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Whatever you’re involved with in the boating world,
you’ll see copious references to our main product; our
Standards and Technical Information Reports for
Small Craft. The “Standards” as they are gen-
erally referred to are used both to defend the
quality or integrity of the boating industry as
well as attack it. One month a writer will be
using the Standards to explain a proper in-
stallation, while the next month a writer
chooses to analyze an accident (actual or in
many cases, hypothetical) based on the lack
of Standards or missing content within a
Standard. I have a stack of magazines sitting
here on my desk with dog-eared pages and
yellow sticky notes indicating areas that may
warrant a response from my office or need
some follow up at some point. My computer
has many half completed letters to the edi-
tor regarding some error or misconception
found in any number of articles. It seems a
good idea that I take some time and spell
out what standards are and how to use
them. My first introduction to the standards
writing world began with this quote from an
instructor from the American National Stan-
dards Institute (ANSI) “Standards are like
sausages, everyone likes the end result but
no one wants to see them being made”
That said, let’s discuss a bit about why and
how we rely on voluntary standards in the
US. Unlike Europe, the US economy has
adopted a survival of the fittest attitude
when it comes executing capitalism. Volun-
tary standards are born from this “cowboy”
mentality as my European friends constantly
remind me. Our desire as a country to be
less regulated has created a huge network of volun-
tary standards writing organizations. From the swim-
ming pool industry, to outdoor power equipment to
cars and office furniture there are standards writers in
the background working with industry and all affected
to produce a standard that offers a “reasonably saf
product.” This phrase may sound calloused, but con
sider the alternative (we’ll discuss that later on). Th
concept of a voluntary standard was used to counte
government regulation through cumbersome, virtu
unchangeable laws. The 1950’s saw a boom in ex-
pendable income, boats were coming into their own
and mainly built by very small
What They Are and What They Aren’t
By John Adey
ABYC Vice President and Technical Director
Continued on next pag
ABYC's WebSTIR standards are accessed online through the Rulefinder
platform. WebSTIR stands for: Web Standards (and) Technical Information
Reports. Additional information is available through WebSTIR such as ar-
chived past standards, compliance guidelines, online calculations, and co
parison reports. These were not available in the old book or CD formats of
the standards.