The New Event Registration System
Two facts emerged from our experience with Challenge registration last year. The Challenge is more popular than we expected, and consequently opening registration at a specific time is neither fair nor fun. People have real lives and real jobs; nobody wants to be at a computer constantly refreshing a web page, anxiously waiting for the moment they can frantically begin filling out an entry form.
On March 1, we'll post a link to our new event registration web site, where you'll be able to sign up or register for any Conservancy event. The difference between the two is significant. Events that sell out, such as the Full and Homestead Challenges, use the sign up method for entry. All others use the standard register method.
Sign Up Events
Entry into sign up events is determined in a series of selection rounds, which are a type of lottery where you can increase your selection odds. To enter, simply click the Sign Up button and fill out the form. You won't be asked for payment information at this point. On designated days each month from March to June, we'll run a selection round by taking all the sign ups received at that point and ordering them by the entrant's karma. Then we'll allocate available spots from highest karma to lowest.
If you are selected, you'll be notified by email. At that point, you'll have a limited number of days to pay and complete your registration. After that limit, any entries not completed will be cancelled and made available in the next selection round.
If you are not selected, your entry will remain for the next selection round, giving you the opportunity to earn karma in the meantime.
Most importantly, the date you signed up is not considered during the selection process. So relax, you'll have ample time to sign up before the next selection round occurs.
For a register event, simply click the Register Now button and you'll immediately be directed to the PayPal web site to authorize payment. You don't need a PayPal account; you can enter your credit card information right on that page. Once you authorize payment at PayPal, you'll be directed back to our registration site where an entry spot will be allocated to you and you'll have 30 minutes to complete the registration form and confirm your payment. If you don't finish within 30 minutes, your registration will be cancelled and the entry spot reclaimed (and you won't be charged).
If you're registering a team, you don't need to enter any teammate information during the registration process (although you can if you have it). Once registered, you'll be emailed a link to your registration page where you can add, modify, and remove teammates at any time. You can also have a link to each teammate's registration information emailed to them so they can fill it in themselves (or withdraw from the team). In that case, just fill in their name and email address and click the Notify checkbox.
If you need to withdraw your registration after payment, a portion of your entry fee will be refundable. To withdraw, click the link in your Registration Confirmation email, then click the Withdraw button at the bottom, then review and confirm your withdrawal.
Answers to common questions:
- I've only just heard about this and have had no opportunity to earn karma.
The initiative was announced at the end of February 2012. Thus, everyone is hearing about it at the same time and no one has an advantage in terms of the timing of the announcement.
- Do I need karma to get into the Challenge?
The selection process allocates spots from highest karma to lowest. The more karma you have, the more likely you are to have a spot allocated to you. Many people will have the same amount of karma. Within pools of identical karma the selection process is random, which is significant only when the pool size exceeds the remaining spots. See Question 3.
- How do I know how much karma I need to get a spot?
In the selection process, karma is relative. The amount you'd need depends on the karma of everyone else in the selection round and the number of spots available.
- I want to participate in the Challenge with a group of people. How can we ensure we all get in?
Every entry is considered individually. Each person in the group should try to earn karma. People who live out of town can donate to the Conservancy, or become a member. Alternatively, try to find people with karma willing to gift it to you and your friends. See Question 6. Finally, if one or more of you is selected, you can then gift your karma (which you no longer need this year) to your friends who weren't selected, to increase their chances in the next round.
- How do you associate my sign up entry with my karma?
The sign up form has fields for your name, gender, and birthdate. These are the fields we use to uniquely identify you. Once your entry is submitted, an RCTC ID will be assigned. You can see this value at the top of your sign up form. Make sure it matches the RCTC ID shown on the Account page when you log in to the site.
- I did the Challenge several times years ago but can no longer participate. Did I earn karma for that? Can I transfer it to a friend?
Yes. Ensure your friend has an account on the My RCTC web site, and have him tell you his RCTC ID (shown on his Account page). Then log on to the web site under your name and ensure it shows your karma earned. Next click Karma at the top, then click the Gift Karma button. Enter his RCTC ID and the karma amount you want to give him. Remember, gifted karma cannot be revoked. If you want it back, your friend will have to gift it back to you.
- I need to withdraw from the Challenge, but have a friend who wants to take my place. How do I transfer my registration?
Registrations are not transferrable. You should withdraw from the Challenge (see Withdrawals, above) so your spot is recovered. It will then be made available in the next selection round.
- Why do donations earn karma? Can't someone effectively buy entry into the Challenge this way instead of volunteering?
First, see Question 3. While donating increases your karma and therefore the likelihood of your entry being selected, it doesn't guarantee it. Second, see Question 4. People who live elsewhere and cannot volunteer for the Conservancy need the ability to earn karma.
- What happens if I sign up for both the Full Challenge and the Homestead Challenge?
Only your most recent entry is considered; previous entries are ignored and will be automatically cancelled.
- What happens if I sign up multiple times?
See Questions 9 and 5. Don't consider changing your name or birthdate slightly to defeat this matching, as that will cause a new RCTC ID to be assigned which will have no karma. Furthermore, once your entry is selected you won't be able to alter your name, gender, or birthdate, so be sure this information is accurate.
- Why are there multiple selection rounds? Won't all the spots be allocated in the first one?
That's possible but not certain. Further, we offer refunds to encourage those who can no longer participate to withdraw. See Question 7.
- There aren't any trail projects scheduled before the first selection round, so how can I earn volunteer karma before then?
Indeed that's the case, but as with the answer to Question 1, everyone is in the same position. Most trail projects occur later in spring, well after registration would normally open. We considered delaying opening registration until May to account for this, but even that would only allow for one or two work days. We concluded, somewhat paradoxically, that it's better to have no trail work opportunities than not enough.