The Regulatory Paradox and how to fix it.

Regulations are necessary, powerful, and their own worst enemy.

The first time I realized how complex regulatory information can be, it was almost too late. I was fishing with my best friend in Central California — We quickly checked the rules, obtained our licenses, and we were on our way to catch some fish and enjoy the outdoors.

Sunset came, and with it the Fish and Game Ranger. We bragged and showed off our catch like any good fisherman. After pointing out our “secret” spot, we quickly learned it was a “secret” because it was illegal to fish there.

Hidden on some page, in some unrelated category, was a clause that prohibited angling in this particular type of zone. Punishable by a maximum of 6 months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Neither of us liked the idea of jail, nor did we have $1,000 in our tackle boxes or bank accounts. The ranger was nice enough and understood that we had good intentions, we got away with a stern scolding and thorough explanation of the importance of following the rules. Not everyone gets off that easy.

A barrier to entry

Regulations are put in place to promote resource management, safety, equality, access, and enjoyment. They require a balance of participation, distribution, enforcement, and accessibility. When this balance is not met, they can create a barrier to entry to the very thing they are trying to manage and protect.

I encountered this barrier of access: a lack of accessibility to the information I needed in order to follow the rules. There is no convenient way to find, understand, question, or follow recreational regulations. Similarly, there is no simple way to distribute, change, or receive feedback on regulatory information. These problems are one in the same, and we can solve them.

The real problem

In order to really solve this problem we have to look not only at the lack of distributed information, but also at the information itself. The regulations do not lend themselves to clarity. Unlike a classified ad, map, or even a tweet, regulations have a structure that is incredibly complex. The interdependencies of each regulation on the next are buried below the internet’s reach, and omitting one regulation can change the reader’s understanding of the rule. These rules bounce around and build on themselves throughout many pages of public documents, and rely on the assumption that all regulatory context can be found and understood.

The very definition of a regulation is vague: “a rule or directive made and maintained by an authority.” An overarching law is made that allows an authority to create rules that can be upheld in a court of law and punished by fine or jail time.

There is no formula for creating an informative and productive regulation, and there is a serious lack of metrics on their performance. Currently there is no way for the public or the regulators to see if the rules are productive, necessary, or if they need to be improved. We can solve this.

A solution

Everything we need to solve this problem exists in one way or another, except one thing: a regulation taxonomy. Our goal is to provide a management system for regulations where we (or regulators) can easily create, edit, and delete regulations, then distribute them globally with the click of a button. Using this system, each regulation will be broken down into individual categories and attributes to show hierarchy and context. The result will be regulations that are easy to search and comprehend. From there, we’ll implement an analytics system to show the regulators and the public what is working, and what isn’t.

It’s happening

It’s with incredible excitement that I can announce, the best way to find and explore hunting and fishing regulations today. This is 1.0 of our long journey to fix this problem, and we invite you to join us. Do more outside, with confidence. Explore today with Season Search.

We’re live with fresh water fishing regulations in Utah and Colorado, and working to release more states and activities as quickly as possible.

If you’d like to know more or have suggestions drop us a line

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