Integrity of the Network

Derek Hood

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« on: November 04, 2010, 04:11:30 pm »
As I sit here and work a position on the network its funny to see how bad it has gotten over the past few years alone.  People logging on and taxiing to and from or taking off / landing as they please without calling you.  Then you query them and all you get is "Oh sorry, I didn't know you were on" or "Oh sorry I don't know whats going on this is my first time"  I mean I understand that we all started out on this at one time or another, but read the guidelines or they need to be enforced a little better IMHO.  The network is slowly going down the drain and the fun is really starting to go with it as well with sub-par pilots connecting to the network.

Sorry for the rant, but I know im not the only one who feels this way.

Derek Hood
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« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 04:12:14 pm by Derek Hood »

Tyler Goeggel

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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010, 07:01:19 pm »
You're not the only one, Derek.

Derek Hood

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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2010, 07:12:40 pm »
Quote from: Tyler Goeggel
You're not the only one, Derek.

Oh I know Tyler, I know there is a huge line behind me.  But I was just very frustrated today.

Andrew Doubleday

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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 02:10:38 am »
Not sure how "huge" the line is in respect to the entire network, but there are a significant number of experienced members concerned for sure... I'll be the first to agree.

As a controller who's put in an average of 80-100 hours a month (Albeit some leaves here and there due to real life, while being active, this is roughly my average.) with somewhere around 3,500 total hours behind the scopes, I've witnessed the downhill slide since I began controlling in 2005, especially within the past two years the most. The "fun" level for those of us who see the network as being far more capable than it is headed is truly becoming depressing. I'm beginning to slow down already and looking for alternatives, to be quite frank.

Referencing the Major airport off-peak certification thread (found here in the VATSIM forum: http://forums.vatsim.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=52546) that's been fairly popular recently, this is enough for me to realize things aren't heading in a positive directing for someone like me anymore. I prefer a more realistic atmosphere, more standardized procedures, a well-trained and maintained roster of controllers in a facility with a realistic approach towards controlling and, to top it off, pilots that appreciate that level of service offered and, in turn, are of high quality themselves - that's enjoyment of the network for me. I know there are others out there as well - I wish they would speak up more rather than biting their tongue (whether this is out of concern for their staff positions or what - I'm not certain).

A quote David Klain posted from the founders has me particularly concerned:

[!--quoteo--][div class=\\\'quotetop\\\']QUOTE [/div][div class=\\\'quotemain\\\'][!--quotec--]When VATSIM first started out, a couple of guys would be flying and another guy would control...he would jump from DEL to GND to TWR to DEP to CTR to ARR to TWR to GND to provide them 100% ATC coverage for the entire flight. The pilots got to talk to a controller throughout the whole flight and fun was had by all. As VATSIM has grown, we have instituted regions, divisions and FIRS which have made this impossible in today's world due to all the bureaucracy and requirements to either belong to the FIR or get visiting status. Those Regions, Divisions and FIRs have forgotten that they don't own the airspace...VATSIM does. Maybe it's time we do away with all of that and adopt a global approach where controllers can control anywhere....[/quote]

Sure, maybe this was fun while it started - but the network has grown to allow for so much more in terms of advancements in technology and with the allowance of facilities to become more realistic and standardized. Now it seems we just want to retract all of this and retreat back to how things were 10 years ago? It's difficult to digest sometimes for someone like me... It's like taking 10 steps backwards - who in their right mind who's reached a level of knowledge, experience, and entertainment from high quality here would want to see this happen? Allow me to explain my thoughts on this further...

What I'm seeing is a large disconnect between a good portion of the founders and the current status of the network, referencing the above comment. It seems to me like an old boys club that is disappointed because the network evolved beyond their capabilities and they don't want it because it's either too difficult or complex for them now, regardless of the fact that many others have probably enjoyed a lot of the advancements a number of facilities have made over the years to improve quality.

