it masterfully, and it was greatly needed.  I turned my Mt. Stuart page over to Martin Cash after we had met for the second time at a pub in Portland. He asked for it, and I finally let it go. Now I wish I hadn't done that because Stuart is one of my home territory peaks, and I've had a "relationship" with that mountain since childhood. It is also on my currently most important climbing list - the 58 Ultras in the 48 states. But the deed has been done, and I won't ask for it back unless he keeps sitting on it, as has been the case so far.

Dean:  THANK YOU JOSH,and to all who work hard to make this site a success.

SP'S STAFF SPEAKS

WITH SPV1, YOUR CHORES OFTEN INVOLVED DEALING WITH ARGUING MEMBERS OVER POLITICAL RANTS IN PnP, VENGEFUL AND HATEFUL VOTING SCHEMES, MEMBERS WITH MULTIPLE IDs WHICH THEY'D USE TO INCREASE CHANCES IN THEIR PHOTO BECOMING PHOTO OF THE WEEK AND SO FORTH.  SPV2 SEEMS TO HAVE ALLEVIATEDMOST OF THESE PROBLEMS.  DO YOU MISS THISASPECT OF YOUR STAFF DUTIES?

GangolfHaub:  No.

AaronJohnson:  No.

BubbaElf:  Sometimes the drama can be kind of fun.  I’ve had several laughs over the absurdity of some of the goings on.  But on the flip side, I could also see the harm that some of these problems were causing the site, and the bad blood that developed between several members. Still, I think there will be plenty of drama in the future, since there will always be members who cannot get along.

AvatarAssassin:  It was mildly entertaining, but the less problems, the better.

BobBurd:  I'm not sure if they've eliminated those things at all, I just think there's a large lull as everyone (including the trolls) figure out the new system. I certainly don't miss the people-drama issues - I'd much transfer ownership or answer a technical question than delve into vengeful voting.

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FORMER SP STAFF MEMBER AARON JOHNSON DESCENDS FROM A CLIMB OF WETTERHORN PEAK WITH WIFE AND FELLOW SP MEMBER MTNHIKER13 IN 2003

HAS V2 MADE YOUR STAFF DUTIES EASIER?

GangolfHaub:  Yes and no. I used to subscribe to forums to get everything under Site Feedback and a couple of other boards but that feature is gone now. I miss our email conversations and don't like the common PM-box too much as I don't know who reads what. Besides that it's better.

AaronJohnson:  Yes.  I try to email the staff members regularly,since the need for that has been reduced. It’s nice to continue that interaction while watching over SP.  But I like this peace and quiet, which is how SP was before I was a staff member and the problems started sprouting up.

BobBurd:  I don't think it has to do so much with V2 as Josh/Ryle's directive to "let the membership work out issues amongst themselves."

BubbaElf:  It’s definitely much easier, now that the initial adjustment period to V2 has largely passed.  I think the biggest way my duties have eased is that I no longer become very involved in photo voting disputes because of the system’s new transparency.  While I personally share some of the member’s concerns that fewer legitimate low votes are being awarded, I have to say that I don’t miss the “Photo of the Week” voting issues or other down-voting  drama.

AvatarAssassin:  It’s easier now, but we watch for problems on a regular basis.  We want to stay uninvolved with P & P.

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BOB BURD RAPPELLING THE DOODAD DURING THE 2007 SIERRA CHALLENGE

WHAT DO YOUR ROUTINE STAFF DUTIES ENTAIL NOW?

GangolfHaub:  Look at Site Feedback, Look after TRs and articles regularly. Look at new pages though I only bother with group and mountain pages.

BobBurd:  Not much. I'm still learning the new system as well. Mostly I monitor the site feedback and elf PMs for things to help out on.

AaronJohnson:  I check the What’s New Page quickly for poor submissions we might need to be aware of.  I then scan the forum board very quickly for potential problems to alert the staff to.  I then check the PMs and my own email for SP related messages.  Some day I will resume reading TRs, but other SP projects have me running like crazy and I’ll betaking a break soon.

BubbaElf:  My routine is pretty simple.  I check the site feedback section and elf e-mail in the morning and periodically throughout the day.  If I see problems elsewhere while surfing casually, I try to deal with them.

AvatarAssassin:  Down-voting is not much of a problem now.  I alert the elves to any potential forum problems. I  watch for bogus submissions and possible copyright problems.

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GANGOLF HAUB IN CALIMA

DO YOU THINK THE OLD PROBLEMS WITH V1 WILL EVENTUALLY APPEAR WITH V2?

GangolfHaub:  Yes,but on a different scale.

BobBurd:  Yup.  And probably more - but mostly because membership will grow I think.

AaronJohnson:  Probably,but hopefully to a lesser degree.  So far SP’s Pointless and Pompous section remains confined.  If it remains so, most problems will be minor and can be remedied quickly.

