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Old 01-05-2010, 02:27 AM   #1
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Are Clubs Obsolete? Do We Really Need Them Anymore?

Please note that this is NOT directed at the WBCCI or any other identifiable club, group, organization or individuals for that matter.

Thanks to the Internet, many clubs and associations are pretty much are obsolete as we know them today. All you need is a group of people with a common purpose and a computer with an Internet connection and you have an instant association or community for like-minded individuals to interact.

What is the main thing you get when you pay your dues and join a club? That’s right, you receive the monthly (or quarterly) newsletter. A major portion of the club’s budget (read: your dues) goes to pay for the printing and mailing costs. A printed newsletter, especially on slick paper in color, mailed to members every month is a very expensive proposition. Now all you need is a Web site and a forums software package, both of which can cost very little or even nothing and a bit of time learning the package and setting it up. With this Forum newsletters become obsolete. Everyone in this country has access to it even if they don't have a computer. Most libraries offer free access to anyone who walks through the door.

The Forum has articles that are archived and can be searched. Photographs and links to other documents, audio and even video clips can be included. It then becomes a community reference, a resource and, especially with more technically-oriented interest groups, a storehouse of information. The traditional “newsletter” cannot even come close to fulfilling this important function.

The AIRFORUMS is this kind of community and there are important differences from the traditional club. You don’t join, you subscribe. Subscribers can be from anywhere. There are usually no dues but subscribers may be asked to contribute to cover expenses. The periodical newsletter or magazine is replaced by the real-time Forum with a variety of “Boards” separated and sorted by subject. There can be an infinite number of these “boards” in a forum depending on the number of different interest groups within the community.

Articles are posted by subscribers. Others may and do respond and add to the postings or start new articles or threads. Additionally, subscribers tend to check forums much more often that read a printed newsletter because the forum is fluid where the newsletter is static so the participation level along with the general interest is much higher. It’s so much easier to post an article or respond to one than attend meetings which involve scheduling the time, travel, etc. The Forum is asynchronous - you participate at the time that convenient to you. Many members do not participate in club events at all; they are only heard from when it’s time to pay their annual dues. Otherwise it’s like they aren’t even there.

There are no external politics. There is room for difference of opinion and dissent but everyone has the opportunity to be heard. However they may be moderated or censored. People can be thrown off a Forum if they don’t follow the guidelines. However there’s nothing to stop anyone from starting a competing Forum and the subscribers will choose which one they like best.

The Forum is overseen by Moderators. Generally speaking, a Forum is not a democracy – it is best described as a "benevolent dictatorship" - the key word being “benevolent”. The important thing is, more often than not, it works. From what I have read, Wally and Helen were benevolent dictators in their own right and it seemed to have worked just fine for them. Look what they accomplished and at the legacy they left.

If I want to have a get-together all I need to do is post a message on the Forum as to where and when. Then, anybody who wants to come camping with me can do so. That’s where the fun is, certainly (for me) it isn’t at business meetings and playing petty political games. That is too much like work!

Let me present a case study. My friends and I run a two-day amateur radio event, called a “hamfest” twice a year in Northern New England. We rent a fairgrounds, arrange for a dumpster, several chemical toilets, insurance and contract with several fair food vendors to be present. We fill two huge buildings with commercial exhibitors and vendors. All communications is done through our Web-based Forum. We spend virtually nothing on advertising.

Come the big day, people arrive in droves and at 0900 everyone enters the fairgrounds for a couple of days of non-stop trading in the huge outdoor flea market, attend forums (in this context “seminars”), enjoy good food, fellowship, camping, a great “jam session” and some even attend an official licensing testing session to earn or upgrade their F.C.C. licenses. It's good clean old-fashioned fun that the entire family can enjoy without dropping a bundle if they don't want to.

This is most definitely not a club-run hamfest (many of those are dying off) but we have “members” (that we call attendees) and two “meetings” a year. We do not discuss “club” business but focus on everybody having a good time with their friends. There are few complaints. It is a classic case of a successful benevolent dictatorship.

We are a not-for-profit entity. The organizers are all volunteers who receive no salaries or "stipends" for their efforts. Periodically we publish our financials on our Forum. We have a defined goal: to attract newcomers to our hobby with a special emphasis on young people. Towards that end we have donated a complete amateur radio station to the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium (now the Shepard-McAuliffe DiscoveryCenter) in Concord NH. This station is capable of communicating with satellites as well as the International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle. Given that about 1,000 school children pass through the Planetarium every week and the station is prominently located….well, you figure the rest. More such projects are in the works.

