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[ft-l] How to fully benefit from this List
It's great to see some trip reports from relatively new posters! For a while
there I felt like I had a near monopoly on the traffic on this List. Now
that things are cookin' a bit and the weather is starting to cool down, I
thought I'd take a moment to give a brief history of this list and how we
could get more use and enjoyment out of it as we get out there and hike our
My buddy Jeff Walters is a website programming wizard. He and I had exposure
to hiking lists like this for other trails. He set up a wonderful website
for backpacking called Florida Backpacking Trailplace about 4 years ago. We
talked about the idea for a mailing list for Florida Trail hikers. Jeff had
the technical know how and created a List from within the confines of a
noncommercial ISP account. My part was to send emails to every hiker and
Florida Trail member I knew asking them to join this new list. I notified
hundreds of hikers, had cards printed up, and talked it up at chapter
meetings until we got a critical mass of subscribers. Once we got about two
dozen Listers, the List began to function as we know it today.
Unfortunately, Jeff's ISP noticed the heavy volume of emails generated from
his account and shut the list down.
Enter Ryan Brooks, who has several servers dedicated to the needs of hikers
from all of America's great long distance trails. He agreed to run the list
from his servers and from the www.backcountry.net website. He also makes
webspace available to any of us who want to post hiking pictures or journals.
And he does all of this at no cost to any of us. It is a noncommercial site
generating no revenues at all for him. It is a true labor of love for this
patron whom we all owe such a debt of gratitude.
My hat is off to Ryan and Jeff who made this all possible!
HIKING GEEKS RULE!!!! :)
As a veteran of several hiking lists I've seen the ebb and flow, the good
times and bad. When a list is functioning at its best, it can be described
as an electronic campfire, where we gather 'round and share our thoughts
after a hard day's hike. Some posts are informative. Some seek information
from more knowledgeable hikers, some share jokes and stories. Strangers are
introduced and become quick friends as the campfire works its magic. And
some engage in good natured debate about that latest piece of gear.
The true magic of any campfire is the making of new lifelong friends. And
the electronic variety is no different. That is why we owe it to ourselves
to get the word out to our hiking buddies about this list.
This list can be whatever we make it. Anything of a noncommercial nature
that instructs, questions or entertains as it relates to Florida hiking
either directly or tangentially can be posted right here for your hiking
buddies to peruse. The more posts to the lists, the more relevant the list
becomes. When a list has low volume, it lacks personality. It is a very
democratic platform. No one has a privileged position. Whether you joined
in the beginning, or yesterday, you are a full and equal member of the ft-l.
Feel free to contribute -- or not -- as your level of comfort dictates. I
can't think of anyone (perhaps with the sole exception of myself!) who has
Most lists develop a small core of active posters who generate the bulk of
the postings with a silent majority known as lurkers who chime in only when
they have a specific request, or a specific insight into a topic being
discussed. This is entirely normal and the ft-l is no different in that
regard. But when list volume gets low, each subscriber should consider
starting a topic (known as a thread in the lingo) to jump start the list in a
new direction. Sometimes a single post will generate a dozen replies and
spawn new threads that go in different directions.
Periodically, as subscribers come and go, it is appropriate for each
subscriber to post a little biographical sketch which normally causes a burst
of new list activity. Since it is the start of the hiking season here in
Florida maybe we could all take a moment to do that now.
Another thing we could all do is to tell our hiking friends about this list.
Generally, the more list members there are, the more enjoyable and
informative the list is. Take a moment at your chapter meetings to tell FTA
members about the list. People who swore a couple years ago that they saw no
need for a computer are joining the information superhighway everyday. Each
of us needs to get the word out. How about a blurb giving the
www.backcountry.net website address in your chapter newsletter?
If we can get all the section leaders aboard, what a wonderful information
exchange the list could be for maintainers and hikers! We already get more
timely trail development info here on the list courtesy of Kent Wimmer in
Tallahassee. In many ways this list is an instantaneous statewide
newsletter. Let's get our chapter leadership to plug in.
That's not to say that this list is an organ of the FTA. That won't happen.
Early on, there was some grumbling heard from some in the leadership simply
because this is an unregulated communication tool outside their control, and
they feared it to some extent. But I think as more of us understand just
what this list is about, we find that any such fear is misplaced. Have you
told your chapter leadership about the list, and what you get from it? And
if you are in leadership at the state or chapter level, have you communicated
your experiences to your peers around the state? Should the list be talked
up at regional and state conferences?
In summary, I hope I've given you some food for thought. I guess you can
tell that I'm an advocate for a broader ft-l membership with more active
postings. Cyberhiking can be a very positive force for good. I wanted you
all to see how this list works and how with a little effort on our parts we
can make it even better. I hope I succeeded in some measure.