Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

NSW & ACT specific bushwalking discussion.
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NSW & ACT specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Sat 07 Aug, 2021 1:46 pm

Hi All
There are a bunch of changes and new features coming to Bushwalk.com this coming week. They have been in the making for a while - and I have given a few previews. The forum remains mostly unchanged for now.
The main thing you will notice is that there will soon be a home page. Previously, going go bushwalk.com/ would send you to bushwalk.com/forum/ but there will be a home page there. Soon, you can then click through to the forum.

You can see the home page now https://bushwalk.com/?test


New Walks
We now have about 1700 walks documented and mapped. All have
*GPS download
*PDF map and notes download
*basic track notes
*Terrain profiles
*Lots of other stuff like weather, nearby walks, etc. Looks at the walks to see all the information

Coming soon to walks
*Tracknotes in other languages (early next year)
*App that works offline
*Ability for users to upload photos (in the next 3 weeks or so I hope - they need to be geocoded so we can attach them to the right walks at the right point)
*My whiteboard is pretty full -- but keep the ideas coming

Learn
There are a bunch of articles on general bushwalking gear/skills etc. Including some walk specific ones (eg see the overland track walk for article links)

Chat
Links to our happy community here

Dream
Links to our magazine, calendar and apps -- this is a mess at this stage -- will clean it up in a few months once we have the walks section all cleaned up.

Bugs
Yep they exist -- but let me know when you find any. The main ones causing me grief atm are
* the terrain profiles in walk PDFs have overlapping lines and maps when they shouldn't - I am rewriting this bit of code
* in the back end some walks can't be added yet (impacting adding the Great North Walk and some others). This is driving me crazy but I'm working on a fix.

Future of the Forum
I love our community and I am keen to keep this forum running.
I will update the colour scheme from the current green to match the branding of the rest of the website in the next little while (the red/orange and blue).

The software is getting clunky so I will need to do another upgrade (which then will break a few features that I need to deal with) then we can add the much needed like button and other stuff. This will also mean I need to migrate to a new server. I plan to do this over the summer and the forum will be in read-only mode of a day -- but will give you plenty of heads up.

I have made a few backend changes. Namely, the forum now sits behind a new load balancer and firewall -- this will improve speed and stability. I also updated the new member spam detection -- we get lots of attempted signups by spammers every day. Our amazing moderators (they really are amazing) have been dealing with a huge load as of late. This change will ease that burden (until the *&%$#! spammers work out how to get around these systems) -- but we will keep them out.

Please feel free to chat about the changes - the good the bad and the ugly.
Please also forgive me if I am slow to respond and get to all the changes -- there is only so much time in the day.

Happy walking

Matt :)
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby GregG » Sat 07 Aug, 2021 3:52 pm

Thanks for all your hard work Matt, I like the new home page, its looking good I think.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Sat 07 Aug, 2021 4:52 pm

Thanks GregG :)
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby stry » Sat 07 Aug, 2021 6:28 pm

Well done Matt.

Thanks for the enormous amount of work that you and others continue to put into this. :D
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Sat 07 Aug, 2021 6:38 pm

Thanks Stry -- good while it is still fun :)
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby johnrs » Sun 08 Aug, 2021 12:41 pm

Great forum thanks all
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby Nuts » Sun 08 Aug, 2021 3:22 pm

As opposed to non-notable changes :)

If not already (and even if available somewhere else) I'd urge you to run these past the local park services. To merge your topics in an example, I can think of many walking tracks where structures (such as viewing platforms, bridges etc) need to comply with an urban standard, that is well beyond anything realistic for the track leading to it. There may be reasons, besides those obvious, to keep the numbers low, rather than be driven to comply the entire track or otherwise try to manage the increased pressure.


wildwalks wrote:
New Walks
We now have about 1700 walks documented and mapped. All have
*GPS download
*PDF map and notes download
*basic track notes
*Terrain profiles
*Lots of other stuff like weather, nearby walks, etc. Looks at the walks to see all the information

Coming soon to walks
*Tracknotes in other languages (early next year)
*App that works offline
*Ability for users to upload photos (in the next 3 weeks or so I hope - they need to be geocoded so we can attach them to the right walks at the right point)
*My whiteboard is pretty full -- but keep the ideas coming
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wander » Sun 08 Aug, 2021 6:17 pm

Will you need to move to a subscription model to keep going?

