Section Checker: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Last year I published an on-line Section Checker. The 2016 eligibility rules were extremely complex and my Section Checker aimed to make it much easier to check which levels & sections a combination of horse and rider were eligible to compete in. The Section Checker had a results table which displayed eligibility at all levels and sections from Prelim to Grand Prix using a simple red / green indicator. If you were not eligible for a section then the Section Checker explained which points or results exceeded the maximum specified in the rules.

Imitation Checker

I have just spotted that one of the British Dressage Regions has published a checker for the 2017 Rule Book on a sponsors website. I guess I may have started a trend for Checkers to help with the complexity of the rules 🙂

I have tested the checker and I have a few concerns:

  • You have to enter your name, phone number and email address which instantly rings alarm bells that it is simply a way for the sponsor to collect contact details for their marketing activities. I tried to submit without my phone number and the form would not submit so I submitted it with a made up number. I will update this page if I start to get marketing emails from the sponsor
  • When you select a level and section a number of questions are displayed below the form. If you answer any of the questions “Yes” then a pop up box warns you that you may not be eligible for the level and section and suggests you check a higher level.
  • The email that is sent is simply your contact details, the level and section selected and a list of your answers to the questions. I answered Yes to a couple of the questions and the email correctly lists all the answers but nowhere in the email does it indicate that I am not eligible for the level and section selected.

I accept that I am not impartial but I am not that impressed by this checker. If you sit down with the 2017 Members Handbook and work through the table for the appropriate level and section then you get the same list of questions. The checker has not made the process any simpler or easier. The email gives the list of questions for the selected section and level but does not state if you are or are not eligible.

My Checkers

Last year I spoke to people who were competing in Silver because they guessed that they were eligible or people who were competing in too high a section because they did not understand the rules. It was important to me that my Section Checker displayed eligibility at all levels and sections and it explained why you were or were not eligible for a section. My Section Checker was funded by adverts on the page – you don’t get much from adverts and I will be lucky to have enough money to buy a new rug!!! – and I collected no details of the users.

Qualification Checker AdvertI have now disabled the Section Checker since its the 1st Dec 2016 and the 2016 rules are no longer valid. However, my Qualification Checker has been updated and is still live!

Equine Videographer Advert

Shall I develop a 2017 Section Checker?

I am currently considering whether or not to develop a 2017 Section Checker. The problem is that this year the eligibility criteria are really just a series of questions about the competition performance of the rider, the horse and the combination.

If I decide to develop a 2017 Section Checker then it must:

  • make the process of checking eligibility easier – it must be more than just a list of questions
  • simplify the process by hiding questions when an answer has been given which means that the combination are not eligible … so there is no point in answering further questions about that section and level
  • identify similar criteria at each level and come up with a single question where the answer will cover eligibility at multiple levels. The Section Checker will display eligibility at all levels and sections.

However, I do have a couple of reservations before I spend time developing a 2017 Section Checker:

  • The 2017 rules are simpler than the 2016 rules. It is possible to sit down with the 2017 Members Handbook and work through the eligibility criteria and answer yes or no to each of the criteria.
  • Section Checker may have been used to find the loopholes in the 2016 rules.
    • I had several emails from users who believed that my Section Checker was wrong because it revealed that they were eligible for Silver. When I checked their results the Section Checker was correct.
    • Its possible that my 2016 Section Checker revealed to some competitors that they were eligible for Silver. I know from my analysis of the results at the Nationals and comments on Facebook that there were some competitors that were more experienced then expected in the Silver section. These competitors were totally within the 2016 rules but another article showed that if the 2017 rules applied in 2016 then they would not be eligible for the Silver section.

I would be interested in comments on Facebook or below about whether or not a 2017 Section Checker would be useful. I will then use this discussion to decide whether or not to develop a 2017 Section Checker.