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Feedback Requested: the Routes Database
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Partner j_ung


Oct 16, 2008, 3:08 PM
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Feedback Requested: the Routes Database
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I'm at the very beginning of the process of making improvements to the Route Database, namely collecting feedback. I'll also consult a lot of other folks, including DDT, sangiro, Tim (where the hell is Tim?), and the Gossamer developers. This will be a long process involving research, budget concerns and, I'm sure, plenty of frustration on my part. But hey, we have to start somewhere, so what say we get crackin' with a good old fashioned free-wheeling brainstorm?

Let me hear what you think of RC.com's RDB. Nothing is off limits. Nothing is out of the question. What works for you? What doesn't? What functionality do you think should stay? What should go? What should we add?

PS - I know this is the wrong forum, but I feel it needs front-page billing. I'll move it to S&F further down the road. I'm signing off for the evening, BTW. I'll check back in tomorrow.


elvislegs


Oct 16, 2008, 3:50 PM
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Re: [j_ung] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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i can't remember but i don't think there's an ascent option for longer routes which allows you to mark a route as 'followed' or 'swapped leads'. it's not a big deal, and you can always say it in the comments, but top-rope and redpoint are more cragging terms. long routes are special.

also, (and this may be akin to wishing for flying cars) i think it would be cool to have some sort of open source topo-drawing tool as a part of the RDB. i'm nearly certain that such a thing does not exist, but it could. then topos could be added to, corrected, and edited something like the ratings and descriptions are right now.

also, some flying cars would be awesome.


altelis


Oct 16, 2008, 3:58 PM
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Re: [j_ung] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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i think what gets me the most turned off.....are naked hairy, oh wait....wrong thread


what turns me off from using the RDB the most is that there is no central list of crags/cliffs/routes.

if you know the name of a crag for instance but aren't sure where in the state it is sometimes it can be hard to find (sometimes b/c its listed wrong...but sometimes not). YES, quick non-RC.com research (like google maps) is an option, but if you want more people to use the RDB why not make it one stop shopping?

secondly, a compiled list of crags/cliffs/routes will let you find perhaps the name of a crag that was eluding your memory if you remember a route on it, or if you are in one of the more obscure locals (which is an area that i think the RDB is MOST useful for- if you are going somewhere well known beta/guidebook/free topo is easy to find) there are only some-what agreed upon cliff names.

basically, what i'm saying is i would love to see a cross-referenced RDB where there is not only ONE search algorithm for finding a crag/cliff/route.




AND MAD PROPS FOR TAKING ON THIS PROJECT- JUST CHIME IN AND ASK IF THERE IS ANYTHING WE (I) CAN DO TO HELP!!!!


Arrogant_Bastard


Oct 16, 2008, 4:02 PM
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I don't know if I could provide an unbiased opinion. I've used the MP.com DB so much that it is familiar, so anything else seems inferior.

That said, I think the primary lacking is the search capabilities. MPs is quite powerful, searching by grade, type, sub areas, etc. The little pulldown that highlights how many climbs are of a certain type (eg trad) is awesome when checking out unfamiliar areas.

I think the cosmetics are far better on MP, but that is probably mostly bias. I like the main pages for each sub area, with 1 main photo and a brief description. Being able to comment on an area, as opposed to a route itself is nice. I also like that you can comment on a route, but it's not necessarily part of the 'tic list'. The comments tend to be more related to the climb, issues, gear, etc.

I don't know why, but it seems that people on here love to use the PG-13 safety rating. I find it annoying and seems to mostly be used by people working up the elementary grades that finally did a climb you can't protect every linear inch. I say get rid of that whole rating, it's contrived.

Things that MP lacks that you could build on:

you already fixed the stars, I like the 5 star system much better than 4.

It would be nice to have some sort of 'beta switch' so if people want to talk gear, or specific beta, cruxes of climbs etc they could check it as beta. If someone doesn't want to see it, they won't.

This has been passed around a lot, so I don't think there's an easy solution. But often people put up routes and are either just terrible writers, or impatient, or haven’t even done the damn climb. Some people are determined to use the shotgun approach and spray up any climb in an area that they just visited. You end up with climb after climb of “fun looking crack”, “crack to face climbing”, “climbs the arête”, etc. Some form of Wiki would be awesome, or perhaps a voting system (Bring back the poo!) where shitty entries (pun intended) could get opened up so that someone who wishes to put some actually useful information in, could.

Some sort of function that allows me to climb harder would be nice too.


knieveltech


Oct 16, 2008, 4:03 PM
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Re: [j_ung] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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More detailed options regarding ascent type wouldn't be bad for the climbing log. As far as the actual route database is concerned, I'm of the opinion that overhauling it so people can post up serious beta and attach pictures with as much of the info as possible on a single page (a la MP) would be the way to go, in hopes of getting actual useful beta or topo shots out of people instead of the current cutesy star rating and the obligatory "I climbed it! Yays!" blurb under comments. Then again that might just be a community thing. *shrug* Good luck in any case, the route db could definitely use some love.