I think Keith Smith said it right in this thread as well... When has anyone actually seen a founder work a _busy_ sky themselves recently (and if so, how regularly do they actually do it)??? I don't think I've ever seen a founder go through my facility's training program, let alone any others I've been a part of or involved with, and see how truly amazing that can be if you actually put some effort into it... I'm sure this goes for many other facilities as well. It's few and far between that you see that. It seems to me decisions to remove supposed excessive restrictions on membership and simplify things is being based on the excuse that "since other members appear to be struggling, it must be true, even though we've never really tried to see it for ourselves". When do the experienced and regular members who have actually seen good things come from these advancements the network has made get to be heard about these changes? Again, I'm not saying that every facility has done it right, but I'd like to think most have done alright. In my opinion, it's already too easy to become a controller on VATSIM as is in a majority of VATUSA facilities.

Sure, maybe their are numbers to show people aren't enjoying how long it takes to become certified in certain areas or pilots don't want deal with testing or other things, but it truly has taken a noticeable toll on overall quality, in my honest opinion. To me, it's feeling more and more like people simply don't want to put the effort in anymore, they just want instant gratification from this. Maybe this is what the founders want now. It definitely appears that way more and more though. Adding to this point, events are something we all look forward to on VATSIM. You need a well trained, organized, and prepared roster to handle them effectively and, on top of this, quality piloting. This is something that every member should _want_ to work for. If you take away the drive by making things easier for everyone, this disappears and becomes all the more frustrating for those of us who have put the effort in. I can speak from experience in having witnessed this problem as of late as well.

Ever since the Founders letter to the community, I knew we were in for changes that probably were not going to impress the experienced and dedicated here... Maybe some of them have been beneficial to some extent, but again, I'm speaking as someone who's seen and experienced a lot here over the years - and it really has gone downhill. Pilot quality really took a steep descent upon opening up memberships to free email service providers. It amazes me how flawed the relatively new "join VATSIM" page is in failing to mention anything at all about actually being prepared prior to logging on... There are so many newer members on this network now than I've ever seen before, it's outweighing those members with experience, which is in turn creating frustration amongst us and contributing towards the realism divide (referencing exactly what Derek has posted above, I've seen it so much more frequency now days than ever).

For the record, I think it's a terrible idea to remove the off peak certifications all together - it's another prime example of the disconnect between network management and understanding of things going on at the local level. A quick fix solution that maybe fixes a few bad apples, but screws facilities that have actually made it work. You're impeding some of the better advancements some facilities have made on this network by doing away with this.

There's something Gary Millsaps had to say that I liked as well, specifically the area in which controllers try to experience that natural "high" from working a busy sector and knowing they can keep it under control. I think the last time I've actually experienced that "high" is well over a year ago at this point. Again, there is such an incredibly high volume of new people on the network, it outweighs the experienced more than ever before... It's rarely an effective learning environment. Getting a "good session" in is so few and far between these days (for me anyhow). Trying to work with 10 new pilots at a time is a difficult, if not nearly impossible task to accomplish (this isn't an exaggeration either). I surely try to be respectful and help out, I'd like to think my feedback at ZLA shows that for the most part as well, but it's truly not fun when you're experiencing this day in and day out now... I'm at the point where I'm impressed if one guy obtains and reports ATIS when checking in with me, complies with instructions timely, maintains a high situational awareness in a busy sky, and actually appreciates and attempts to work with a knowledgeable controller when he/she finds one...

Obviously we all did start somewhere. The real concern I'm experiencing is relevant to the foundational flaws in the network and how we're appearing to go about handling them. Starting with whoever decided it would be a smart idea to require controlling training, yet nothing at all of pilots, is just absurd... It's fundamentally flawed in every aspect. Additionally, with the advancements facilities have made to improve procedures, training and other aspects that make this enjoyable for people who actually prefer a "simulation" rather than just another "game", we have created members (like myself) that desire a more realistic and organized environment - that is what is "fun" for us. I'm not saying I (or others) don't understand and respect the fact that we were all once new and needed help at one point or another, just that this should be able to occur in moderation with the experienced able to grandfather down at an appropriate rate of attrition with the new members, rather than the blind leading the blind as it appears more and more now days (no disrespect meant to those actual blind members here). This type of professional environment seems to be rapidly fading now, especially within VATUSA (again, I'm speaking from first hand observation of this). When comments are posted regarding the lack of controller or pilot quality now, many are easy to criticize those experienced members complaints for being too realistic, etc... It's unfair in my opinion. There does seem to be valid concern that quality is suffering here, it just seems to be ignored by many. You need the quality-concerned members to stick around to help improve the rest. To the founders, you've allowed the network to produce higher quality members from the get-go. Do you honestly want to kick them to the curb in favor of quantity over quality now? I just don't get how this will help improve anything other than making this more and more like the MSN Game Zone... Do you honestly want that as well?

