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Make accepting VCs optional

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I recognise that "inclusivity" is a primary political aim of these policy changes. While I agree that creating a network where anyone can come on and control regardless of ability is a good one, the idea of "inclusivity" is being applied to other areas at the potential detriment of the target areas. In this case, it is the requirement for divisions to accept visiting controllers. To clarify, I am not at all referring to transferees; that is a key component of inclusivity.

Someone on the VATSIM Discord brought up an excellent point in regards to VC: 


Sometimes the data can show that hot potatoes like visiting controllers are, in the grand scheme of things insignificant and not worth the time investment what so ever compared with how that training and administrative time could be spent on a home member and the return that brings instead. Reducing barriers for more visiting controllers may sound like a great idea for inclusivity, but without data, how does anyone know its a problem worth the time investment to fix?
The visiting controllers malarkey used to be a ploy to try and get controllers from USA/EUD/UK to staff places they’d never transfer to or join in the first place due to lack of traffic. I never knew many to stick around as most people I saw wanted to control the airspace local to them, or where it was busy. My opinion is the key to the quieter places is to ADVERTISE the network more. Marketing and comms appears to live in its own little bubble. I’d like to hear of more outreach stuff advertising VATSIM as a stand alone simulation product (which it is for controllers, no purchase needed after all). 
I don’t know what problem the concept of visitor actually solves or whether there is evidence it’s solving a problem worth the hassle. My suggestion is the BoG look again at the concept of visiting and decide whether it’s worth keeping - and base it on data, not on vague political concepts such as “inclusivity”. Especially when it could be that new home or transferring members are being excluded from training because mentors are busy sorting out fly by night visiting controllers who can already control elsewhere without restriction.

Considering this, there has not been any substantial data backed evidence that shows a benefit for visitor controllers. Anecdotal evidence is of course there, but it isn't entirely reliable, and it even paints a picture against mandatory acceptance of VCs. In many divisions, VCs are trained onto major positions and never control there again when the novelty has worn off. What good is that to major and busy divisions? 

I recognise the GCAP aims to address this by limiting the number of places you can visit, and enforcing some sort of hour requirement. However, this ceases to be enforceable when the member no longer lets it be enforced. The only rule that will have an actual impact is the VC limit... they can just withdraw from the one they forgot about.

There are also several divisions where VCs contribute very little to the division in terms of controlling hours, and where hour requirements are not the norm. Should these divisions bare the brunt of a VC coming every few months, taking up training resources, and then disappearing? Probably not, not until data shows that there is a consistent demand and retention. 

The proposal in the end is to just allow divisions/subdivisions to close visiting applications directly, and not via the "throw them to the back of the queue" loophole. Allow divisions to bring VCs in when it will provide benefit to everyone involved. I think that furthers the aim of inclusivity better than forcing divisions to bare the brunt of an overall negative experience.

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Liesel Downes
Gander Oceanic Deputy OCA Chief

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I’m not quite sure how to respond to this with true political correctness so I’ll give my best attempt.

There are places that 100% depend on visiting controllers to survive. So while under such an idea they could still have visiting controllers if they choose to, the bigger concern is the place that under such a policy can’t or worse won’t allow visiting controllers for “reasons”. 

I understand that there is a training backlog is a factor here. There could be allowances for TEMPORARY closures of Visiting Controlling applications to process training backlogs. However to allow a sub-division or a division to completely close off to visitors is completely against what VATSIM is about. To be blunt, these are the types of practices from which a global policy is intended to protect the general member.

So further discussion is to be had about when and why a facility could put a temporary hold on new visiting controllers. What actions would have to happen during that hold and how we can come out of that hold as soon as possible.  


Matt Bartels
VP: Marketing & Communication
## vpmkt (at) vatsim.net
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Unless otherwise stated, opinions are my own and not representative of the official opinion of the VATSIM Board of Governors




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