Hello EpicSki community,
I now have about ten months in the role of "Site Manager" under my belt. I know there are still mixed feelings in the community about the present direction of EpicSki and the person at the administrative helm. I've been doing my very best to keep EpicSki an online destination for dedicated skiers to find unique content. I want to state clearly from the outset of this thread that on the surface I am frankly an odd choice to be at the helm of EpicSki, so now that I've had some more experience under my belt I both wanted to clarify some things as well as listen to your feedback as we prepare for another winter. I apologize for the lengthy post, but it is difficult to summarize many years of events into a compact format.
History/Background Information (Helpful, but skip to the next subheading if you find this boring)
Firstly who am I? I grew up in central PA and started skiing at the age of 4 at Smuggler Notch in VT. My parents used to live in northern NH so every year we took a trip to ski and visit friends in New England (in addition to skiing at places like Montage Mountain and Blue Knob in PA). Life circumstances have taken me to living in the tropics of Costa Rica, admittedly an odd location for an avid skier. Still I've only missed skiing one year out of the last twenty and that was due to circumstance beyond my control. I love skiing even if I don't get to do it nearly as often as many of your or as much as I like to. For me skiing is the one of the best things in life for feeling completely unburdened from the pressures of daily life and truly feel relaxed and that I can clear my mind.
I don't have the skiing pedigree of some of the former content managers here on EpicSki. @nolo was a VP of communications for PSIA and an example I wish I could follow as an administrator and content generator. She was at the helm when I started moderating in 2011. Soon after she recruited me to be the Resorts Editor and Social Media person for EpicSki given my background in the Information Technology field (at the time I was working as a network engineer for a consulting firm).
After many years at the helm (and trust me for as good as you all saw her content in the community, she was even more amazing as an administrator in private) she was ready to hand the reigns over and @Trekchick ended up in that role. Tricia brought a different perspective to the site being involved more in the gear scene compared to Nolo's experience in ski instruction. Both Joan and Tricia were avid skiers and fantastic leaders in the community.
The vast majority of the EpicSki community (including myself) hasn't been around long enough to remember this, but before those two the first Site Manager of EpicSki was @AC. Like me he was not an industry professional, but rather someone who loved skiing much more than life circumstances permitted him to ski. As the beginning of his brief Bio on our EpicSki staff page states:
That was me. I was first recruited onto the team when Joan realized that I was doing a lot to maintain and update the Resorts pages on EpicSki in my free time. @Bob Peters guide to Jackson Hole will always be the Gold Standard and one of the very first Unofficial Guides, and I used that as a model when I created the guides to Bretton Woods and Canon Mountain which were two resorts that I took trips to ski annually. They were among the first guides here on EpicSki and with their success I ended up co-creating the Ambassador program and as a result of that work (which @Laurel Hill Crazie voluntarily continues to care for after I took over other administrative tasks) we now have guides to over 40 different resorts and it continues to expand.
Since I first accepted to take on some behind the scenes work in October 2011 (thanks again...I guess....@Cirquerider) I've slowly took on more and more of an administrative role here on EpicSki. This is where I want to really clarify a few things. EpicSki has now had four Site Managers; two were industry pros, two were not. I fall into the latter category; I love skiing, but I'm not at all the best or most knowledgeable skier here on EpicSki. I don't try to deceive or mislead anyone; I am a recreational skier who loves skiing, but I'm not an industry insider.
However this is where I feel there is a big misconception, partly because I've never explained what it is that I do as Site Manager. As a brief overview these are just some of the tasks I handle every week:
- Updating the featured content on the homepage
- Providing technical support for software bugs, forgotten passwords, questions about how to utilize the websites tools
- Welcoming all new members and helping them out
- Advertising EpicSki on Social Media to attract new users
- Working out deals with companies to donate stuff for things like the Image of the Month Contests
- Taking submissions from writers and editorializing the content for publication
- Working with the moderation team to sort out and resolve issues
As you can see almost the entirety of that list is things that in general won't be visible to the community as a whole. Apart of my posting in the forums those jobs (among others) take up 15+ hours a week; little of that has anything to do with one's abilities or enjoyment from skiing. In fact the reason that I am the "Site Manager" is entirely to do with the fact that I have a very strong technical background. I used to work with hospitals, banks, and manufacturers as an IT consultant; now I do work here on EpicSki in addition to doing web design and translation work as well as other occasional technical consulting jobs.
EpicSki at Present
I freely admit that I am not capable at all of providing the technical insights that past Site Administrators have in the past. However I do my best to provide good content for EpicSki. The two most popular articles on EpicSki this year were the "A Night in the Life of a Snow Cat Operator" and "2016/17 Multi-Pass Options"; in the case of the former I asked @BushMogulMaster to send me a rough draft and some photos which I edited and formatted into an absolutely awesome article (just to be clear it's awesome because of him, I just did the formatting). In the case of the latter I spent a day researching and writing a detailed article about the various options for multi-resort season passes. Especially when I'm just working as an editor in the case of the first article it's easy to miss that I'm actively involved in content that the community appreciates since my name doesn't show up anywhere there. I believe content creators should get the lion's share of the credit regardless of my role in editorilizing content.
At the same time I want the community to be aware of the role I play. I feel it's important to understand (read the Background info above for more details) that my role here is firstly administrative and secondly to provide content; after all as a forum community the content doesn't come from those that take on special roles (like the moderators), but rather from all of you as a whole. For example this past year we've had an Image of the Month contest. Through the winter months each month a community selected winner got free ski gear, something that used to happen frequently on EpicSki, but had been lacking in recent years. I've worked hard to recruit sponsors for that and this year I hope to have even better prizes (in November we've got two free nights stay at a place near Vail for the winner for example). I work to provide the framework, but you all provide the content. Upcoming we have an interview with James Niehues the trailmap guy that promises that I'm psyched for, and I have some other interviews I'm lining up through the winter to continue to provide great content here on EpicSki. My role in content is one of an investigative journalist more than a primary source.
I also want to mention again the important (and often thankless) role that our moderators play. They volunteer their time to help here and EpicSki is better for it. I've seen our moderation policy evolve over the years; it's still not perfect and never will be, but it's very good right now. Our moderation team does fine work and it is very appreciated. However they're not perfect (and I'm even less so), so here's what I want to hear from all of you:
Recently we listened to your feedback about some specific circumstances in the "Moving on..." thread started by @markojp which lead to some changes. I want to hear all your thoughts; what do you want from me as an administrator on EpicSki (taking into account what my role is here)? What do you want to see from the moderation team? What type of content would you like to see developed (more interviews, more contests, etc.)
For the sake of open discussion the rules are being relaxed for this thread. You may discuss administrative and moderation policy freely (for general policies, for very specific circumstances like "tylrwnzl is a clueless imbecile who should be banned from EpicSki" please PM me directly).