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Attendance tracking: calling all captains

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Attendance tracking: calling all captains

Postby GregS » Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:33 pm

Attendance tracking in Zuluru is nearly complete, and will definitely be fully functional by the beginning of summer season. All that's missing right now is email notifications and reminders. I'm looking for your input on how this should work, in order to make it as useful as possible for you.

I'm thinking that, at a minimum, reminders should go out to players who haven't confirmed by a certain time. Maybe 3 days in advance (e.g. on Friday for a Monday game, on Monday for a Thursday game)? Just like the roster invite reminders, these will include links for attending and absent, which you don't need to be logged in to use. The attendance system differentiates between regular players and subs, so only the subs that you've invited to a particular game (if any) would be getting these emails.

Should there also be another email, perhaps the day before, reminding people of their status, and including game details?

Should there be emails to captains with attendance summaries? I'd personally prefer to check the web site for that when I want to know, rather than getting yet another email.

How about notification emails to captains when players change their status within a certain time (24 hours?) of the game? These could include a summary, and would definitely include links straight to the game attendance page for you to quickly invite subs if required.

Tell me your thoughts; now is the time to ask for features, not a month from now!
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Postby Kaplan » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:34 pm

Heya Greg

Exciting news. For a while now most other captains as well as myself have been using HappyTC. It is not without its glitches though. Having attendance through the TUC site will make it like one stop shopping. Here are some things I like and dislike regarding HappyTC.

I like the ability to add a series of games, as the team can fill out the whole season at once.

I like the reminders to players regarding status, as well as the attendance summary emailed to captains. Very important though to have this changeable by the captain, that is, perhaps one team is better updating two days before and another four days before.

One thing I am dissappointed with on HappyTC is that there is not a notification when a player changes their status. Most players would email me as well but sometimes they forget and I am left scrounging for a last minute sub. So I think this is crucial to incorporate.

Thanks for all your hard work improving the site year after year Greg.

Cheers,
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Postby muskokajoe » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:07 pm

Ooh! I like wish lists!

I would like to be able to edit the roster after the game is over - I can keep track of no-shows, for example.

I like the notification idea as well - especially if someone drops out on game day.

thanks,

Doug.

P.S. great job as usual on everything, Greg. I like the new icons! :)
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Postby GregS » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:50 pm

A couple of quick notes...

Kaplan wrote:I like the ability to add a series of games, as the team can fill out the whole season at once.

Since Zuluru knows when your season begins and ends, you don't have to add anything, it will automatically generate the attendance records for the entire season, and match them up with specific games as the schedule comes out. (It was really tricky making that work even when the schedule is edited after it's published, and when there are double-headers, but I've tested every scenario I can think of and it's all looking good.)

muskokajoe wrote:I would like to be able to edit the roster after the game is over - I can keep track of no-shows, for example.

Captains have the ability to edit attendance for upcoming games and anything less than two weeks past. Do you want a specific "said they were coming but didn't" option, or is "absent" (covering both expected and unexpected absences) sufficient?

The other comments will be considered when I finalize the notifications plan.
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Postby muskokajoe » Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:22 am

GregS wrote:A couple of quick notes...
muskokajoe wrote:I would like to be able to edit the roster after the game is over - I can keep track of no-shows, for example.
Captains have the ability to edit attendance for upcoming games and anything less than two weeks past. Do you want a specific "said they were coming but didn't" option, or is "absent" (covering both expected and unexpected absences) sufficient?

I like to distinguish the "said they would show but didn't" examples myself, although others may be more forgiving....?

thanks :)
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Postby GregS » Tue May 03, 2011 11:14 am

muskokajoe wrote:I like to distinguish the "said they would show but didn't" examples myself, although others may be more forgiving....?

Turned out to be pretty easy to add this, so I've done so.
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Re: Attendance tracking: calling all captains

Postby lwswong » Tue May 03, 2011 11:24 am

This is really great. I echo the sentiment about one stop shopping, though i've found HappyTC extremely useful over the past years.

