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Changing Someone's Trip Reports - An Opinion #1496
Back To Discussion List Written: 2006.05.03 by: Jordan Peters

I see that someone has changed the title of a trip report I wrote for the McBride Traverse; what was once - humourously in my opinion -called "An Alternative Route to the Squamish Whistler Highway" is now "The McBride Traverse in May"

I can see making upgrade/infrastructure improvements to articles, but changing someone's creative touches is quite another. This is a small quible; however, it not only reveals that bivouac needs a policy of creative/editorial control (who really "owns" the articles?), but that the current editorial drive is towards very objective views, and that someone is changing content (not just infrastructure) without the permission/notification of the author.

I tried to make my trip reports interesting and readable -- there is nothing worse than a boring, dull, left-foot-right-foot, "and then we, and then we" emotionless report. However, the presiding editorial interest seems to favour the latter. Is there not a rhetorical difference between a trip report and a route report? A route report should -- obviously -- be a transparent and objective outline, an "instruction manual" of sorts. A trip report should be biased, slandering, deprecating, and above all, creative.

Perhaps the title was the only thing changed in my report, but it struck a nerve. This is my rant. I refrained from joining the chorus last time around since the majority of it seemed quite bitter and mean in the manner that so much online commentary can be. I couldn't bear to call the editors of this site names; they have done an incredible amount of work and listing a sour litany of abuses seemed quite counterproductive and infantile.

So, an observation/suggestion/personal manifesto: creative trip reports are desperately needed, no matter what form this site may take in the future. I cannot read trip reports that have no personal slant/bias/humour - I would rather read a bizzare/scary/funny account of a bloddy snowshoe trip to Red Heather than a robotic description of a multi-day first ascent.


Comments

#706 - 2006.05.23 Shelley Wales - Brilliant!
Love it, that would be a great feature!

#701 - 2006.05.20 Doug Brown - "Clutter"
I put the show/hide feature in because Robin had said in an earlier post that he used to show the abstract, but had removed it because some members found it too "cluttered". The default hide/show setting is something that could go in user profiles.

#700 - 2006.05.19 Jordan Peters - Very Cool
That's cool Doug! Why bother even hiding the abstracts - they would be helpful in any search.

#699 - 2006.05.19 Doug Brown - Like a dog on a bone
I'm still stuck on the sub-title/abstract theme. To demonstrate what I'm thinking, I did a bivi search on "mcbride", saved the resulting page, and then mocked it up to show abstracts. To try to please everyone, I added a hide/show link for the abstracts (all client-side, so no extra load for bivi.com). Check out the link below, scroll down to trip reports, and click on the "hide/show abstracts" link to show and hide the abstract text. I have tested on IE6 and Firefox 1.5, but should work on any modern browser:

Abstract demo

#694 - 2006.05.11 Jeff Brown - Overlap
In my mind Bivouac, ClubTread and CascadeClimbers are all good and have different functions. I like the idea of an encyclopedia in that I can get background/trip planning data on pretty much any mountain as well as road conditions (very important!) and other access info here. ClubTread seems like more of a social venue and a good place to hook up with people, but not so useful for easily referenced beta. CascadeClimbers is a bit of everything, but doesn't cover BC all that well and while scanning trip reports is useful, it is not an encyclopedia. How much spray would you really want on Bivouac? I visit all 3 sites at about the same frequency and like them all.

#690 - 2006.05.10 Vida Morkunas - I would like to see a Comment form in trips and photos
How difficult would it be, to implement a Comment form (such as this one) beneath Trip Reports and Photos?

Assuming that adding this field to the database is not overly difficult... I think that our subscriber base is small enough and mature enough to post relevant comments beneath photos and trips without overwhelming disk space. I also think that commenting on photos and trips should be a subscriber-only feature. We could also develop guidelines for appropriate commenting, and perhaps enroll a volunteer moderator when the feature is first launched - and I also believe that this group's maturity and self-restraint would entail very few interventions from the moderator.