Which I have no problem with.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby cough » Sun 08 Aug, 2021 9:12 pm

I'll miss the green colour scheme in the forum!

What considerations are given as to what tracks are "documented and mapped" and added to the bushwalk.com website? I ask this as many off-track walks in my area are sadly almost becoming track walks with the amount of traffic they are now getting due to increased visitation (thanks to social media, the internet and word of mouth).
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 10:32 am

Nuts wrote:As opposed to non-notable changes :)
If not already (and even if available somewhere else) I'd urge you to run these past the local park services. To merge your topics in an example, I can think of many walking tracks where structures (such as viewing platforms, bridges etc) need to comply with an urban standard, that is well beyond anything realistic for the track leading to it. There may be reasons, besides those obvious, to keep the numbers low, rather than be driven to comply the entire track or otherwise try to manage the increased pressure.

hehe --
At this stage, all the walks are either already well known or well signposted. The 'documented' walks are really more for people getting into bushwalking rather than off-track walks.
I have tried to run this stuff past park staff in the past. Even the overland track stuff and the reply was basically saying they are not going to review anything - generally very dismissive.
I am in contact with a bunch of park staff and very happily receive feedback and happy to tweak stuff.
But due to my experience where they are not interested in my asking for permission -- I will need to wait till I need to ask for forgiveness I guess :)
The web is a wild west, and I hope that I am doing it more responsibly than many other websites that will happily promote off-track walks in remote areas.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 10:41 am

wander wrote:Will you need to move to a subscription model to keep going?
Which I have no problem with.


Thanks Wander
Glad you are comfortable with the subscription idea.
But no that is not my plan. I am a fan of keeping information as available as possible.
BUT -- there will be a subscription for an app for walks features. All the information, maps etc will be available for free online. But there will be a fee to use all the features on the app.
I may need to put some features behind a free subscription signin -- EG geo-referenced PDF maps (not available yet, but I want to add them). This login will also be used for things like photo uploads, and liking walks etc -- again features have not been added yet).

I have received a generous donation from a fan that is helping with some of the new features. Also generating revenue from advertising and other sources. A similar model has worked well in NSW with wildwalks for 15 years. My hope is that the community will get more involved in this in time. Uploading photos and suggesting new walks and proving updates. this helps to keep it better for all and helps reduce my maintenance cost.
So in short -- no subscription costs (other than the app), but I hope some people get involved and help make it really awesome. (but I still need to add these features to make it possible).
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 10:56 am

cough wrote:I'll miss the green colour scheme in the forum!

Yeah I think I will too. But I think it is too jaring for users going between different parts of the site, and this green did not work in any design for the other areas.
When I make the change I can look at a switch option for those who want to keep it green I guess -- I will look into it.


cough wrote:What considerations are given as to what tracks are "documented and mapped" and added to the bushwalk.com website? I ask this as many off-track walks in my area are sadly almost becoming track walks with the amount of traffic they are now getting due to increased visitation (thanks to social media, the internet and word of mouth).

Ohh I call this the class 6 problem :) (class 6 walks in the AS2156 are the remote off-track walks)

Traditionally the way we have protected these areas is by not documenting them -- keeping them out of mass publications and out of peoples thinking.
This worked fairly well until the internet meant anyone can post anything.

