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Discussion: If you could change one thing about VATSIM...


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Concerted, VATSIM-led technology efforts.

 

We have dedicated volunteers developing various bits and pieces for VATSIM here and there, but I don't see a comprehensive strategy "owned" by VATSIM. My gut tells me that we spend much time & energy duplicating efforts where a more centralized approach would make sense.

 

For example, does each local ATC facility really need their own unique website? My ARTCC has had probably a dozen different web domains over the last 20 years. All the while the core mission of the website hasn't changed. A centrally held website (a subdomain of the region or VATSIM for instance) would have saved untold behind-the-scenes efforts that did not contribute directly to controlling or flying on the network.

 

Pilot and ATC clients probably have a similar situation at some level. Ross Carlson has done wonders for our organization... but if he gets run over by the proverbial beer truck tomorrow (God forbid!), where does that leave VATSIM? Do the founders have ownership of the code and the ability to appoint a successor to continue development?

 

If we didn't have to reinvent the wheel so often, we could accomplish more with the time & effort we do have! A more centralized approach might help in this regard.

Steven Perry

VATSIM Supervisor

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Voice codec is number one priority. It should sound better than this, but not like a discord chat room either, so some filters would have to be applied.

 

If volunteer work is too slow, why not make a spec. for voice codec, common website system and all other things that desperately needs an update, get a price from professional developers and then crowd fund it? Im pretty sure most of us would contribute in making Vatsim up to date.

C1/INS

Director of Norway FIR

Vatsim Scandinavia

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Concerted, VATSIM-led technology efforts.

 

We have dedicated volunteers developing various bits and pieces for VATSIM here and there, but I don't see a comprehensive strategy "owned" by VATSIM. My gut tells me that we spend much time & energy duplicating efforts where a more centralized approach would make sense.

 

For example, does each local ATC facility really need their own unique website? My ARTCC has had probably a dozen different web domains over the last 20 years. All the while the core mission of the website hasn't changed. A centrally held website (a subdomain of the region or VATSIM for instance) would have saved untold behind-the-scenes efforts that did not contribute directly to controlling or flying on the network.

 

This is something that has been offered within VATUSA (personally, by me, while I was the Data Services Manager of VATUSA), very few even acknowledge the offer. And any attempts to force it will be met with fierce resistance. Some people get a great amount of joy out of developing but don't necessarily want to work outside of their group of friends and colleagues (FIR/ARTCC/CCF).

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[VATUSA hosting of ARTCC sites] is something that has been offered within VATUSA (personally, by me, while I was the Data Services Manager of VATUSA), very few even acknowledge the offer. And any attempts to force it will be met with fierce resistance. Some people get a great amount of joy out of developing but don't necessarily want to work outside of their group of friends and colleagues (FIR/ARTCC/CCF).

 

A shame. Thank you for trying though. If your successor continues to offer it, it only takes one or two takers to start building momentum. Did your offering include pre-built options for pilot feedback and event sign ups? Historically I've seen plenty of facilities struggle with these two things. As a pilot, it'd be awesome to know if I went to, for instance, [facilityname].vatusa.org/feedback/ that I'd always end up at a working feedback form rather than having to hunt the web for the right place and then only to find a 404 error.

Steven Perry

VATSIM Supervisor

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Short answer:

 


  1. 1. The leadership's mindset and structure at all levels (this includes Founders, BoG, Division, FIR/ARTCC, etc etc.)
    2. Abolish the NDA
    3. Tech strategy (or lack thereof)

(in order of priority)

 

 

Long answer:

 

Sorry, while I do realize that only "line items" were requested, I feel that it's rather hard to simply list my suggestions without going into (perhaps excessive) detail. Please bear with me.

 

 

On leadership:

 

I feel like many of the things brought up in this thread are merely symptoms of a much bigger problem. And what is that problem? I'd say it would be the leadership, particularly in terms of structure and mindset. You could replace the entire BoG, but if we're drawing from the same pool, and keeping the entire structure as-is, I doubt much would change.

 

Why...


  • ● ...is the voice codec still so bad?
    ● ...has little changed on the tech front, aside from band-aid solutions (e.g. PDC via PM) and unofficial software that requires adoption by the community at large, which can fail due to inconsistent adoption (e.g. Hoppie ACARS, unoffical AI models and matching rules etc.)?
    ● ...does the wheel have to be re-invented every time, for anything tech-related? (e.g. PDCs via PM vs. Hoppie ACARS, division websites)
    ● ...do some find pilot quality poor?
    ● ...are there complaints of excessive bureaucracy and/or politics?

