Friday, 22 February 2008

Channels of Comunications

2008 is an Olympiad year, which means that the ACF goes through the motions of organising an Olympiad Appeal. Before that however, they appoint an Olympiad Appeal Coordinator. This year the thankless job has fallen to CAQ stalwart, Ian Murray.
But what interested me most about this piece of information is how the ACF communicated it to its membership. One of the criticisms of the ACF (from both myself and others) is that it does a very poor job of informing the Australian chess playing public of decisions made at it's own council meetings. I suspect the "official" channels are the ACF Email Newsletter (which comes out every fortnight) and the ACF's own website (which still lists Brett Tindall as the Olympiad Appeal Coordinator). So how did I (and others) find out about this news? While the news of the appointment hasn't been "officially" released, at least 2 ACF officials were happy to use the news to "have a go" at other chess players, as part of some ongoing disagreements.
I don't know what others might think, but I regard this as unprofessional, especially as the ACF closely guards its own internal communications, both restricting who has access to them, and trying to restrict their publication on external forums.

*BTW the PNG Olympiad team seems to have less difficulty with its Olympiad appeal. Basically the selected players donate about $3,000 each and that seems to cover our airfares and expenses.


DeNovoMeme said...

Thanks Shaun for pointing out the hypercritical leaking of information by ACF officials.

When Kevin Bonham admonished me for not knowing that a Coordinater had already been appointed, I thought, "I should read the ACF email Bulletin more closely." But no! LOL

Kevin, the individual is not smarter than the group - the group will find you out. LOL See ya at this typical OzChess thread of honesty

Anonymous said...

Well, well, well - the edentate rottweiler has taken another opportunity to display his lack of comprehension. But he is irrelevant to Australian chess so let's move to the real issue.

I read your blog a piquant mixture of curiousness and mild amusement.

First, as you well know, the CAF comprises volunteers - amateurs in the best sense of the word - so it follows that all that they do will be unprofessional. That was the amusung bit.

Oh, but that's not what I mean you will say.

Then what do you mean? And this is the curious bit.

Was it wrong for me to mention on Chess Chat that Ian had been appointed less than 24 hours after Gary W had told the Council? Note that I am not official speaker for the ACF Council or its Newsletter Editor any more. So did ACF Secretary Jey Hoole in some way act improperly? Should the ACF have told you personally as an ACF member of the decision. Should the ACF have put out a National press release to the news hungry Australian people? Should The ACF have issued a special newsletter just for this?

None of these seems very likely so what, again, did you mean?

I believe that the truth of the matter is that people are criticised as being "unprofessional" when somebody wants to bag them but doesn't really know why.

Denis Jessop

Anonymous said...

Denis. In this internet age we all criticise people who cannot communicate. Let us be quite clear it is the responsibility of the ACF President Gary Wastell to arrange for the world to be told of appointments. Not next week or next month but on the day it happens. Otherwise the ACF will continue to be acused of being a secret society.

Why not appoint some professionals to make sure the news is published daily, maybe via the ACF website!

Brian Jones

Shaun Press said...

I don't want the ACF to treat me as special, I am asking the ACF to treat everyone as special. This means that the ACF should have a method of communicating its decisions and actions to the chess playing public. If that method is the ACF Newsletter then the ACF should ensure it is produced consistently (eg no long gaps between publication), and if that also means there is a delay of up to fortnight before the information is "officially" released then councillors should refrain from using this "inside information" as a stick to beat their opponents.
If the newsletter is for the communication of "official" ACF council decisions (and is just for the publication of general chess news) then the ACF should make its minutes available through some other medium (ie web page or blog). Indeed setting up a blog takes no more than half an hour, a task that the "volunteer" secretary should be capable of.
As for the use of the word "unprofessional", this was me finding the most polite way of putting my opinion across. When we next meet in person I am happy to explain to you what (pejorative) terms "unprofessional" served as a replacement for.

Shaun Press said...

If the newsletter is notfor the communication of "official" ACF council decisions ...

is the correct sentence (Comments cannot be edited in blogger)

Libby said...

Nope. I can't find that volunteer = amateur. I can find it equals:

"1. a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking.

2. a person who performs a service willingly and without pay." among others. But not the amateur bit.