AvatarAssassin:  We hope to be able to respond to any problems quickly with the new V2 tools now available.

BubbaElf:  I think some of the problems are nearly eliminated: good riddance.  These problems include down-voting, bogus avatars and trolls (thanks to the V2 requirement that members must use a verifiable e-mail address).  There will always be members who submit multiple or bogus material, copyrighted material,or who simply dislike each other.  That won’t change.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF THE NEW VOTING SYSTEM?

GangolfHaub:  Benefit: It's fast. Drawback: It's fast. You don't get feedback on what you have done on mountain pages. Apart from that I don't care about votes anymore.

AaronJohnson:  People are afraid to vote because they can no longer hide and want no responsibility for their voting actions.  There are obvious mathematical problems with the system. Comments must be made separately, which can be troublesome for some members already hesitant with offering a lower vote which may be totally acceptable.  They don’t have the time or desire to explain their vote.  Gangolf’s got it right, though.  I don’t care much for voting, either, and never have.  This is an information web site.  The current system is almost game-like, which is not what was intended.  However, voting is important in voicing your opinion, keeping the quality bar high and thus directing SP in the right direction in terms of quality content.

BobBurd:  A major benefit is that the newer system is more flexible. Routes and other things can now be voted on in a more consistent fashion. The unintended drawback is that default searches are based on vote rankings, and this leads to more people caring about what votes they get rather than how helpful the pages are they create.

AvatarAssassin:  Benefit:  Less problems.  Drawbacks: Less voting participation.

BubbaElf:  As a lot of other members have pointed out, I also believe that the current system that emphasizes transparency discourages members from voting negatively, even when such a vote is warranted.  However,the benefit, of course, is that there is also a lot less mischief.


HAS IT BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR MEMBERS TO ADAPT TO V2? HAS IT BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR YOU?

GangolfHaub:  Don't know about other members but I guess so. For me it has been quite smooth in the regular work but a bit slow in the Elf work.

BobBurd:  Certainly has. But then I think it's a good challenge. The old was familiar, but had well-known flaws. I think people forget that. The new site has far more flexibility to allow the site to grow.

AaronJohnson:  It has been a challenge for some members. Some prominent members have unfortunately given up and moved on rather than learn a new system and answer a new challenge.  Others caught on right away.  If I can catch on, anyone can!

BubbaElf:  I think that it has been somewhat difficult for me and the members to adjust to the new SP.  Members have a wide range of opinions, from loving the changes to openly disliking them.  But I think that most members have become accustomed to the new site.  It took me awhile to adjust.  I consider myself to be the least technically proficient elf. But the new site is generally pretty intuitive, so once I got used to navigating it, I felt pretty comfortable using it.

AvatarAssassin:  It has been a challenge for the members that are not on SP often.  Regular members have adapted.


ARE JOSH AND RYLE GOOD WEB MASTERS?  ARE THEYSUPPORTIVE IN THE STAFF'S ENDEAVORS?

GangolfHaub:  They do a good job but feedback is a bit slow at times or doesn't come at all.

BobBurd:  *Very*good. And for a couple of young guys they show unusual maturity. I have rarely been disappointed in their actions on SP or in support of their staff.

AaronJohnson:  Josh’s style is hands-off, yet he really cares about SP, especially when he has the opportunity to do so.  I don’t know enough about Ryle to say, but his recent involvement with V2’s development was encouraging.  When available, Josh has been very helpful to the staff.  The members could not ask for a more lenient, understanding or supportive webmaster than Josh.  His long periods of absence is a concern to some members.

BubbaElf:  Yes.  Both have been helpful when the staff has asked for assistance.

AvatarAssassin:  They seem comfortable with entrusting SP to the staff’s care and are far from intrusive.


WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO IMPROVE SP?

GangolfHaub:  Bring back adoption.

BobBurd:  I think it needs more webmaster involvement to tweak the site, voting system,etc. It's probably a full time job to do it right.

AaronJohnson:  Some tweaking here and there and an adjustment to the voting system is needed.  Adoption concerns are currently being addressed by the staff.  Concerns from the members need to be addressed.  What’s New should be divided into two pages, with SP’s primary features on the first page.  A gear review section is badly needed, although a “special object” can be a gear review.  Perhaps Josh was hoping that SP’s new versatility and flexibility would naturally guide the members in their own,innovative direction.  Hopefully these items will be looked after soon.

BubbaElf:  There really is not much that I would do to improve SP.  There are a few little things that I might set up a bit differently, but overall I think SP works quite well.


WHAT IMPROVEMENTS DO YOU THINK MOST MEMBERS WOULD LIKE TO SEE?

GangolfHaub:  Certainly something about votes and power but I would ignore it.

BobBurd:  Right now, it would be great if search results could be made more flexible, and customizable by the members. That way, one could choose to have results alphabetical, by rank, by distance, etc without having to resort to the advanced sort all the time.