Now we have a worse problem. People who are generally not aware of the risks (to people and place) are promoting the types of walks you mentioned.
And people who understand these risks are still not promoting these walks - so we end up in a worse situation.
Someone in the community becomes aware of a particular walk, search for it and the only information they can find are published by people not fully aware of the risks to people or place.
(in my clearly snobby opinion)

So I do think the idea of protection by not publishing needs to change -- and change soon.
But that is not my call, so I am still following, in general, the do not publish an off-track walk in sensitive areas idea.

My thinking at this stage is to move towards a new model (not yet decided or any planned -- so no need for people to start freaking out)
1) document these remote walks - but the public view of the walk is very limited, not detailed map and pushing the risks to people and place - and suggesting alternative walks
2) have a 'trusted class 6' people group on the website. They can nominate other trusted people. Trusted people can download full details on the walk.
This model has a lot of obvious issues but I do think we need to head in a direction like that if we have any hope of curving the broader issue.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby north-north-west » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 1:31 pm

wildwalks wrote:1) document these remote walks - but the public view of the walk is very limited, not detailed map and pushing the risks to people and place - and suggesting alternative walks
2) have a 'trusted class 6' people group on the website. They can nominate other trusted people. Trusted people can download full details on the walk.
This model has a lot of obvious issues but I do think we need to head in a direction like that if we have any hope of curving the broader issue.


There is merit in the idea of walks being listed/mentioned, with a big (VERY BIG) warning first and foremost about all the potential hazards and requirements. Try to make sure that anyone even looking at the list cannot miss the information. Make sure all the reasons they shouldn't even think about it are in their faces.
But this runs into one of the issues you brought up on the 'Access' thread: there are people who have difficulty in reading and absorbing this information. Then you have the wannabes who will ignore all the warnings anyway because 'meh, how hard can it be?" (we've literally had someone say that when the Breminator was looking for companions for another attempt at his infamous Federation route). So, the 'trusted class 6' group ... well, yeah, good idea but, really, if you're at that level, you can - or you should be able to - find the basic info to make your plan anyway. You shouldn't need GPX files and someone else's map and notes.

There's no way to dodge deliberate ignorance, arrogance and a sense of entitlement.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 4:26 pm

north-north-west wrote:There is merit in the idea of walks being listed/mentioned, with a big (VERY BIG) warning first and foremost about all the potential hazards and requirements. Try to make sure that anyone even looking at the list cannot miss the information. Make sure all the reasons they shouldn't even think about it are in their faces.
But this runs into one of the issues you brought up on the 'Access' thread: there are people who have difficulty in reading and absorbing this information. Then you have the wannabes who will ignore all the warnings anyway because 'meh, how hard can it be?" (we've literally had someone say that when the Breminator was looking for companions for another attempt at his infamous Federation route). So, the 'trusted class 6' group ... well, yeah, good idea but, really, if you're at that level, you can - or you should be able to - find the basic info to make your plan anyway. You shouldn't need GPX files and someone else's map and notes.

There's no way to dodge deliberate ignorance, arrogance and a sense of entitlement.


Yep I agree. Most of us have met plenty of people on track who had told themselves "it's just a walk, how hard can it be?" -- who then found out the hard way.
The main benefit of this idea is of course that people at least have the chance of finding out information on the true level of challenge it presents. Whilst all the 'responsible' publishers (need a better name) avoid writing about it then that information is just not accessible to the average person so they are left with all this dodgy information at the top of google.
Yep the trusted class 6 people group would have a bunch of issues as I see it too. Although I don't need a GPX on class 6 walks I sometimes like to have one anyway - so there is a difference between needing and stuff been handy.

Oh the cans of worms we can open :)
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwanderer » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 4:39 pm

Looking awesome Matt.

Walk section really good now to navigate. Is their a way to see a text listing by national park?

A few things I noticed.

- in the equipment section, the first aid kit is missing a snake bite bandage aka setopress or similar. (Though that might be what the elastic rollers mentioned are)

- the magazine section is a http link so I get warning about non secure site.


