Queuing system FAIL

I’m trying to sign my oldest son up for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ summer youth program, Especially For Youth. Frankly, I’m jealous that he gets to go. It’s sort of a combination summer camp and mini-seminary, and everyone I know who’s attended it (or whose kids have been) has raved about it. However, the signup process is giving me a headache. Here’s what’s on my screen right now:

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So let me count the ways that this reeks of FAIL.

First, it doesn’t tell you what your queue position is. Having a queue length is meaningless; all it does is tell you the total number of people who may (or may not) be waiting for the service. Without some estimate of where you are, knowing the number of people in line or the wait time isn’t helpful.

Second, what does “the average wait time for the entire line” mean? If it’s for the entire line, is it really a total time, or is it the average time that someone has to wait in the queue? It can’t be the latter, because it keeps bouncing up and down. I’ve seen it as high as 130 and as low as 85– during the 240+ minutes that I’ve been waiting.

Third, how about an estimate for when it will be my turn? Is that too much to ask?

Here’s the best part: the registration isn’t first-come, first-served! There’s no hurry to register, but that little detail is several clicks beneath the actual registration screen.

Managing signup queues for high-demand events like EFY is a well-understood problem. If you’ve ever used Disney’s FastPass system, you know about one possible solution (and one that would certainly apply here). The LDS Church does such a good job with its use of technology in general that it’s a real disappointment to see this kind of junk.

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