As we end the 2011 calendar year, the first since once again finding myself in the position of TrackChaser Group statistician, it’s time to reflect on the progress made in 2011 and the plans on what area to focus on with the group website for 2012.
Look for an exciting announcement in the very near future about a new partnership between our group and an outside entity that will greatly help to move our group forward.
2011 GOALS AND FOCUS RECAP (REESTABLISHING AN ACTIVE GROUP WEBSITE)
After the false start of trying to establish a new group website with Jared at the beginning of the year, we finally got the new site established in late spring with the help of Will White. The partnership between the previous and returning group statistician was essential in allowing for a relatively smooth transition, especially since having no experience at all with website creation or on-line databases, it was all new for me.
Website Goals for the Group Achieved in 2011:
1. Established a new site to replace the retiring Will White’s site that would no longer be updated
2. With the help of Will, provided all of the TrackChaser group data and stats that Will had available on his site
3. Provided the number of “Locations” visited on all database stat pages, not just on the overall ranking page
4. Included the “Track Type” information on all individual track listings
5. Included the “Surface Type” information on all individual track listings
6. Created a brand new section to highlight the statistic of “Number of Different Countries Visited”, an area very important to members like Roland, Randy, and Will.
7. Added more years for the “Annual Listings”, which now go back to 1980 instead of 1990
8. Listed the “Annual” pages chronologically instead of alphabetically, a great idea from Will
9. The “Regions” are now sorted alphabetically by country first, then by region to make it easier to find a specific region
10. A plan was implemented to update all reported new track visits on a weekly basis to create more interest by knowing that tracks reported in a timely basis would be displayed within the next week in almost all cases
11. Provided a weekly TrackChaser Listserve post, generally on Thursday with a summary of all new tracks reported and added for the previous week
12. Began to follow the approved group mission statement that stated that no tracks will be included on any individual track lists against the wishes of that individual
13. Added over 700 new track visits for 2011 reported by group members
Overall I was very pleased with the progress made on the site for 2011. To allow for late year visits and late reports, the 2011 data will not be considered final until the end of January.
2012 GOALS AND FOCUS (DATA IMPROVEMENT)
The plan for 2012 is to focus on improving the data for the nearly 34,000 new track visit records and how the data displays. Here are the goals for 2012.
1. Go through all records and remove any reference to “Track Type” in the track name field. This is no longer necessary as that information is now displayed on the webpage
2. Go through all records and remove any reference to “Surface Type” in the track name field. This is no longer necessary as that information is now displayed on the webpage
3. Go through all records and remove any reference to the track’s size in the track name field. This is being done so that anyone reading and unfamiliar with our guidelines would not think that enlarging or shrinking a track would automatically result in it being considered a new track. Throughout the year, I will be doing the above three items for all records of all listed TrackChasers.
4. Encourage everyone to supply more dates of visits to their tracks. When reporting a date of visit for a previously included track, everyone is encouraged to submit the earliest known specific date. Several requests have been made to change the already listed dates of track visits. That can only be done if the change is to an earlier confirmed date. To allow changes to a more recent date (which has been requested) could open up a can of worms if someone would ask to change the date of tracks to the current year each time a previously visited track is revisited during the current year
5. Encourage anyone that wants their track names to display more accurately (add the words “speedway”, “raceway”, “stadium”, etc.); or the track name changed to something different, to submit any requested changes for updating. It is your track list so it should display as you would like it to. This can be done since all the stats generated by the database come from location and track identification codes. The name field in the “tracks visited” area of the database is not used for that purpose, thus the track name can be displayed however you would like. I have gone through my tracks and updated my track names, if anyone would like to see an example of how we can work together to improve your track list display
6. Further implement the group “Mission Statement” that gives each individual more autonomy over their own track list by allowing anyone to “voluntarily delete” any countable tracks that they don’t want included in their track list for whatever reason. If anyone has any tracks they want to voluntarily delete, let me know and your list can be updated. I am hoping to have an example for everyone to see within the next week or so
7. No longer force continued participation by anyone that no longer wants to participate in the group. If members are allowed to voluntarily delete any tracks they don’t want on their list for whatever reason, that part of the Mission Statement should allow anyone to voluntarily delete all of their tracks and no longer be an active member of the group. If anyone no longer wants to be an active part of the group, let me know. Continued participation will no longer be forced upon anyone.
8. Although the theme of 2012 is “Improved Data”, and not to concentrate on the overall appearance of the website, one goal for 2012 is to add information to the site by at a minimum activating all the inactive links on the “TrackChaser Main Menu” page of site, as well as adding some new links and corresponding pages
9. Continue to encourage slow and controlled growth in the number of group members by contacting those that appear to qualify for listing, and also by starting to promote the group listserve and website a bit more in Area Auto Racing News, which reaches 20,000 race enthusiasts weekly.
10. Continue to work behind the scenes to learn more about how to create and improve a website and an online database using the many functions of DreamWeaver, GoDaddy, and MySQL.
The plan is to work on improving the site as time between work, family, home, exercise, and other racing / non-racing projects allow. There are a hundred ideas and plans for improving the site in the future, many coming from other group members. My personal challenge is to keep it in perspective and keep a good balance, not letting website work gain too much importance in my busy life, lest it becomes more of a job and a frustration and not the enjoyable hobby it is now. If I could, I would retire tomorrow and work on racing projects every day for the rest of my life. Of course that cannot happen, but cut me some slack for eight and a half more years and hopefully I can make it happen. The opportunity to work on the track lists of 70 people has taught me a lot about the race tracks throughout the world, which is something I am very interested in learning more about. I will continue to do my best to provide the best site possible for those that choose to be part of the group. My goal is to be caretaker, not dictator.
In closing, special thanks to Will White who has worked with me to try to ensure a smooth transition from one website / group statistician to another; to Roland Vanden Eynde for behind the scenes work and support of the new site; and to the several dozen of those that enjoy our quirky hobby who have shown their support for our group by continuing to submit their track information in a timely manner and to contribute their ideas for improving the group and the website in the future.
I am looking forward to helping to move the group forward in 2012.
TrackChaser Group Statistician
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