...the list goes on and on.

 

At best, it's a lack of leadership and direction; at worst, there are entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo. Not that I am trying to imply any particular situation - I'm just trying to illustrate the wide variety of reasons as to why things are the way they are.

 

I agree with Sean over the following points:

I’ve mentioned this before, but I feel the Board needs to be more involved at the gr[Mod - Happy Thoughts] roots level and demonstrate their leadership on the forum at least.

(IMO, top-down instructions/announcements do not count. I suppose this thread is a bit of an exception though)

There are members of the VATSIM management that would rather just jump on people (in the forums) than offer something constructive.

I wholeheartedly agree. "Things are staying the way they are because we have such and such concerns" doesn't count either. That's just doubling down. Suggestions have been offered many times since time immemorial. Have any of them been actually been adopted?

 

 

On NDA and tech strategy:

 

The tech is bad because few are offering to officially develop for VATSIM. Nor is there any concerted, actual effort from the very top to push for a particular solution. In the age of GitHub and open-source development (heck, even tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook are releasing source code), the NDA has no place in this world, especially with volunteer efforts. Yes, you can just sign it and be on your merry way, but why would one sign a legal contract for a hobby, and no money or power changes hands, for that matter? Heck, I've just committed myself to something to which I have no idea about! Did I just sign up to fix a giant and messy code base, or am I actually implementing new features that I envisioned? But I digress; this is merely a symptom of how the leadership's mindset is stuck in the past. I'm not the only one with this view either; I've seen Luke Kolin make multiple forum appearances over the past decade or so over this issue.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

All that being said, the fact that this thread was even created in the first place is encouraging. Some BoG members do seem to be willing to listen. Whether suggestions will actually be acted on, however, may be a different story.

 

I'm sorry for sounding incredibly cynical. There's a little nagging voice in my head that's screaming: "Why now? Why would they act on suggestions that have been ignored for years?"

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All great suggestions thus far. It seems voice codec is a primary concern. Let's take it a bit further. If you could change your item personally, how would you do it? What would it look like?

Hello Mr. Bartels, I'm an Italian user of VATSIM, if I can suggest a codec, Speex, or maybe Opus (that is much better for quality) are more appropriate than MELP.

Also, for a better organization, when I joined VATSIM, it wasn't possible select the vACC, only the division. If every new members could select from this link "https://cert.vatsim.net/vatsimnet/signup.html" their intial vACC/vARTCC, maybe an automatic system for the [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ignement to a specific vACC is much better than advise with email the division staff about which vACC I want select as new user. Several new users of VATSIM, expecially inside my country, Italy, that haven't a lot of users such VATSIM UK, DutchvACC or VATger, doesn't know how to join the vACC of their country. This create also another problem: they doesn't know which platform use for the support with their native language. If I haven't an appropriate skills level about English language, an automatic email with my native language after my registration on VATSIM from the vACC of my country could give to that newbie users every indication about which platform they can use for every type of support. I will give you an example. With the mail from VATSIM HQ with my CID and P[Mod - Happy Thoughts]word (of course, this mail will be sended in English) every new users will receive also an email such this from the vACC of my country (this is an example if this system will be applicated in the future with my vACC, VATITA):

 

"Ciao Nome Cognome ID:123456, benvenuto su VATITA, se hai bisogno di supporto ti ricordiamo che puoi usare il forum della nostra vACC che trovi qua http://forum.vatita.net/ (registrazione al forum richiesta) ma anche il server Teamspeak3, il cui link di accesso lo trovi sul sito vatita.net In caso di dubbi, non esitare ad usare queste due piattaforme. Cordiali saluti, VATITA vACC-Mail automatica, si prega di non rispondere"

 

I don't think that there are other elements to change immediately.

I hope that I'm not the only user that think that a similary system can help the new users of VATSIM.

Saluti da Milano Radar.

Sometimes things get complicated. ATC on VATSIM as Milano Radar (LIMM_N_CTR)

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Well this is one improvement already...asking for opinions!

 

The tired old responses over the years to suggestions, questions and opinions were so often met in attack dog style to make the opinion giver seem to be ungrateful or a trouble causing irritant for what they get for free by those who do all this in their spare time for nothing.

 

I would like this culture within Vatsim to change to seeing those who bother to post on forums as keen members who care about the hobby and realise not everyone is in the clique and completely au fait with everything.

