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UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

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UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Admin » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:24 am

Folks, an FYI that First Tracks!! Online Media's newest project, UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com, is open for business. It's also accessible via UTskiing.com and UtahSkiingOnline.com.

We still have some final coats of touch-up paint to apply here and there (most notably populating the links database), but there was no need to keep it "coming soon" any longer. Like most startups, things like the user forums will take a while to become active, so I encourage all who have an interest in Utah skiing and riding to head on over and start a conversation or two to get the ball rolling. A press release will be issued this week, which should help immensely as well.

Spread the word!
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:58 am

I believe the value of forums is strongly related to the number of users. IIRC it's a basic tenet that the utility of a network is supposed to be in proportion to the square of the number of members. It's generally best to consolidate rather than split networks as much as possible because (A+B)squared is always greater than A squared + B squared.

Of the ski forums I believe FTO is #1 in average quality of posts. But in terms of network size it's still well below Epic and TGR, and FTO is still marginal in some key western regions like Colorado and the Northern Rockies.

Therefore I think it's counterproductive to start siphoning off some of the Utah posts into another forum. I would recommend that the new site link into FTO's western forum for those who want to post. Or alternatively set up a now Utah section in FTO separate from the other western reports, with that being directed to UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com. I don't want to have to check a second source for Utah reports. I spend enough time on these boards as it is.

People will not routinely put their reports in both forums. admin will have to do this ~65 times per year, and when pictures are involved the extra time involved will not be trivial. I do not routinely put trip reports on Epic, and if I think one of my reports is relevant to a topic there, I just post the link to my FTO report.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Admin » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:41 am

Tony, you're thinking small. There's a bigger business perspective involved here, and user forums are only a tiny part of it. Besides that, the number of Utah users here at FTO's Liftlines who post is rather small. Aside from Marc_C and our newest transplants Tirolerpeter and Skidog occasionally piping up, and gwest poking his head in the door occasionally, I'm clearly responsible for 99% of the Utah posting.
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:21 pm

There's a bigger business perspective involved here, and user forums are only a tiny part of it.
I'm sure this is true, and you would not have bothered setting up UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com otherwise.

That's why I made the suggestion to have one forum (I don't care which site is the host) linked from both sites. Are you really planning to post all of your reports to both sites?

There are many marginal forums out there. Southland Ski Server, which was AFAIK the first critical mass ski forum, is very quiet now. Alpine Zone's attempt to expand to Colorado is another example. I believe it is a drag on FTO to have 2 separate forums.

With regard to your posts being 99% of those from Utah, it's not the number of users but the quality and consistency of the posts that matters. Your posts have enabled me to construct weekly "History of Cottonwood Canyon Snow Conditions" tables for the past 3 seasons. I'm now in process of doing the same thing for Craig Morris' Fernie reports. And I might add that since Craig has an archive, that means there are 11 seasons of data, enough to provide very revealing information.
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Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,318K in 2010-11
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Admin » Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:29 pm

Combining the two is a monumental undertaking as far as databases that drive the boards are concerned. It also undercuts the premise behind the business plan.
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:09 pm

I think it's logical that the automated daily reports from the Utah Avalanche Center go to the new site. I hope your personal reports stay on FTO. I hope you resist the temptation to randomly switch them between sites in order to force us to to check both every time. Only us nutcases will have the patience for that.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,318K in 2010-11
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Patrick » Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:42 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:There are many marginal forums out there. Southland Ski Server, which was AFAIK the first critical mass ski forum, is very quiet now. Alpine Zone's attempt to expand to Colorado is another example. I believe it is a drag on FTO to have 2 separate forums.

With regard to your posts being 99% of those from Utah, it's not the number of users but the quality and consistency of the posts that matters.


In new way I want to tell you what your business plan should be, but Tony has a point. There a bunch of ski forums outhere and the older old are dying once a new one shows up.

If you scan the users of these forums, you might find some of the old active FTO users. It would seem that we lost a few were FTO went down in Summer 2004

In the East.

Zoneski were Frankontour migrated. Snowjournal (which has slowed down), AlpineZone, SKI-VT, Kzone, MRV Forum, Adk forum, Powder, Epic, TGR, T4T etc etc. Riverc0il and myself have duplicated our latest Tuck reports on two forums, but many people wouldn't. I personnally gave a priority to posting on FTO and giving up posting elsewhere. Some others might have made a different choice.