AaronJohnson:  Lots of concern has been brought up over alphabetical listings versus score, the reinstatement of a gear review section and a link exchange, and doing away with trailhead and hut sections.

AvatarAssassin:  Items on a profile page listed by most recent, mountain listings displayed alphabetically.

BubbaElf:  Besides concerns about voting transparency leading to vote inflation, I think the biggest issue is that some members dislike the current ordering of photos and pages according to voting.  Some members also dislike seeing their voting influence decline under the new system, since it is now based on power.


IS THE STAFF OVERWORKED, OR ARE THERE ENOUGH OF YOU TO HANDLE THE LOAD?

GangolfHaub:  I would say we're enough.

BobBurd:  In the past it has seemed like a lot of work. Not anymore - it's much nicer this way.

AaronJohnson:  On SPv1, we were in trouble.  Not anymore!  We are doing great!  Members should be assured that SP is run very well despite the ongoing problems, and Josh and the staff handle difficult situations as well as can be expected.  Most difficult situations are new, first time events, and they are discussed in depth before any action is taken.  As far as I can tell, we’ve got plenty of folks holding the V2 fort.

AvatarAssassin:  Before V2, we were always busy with a problem. It is easy now.

BubbaElf:  Generally,I don’t feel overworked.  With several elves and Josh and Ryle pitching in, I don’t feel like the site will fall apart if I disappear and climb for a few days, or decide not to address an issue right away because I have something else to do. My typical day might involve 20 minutes or so of actual elf work.  However, some days I can spend several hours if there are several pressing issues.


WHAT WOULD JUSTIFY THE DELETION OF A MEMBER?

GangolfHaub:  You can't put up rules as the situations will differ utterly. Spamming is one reason but it's not the worst offence. Same about blatant copyright violations.

BobBurd:  I have a low threshold for deletion personally. Anyone I judge as more harmful than helpful to the site is a mark for deletion. I don't think the penalty of deletion is severe in most cases since one can always rejoin. In the case of significant contributions, I raise the bar accordingly.

AaronJohnson:  Unless they are a direct threat to the site, or perhaps a perceived physical danger to another member, there should be no need to ban anyone, and Josh has stated the same.  Bannings are bound to happen though, and without notice.  There’s always someone out there wanting to push the limits.

BubbaElf:  There are several things that can justify deletion. Obvious spammers or trolls are subject to immediate deletion.  Members who frequently submit bogus or duplicate materials and ignore posting rules also get deleted.  Less frequently, a regular member may get deleted for bad behavior.

AvatarAssassin:  Manipulating the voting system, avatar activity, anything that may endanger the site.


IS BEING AN SP STAFF MEMBER A THANKLESS JOB? DOES IT EVER SEEM FUTILE OR MAKE YOU CONSIDER QUITTING?

GangolfHaub:  No.

BobBurd:  No,and yes. People do complain, but that will always be the case. Having a thick skin helps. And knowing that far more people are appreciative than complaining helps even more. I have a lot of free time so I don't mind the futility so much- better this than developing a pornography habit.

AaronJohnson:  The appreciation from members far outweighs the occasional whining.  This job is a real tight wire act,though.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  I’m usually the one mixed up in the controversies.  I’m the one whose head is most desired on platters from time to time, and I have considered resigning due to possible conflicts of interest on several occasions, but the staff insists that I remain and assure me the crisis will pass, and it does.  The rewards far outweigh any drawbacks, though, and I’ve learned so much about computers and people, and it’s an honor to represent SP and this fantastic membership in public.

AvatarAssassin:  V1 had endless problems and at times it was hard to keep at it.  V2 makes it seem worthwhile.

BubbaElf:  I think most members really do appreciate what we try to do, even if they might disagree on occasion over our decisions. There are some members who do not like or trust us, but as the cliché goes, you can’t please everyone.  I have no plans to quit: I consider my duties to be a joy (for the most part) and a tremendous honor.


DO YOU THINK THE MEMBERS ARE SUPPORTIVE OF STAFF DECISIONS AND SP POLICIES?

GangolfHaub:  Yes,though there is a bit of a schoolboy attitude against teachers among them.

BobBurd:  Yes, a great deal. I know there are many silent approvers for each pissed off detractor.

AaronJohnson:  Yes.  We’ve seen it plenty of times.  There will always be someone who is unhappy.

AvatarAssassin:  The members were very supportive with V1’s problems.  For V2-that remains to be seen.

BubbaElf:  I think most members are supportive of staff decisions and SP policies.  A few members dislike some of the policies,such as the posting policy.  Some feel that there should be no moderation, while other members feel that the rules are applied unfairly or unevenly.  All I can say is that we do what we can to apply the rules fairly.  Some of the Elf-conspiracy ideas that I’ve read about are pretty funny.  I haven’t lost any sleep over enforcement decisions that I’ve made.  There is also a sizeable portion of SP membership who would like to see P and P abolished.


