What is the purpose of this forum?

Discussion in 'Community Information and Feedback' started by Gray Hog, Jul 28, 2010.

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  1. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    I am not sure if this question/topic belongs here or in the "Community Information and Feedback" sub-forum. In any case, here it is:

    What is the purpose of this forum?

    Is there a mission statement? Is there more than one purpose? If so, are they prioritized?

    If there is no officially-stated purpose for this site, who decides? Do we put it to a vote? Who gets a vote?

    Most of the sub-forums are dedicated to admissions and related topics. Does this forum exists for the sole purpose of helping kids get into a SA (or other commissioning source)? If that is the case, the forum probably should be renamed the Service Academy Admissions Forum (or U.S. Military Commissioning Source Admissions Forum), but that is fine. In such a forum, topics should be limited to those which directly aid those seeking a commission in the military. Great.

    If this forum is intended to serve, not only that purpose, but also some other purposes, such as offering a place for graduates, parents, and others with an interest in the academies to gather and discuss topics they find of interest (which may be of no interest to candidates and of no help in their gaining admission), then that is a different matter altogether.

    When I first came here, I essentially asked that question in my "introduction" thread. I was assured that this forum served more than one purpose and that there was a place for chat among grads. In response to my question, an administrator sent me a PM, which asked me specifically how this forum could be made to better serve the needs and interests of SA grads. I have held off on responding to that PM until I had a greater sense of this place and its participants.

    From what I gather from recent posts, the majority of long-time participants here (at least the most vocal) would like to see that it stay essentially as a parents club, dedicated almost exclusively to the topic of admissions. They seem to want the image of the SAs, the services they represent, and those who serve in them to be what appears in recruiting material. Is this the widely held view?
     
  2. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    I think there are two parts to the forum, above the line and below the line. For the specific Academy forums, DoDMERB, and ROTC (above the line), we should deal with facts. Opinions, specifically those about criticism of certain policies, procedures, and persons, belong down below the line in the General Discussion forums. Some of the unsubstatiantiated stuff, only in "Other". Just my opinion. But I do feel that the general criticism, and probably even unfounded rumors, does definitely belong on the forum.

    As far as who can post what, an interesting perspective was presented earlier in the very thread where this was being discussed:

    So maybe it is who takes the forum off topic rather than what it is about that cases concern. This might be why an occassional discussion of O'club misadventures or Jerimiah Weed consumption might be deemed proper while a discussion of MREs might not.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  3. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    That was my initial impression--and, frankly, what kept me interested in this forum after I realized it was mostly geared toward prospective candidates and their parents. However, others have argued that, since those wide-eyed innocents are on this forum, all discussions, including those "below the line," should be filtered in order to maintain a certain image of the academies and/or officership.

    While I certainly agree that nothing blatantly offensive should be allowed anywhere on a public forum, I have a problem with painting an unrealistic picture of the academies, the officer corps, or the services in general. I want no one to be "scared" away from the academies or military service, but, on the same token, I don't want candidates or their parents getting false expectations, because they looked through the rose-colored glasses of an overly-idealistic forum, which is censored to create an artificial image of what the academies, officers, or military life are like.

    By the way, since no forum administrator/moderator has stepped in to provide a copy of the forum mission statement, charter, etc., am I correct in concluding that nothing of that sort exists and that we are, therefore, simply left with having this academic debate between ourselves? While I find it interesting, I would prefer something more concrete as the basis of discussion. Who started this forum, anyway? If there is no "constitution," why not ask the founders themselves what they intended?!
     
  4. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Each and every forum here has a "sticky" rules thread which also explains the purpose of each forum.
     
  5. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Yes, but what is the purpose for the entire forum?

