Herein we will try to collect various questions posted to GSAS from new and longtime members.`
GSAS quasi-regularly gets asked "Why don't you do [That Thing]?". And it often can be broken down into four reasons I'll try to detail here with examples:
1. GSAS is a volunteer-run club, and as such, relies on said volunteers to keep things running from month-to-month. Some jobs, such as auction runner, are small one-time jobs that can can be assigned as-needed. Others, like treasurer, are large, requiring big multi-year commitments from members with the appropriate level of experience in the club operations.
It turns out that members who have the time and energy to devote consistently for more than a few months (let alone multiple years) is incredibly rare. It may seem easy and fun initially, but as the months pass, it becomes more difficult and boring. People have lives, families, jobs. We are super lucky to have a handful of folks who are able to devote time to the things the club already does.
So one of the reasons GSAS probably doesn't do "That Thing" is that we don't have a volunteer interested in reliably doing That Thing, or maybe we have one, but they already have a job (or three) they are doing. If you would like That Thing, maybe you could be that volunteer (referred to as the "champion").
2. The club also has to take into account how much initial and ongoing work this will take from the other volunteers, not just the champion. For instance, let's say someone champions a Web Forum. This might impact the GSAS IT Manager if it's integrated with the rest of the GSAS website. But even if not, if the original volunteer decides to leave, will others then have to take over the moderating of said forum? Or will someone need to be tasked with figuring out how to remove it?
3. But we're still not done yet! There's a question about how useful That Thing is going to be for the club as a whole, beyond one or two people. Case in point: For years, GSAS had something called a Bowl Show, a small competition where members bring in single fish at the meeting. This was a good example of a Thing that relied on a single volunteer, and had very little impact on the other volunteers. For years, the Bowl Show chair position sat "Open", very occasionally staffed by a new eager person convinced that they could make it work. And two months later, with almost zero interest by the general membership (combined with #1 above), the position returned to "Open".
Point being, the club is going to look into whether the proposed Thing is going to really be used by members before investing too many resources into it.
4. Finally, the club has to look at the legal and relational ramifications of the suggestion. We would not, for instance, start a committee to create a GSAS Fish Store in direct competition with our Sponsor Stores. Similarly, we would reject the suggestion of a "GSAS Snakehead Group Buy From Canada" committee. What might seem like a good idea on the surface has been rejected for subtle practical reasons.
This topic comes up about once every 6 months to a year, usually from folks who have just joined Airstone.
The short answer as to why we do not switch is that it works for us. Most of the participants on Airstone enjoy getting the e-mails delivered rather than having to remember to "check in" to a website once a day. We’ve seen so many clubs switch to forums and then have all participation drop off to a trickle.
Many people are also not aware of the high degree of work to moderate a forum, even an unpopular one, to keep it spam- and scam-free. Our list has had a total of maybe two robo-spams posted to it in over ten years.
In addition, the popularity of Web-Forums has gone swiftly down in the past few years as more people have turned to social media.
Your IT/Web Geek has attempted to address some of the shortfalls of the e-mail system: we allow images and larger posts, the archive is searchable (though not so easily), and there are multiple methods of subscribing. In an ideal world, one should be able to have both a Web Forum and e-mail on the same data. But these are the limitations we have, and we just can’t please everyone.
The original GSAS Facebook page was set up in 2012, so that the
public, especially younger hobbyists who used social media, could find
the club and learn what speakers and events were upcoming. This
remains its primary purpose even today: it is publicly viewable and
used primarily for club announcements. Some members voiced concern
about the privacy of their posts, so in 2018 a Closed Group was
created, the Greater Seattle Aquarium Hobbyists Group. This
group's postings may not be viewed by the general public. This group
serves a similar purpose to our e-mail list Airstone in that
it is open to any interested hobbyst, not just GSAS members. In 2019,
the amount of
Buy and Sell traffic so eclipsed the general
hobbyist topics that a second closed group Greater Seattle
Aquarium Buying and Selling was split off.
Facebook has a definite negative connotation to many (including GSAS's longtime IT manager). As such, GSAS has never used Facebook as a primary platform for club business or activities. Our online communication with membership is primarily through direct e-mail through our club domain. Online club resources such as livestreams or archived video are always through a platform that requires at most a login to our own website. But the platform remains popular, so we continue to use it to promote the society and the hobby.
The buying and selling fish and aquarium-related items is not really part of GSAS's primary mission of information exchange and promoting interest in the hobby. Historically, our annual big auction was created as a club fundraiser, and our plant auction was started as a means to get interesting plants into the hands of members that otherwise could not find them at the stores (this was, after all, the early 1990's). Over time, more members have made use of the club's resources to buy and sell, but it's important to keep perspective that this is a side benefit of membership. That said, here are ways in which GSAS can help you buy and sell your stuff:
1. Auctions. Members in good standing can bring a small number of lots to our in-person meetings and have them auctioned after the main part of the meeting is done. The number of items is limited to keep these small auctions from going over our allotted time. In addition, we have our large General auction in April, and our plant and fish auction in November. These auctions allow a large number of items to be sold per member. Detailed information on auctions can be found on our auctions page.
With the Pandemic, we have been forced to stop all in-person meetings, so auctions have been on pause since February 2020. They will resume when in-person meetings resume.
2. Airstone posting. Members may create a "for-sale" post on our e-mail forum, Airstone, with an audience of several hundred members and non-members. We limit this to one post per week per member, so if you have multiple items, feel free to combine them into a single post. Replies are requested to be off-list to the original seller so the list is not clogged with
I'll take it! messages.
3. Facebook Buy and Sell Group posting. GSAS hosts a closed Facebook Group called Greater Seattle Aquarium Buying and Selling that is populated by several thousand. This group has its own set of rules, so check them when joining. In addition, it is bound by whatever Facebook's current policy is on selling live animals.
4. There are several Other non-GSAS-hosted Online Resources dedicated for buying and selling:
Contact us if you have another resource that would be helpful to add to the above list.
Memberships are processed by our membership chair, an actual live person. This is important, because we need to check whether it's a renewal, address updates, validate eligibility, etc. So this doesn't happen automatically and instantly when you do your PayPal payment. But when they are done, you will first get an e-mail confirmation from GSAS including your member number and other new member information, and later a letter in the postal mail with your membership card. It might take a week, but usually you'll get a response within two days.
If you are renewing last-minute so you can participate in an auction, include that in the
notes section or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may be able to get to it before the meeting.
When you e-mail a post to Airstone, you normally get two copies of the e-mail. First, the outgoing e-mail is saved to your Sent bin. And later, the Airstone server e-mails you back a copy of your own post that would show up alongside other Airstone e-mails. Unfortunately, gmail and certain other mail providers throw away this second copy as a duplicate, so you can never directly tell when your post has been received and echoed back to you.
However, if your post is part of a thread that other people are participating in, gmail will
pull in the Sent bin version your post in the normal Threaded View.
The practical upshot is that if you start a new thread, you will see nothing until someone replies to you, at which time you will see both your original e-mail and the reply below. Similarly, if you reply to a thread, your reply will show up immediately in the normal Threaded view, even before it has made it to Airstone.
Aside from waiting for someone to reply your unanswered post, you can also check for the post in the Airstone archives.