We contract our ticket and gate management functions to the local Shriners who ensure that every dollar we pay them for their work goes directly to their hospitals for crippled and burnt children. We give them about $4,000.00 a year and are pleased to do it.

It works because everybody wants the same thing. We do not permit egos to interfere with what we need to do and no one cares who gets the credit. We have an internal democratic procedure in place to resolve “contentious issues” but thus far in running six events it has yet to be invoked. We are looking forward to Number Seven on April 30th and May 1st 2010. By the way, you are all welcome to attend. For details see my signature.

One final note: When our group picked up running the hamfest in 2007 it was from another group that consisted of three gentlemen who were also benevolent dictators. They ran the event for 34 years and in that time period raised in excess of 1.3 million dollars for the Shriners and their childrens hospitals and burns units. The benevolent dictatorship model worked for them too.

Given the above, do you still think that clubs, as we know them, are really still viable entities?
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:49 AM   #2
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There are many clubs that provide many benefits to their members above and beyond just like minded discussions and newsletters. These are the clubs that have something to offer and will survive. Pure discussion groups and groups that just offer newsletters are not likely to survive in the new Internet world.

Our unit holds great rallies. Caravans, taken by just reading travel blogs over the Internet, are not enough. Our events offer the club members the ability to physically participate in the world. Clubs that offer physical benefits are good.

Some people like to hang around the bars run by some social or veteran clubs. The beer is usually cheaper there and they may have good Friday night fish fries for the members.

If a particular club offers sufficient benefits to its members at a reasonable price, it will survive.
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:05 AM   #3
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I hate to break it to you but this forum is a club as well. Many of us are supporting members that pay $20 a year. Once Andy get tired of this I believe he can pull the plug and all the info will be lost. However if it was a true club the info would be secure for futures to come. Now with that said if it was a true club there would be more drama. Every group of people will have drama no matter how big or small. Just look at your own family dynamic there is always one or two that causes the drama. We all think our way is the best way. That why it sometimes takes leaving the group you are no longer happy with and start a new.( Sound like any religions we know??)
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermike View Post
Please note that this is NOT directed at the WBCCI or any other identifiable club, group, organization or individuals for that matter.

Thanks to the Internet, many clubs and associations are pretty much are obsolete as we know them today. All you need is a group of people with a common purpose and a computer with an Internet connection and you have an instant association or community for like-minded individuals to interact.
We would loose something if the internet replaces direct, face to face, personal interaction with others with whom we share common interests. Included are those situations, commonly referred to as "politics" in which we may not agree. Conveniently avoiding through the net these less comfortable moments amounts to an abdication of our rights and responsibilities to act as a fully functioning human being.

Wow, did I say that? Sometimes I surprise myself.
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:26 AM   #5
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The " benevolent dictator" approach may also explain the success of some RV clubs as decisions can be made with out being bogged down by long drawn out procedures, rules, and frequent officer changes.

Examples that come to mind Would possibly be Good Sam. Escapees. and Tin Can Tourists. I am sure there are others in the RV area also.

Very well written Mike
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:37 AM   #6
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I pay dues to two clubs.

The first is a gun club so for my dues I have access to rifle, pistol and trap ranges. You really can't do that on the internet.

The second club I pay dues to is a camping club. So for my dues I meet other like minded campers in person and we eat, drink and be merry. A virtual campfire does not compete with a real one.

Really depends on what your club does whether or not it can be internet replaced.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:56 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by nick6930 View Post
Once Andy get tired of this I believe he can pull the plug and all the info will be lost. However if it was a true club the info would be secure for futures to come.
Andy R has addressed this point and he is committed to the long term viability of AIR. The same longevity question can be raised about NYTimes.com, Salon.com, etc. -- there is value to transfer in a sale should an original operator bow out. Forums exist in a business model where sale and continuation of the forum occurs when an owner becomes incapacitated. I have supported this forum since he hesitantly accepted contributions to upgrade servers back in late '03 or early '04. Mebbe I would want to contribute to his very best healthcare!
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by nick6930 View Post
I hate to break it to you but this forum is a club as well. Many of us are supporting members that pay $20 a year.
Exactly my point. AIRFORUMS is a benevolent dictatorship. I am sure that Andy archives everything incrementally as some of the information on here is important to keep.