There may be one area I can agree with the founders on - excessive bureaucracy here. Again, in my opinion, its been allowed to get to this point though. The flaws in the foundation of the network have fostered the differences across the realism spectrum we now face and the political crap is all a result of this in some form or fashion.

In the end, who am I to speak though I guess... I'm just a controller here now. I just hope my opinions are not overlooked (as I'm not the only one with it). Obviously this is the founders network to do as they please with. As stated in the comment, it's their airspace - we just borrow it. They can do as they please in the end...

I'd just ask network management (founders, BoG, etc) that before making decisions/implementing policy that negatively impact certain facilities and members, that you take some time to listen to those who have experienced the good that has come from the development of the network over the years and try a little harder to allow for flexibility in those areas when enacting policy. You will only continue to drive off those experienced members frustrated by what is an apparent lack of understanding otherwise. Put a little time and effort in by either controlling (try actually going through training programs that are complaining about your lack of understanding to their needs, listen to those facility's concerns directly) or flying regularly in certain areas (spending time on the front lines of the network again) to see this what's happening first-hand rather than sitting high up in your ivory tower saying things like, "It's not right, it's too hard for us, we need to go back to how it was before," when you're hardly actively involved at the facility level anymore. Because, with all due respect, it appears to someone like me that you're approaching things in a very close-minded manner right now - I'm sure others feel the same way. Break down the political barriers by becoming involved again at the basic level. Show the community that you're making an active effort to understand each side of the spectrum before implementing change. Please take this constructively...



Sincere Regards from a concerned member,
« Last Edit: November 05, 2010, 02:23:18 am by Andrew Doubleday »
Andrew James Doubleday (AJ)
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Derek Hood

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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 12:57:45 pm »
Quote from: Andrew Doubleday
Not sure how "huge" the line is in respect to the entire network, but there are a significant number of experienced members concerned for sure... I'll be the first to agree.

As a controller who's put in an average of 80-100 hours a month (Albeit some leaves here and there due to real life, while being active, this is roughly my average.) with somewhere around 3,500 total hours behind the scopes, I've witnessed the downhill slide since I began controlling in 2005, especially within the past two years the most. The "fun" level for those of us who see the network as being far more capable than it is headed is truly becoming depressing. I'm beginning to slow down already and looking for alternatives, to be quite frank.

Referencing the Major airport off-peak certification thread (found here in the VATSIM forum: http://forums.vatsim.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=52546) that's been fairly popular recently, this is enough for me to realize things aren't heading in a positive directing for someone like me anymore. I prefer a more realistic atmosphere, more standardized procedures, a well-trained and maintained roster of controllers in a facility with a realistic approach towards controlling and, to top it off, pilots that appreciate that level of service offered and, in turn, are of high quality themselves - that's enjoyment of the network for me. I know there are others out there as well - I wish they would speak up more rather than biting their tongue (whether this is out of concern for their staff positions or what - I'm not certain).

A quote David Klain posted from the founders has me particularly concerned:



Sure, maybe this was fun while it started - but the network has grown to allow for so much more in terms of advancements in technology and with the allowance of facilities to become more realistic and standardized. Now it seems we just want to retract all of this and retreat back to how things were 10 years ago? It's difficult to digest sometimes for someone like me... It's like taking 10 steps backwards - who in their right mind who's reached a level of knowledge, experience, and entertainment from high quality here would want to see this happen? Allow me to explain my thoughts on this further...

What I'm seeing is a large disconnect between a good portion of the founders and the current status of the network, referencing the above comment. It seems to me like an old boys club that is disappointed because the network evolved beyond their capabilities and they don't want it because it's either too difficult or complex for them now, regardless of the fact that many others have probably enjoyed a lot of the advancements a number of facilities have made over the years to improve quality.