Arrogant_Bastard


Oct 16, 2008, 4:03 PM
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Re: [altelis] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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altelis wrote:
if you know the name of a crag for instance but aren't sure where in the state it is sometimes it can be hard to find (sometimes b/c its listed wrong...but sometimes not). YES, quick non-RC.com research (like google maps) is an option, but if you want more people to use the RDB why not make it one stop shopping?

A clicky map would be fricken sweet.


altelis


Oct 16, 2008, 4:04 PM
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Re: [Arrogant_Bastard] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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ooh, ooh- i want a clicky map too!


Arrogant_Bastard


Oct 16, 2008, 4:06 PM
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Re: [Arrogant_Bastard] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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Oh, and if you could export your db info (with one click) to say an Excel file so that whenif this site goes down you could have a backup, people might actually be encouraged to sit down and fill out their climbing log (yes Curt, we know, you've climbed thousands of climbs and can't rememberdon't want to waste the time filling those in).

Also, as praise, I think the little charts and whatnot are pretty cool on the present system.


Arrogant_Bastard


Oct 16, 2008, 4:12 PM
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Perhaps you could also add an attribute to climbs so you could identify any routes that have convenience anchors. Then, with the map function, you could print out a handy travel map for an area, say… like Joshua Tree, that shows you all the places you can go to chopclimb on convenience anchors.


sungam


Oct 16, 2008, 4:17 PM
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Two points:
1) when you add a new route, it should automatically have the route number filled in as being after the most recent one. This would make adding all the routes to a new area much easier.
2)streamlining. Instead of sending you back to the main page or whatever when you add a new section or whatnot, it should send you straight to the section you just added.


asiaclimber


Oct 16, 2008, 4:38 PM
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thirds on the map. check out this webpage on the lower left side that map was on eof the most helpful tools i had in korea. http://www.koreaontherocks.com/
if you could do something like that for the world it would be amazing.


macblaze


Oct 16, 2008, 4:48 PM
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What's it really for? As noob I assumed it was to help us find place to climb. But getting the info out is a real pain in the ass. It was pointed out to me that if I could print out entire areas with one click then the good folks working on the guide books would suffer and I appreciate that, but maybe some kind of compromise?

Last time I went to use it, I printed out scads of badly formatted pages and only when I hit the crag did I find out from a local that there was a hand done guide available at the Vahlalla Pure (30 miles away in the next town mind you). I totally would have bought it if I'd known.

At least let's see if we can list the appropriate guide books with publisher/contact info. That way I can print out one or two climbs and still know where to go looking for the real thing.


sungam


Oct 16, 2008, 4:54 PM
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Re: [macblaze] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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macblaze wrote:
At least let's see if we can list the appropriate guide books with publisher/contact info. That way I can print out one or two climbs and still know where to go looking for the real thing.
There's already a space for this, I think.


Arrogant_Bastard


Oct 16, 2008, 4:59 PM
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macblaze wrote:
What's it really for? As noob I assumed it was to help us find place to climb. But getting the info out is a real pain in the ass. It was pointed out to me that if I could print out entire areas with one click then the good folks working on the guide books would suffer and I appreciate that, but maybe some kind of compromise?

It's for us desk jockeys to live vicariously through between 8 and 5, M-F.

This topic has been beat to death, but to sum up the key points; it's not to replace guide books, it's merely a supplement. It can provide more up to date info on climbs, more beta (if desired), and it's search engine compatible. It can give you insight to areas to see if you want to travel there. It's pretty to look at all the nice pictures of people climbing while you sit at a desk.

I have printed out sheets for small areas, first visits to places, or tic lists. If I plan on spending any appreciable amount of time somewhere (more than a weekend) I buy the guidebook. Usually I'll buy the guidebook regardless.


Valarc


Oct 16, 2008, 5:03 PM
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Integration with google maps would be my number 1 priority. I should be able to put in my address and show a map of every climbing destination in the database within X miles.

Next up on the list would be a more topo-oriented design. Specifically, I'd like to see an option to build interactive topos - drawings or pictures of areas with clicky labels that take you to the description/ascents of a climb.

Think a Dr. Topo guidebook picture, where each number on the map is clickable. In fact, RC.com should partner up with as many free topo oriented websites as possible and get permission to use their topos here, so things can be consolidated in one place (with links back to the original site for printable versions, so the site owners are getting something out of the deal).


a-e-jones


Oct 16, 2008, 5:14 PM
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defenitly work something out with google maps something like http://bleau.info/ has would be perfect for finding local craigs


sungam


Oct 16, 2008, 5:14 PM
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Re: [Arrogant_Bastard] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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Arrogant_Bastard wrote:
tic lists. If I plan on spending any appreciable amount of time somewhere (more than a weekend) I buy the guidebook.
Here's an idea- having a wee section that gives a "visitor's guide" to people who are only stopping by. Tell them a little dab of history, the area classics, and any advice on anything else I didn't think of.


