Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Saying something III

Just to continue, for a moment, with the palaver about the "official" English Chess federation online forum which few people use and even fewer people like. Who actually decided to set it up anyway? Well yes, the Board of the ECF, or somebody on that Board, that much is obvious. But when did they decide, on their members' behalf, to set it up?

On the ECF website we can find an announcement from 23 June 2014 stating that the forum is up and running

and I can find at least one thread dating back to 23 June (started by the mysterious Sue Dunham, who I will assume in the absence of any contradictory information to have been an ECF official).

But when was it actually agreed to set it up? There's not much information in the ECF board minutes to help us - at least not before the unloved site was brought into being, though in the minutes for the subsequent meeting - on 15 July - there are two references, one here::

and one here.

There's also this from the meeting on 12 June, immediately prior to the launch (if that's not too grand a word):

the relevant part being
BK believes that this would be a good topic for a moderated forum
which kind of makes sense in the light of later events but is very strange in the context of the time - why is anybody talking about a "moderated forum"? There's nothing else in the minutes to explain this curious remark.

There's nothing in the minutes of the three May meetings either. But if we return to the July meeting - after the forum was set up - we can read the following reference:
the strategy meeting that led to the construction of the ECF forum
So when was that meeting and why was the decision that it apparently took not apparently recorded in the minutes of the subsequent Board meeting?

It surely should have been (isn't that what Directors' Reports and the like are for?) since the decision to create the "official" forum was both controversial and expensive. Around a thousand pounds of members' subs, per annum, is being spent [EDIT: this is not correct, see comments - ejh] on something for which there was and is no apparent demand - and which was predicted to be, and has been, the cause of conflict and rancour.

But there's no paper trail, no record, no proper procedure.


Anonymous said...

I believe the creation of the official ECF forum was an initiative of the then newly appointed Commercial Director supported presumably by at least some of the rest of the Board. If they were forced to have a forum, in their view it had to be one where they could delete comment hostile to the ECF, so it was always going to be moderated. They weren't going to be able to use Carl's ecforum because, rightly, he refused to accept ECF vetos on comment. I think the sequence was that they got the framework of the new Forum up and running first and then looked around for volunteers to be moderators.

I'm puzzled by the £ 1,000 observation. Are you sure this isn't the cost of hosting the whole ECF site, not just the discussion forum which is a relatively small subset of the comment.


Mike G said...

Roger is right about the £1,000, I think.

There is a case to be made for the ECF having its own forum. It is a reasonable method of canvassing the views of ECF members on proposed changes to its competitions, policies, procedures etc.

There is (of course) a whole history to the relationship between the ECF (Board and Council) and Carl's forum. A significant part of the Board and Council has always regarded the forum as a bad thing (if not toxic) on the grounds that it could represent a source of (sometimes ill-informed) criticism of the ECF. The issue of individual directors posting on Carl's forum presented difficulties, too. When they did this would they be regarded as representing the ECF or just themselves?

Of course, if the ECF controls the forum, then it is much easier to deal with these issues by removing troublesome posts. This means that that the ECF forum would not be a beacon of free speech and conspiracy theories but of course there is Carl's forum for that.

So isn't there a case for having two forums (fora)?

ejh said...

Thanks to Roger and Mike for the correction, I've edited to acknowledge the error.

I don't think there's any case for the ECF to have its own forum, simply because there's no demand for it. There's every reason why ECF directors shouldn't post on Carl's forum (or here for that matter) if they don't feel like it, it's a private site not an official one. And there's no doubt a case for having somewhere where ECF directors could engage in public correspondence, answer questions and so on, i.e. something much more limited than Carl's all-purpose forum.


1. This is all rather moot given the habit of some board members, including the CEO, of ignoring questions they don't like answering. People who plainly don't want to respond to public questions don't really want to be saying how they want a forum in order to communicate with the public. It's a joke.

2. The new forum was set up in order to try and close down Carl's forum. It was done as a hostile act. It wasn't an attempt to have two forums but an attempt to end up with one.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the status of Directors (and officers) posting to the ecforum, Carl was content to allow one former director to post both under his own name when speaking for himself or the numerous organisations for whom he held the voting rights and also as an ECF Director but as a different user name.

With most directors or officers also representing various organisations with voting rights at ECF meetings, allowing them to post both as themselves or organisation representatives and as ECF Directors or Officers is a reasonable compromise.