I think Keith Smith said it right in this thread as well... When has anyone actually seen a founder work a _busy_ sky themselves recently (and if so, how regularly do they actually do it)??? I don't think I've ever seen a founder go through my facility's training program, let alone any others I've been a part of or involved with, and see how truly amazing that can be if you actually put some effort into it... I'm sure this goes for many other facilities as well. It's few and far between that you see that. It seems to me decisions to remove supposed excessive restrictions on membership and simplify things is being based on the excuse that "since other members appear to be struggling, it must be true, even though we've never really tried to see it for ourselves". When do the experienced and regular members who have actually seen good things come from these advancements the network has made get to be heard about these changes? Again, I'm not saying that every facility has done it right, but I'd like to think most have done alright. In my opinion, it's already too easy to become a controller on VATSIM as is in a majority of VATUSA facilities.

Sure, maybe their are numbers to show people aren't enjoying how long it takes to become certified in certain areas or pilots don't want deal with testing or other things, but it truly has taken a noticeable toll on overall quality, in my honest opinion. To me, it's feeling more and more like people simply don't want to put the effort in anymore, they just want instant gratification from this. Maybe this is what the founders want now. It definitely appears that way more and more though. Adding to this point, events are something we all look forward to on VATSIM. You need a well trained, organized, and prepared roster to handle them effectively and, on top of this, quality piloting. This is something that every member should _want_ to work for. If you take away the drive by making things easier for everyone, this disappears and becomes all the more frustrating for those of us who have put the effort in. I can speak from experience in having witnessed this problem as of late as well.

Ever since the Founders letter to the community, I knew we were in for changes that probably were not going to impress the experienced and dedicated here... Maybe some of them have been beneficial to some extent, but again, I'm speaking as someone who's seen and experienced a lot here over the years - and it really has gone downhill. Pilot quality really took a steep descent upon opening up memberships to free email service providers. It amazes me how flawed the relatively new "join VATSIM" page is in failing to mention anything at all about actually being prepared prior to logging on... There are so many newer members on this network now than I've ever seen before, it's outweighing those members with experience, which is in turn creating frustration amongst us and contributing towards the realism divide (referencing exactly what Derek has posted above, I've seen it so much more frequency now days than ever).

For the record, I think it's a terrible idea to remove the off peak certifications all together - it's another prime example of the disconnect between network management and understanding of things going on at the local level. A quick fix solution that maybe fixes a few bad apples, but screws facilities that have actually made it work. You're impeding some of the better advancements some facilities have made on this network by doing away with this.

There's something Gary Millsaps had to say that I liked as well, specifically the area in which controllers try to experience that natural "high" from working a busy sector and knowing they can keep it under control. I think the last time I've actually experienced that "high" is well over a year ago at this point. Again, there is such an incredibly high volume of new people on the network, it outweighs the experienced more than ever before... It's rarely an effective learning environment. Getting a "good session" in is so few and far between these days (for me anyhow). Trying to work with 10 new pilots at a time is a difficult, if not nearly impossible task to accomplish (this isn't an exaggeration either). I surely try to be respectful and help out, I'd like to think my feedback at ZLA shows that for the most part as well, but it's truly not fun when you're experiencing this day in and day out now... I'm at the point where I'm impressed if one guy obtains and reports ATIS when checking in with me, complies with instructions timely, maintains a high situational awareness in a busy sky, and actually appreciates and attempts to work with a knowledgeable controller when he/she finds one...

Obviously we all did start somewhere. The real concern I'm experiencing is relevant to the foundational flaws in the network and how we're appearing to go about handling them. Starting with whoever decided it would be a smart idea to require controlling training, yet nothing at all of pilots, is just absurd... It's fundamentally flawed in every aspect. Additionally, with the advancements facilities have made to improve procedures, training and other aspects that make this enjoyable for people who actually prefer a "simulation" rather than just another "game", we have created members (like myself) that desire a more realistic and organized environment - that is what is "fun" for us. I'm not saying I (or others) don't understand and respect the fact that we were all once new and needed help at one point or another, just that this should be able to occur in moderation with the experienced able to grandfather down at an appropriate rate of attrition with the new members, rather than the blind leading the blind as it appears more and more now days (no disrespect meant to those actual blind members here). This type of professional environment seems to be rapidly fading now, especially within VATUSA (again, I'm speaking from first hand observation of this). When comments are posted regarding the lack of controller or pilot quality now, many are easy to criticize those experienced members complaints for being too realistic, etc... It's unfair in my opinion. There does seem to be valid concern that quality is suffering here, it just seems to be ignored by many. You need the quality-concerned members to stick around to help improve the rest. To the founders, you've allowed the network to produce higher quality members from the get-go. Do you honestly want to kick them to the curb in favor of quantity over quality now? I just don't get how this will help improve anything other than making this more and more like the MSN Game Zone... Do you honestly want that as well?

