Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Carrot or stick or something else?


I came across a discussion on Attackpoint that touches on a bunch of interesting issues, the one I thought I'd write a few notes about is the quality of events. Randy posed the question:

how does USOF make the guidelines actually happen, once written (and this applies to all things (mainly printing promises), not just course setting styles)?

Among the ideas that get discussed are: training/teaching how to organize meets; some sort of enforcement "stick"; and a couple of "market" solutions.

J-man (as you might expect if you spend too much time reading discussions on Attackpoint) proposed a very rational solution. Here is part of what he wrote:

...I know that markets become more efficient with better information, to say nothing of equilibrated supply and demand. If we can't force meet admins to follow-through maybe we just bring their successes (and failures) to light.

Admittedly, there is the question of objectivity, but I think this is a quibble. If a meet is supposed to have a 35 minute WT, publicize that in advance. If it comes across with a 52 minute WT, so be it. Let the market decide if they care.

If every meet featured this kind of accountability, and we had a historical track record, the public, to the extent they care, of course, can vote with their feet and $s.

I'd add something to J-man's proposal - a carrot. I'd put in place an annual award for meet quality. Find the really high quality events and reward them with some recognition. USOF could award a prize to the club that hosted the highest quality events. Someone could interview and write about the organization of the event for ONA - spreading the good ideas and encouraging a "culture" of high quality organization.

Would it work (i.e. over time encourage higher quality events)? Maybe. It would seem easy to implement. The hardest things would be defining some simple criteria for "high quality" and designing a reasonably credible judging process.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Spike, i totally agree. Norway has an Event of the Year award at their O-gala. Seems like a good idea for us to try too. Maybe, instead of waiting for USOF to do it, you can institute the okansas.blogspot.com award in meet excellence? Then you can give it out based on votes from a "panel of experts" or something.
As for the "stick" approach, people have been saying for years that I should implement some sort of "feedback bulletin board", "wiki for sanctioning", and all these other fine ideas that are the magic bullit. Perhaps they are, I don't disagree.

But the suggestions seem to stop at "I should do this"; they fail to provide the budget or the time, as if these ideas take 15 minutes to implement on top of my train wreck life and already massive volunteer commitments to orienteering.
Doug Innes has set up a very nice feedback on the Orienteering Ontario events page. It is a place for participants to state what they liked and disliked about events.

Examples here:

It certainly has been valuable for us to get constructive race feedback.
Maybe, instead of waiting for USOF to do it, you can institute the okansas.blogspot.com award in meet excellence?

Not a bad idea, I'll give it some thought.
That is a great idea Spike. Maybe we could get Kenny to start something on AP where people voted on their favorite race of the year and then it would become an AP award. If we were able to publicize it well it would create great PR for AP and it would also be a great way for the AP community to encourage meet directors to hold the kind of events that they like, and even read the AP discussion board for feedback on their event. There is often a ton of discussion about the quality of specific events, but I think that most meet directors miss this discussion completely because it is isolated on AP.

If you aren't already planning on taking it on as the Okansas award, what do you think about suggesting it to Kenny? I am sure the AP community would love the idea.
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