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April 16, 2012 News
Editorís Commentary: A Fresh Start for EKN.ca and Canadian Karting

Itís been just over two weeks since my staff and I have been back at the helm of eKartingNews.ca and with the season now beginning to power up, I donít see any stoppage in play until October. Thatís cool though, because we like it that way. Over the past 16 days, weíve been focused on making contact with the sportís industry leaders, managing the transition of advertising contracts, and reaching out to club leaders and the major organizations. Weíve made some in-roads, but truthfully, weíre just getting started. Establishing communication with everyone in the Canadian karting community will take some time, but we know that itís worth it. We have a great deal that we wish to accomplish in 2012 and beyond, but we understand that we need to be patient and let everything fall into place. That said, we will be looking to make a quick impact on the site over the next month or so to really kick-start our program here on EKN Canada. Weíve got a lot of ideas, but theyíll need time to develop.

The purpose of this debut commentary is to set the starting gate, unveil some of our initial plans and thoughts, and to throw the green flag on the new season. Over the past five years, eKartingNews.ca has developed into the primary karting website in Canada, following in the footsteps of its sister site south of the border. Race promotion and coverage, information delivery and both team and drivers news were the primary foci since the siteís launch in 2006, and while this will continue, weíre going to be adding to the menu this year. Our initial additions will focus on original editorial like driver, team and industry profiles, technical articles, as well as One-on-One interviews and Driver Diaries, like the one we launched with Philip Orcic last week. In addition, we will be working diligently to fire up the discussion in our forums, which are such an important part of the community on eKartingNews.com.

That said, for many, there is an understanding that forums can be an incredibly valuable tool for attracting, educating and motivating new karters. They are an online resource that connects racers from all over the country, and when leveraged properly, forums can be a new karterís best friend. Access to so much knowledge, assistance and support can fast-forward any rookie racerís learning curve and can help them avoid many of the costly mistakes that us veterans had to learn on our own, back before the advent of the Internet. Along that same line, when racers from different backgrounds, educational and career specialties or experience levels can discuss the sport online, the potential for positive growth and improvement for the sport itself is very real. If used correctly, with a focus on the positive, forums can be unbelievably useful.

That said, there can be a dark side to online forums. Canadian karting has already witnessed what can happen when forums go unmoderated, when members can hide behind fake names and aliases as they blast away at others, and when discussion turns ugly. This type of degradation is not limited to just karting, let that be noted, as virtually any forum can see the same issues when not properly managed. The end problem is that for all the good that a forum can do to build and support the sport of karting, if left to go down the dark road, they can be equally as harmful. Trust me, we know and understand the potential, but we also believe that with a history of aggressive moderation and a pure love of the sport, we are up for the challenge. We will be very deliberate in moderating the forums and will deal quickly with forum members who do not abide by the guidelines. In other words, if you decide to use the eKartingNews.ca forums to bad mouth someone or to stir the proverbial pot, you will very likely find your account suspended indefinitely. I used to be a 'three-strikes-and-you're-out' guy, but I now find that I can make my life easier by dropping the hammer immediately.

With our position stated, let me now speak to your love of the sport. Often times, I think that people forget what karting is all about. Itís about having fun, enjoying an exciting and affordable form of motorsports. Itís about close competition and camaraderie, and itís an incredible opportunity for a family to face, and overcome, challenges together as a team. So when youíre on the forums, try to think about that. Try to remember your first days at the track, when you were green, a little intimidated and trying to figure this whole deal out. When new karters come to the site looking for help, please be there for them. We all talk about having to grow the sport and that we need to bring new people into karting...well, weíre the front-line welcoming committee for many of these rookies. They come to eKartingNews.ca to immerse themselves in the sport, and theyíre hungry for knowledge. I want EKN Canada to be a powerful vehicle for growth, not harm. Please help us support karting by making sure that our forums are a positive platform for education and useful discussion.

So now that Iíve said my peace, I can come back around and reiterate that we are thrilled to be back in Canadian karting with a hands-on role. Iíve got a new kart on the way and my engines will be going to the builders soon. I canít wait to get back on-track, and Iíve got a number of events on my schedule for 2012. My calendar is already packed with major races in the US as well, so I wonít be able to get to as many events as I had hoped, but weíll hit a bunch, including the Canadian National Championships. Itís going to be a fun year, getting back to my roots.

I want to wrap with just one comment, and itís more of a request. As stated, weíll be evolving eKartingNews.ca with some new programs that we want to add to the package. As we progress, please provide us with feedback, as weíd love to hear it. What would you like to see on the site, what are we doing that you love, and what could we improve on. We always want to hear from our readers. Feel free to send us e-mails to news@ekartingnews.ca.

I hope to see you at a track this season.

Race safe,

Rob Howden
Editor-in-Chief / Publisher
United States Quebec Ontario Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia New Brunswick Nova Scotia

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