HOW WELL DOES THE MEMBERSHIP POLICE ITSELF AND PAY ATTENTION TO SP POLICIES?

GangolfHaub:  It was quite ok in SPv1, now it's down a bit but things are already getting better.

BobBurd:  Like many things involving many people, the variation is great. Some are rigid and like structure, others don't care to be told anything.

AaronJohnson:  Pretty good, really.  Some need to practice some restraint, but from what I’ve heard, SP’s membership is very mature compared to other websites, which encourages me.  I’m proud to be a member of this great community.

AvatarAssassin:  Quite well.  Problems are next to nothing on V2.

BubbaElf:  I think the fact that I often go several days without dealing with policy violations suggest that most members try to behave civilly and follow site rules.


HOW INVOLVED WERE YOU IN THE TRANSFER TO V2? DID IT GO SMOOTHLY, OR WAS IT DIFFICULT?

GangolfHaub:  Did loads of testing on Page submission. And from what I know about go-lives, this one was exceptionally smooth. And I know a lot about them.

BobBurd:  I was only involved to a small degree. Aaron and Gangolf did most of the work aside from Josh/Ryle.

AaronJohnson:  I assisted Josh in the look of V2 for the most part.  Hunted bugs and did lots of submission testing.  Emails galore during that time!  What a fast and exciting period of my life!  It was an honor to be part of the process.


CONCERNING DAILY MANAGEMENT, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU MISS ABOUT V1?

GangolfHaub: Adoption process.

BobBurd:  I only miss the familiarity. Knowing what to monitor and where to look for new things that are of interest to me. I know I'll get there with V2 eventually, so  I don't think it's a big deal.

AaronJohnson:  Other than alphabetical or most recent submissions listings, no.  V2 is great. The staff has many tools to assist members now.  Only now can I truly appreciate how handicapped V1 had become.

BubbaElf:  Nope!

AvatarAssassin:  Some of the excitement is gone, but I do not miss the problems that would sometimes cause the excitement.


HAS SP BECOME AN ELITIST CLUB WITH HIGH POWERED MEMBERS HAVING THE MOST SAY ANDINFLUENCE ON HOW SP IS BUILT THROUGH THEIR VOTES, COMMENTS AND TENURE?

GangolfHaub:  I cannot say from my point of view as point / power leader.

BobBurd:  I don't think so. A relatively new member can easily earn 75% of the voting power of someone in the top 20. That suggests to me that the vote-weight is far more distributed than the complainers would have us believe.

AaronJohnson:  I don’t believe so.  However, it will take more effort to become a major contributor that is accepted seriously by the membership.  Gaining voting weight is not a challenge, but establishing a reputation as a member in good standing is.  This is something that has not changed, even since the early days of V1.

AvatarAssassin:  Some members may feel that way, but that is not the case.  In time, members will figure out what to do and what their role is.

BubbaElf:  To some degree, established members have more say simply because of the changes in voting.  I think there will always be opportunities for new members to shape the site.  There are many mountains, routes, and photos that could still be submitted. Certainly, I believe the staff members carefully consider site input offered by new members.


IS JOSH A GENIUS?

GangolfHaub:  He certainly has had good ideas, hasn't he? What's a genius anyway?

BobBurd:  Genius?  Don't know, but he's a pretty darn smart guy. And he's a hell of a climber - a pretty impressive combination. He's certainly the right guy to develop the site.

AaronJohnson:  Probably close to it.  I mean, look at this place!  SP is amazing, and compared to other web sites, it’s way ahead of the curve. Think of the impact this site has had on climbers all over the world!  Few web sites can claim such a legacy.

AvatarAssassin:  Salvaging V1 to V2 is enough to convince me.  For all we know, he did most of the work on his own.  V1’s problems are pretty much gone.  V2 is an amazing piece of work.

BubbaElf:  Genius?  Sometimes I think he might be a mad genius,doing some elaborate experiment in abnormal psychology.  I’m joking, but I think he is a very intelligent person who had a great concept for uniting climbers from around the world and sharing information.


THE DARK SIDE

“The dark side clouds everything.  Impossible to see the future is.”  …Master Yoda, from the Star Wars saga.


From “Why Even Have Pratte & Prattle?” Dated November 18, 2004:

Kane:  Many members who frequent that thread (PnP), don't even climb. True or not true? Thus they bring nothing to the table related to mountaineering. Last I checked SP was a mountaineering site. I wonder how many of these avatars are created from members that don't even submit mountaineering beta to SP. How many of these same avatars are involved in vengeful voting habits and purposeful down voting just to piss others off? The last thing SP needs is a bunch of testy members whom frequent SP for P&P voting on anything.

Positives-

-I can't think of any. Someone enlighten me with why P&P makes Summitpost the best mountaineering site on the web? P&P brings nothing good to this site, however I have laughed a few times while surfing that thread.