 

Regarding something different altogether , I recently made a comment on Vatsim uk forum which was promptly deleted because it did not offer useful information so made no sense to keep it.

 

Staggering arrogance from Vatuk staff because I made a comment giving information about a memorial flight on IVAO regarding the Falklands Conflict....first post on that forum for 5 years and my last one too.

 

Vatsim has thousands of regular simmers who spend many hours going online every month....They steer clear of forums like this one which is very very quiet compared to a decade ago when I joined....its not by accident but a long tired failed culture of dealing with members.

 

My suggestions.

 

1. Only delete posts on forums for good reasons and not nonsense...and treat newbies as the future of the hobby

 

2. Improve voice .

 

3. hierarchy within Vatsim , ......its bordering on farcical lunacy with almost everyone being staff or holding a rank or title /status.......its too late now for it to be different and I haven't the answer to replace it.

.

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One of the top things that annoy people on VATSIM is incompetent pilots. There definitely has to be a better way of allowing people on to the network. Perhaps a basic read, review and answer questionnaire, independent of ARTACC's or FIR's, just part of the sign up process. That would be the thing that was top of my list.

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I'm aware that only one suggestion was asked for but I feel the opportunity is too good to p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] up so I'm going to sneak a few more in!

 

  • Another vote for voice codec improvements. Latency and quality cause problems, especially with busy frequencies and understanding pilots and controllers for whom English is not their first language. I must emphasise that this is a criticism of the codec and NOT members' English skills.
  • More "ownership" of key software programs by VATSIM itself. This includes Swift, Euroscope, VATSpy etc. A more coordinated leadership from the VPs may help development efforts on these programs to be spread out.
  • More openness across the whole of VATSIM, especially at the BoG level. The move to a registered non-profit structure is perhaps unlikely, but it would be much more fitting for VATSIM's activities. Open-sourcing of code would also be very welcome, VATUK seems to be ahead of the curve on this. Their core infrastructure is already open-source and other pieces of infrastructure are planned to be open-sourced this year.

 

I hope this isn't too much but the opportunity is too great to be missed!

Adam Turner | VATSIM Membership Manager - North America

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Ban x-plane pilots with too low system specs

 

But... but... I don't wanna get banned

 

Maybe you can link them to the following plugin; It has definitely helped me on travelling at the same speed as other pilots:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/26517-autospeed/

Néstor Pérez
A Random Platypus
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A lot of good suggestions here and I hope those with the power to do so genuinely make an effort to make VATSIM better...which I am sure they will.

 

Just for my own interest and for that reason only I went back through all eight pages and...based upon the preponderance seeming to wish for a better codec or pilot training...tallied up the VATSIM IDs and where they fell. Mine is 1087023, so I considered it's value to be "108" and did the same for all IDs.

 

If someone suggested more than one "wish" I took the first one in the list making the [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umption...perhaps poorly...that the first item was the more important to the poster.

 

Here's what I came up with...

 

The average VATSIM ID of posters wanting a better codec was 118XXXX, meaning an approximate join date of early 2011.

 

The average VATSIM ID of posters wanting mandatory pilot training was 130XXXX, meaning an approximate join date of mid 2014.

 

Does this mean anything? I have absolutely no idea and I am not trying to infer anything by the average. The only thing I have considered...and again, this is only an [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umption on my part and certainly not "scientific"...is that lower numbers equate to older age and higher numbers equate to younger age.

 

Again, I am not trying to "infer" anything by this, but if you must, take your shots at me...I've got big shoulders. i was just curious so I did the math. I will say this, I expected exactly the opposite of what I got...

 

Randy

Randy Tyndall - KBOI

ZLA I-11/vACC Portugal P4

“A ship is always safe in the harbor. But that’s not why they build ships” --Michael Bevington ID 814931, Former VATSIM Board of Governors Vice President of Pilot Training

1087023

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From a controller point of view (I hardly fly online anymore as 800 hours real world flying per year kind of takes the fun out of flying in FS ) I think we need to see a lot of technical/network improvements:

 

- Support 8.33 kHz channel spacing (and frequencies/channels should be easily selectable from the pilot client)

- Support CPDLC and other datalink communications

- Better support for controller-to-controller communications (voice intercom)

- Allow for multiple ATIS per airport

- Support for VOLMET

- More realistic radio range to avoid frequency conflicts (taking into account transmitter location/strength)

- ICAO flight plan format, with support in the pilot client (or filing website) for filling it in correctly

- Network support for realistic SSR code allocation

- For major events, consider support for some kind of central slot allocation system