Tend to agree with NNW on the remote walks. If youre at that level you shouldn't need track notes. Although pass and river crossing locations are nice to have. It's a shame the traditional way and still the best IMO way of learning about these remote regions 'join a bushwalking club' is not as valued by the general population as it used to be.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby Nuts » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 4:59 pm

I can imagine the disinterest of some park managers, after-all, unless they are entirely agreeable, it's yet another conflict to manage.

wildwalks wrote:Whilst all the 'responsible' publishers (need a better name) avoid writing about it then that information is just not accessible to the average person so they are left with all this dodgy information at the top of google.
Yep the trusted class 6 people group would have a bunch of issues as I see it too. Although I don't need a GPX on class 6 walks I sometimes like to have one anyway - so there is a difference between needing and stuff been handy.

Oh the cans of worms we can open :)


Then again, in the clumsy wild west, the dis-information itself may be equally 'self-limiting'.
But obviously, when all 'acceptable' tracks are packed, the routes are the next frontier. Whatever current limits and best intentions, nothing left to the imagination.

I don't know, sounds like the railwaymen solution.
Anyhow, no offence, but it's sounding like a brand shopfront, I would be surprised (or saddened) if you don't hear from P&W in some capacity.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwanderer » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 5:19 pm

Nuts, Matt's just one guy. It takes a lot of work to maintain the walk, forum and the magazine sites. Consolidating it all under one roof of bushwalk.com makes it easier to maintain and will increase the visibility of the forum bringing in more people to have discussions with. I think that's a positive.

I would have said a labor of love rather than a shopfront.. and anyway nothing in the forum is being removed aside from a colour scheme change. And we might even get that much asked for like button :)
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby rcaffin » Mon 09 Aug, 2021 7:47 pm

There is one very obvious reason the Parks managers do not want to be involved: legal liability.

Perhaps, for 'class 6' walks, you just don't give any detail? As a hard rule.

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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Tue 10 Aug, 2021 8:50 am

wildwanderer wrote:Looking awesome Matt.

Thanks Mate :)

wildwanderer wrote:Walk section really good now to navigate. Is their a way to see a text listing by national park?

I don't really like the way I am handling 'areas' yet and want to improve the search features a lot more.
There are two ways
1) using the search form (select the park in the 'area' drop down) eg https://bushwalk.com/search/?word&item%5B0%5D=areas-blue-mountains-national-park
2) using the areas feature (this allows you to refine it by moving up and down areas eg AU->NSW->BMNP) eg https://bushwalk.com/area/blue-mountains-national-park/
(with the area map, open the 'parent' box to move up the larger areas and the 'child' box to go to areas inside the one you are looking at)
Anyone have a better name then 'parent' and 'child' -- I like the concept but not very intuitive.

wildwanderer wrote:A few things I noticed.
- in the equipment section, the first aid kit is missing a snake bite bandage aka setopress or similar. (Though that might be what the elastic rollers mentioned are)
- the magazine section is a http link so I get warning about non secure site.

Thanks yes -- the elastic rollers can be used for envenomations, for strains/sprains, securing pads etc.
The magazine site -- yeah it is clunky and slow too :) Once things settle a bit the plan is to move this server into the same environment and clean it up a bit. The backcatalog has a lot of great articles and I want to make them more accessible.

wildwanderer wrote:Tend to agree with NNW on the remote walks. If youre at that level you shouldn't need track notes. Although pass and river crossing locations are nice to have. It's a shame the traditional way and still the best IMO way of learning about these remote regions 'join a bushwalking club' is not as valued by the general population as it used to be.

Agree. Part of the issue is that this was never a real rule, it was a general unwritten agreement that bushwalkers/land managers held. So I don't think the general population is to be blamed. It is a slow-burning fire that we have seen coming for a long time and we have not adapted to well (in my opinion).

The idea of not publishing any information on off-track walks to protect them is similar in concept to hiding your money under your mattress in the hope that no one will look.
It works fine, until it doesn't. Computer networks used to rely on similar models by just making stuff hard to find in the network.