I can find that "amateur" has the unflattering-for-the-ACF-to-describe-themselves-as-such definition (among others) of:

"3. a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity."

I've argued this "professional" idea before. Volunteers shouldn't have to be perfect - few who are paid can even claim that and some who are paid are well away from perfection - but being a volunteer isn't a license to be "unprofessional." In the sense that "professional" can have nothing to do with remuneration and instead be:

"Having or showing great skill; expert."

One hopes this is strived for.

Personally - the announcement bit - something of a non-issue for me. Why does it look a bit "ordinary" for lack of a "toothier" word? (little edentate reference there)

It looks a bit average because of the context. Make the announcement. Even make it on Chess Chat. But make it in the Olympiad Appeal thread or in a new thread. And make it in the context of an announcement. Not in the context of a cross-forum brawl.

And understand the point that was made in the first place. You opened this up by suggesting that a committee vacancy = a lack of interest. As the ACF has itself struggled to fill vacancies, sometimes for extended periods and even to the detriment of communication with members (ie the newsletter's inactivity and sporadic activity) - an inability to fill a vacancy is not always an example of people not giving a stuff.

I still don't understand why it was impossible for the ACF to contact CV in October to simply say - "your bid is a bit on the crap side, fix it by January or we go elsewhere." Why did it take until December? Why would the ACF want it to waddle around that long?

It was obviously easy to go elsewhere because of this:

"SACA had given me an informal expression of interest in holding the event (possibly even while I was still ACF President in 2006, I don't recall)"

Although this leaves me wondering again about the ACF procedures and what form an "expression of interest" should take to be considered to have been "given."

I'm not arguing the merit of a CV bid or even that things won't be ab-fab in SA. Just the whole thing looks really shit.


DeNovoMeme said...

Dentist Je Slop says of me " ... the edentate rottweiler has taken another opportunity to ..."

At least I have 28 of my own teeth and no fillings. And BTW, dogs think people are just funny looking dogs.

Denis jessop said...

Wow! That was a lot of bites. I was obviously using the right bait. As for the claim of misuse of inside information that is just hypocritical claptrap. You really should grow up Shaun and stop being infantile. You're a big boy now running your own chess club and a big weekender. Why not behave as if you know something about the world instead of engaging in your customary and long-standing divisive white-anting of chess administrations.

Denis Jessop

Shaun Press said...

Denis, clearly something I've said in my posts has caused an uncharacteristic outburst from you. For that I feel I must apologise, and indeed in the hope of smoothing the waters between us, unreservedly withdraw any comments or criticisms concerning the ACF that I have ever made.

The Closet Grandmaster said...

Are you sure that that's Denis?


Denis Jessop said...

Hi Shaun

That's OK - it was me (or rather I), but not the usual version, I'm afraid. Just at present for one reason or another I am feeling very pessimistic about chess and occasionally over-react.

Only a few of us on the ACF Council are prepared to speak openly and that creates its own problems including copping all the flack which I wouldn't mind were it accurate and sensible, but so often it isn't.

There are lots of things - some big and some small - that could be done to improve the ACF but it's not until one is there and tries to get something done that one realises how hard it is. I think that both you and Brian had this experience some years ago and things haven't changed.

Even the current Website and Newsletter arrangements are not all they could be. We have a webmaster answerable to Gary, I think, but though he said he was going to re-vamp the site it hasn't happened. I won't speculate about why!? As for the Newsletter, Joe Tanti is intending to bring it out weekly, so I believe, but he seems to be having a settling-in period and so it isn't yet quite up to speed.

There is clearly a problem about putting up the minutes as things now run because they are only in draft form until confirmed by the following meeting about three months later. Moreover they are normally pretty dull reading and, more relevantly, the newsworthy sorts of things (like the Olympiad Appeal Director decision) are nowadays often made by e-mail vote between meetings and are not formally minuted until the next meeting. They are, however, motions of which the wording is clear and there is no reason for not announcing them as they occur, if appropriate (some matters may not be appropriate for immediate release - or at all, if they are confidential for some reason).