    I can tell you the purpose of each department in my company, but if we didn't have a mission statement, vision, strategy, etc. at the top level, the rest would be without context.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  6. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Gray Hog, thanks for asking-I think that the mission of the forum has been fairly well delineated over the course of the years but since it is not formally posted I will endeavor to point out the reason for the forum's being:

    a. The forums exist to provide information about the service academies and commissioning sources into the military. The off topic and military news forums exist principally as supplements to that purpose. We were created to serve as a discussion forum for service academies but continue to evolve and adjust to be able to provide a forum for as many people and interests as possible.

    b. The intent is that posters in the various commissioning source forums post factual information-gained as a result of personal experience or verifiable factual information.

    c. Posters who can provide insight and information about admission or life at the academies or in ROTC or senior military colleges are welcome to post as are those who have questions about those subjects.

    d. The forum is not an alumni forum, nor is it a forum specifically for prior service or retirees or current serving, nor is it reserved to parents or cadets, midshipmen or candidates. Anyone who can add to the understanding of either admission to, life at or life after graduation from one of these institutions is free to post as long as it is done from the perspective of adding to the understanding of above-and as long as it is done in a civil and respectful manner. In addition, we encourage military discussion of all types within the confines of our rules in order to provide an information source about all aspects of the U.S. armed forces.

    e. Who gets to vote? Posts can be made in the appropriate forums and if they don't meet the criteria of the site-then the moderators/super moderators/administrator will edit or take action on the thread as appropriate. We appreciate feedback from our members but will ultimately make decisions as a staff with the best interests of the forum and its members in mind.

    f. We have posts often in the Life after the academy, mil news and off topic forums that are critical of things that go on at either the academies, or in the service. If they add to people's understanding of the service they get to stay and get commented on. The requirement again-factual or opinions based on personal experience, done in a respectful manner. If threads drift particularly far off the original topic then sometimes they get redirected or closed and the posters are asked to start a new thread. That's a judgment call on the part of the moderator. In my time in the Army I was paid to make decisions on a hell of a lot harder things than that. Don't like the call you are always free to PM the Mod who made the decision

    g. After 21 years of Active duty and more than 10 in General management for an ultra large multinational-forgive me if I tend to see corporate mission statements as mostly concoctions of consulting firms that are fluff to meet ISO or QS registration requirements which add nothing to the understanding of the employee or customer. If there is any further question about the workings of the forum-feel free to PM me.
     
  7. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Well on that point, we will have to agree to disagree. Whether in the military or civilian life, I have always found it essential that the people within my organizations understand why those organizations exist, what they are expected to accomplish, and how (within what guidelines) they were expected to achieve success.

    During my Army days, I found the mission paragraph and that "commander's intent" section of the execution paragraph within operations orders, containing purpose, method, and end state to be particularly useful [though I believe that structure has since changed since I learned it]. I have likewise found the civilian counterparts of such statements to be essential to organizational effectiveness.

    It sounds like your experience has been different, but the organizations in which I have been, which did not have a clearly defined mission, that could be stated in a few, short sentences, and was understood by everyone, were not very successful. The fact that this forum doesn't have one and, therefore, requires several paragraphs of explanation, containing a few hundred words, may be a source of confusion and could be a factor in the recent conflict and disagreement among members.
     
  8. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Forgive me - but I don't believe there is widespread confusion and conflict among "the membership" as you will note the number of confused and conflicting members posting here on this thread is pretty much 1. In my response I've attempted to clarify the rules and purposes somewhat here for some of our newer members such as yourself. Finally - keep in mind that occasionally we have members who don't care for an edit or decision that I or one of the other moderators make on one of the threads. We don't intervene lightly and in general try to allow threads take their natural course. If we occasionally make a call that someone disagrees with - it is always possible to appeal via PM.