I personally like the option of getting a summary attendance email. Would love to be able to choose the time for which to receive this email, or even a frequency to receive it. (3 days + 1 day in advance).

I also echo the need for a status change email notification that reduces duplication of emails for captains and teammates. Again, would be greeat if it were an option, and not a requirement (for those who may feel they don't need this), and if the captain could choose the timeframe for when they need to receive this (i.e after the summary email, anytime within 24 hours, anytime within 48 hours, every time someone makes a change etc.)

I like the ability to add comments to the attendance in the way that happyTC has it, so one can explain the reason they may or may not be coming.

an unexpected absence option would also be cool to track the delinquents.

this final request is unrelated to attendance, but still related to rosters. How about a "paid / unpaid" feature to help us track down our prepaid upfront costs. i'm sure there are many captains out there currently unwittingly subsidizing their teammates. i know the "other toronto league" has that feature in their system. its a simple icon and good enough to me. if you REALLY want to make that part easy for us, you'd add an email reminder notification to the person to pay. (perhaps this could be integrated with the attendance reminder email - if you're tagged as unpaid, it adds a line to the email reminding the participant to pay their captain) that's a total frill, but you asked for requests so there it is :P

Thanks again for the great work.
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Postby sean1980 » Tue May 03, 2011 11:35 am

I love the idea of a paid/not paid feature. I never remember who has paid me and it is hard to keep track when you're on the field.

Complete frill: The ability for the captain to hide features - For example, if one captain does not need the paid/not paid feature or the attendance summary field, we would be able to hide it.

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Postby GregS » Wed May 04, 2011 10:03 pm

I've just uploaded changes that complete the first cut of attendance tracking. As a captain, if you edit your team, you'll have the option to enable this. The "comments" feature is not there (yet?) and you can't set two dates that you want to get emails on, but the "no show" option is there, you can configure the dates for the three kinds of emails (reminders, summaries and change notifications) that the system will send or turn each type off individually, and you can disable attendance tracking entirely.

I know that captains often get told in person or with emails or phone calls, so they are allowed to change anybody's status to anything. Subs can indicate availability or can wait to be invited by captains. Any change in status by a captain for a sub will trigger an email, as they're not expected to be as on top of things as regular players are.

I think the interface for changing status is pretty slick, and I hope that the emails (which include links with confirmation codes in them so that you don't need to be logged into the site to click them) and reporting (game and season summaries available) are useful.

For now, I've allowed attendance changes through a window of time long enough to accommodate spring league teams that want to go back and get the entire season of attendance correct, but once summer season starts this will be limited to two weeks before the current date.

As always, if you're not sure how something works, or you don't like how something works, or you think something is missing, let me know! And remember to look up Zuluru on Facebook and "like" the page...

"Something" to help with paid/not paid is on the todo list, but no specifics yet of what form that will take, and it won't be in time for this season.
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Postby lwswong » Thu May 05, 2011 10:58 am

Seems to work great! One thing i did notice that hadn't occurred to me before to ask for as i took it for granted in HappyTC was the ability to ADD games/tournaments/practices/drinkups to the schedule and request attendance for those events as well. I know that this system is primarily to be used for league, but this may serve well for many of us who attend some/all of these events (thinking Summer Ex, MidSeason and Playoffs among others) and need to get some advanced information so that we can register a bid or find subs.
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Postby GregS » Thu May 05, 2011 1:56 pm

lwswong wrote:One thing i did notice that hadn't occurred to me before to ask for as i took it for granted in HappyTC was the ability to ADD games/tournaments/practices/drinkups to the schedule and request attendance for those events as well. I know that this system is primarily to be used for league, but this may serve well for many of us who attend some/all of these events (thinking Summer Ex, MidSeason and Playoffs among others) and need to get some advanced information so that we can register a bid or find subs.

I hadn't considered that possibility either. I'll think about how that might be added, but it's a little tricky for various reasons. For example, your Summer Experience and Midseason rosters might be substantially different from your regular roster (teams often merge for these tournaments), and there would be no way to track the people that aren't on your regular roster.

