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  1. #1
    gr82bart's Avatar
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    Good ideas alone don't make for a good organization

    So I am liking Sean's new organization of this forum and while reading through some past posts, it became evident to me just how disorganized some member organized functions are. Yes, I realize the organizers are volunteers, but there's some apparent slackers. Disorganization in some threads have led to a tense air of frustration. You can see (read) it in the threads.

    OK, here's a contraversial thought.

    It takes more than a good idea to be a good organizer of a member organized function. It takes time and committment to stay on top of things, it takes some organizational skills (online ones), and it takes some technology savvy to use the technology appropriately to track who gets what and where things are at. So unless one posses all that in ADDITION to the good idea, don't organize and let someone else do that.

    Just a thought that many have, but were unwilling to post.

    Don't misunderstand me, I am not trying to slag my fellow organizers and I am not trying to tout my own horn.

    I think it's great to have people with gung-ho ideas that add to this community. If it weren't for these guys, none of the member organized functions would exist. Of course there has to be a balance bewteen being the Nazi organizer and also just letting things happen so some fun (what's that?) can surface as well.

    Maybe "organizers" should have some minimum characteristics: time, committment to follow up, regular status reporting, hounding the deadbeats, etc... Sounds like a job!

    Anyway, this is just a rambling post.

    Art.
    Last edited by gr82bart; 03-11-2006 at 11:21 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com
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  2. #2
    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by gr82bart
    Anyway, this is just a rambling post.
    The post may be rambling, but your thoughts are accurate. The way oyu organize the print exchange is an example of how to do it!

    I hope you will continue to use your time and organisatorial talent in this way.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  3. #3
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    I'll chip in on your rambling, because I started a student journal as an undergrad, and went through the whole pattern. At the beginning we wanted to make the thing all open, free, all collaboration, all love. It remained a free publication but we did put a lot of evil words in it like: scheduling, organization, decision hierarchy, and the word "no". A lot of the crowd that was in for the free lunch at the beginning did not stay when the presses were rolling.

    I think the onus of responsibility and committment extends to the participants, not just to the leader. Whenever you have a great idea, you'll have lots of people coming over and saying "yeah dude, great idea, give me a call" but only those who have a sense of what they want to contribute to your project will stay with you. Those who fail to do so can be great cheerleaders (if they haven't forgotten you and went on to recite their slam poetry) but they won't get the show running.

    There is often a tendency to belittle the importance of commitment in volunteer projects because they are, after all volunteer projects. It's true, it shouldn't take priority over your job or your personal life, but what would you say if you fell on the street, broke a leg, and someone just helped you halfway to the hospital? One's commitment has to follow from the task one decides to undertake, so if you can't help someone to fully walk to the hospital, then call them a cab instead!

    In sum, I think volunteer projects, especially collective ones, may not tax a lot of resources upon their participants, but what they ask for they should get. I'd put this attitude into a general ethos of "there's no reason to botch things." I've seen many people not realise this.
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  4. #4
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    In sum, I think volunteer projects, especially collective ones, may not tax a lot of resources upon their participants, but what they ask for they should get. I'd put this attitude into a general ethos of "there's no reason to botch things." I've seen many people not realise this.
    I agree. I also know from personal experience that Art, and a few other apugers are all about follow through.

    APUG, the organized functions and the APUG Conference would be worthless without their commitment.

    *

  5. #5
    John Bartley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv
    .... only those who have a sense of what they want to contribute to your project will stay with you. .....
    This (above) is very true.

    Having raised more than one family (one not ours and then a son of our own), I have a pretty good idea of what my level of contribution should/can be when I volunteer.

    The volunteer organisers who are followed are the ones who balance drive with understanding. Little Hitlers aren't.

    I have been to too many supposedly volunteer events where I arrive, say exactly what my skills and available time are and then realise that what was wanted were slaves and that we were expected to "do as told", not "as able". I leave.

    Arts comments are all true, but needed to include that a good organiser is working "with" volunteers not employees. Take what they give if you need it and then say thank you. Otherwise, thank them for offering and politely refuse the help.

    cheers

  6. #6

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    I agree with you Art, I'm just soft! If I have to get tough, I'll hire you as the muscle! I've actually taken a couple of ideas from your functions already.

    On the management side, I run a MS-Access database to keep track of people and generate the associated address lists. When you get unformatted text replies (i.e. not forms that you can rely on being the same format to harvest data from) via email and APUG PMs it does take time to keep on top of it. This month I've had one problem with someone's email that won't accept stuff from me, but by posting in the Forum (idea taken from you) that addresses had been sent, they contacted me and we managed to get it to them via other means.

    I am a bit of the opinion that the organisers shouldn't have to bro-beat participants into doing what they've committed to doing. Participants should take on the responsibility to firstly do what they've promised, and secondly, keep the organiser (and everyone) imformed if they are delayed or can't follow through (sometimes these things happen) as we had in the last postcard exchange.

    regards, Nige

  7. #7
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    One question is whether the browbeating of slackers and rousting of laggards has to happen in public. On the one hand, it can be effective if the folks who are behind are regular followers of the forum and it makes it look like the organizer is doing something, but on the other hand, sometimes the people holding things up are out of touch temporarily, and making it a public issue can put a damper on the tone of discussion. There's a reason that all of the Traveling Portfolio participants have to send their real names, addresses, and phone numbers, and I have called people on occasion, when the Portfolio has gone missing, but sometimes things just take time.

    The f32.net portfolio (is that going to become the acutance.net portfolio?) is smaller than APUGs, and it seems to take longer to make the rounds (it is more international, though, on the other hand).
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  8. #8
    gr82bart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    One question is whether the browbeating of slackers and rousting of laggards has to happen in public.
    I struggle with this one issue weekly. I'd like to get advice on this, as I don't think I'm doing a great job in this arena.

    For example, before going public in the last exchange, I decided to send PMs for about a month or so after the deadline. Many responded and few didn't even read their PMs.

    Then I decided to post who didn't recieve a print, since it was blind, the senders only would know if they needed to send a print to tell me that they did and something else happened.

    Finally, I went public and listed which senders did not send a print yet.

    Maybe I was too quick? I don't know. All I know is I hate only this part of being an organizer.

    According to the behind the scenes 'deadbeat' list we have about 7 people (some very active APUGers) who have still not honoured their committments from veryt early rounds of the print exchanges. That's over a year ago for some.

    So how do we balance 'staying on top' versus 'letting some slack' in the grand scheme? Enquiring minds would like to know!

    Regards, Art.
    Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com
    or my online portfolios at APUG and ModelMayhem



 

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