There may be one area I can agree with the founders on - excessive bureaucracy here. Again, in my opinion, its been allowed to get to this point though. The flaws in the foundation of the network have fostered the differences across the realism spectrum we now face and the political crap is all a result of this in some form or fashion.

In the end, who am I to speak though I guess... I'm just a controller here now. I just hope my opinions are not overlooked (as I'm not the only one with it). Obviously this is the founders network to do as they please with. As stated in the comment, it's their airspace - we just borrow it. They can do as they please in the end...

I'd just ask network management (founders, BoG, etc) that before making decisions/implementing policy that negatively impact certain facilities and members, that you take some time to listen to those who have experienced the good that has come from the development of the network over the years and try a little harder to allow for flexibility in those areas when enacting policy. You will only continue to drive off those experienced members frustrated by what is an apparent lack of understanding otherwise. Put a little time and effort in by either controlling (try actually going through training programs that are complaining about your lack of understanding to their needs, listen to those facility's concerns directly) or flying regularly in certain areas (spending time on the front lines of the network again) to see this what's happening first-hand rather than sitting high up in your ivory tower saying things like, "It's not right, it's too hard for us, we need to go back to how it was before," when you're hardly actively involved at the facility level anymore. Because, with all due respect, it appears to someone like me that you're approaching things in a very close-minded manner right now - I'm sure others feel the same way. Break down the political barriers by becoming involved again at the basic level. Show the community that you're making an active effort to understand each side of the spectrum before implementing change. Please take this constructively...



Sincere Regards from a concerned member,


Very well put AJ.  I think its responses like this that need to be view by all founders and BoG alike.

Derek

Pan Lalas

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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2010, 05:16:17 am »
+1
You're definitely not alone AJ.
Thnx!
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Alex Evins

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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2010, 11:45:06 am »
Spot on. Well said AJ.
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Matthew Bartels

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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2010, 12:59:41 pm »
I completely agree with you AJ. You were able to put into words what I wasn't able to.
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Nicholas Cavacini

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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2010, 06:07:42 pm »
Well said AJ.
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2010, 12:03:09 am »
Agreed. Very much agreed. There are also a whole lot of people who would mirror those sentiments who I've talked to recently.

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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2010, 07:41:13 am »
+1
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Dhruv Kalra

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« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2010, 05:02:00 pm »
+1. Heartily agreed. Given the latest posts in the mothership forum, it seems like the dedicated guys have finally had enough.
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2010, 09:04:55 pm »
I wholeheartedly agree with AJ's sentiments.
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Tyler Goeggel

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« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2010, 09:06:46 pm »
+1... AJ has it spot on.

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« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2010, 10:00:32 pm »
AJ,

What you've said is essentially what everyone else who controls regularly is saying, specifically in regards to pilot quality. It's a very disheartening trend to see how many pilots have no clue whatsoever as to what is going on in the most remote sense. While pilots used to model the habits of FS9/FSX Default ATC, I don't even see THAT anymore; it's turned into a conglomeration of confusion all over the scope. There are posts in the VATSIM Forums about it just about every couple of weeks. Though, instead of focusing on pilot training, it seems we're now focusing on controller de-training, if that's even a word. I just don't get it.

At the same time, I must re-iterate what I said in the VATSIM Forums that much of what we've heard thus far is hearsay. I see no point in mass-resignations unless there is hard evidence, like a notice of a policy change or something, that VATSIM staff will make major changes to the way ARTCCs and divisions are operated. Sure, I too take offense that some higher-ups have degraded the work we've done in improving our areas of VATUSA, but I'm sure they've had those feelings for quite a long time. Whether or not they will act on them is something I look forward to seeing. Usually what I've seen in the forums are discussions on various idealistic situations, most if not all of which never come to fruition. I wouldn't think this one is really any different.