One option here would be for us to create team records when you register for these tournaments (which I think we have done in the past), and you can fill out that roster and use it for attendance. This will be even more useful once I've got tournament/playoff scheduling working, which is targeted for this September's playoffs but probably not ready for the summer tournaments.
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Postby muskokajoe » Thu May 05, 2011 2:58 pm

Just tried Zuluru Scheduler - a couple of first impressions\comments:

First, very nice :D, and the possibilities when it is integrated with the league scheduling are pretty big.

Icons are a little large (would prefer single-line spaced rows, and narrower columns), and the checkmarks a little small.

I like the sums at the bottom by gender and by player at the right. Almost exactly like my spreadsheets. :)

Players shouldn't be able to edit attendance after the game - (I just changed mine for last Tuesdays and Thursdays games on my spring teams - I'm just a player) - mostly for captain's sanities.

I would like to be able to send reminders 4 days before the game - For Monday games, especially with long weekends, it's nice to be able to remind people before they get weekend brain. System says it will do 4, but only lets you do 3. I can't think of a reason to want 5 or more days....?

With reference to the "adding extraneous occasions" thread: what if we want to invite subs who are not official substitute players? (but still official TUC members, of course!!) Can we add them to the roster and immediately invite them, or do we need to wait for them to accept? Or accept both invites? Or substitute players for other teams that don't need them that day? Hope none of this sounds negative, just asking.

Wish list:
I might regret this later, but it may be nice to automate sub invitation. I.e. if attendance drops below set thresholds, invites could be automatically sent to subs in predetermined order. Some of this is moot in that if people don't update their status, the system can't work, but if they updated their status in the first place, the system wouldn't be so necessary. On further contemplation, not sure how this would work, but it would be nice to somehow fix my players who insist on waiting until game day to confirm. Maybe hypnosis, or voodoo?

Again, kudos!, Greg. I'm new here, but this kinda looks like the future. ;)
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Postby GregS » Thu May 05, 2011 3:50 pm

Thanks for the thoughts! A few comments...

muskokajoe wrote:Icons are a little large (would prefer single-line spaced rows, and narrower columns), and the checkmarks a little small.

Icon design is tricky. I tried 16x16 icons, and they were simply too small to get across the information I needed to convey. (Columns can't really be any narrower anyway, because of the headings. HTML doesn't (yet) have a way to rotate headings, which would be perfect here.) Larger checkmarks obscured too much of the main icon, so I've tried to use colours to supplement this. My expectation is that captains will mostly be using the single-game summary rather than the season summary, where some of these issues are less problematic. The good news is that it's very easy to replace icons, if a better artist wants to take a crack at it.

muskokajoe wrote:Players shouldn't be able to edit attendance after the game

My thought was that conscientious players would use this to update their own status and save work for captains, though I see how it could be the other way around. Of course, captains can always just override whatever the player does. If people want this option disabled, it's easily done.

muskokajoe wrote:I would like to be able to send reminders 4 days before the game ... System says it will do 4, but only lets you do 3.

Ah, that's a bug, fixed now. :-) I will never understand why the default validation rules in this framework make me specify a range of -2 to 5 when I want to allow values from -1 to 4.

muskokajoe wrote:With reference to the "adding extraneous occasions" thread: what if we want to invite subs who are not official substitute players?

Attendance tracking only handles people who have accepted roster invites. On the todo list is a subs needed/available function that I think would do what you're thinking of, but that's a little lower priority. For now, just remember there's no requirement that people that play with your team be recorded in the attendance system, so you can continue to find people through the BBS or other channels.

muskokajoe wrote:I might regret this later, but it may be nice to automate sub invitation.

Hopefully, the reminder emails with a simple link to click will help to get responses from your team in a more timely manner. I'm reluctant to get into automatic inviting of subs, as I know there are many factors that go into this (e.g. trying to find subs that are balanced with the people they're replacing, and have similar skill sets). Let's stick a pin in that one and revisit after we've got a full summer of experience with the system.
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Postby lwswong » Thu May 05, 2011 4:58 pm

GregS wrote:I'll think about how that might be added, but it's a little tricky for various reasons. For example, your Summer Experience and Midseason rosters might be substantially different from your regular roster (teams often merge for these tournaments), and there would be no way to track the people that aren't on your regular roster.