I believe that the 'community' aspect that many of us desire would be a sufficient motivator to attract new Bivouac members. I keep returning here because the information is credible, the maps are superb, the database is solid and the trip reports and photos are splendid. Wrapping a community of users around Bivouac would not only provide a function that so many of us desire, but make the site even more vibrant and even more relevant than it is right now.

#689 - 2006.05.09 Sandra McGuinness - A bit off topic
Re Jordan's comment about getting road conditions/trail reports from other sites, while certainly true, a high proportion of them are copied from Bivouac and pasted in elsewhere, so without Bivouac would these be inaccessible?

#688 - 2006.05.09 Robin Tivy - What to Do About the Community
What should I do, what should I do? Of course it would be great if Bivouac could satisfy everybody, but I just can't figure out a way to overcome the inherent contradictions of discussion websites versus reference websites. Bivouac is a colaboratively written encyclopedia, like Wikipedia, not a blog or discussion format. Can't do everything. But its not dying. There are more members than ever. What you see in Bivouac are permanent articles, in a fairly consistent format, that are read and reread year after year.

Problem is, that one website can't satisfy every need. This quality and consistency requires a lot of work, and at the same time tends to discourage radically different article formats. And for some people, that is boring. For me, its still as interesting as ever. I like reporting, not format. I always wanted to be a reporter, and now I get to be a reporter. I love to go explore an unreported area and come back with the goods. The reports take a lot of work. I love seeing those recommendations, and the ongoing readship stats. There seem to be a community of people I've met who are interested in this type of thing. So for me, that's the community. A community of reporters.

People have always said that there is a huge demand for discussion websites. And now those websites are emerging, such as Club Tread. People tell me that Bivouac is too much trouble. Last year I was told that TrailPeak was the answer. Or maybe Cascade Climbers. No one ever mentions the websites that I really think are challenges - the other encyclopedia websites. The thing is an encyclopedia, not a discussion community. Writing articles for discussion websites is a dead end because in the end, the articles are not of sufficient reference value to warrant the ongoing expenditure to maintain them. They are temporary, here today, gone tomorrow. Any startup website can get a huge number of articles, and really look like its the place where everything is happening.

Some people really like the discussion and argument aspect of certain websites. Its fun to debate various issues. You can do it at work, without having to bother looking up a bunch of lat-longs or checking facts. You can really slam your opponents. People will reply to your arguments.

Other people like to try new and innovative formats with every article. Put together the ultimate article with dozens of pictures. Some people tell me video is the way of the future. After all, with todays digital cameras, you can really capture what its like out there...

So Bivouac can't be everything to everybody. I've been working full time on this for 10 years. I've seen a lot of people become major contributors for a few years, then drop out. Some get bored. Some get frustrated. But their good articles remain, and we still keep working on their articles, improving the indexing, bringing them up to the latest standards. So anything you submit to Bivouac will be of permanent value to the mountaineering community. Not just to a few of your friends.

Because Bivouac was first, maybe it attracted a few people that today would be happier at a discussion website. But they are wrong to assume that just because "Bivouac" isn't right for their needs, it is "dying". The opinions that I really care about are those of people who are making major contributions to the encyclopedia. People who are writing lowly road bulletins. People who write short route descriptions. People who come up with pictures of peaks no-one has seen.

Going for the discussion format market is not the right strategy for Bivouac. It conflicts too much with the reference goal of the encyclopedia. The articles you get are too difficult to index, and often not worth the time it takes to fix them up. We've spent hundreds of hours fixing articles up, and it is a relief not to see "What's New" clogged with junk.

What we want is a core of permanent writers who learn how Bivouac works, and with whom it makes sense to correspond.

#687 - 2006.05.09 Matt Gunn - I agree with jordan
Jordan is 100% correct. I think the comments field for trips reports and photos is essential as well as a forum like cascadeclimbers or clubtread. those are the features that will build a community and keep this thing alive.

