My goal is to continue improving DCSki. The addition of this Message Forum is one obvious new feature for the 1999/2000 winter season. What other types of things would you like to see me add?
The following is on my "to-do" list:
- Add a powerful search engine. I'm developing this from the ground up, so it's not something I can finish overnight, but I hope to have something running soon.
- Round out coverage to include all resorts in Pennsylvania. Currently, I cover southern Pennsylvania resorts. I'd like to include some of the northern ones so I have complete coverage of PA, MD, WV, and VA.
- Add a "Go West" (and/or "Go North") section, including information about resorts outside of the D.C. area (but written from a Mid-Atlantic perspective). This would be useful to readers planning non-local trips, and would also allow readers to submit comments on non-local resorts to be included in profiles.
One thing I have considered is adding a section that provides current statistics for all local resorts - number of trails open, base depth, lifts operating, etc. Unfortunately, this isn't as easy to do. I have investigated buying this service from a data provider, but the cost is prohibitive, at least for this season. I could try updating the data manually, but it's of no use unless it's completely up to date (and I'm likely to miss a day or two!) Would this type of feature be useful? DCSki tries to provide a lot more than simple statistics - such as candid, firsthand condition reports and background information. There are certainly other sites that offer the raw statistics (such as official resort web sites), but it would be nice to have everything in one centralized place.. So I keep going back and forth on this one.
Suggestions for other features (or feedback on the proposed features I've listed) would be welcome!
The closer the trail map matches the trail
open listing on the daily report, the happier
we all will be.
I've found that the ski resorts themselves are pretty honest and forthcoming in this area. Most want repeat business and don't want a visitor to feel misled about conditions or the amount of terrain that's really open.
About your idea of providing resort conditions and trail openings. Perhaps you could nest a link to site that provides these inside a frame within your page? This way readers won't be wisked away from you site when they click the link. I'm unsure of the legality of this, but it might be worth looking into as it would allow you to have this feature and not spend an inordinate amount of time monitoring the stats.
1. A "ride" board for those who need or can provide transport. Many folks, especially in downtown DC, do not have cars. For those of us who have space, we could provide a worthwhile service.
2. EMailing conditions from the ski area to reflect actual stuff instead of the pipe dream pictured by the resorts. I travel with a palm pilot and a modem and can send/receive email anywhere.
BTW - Scott, you already know this from my off-list emails, but I think you are doing a GREAT job and provide a WONDERFUL service for skiers, boarders, and other winter fun lovers like myself.
I've been on the vwVortex UBB for some time, and there is no replacement for user traffic to generate good, intelligent discussion.
Give out [b]free stickers[/b] that we can plaster all over the lift poles at Liberty and Whitetail.
Have a readers pic's section. Let me tell you, I'm going to be taking [i]lots[/i] of pic's of my buddies and me shredding it up with my new digicam.
Start a DC Ski Club. We could meet up at local resorts and party together.
Have an on-line DC Ski Bikini contest. Everyone loves some skin!
How about a place where folks can put their pics up (got this season pics from SNOWSHOE and LIBERTY)!!! Real riderz on real conditions!
Some DCSKI stickers would be nice to spred around and put the word out! This place really needs some traffic...
And of course the DCSKI bikini contest is the best idea I heard here yet!
Thanks for the suggestions.
(1) I'm always trying to get the word out about DCSki. DCSki is now getting up to 12,000 hits per day, which is pretty significant for a web site. The message forum is new this year and continues to gain in popularity.
(2) Although I appreciate the enthusiasm, I'm afraid I can't endorse posting DCSki bumper stickers! The best way to get people to DCSki is to publicize DCSki in on-line venues, because then it's just a click away. If you visit other ski sites, please feel free to suggest that they add a link to DCSki. I'd be willing to add a reciprocal link on DCSki to their site.
(3) I'd be happy to add a section on DCSki where readers can submit pictures - great idea! If anyone has any pictures they've taken that they'd like to submit to get this section started, just send me an e-mail. i'm also always looking for firsthand reports from skiers and boarders.
(4) As for starting a ski club, the D.C. area is blessed with a wide variety of ski clubs already that are very active. Most of them are listed on the DCSki Ski Clubs page (www.dcski.com/skiclubs/skiclubs.shtml). They're always looking for more members, and I don't think there's any gaps that need filling.
I would like to see you include the other PA ski areas as they are as close as those in WV.