    I am all in favor of the Army 5 paragraph field order and particularly the mission, commanders intent and concept of the operation paragraph- If you are trying to get an organization to execute a complex operation and synchronize all of the elements while allowing subordinates have the maximum amount of flexibility. Let me know when you find a single company that has a corporate mission statement that even approaches that degree of utility- instead they are of the generic "we will be seen as the world leader, providing the best:(take your pick) "investment casting" "aluminum"electrical components" etc.... to the customer with exceptional customer service." If employees need to be told that kind of nonsense then I submit that consultants are making a fine living off the company peddling the latest B school buzz while the company itself is barely functioning.

    An informational web site that requires a high degree of specificity, coordination, and rigid structure is going to have a hard time functioning and providing the open and free, unscripted exchange of information it is intended to provide. We are providing a wide ranging service and I believe that most of the membership understand fully the purpose and general rules governing the site. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of who we are. Feel free to PM me if there are further issues you want clarified or discussed.
     
  9. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    One person asked the question; that does not mean that others did not also not know the answer. I suggest that the hate and discontent that developed on a few recent threads between members (not moderators) regarding what should and should not be allowed to be discussed and in what manner was the direct result of disagreement about what purpose(s) this forum does or should serve and for whom. A few members used what they to believe the "purpose" of the forum to be (which was different than what I have heard from you) as justification for their positions.

    I appreciate you perspective on the "rules." I would still like to hear more about the purpose. "To provide [factual] information" gives me the "what," and your rules give some of the "how," but I am still wondering if there is a more specific purpose, targeted at a specific population or if it is just for everyone and anyone. Some have argued that this forum is primarily to provide information for candidates and parents for the purpose of helping them through the admissions process. I take it from your comments that this "who" and "why" are but one possibility out of many and are of no more importance than any others and, therefore, needn't be specified in a purpose statement. Is that correct?

    It sounds like the companies for which you have worked did, in fact, have worthless mission statements and poorly defined visions and strategies. Perhaps that is the reason they were "barely functioning," as you put it. I suggest that they might have been more successful if that senior-level direction and guidance had been more clear and of greater utility. I believe the same applies here.

    Well, if this forum has no specific purpose for being, and exists simply as a site for any free discussion about any topic related to a service academy for anyone with interest to serve any purpose, than I absolutely agree that only general rules regarding the mere accuracy of information and proper decorum are necessary. However, most of what I see here that has some structure makes it appear that the forum is geared heavily toward assisting candidates and their parents with admissions. From what you say, that is one of many possible groups of individuals looking for information about the academies, which is no more or less important than any other here. Is that accurate?

    By the way, I don't understand why you keep suggesting that I only ask these questions via PM (twice in your last post alone). I think this topic is of interest to more people than just me. Do you not feel that what you include in your responses could be of value to others?
     
  10. TacticalNuke

    TacticalNuke Administrator

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    Gray Hog,

    First off, thank you for asking this question as I think it is an important one. You'll have to excuse me for not responding in the two hours I was allotted between you first post and your second post in which you conclude that nothing of the sort exists. I would hardly call myself an inaccessible administrator of the forum, a fact to which our members would undoubtedly attest, but it can at times take a few hours for me to respond to questions.

    To answer your question, the purpose of this forum is to provide a means for networking among users in the field of topics of general interest to people who attend, who have attended or who are interested in attending the United States service academies.

    Over the years, we have expanded to topics that include all commissioning sources (ROTC, OTS/OCS and senior military colleges) as well as general military topics for prior officers and enlisted. We are always interested in how we can serve our members better, whether they be candidates, parents, alumni or prior military. We make those judgments based on the potential for worthwhile discussions, as well as traffic considerations. For instance, the recent addition of a Preparatory Schools forum filled a need for an area to discuss that aspect of service academies.

    Mongo hit on some important points about "above the line" and "below the line" and as stated by Luigi, each forum has a set of rules which includes the general discussion topic of a particular forum. These two points may be helpful for other members who are unsure about which topics belong where.

    It seems to me that you are disappointed that we do not cater more to the alumni crowd, which I understand. If we can generate enough traffic to warrant further forums for alumni, then we will provide them. At present I don't think we can rationalize additional forums but I am open to ideas and my mind can be changed.