Arrogant_Bastard


Oct 16, 2008, 5:17 PM
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Re: [sungam] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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sungam wrote:
Arrogant_Bastard wrote:
tic lists. If I plan on spending any appreciable amount of time somewhere (more than a weekend) I buy the guidebook.
Here's an idea- having a wee section that gives a "visitor's guide" to people who are only stopping by. Tell them a little dab of history, the area classics, and any advice on anything else I didn't think of.

It wouldn't work, someone would have to write all that crap. Besides, if they can't find the area classics by using a search engine then shouldn't they be here, online, making a new thread to see what shoes or rope they should buy instead of out climbing something?

MP can print out little guidebooks by sub-area.


the_climber


Oct 16, 2008, 5:20 PM
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You really need to add a "FA" option to the list... for both adding routes to the database, and for the "these are the routes I've done list"


MikeSaint


Oct 16, 2008, 5:35 PM
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Re: [the_climber] Feedback Requested: the Routes Database [In reply to]
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This will sound mean but here it goes:

Get rid of the shitty 'topo pictures.'

So many of the pictures on the DB are repeats to the point of five full pages or just terrible.. useless topos.

I also agree on the swapping leads comment.

Edit: Maybe not delete (pictures) but put somewhere out of the way? I realize there is no purge of old posts per se... a lot of the Regional Discussion threads are way old and redundant serving no purpose but to clutter the screen


(This post was edited by MikeSaint on Oct 16, 2008, 5:39 PM)


sungam


Oct 16, 2008, 5:36 PM
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A good point, but maybe the option to add something in could be there. Maybe you could just add it to the info page or something.


macblaze


Oct 16, 2008, 6:39 PM
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Arrogant_Bastard wrote:
If I plan on spending any appreciable amount of time somewhere (more than a weekend) I buy the guidebook. Usually I'll buy the guidebook regardless.

So doI, but I've found a lot of the guide books to small little areas only exist in the local souvenir shop in the small little area's nearest town. I seriously considered going into online/internet guidebook selling as a service to the community after my last trip through Southern Alberta and BC. I bought at least 2 books on the day I left the area because I finally found them. Maybe this is a service RC.com could fulfill...


lena_chita
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Oct 16, 2008, 7:58 PM
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What I do like:

-- various charts Angelic they could be made more detailed (such as separating trad and sport into separate categories-- right now there is separate tabs for bouldering, ice/mixed, and everything else). There could be more detailed options added for recordkeeping, as other poeple mentioned, as well as some sort of export capability. But these are all cosmetic, IMO.

--GeoLocation search-- very nice feature.

What I don't like: lack of standardization--below are some examples.

--the Geolocation search can only find areas that have coordinates entered-- and not all areas have that.

-- the beta for the areas -- approach, topos, etc. is VERY sparce and sketchy. This is especially vexing for smaller crags where there aren't necessarily guidebooks available. I understand that some areas are kept under wraps for various reasons-- access issues, egos, private, whatever. That's fine-- just don't list them at all. But if the area IS listed in the database, I would like to be able to go to the database, find the crag by Geosearch, and be able to figure out exactly how to get there, and how to find the climbs that are listed.

-- there is no rhyme or reason in how the routes are listed. Same routes listed several times, sometimes under the same crag name, sometimes they would be listed under different crags in the same region; routes are listed in random or alphabetical order, instead of matching the topos, left to right, etc.

-- there is no way to do a search by grade, by type of climb, date of FA, etc.



Basicly, the database that I like best is something like redriverclimbing.com online guidebook. But I realize that in order to have every area maintained as well as that you need someone as dedicated and as familiar with the area as Ray is in charge of each area. But there you have all pies and charts for your log, as well as maps and detailed approach info for all areas, and in addition you can quickly see which routes were just added (since there is so much development going on at the Red), see everyone opinion on the difficulty as well as the quality of the route in neat little charts, have pictures of the route and all comments visible, all neatly on one page, without clicking on many different links.


shockabuku


Oct 16, 2008, 8:45 PM
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Biggest improvement I could see would be a point and click map to help locate areas in addition to the current method of organization. Truthfully I have a hard time finding areas that are almost in my own backyard the way they're organized right now.


salamanizer


Oct 16, 2008, 9:07 PM
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Some really good suggestions on this thread.

I'll add one.

How about the ability to give certain people (who ask permission first) the ability to go in and change, delete, re-arrange and otherwise clean up areas that they are really familiar with?

As it is, you have to submit the change you wish to add via PM then wait weeks for it to take effect. Usually, I don't even bother because explaining a simple change to someone is not always that simple.

Ooh, I'd also like to endorce the clicky map thingy.

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