#686 - 2006.05.08 Jordan Peters - WE NEED MORE "COMMUNITY FEATURES"
I gave this issue some great thought over the weekend. I had 40kms to kill on the way out from Icemaker Mtn yesterday and it was better to think about bivouac than listen to the belligerent voices in my head. The original issue that spawned this discussion is miniscule, yet it made me talk about something I felt a good deal of frustration over.

There is a funny phenomenon at work here that we should all be aware of. There is this massive perception out there among folks I've talked to (at work, at a belay at Squamish, over countless emails with fellow members) that bivouac is dying. And all of us would be the last people who would WANT such a thing. Yet when I confront folks about why they think this, they say such things as, "well, I never see anything cool there anymore," or, "it's so boring, there's nothing new."

But the truth of it, to me, is that to a large degree I think the site has hit a bit of an infrastructure saturation point; most of the mainstream areas have lots of info built up and though there is tonnes of work being done by the editors, most of it remains invisible behind the scenes.

This weekend I did an incredible traverse from Icemaker Mountain to Railroad Pass with three Americans whom I know from cascadeclimbers.com. That site, although the online equivalent of an ignorant and poorly-fought barfight at times, has given me partners with whom I have shared some of the most rewarding trips of my life so far. Why? because it's a COMMUNITY where people know each other, their interests, and abilities. (As a result of the cascadeclimbers community I am good friends with people hundreds of miles from me, but don't know most of the people I meet in the hills here in BC. This seems wrong.)

Robin's comparison of bivouac to wikipedia is apt, but it sure isn't healthy in my opinion if we want to get people interested in the site. Here come the caps: GET A COMMENT FIELD FOR ALL PHOTOS, JUST LIKE FLICKR. IT WORKS! PEOPLE WILL KNOW EACH OTHER, AND A COMMUNITY WILL FORM WITH PERSONALITIES. There are a tonne of people reading this web page, but they're invisible because they never post anything, because they don't want to duplicate something already there. Look at clubtread and cascadeclimbers: not much real info, but lots of PEOPLE who can talk and ask questions of each other.

This would obviously be changing the original mandate and idea of bivouac, from a data heavy mountain encyclopedia to a more summitpost type of environment. But maybe the thing isn't dying -- I haven't seen the books, maybe membership revenue is at an all-time high? If so, then all my comments shouldn't mean much.

My registration has expired. I really don't need to renew, but know I should; I can write trip reports for free on clubtread and cascadeclimbers, and can get road updates and the like off the forest district webpages. I shouldn't feel morally obligated to renew on bivouac. Everyone I've talked to says the exact same thing. -JP

#685 - 2006.05.08 Scott Nelson - Use Abstract field
The abstract field can be used to give the relevant geographic information while maintaining a creative title.

#684 - 2006.05.08 Robin Tivy - I restored Jordon Peters article title to the original
While I was up in the windstorms of Garibaldi Lake on the weekend, I quickly realized that the right thing to do was to restore Jordon Peters article to his original title, without question. While overwhelmed with other problems with the site, I made a mistake when I changed the title. Of course it is important that the titles and the articles contain an artistic aspect. I guess the length of the title "an alternative to the Squamish-Whistler Highway", seemed too long.

In general, what we want are articles that contain useful information, and are interesting to read. And the titles should tell you what the article is about, and can also contain an artistic aspect. I guess this is simpler than my earlier suggestion of a separate field.

I also overhauled the search function, as was suggested by Doug Brown, another important contributor. The search function now shows the month and the days separately. I experimented with also showing the abstract, but its too cluttered. I used to show the abstract on the trip page, but Fred Touche repeately urged me to remove it, because it was too cluttered.

I also fixed what Ramsay Dyer said about Marlborough Heights in his detailed analysis of the problem. The problem he mentioned about not being able to find Colin Dion's article was because Marlborough Heights was entered improperly as a mountain, but it should have been entered as an area, with the highest point called Marlborough Peak. As soon as I entered the area properly, then a search for Marlborough heights shows Colin's article. The reason I make special note of this is to hopefully reinforce your support for my previously heavily criticized standards on peak names. Basically any peak named with a plural name is trouble waiting to happen.