FTO is quiet enough as it is... :? It would be good to get a bit of diversity and frequent posters.
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Re: re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Patrick » Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:44 pm

Patrick wrote:In new way I want to tell you what your business plan should be.


Still no edit button in this section. :oops: I meant to say..."In no way..."
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby JimG. » Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:22 am

I understand Tony's points Marc.

I spend alot of time on AZ because it's more eastern specific. As Tony mentioned, the attempt to branch out to cover Colorado was a total abortion, mostly because AZ is eastern specific. Greg wound up selling the name. I view FTO as western biased as it is...and I don't mean that in a negative way. It's where I come for western news and info. Frankly, if I then have to go somewhere else to see that, I won't be here as often.

AZ has also branched out with Mad River Valley and Whiteface specific sites. In the case of the MRV site, the posters on AZ who spent most of their time in the MRV now don't post very much on AZ. And I don't have time to go look at another site. So, to me, that's now a dark spot in terms of info readily accessible. In the case of the Whiteface site, it concentrated those Whiteface skiers like the MRV site did, but unlike the MRV site the WF site got contentious and turned into a flame fest. Greg wound up being sorry he ever set it up.

I'm not saying anything like that would happen here, but I don't understand the premise that it would be best for the Utah people to have their own site. All it seems to do is send those posts "underground" and now instead of me reading them as a matter of course, I only look when I have a specific interest. So, all it will do is make the Utah group strangers to me.

I don't know your business plan. I'm speaking only as an FTO user. This plan has not worked for me as a user on other sites and I doubt it will here either.
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Admin » Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:41 am

Good feedback, all. It's more than welcome.

The point I was trying to make above, and failed miserably at because I was running on only a few hours' sleep each night for a week (finally got caught up last night - woohoo!) is that FTO is hardly forum-centric in the way that other sites like AZ and Epic are. In fact, the forums serve as a means by which users exchange info, but our bread-and-butter is our news and feature content. One look at the server logs is enough to prove that point.

Spinning off a Utah-specific site allows us to focus both users and advertisers. I expect it to have minimal, if any impact upon FTO's forums because as explained poorly earlier in this thread, most of those Utah reports are coming from me anyway and as the owner I'm certainly going to double-post. However, it allows us to offer things on US&S that we can't do on a global site like FTO - live snow conditions, live weather (that product on US&S will be improved to focus on skier weather conditions by the time the season arrives), and news that otherwise wouldn't be "important" enough to publish on FTO, but works for a regional site.

Problems that I think that AZ had with COSkiing, and I know Greg so I'm making informed comment here, are:
  • He was previously operating another regional site in a far different corner of the country. Through FTO our contacts and news sources are worldwide.
  • He was trying to do it from CT. FTO, on the other hand, is already here, smack dab in the middle of the region we're concentrating on with US&S, with a presence already well established within the region's ski industry. AZ was an unknown quantity in Colorado.


So, in sum, I believe the fears of US&S having a detrimental effect on FTO's operation are unfounded. OTOH, the potential of US&S is huge.
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:16 am

JimG has fleshed out my conceptual fears with specific examples.

Since admin has promised to double post, I'm reassured about getting adequate Utah info from FTO. I can also see the point that there are so few non-admin Utah posts on FTO that if US&S attracts even a modest number of new regular posters, there might be a net gain in information.

FTO is still eastern biased. There are 78% as many western posts as eastern. If FTO were "balanced" I'd expect posts to be proportional to overall skier visits, thus about 3x as many West as East. Before admin's move FTO was 90% eastern and very marginal as a source of western info. There are still major dark spots in FTO's western reports. I don't feel I need to look anywhere else to get a good feel for eastern conditions.

Jim's post was also very illuminating in describing the habits many of us have in regularly checking for the information we want. For us nutcases it's a time consuming process and we want to streamline it to be as efficient as possible. Splintering users so that some use one site and some the other is not a good idea as demonstrated by AZ. Since admin is aware of AZ's mistakes and is based in Utah, there is a good chance that he will not repeat those mistakes.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,318K in 2010-11
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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re: UtahSkiAndSnowboard.com open for business

Postby JimG. » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:30 pm

Thanks Marc, that explained alot and I feel better about it now.

And Tony, statistician to the end, has put a new spin on my perception that FTO is western biased. Point taken.

I'm a big believer in change and trying new things. Here's to success.
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