ChessChat is not an ACF BB and you will be aware of much silly discussion about this some time ago mostly generated by the usual suspects. So it is not an appropriate place for formal ACF notices though it is frequently used informally in conjunction with formal channels such as the Newsletter. A blog may be a way of disseminating information but I cannot see any reason why the ACF web site can't be used as I think it's better to have everything centralised.

Incidentally, I didn't use the "inside information" about the appeal Director to beat people about the head. I made it clear that Libby, who had taken the point on the Toolbox, was not to be expected to have known but as the point was taken that the ACF had not appointed anyone, the ACF had in fact done so (but only a few hours earlier) and it was not my job to make a formal announcement of the fact, I took the opportunity to do so informally while having a relatively gentle dig at Trevor Stanning who is engaged in a long and losing battle with the ACF in phantom form over perceived injustices done by the ACF to CV that are of CV's (or I suspect a bit of CV's) own making.

I also see that Libby and I don't have quite the same sense of humour - or to put it another way Libby is too damn serious! (:-)) - but that's another story.


Libby said...

Libby - being a Carlton supporter - has to have a sense of humour. Occasionally it has been known to be exhibited.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the way the ACF goes about some things her sense of humour disappears under a tsunami of frustration that you have articulated as well.

And not all digs are that gentle ... especially when delivered in packs.

Kevin Bonham said...

Firstly, it also amuses me that Shaun uses the term "unprofessional" to describe the actions of volunteers. It's not really a very effective or telling insult in that situation. If you want me to live up to your quaint notion of "professionalism", then I'm interested only at the point where you offer to pay me.

Libby's attempt to get "unprofessional" off the hook by appeal to dictionary definitions is an amusing try but ultimately misses a relevant point. This is not about whether an action was conducted with skill (something that we certainly do strive for in our accepted roles); it is about whether it was conducted in a manner that some people arbitrarily and probably moralistically expect, without taking account of some of the issues mentioned by Denis in his most recent post.

It was only after that the news of the appointment had not only been made public but also been the subject of a thread started by Brian Jones that I admonished Matthew Sweeney for foolishly suggesting I should do the job when (a) it has been filled and (b) I have other responsibilities concerning the Olympiad in my role as ACF Selections Director.

The ACF does take steps to maintain the confidentiality of some internal proceedings and communications, because there is often a good reason to do so. But no confidentiality issues relate to the fact that an olympiad appeal co-ordinator has been appointed. Nor is there any particular real disadvantage if some find this out slightly earlier than others - after all the appeal co-ordinator is bound to make the proper announcements about what people can do to help through the proper channels when ready. The only party disadvantaged in this case was a troll (Sweeney) who asserted a factual claim to attack me without checking if it was true, and got caught with his pants down.

Of course, if you have a problem with the use of information that has not yet been formally released to dispose of trolls who are making vile and aggressive personal attacks completely without provocation on the thread in question (it's on the Katrin Wills thread at TCG) then you might better deal with that problem by discouraging those trolls from acting that way in the first place!

Matthew, if the group is the posting body of the Toolbox then this particular individual is certainly smarter than it (although not necessarily smarter than every specific member). Your references to threads of truth and honesty (which are largely threads of misinformation and failed speculation, not to mention trolling) are all starting to sound more than a little bit Alex Jones to me. Have you been brainwashed by Axiom? And no, I don't expect you'll be seeing me on any thread there at least until you resign or are sacked from the position of moderator, to which you are (IMNSHO) one of the least suited people on earth.

The above post is not written on behalf of the ACF and does not necessarily represent its views.

Libby said...

After all this fuss and bother it was quite amusing to read the first item in my ACF newsletter today:


The following ACF non-elected office bearer position remains vacant:

Olympiad Appeal Coordinator
The ACF is seeking expressions of interest from anyone wishing to fill this position. Please contact ACF Secretary, Jey Hoole, or ACF president Gary Wastell as soon as possible if you are interested."

Communication at work - or not :0)

Anonymous said...

Libby beat me to it! But I think it is a disgrace that nobody informed Joe Tanti of the decision.

It looks to me that the ACF Executive are a lazy set of bar stewards!

Brian Jones

DeNovoMeme said...

I don't know about them being bar stewards, more like barbelles [ hysterical dumbbells on 'roids ]