Ramsey's analysis also pointed out a couple of other search problems that I previously knew about, but have not yet figured out how to address. (Eg: When you search "McBride range" you should see all trips in that area, regardless of title, because it works on Lat-Long. The reason you don't is because right now the only practical way to pull up trips in an area is by the centerpoint of the trip, not by testing every waypoint.

Anyway, I'm working away on a whole bunch of technical problems. Its definitely an ongoing challence convincing people to do the work of writing trip reports.

I originally read the discussion thread by accident because somebody else mentioned it. When I first saw it, I had lots of other problems, and some of the "critical tone" of the thing bugged me. Its better for me if the comments are positive.

#683 - 2006.05.07 David Wasserman - Some thoughts on titling and editing
I was inspired by this discussion to go back and look at the titles I've given to my trip reports. I found that I always include a geographic location in the title, and often some other reference to pique the reader's interest. I realize that my trip reports are different from the usual ones in the encyclopedia, in that I typically deal with some place that's fairly obscure if you are not familiar with the Canadian Rockies, and often even if you are. Climbing major peaks is just something I don't (can't?) do. When the title appears on the What's New page, readers who have never heard of the place will not be drawn to click on that link unless there is something else to draw them in. Thus such melodramatic titles as "Castleguard Mountain and the Mysterious Hand of Fate."

As I see it, a trip report/encyclopedia article needs a good title as well as good content. We don't want to discourage anyone from submitting trip reports, but we also don't want to lower the credibility of the rest of the encyclopedia by including self-indulgent, poorly written, error-filled, and/or information-starved articles. It's a delicate balance that requires that someone take the responsibility for quality assurance of trip reports. Ideally, the writer will be consulted before major changes are made; we can all understand that ideals are not always attained.

I have taken on the task of editing every photo essay submitted for spelling and grammatical errors and for typographic consistency. For the encyclopedia to be perceived as a unified whole, such things as capitalization and abbreviations should be consistent throughout. You may or may not have noticed that photo essay titles rarely have abbreviations; that's because I change them to the full form whenever I encounter them. I try also to make sure that abbreviations are not used for direction of travel ("we headed S for 2 km" gets changed to we headed south for two kilometres") except in the access section of the essay, but I don't change them when they are used as adjectives describing geographic entitities ("NE Face, S Ridge"). My thinking is that the second type of use is less prone to misunderstanding than the first type. I also change the alignment on "portrait" oriented photos so that the text appears beside the photo, which allows viewers to see the text and photo at the same time for most screen resolutions, a very real advantage. One frequent submitter objects to this change in his photos, so even though I can't understand why he wants his photos to be inconvenient to view, I don't change them. My main goal is consistency, rather than a set of rules based on overwhelming correctness, so the changes are definitely arbitrary. The upside is that I make them all myself, when I can, so no-one else has to feel inhibited by the "rules" or even learn them. They have no effect on the meaning of the photo essay.

Unfortunately, doing the same for trip reports is more than I can handle, but I do occasionally participate in the task of proofreading and correcting some of them.

I think consistency is important, and so is allowing authors the freedom to let their individuality show. It's a delicate balance that will often make someone unhappy. My policy has been to respect Robin's decisions even when I can't understand them. He is possibly the only person essential to the continued existence of the web site. That earns him a lot of leeway in my book.

#682 - 2006.05.07 Doug Brown - Continuing with the one title thread
Ramsay said: "Adding a secondary title runs contrary to the goal of simplifying the article submission procedure."

That is true Ramsay, but the sub-title field would necessarily be optional, and isn't something you would have to look up or digitize or whatever, so seems a pretty small addition.