Your idea about current conditions is good. What you might consider is just adding a colume in you resort profiles that is a link to that resorts current conditions link. All of them post that and the slopes currently open. Of course some are better than others.
Also, thumbs down on the bikini contest. There's enough of that on other sites. I have passed your website on to a lot of skiers, all with families.
Sure, but it's not necessary. I can go to http://www.aminews.com/ or other sites to get reports of conditions, so there's no need for you to spend money to duplicate what they already do.
DCSki tries to provide a lot more than simple statistics - such as candid, firsthand condition reports and background information.
This is your strength - the ability to offer firsthand reports. At 6 AM, I can check you and Aminews to make my decision. Don't worry about telling me how things are in Utah, since going there is not a spur of the moment decision.
There are certainly other sites that offer the raw statistics (such as official resort web sites)
However one improvement would be to delete some of the forum threads that are now outdated. Those that apply only to last year's conditions are no longer needed.
Maybe you could also archive some of the bigger threads that started last year and now have 20-30 responses so you dont have to look down a long page to see the latest response.
Just a thought.
Thanks for the recent suggestions.
(1) I just modified the Message Forum so the most recent messages in a thread are shown at the top of the page (i.e., reverse chronological order.) I know not everyone will like this - I guess I'll wait until someone asks if it can be chronological order, and toggle it back. And continue this. (Hey, at least I'll look responsive!)
(2) I just added an Equipment Classifieds forum.
(3) I will be posting an article soon about how to ski cheap in the D.C. area, with info on the best deals, etc. I may add a section to the site that tracks the best deals on an on-going basis.
(4) I'd prefer not to delete past threads as there is often useful info in them (and some people arrive at DCSki via a search engine search that hits on a thread.) My experience is that it's fairly easy to stay up to date with the latest threads just by looking at the main DCSki page, which lists most recent threads. (The change in (1), listing most recent threads first, may help also.)
And in reply to some older requests/comments..
(5) I'm still hesitant to show raw, daily statistics for resorts such as trail counts, etc., partly because there's no economical way for me to do this. (This type of feed costs thousands of dollars a season, and let's just say I'd rather not spend the majority of my annual revenue on this!) I'd be curious to hear thoughts on this - would you prefer to get the daily statistics on DCSki or are you happy getting it from sites such as AMINews? DCSki will continue to provide "value added" and candid condition reports - that's the strength of DCSki.
(6) I'm also struggling with weather on DCSki - it works, but not as elegantly as I'd like. I'm investigating some other options. Do you guys and gals like seeing the current conditions on the main page of DCSki? Or do you get your weather from some other site?
(7) Again, cleaning out some earlier requests: DCSki now covers every major ski area in Pennsylvania, instead of just the southern ones.
(That information is stored in a database, which I can easily pull and insert into an e-mail message. The actual body of the article is not in the database, so sending that would be more difficult.)
I try to organize a group ride every week and I'm always looking for ways to broadcast group rides to others. It's a blast to get a large group together to hit the singletrack.
Here's an idea for an improvement. Throughout all the forums, people will give firsthand reports on the local conditions after they've been. However, they are not too organized if someone wants to find it fast.
Maybe you can set up a place for each mountain under local resort discussions that would have only the mountains and someone's recent reports. Each year, you could wipe that clean and start it fresh.
For trip reports that are published as regular articles (such as the Seven Springs report Jim Kenney just wrote), those are tagged by resort and can be listed in a couple ways. If you go to a resort profile, there's a section that lists recent articles related to that resort, or you can search for articles specific to a given resort from the News Vault. But it would be nice to have a way to quickly view trip reports - regardless of whether they're posted as articles or message forum postings - for a specific resort, so I'll see what I can do.
In terms of setting up a listserv, a little-known secret is that DCSki actually has one - but it hasn't been utilized in about a year, and was set up as an announcement-only listserv. (I compiled a text-only DCSki Newsletter and sent it to the list every week or so.)
Here's a question, though: what benefits would a listserv offer over the web-based DCSki Message Forum? I tend to think that the Message Forum offers the same interactivity of a listserv, but with a nicer interface. (For example, it's much easier to look at older message threads, and there is much better organization of messages.) E-mail is more streamlined, although I don't know about you folks - I get about 20-30 spams a day (no joke). Thank goodness for junk mail filtering.
Thanks for the feedback and suggestions - keep 'em coming.