Re: National's Web Site
Thu, 11 Jul 1996 12:20:14 PDT
I'd like to throw my couple pennies to the pile of this
The cost of a website is not the cost of the server or the
access provider. Sure for my own privately maintained
council page this is the main portion, but not for an
official site which isn't run on a shoestring.
The cost is rather in the management cost and in paying
the lawyers or knowledgable people to proof read. It
makes lots of sense to have volunteers do the work but
it really needs somebody who understands the web AND
understands scouting. Let me make a few examples:
In my council page I have a list of favorite links. That's
ok its unnoficial and everybody knows it. If that site
would be made official, putting a link there would
look like an official endorsement. I couldn't just
put a link to a page which looks nice without an
analysis whether the organization of the page is ok for
the scouting audience.
Most council page's are vanity pages. That is just much
easier to maintain then a usefull page. In fact I believe
(excuse the un-modesty) that my council's page is one
of the most usefull council pages. It contains a calendar
which is actually maintained and has links to events. It
is much harder to make usefull pages then to provide
some text and graphics (I'm talking about work as
information provider and am ignoring the part of work
which we'd call authorship). While this makes it usefull
for some purpose, it doesn't make it nice for random visitors...
Now who is the customer of a page? the public? the
children? The scouts of your own units? scouts in general?
the volunteers? The webmaster's peers? Its' hard to restrict
yourself to the right customer.
Dealing with volunteers is hard (I'm a volunteer myself)
What can we do with unit webmasters? Some units in my
council just have pages I do not approve of. I wouldn't
know how to deal with these "webmasters" with unacceptable
sites officially. The exec's don't excactly have the computer
science savvy to make rules for what goes on a web site and
what doesn't. I decided to take it on my own and to simply
enforce my standards when I mean it, even when it implies
censorship: I might have no right to decide anything for
my council, but as long as I pay for the web site myself I
can enforce my rules which basicly say no links to unit
sites which publish boys names.
[I could as well censor sites putting out copyrighted
materials, but that isn't a safety issue, so I don't worry]
Another hidden trick I use is that I do not publish time
date and location on my site. I leave something out so
that readers must call in to the scouting office before
acting on my postings... I find it almost impossible to
explain such fine print thoughts to people with barely
enough computer skills that they are capable of composing
a nice looking page (and are infatuated by technology).
Have you wondered about the cost of maintenance versus
the cost of publishing? Just go have a look how many
unit pages are full of stale links...
Ok, so I rambled about council page, whats the relevance?
Replace council by national and unit by council and you
will end up with a similar set of problems.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City