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The Belfry Bulletin in 1963

As explained at the time, the B.B. Questionnaire was produced to give the editor a chance to find out whether the B.B differed from what the club wanted in the way of a magazine, and to stop him having constantly to refer to the B.B. in the B.B.

Response was quite good, and much useful information was collected, for which the editor would like to thank all who filled in the forms.  These forms have been studied and averages worked out.  From this, it is possible to see what the majority of readers would like in future.

Starting next month, the requests and suggestions made by the members who filled in the forms will be put into effect and it was felt, that readers might like to know what changes in the B.B. are contemplated.

The Cover will remain as at present.  When present stocks run out, the bat's face will be improved and the blocks redesigned for better registration.  The date and serial number will not appear, as this proved wasteful and also expensive in the past.  Only one member asked for them this time.  It may be possible to include the odd 'special' cover from time to time as requested by some, if a suitable excuse arises.

The Format will also remain unchanged.  Members were unanimous on this point.  It also saves stencils, and enables us to use easily available paper.

Publication will remain monthly as at present.  A few members preferred every other month, but in addition to pleasing the majority here, it was felt that as the B.B. is the only Mendip caving journal to appear monthly, it would be a good thing to continue the practice.  It would not do to make every journal too similar.

Contents.  It is here that the changes will occur.  The system of relying entirely on articles sent in by members is not working as well as it did.  The new system is based on a number of 'features' which, we hope, will be collected by a number of volunteers and which will appear at different intervals - some nearly every month and some only now and again.  These will form the 'backbone' of the B.B. to which articles will be added.

It was interesting to compare the percentages of space which members wanted with the amount each subject regularly gets in the B.B.  The biggest discrepancy was under the heading of club news.  If we include all matter pertaining to the club, rather than to caving, climbing etc which appears in the B.B., we find that it has been as high as 41% of the entire year's contents (1951) and that it averages over the years at about 30%.  In case it is felt that this percentage has been getting worse of late, it is interesting to find that the reverse is the case.  Last year it was 27% and the year before 21%.  The amount the club want is 9%.  Part of the reason for this discrepancy is that it has been the policy since 1957 to produce a minimum size B.B. every month.  If not enough articles are available, space has been filled up with 'padding' of various forms.  By removing this padding, the percentage drops considerably.

It will not be possible to get the amount down to what has been asked for, however, since one of the main functions of the B.B. is to distribute club news.  In future, this will collected up into one 'feature' and notices will be tucked into odd spaces.  In addition, all 'padding' will be dropped, and this should bring the total down considerably.

The percentage of caving asked for was 26%.  In the past, this figure has varied considerably, from a minimum of 8% in 1951 to the present record amount of 42% in 1961.  By pruning the caving log, and restricting it to trips having an unusual feature or reporting work or a discovery, it should be possible to comply with members wishes and still include all the caving articles offered.

A new subject put into the questionnaire was that of news of the activities of other clubs.  The surprising answer obtained was that the club wanted 14% of the B.B. to be used on this subject - nearly twice as much as was wanted of news of the B.E.C.!  Again, this type of news will form the subject of a feature which will appear in most of the B.B.'s.  Volunteers have already agreed to provide the material for such a feature.

Normal articles will, of course, still be needed just as much as ever, as a guide to the subjects which are most popular, the club want more articles of a scientific or informative nature (18% is wanted as against 9% in 1961 and a maximum of 17.5% in I951). More articles on archaeology are wanted (6% as against a maximum of 4.5% in 1961).  In contrast to this, the club are not keen on articles describing member’s travels or personal news of members.  3% on each of these subjects is considered by most members to be ample.

Climbing has been erratically reported in the past.  It has varied from 17% of the B.B. for 1951 to nil in a number of years.  The amount required is 8%.  Humour is in a similar position, with a maximum of 22% in 1952 and a minimum of 2.5% in 1961.  The club want 6% but many members make the proviso that a really good humorous article will always be welcome.  It is now down to the club humorists to see what they can produce in the way of really good stuff!

As a result of further requests, an occasional feature commenting on some aspect of caving or club life will appear.  It should be understood that any opinions in such articles may not necessarily be those of either the editor of the committee.  Manuscripts for this feature should contain constructive comment and be designed to stimulate discussion rather than to ' stir' for the sake of stirring.

All this may mean that the minimum size of the B.B. may occasionally be reduced.  At present, it is never less than 8 pages, although sometimes this has only been achieved by the liberal use of 'padding'.  However, we hope that the size may be kept up, and that it will be possible to print the odd 'special number' now and again - possibly with a special cover.

The only minority which it has not been found possible to cater for are those few members who would like to see the B.B. come out much less often, and have the appearance of a “big" journal.  Some of those members did make the point that they realized that the caving reports performed this function in the B.E.C.  to some extent and we would like to emphasise that, while we are proposing to copy some of the ideas contained in other caving club journals, it is not intended to make the B.B. a carbon copy of any other journal.  However, it may prove possible to go some way towards satisfying members who would like to see a large, less frequent B.B. without altering the B.B. as it stands.  If this scheme proves workable, a suitable announcement will be made in a future B.B.

It now remains to be seen whether the new layout of the B.B. proves popular in practice.  Time will tell!

Notice of Jollification

There will be a "bring your own bottle" party at the Belfry on Christmas day.  All members and friends are welcome. The party will be held in the evening.

Note; The Belfry has been specially enlarged for this function.