The Long Death of AMSLink

AMS Link, the abortive project initiated by two of my colleauges during my term as an executive, is dead. I received this email recently:

Dear Clubs,
If you are not already aware, we will be getting rid of AMS Link. If you have any important information on there, you have until June 30th to migrate the data to a different location.

Elin Tayyar
Vice-Chair, Student Administrative Commission (SAC)
Alma Mater Society
University of British Columbia
238F-6138 Student Union Boulevard
Vanciouver, BC V6T1Z1
Tel: 604-822-2361
E-mail: sacvc@ams.ubc.ca

Now, resume like email signature notwithstanding (And does it conform to AMS guidelines on signatures? NO! To CPG with you!) and the misspelling of “Vancouver”, this is a momentous occasion that I am glad to see come about. I thought that the old system of administering the club budgets was not effective, and I was excited to see that a new system was being brought in. I had grand hopes (though not as grand as those of B-Ty and Sarah Naiman) that this would allow people to connect with their members – a kind of Facebook for Clubs, as it were.
We appear to have run across one major flaw in this line of reasoning, namely that this could never achieve the same degree of functionality as Facebook. I think it would have been really cool to be able to keep track of your memberships in clubs and be able to produce the non-academic transcript (engagement transcript?). However, this was not the right way to go about it. That being said, the money that we wasted on this (and it was not all, arguably, wasted, as it did get used for a number of years) seems to pale in comparison to more current wastes of money.
I’m the President, and have been for the past year, of an AMS club. During that time, I used AMSLink once, became incredibly frustrated, and never logged on again. I don’t know if my Treasurer did, but I’m assuming that most of the club expenditures were more easily tracked via the paper system that was in use before.
One of the biggest selling points that this system had was an ability to run club and constituency elections online. This would have been really great, had it worked. However, it didn’t, because of either the unwillingness of the University to hand over specific student affiliation data neccecary to run departmental elections, or the fact that the system just couldn’t handle it. I’m inclined to think that it was the latter, as there were so many bugs and massive gaps in usability within the program that I wouldn’t be surprised if it couldn’t handle the student metadata.
The thing that I am now interested in is what is going to replace it. The electoral functionality can be subsumed by the program written during the last round of AMS exec elections, and I am interested in the concept of running all the undergrad society elections as one large block, which might make the programming job easier (or harder, I really don’t know which).
Anyway, raise a glass to AMS Link. We’re better off without it.

4 Responses to “The Long Death of AMSLink”

  1. June 21, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    The decision to remove AMS Link was made because our contract with the company that runs the service has ended and there was obviously no value in renewal. The online budget submission system has been complete and a system to give clubs and constituents online registration capabilities will be made available very shortly. We will be working to make the elections software that the AMS now owns available for use by constituencies.

    I have had some preliminary conversations about the possibility of running constituency elections at the same time and there is a considerable amount of interest. This will be an item that I intend on discussing at a meeting with the presidents of the AMS’ constituencies.

  2. 2 Alex Lougheed
    June 21, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    It’s about damn time.

  3. June 22, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Oh dear, that signature.

    All we need is basically a club directory that is up-to-date. It can even be completely manual if contracting it out again proves to be too expensive. We need no interactive features beyond a search and sort (see example: http://students.berkeley.edu/osl/studentgroups/public/index.asp?todo=listgroups). The login system and the discussion board exposed how not user-friendly it is, so scrape it and keep the basic listing.

  4. 4 Kommander Keg
    June 22, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    The Kommander commends the decision by the AMS to scrap this outsourced inefficient service in favour of internalized information systems. The Kommander believes strongly on keeping things on the inside. That is all.


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