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In anticipation of our meeting in a couple weeks, I have researched hiking sites for their procedure, if any, that permits submissions from the public. Except for thinking it should happen and be broadly accessible, I haven't laid out any formal proposal. Following is an annotated list of most of the sites I visited.
April 3, 2010
As I recall, Doug rates this site as a strong competitor with the TC based on Google search results. The site has a national presence, lists several dozen metropolitan areas, including northern NJ/metro NY. This is the second largest region - with 128 hikes listed - but far behind the LA/Orange county region at 241. It also seems small in comparison with the TC hikes database. I am not as familiar with the TC hike content as others, but I think the descriptions here are pretty thin. On the other hand, it has a rating system and appears to me to have more participation in the forums for public comments than the TC site.
Hikers making submissions must sign up first to be a "hike reporter." The site keeps track of the number of submissions from each one. But it seems to me this part of the system has broken down - follow the "reporters"link on the home page to the application form, and notice they were filled up in 2006 and only have a wait list now - for 4 years????. May be there's a lesson here.
One feature I find attractive is the "Hike rReporter User Manual" - follow the above-referenced "reporters" link. It provides important information, and instructions about how to enter data into their system through a series of "tabs."
It seems to me that once admitted as a reporter no further vetting of the hike description takes place, save thru public comments & star ratings.
Trail descriptions are relatively brief, and all appear to be from other published sources, with a copyright notation and publisher. It doesn't appear to accept public submissions.
A question that occurs to me: Are brief trail descriptions of the type here and elsewhere on the web likely to be more popular in a society that prefers the length of newspaper articles in USA Today compared to the NYT? Would an expanded "overview" field serve this purpose on the TC web hikes pages?
Hike write-ups seem to be by magazine staff or professional contract writers. I've commented favorably on this site before for their mapping and flag system. See: http://bp2.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip.aspx?tripId=14798
I thought the topic had been added to the Web Committee'sdiscussion list, but I suspect there are many other items competing for time. If we are looking for technical ways to help insure quality reporting, this could be an important tool if it'snot too expensive or cumbersome to use.
Adding a hiking trail requires filling out information in boxes and submitting it. There are some helpful choices, but the published results seem sterile to me - a little too mechanical and a "filling-in-the-boxes" feel [which, of course it is]. There must be a vetting process since you can check a box for notification when the hike is posted. The same submission formis used for a rating system - also a bit too structured. For form see:
Their link to the TC web site does not work. Actually, none of their "resources" links worked.
You must register [I didn't]. But this does raise an issue, must TC contributors register? See San Diego Hikers' policy below.
This site listed a few parks near Mahwah [I guess they knewmy zip code], and invited registered users to submit a review or a "trailguide" [presumably a hike description]. There must be little participation because the few hikes I looked at were skeletal.
This site encourages children to submit their hike stories:
The results are pretty awful [see page just above for link to the published stories]. But an interesting variation on the idea is to ask adults to write up their hikes as if an adventure. I doubt they should be mixed with the serious hikes currently on the TC - but maybe a separate feature "My Adventurous Hike." It might add some human interest and traffic to the TC site.
Hike submissions are permitted - the data entry format looks like a trimmed-down version of the TC's. The contributor is allowed to submit a hike, however once uploaded it cannot be edited unless the person registers. Does this help overcome the initial reluctance to set up an account with an organization? The site has great maps, but again brief hike descriptions.
PS: My home town. My brother lives within walking distance of Cowles Mountain[#5 on their home page top 10 list.] It's higher than the highest point in N.J. I've done it often while visiting him. I've thought about proposing a TC "'Out of Area' Region," to which TC volunteer travelers like many of us could post hikes from anywhere we were visiting. Cowles Mountain would be my first submission.
Summit County Explorer
OK, trails in this part of Colorado go to 14,000 ft plus. Cowles Mountain at 1,500 feet would be a sand hill by comparison.
This site lists slightly fewer than 50 trails. It is the most attentive one I've seen to working with potential trail contributors. The web page invites one to send an e-mail "to give us a heads-up" if a hike submission is in the works. It clearly states a desire to avoid duplicating hikes already on the site. The page also explicitly notifies contributors that the organization reserves the right to accept or deny and edit any submissions. With all this vetting, I don't think the site contains the names of the hike contributors.
Hiking in New Jersey
When I Googled "Hiking in New Jersey" this comes up on top [well #2,after the local business results]. This is a different kind of site. An individual maintained it who apparently loved hiking in NJ but has since moved away. I'd be interested in Daniel'sopinion; I think the hike descriptions are very good to excellent.
I think it worth asking the hiker if he/she is willing to post them on the TC web, or ask for a volunteer to do it once permission is granted [it is copyrighted under a Creative Commons License]. We might mine the internet for similar individually maintained sites as potential TC contributors. Related to the notion of actively recruiting contributors, there are a couple TC members who have posted a large number of hikes on the "Local Hikes" web site.
South Jersey - Pinelands & Jersey ShoreRegions
This is a neglected region. As I've noted before, the TC has no hikes in the Pinelands. More generally, it is hard to find hikes on any web site. The Pinelands Preservation Alliance,
http://www.pinelandsalliance.org/, has no apparent procedure for submission of hikes from the public - in fact no hikes are described. There is something like a parks overview at: http://www.pinelandsalliance.org/exploration/todo/hiking/. The New Jersey Pinelands Commission, http://www.state.nj.us/pinelands/pastimes/ten,offers a description of ten trails from a book that was originally copyrighted in1976 and renewed in 1983.
At the other end of regions covered by the Walk Books, there are also no hikes in the TC database for The SouthernTaconics.
Some procedure is needed to encourage hike submissions from these outlying areas.
From Phil's list I added a few to the top entry.
Backpacker is tightly tied to trimbleoutdoors. I have created a group so people can post stuff there, none yet, not annouced anywhere. It is easy to do from iPhones and Droids and most Garmins. Their cost model is completely non-obvious. For example if you want to download maps to your handheld that seems to cost a monthly subscription however they have a deal for non-profits so I applied for us over a week ago and they said they would get back in 7-10 days.
This looks attractive as one of our frequent request is for GPS data for hikes.
There are several other GPS related hike sites that have iPhone or Droid applications. I am trying to find time to play with some of these on my Droid.