I think Robin makes a couple good points. Imagine, in 10 years, I want to go out to the coast do some climbing and search on "Garabaldi Park", and I get 50 hits ... all with clever, entertaining, but not super informative titles. It is interesting you mention the CAJ. I find that using the index means looking at a bunch of entries that aren't relavent - I think bivi can do better.

Ramsay also said: "If anything, the abstract should serve this purpose."

That is a very interesting suggestion. Perhaps the "Trip Reports" section of the "Search Results" page could show the abstracts or a portion thereof. Maybe even prepend the trip date. What do you think Robin?

I, for one, don't really use abstracts, and would trade them for a sub-title, unless of course, they were shown in the Search Results, and then they might be really useful.

I understood bivi users wanted more opportunity to influence the design direction of bivi ... hopefully we'll get a couple more opinions after the weekend is over.

#680 - 2006.05.06 Ramsay Dyer - (3) Growing Pains?
In a past thread some large contributors expressed considerable discontent with the evolution of this site. Although he has given no such indication here, I think Jordan is also frustrated with more than just this single instance of editorial heavy-handedness.

So I'm going to dig up that discussion again. See Seems Like Bivouac Could Use a Facelift!. The thing is, even though I've read all the comments, I still don't feel the primary source of discontent is obvious. There is some kind of feeling that bivouac "isn't what it used to be". From my perspective that is difficult to evaluate because I wasn't here in the good ol' days. And it occurs to me that maybe this points to the problem.

The membership of bivouac has undoubtedly grown considerably in recent years. What was a tight knit cosy community of (mostly lower mainland based) alpinists has become diluted. If bivouac is to grow, this is inevitable. If it was this small community that was the primary draw for some of the original members, then it would appear difficult to keep them happy and grow simultaneously.

But I have probably missed the mark here. For one thing, the forums that were touted as competing sites hardly constitute small tight knit communities. Drew gave an innumerated list of grievances. Perhaps the most important comment is in item 3. No, I'm not talking about peak naming, but the first sentence: "One of the things that attracted me to Bivouac in the early days was the collaborative aspect of editing and adding information."

Robin is looking for all the help he can get in fixing up various things on the site. Unfortunately, most of us don't have the time to contribute much in this way. However, we are continuously reading articles and noticing errors or noticing that they don't appear where they should, or whatever.

Several people mentioned that it would be nice to have the ability to comment on articles and photos. This idea was rejected out of fear that it would decrease the signal to noise ratio. We don't need all those "nice trip" comments to clutter things up.

So how about putting a "trouble ticket" or "errata" link on each and every page in the encyclopedia? The senior editors would be swamped in days :). But instead of sending an email to Robin, it would be the author of a trip report that would be notified if a trouble ticket was filed against that report. This would hopefully not be difficult to implement because the basic trouble ticket reporting code already exists. Trip reports would not become cluttered with these tickets, because they could disappear when an author flagged them as 'fixed'. So the 'errata' page would usually be empty, unless there were trouble tickets pending. Then I could post a note: Steve, are easting and northing reversed? See trip Meslilloet West Ridge Multi-Modal. If Steve had time to correct or clarify the situation, the comment would disappear. Until such time the comment might save other readers a few minutes of confusion.

Perhaps the general readership could also be given the ability to modify the supplemental metadata associated with a trip. So that if I read a report that I feel is relevant to Mountain X, I can fill in a field that will make it show up there without troubling the author about it.

Maybe 'errata' isn't the right word for it. Maybe just 'editorial comments', so that an author can happily leave them there as an addendum rather than addressing them.

To tie this back to the 'small community' idea, Jordan has a wonderful photo of some big peaks in northern Garibaldi Park. See Mountains of Northern Garibaldi Park.

Reading the first paragraph of that photo essay gives the sense that the intended audience is a group of peers who've all already completed at least half a dozen traverses or climbs in the area. Certainly not a wet behind the ears Vancouverite who hasn't even been to Wedgemount Lake.

