Community Microsite update
By Ed Mitchell 1st October 2010
This is an update for all those initiatives using the old wiki for their website, and those newly interested in the ‘Community Microsites’.
While the public face of the website has been settling in nicely with the profiles and news system and so forth, we’ve been tinkering behind the scenes on a very important piece of the web project puzzle – Community Microsites.
- The Community Microsites offer
- The roll-out plan
- Moving on from the old wiki pages
- A quick note on an alternative
We are well aware that some folks are hanging on for this and appreciate your patience – there have been ‘issues’ requiring attention. We want the microsites out too, but it’s better to launch gently and safely and calmly (and later) than rush into something early that isn’t user friendly and unsafe technically and Ed can’t be around to help out.
The Community Microsites are very, very simple websites for initiatives who need something simple and out of the box, integrated with this website, with no frills and scary widgets.
You can read a description on the Community Microsite blog post.
For those earlier initiatives who have been using the old wiki, they are replacements for the old wiki pages that many initiatives have used, and will be archived, so read on – the plan follows…
The Community Microsites offer:
- Editable pages (administrators only: e.g. ‘about’, ‘resources’)
- News system (any member can add news items)
- Events system (any member can add events items)
- Newsletter system (to members of the microsite)
- Simple navigation (‘News’, ‘Events’, ‘Pages’)
- Easy to remember URL (Transitionnetwork.org/cms/[initiative name])
- Linked to the initiative profiles in the directory
- Registered members can join the microsites for easy updates and alerts
The roll out plan:
We have now fixed the nuts and bolts at the moment, so the CMSs are ready to go.
We are currently leading a group of ‘early adopters’ into using the Community Microsites. We are using a mailing list to co-ordinate ourselves, capturing user documentation as we go, thus building a pool of knowledge and people to support later microsite folks. It’s very quiet in there – I’m hoping it just that easy…
Given that all works out OK, we’ll open them up so that people can apply for, and get a microsite simply and relatively straightforwardly.
|July/August||Development work behind the scenes|
|September||Early adopters start their microsites|
|October||Announcement to all old TT wiki users about closure of wiki|
|November||Microsites open to all initiatives who need them|
|December||Transition Towns wiki with the initiative wiki pages absolutely archived|
Moving on from the old wiki pages:
We have to archive our much loved old site. Our old web hosts have loved having us all, but we’ve grown out of them and have to move on.
This means that we will archive the entire transitiontowns.org wiki in December 2010, including the wiki pages for initiatives. We will not lose it, but it will be closed to editing and everything will point to the new site.
If you are an initiative using the wiki pages, you will need to move to either the Community Microsites or another service as you wish. We can’t automatically move your pages for you – we’ve looked into it and it’s a massive and unwieldy and not suitable job to be honest. We won’t force you off, absentee landlord style, at any time, but the wiki will be locked in December.
We suggested that you discuss this with your groups over the summer so that, now we’ve finished our development and early adoption work, you will know what you are up to.
A quick note on what the Microsites are not, and some alternatives
They are not in competition with Ning, Wiser Earth, Facebook or the other heavy weight website-in-a-box social network services; oh no. We’re a tiny charity of community activists with a very limited budget, not a mighty software company.
Here is a very not complete list of some of the options around and about:
1. Put your own site together using something like WordPress: see Sustainable Bungay for a great exampale
2. Use Wiser Earth’s free service
3. Use Ning’s paid service (paid but smoother than WE)
4. Get in touch with Les Squires about a space in the TransitionUS Ning
5. Build a site yourself (make sure it generates RSS feeds)
6. Find a really beardy person who will sort of impress you, but slightly scare you, and build you a vastly over-engineered and unintelligible ‘thing’ which you never understand but are too afraid to say ‘No thanks, mate, that’s a bit scarey’ (NOT RECOMMENDED)
We researched and wrote a piece about using online services when Ning announced their new ‘paid for’ status which might help.
There is a ‘Web and communications’ forum on this site for discussing exactly this.
The longer shot which we’re very keen on is for those who are after something more sophisticated for their initiatives (sub-groups, etc. etc.), we have great hopes for the ‘Transition Drupal’ project, which looks like it will be offering a movement-driven ‘website-in-a-box’ service tailored for initiatives. At this very moment, they are in the design phase, working out what sort of structure an initiative site should be and looking into what technical tools are to hand to do it.
If you want to help the Transition Drupal crew out, either drop me a line, or visit the Transition Drupal group, say hi, tell them what you can do, and get involved. It’s a great project, beautifully ambitious, and Open Source to the max…