However it raises an interesting question - Can a benevolent dictatorship also be a club? Can club members reasonably expect democratic process? Does it work or is the benevolent dictatorship a better option?

I find the comments I have read thus far on the subject of clubs interesting and hope to read more. Someone sent me a private message asking me what I have "against clubs". Nothing per se. There are some good ones out there with strong leadership and active membership. However, most of the clubs I have looked at have had the common problems I discussed in an earlier thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f286...ion-59791.html

I simply don't like to play the "cult of personality" game especially in a leisure-time endeavour for which I am not being paid. I just see the numerous posts here with thousands of words of discontent and accusatory statements back and forth and wonder how this can be attenuated or eliminated so we can all get on with the enjoyment of the hobby.

I have studiously avoided any direct references to any incidents involving any specific club or unit that ts represented on this Forum because a: I am not a member and b: I am not in possession of all the facts. Many of the problems arise from the perceived misuse of funds.

I sincerely hope that the readers of my postings understand that all my comments are intended to be constructive in nature because essentially we all want the same thing - to have fun with our Airstream trailers and with others who share the interest and enthusiasm. I have resolved not to read any more postings involving clubs their attendant bickering and infighting. I want to concentrate my efforts on having fun working on my trailer, learning more about how it's systems works and hanging out with my friends, some old and some I haven't met yet.
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"Best #@! Hamfest on the Planet!"

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Old 01-05-2010, 11:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
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...I simply don't like to play the "cult of personality" game especially in a leisure-time endeavour for which I am not being paid...
typically folks who make this claim are from a specific subset of gamers...

and we are ALL gamers, it is IN the human genes and most critters above the reptilian brain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermike View Post
...I just see the numerous posts here with thousands of words of discontent and accusatory statements back and forth and wonder how this can be attenuated or eliminated so we can all get on with the enjoyment of the hobby...
why one thinks a wide variety of views and opinions in a FORUM need to be "attentuated or eliminated"...

is a notion/belief that needs 2 be attenuated or eliminated.

the expression of free thought (not the same as free speech) here doesn't preclude ENJOYMENT of a trayler, there...

and while i agree the wb' stuff gets old after awhile, so do axle, hitch, corrosion, tire and many other issues.

stick around and one will see ALL these topics run in cycles, some very long and heated and boring.

just don't read what u don't enjoy.

and there are TOOLS here that can help with the process of NOT seeing threads or forums or members as needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermike View Post
...I have studiously avoided any direct references to any incidents involving any specific club or unit that ts represented on this Forum...
direct or not, specific or not, vague or not it is still ABOUT a specific topic and specific players.

some believe that leaving OUT the specifics raises the commentary to another level...

it doesn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermike View Post
...I sincerely hope that the readers of my postings understand that all my comments are intended to be constructive in nature because essentially we all want the same thing...
almost EVERY post by EVERY member may have a constructive goal or purpose or message.

except the trolls who are after SELF gratification via controversy.

just as controlled fires lead to regrowth, DESTRUCTION is a valuable process.

and it's naive to think we ALL want the same thing in a forum.

but following the logic in the quote we ALL wanna be constructive right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermike View Post
...I have resolved not to read any more postings involving clubs their attendant bickering and infighting....
good idea, but WHY start a thread on that topic then?

it's a little bit like posting "i'm leaving" or "this is my last post" (ok, next to last post) or other silly passive/aggressive declarations...
___________

there is a pretty common phase/process for many members here as they read and post and hang around a few months....

seems to happen around 50-100 posts but may be sooner or later 4 some.

it goes like this....

"why are there game threads here"
"i only wanna read about repairs"
"why are there vendors here"
"who deleted or edited my post, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE"
"where's my free speech on the forums"
"i'm not reading club stuff anymore"
"i am ONLY gonna post FACTS not opinions, OTHER must do that too"
"how do i get rid of mice"
"the search function HERE stinks"
"please stop bickering"
"i wanna discuss politics and god here"
"i hate those pop up ads"
"can i travel with the fridge running"
"who took my karma"
"the automated reservation system for parks stinks!"
"where is my gun"
"don't buy stuff made in china"

and so on....

some get past that phase (the why can't I control things here or get my way) and learn to use what is available...

others don't.

and some make pronouncements about HOW it should be...

when it isn't gonna be that way...

cheers
2air'
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:35 PM   #10
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I think clubs still serve a purpose because they still exist. The day they no longer exist means there is no demand and that's when they can be rendered unneeded. IMO, younger generations are less "clubby" because they can group up with like minded people over the internet and then hang out in real life as needed. It would be interesting to ask this same question in 100 years.