Klenke: I'm with Diego on this one. We all should know what P&P is before we go in there. If you don't like what goes on in there, don't go in there.

Fred Spicker:  I remember when things got WAY out of hand with BS threads and P & P was created. I think we are far better off with it than without it. It is kind of like a channel on the TV that you might hate - if you don't want to watch(read) it - don't go there.

From“Uberhiker Out”:

CraigPeer:  …You get rid of P & P - this stuff will migrate all over Summitpost. That is the reality. That's why P & P was started, if anyone here has a memory.


Every person, every society, every community has a dark side.  SP’s community is no different.  The SP community is well disciplined in keeping PnP matters confined to PnP, so it is there where SP’s Dark Side resides.  Because of the membership’s determination to keep the Dark Side contained, which is not the case on many other web sites, it’s safe to say that PnP has no bearing on the direction SP will take in the future.  Not only are the posting rules, which are constantly evolving, enforced to the staff’s best ability on a case by case basis, but the membership has shown remarkable maturity in observing the rules.  The casual visitor is probably totally unaware of SP’s Dark Side for months.  Upon discovery of PnP, most new members avoid it or are often repelled by it.  But there’s always those that are drawn in, and trolls will always make an appearance.  Given the nature of human behavior in any society, it is inevitable that the Dark Side will rise up like the clockwork of a high tide, with an occasional swell. That is why SP has a staff to deal with those unique situations that inevitably happen.

Even so, the members that do participate in the PnP controversies must be commended.  Ever since SPv2 went online,potential PnP squabbles have remained contained in PnP.  Most problems arise from arguments in political or religious discussions. These situations amount to a very small percentage of the overall PnP exchanges, most of which are friendly, civil and usually humorous or frivolous altogether.  Unlike other web sites where problems can be immediately apparent, SP’s Dark Side is relatively small.  The past controversies springing from PnP usually resulted from interchanges that simply got out of hand and tempers flared.  Most storms passed without repercussions, but despite the infrequency of such events, some of these controversies flared up into significant epics that would have led a casual surfer to believe PnP could be SP’s undoing.

When they were occurring, such big controversies on SPv1 seemed bigger than they actually were.  Concerned members would speak up publicly and privately, insisting that something be done for any number of reasons.  The staff was often at odds over such matters, and much email discussion would take place before taking action, if any.  Most contentious situations were events that had not happened previously, often placing the staff on a steep learning curve that would involve lots of investigation,speculation and sometimes a simple wait-and-see-what-happens-next approach,because they simply had nothing else to go on, or any past event to reference to.

With SP’s fifth birthday and the advent of SPv2, the problems seem to have abated, and first-time events have been scarce.  The staff is better prepared to deal with the next crisis, but they also know a new situation will ultimately present itself, demanding their investigative,speculative and wait-and-see-what-happens-next skills once again.  If none of those strategies work, the scenario would have to be turned over to SP’s invisible and often absent webmasters, Josh and Ryle.  This matter concerns some members, who fear SP could collapse into total chaos before Josh and Ryle even had a clue about what was happening.

The obvious solution lies with the members, and most of the PnP participants know this.  The Dark Side has to be kept on a short leash.  As long as the Dark Side is confined to SP’s virtual dungeon, where the members know it belongs, there is little chance SP will collapse into the realm now occupied by other websites.  With SPv1, the members saw what the possible consequences could be if the Dark Side was allowed to erupt uncontrolled from its murky depths.  As evidenced in the above discussions, the staff has observed a concerted effort by the membership to adhere to and enforce the forum posting policies,obviously a very good thing.

SP’s charter appears to be keenly supported by members old and new.  Just in the way SP was designed, it’s easy for new members to understand what the focus is.  Established members do what they can, if they choose to be involved on such a level, to guide newer folks accordingly and keep a dedicated vigil for possible PnP outbreaks.  This support is and always has been greatly appreciated by the staff, for much would otherwise go unnoticed.  With SPv2, there hasn’t been a need for the vigil to be as constant or as intense, but it is ongoing.

If PnP has no bearing on SP’s future, why has this report spent so much time discussing it?  To answer this legitimate question, one only needs to consider the importance of the community that has been so instrumental in building SP and making it the success that it is.  Just as the Dark Side of The Force provided the critical balance between good and evil in the Star Wars saga, SP’s Dark Side, with all of its unpleasantness, is essential in building the character of SP’s society.  Everyone has a Dark Side,which controlled, enables assertiveness, decisiveness, strength in ethical behavior and many other traits that are essential in one’s total character.  It is obvious these traits are very important in the character of a mountain climber, or ultimately, no mountains would ever be climbed, and society would be very dull.

There is no doubt SP’s community is a vibrant, exciting, educated, contentious and controversial bunch, which is as it should be. This makes SP an intriguing place to belong to.  It adds to the membership’s character,enables climbers to meet and climb with one another, and make crucial decisions about their excursions as well as conquer challenging climbing routes.  With such admitted volatility, there’s bound to be disagreements and eruptions of all sorts. Not everyone is destined to “just get along.”

