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November 21st, 2006


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02:03 pm - Thinking about where to go from here, web-wise
I've been looking over Chronarchy.Com's backend specs. The site sits at about 275 MB in size, out of a possible 400 MB. My virtual "rent" is fairly cheap (which is good: I could never afford more), but I'm thinking about what I'd like to do with the site, and it *does* just keep growing.

So as I look at it, I start to size it up. There's ever the option of adding wiki. . . A fun tool that ADF members will know well (as will users of that silly depository of "knowledge," Wikipedia), but it doesn't seem to serve my needs. There are mailing lists and polls and things like that which could really enhance the "experience" of Chronarchy.Com, but they're not so much useful as "cool."

I could create a "members only" section, but that bothers me on a lot of levels: I'm one of those rare people who really likes the transparency that the Internet provides, the openness it promotes and the weird quirks of oh-shit-I-shouldn't-have-posted-that moments that we all have. They make life interesting, at the very least. Only one directory on my pages is password protected, and all it's got are four images.

I can create a nifty chat function (I did this on the Three Cranes site, but more as a fun thing to play with than an actual tool), but I don't have the time to staff it or really participate in it to any extent.

I could add a blog, but between MySpace, Facebook, and LiveJournal, I am totally blogged out. Enough that my webpage, which I always wanted to keep primary, is wasting away for lack of new content (don't tell me you haven't noticed. . .)

I could sell stuff, but given the lackluster response my CafePress site gets (even with ADF-related material available on it being published at cost), I have a feeling that's a losing proposition. Besides, the CafePress site is linked off every page of the site, and in a year and a half, it's earned all of $6.02.

But what actually interested me was a little program called "Moodle". Moodle is a course management system that allows people to take courses on your website. It allows for virtual workshops, assignments, chat sessions, creation of resources, etc.

I look at it and I think that, hell, I could put the WotY up on that. I could set it up to assign things on a regular basis, create due dates, quiz people over the material, and seriously upgrade and reorganize the resources available. And I could also create something like that for the various GSP courses, or clergy training. And honestly, I'm a little excited.

The central problem with it is the installation size. It's nearly 50 MB, and that'll put me dangerously close to the edge, given my current usage and the rate the site has grown at: about 68 MB/year on average.

With additional size, there's additional cost. So now I'm thinking: is it worth the upgrade cost? How can I make the additional virtual "rent?" Would anyone use it? How much backend work is needed: can it run itself? Is it fair to offer the course for cash (the idea makes me somewhat uncomfortable), or should I just check ADF membership and make it a free-for-all romp if I decide to do it?

Yes, these are things I wonder about during sunny lunch hours in winter.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: "If the Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me", -JB

(39 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:triskele
Date:November 21st, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
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You've got lots of people raving over WotY, so you know there's interest. Why not start with that, see how it works, and then expand to other training programs? ADF does have an 'as-needed' fund, this is the sort of project that I believe should be supported - why not apply for a grant of sorts?
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:November 21st, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
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*nods* I'm less enthusiastic about asking ADF for cash than I am asking individuals for cash. Have the users of the program support it, not the organization when training isn't required, anyway.

Of course, ADF makes a big deal about the fact that our training is free, so maybe that's what bugs me most about throwing any money at all at it. . .
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:November 21st, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
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Compared with other hosting providers, Draknet's disk space offering is conspicuously small.

Of course, I haven't found a replacement I'm happy with yet.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:November 21st, 2006 07:56 pm (UTC)
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*nods* It is small, but I haven't really needed to worry about an increase until now (I figure I'm a good two years away if I keep doing what I'm doing). Besides, I've been reading through their site, and there are some other options. The Jaz account (what I currently have) is now introduced with about five times as much space as I currently have, so honestly, I don't think squeezing more space out of Drak.net will be difficult, should I choose to go that route. But I'm looking at and thinking about what I want my page to be, and that's really key.

So I think, after further research, that I could do it on the same price, actually. . . But I need to request an increase in space, I'm guessing. And I don't see any need to do that until I decide to go forward with this little project (no need to waste drak.net's money while I waste the space).
[User Picture]
From:qryztufre
Date:November 21st, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
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Ohhhh... there are many more options then that ;) I'm looking into them for my pages as well. *shrug* if you need ideas or maybe some assistance drop me an email.

As for size & rent, you can offset both via non-obtrusive advertising...

your host offers some free things for non-profit ventures & for others...though they are likely riddled with spamvertisments.

Google's single line text ads on the bottom of a few pages could help a bit, and they are not annoying to me (unlike banners).

I see you already have a donation button via paypal...but you may wish to spread it around a bit...or maybe add a plea to it ;) just don't be too begging. That's unbecoming... either way on this though, maybe stating that anything above the costs to run the site will go to the ADF?

My host offers a special button (like the paypal button) that goes directly to hosting. Some people feel better paying for the site rather then just you *shrug*

You could do a massive upgrade, add on a reseller account & have the other sites you host pay for yours...though, there is some risk to this, as well as the starter costs...

Maybe offer a 'members only' section...then charge a minor fee to access it? Works for some places...and many are willing to fork over doe if they get something out of it AND if it helps a good cause *shrug*

__________________


Cpanel is pretty easy to use...especially if it has Fantastico or some other script installer. Making the backend rather easy... but then, you likely have some knowledge of this?

_________________

BLOG?

Hehe... Wordpress is nice (wordpress.org I think), and offers syndication. It's open source & free...they will even install it for you if you'd like.

With the syndication feature you can at least convert your LJ to a syndicated account. I dunno about myspace or that faceplace, as I've never used them...