I think clubs have served two purposes 1) connect people with a similar interest to share knowledge 2) fulfill needs to socialize with other like minded people.

I think the best way to visualize is through Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs.



Although the politics can often become an issue for a club, they are also part of the reason why people participate. When you earn the respect of your peers and are voted into a place of leadership it helps fulfill your needs of esteem. On a general member level it provides the feeling of belonging. I don't think our psychological needs are going to change anytime soon so I don't think clubs will be fading away in the near future.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:56 PM   #11
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post about post

2airishuman

You rock with another one of your responses that add a new dimension to a thread .
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:18 PM   #12
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I am always impressed with the some of the posts. I must say that I have not seen the Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs for many years now. I would not have thought of it but it is very fitting for this thread. Job well done.
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:22 PM   #13
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Clubs everywhere are becoming obsolete. I have never been to anything wbcci mainly because I am still in restoration mode. I am for any camping trip that begins with happy hour and ends with a hangover. Airstreams in my opionion should be used as a vessel to get away from politics, work, and folks you can't stand.

The outpouring of animosity that is happening on this forum is not helping the wbcci. why would anyone want to join this organziation? For some of us it is like a car wreck. I come on here to research how to fix my unit and look for some fun camping trips. However, I keep rubber necking the posts on this subject.

Any subject that has to do with change or quitting, or reorganizing goes on for post after post. This alone tells me that this is a recipe for NO FUN!!!!

If Rodney King was here he would say "Can't we all just camp and get along".
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:00 PM   #14
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Around here groups (a wider meaning than "club" although subject to the same dynamics) exist to get things done.

Thus there is a local Chamber of Commerce that promotes community projects and business, an art group that has put on an annual event for 11 years and gives money to other groups (the leaders are tired and no one new wants to do it, so it may die), a library group that supports the tax starved public library, 2 churches that provide spiritual and social needs, etc. You do develop friendships and do get good karma from being involved in these groups. It does satisfy our tribal needs. These groups come and go, some continue and limp along, some are run by highly energized individuals as benevolent (and sometimes not so benevolent) dictatorships. Some are adopting the internet for communication, but mostly not because the area is small and not very populated. While not everyone knows everyone (though they often say they do), the ones who participate in groups do know the people who participate in groups.

These types of groups are needed if things are to get done. A small number of people are usually involved, many of whom complain about the fact they are the only ones who care. These complainers are very irritating. The internet is a tool, but not a terribly important one for local groups.

Regional groups exist to get things done too, but these need to get involved in the internet because communication is essential to their existence and to get whatever they do, done.

I think the internet changes a lot of the game for regional, state, national, international and intergalactic groups. Some will adapt and live on, others will not. But groups have always died from time to time as they no longer reflected the needs of their potential membership, or had terrible leaders, or no one wanted to do the work. The internet simply can be a catalyst for a quicker death.

And a note on the debate. Sure it gets ugly at times. It also is repetitious, dumb, incorrect, opinionated, full of factoids, myths, and goofiness—that's the ugly side. But the good side is facts, logic, fairness, clearly written opinions, good writing, new information, and some fun to lighten things. This is what humans do to make things better and easier to understand (with certain exceptions such as self gratification as 2air describes, narcissism and other mental problems). The challenges of posting on a Forum include being corrected, insulted, flamed, and nuked, but also learning, the joy of a good debate, winning an argument, and some fun.

Finally, since the group behind the curtain in this thread is the WBCCI, my opinion is that it will continue to serve a smaller and smaller group of members. It does serve the needs of a certain group who like what it does, or are willing to tolerate the crap to meet other personal needs. Other groups are being created though this Forum and others already exist for RV owners in general. For those who have never developed a strong emotional attachment to the WBCCI, some of these newer groups may meet their personal needs better than the WBCCI. Those groups that serve a need for some people will thrive, others won't. The internet is just a tool, but an important tool better for communicating than a lot of other, older tools. It does not preclude people getting together in person, so Lumatic need not worry about that, it can and does facilitate face to face contact.

The WBCCI once served the needs of a very large percentage of Airstream owners, but now represents a very small percentage, some of which are very unhappy with the leadership. How many 19th Century groups still survive? New and old needs are met by evolving or new groups. With or without the ongoing and repetitious debate on the Forum about the WBCCI, it will pretty much evolve as these things almost always do.

Gene
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