Marhofn 294.17 - May 2015

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The Database of British and Irish Hills - version 14

Chris Crocker

In April 2014 we added the Tumps, doubling the size of the database at a stroke. The extra hills had been available as an option on hill-bagging.co.uk for a year and in a downloadable appendix, by which time there was no doubting the demand for the list. We are well advanced with overhauling the data for the 10000-odd new hills to bring it up to the standard of the rest of the database. This has brought about a larger-scale version of the tampering that affected the Humps in version 13.

We have taken a pragmatic approach to relocations. Normally we create a new hill for a significant relocation, an important consideration being whether a bagger would have been likely to visit the new location. That would have introduced a large number of new hills and, worse, boosted the number of inconsequential unclassified hills. So we have been treating most of the moves as relocations rather than replacements and communicating the changes to baggers as best we can. As I write, we have 2300 hills left to review and expect to finish mid-year.

We are now thinking about version 15. I think it is safe to say the database will not expand much beyond its current size - Subtumps are a step too far for us - but some new hill lists have emerged since we canvassed our user base in 2010. The time has come to conduct another user survey to assess the demand for these lists. Nowadays any addition to the database will attract complaints from those who think the DoBIH has too many lists already, but people's views can and do change. Some vocal opponents of Tumps and P20s are now seeking them out.

In September we received a formal request to remove the Corbett Top and Graham Top categories (not the hills) from the database. Of course we respect the views of list authors, but most of our customers are baggers who use the database for planning or recording ascents, so we would need assurance that an insignificant number of them would be inconvenienced. Baggers can view lists differently from authors, and the ascent of 2000 Sims to enter the Simhof presents a different challenge to a round of CTs.

The ensuing discussion on the RHB group confirmed the acceptance of the Sims but showed some support for retaining the old categories. It is difficult to kill off a list. We have already reacted by making the Sims a primary classification in v14.2. Version 15 may take this further by giving Murdos, CTs and GTs historic status (meaning the lists would be searchable and included in the totals but their codes would not appear in the Classification field) and removing the subcategories CTM, CTC etc. We will seek users' views in the forthcoming survey.

The highest hill in DOBIH and NN (photo: Alan Dawson)

The highest hill in DOBIH and NN (photo: Alan Dawson)

For the previous two years we have issued new releases at four-monthly intervals. This frequency seems to be sustainable and is also convenient for entering ten-figure grid references from the GPS database, which is done batchwise prior to each release. Other changes to the database can be made at any time via the publicly viewable change control database, so hill-bagging.co.uk will be the most up-to-date. Users of the downloadable version can keep abreast of key changes via the newsflashes on the DoBIH and hill-bagging.co.uk websites.

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