But why should I be spoon fed information? I have the maps and the vantage point and the identification of enough features to orient myself. Doing the homework and identifying things myself would be a fine exercise. It may not be the intent of the encyclopedia to make me work that hard though. Also, there are now readers far removed from the lower mainland who may not have easy access to the relevant NTS maps.

The point is, this photo could benefit from a little 'editorial embellishment'. However, I don't think the text of the photo essay should be altered by anybody other than Jordan himself. If I were to do the homework and figure out which peaks were which (or if they were simply obvious to me), it would be nice to be able to share this with other readers. I could file an editorial note describing what's what. Or maybe just add a link to an appropriate javamap. Jordan could either leave the note, or flag it as fixed (to make it vanish) as he sees fit.

Jordan and Drew, I've really enjoyed your articles. You've both made huge contributions to this site. I really hope to see more stuff from you here in the future. At the very least, I hope you find a way to read this comment. Thanks.

#679 - 2006.05.06 Ramsay Dyer - (2) Trip reports vs Road Reports
"They are our wilderness experience. If he were to follow our route, his experience would be different than ours. Physically, it would be the same tract of country, but the emotional experiences that tie people to the land are always unique." Garibaldi - Into the Wilderness

Despite its title, bivouac is more than an encyclopedia. It is true that it is an outstanding source of information on our wild places, but more than just information, many of the trip reports provide inspiration, cause for reflection, or just plain good adventure reading. Personally, I think any good (non fiction) story that is set in the wilderness covered by bivouac should be a candidate for a trip report. The mountains are so much more than can ever be captured by their physical geography alone. A story that focuses on some tragic event or a wondrous revelation that takes place in the mountains; is this not a good home for it?

There is a spectrum of documents ranging from concise emotionless route descriptions all the way to general articles that have no geographic context. The domain of trip reports extends almost to each of these extremes. bivouac is an alpine journal whose articles are linked into a geographic database backbone.

Having trip reports with a strong 'entertainment aspect' is not merely nice, it is essential. I recently studied Colin Dion's Routes up Peaks in the Marlborough Heights of Marlborough Heights. This short document is not an easy read. In fact it is inconceivable that anybody could get much out of it if they didn't simultaneously have 92 G13 spread out in front of them. However, when you take the trouble to do this, Colin brings an interesting clump of tight contours to life. We get names for the significant high points and the drainages that provide good access. Roads that are not in the database are described complete with grid references.

His article is unlikely to inspire somebody to do a trip to Marlborough Heights. However, for anybody who is already interested in anything that can be accessed via High Creek, the document is invaluable. Route Reports alone might be all that is needed if bivouac wanted to be simply a climbing guide. However, if it were so constrained I do think that it would be in danger of withering. Marlborough Heights is still waiting for a trip report complete with human factors and photos. Only then will the value of Colin's route description be appreciated by a wider audience.

(by the way, the article in question is linked on the Mount Churchill page. It is certainly relevant to anybody interested in that mountain. However, it would be really nice if there was also a link to it on the page of Marlborough Heights itself. See Marlborough Peak.

#678 - 2006.05.06 Ramsay Dyer - (1) One Title
I agree with the other respondents; the author's title should be left intact. Editorial intervention in general should be kept to a minimum.

Adding a secondary title runs contrary to the goal of simplifying the article submission procedure. It can lead to confusion, and it isn't necessary. If anything, the abstract should serve this purpose.

A traditional reference for Canadian mountaineering is the Canadian Alpine Journal. Unfortunately, I can't claim familiarity with the publication, but a glance at the article titles of the last half decade is sufficient to illustrate my point. Cryptic titles are part of the culture. "Thinkin' 'bout Ham and Eggs" is pretty much meaningless to the uninitiated. For all I know you have to read the article to understand the title. The point is that if I'm looking for something in the CAJ, browsing through a list of titles is probably not going to be very effective. There are better ways to look up articles, and whatever indexing methods are provided, they will be very primitive compared to that which is offered by bivouac.

