Crosslinked Forum/UWR List

No theory in this article, it's just a proposal I've been thinking of but don't have the skills to program. I've never seen this in practice, but it was an idea I had a while ago and which I'm sure a lot of other people have had independently. It ought to be written up, though...

The thing that inspired this was the realization that people look to the unofficial world record (UWR) pages on speedcubing.com as a reference, but that many fast people don't post their times at all, so they are clearly not representative. I've often heard the excuse that the official times are the only times that matter, but the fact is that most events and puzzles do not have any official counterpart and the only way to compare times on them is through an unofficial list of this sort.

It seems to me that this would solve this problem, plus many additional ones which I'll talk about later. The basic idea is to have a forum where users enter their unofficial personal best times. The times would then be organized in a list in their profile, and there would also be a UWR section which would automatically sort and display the times that users have submitted. Ideally it would be very easy to submit times, so that people would grow used to submitting new PBs as often as they post in Accomplishment threads. A timer could also be added, and then users' single and rolling average-of-12 times could even be automatically updated when they finish a session. From a database point of view it would be a relatively simple addition to the forum system. The way I would do it would be to take a working forum and then add the databases of records and categories; then we would just have to make a way to submit records, display them in people's profiles, and display them in the UWR format. Other additions such as timers or a compare-users function would just involve different ways of interacting with this system.

This doesn't sound like that much of an improvement over a forum like speedsolving.com, but it would solve a lot of problems. There wouldn't be many problems with fake times (like there apparently are on the UWR list) because the mods could simply delete or ban the offending account. Signatures wouldn't need to contain people's best times because they would be easily found in the user's profile. Nothing would have to be manually updated on the unofficial record list, so whenever someone updated their time or e-mail the list would update, and you'd never have duplicate entries. Similarly it would be easy to add new events: you could allow people to create their own events, with certain restrictions, and perhaps show all events with at least two people in them. Since the UWR list and forums would be on the same website, it would be a lot easier to compare people, and you could even have a function which takes two users and compares all of their personal records automatically. You'd also end up with an account for everyone who wants to be on the unofficial list, which means that the community could be more organized than ever; it wouldn't be much of a problem to make different forum sections for people from different countries or people who speak different languages, and perhaps eventually everyone could be using the same website as their speedcubing community (rather than having speedsolving.com for most English-speaking people and then a bunch of other separate websites for various other languages or countries). This would also be a very convenient centralized place for people to talk about their records, since it would all be on one site.

The question is, though, should everyone move from speedsolving or wherever to use this? I kind of think that we should agree on some kind of website that would satisfy all of our needs as a community for the next few years. Cubing is definitely not dying down; in fact it is picking up faster and faster, and I think it's about time we become very organized with the community. Speedsolving is a pretty good forum but it has a big problem with posting times: people can't really display much of their accomplishments because of small signatures, so you have to already know who people are in order to figure out who's amazingly fast. In fact some of the faster people I know don't even know what their best times are, which seems kind of odd given that so many other people want to know that. This tells me that more organization is needed. There's also a problem of lots of smaller, regional cubing forums; this means that the community isn't all in one place, so it can be tricky to find someone who isn't on speedsolving, and if something is posted in one place it won't necessarily reach everyone. So I figure we could use this kind of certainty.

The last thing I think I should say is that, once we are sure we have a forum that will satisfy everything we want, moving to it won't be that hard. Initially you will have people using the old and new system concurrently, but eventually the old system will just become an archive of past cubing discussions. This seems to be the eventual fate of the speedcubing Yahoo group, which was replaced by speedsolving because the Yahoo group message system is much less convenient and organized than the forum system. I am pretty sure that, if a community website can be made which is clearly superior to the existing community forums, we will eventually have everyone in the new website, and it will be much easier to share records and ideas. It will definitely take a while to program and perfect this, but I think that if we use lookahead we can see that it will be well worth it in the long run.

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