    That does not mean alumni are not a valuable part of the forum, because they most certainly are. However, generally the alumni limit discussions to helping candidates and to the Off Topic areas of the forum which allow for general military discussions and, really, any discussion on any appropriate topic. It is my experience that most of our very valuable alumni posters are satisfied with this arrangement. If they are not, I am always happy to discuss further arrangements.

    Now, to address your final point of what you consider censorship of certain military topics. We allow discussion on a wide range of topics, from service academies to military news (good and bad) to any number of off topic discussions. However, the site staff will limit and direct discussions for the greater interests of the forum and its members. That means that certain discussions will not be allowed here. Mostly the criteria for stopping a discussion is that it adds nothing to the knowledge base and it is offensive or includes personal attacks.

    We run a fairly open forum and I will discuss most any issue with our members should they ask. I have sent over 1000 PMs in the four years this forum has existed. In the end, though, I will run the forum not based on my own whims or that of a small number of posters, but for the greater good of the membership at large. That will not sit well with some, perhaps even myself, but that is how we operate.

    I hope this answers your questions.

    Thank you for your time.

    -TN
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Silly me, I thought this site existed to assist the future generation of military members. I also thought it existed to be a forum where we can bond together understanding that the military life is unique. Finally, I thought it existed as support.

    I do not mean this in a facetious manner, but why do we need a mission statement if this is a social network? I am with Bruno. Mission statements are a bunch of malarkey!

    I also want to say as a long time member I have seen how the admin/mods have had to create ways to keep this site a float. I think it was a hard decision for them to accept advertising, they made that hard call, and because they did this site still assist new candidates. They do it out of their own desire, nobody is paying them. YES, posters feel there is favoritism, but let's remember it is a volunteer position for them. No sweat off their back if it closes tomorrow, but it is a sweat off the back for candidates and their parents if they do!

    If you desire to belong to a group with a mission statement, I suggest you look elsewhere. If you desire to make sure that our military members have the ability to see every perspective from every angle than I think your desire will be fulfilled.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  12. ProudMom

    ProudMom Member

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    Well said!!! :wiggle::wiggle:
     
  13. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    I agree with what Pima says here:
    I have been a member of this forum since the beginning. It has been a great place to get support, advice and information. When this forum was created it was one of only a very few places I could get support from other parents going through the same experience or who had already gone through it. Parents that I met who were sending their kids off to the “normal” college did not have a clue how to help me or what I was feeling. Even now, when I meet someone new and they ask where my son goes to college I hesitate to answer, not because I am ashamed (I am very proud of him), but because inevitably the many questions will follow…some of them quite ignorant. At times I just get tired of having to explain it all. On this forum I can ask questions or talk about what my cadet is doing and members here get it.

    Even though my cadet has not joined (he pleads lack of free time) he knows about the forum and we talk about things that come up. It has made for some interesting conversations at times. Since he doesn’t have time to join and answer questions directly, I have used him as a resource when answering some questions. He doesn’t mind as long as I don’t pester him every day. :biggrin:

    I feel the forum is big enough for all: applicants, cadets, mids, parents, alumni, supporters of the military, retired military, active military, family members of the military…they can all add something of use to the forum.

    Speaking as a “retired” moderator I know what it is like to be a volunteer who does their best to allow appropriate discussions while trying to keep things civil. The reason I even took on the moderator job was because I found this site to be so helpful to me as the parent of an applicant, eventually a cadet, that I wanted to give back to other parents in some small way. I admit I am human and was not a perfect moderator but I followed my conscience to do my best. Different moderators (people) handle situations differently. I do know that the moderators strive to be fair to all members. They make decisions and follow their consciences just as I did. I may not agree with all the decisions they make but that’s life…I can either accept it and move on, or I can be angry and quit the forum.
     
