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AGA Membership Coordinator

Sam Zimmerman did this volunteer job for some 20-odd years, and my hat is off to him for doing it consistently well. As of September 2011, Mike Malveaux is learning to do it, with help from Chris Kirschner. I will be adding documentation here so that, if I get hit by a bus or die in a snowboarding accident, someone else can pick up where I left off.


  • Correspondence
    • membership@usgo Stuff to membership@ is often for the Membership Services Coordinator (currently Mark Rubenstein, in Evanston IL). It's people asking how to get started playing Go, for example. Sometimes it's for the database guy though -- issues with membership renewals, or needing a password reset because they no longer have their email they signed up with, etc.
    • database@usgo Stuff to database@ is usually routine notifications from the Membership Manager system -- people joining and renewing. For the most part, no action is required. If a Chapter joins, you should go in and set a 4-character chapter code for use in tournament filenames. If things are slow, I'll login to the MM and skim over the new members. Sometimes I find things to fix -- one guy in Florida, for example, who listed his "state" as the Fijian Islands. (Somehow they're next to each other on the list of states that starts coming up as you start typing, so it was an easy mistake to make.) Also, I'm in the habit of fixing capitalization for people who enter their names all in lower-case; but that's not required.

While working on another project (website migration), tonight I've learned that I'm supposed to "... notify new members of their nearest club, and provide nearby chapters with phone numbers and e-mail addresses of each new member..." Sigh... so much for "no action required." This is from the privacy policy on the membership application page. Well, better late than never. Maybe that eventually can be in the automated "welcome to the AGA email."

When it's not from the MM, stuff to database@ is inquiries from people who want to know where's their nearest Go club, or how many Go players there are in the U.S., or how come their membership expired when they thought they paid for a Lifetime membership.

Sometimes it's from the AGF, looking for players near a school or a library that wants to start a kids' Go program. In that case, do a Zip code radius search. Find the Zip code of the target institution -- if it's not in the email from the AGF, then Google is your friend. Put in the target Zip code: Depending on how populous the area is, set the radius to something sensible. (The free version maxes out at 30 miles; I don't want to buy a subscription to the paid version, but I may end up doing so.) Click "search" and voila! You get a page of zip codes and distances. Copy and paste into your spreadsheet, and define a range name. Now, download the membership list of players in the target state. If the target is relatively near a state border -- like, Louisville KY is quite close to towns in Ohio -- then download the membership list for the nearby states, too. Open in your spreadsheet program, and use vlookup to identify the members close to the target. Probably many of them will have expired memberships. It's your call whether to include them or not. I've decided to include people expired ten years or less, unless they are flagged "private".

    • ratings@usgo Stuff to ratings@ is usually tournament reports. These need to be checked to make sure all players have an AGAID (new players must be given an AGAID) that makes sense -- typos happen, and we want to catch them before they pollute the ratings database. Sam Z. did this chore with a script that checked AGAID and name against his copy of the membership database (which was the only copy of the membership database until recently, if I understand the situation correctly). I do essentially the same thing with a spreadsheet -- import most recent TDList, and compare the tournament report against it, using mostly the VLOOKUP function. It works for now, but for the future, I'd like to automate it more.

Then, generate a text file containing the tournament report header, a statement ## ATTRIBUTES tmpid id name followed by the list of new players.

      • tmpid is the temporary ID assigned by the tournament pairing software -- usually 5 digits, beginning with 9. Some typical examples: 99999, 99998; 90000, 90001; etc.
      • id is the permanent AGAID created by the Membership Staff.
      • name is the player's name, in the form of "familyname, givenname" The surname (family name, last name) is listed first; the comma is required; the whitespace is required; and the given name (first name) is listed last.

Then, name the file as follows: locndatesufx.fix

The "locn" part is the location where the tournament took place. Often (but not always) it is the same as the chapter code of the AGA Chapter that held the tournament. For example, the filename of a tournament held in Tacoma by the Tacoma Go Club will usually start with "taco" and TACO is the code for Tacoma Go Club. However, a tournament held at Seattle Go Center will have a filename starting with "seat" even though the Seattle Go Center chapter code is SEAG. (In the future, we may change this a bit, because there are confusing situations like when Tacoma Go Club holds a tournament at Seattle Go Center.)

Some large recurring events, like the Cotsen tournaments and tournaments held at the Go Congress, have their own 4-character identifiers to be used in the "locn" part of the filename.

The "date" part of the filename is the beginning date of the tournament, in yyyymmdd format. So a tournament that starts July 30, 2011 (such as the U.S. Open in Santa Barbara) will be 20110730 for the date portion of the filename.

The "sufx" part of the filename is an optional description, like "open" or "self" for the U.S. Open and the Self-Paired tournaments at the U.S. Go Congress. I think it is to distinguish events that have the same Locn and Date. It mostly is not used, except for events at the Go Congress.

The filename ends with ".fix" so the ratings script can find it and parse it correctly. So, here are some Fix File example names: seat20110904.fix cong20110730mid.fix

Send the finished Fix File to ratings@usgo so the Ratings Coordinator (currently Jonathan Bresler) can put the AGAID corrections into the ratings system.

    • membership@usgo, database@usgo
  • Input membership information

A lot of this is now done online by the members themselves, in the AGA Members Area which is awesome -- thanks, Justin Kramer and all who worked on it! There will still be a trickle of paper applications for new and renewing members.

  • Send out membership cards for new and a few renewing members

These are the wallet-sized blue plastic cards that replace the stiff paper membership documents of yesteryear.

That's all I have time for today -- I'll get back to this in a bit. Mike Malveaux 2011-09-12, 2011-09-30

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