The “power” of the Dark Side adds strength to SP’s character, and contributes to outstanding quality information found nowhere else on the internet.  Some members contend that quality information would be possible without any presence of the Dark Side, and they would be right.  But without the rising of the Dark Side on SPv1, many of the events discussed in this report would not have happened.  Mike Downey’s awkward crusade to raise the quality bar was one such example. Many of the improvements that often amounted to initial controversy on SPv1 were brought about by the perceived outcasts and hell raisers that may have been considered “agents of the Dark Side.”

Klenke:  P&P provides more than we think to this site and getting rid of it due to some sense of moderation hassle or moral rectitude will ultimately kill some of the spirit that makes this site what it is.

And that is why this report has revisited those incidents, to illustrate the importance of these controversial individuals and the events they created,which at first appeared ugly but ultimately resulted in good things for SP,including the eventual arrival of SPv2. Without controversy, without those growing pains, SP might have gone nowhere.  As this report mentioned in Part One, and many early members will tell you, SP’s first year was one of disarray and lack of direction, a potentially risky time.  SP depended on its members, both naughty and nice, to participate in order for it to grow, and it still does.  That process continues today, with many lessons learned along the way to hopefully make the sailing a bit smoother.

So while PnP has no influence on SP’s charter, there’s no denying it has influence on the membership’s character.  The character of Supertopo’s membership is readily apparent upon one’s initial visit.  With SP’s design, the important attributes immediately illustrate what is important to SP’s members to any visitor.  Further investigation would result in the eventual discovery of SP’s Dark Side, which is not as evident as Supertopo’s Dark Side.  Despite the dungeon location, many members have left SP because of PnP.  There’s no way to get away from that fact,for it is the way of things.  There’s also no denying that many folks have a rewarding relationship with SP and have made many wonderful friends because of PnP, or more importantly due to their shared loved of the mountains.  PnP is best accepted for what it is or ignored.

To illustrate PnP’s place in SP’s big picture, and to acknowledge the importance of PnP’s contribution to the membership’s character, this report has delved into the soap opera antics of SP’s members. In doing so, examples were needed, and there were many to choose from.  Some were mentioned in the soapy saga covered in Parts One and Two, but without a doubt, whether the members like it or not,the most visual controversial members that most SP participants know of were ATTM and Climbwild.  That is why their example is used prominently in this article. Despite the unrest some members insist these two have caused, there’s no denying their role, and the roles of others like them, were driving forces in SP’s evolution.

ATTM’s arrival to SP marked the addition of valued route information on obscure and difficult mountains in the American southwest, notably in Colorado’s extensive San Juan range.  His addition of difficult routes was a treasure, his knowledge and experience was readily shared with SP’s members, and his participation in SP gatherings has always resulted in success.

Climbwild was an early member on SP.  At first he did not submit anything.  As discussed earlier, he eventually got around to making contributions after his contentious and offending behavior caused members to press him on the matter.  The results were undeniably impressive.  His Ice Climbing Forum was a pioneering idea,and his mountain pages on the Canadian Rockies were extensive and packed full of information.

Both Climbwild and ATTM were also major participants in PnP, and as discussed in this report’s earlier segments, were magnets to controversy, often brought upon them by their own actions.  The cycle continued to where the members would grow tired, and some, out of frustration or anger, would go on a crusade to have the offenders removed.  The storm would pass until the next incident,and it would start all over again.  With each incident, the staff was more at a loss because it meant so little in the big picture.  Yet PnP was the source of most of SP’s daily problems.  The situation was not lost on Josh, who ultimately responded with SPv2.

Where we left off in Part Two:  …After all, SP was about mountaineering, not about political squabbles in an anything-goes forum.  But what were Josh and the staff to do?  PnP was and still is SP’s most popular feature, yet it has nothing to do with mountaineering.  The issues were piling up, and right at the same time SP2 was about to go online.

PnP was simply not a priority.  It would have to wait until another day…

And wait it did.  When the transition to SPv2 took place, things were understandably and expectedly quiet, and a month went by in which the members were focused on the business end of SP, and they were engaged in the accompanying learning curve. The staff was certainly too busy to deal with PnP.  It was during this time that a realization came about, and was among the reasons for assembling this report for the membership’s consideration.

That troublesome little area of SP’s forum, Pointless and Pompous, meant nothing to SP in terms of the big picture.  Members managed to survive without it for a certain amount of time and SP did not collapse.  Once back in action, PnP still had no bearing on SP’s daily management. Two incidents occurred since SPv2 went online, and SP did not collapse.