  14. time2

    time2 Member

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    I agree with Pima. In fact, of the various 'forums' I belong to, none have a 'prioritized mission statement'.......I have no idea exactly how that would apply to a social network forum such as this.

    People come and go on this forum based on the particular topics being disucssed, how much free time they may have and/or how strongly they feel about something. Anyone can start a new thread at any time. Some catch on and get lots of discussion, while others just fade to the background.

    I don't feel compelled to post on every topic, some do....but that is really their business. Some people post great advice, some post advice that is just terrible, but to each his own. We are all peers here, so no one person will ever have the perfect perspective on every aspect of any Academy, nor will everyone agree with what you post.

    However, if your intent is to participate to give/get/offer advice or your perspective on whatever topic is being discussed, that is fine with me. Part of the value of these forums is they don't have a lot of 'rules' that prevents people from participating in whatever way works best for them.
     
  15. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    I do not mean this to be facetious either, but the mere fact that what you state the purpose of this forum is differs from what TN says it is may be the answer to your own question.

    You may be correct, but nearly every MBA program in the country would probably disagree. However, that is neither here nor there.

    My point is, and remains, that some forum members--most recently you--have used what they claimed to be the "purpose" of this forum to chastise others for making posts, which they considered contrary to that purpose.

    You say that you don't believe in the need for a clearly defined purpose, but you use one of your own creation to lecture others here about what they should and should not be allowed to post. You can't have it both ways.

    You may not believe in mission statements, but, if there had been a clearly defined mission statement (or whatever you would like to call it if that term bothers you), your idea of the purpose of this forum and TN's and mine, and anyone else's would not be the subject of disagreement, would they?
     
  16. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Well, we put one in every single OPORDER we write, so there must be some value to it. I don't mean that flippantly or with any malice. I just think that the military's obsessive demand for a mission statement in every order must have merit.

    I think there could be some use in framing the purpose of this site.
     
  17. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Forgive me for not jumping into the fray earlier......but who cares????

    Who cares if we have a mission statement or a Vision or guiding principles or whatever the key word of the day is. We certainly have some "transformation" and other favorite keywords of the day.

    The site has existed and in my opinion done a pretty darn good job of it over the last 4 years. We have a group of purely volunteers, many of whom have never met in person who work behind the scenes to ensure the forum runs as smoothly as possible. We look to be fair and to present a forum that is free from personal attacks and belittling that was being seen at a different site when this one was created. We don't always get it right, but somehow we've managed to progress.

    We aren't a public company, we're not a 501(c), so who cares?? Has it really prevented valid discussion in the past or currently? No, some members got involved in a "tussle" with each other over who was more correct? And if we had had a Mission Statement would it have prevented it or would it simply have led to someone saying "nananana booboo I was right and you were wrong?"

    Now, I'm open for constructive advice:

    What exactly would a mission statement provide to this forum?
    What return do we get on it?
    And even better, someone want to write one for us? Maybe we'll take it and post it forever to live in infamy.

    /i think it's been a long day
     
  18. C2014

    C2014 Member

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    This is just my .02, When I first found this website searching for info on NROTC, I realized within minutes what this site was for. Just do alittle exploring and I'm sure whoever is looking at this site will also find out what this site is for. And I dont want to jack this thread but IDK where else to ask this curiousity question "Whats the difference between a Moderator and a Super Moderator?" It may be a super stupid question but its bugging me
     
  19. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Well Stephen: the super moderator wears a cape and tights and a big red S on their chest while mere moderators get a Red bullseye and no cape!
    Seriously the difference is that the supermods can moderate any of the forums as backups/support/ addtioanl oversight to the assigned moderators,
    while the mods focus just on our specific forums.

    As the assigned moderator of this thread I believe that this thread has exhausted its utility. Thanks for the suggestions- now here is a moderator "suggestion" - lets move on.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2010
  20. ProudMom

    ProudMom Member

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    Amen -- agreed!
     
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