One option here would be for us to create team records when you register for these tournaments (which I think we have done in the past), and you can fill out that roster and use it for attendance. This will be even more useful once I've got tournament/playoff scheduling working, which is targeted for this September's playoffs but probably not ready for the summer tournaments.


A potential workaround to this is to add non-regular players as subs to your existing roster. This of course only works for TUC members. So then maybe a general comments/notes box would suffice for any others.

The issue with only having attendance once you've signed up for a tourney is that you can't use the attendance system to help you plan it before you register.
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Postby pjw » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:13 pm

Kaplan wrote:HappyTC ... there is not a notification when a player changes their status. Most players would email me as well but sometimes they forget and I am left scrounging for a last minute sub. So I think this is crucial to incorporate.


Hi Bryan,

This is on the to-do list for HappyTC (as well as the option to simply prevent player updates within X days of the game without telling the captain first). [June 10th: this has been added!]

The trick is, there is only so much a system can do. True scofflaws will simply then not bother to update HappyTC at all. (And should be benched a few games to teach them a lesson.)
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HappyTC shameless plug

Postby pjw » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:57 pm

Hi Sean,
sean1980 wrote:What is HappyTC?

HappyTC (www.HappyTC.com) is THE original :wink: automated attendance tracker.

( :twisted: Shameless plug for HappyTC to dissuade loyal TUC users from jumping ship :twisted: )

  • Free (since 2007)
  • Flexible: track tournaments & non-game events (TUC and non-TUC), members & non-members, beer lists, car-pooling, "wall"-like team discussion, and other features discussed here
  • Pulls in schedule automatically from TUC and other leagues
Also:
  • Works for all sports & leagues you play in: track position in soccer, hockey, etc. (no need to get your teams to learn different systems)
  • Does not force players to register or log in; they can just click links in emails
  • Simple & quick: get a roster & scheduled set up in minutes: paste in the roster, import the schedule from TUC, and go!

Key selling features: Plan attendance for any event (league & non-league, pick-up games, tourney, season-open party, anything). Invite subs & past teammates regardless of league affiliation. Use the same tool for all sports & leagues you play in, same time as tying in nicely to TUC's calendar export. (Your players are automatically notified when the next TUC game is up.)


sean1980 wrote:Complete frill: The ability for the captain to hide features - For example, if one captain does not need the paid/not paid feature or the attendance summary field, we would be able to hide it.


Those are all offered by HappyTC :D . Check it out today!
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Paid/not paid

Postby pjw » Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:25 pm

"lswong" asked how to track "paid/not-paid" in HappyTC.

Most common options:

1.) Player "notes": Edit the player "notes" field and enter "$" or "paid".(Yes, a player could falsify their own entry, but that's dishonest and you don't want those types on your team.)

2.) Field position: Enter "paid" or "unpaid" in the Field Position. Enable via Team Settings -> Player Settings -> tick Position. If you already use for e.g. "C" (cutter), "H" (handler), simply separate with a comma like "C,paid" or "H,unpaid".

3.) Far future game: Create a game a year in the future, type "other event", tell players what it's used for, and then simply tick the boxes. Players can tick their own boxes; tell them to be honest.. Enable via Team Settings -> Player Settings -> tick Position. If you already use for e.g. "C" (cutter), "H" (handler), simply separate with a comma like "C,paid" or "H,unpaid".

4.) Chalk board: Just use the team chalkboard to make a list, and keep it updated with who's paid & not.
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Postby GregS » Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:13 pm

Per popular request (and, really, just covering something that should have been there from the start...), all attendance emails now include the field name and number, with a link to the field details page.
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Postby GregS » Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:53 pm

muskokajoe wrote:Icons are a little large (would prefer single-line spaced rows, and narrower columns), and the checkmarks a little small.