Even so, the staff actually held another week-long discussion about the possible removal of PnP from SummitPost shortly after Version 2’s arrival.  Much to Aaron’s surprise, the entire staff was now in support of the idea that previously only he had supported!  Unfortunately, the one with the actual power to make it happen, Josh, was not available to participate in the discussion.  Even though that would have been interesting, Aaron pointed out that Josh had created PnP to keep the trash in the dust bin, and it was unlikely he would remove PnP without sufficient cause.

As stated earlier, Josh feels there is no need to ban anyone, unless one’s actions threaten SP or an SP member in any way. Continual breach of protocols and obvious troll activity would also result in banning.  However, no action will be taken against members stating their opinion in PnP, making themselves look foolish with a rant, continual accusation or pleas for a justice that can never be found.  The SP staff and Josh believe in free speech, and any posts to that affect will remain to speak for themselves.  People have a right to publicly cry, howl, laugh and wail about anything they want.  People should also expect to be virtually lynched by their peers in the PnP forum, and expect no retribution from anyone.  Members ganging up on a solitary member for any reason either publicly in the forum or privately to the staff are wasting their time.  After incidents that took place during SPv1 mentioned earlier in this report, the staff is adamant that such activity will have no influence on how SP is administered,and no action will be taken against any member because of their unpopular stance on a given issue.  At the worst,inappropriate or misplaced posts of any nature, whether they be votes, photos,comments or forum discussions, will simply vanish without explanation.

Like it or not, as of this writing, PnP or a subsequent permutation will remain part of SummitPost.  For many, it’s an important part.  The most notable benefit is people can get to know SP’s dynamic community there.  The drawback is the continued potential for problems stemming from disagreements amongst members breaking out into other areas of the site.  Josh chose his staff for his own various reasons, and trusts them to deal with these matters according to their collective reasoning or solitary conscience to the best of their ability.  In the end, in the SP big picture, all matters stemming from PnP are considered useless and futile.

This is how the Dark Side is kept under control…efficiently and with as little trouble as possible.

TWO WOLVES

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two"wolves" inside us all.  One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity,guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity,humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

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TWO WOLVES BY SP MEMBER HOBBES23

THE BIGGER PICTURE

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SP MEMBERS FROM A PREVIOUS TIME:
AARON JOHNSON & VERNON GARNER (SAINT GRIZZLY)
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, 2004

With SPv1, we were in new territory.  Dealing with the unending flame wars in PnP was a continual effort, it was not what Josh intended for the staff to be doing and there was no established mode of operation to follow.  So we operated off the cuff, in a case-by-case basis, often unsure of what action to take, if any.  Perhaps justice was not served in many instances, simply because the staff didn’t know what to do.  With the PnP situation gradually overtaking SP’s operations, it was obvious something needed to be done.

SPv1’s inadequacies indicated the strong need for change in all areas, but it was also an opportunity for Josh to ease the management burden pertaining to PnP, photo of the week and other related problems, and this he has done with outstanding success.  Staff duties are now far from burdensome, and SPv2 is a joy from a daily management point of view.

However,although relegated to the bottom of the forum page, the PnP septic tank is still with us, and will continue to be as far as we can tell.  Despite the importance of SP’s main mission,to be the best provider of mountaineering and hiking information on the web,PnP remains SP’s most popular point of activity.  I have to wonder how that reflects on SP’s membership, especially to newcomers and lurkers, and it says many things, not the least that we are a fun, volatile, and intelligent community.  Only when negativity and hatred happen to seep in to the mix do I feel we may be representing ourselves unfavorably to the world community.

In SP’s formative years, which are now behind us, PnP did have an affect on how SP managed its community affairs and developed its policies, in which we have tried to keep as minimal as possible.

We are now five years along.  Members need to remember that ultimately PnP is meaningless drivel, and it should not be considered an important factor in SP’s development. Members should also know that what matters most is the quality of the informational content on SP, because it is this valuable community-built resource that not only determines SP’s future, but OUR reputation on the worldwide web.  Toward this goal the members must work together.  This is where the staff’s primary concern lies, not in continually hand holding participants in PnP whose feelings have been hurt.

So enter PnP at your own risk, consider yourself fair game, and do not expect the staff to come to your rescue for any reason. If anything should occur outside of PnP that can be determined was a direct result of a PnP incident, it will be dealt with quickly and quietly, and most likely without any communication or explanation from the staff.  We simply do not have the time or desire to deal with PnP related matters.

A sa result of this report, I realize the hornet’s nest has been stirred, perhaps more than intended.  Hopefully it will spur some supportive and intelligent debate among the members concerning SP’s future.  The intent of the report was to ignite discussion and get people thinking about their role on SP, to illustrate what matters most on SP, and how members can affect SP in a positive way by learning SP’s past and anticipating the many future possibilities.

