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Scouting Forums

Merit badge forums - To promote skill acquisition and teach principles of open source development

A suggestion which has merit for discussion posted by

To promote skill acquisition and teach principles of open source development, Scouting should host a forum for each merit badge, with subforums for each requirement. Users could cast votes on each post (which may include, text, photos, videos, VR displays, etc …). And each post could then be ranked in terms of value to counselors, scoutmasters, scouts, and venturers — highest valued posts being presented first. The forum would be funded by nominal fees for posts and votes, with reports of revenue and expenses for the forum regularly filed under Personal Management and/or American Business MB.

This would allow scouts and venturers to organically participate in program development, and promote their program to other scouts.
Digital service stars could be given for highly valued posts. And national recognition for the year’s most artful/articulate submissions could be noted in the annual report.
Scouts could then reference their successes in national program development on resumes and other applications. For venturers, this would be far more valuable than a number of cloth medallions on a sash.
The forums could serve other merit-based awards, and might also be a platform that would be marketable to other organizations. (Think outside revenue streams.)

Merit badges are programs in of themselves and can be earned by Scouts, Sea scouts, and Venturers so are of interest and deserve a forum for discussion.either here or elsewhere.

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No funding should be required, The intent of the proposal is open source development, which has the connotation of being free.

  • These Scouting Forums are open for viewing to the general public and open for comment by youth as well as adult leaders.
  • These Scouting Forums is built on Discourse. Discourse is open source and can be installed on a Ubuntu 16.04 server using Docker… BSA likely self hosts on BSA servers.
  • Discourse can handle 140+ merit badge categories. Topics under the category will be the subforum so to speak for each requirement. Admin will have to setup the merit badge categories. Using Discourse’s search, each merit badge forum can be found.
  • Discourse supports polling
  • All the features of These Scouting Forums that we are familiar with can be enable and disabled.

I would add a category for the Venturing Tier II or III adventures that crews have planned and executed.

Anybody can setup their own instance of Discourse so an outside revenue stream is unlikely.

Just how this and other recognition would be supported is TBD.

All, note that there are already forums by scouters (e.g. http://usscouts.org/start.asp) that cover MBs. BSA’s value-added proposition is:

  • An official user base. (Something that should have been established decades earlier. But the need wasn’t perceived until the rise of YPT and Internet advancement.)
  • National recognition. (Other sites sometimes sport unofficial MB’s like Tattos, etc … Even in cloth media, it is possible to order crank badges.)
  • The national advancement team, who regularly reviews requirements and suggests changes.

Note: many of the existing “free” scouting sites are bogged down with advertising of late. (Ironically, many of those ads are from attorneys filing class-action suits against the organization.)

Furthermore, there are real costs to hosting open source development. (https://www.ipeg.com/the-total-cost-of-ownership-of-open-source-software/ lists some.) Any new platform that does not account for those costs will be short lived.

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Discuss It - Online Forums at usscouts.org takes a 404 server error (file or directory not found.. It was likely taken down because the ID of the scouters are unknown to usscoout.org, so posts were allowed from the lunatic fringe. And we know how crazy they can be!

The items listed under total cost of ownership are those the BSA might incur since it hosts the open source Discourse software. These costs, if any, have already been paid by BSA when they setup this forum except maybe as noted:

  • Any support costs - I understand the moderators here are volunteers.
  • Any costs associated with feature or functionality updates…- Updates are optional. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it!
  • Any direct or indirect costs associated with future updates / upgrades.- Upgrades are optional. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it!

Adding MB categories to this forum will not incur any of these costs, except additional volunteers to moderate the forum may be needed.

All of these ads will go away as of Novembers deadline per the ad itself. I would support ads on BSA public facing pages after November.

If you don’t like ads use Adblock Plus an extension installed in your browser.
I use it on this forum. When Adblock is enabled for the site the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest links at the bottom of the page are not seen.These are blocked because I have the fanboy list enabled in Adblock options which blocks all links to social media.

BSA should produce ads. “Ring the bell” for scouting so to speak. BSA can support third party ads to monetize their public facing pages to increase income to BSA. This forum can be monetized! The ads would be turned off when the scout is logged in.

@Qwazse I am not sure from your reply if you support your suggestion or not?

NOTE to Admin:

The Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest links should be coded to open in new browser tab. When you click on Facebook your Firefox browser history for the tab is lost. A Facebook shenanigan implemented in last couple of months.

This is incorrect. The BSA does not “host” anything. BSA systems are hosted by 3rd parties, including Discourse. There are ongoing costs for all of them.


I stand corrected.

Of course there are hosting costs whether hosting is by 3rd party server farm or internally by BSA owned servers with big pipe internet connection…

My point still stands.

Lumped into hosting costs includes domain renewal costs and for Discourse depends on whether BSA went with a service provided by Discourse or went with dedicated bare metal servers like Performive.

Here is a forum at https://www.scouter.com/

Who is it that will decide to add categories to this forum?

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