So, if I'm interested in a traverse of the McBride Range, there are many ways that I might query bivouac for information. One plausible route would take me to the McBride Range. Now, whether the article title is rambling on about a bad lunch or UFOs, it doesn't matter. I can be reasonably certain that a trip report listed here is somehow relevant to the McBride Range. I can click on a link to see the abstract and quickly determine if the article is worth my time. Unfortunately, neither McBride Traverse - An Alternate Route to the Squamish-Whistler Highway nor Kurt's report on the same trip appear here. See McBride Traverse - Whistler to Diamond Head. Somehow an appropriate waypoint or placename is missing from these article's metadata and *this* is what needs editorial attention.

Similarly, if I'm interested in Mount Sir Richard, or Veeocee Mountain or The Gatekeeper or whatever, then the appearance of either of these articles is sufficient to give me a geographic context. Here, this information is redundant in the article title (nothing wrong with that though).

It is difficult to imagine a scenario where it would be important to have a really descriptive title. If somebody told me that Jordan Peters had a good trip report on the McBride range in bivouac I might be tempted to browse his home page, and then I'd have trouble finding it. However, bivouac has a search function. I should be able to search for McBride Jordan Peters and find it instantly (unfortunately, that search comes up empty?).

I don't know what the policy is for an article to appear on a mountain page. Maybe it is appropriate that Kurt's appears on Sir Richard's page while Jordan's doesn't because Jordan was dealing with burritos rather than bagging the peak. However, I think most would agree that Jordan's article would be useful to anybody interested in Mount Sir Richard and so should appear on that mountain's page. But I'm not sure that it would be appropriate for an editor to simply insert a waypoint for the summit into the article.

The more comprehensive list of waypoints in Kurt's article makes it much better indexed. It also makes for a much more pleasing pink line in the automap (link at top of the article). But even if the senior editors had the time, Jordan's list of waypoints should not be enhanced without his explicit consent.

In order to simplify the article submission form, certain fields, such as the placename field, have recently been omitted. This was a useful field, but I agree that the number of fields that an author is *required* to fill should be minimised. Perhaps a link to a 'supplemental metatdata' form could be added. An author that had the time or the inclination could click a link to get this form and add in things like placenames, shadowed waypoints, short abstract ('what it contains title') etc. Empty items in this form could be filled by editors without consulting the author or compromising his/her artistic licence.

#677 - 2006.05.05 Doug Brown - Good idea Robin
I think that is a good idea Robin. I would switch it around though:

1. Leave the trip report title up to the author's discretion

2. Add an optional "Sub Title" field, that should be required to be informative.

For Jordan's excellent report, the title would be "An Alternative to the Whistler-Squamish Highway" and the sub-title would be something like "The McBride Ski Traverse (May)".

In the past I have tried to do that via a long title - something like:

A Quick Thrust to the Behinde - A speedy ascent of Golden Hinde and the Behinde

But it usually generates a title that unwieldy. It is probably not necessary to display the sub-title in the "What's New" section, just on searches.

#676 - 2006.05.05 Robin Tivy - System needs extra field called "Artistic Title"
I'm sorry that my efforts to improve the title has been interpreted in this way. It was me that changed the title. I did it when I was researching the Mcbride traverse. I thought I was improving things. Fred and I have worked for months indexing articles, fixing waypoints, correcting spelling mistakes, and I hope most people agree that this work is of value. I guess I'll ease up on some of those changes. Sometimes I change the title of articles, to make it easier for people to skim down a list of articles and find what they want. As part of this, I spend hours and hours writing emails to authors consulting with them about changes to articles, or asking for more info. But it is impractical to consult every author on every change. The site is primarily supposed to be a colaborative encyclopedia, and I hope people can join me in that goal. (like Wikipedia). (hence the title "Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia". So my vision is that every article should make a permanent reference improvement to the encyclopedia.

There is considerable "art" in just writing a good guidebook description, using exactly the right words, and the style.

