Bug in council merit badge list: use of comma as a separator in lists with commas in the data

  1. Hardware: Desktop web
  2. OS: Windows 10
  3. Chrome Version 98.0.4758.82 (Official Build) (64-bit)
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  5. Every merit badge counselor with more than 256 characters of merit badge names in every council
    You’re welcome

This bug exists both in the my.scouting “council merit badge counselor list” report AND in Scoutbook’s “download current mbcdetails.csv” function.

For the council MBC list:
my.scouting | menu | (council) | roster > reports | council merit badge counselor listing | run > export to CSV

For scoutbook:
scoutbook.com | my dashboard > Administration | manage approved merit badge counselor list > download the current mbcdetails.csv file

The problem exists because we have merit badges (one at the moment) with commas in the name. In particular Signs, Signals, and Codes.

For example, given this list of MBs from either of the above reports, how many merit badges are listed:

Theater, Signs, Signals, and Codes, Safety

If you go by the commas, you’d say 5:

  • Theater
  • Signs
  • Signals
  • and Codes
  • Safety

If you happen to know the names of the merit badges and go out of your way to process the data and try to band-aid fix the bug, you’d say 3:

  • Theater
  • Signs, Signals, and Codes
  • Safety

Best practice in computer science, data processing, or, in fact, just in plain old English grammar, is NOT to use a separator that also occurs in the list. In elementary school English class we were taught that if your list contains a comma you use a semicolon between list elements.

The proper solution, in my opinion, is to fix BOTH reports to use a separator that is not included in the data. For example, the pipe character (|) is a common choice. You could also use semicolon (:wink: or any other character that is not included in the data itself.

This problem has been reported previously and never fixed.

The BSA has previously stated this is not a bug and they have no intention of expending resources necessary to change all various systems that use the current file format.

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