scouts-l Mail Archive for June of 2000: Pubs on "The Web"
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blkeagle@USSCOUTS.ORG
Sat Jun 10 2000 - 18:59:43 CDT
Randall Reed earlier wrote something that I wanted to save for this
weekend. He wrote in part:
>Have you ever noticed that there is practically nothing of real value on
the national >BSA website?
To ME, Randall, there's a LOT of value on the BSA's official website. For
starters, every time I want to look up where a local Council is located, I
can always go first to the BSA's official directory (which they maintain
each month; a lot more reliable than my old directory, and about twice as
efficient as looking at a spreadsheet I got from someone (I can't recall
who provided that tool to all of us!) and then cross-referencing it from
either a map of that state or the USPS's website!).
Then, there's the online editions of _Scouting_, which while not as
complete as the glossy version I get in the mail or can read at the local
library, is just as good as far as content is concerned. All of the
important stories, features and news are placed right there on the website
for me and others to find...and to provide additional ways of online research.
Then, there's copies of all of the BSA's current fact sheets. I had to in
the past call the External Communications Division and beg for a set of the
fact sheets (I'm putting you on a bit...I didn't have to beg, but I had to
ask really nicely....and it did get a little tired when I asked for these
things once a year to "stay current"). Now, all I have to do is to turn on
my color printer, and there they go...
Of course, the site doesn't answer ALL of the questions that a family or
volunteer wants answered...that's why the BSA has local Councils and
professional and volunteers at that level to answer those questions and
inquiries. But for a corporate site, while maintaining their mission of
providing information DIRECTLY through the four Regions to each Council,
the site works. I did NOT SAY that it's "GREAT!", nor did I say that I
LOVE THE SITE.
Only that it is functional. It meets my needs as a Scouter.
>And they have hundreds of pamphlets, fliers, and training programs
>can't help but it is to (a) protect their cash flow, and (b) keep the
>volunteers like mushrooms.
Let's look at your sentence.
First, the BSA DOES have hundreds of pams, fliers and training programs.
That's a fact. What is missing from what you said is that the BSA MAKES
THESE ITEMS AVAILABLE TO ALL LOCAL COUNCILS. So, if they are already
available from your Council, why are we wasting space on a server (I know,
I know...pennies a Megabyte!) for those SAME items??
"Then we can get rid of the paper copies." That's true to a point. We are
STILL not to a point whereby EVERYONE has universal access to a personal
computer fast enough, "smart enough" and with the right "accessories" to
download an entire training package from a website. That's fact. Maybe in
another five or ten years, but NOT in 2000. Even if we were to tell people
to "go to their library and download this stuff", every page of printed
material COST MONEY. So, we're back at the "paper copies" and versions of
You imply that the reason why the BSA doesn't have those things on their
website is to "protect their cash flow". Okay, you got me on that. The BSA
does have a cash flow which is generated in part from the sales of BSA
materials. The cash flow supports the National programming efforts. So,
you have to make a decision: do you want to participate in a National Order
of the Arrow Conference, a National Scout Jamboree, and four or five
National outdoor adventure bases....or do you want free publications?
But your implication that "it's to keep us (the volunteers) like mushrooms"
is false. You can purchase ANY of the BSA's training or support materials,
or request the ones for free (the Bin items, which are those items which
start with a program number (like 22-xxx or 41-xxx) DIRECTLY from the
division or program area at National. The only things they will NOT give
you are the guides and materials aimed specifically at professionals (and
if you asked your professional, he or she will probably have copies of
those items in a binder beside or behind their desk, gathering dust on
it...and will probably GIVE them to you - (or make a copy for you).
And there's a BSA publication called the "Library of Literature" that you
can request and order from the BSA's Supply Division. It has all of the
most common publications, booklets, cards, holders, etc. that you or anyone
else can obtain. With the prices clearly listed.
> In this day and age, why not put every stinkin' BSA rule and reg on line?
Could it >be that information is power and the professionals have a vested
interest in >maintaining that power.
Got news for you...it's not just the professionals that are "maintaining
Which rules and regs do you want online?? The BSA already has the Guide to
Safe Scouting on their site...that's the motherlode. With time, the
Advancement Guidelines will be ported to a website somewhere and there's
already official and unofficial versions of the Insignia Guide. The
problem is, Randall, the "rules and regs" don't mean a THING unless each
and every local Council puts into writing their own "localized spin" on
those rules and regs.....every local Council can take those rules and
policies (except for those very few which apply to ALL Councils
equally--they are in bold type in the Guide to Safe Scouting, for instance)
and adapt them to the area of the nation or world in which THEY and their
Scouts and Venturers and Scouters live in. And they don't have to "write it
down" for us to understand....
There are some BSA rules and policies...the Charter and Bylaws and the
Rules and Regulations of the BSA...that do NOT belong on an internet
website...run by the corporation (the BSA) nor by private individuals.
Period. You don't see IBM's or Junior Achievement or even a local church's
full bylaws on a website. Those things are best available for individual
review and reading. It's NOT that the BSA doesn't want you nor I to know
what their national rules and policies are....they make a grand effort
toward telling your Council what their policies and rules are....it's just
that in THEIR EYES, everyone having access to every part of their operation
is allowing for their competition to also have access to every part of
Those interested in getting copies of those two publications can talk with
their Council Scout Executive, who will have his or her secretary to make
you a copy, or will sign the form which authorizes you to order it directly
from National for $7.00 for both items.
>I think the profusion of unofficial BSA websites is a flat acknowledgement
that >national BSA does not want to respond to the information age by
publishing >needed information on the web.
You haven't given me nor anyone else specifics about what information
you're talking about. What "needed information" is not already available
from the BSA's website that you want to see on their website??
Remember that much, if not the majority, of the information on the various
unofficial sites are based upon the people who either created it or
maintains those sites...and that the information does NOT neccessarily
reflect the exact stance of the BSA in any case...it's all "great to know
information" and some information based upon what people have heard, seen
or experienced in the past or present. For the most part, it is NOT BSA
"policy information" unless it has a specific reference to a BSA
publication or item.
Once again, for those just joining us: The BSA desires to send information
DIRECTLY from their national offices through the four Regional offices and
downward to each local Council. The local Council has the dual mission of
interpreting and examining the information and then deciding what
information gets to which volunteers when. That's how the information flow
has been since the BSA established local Councils, and that's how even with
the Internet and websites and fax machines, how they want this information
to flow even today. The BSA sends your Council information -- lots of it
-- the vast majority of it between the first and eight day of each calendar
It is NOT "national" that is restricting your flow of information; it is
YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL which has either decided to ignore, sit on, or
distribute the information to you and other volunteers. They decide how
best to do it, they do it (or not), and you either get the information or
Forums like Scouts-L spang up in part because SOME Councils were NOT
distributing information, or distributing it after the fact in some cases;
while other Councils not only have distributed the information but also
have explained it enough to their volunteers that they understand the
impact of the information....it has been a good way to "provide a reality
check" on your Council....not without it's problems, but still to do so.
As we move into better ways of distributing information, your Council will
STILL get that information through the "Council pouch" each month, but the
"pouch" may be electronically generated instead of a FedEx or RPS box or
boxes each month. It will STILL be up to your Council as to whether or not
they release the information to you....and when...and to whom specifically
will get this information...and why...
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
[Purchase Your Binder! for Scouting's Y2K's publications!]
personal inquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
professional inquiries via email@example.com
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