However, I understand the "entertainment" aspect of it as well. What we need is some balance between entertainment and reference value. We certainly don't want authors to start competing with each other entirely on the artistic front. Meanwhile people who really do have some valuable information get the idea that unless they can really do something creative, their input is not wanted. This is wrong!!! Even the most mundane article which provides useful information about an area, and which helps get people out there in the mountains is of more permanent value than the flashiest article containing no information. (I'm not referring to Jordan Peter's good article, but the problem is that important authors such as Jordan Peters set the example, and define what the site as all about. The danger is that people just start to pick up on the humor part, and don't see the reference part. So the primary goal is to enable people to get out there.

Certainly the articles in Wikipedia are straight reference articles. What I try to do in my articles is put a bit of myself into the article, but make sure the article is loaded with useful facts.

The reason was to make it easier to see what articles were available. For example, I thought that adding the "in May" was important to the title, because the route is often different in May than in March or April. It is exactly what the person wants to know.

Perhaps what the system needs is two separate titles - the artistic title, and the "what it contains" title. Then each could be used separately, as required. Eg:

Mcbride Traverse in May on Skis - An alternative to the Squamish Highway.

But before I rush out and make that change, I'd like to hear what other important authors think. After all, its yet another data field, at the same time as we are trying to simplify things.

We've been having a difficult time for the past month keeping the server running, and have been devoting almost all our time to keeping it running, and managing the backup. The bivouac articles are supposed to be a permanent resource, and we make every effort to manage them, index them, support them, and put them together into a guidebook. It takes a lot of time to write an article, and to do the painstaking waypoints referencing, etc.

#675 - 2006.05.04 Sandy Briggs - Applause for Paronomasia
Quite a few years ago a friend and I did a fairly fast (for the time) ascent of the Golden Hinde and the Behinde in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island. I wrote it up for the Island Bushwhacker newsletter as 'A Quick Thrust to the Behinde'. I guess the then editors liked puns too, as the title survived. Island mountaineers would get the joke immediately, of course, but maybe some others were left wondering. Perhaps I can post this on bivouac.com when I get out from under the whole end-of-term exam thing. Here's to creative writing.

#674 - 2006.05.04 Doug Brown - Change it back
I don't want to turn this into another whinefest, but I can't say this offline to Jordan as the ability to email authors has disappeared - related to technical troubles Robin is having, I'm guessing.

Jordan, you retain the copyright on your trip reports - change the title back; the old one was better. In this case it is especially confusing as whilst I was recently researching the McBride traverse, I read a reference to the old title, but couldn't find it ...

In a CAJ entry of mine a couple years ago, I mentioned that "Avon 'Skin So Soft' repels mosquitoes like burley repells sharks". Apparently an editor thought I must mean tobacco (don't ask me), rather than fish guts, and thus inserted "tobacco" after "burley". Not quite what I was after ...

#673 - 2006.05.04 Steve Grant - I agree too.
One time in the VOC we did a trip up Brohm Ridge. A furious windstorm overnight flattened our tents and sent us packing. I wrote an article for the VOC Journal, titled: "Brohm Ridge Rout". The journal editor changed it to: "Brohm Ridge Route". Nice going. Seriously, editorial intrusions discourage contributors.

#672 - 2006.05.03 Steve Sproule - I agree.....
Jordan, I completely agree with your comments on this. I would not have a problem with changes being made to my trip report (yeah, I only have one...) if it is some obvious error or structural mistake. But to up and re-name it or change the content, which is what makes it unique, without first contacting/consulting/discussing with the author, that just seems intrusive. I agree with your comments about preferring interesting/scary/funny trip reports to the simple "go here, go there" type of route info. A route can be described as just that, a route, on the mountain page or area page. An individual's own account of their trip to a certain area should be just that...their own, complete with their own way of telling it. I am much more interested to read about someone's adventure when it's told in their own way. To take away that personal touch on a trip report just doesn't sit right.