I've made a change so that the "attendance" pages (single game attendance and season attendance) now use icons that are just what used to be in the top corner (the "checkmarks"). The "My Games" page still uses the original icons, because a bare checkmark in that context is pretty meaningless.

I haven't made them any smaller than they used to be, because doing so wouldn't make the pages appreciably smaller. Still considering how to rework the layout of those pages to improve usability.

Coming soon: add comments to your attendance, and more!
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Postby GregS » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:10 pm

GregS wrote:Coming soon: add comments to your attendance

Done. Let me know if you have problems with this or anything else related to attendance, as some code was reworked for this.
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Postby GregS » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:22 pm

Captains can now add personal notes when they invite subs to play (e.g. "I'm inviting three people, first to confirm gets the spot"). The fancy JavaScript popup version of this is, IMHO, pretty slick, but it should all work without JavaScript too, if you're still using Netscape 1.0 or behind a paranoid corporate firewall.

Also, in your personal preferences page (My Profile -> Preferences), there's a new option to always send attendance reminder emails. If you turn this on, you'll get the weekly attendance reminder email, even if you've been a captain's pet and set up your attendance in advance. This is helpful for those who like to get an email with game time and location every week. Note that even with this turned on, you will only get these emails for teams that have attendance tracking and reminder emails turned on.
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Postby GregS » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:45 pm

The season attendance page no longer shows holidays. Games were never going to be scheduled on those days, so emails would not have gone out to remind people, but it was confusing having those days shown as potential games. Now you captains can enjoy your vacation without worrying that your teammates will show up at a non-existent game!

I also fixed a bug, a few days ago, that was keeping it from accepting attendance updates from some people. It was working fine for most people through the little pop-up, but if you don't have JavaScript you are taken to a new page with a little form on it, and that wasn't working. I hope this is the only source of the occasional vague bug reports I'd hear with regards to this. Apologies to anyone who thought they were going crazy because their updates were being ignored.
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Postby jmccully » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:26 pm

Brilliant! Bloody brilliant! I had seen games scheduled over the holidays and was fielding inquiries on it already.... "No, we won't be playing on Christmas Day...." It was getting tiresome.
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Postby muskokajoe » Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:54 pm

Not a huge concern, but is there a way I could see the attendance tracking from last season? (I'm a nerd, and) I was thinking last year's attendance would be a good place to start estimating roster size for this season.

If I have actual numbers, it makes the discussion about not enough field time at the one game when everyone shows a little easier. I don't really expect it, but it's nice to be able to say I did my homework.

thanks.
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Postby GregS » Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:44 pm

muskokajoe wrote:Not a huge concern, but is there a way I could see the attendance tracking from last season?

Done. (And, not as much work as I thought it might be.) You can now see season attendance for any team you have ever been part of (that had attendance tracking enabled).
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Postby muskokajoe » Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:58 pm

Thanks, Greg, it's beautiful!!

Turns out I can justify a roster of 13M and 7F!?! :shock: :roll: Looking forward to defending the argument already. :)
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Postby GregS » Tue Apr 03, 2012 10:48 pm

muskokajoe wrote:Turns out I can justify a roster of 13M and 7F!?!

It all depends on the specific men and women. Sounds like your women are far more reliable than your men.
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Re: Attendance tracking: calling all captains

Postby Wartank » Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:38 pm

Hey Greg -- is there a way to modify which of the non-'regular players' get teh attendance updates? or does it always go out to all captains, co-captains, non-playing captains, social reps, etc.?

Thanks!
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Re: Attendance tracking: calling all captains

Postby GregS » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:03 pm

Wartank wrote:Hey Greg -- is there a way to modify which of the non-'regular players' get teh attendance updates? or does it always go out to all captains, co-captains, non-playing captains, social reps, etc.?

Thanks!

Updates will always go to all captainy people. If some of them don't want those emails, the subject lines are extremely predictable, so it should be very easy to set up rules to discard them, unless you're using some extremely old software.
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