Even though it’s water under the bridge, it was necessary to bring up a number of unpleasant past incidents to make these points clear.  Inevitably, due to constraints to keep the report from becoming an epic (it did anyway!), not all matters could be discussed to the fullest scope.  Toes were stepped on and folks on all sides of the issues may be angry and feel the subjects were inadequately covered.  I urge you to read the source material for a complete analysis, which will take days, but it’s all there for your own complete investigation (2015 edit: dating back to 2006). It’s entertaining, to say the least. The links are provided in the text.

Thanks for reading this article, and best of luck to all SP members in their mountaineering endeavors.

Aaron Johnson

EPILOG

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2 CLIMBERS ON EOLUS PEAK BY SP MEMBER HIGHDESERT3

Two aging mountain climbers were recently on a hike up an obscure mountain in Colorado.  As usual, through their casual conversation,the subject of SummitPost came up.  Both were equally impressed by the recent in-depth report about SP, and were eagerly awaiting part three.  Neither of them had any idea of just how involved and complex SummitPost was, nor did they have any idea about what it took to manage SP on a daily basis.  Both of them were amazed at what the site had gone through to get where it was now, but both were certain that SP was beyond going back to what it was, and that its future was firmly cemented.  As far as these two lurkers were concerned,despite all of the problems in the past and to come, SP was destined to become the planet’s best database on climbing and hiking, and barring any unforeseen crisis, it would be around for a very long time, a prospect they found quite comforting.

But then they recalled when they first came to Colorado in the early 70s and decided to make a go of living there. They were drawn to Colorado for the mountains, and they explored the mountains long before there was a SummitPost, an internet, or even a guidebook industry.  They went to the local mountain specialty store 20 miles away and bought a topographic map, and they explored Colorado’s mountains without any help or input from anyone. They learned about hiking and climbing by networking with other people,long before networking was even a cliché term. They climbed in cotton shirts, jeans and tall, lace-up boots.  Their backpacks were small and crude and hardly waterproof.  Their sleeping bags and tents were too heavy.  They carried a bulky stove and multiple white gas bottles and warmed their pop tarts over the open flame.  As they ate their pop tarts,the taste of the white gas mixing with that sugary fruit filling, they stood by their tiny camp fire that offered the illusion of warmth and comfort in a wild wilderness, gazing at the day’s objective. A snow capped mountain that would one day be termed as a “fourteener”rose above a fog bank, capped by a fresh dusting of autumn snow.  The summit of that imposing peak awaited their triumphant arrival.  It taunted and teased them until they could no longer resist the call of those cold and crispy heights, and then they donned their inadequate backpacks and climbed that big impressive pile of rocks.  During this dark age of modern climbing, these two did alright on little more than a map and a shared desire.  They didn’t care to try to share their priceless experience with anyone else, because no one else would understand anyway.

Fast forward back to the present:  Climbers are now taking advantage of the information age, and in the forefront of this mountaineering renaissance on the internet is SummitPost.org.  Once a humble, little website with three hundred members, SP went through numerous growing pains to get where it is now.  At nearly 32,000 members worldwide, and an estimated 400 of them regularly active contributors, SP is a powerhouse of information.  If competition is a viable term among similar web sites, SP is a force to be reckoned with.  Among the many web sites discussed in this report, SP may not be considered the best, but it appears to be the best positioned web site in terms of longevity.

Despite the pointless problems that will occasionally flare up, most likely from PnP,SP is poised for the future as one of the best web sites of its kind on the internet.  Certainly the database on SP is unmatched, as is the fierce devotion of its members and staff.  After a tumultuous start with SPv1, which some believe were SP’s glory years, SPv2 runs exceedingly well.  The vaunted design alone assures profound flexibility for many years to come.  The pioneering SP members who long for the purer mountaineering format of SPv1 still have that same SP by utilizing the search tool.  Even with SP’s broader scope of appeal though, recent submissions from members support the notion that most members still feel SP is a mountaineering web site, and down to the core, that is what SP will always be.

Nowadays,climbers are informed when entering the wilderness.  They’ve got information from SP as well as other sources to make informed decisions. They’ve got the latest equipment and updated weather information, and chances are they’re even better educated than their predecessors.  With all of this going for them in our modern age of climbing, you’d think their chances at successfully scaling that same fourteener were stacked in their favor.

Not a chance.  Not if the mountain has anything to say about it.  And quite often, it does.

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AVALANCHE ACTION BY SP MEMBER CORAX

-MANY THANKS TO THE NUMEROUS SP MEMBERS THAT PARTICIPATED IN INTERVIEWS FOR THIS ARTICLE! 

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?


PROCEED TO THE HISTORY OF SUMMITPOST VOLUME 4 BY BOB SIHLER






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panhandletrails

panhandletrails - Mar 25, 2015 1:51 pm - Voted 10/10

Thanks for sharing!

From my point of view, these "History of SummitPost" articles are great resources to archive and make available to all serious SP members for the future. I look forward to reading future volumes when they are written.

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THE HISTORY OF SUMMITPOST Volume 3

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