I suspect now our best security system now is going to be through education and referral. Attract people who are looking for information on a specific walk and give them really good information on the risks and issues. Suggests walks that are a good alternative and give them a clear pathway to develop the skills to get there (eg joining a club).
man -- I am starting to rant again -- sorry.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby ChrisJHC » Tue 10 Aug, 2021 9:03 am

Maybe a disclaimer at the top of Class 6 walks about the remote and hazardous nature?

You could also link to a separate page on how to build your skills to be able to tackle higher classification walks.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Tue 10 Aug, 2021 9:16 am

Nuts wrote:I can imagine the disinterest of some park managers, after-all, unless they are entirely agreeable, it's yet another conflict to manage.

Yep agree. And I am just another guy, building yet another bushwalking website - how many hundreds of them are there? they only have so much time in their day and no one actually responsible for dealing with guys working from the garage on projects like this.

Nuts wrote:Then again, in the clumsy wild west, the dis-information itself may be equally 'self-limiting'.
But obviously, when all 'acceptable' tracks are packed, the routes are the next frontier. Whatever current limits and best intentions, nothing left to the imagination.

Yeah, no idea where all this stops. In NSW at least COVID has seen a massive increase in the number of people walking on track -- this may actually help shift the focus for a little while, or make it worse -- no idea.

Nuts wrote:I don't know, sounds like the railwaymen solution.

Sorry don't know the phrase "railwaymen solution" ??

Nuts wrote:Anyhow, no offence, but it's sounding like a brand shopfront

No offence taken. It was kind of my plan. I think our community has a bunch of great stuff going on with the forum, the magazine, photo comp, calendar, so I am just pulling in some of my other work with the how-to bushwalk and the walking maps stuff. The idea is to have it all under one 'brand'. I think of brand as trust, my hope is that Bushwalk.com will keep growing as the place where people go for all things bushwalking.

Shopfront? maybe, I do sell some stuff, but I think my history is pretty clear that I want to keep stuff freely available. Every book and app I have published I provide more detail for all the walks for free online. Even the calendar that we sell, you can download the PDF. At the bottom of every walk on this new site is a link to an 'embed' page, so anyone who wants to add the map etc to their own blog can (no charge, not API tracking).
So yep there is a commercial aspect to it - got to pay for it somehow, I am not offended, hope others are not either.
(now having said that, a number of significant features on this new site are paid for through a very generous donation from a fan, so don't want to give the impression I am some genius businessman)

Nuts wrote:I would be surprised (or saddened) if you don't hear from P&W in some capacity.

Me too. I hope the different land managers do, I would be keen to work with them. I do with some, infact some walks on the website are only there because the land managers hired me to add them (here and on wildwalks.com). I work closely with all landmanagers and anyone with value to add that are willing to. So with you on this too.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Tue 10 Aug, 2021 9:25 am

rcaffin wrote:There is one very obvious reason the Parks managers do not want to be involved: legal liability.

Yep, and that many of them are very busy and non of them have the job or time to work with yet another person building yet another bushwalking website.
I know NSW NPWS at least has spent millions on building their walking website & apps - so why bother dealing with someone who it just doing it all again.
There are many good reasons for them to ignore, I probably would :)

rcaffin wrote:Perhaps, for 'class 6' walks, you just don't give any detail? As a hard rule.

I think it is a good starting point/rule. It is part of my thinking too. Enough information to be helpful for people thinking of walking it to let them know they do/don't have the skills/experience/equipment required.
But then there are all the annoying edge cases. What about the technically class six tracks but are easy and low impact (walking along a beach may be technically a class 6 in the AS2156.1). and the class 6 tracks that are already very popular - should we provide information in the hope that they will then read it and better understand LNT principles etc?
I don't know. Not something I am going to try to tackle this year.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby Nuts » Wed 11 Aug, 2021 1:04 pm

Thanks Matt. And you can only do good things in rationalising or improving access and it's good to see you try to work with P&W.
It's expanding access that is a concern (to me, one owner preference affected by the actions of others)

Where this happens, if you were seriously interested in maintaining parks management, you (or the 'class 6' group) could keep a record of the park contacted and dated/ 6 weeks would be a reasonable response time. This contact could be indicated on the walk notes. This would likely get them moving..

