A thread over in the CV forum branched off into a new topic that we think deserves attention in its own right. (We also think that the general discussion forum is a more appropriate place for this topic.) I am copying the most recent post from that thread below. Please feel free to comment.
Declining Visual Observations
Several of the above posters have indicated a need to ascertain just why more hobbyists today (particularly from the U.S.) do not join the ranks of visual variable star observers and how to address that situation. There was even some mention here that some attending the June meeting would like to see some formal, or informal, discussion take place addressing it to hopefully gain a better perspective on the situation, its causes and how to proceed in the future. This is an idea that I heartily support.
Now this is certainly not the first time that this topic has surfaced in recent years. Probably the first occasion it was ever formally address by AAVSO was already back roughly 20 years ago. At the behest of Director Janet Mattei a blue ribbon panel of the AAVSO's best and brightest at the time from all around the New England area was convened at HQ. Broken up into groups, we were asked to discuss throughout the course of that day the problems that AAVSO might, or certainly would, face in the next 10-20 years as we saw it and report back offering potential solutions.
I recall that one of the more serious problems my group felt would confront the organization in the future was the general dumbing down of the hobby and hobbyists. Sadly, this was already becoming apparent even back then. The meeting was too long ago for me to recall in detail our conclusions and suggestions on the matter. However, if any records, or notes, from that conclave held at HQ years ago remain in our archives today and if they could perhaps be brought to the June meeting for examination by any discussion group formed to talk about our current situation, they might prove useful. At the very least the thoughts and ideas put forth by that earlier group of members might serve as a good starting point to work forward from. Certainly, something has to change if we are to maintain a viable visual observer corps into the future.