- Consider a completely different structure for ATC callsigns / sectors / controllers. One controller should be able to have several active frequencies (bandboxing/frequency coupling). Today, ATC is limited by the callsign construction. We need to be able to name ATC callsigns/sectors as required (e.g. today XXXX_X_CTR is possible but XXXX_XX_CTR is not). This should also allow for "non-standard" callsigns such as AFIS and maybe APN (Apron), RAD (Radar), PAR, ARR (Arrival) etc to distinguish better between different ATC functions. There should be a clear official ATC coverage map that shows exactly what airspace is covered by which ATC frequency (ATC logon callsign is not really relevant - pilots just need to know what frequency to contact in their location)

- For virtual tower views, better model matching and support for scenery interaction (ATC controlling airport lighting, possibly simulation of follow-me cars etc)

- Global weather simulation so that everyone has the same weather conditions (try to space traffic when one aircraft has 50 kt tailwind and the one ahead has zero wind!)

- X-Plane GS bug elimination so that ground speed is accurate (yes there are workarounds already, but this needs to be solved as it's currently impossible to work X-Plane traffic!)

- Better virtual/simulated airspace for ATC training (Sweatbox only allows one training session at a time in the same area - essentially we need multiple/unlimited Sweatbox servers for simultaneous training).

 

From an organisational/policy perspective:

 

- Remember that VATSIM is a global simulation of (real world) aviation. This means that keeping up with real world changes should be encouraged (new airports, route, navaids, approach procedures, ATC procedures etc). It also means to acknowledge that procedures/rules/terminology etc vary greatly across the world. Currently a lot of VATSIM terminology and website material seems very US centered.

- While VATSIM is a learning environment and must be inclusive, it does not mean that it is a place for everyone. It is a community and as such all interaction on the network affect others and their enjoyment of the hobby. There has to be measures in place to ensure the enjoyment for everyone from newbies (who are willing to learn) to old timers like myself who have been here since the SATCO times and for whom VATSIM has been an important piece of the puzzle in starting a real world aviation career. This means that quality of ATC must be protected, and we must ensure that the learning environment can continue even as one progresses through the ATC ratings, and that VATSIM still presents interesting challenges even for seasoned users and people with real world experience.

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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Open up the entire frequency spectrum for voice connection by pilot client. A pilot tunes the frequency, they can voice communicate on it. Allows for voice usage of the proper CTAF/Unicom frequencies for respective fields, training areas, and SFRA's.

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....

- Support 8.33 kHz channel spacing (and frequencies/channels should be easily selectable from the pilot client)

- Support CPDLC and other datalink communications

- Better support for controller-to-controller communications (voice intercom)

- Consider a completely different structure for ATC callsigns / sectors / controllers. One controller should be able to have several active frequencies (bandboxing/frequency coupling). Today, ATC is limited by the callsign construction. We need to be able to name ATC callsigns/sectors as required (e.g. today XXXX_X_CTR is possible but XXXX_XX_CTR is not). This should also allow for "non-standard" callsigns such as AFIS and maybe APN (Apron), RAD (Radar), PAR, ARR (Arrival) etc to distinguish better between different ATC functions.

- Global weather simulation so that everyone has the same weather conditions (try to space traffic when one aircraft has 50 kt tailwind and the one ahead has zero wind!)...

 

Hey man, glad to see some 8x's around Hope you're keeping well!

 

All great suggestions!

+1 on them all. But the topic was "change ONE thing".

 

Forced weather should absolutely be a thing, at least the winds / oat. Applying mach based separation is impossible without it.

 

Bandboxing should also absolutely be a thing. Pilots should not have to look at funny callsigns and determine from that who to contact - in fact if we could just sign in using our initials then just "open a position" - that should do the trick.

 

We need to do away with top-down ATC coverage. As a center guy I don't really want to be dealing with ground maneuvers or tower stuff, at least not on the same frequency.

--------------------

Best regards

--------------------

Halldor

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We need to do away with top-down ATC coverage. As a center guy I don't really want to be dealing with ground maneuvers or tower stuff, at least not on the same frequency.

 

If you don't want to provide a top down cover you don't have to, just put it in your info, ATIS or advise on frequency.

 

Lots of pilots like top down coverage and I'm confident 99% of C1's can handle it.

 

If it get hectic for me on the ground I rely on PDC's and my ALIAS file.

 

You're alienating low level traffic by only covering high levels on CTR.

 

No need to blanket ban it, we already have 'Eurocontrol' positions for that in Europe.

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