The family is out for the day, so it's now my time to indulge in my hobby - UFOlogy.
Today's post is continuing my look at websites of Australian UFO groups. After several years away from the topic of UFOs, this is one way to re-acquaint myself with today's UFOlogy. So after looking at New South Wales and Queensland it is time for my home state of Victoria, and the sole UFO group website I could find, that of Victorian UFO Action.
A few general observations
Interestingly unlike UFO Research (NSW) Inc. and UFO Research (Qld) Inc. VUFOA does not have the word 'research' in their name. I was therefore interested to see just what it is that the group does?
I mentioned in previous posts that I don't usually bother about the appearance of a site, being more interested in the content. However I am going to make an exception for the VUFOA website. It is cluttered; and visually overwhelming to my eyes. It scrolls down and down and down, unlike most website home pages which are short and to the point. Coloured letters and lots of icons don't make for a good first impression with me.
There are nine tabs along the top of the home page, 'Home;' 'About us;' 'donations;' 'members pages;' 'search VUFOA;' 'guestbook;' 'report a sighting;'seek support' and 'more.'
'Home' of course is the home page.
'About us' opens up into 'contact us;' 'team members' and 'media releases.'
'Contact us' brings up a preformatted form which asks for your name, and email address and allows you to send an inquiry to VUFOA.
'Team members' finds a list of four 'investigators' and the geographic areas each covers; plus a listing of eleven 'specialists' which they really aren't as 'Joyce - inner suburbs' and 'Ray-Tasmanian correspondent' and most of the others don't speak to a speciality. In fact there are only two 'specialists' listed, namely "George - photographic' and "Mike-aviation.' Even then, there is no background given which tells you why they are such specialists.
'Media releases' gives a 'general media pack;' plus the dates 2013 through to 2017 which didn't open for me. Did VUFOA issue any media releases or not?
The general impression I gained from this area was that VUFOA was attempting to project an image for themselves which exceeds what they can deliver.
The 'Donations' tab intrigued me as I don't recall seeing it on any of the three websites already reviewed. So I opened it and found there had been three 'fund raising campaigns' so far. 'Launch to the skies' raised 0% of its $5000 target; 'Raise the cause' raised 0% of its $5000 target, and the more modest $1000 target for 'Support the cause' raised 6.5% of that target.
The 'Members pages' tab opens up a list of some thirty sub-tabs. Not being a member of VUFOA, I clicked on several at random and was met with a 'sign in' box. Up came a 'Not yet a member register for free' box. This asked me for a display name, email address, password, date of birth, location and gender. It also provided me with a several thousand word terms of service agreement which it asked me to agree to.
As this is a free registration, and VUFOA is not asking for any fee to join, why do I have to register and supply personal information? What do they use that information for? I declined to register and went on with my public viewing of the site.
I expected the 'Search VUFOA' tab to allow me to do the usual general keyword search of the entire site. However when I opened it I got the same sign up for membership box as above. You can't conduct a general search of the site, as with almost any other website. I don't understand why this is so.
The 'Guestbook' tab is revealing. Although there are 103 comments, most are very old, with the latest being 7 March 2017, almost a year ago. Clearly very few people are bothering to communicate via this guestbook. This compares most unfavourably with the guest book for UFO (NSW) Inc. which is regularly used, and often excellent sightings are reported in this way to them. VUFOA are loosing an opportunity to get sightings here.
Although VUFOA states it is a state level organisation its 'Report sighting' speaks of a national Australian UFO database. The electronic form utilised is a typical one for a UFO group. Like all the rest it fails to allow for a good freeform description of a sighting, instead falling back on preformatted questions. There is no pre-form statement explaining what VUFOA will do with the data; no committment to get back to you; and no time frame in which they will respond to your sighting data.
The 'More' tab opens a drop down list of eight items, which includes 'positions available;' one of which is for a business manager with experience applying for grants; and 'wanted, one individual with tenacity to ask the tuff questions...' The impression I get from this area is that VUFOA are a bunch of amateurs without a real clue as how to run a modern, efficient, effective, not for profit organisation.
Back to the home page
Most websites would stop at this point but the home page goes on and on scrolling down, presenting items, apparently at random. Here one finds something akin to a 'mission statement' (apart from the top of page ' seeking the truth,' whatever that means.)
Amongst the generalised statements is found:
'Dedicated to UFO activity in Victoria' - (then why are they collecting for an Australian wide database?)
Your resource for all UFO events in the state.
Investigate on the ground UFO activities.'
Hold it a moment, I was just taking one last look at the website before publishing this blog post, when amongst the clutter I found a mission statement which gave me details of what VUFOA is about. So, just another pointer to the site being chaotic and too 'busy' ie too much disorganised content on the home page.
There is a sightings map and a 'Who would you like to see at a future Melbourne UFO conference?' which are useful contributions to someone browsing the site.
'VUFOA presents' tells me that on 24 March 2018 VUFOA is holding a presentation at which Peter Khoury and Bill Chalker will speak about the 'Hair of the alien,' Peter's story and subsequent investigation. Although this is an old, old story, I might get myself along to the occasion to see if there is any new scientific peer reviewed evidence being offered.
Then follows a couple of sighting reports, one from 2004 and one from 2017.
Finally, something of real interest to me as a 'non member' without access to sightings material, is the '2016 VUFOA sighting report just released.' There is a nice map showing the location from where people reported sightings and further data which opens to some statistics (although it says only up to 19 Feb 2016, yet lists 179 cases but with 47% still open, which makes little sense.) Again, the impression I get from this area of the website is that VUFOA are a bunch of amateurs trying to look professional about investigating sightings, but failing.
Then there are three boxes titled 'The Ben Hurle show;' 'VUFOA TV' and 'Southern skies radio.' To me the only one of these worth further looking into is VUFOA TV which does have some very good material, such as James Fox's 2017 Melbourne talk; and Westall - the Witnesses speak. I get the impression that in this area of holding conferences with guest speakers, and documenting the results, someone at VUFOA is demonstrating a professional approach - congratulations to James- their events manager.
Almost at the bottom of the home page is 'Reported sightings to VUFOA' which states 'As you can imagine we have had a huge response to our sightings database...' which gives a 2015 dated list of closed sighting cases with explanations. This is exactly the type of material I like - details and analysis and a conclusion of some sorts - well done here VUFOA.
I found the VUFOA website to be extremely frustrating. Why must I register for free information?
The appearance of the site is too 'busy;' too chaotic; for me. Bits appear to have been added on in any sort of order. It needs to be reorganised better under main heading tabs. It seems very out of date in many areas of information and looks like no one is bothering to update it regularly.
It was my choice to not register as a member, so I have been unable to assess the quality of their sightings investigations and analysis apart from the occasional pieces which are strangely listed way down on the home page.
In short, the quality of content varies from the excellent - eg the VUFOA TV section, and items relating to events; to the poor - eg the hype/attempt at marketing, both in the 'team members' and 'positions available' areas.
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