Legalities are less problematic for government agencies. But yes, may require some form of insurance on top of a waiver (maybe not). Whatever minor work-around I can assure you would be far less onerous than almost any other commercial partnership, which is what it really is even if there's no immediate or recognisable profit..

Allocating a few more $ to media relations wouldn't break the park service bank.

Remote wilderness, even the concept, or if places are inevitably battered, bruised & altered, is something worth fighting for, in this world of things we find ourself fighting against.

I don't think, even now, you can relate this site to just another personal site like most others or even facebook or reditt (given the amount and history of the content here). And even if, there's always room to move above the rabble.

Suspecting a smart group of people, I find the notion of stopping short of 'anything goes' with a class of non-detailed walks laughable. It's just leaves a new challenge for best intentions of owners/publishers to come? Or the worst intentions, given nobody can seriously pre-vouch against using precedents or defending their new actions.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby kymboy » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 2:01 pm

Hey Matt
I just came into the forum via the new front page, but when I click on the big bushwalk.com banner on the forum page it brings me back to the forum.
So no way to get to the front page yet off the forum that I see.... (edit) ... unless it's that little Home (coming soon) button :oops:
Kym
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby shehaal » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 9:37 am

Hi Matt,

FYI, clicking on the Forum link at the top of the page (next to Home (coming soon), Wiki, Blog, etc) links to https://bushwalk.com/forum instead of https://bushwalk.com/forum/. The former returns an error 404.

Otherwise, excited for the changes rolling out!

Cheers.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 1:39 pm

kymboy wrote:Hey Matt
I just came into the forum via the new front page, but when I click on the big bushwalk.com banner on the forum page it brings me back to the forum.
So no way to get to the front page yet off the forum that I see.... (edit) ... unless it's that little Home (coming soon) button :oops:
Kym

Thanks Kym
Yes I plan to update that end of this week. I was trying to minimise the sudden changes to the forum. Hopefully regular users will be familiar with the overall changes incase people get worried the forum is been phased out.
Thanks for pointing it out -- things like this are important :)
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 1:40 pm

shehaal wrote:Hi Matt,
FYI, clicking on the Forum link at the top of the page (next to Home (coming soon), Wiki, Blog, etc) links to https://bushwalk.com/forum instead of https://bushwalk.com/forum/. The former returns an error 404.
Otherwise, excited for the changes rolling out!
Cheers.

oops -- thanks on to that now :)
Glad you like the changes :)
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby beardless » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 9:05 pm

wildwalks wrote:
Future of the Forum
I love our community and I am keen to keep this forum running.
I will update the colour scheme from the current green to match the branding of the rest of the website in the next little while (the red/orange and blue).


Exciting times Matt. Really glad you are keeping the forum. It is an amazing resource and you are adding to it. Thanks.

This is a really small comment from one member but I think I will miss the green colour scheme of this forum. It is a calming colour and for me is synonymous with bushwalking.
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Re: Notable Changes to Bushwalk.com

Postby wildwalks » Mon 13 Sep, 2021 5:43 pm

beardless wrote:I think I will miss the green colour scheme of this forum. It is a calming colour and for me is synonymous with bushwalking.


Thanks Beardless for your kind works.
Yes I get the concern with the change of colour. I am not in a rush and I will provide a preview and we can chat through it a bit.
My concern with not changing it is that it will feel so different from the rest of the website that it will be very disjointed and confusing for new people.
I have played with the idea of a switchable theme, so current members can choose -- this looks possible but may become hard to maintain after the next update.
Hopefully people will be surprised and like the new colour scheme when we get there :)

Thanks :)
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