___________________

the various WIKI programs out there are all riddled with hackable holes...so unless ya know how to keep an eye out for such things, it's wise to make constant backups ;)

___________________

I've no clue what else to say...but if you'd like to read more just ask and I'm sure I can ramble on another 15 pages..
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:November 21st, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
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Well, my donation page has some of that:

http://www.chronarchy.com/donate.html

I am running through cpanel and fantastico. It's kinda fun :)
[User Picture]
From:qorinda
Date:November 21st, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
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And I could also create something like that for the various GSP courses, or clergy training. And honestly, I'm a little excited.

It makes me A LOT excited, and dang, I would pay for it!

OR, you could do the same thing on the ADF site (again, for payment). ;)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:November 21st, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
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I sent you a login to try it out, so let me know what you think. I'm really interested in seeing how this format works out, because I'm really unsure of it. It's got a lot of potential, and I think it can go a long way.

But, again, I'm not set on this. It seems like it'd be an interesting experiment, and I really, honestly think that there are people who can get a lot out of it.

I might run a test-group like I did with the WotY: their input was invaluable in figuring out that it actually did work. One never knows until they've tried.
[User Picture]
From:singingwren
Date:November 21st, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
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I don't like the idea of an online course on your webpage. For starters, we should be emphasizing the mentorship and help available from real-life real-time ADF members, not introducing yet another impersonal medium. People should talk to the clergy, fellow DPers, people who've finished their DP already. This encourages fellowship and shared perspectives a lot more than some cheesy web course would. And don't tell me you're going to police and mentor everybody who uses it, either -- you do not have the time.

I could see where quizzes and due dates would be fun, but due dates do not really work that well. We've seen that already through everyone that's done. Moreover, the WOTY already suggests you should do one assignment per week, meaning that anyone who starts it ALREADY has a calendar of duedates they can customize much more efficiently. As for quizzes, quizzes yield grades and then you open a whole nother can of worms, and I don't mean cool worms like the kind I save, I mean big nasty tentacle worms with names like Ego and Discouragement.

*shrugs* It'd be nice to provide another learning tool, but your website already does. And to be honest, anything to the extent of a course belongs on ADF's website, not your personal page.

[User Picture]
From:dqg_neal
Date:November 21st, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
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Is the online course really a bad thing? It would just provide one more variety of possible ways to learn.

There is enough variety amongst those that want to learn. Just look at the DP through the Wheel of the Year. Same (well similar) content as the basic instruction, but in its implementation many people think it astounding, while others dread even that level of structure.

But yes, the whole community managing websites is probably not a great road to go down, they suck time, energy, and money if it becomes successful.
[User Picture]
From:tosk
Date:November 21st, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
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I use iPowerWeb for The Invisible College.com

http://ipowerweb.com/products/webhosting/index.html

Current offer:

50GB storage, 2500 email addresses, 1GB or so transfer per month, etc starting at about $8.00 a month (pay in advance etc).

[User Picture]
From:chirael
Date:November 24th, 2006 09:15 am (UTC)
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I had a few thoughts on the question of whether you should charge, too.

First, no one will ever value your time as much as you do. So if you're not where you want to be financially, ask yourself what value you put on your time - and chances are others are putting the same or lower value on it, too.

So that's definitely something leaning toward charging.

The only difficulty that could arise is, how much of this work would you see as "clergy" work? Assuming that you don't charge for "clergy" work, if this fit into that category in whole or in part, then that could be a possible argument toward not charging, or not charging much anyway.

This more or less sidesteps the question of whether our clergy, in general, should be charging for their services.

I know it's not uncommon for ministers to charge (what seems to me) a nominal fee for performing a marriage (for example). So I guess there's something to be said for putting some kind of a value on our clergy's time.

But that's really part of a larger discussion, especially since much of the pagan world seems to want things for free or dirt cheap. (Though I'll admit my perception of that could be skewed by the occasional and periodic messages we get to the ADF-Office account asking how dare we charge for membership etc.).

I know Skip charges for his training (not sure if he's still actively doing it), obviously Rob and Gwynne did, and I suspect there are a few others who did or do charge. So there's a bit of precedent there.

But I think it ultimately comes down to putting a value on your time simply because, well, I kind of think you NEED to do that (and by "you" I mean "anyone" needs to).

Of course, I've always been one to argue that ADF shouldn't be afraid to mark up our stuff and actually make a "profit" on things, while others have acted like that's a dirty word or something.

Sorry, but if we want to do great things, we need resources to do it with, and if we keep interpreting "non-profit" as "barely scraping by, barely charging enough to pay our expenses" then guess what, we're not going to get to implement a lot of those ideas, never mind having reserves in case something bad should happen.

But there I go on a tangent again :)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:November 24th, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC)
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I personally have no problem charging for weddings (there's time involved in meeting with the couple, getting there, setting up, running the service, and a lot of preparation involved: a good wedding might take a good 60+ hours all told, I understand). I'm not so keen on charging for training that's part of an ADF program, personally. I think that unless we get accredited, there's no point.

And if I paid something on order of what OBOD charges and got what they send out, I would be f'in' pissed, honestly.

I like where we are in charging. I think we need to offer more opportunities for people to donate more, and give them more reasons to donate. In particular, if someone wants to do one of the training programs, then we need to make it worth their money, and encourage donations for them.

Actually, that might be something we could look at: set up a training budget and allow people to donate to that fund. I know qorinda will love a new fund, but really, putting, "Training in the Brewer's Guild is free, but a donation of at least $15 per circle is encouraged to support the organization and pay for administrative and back end work," somewhere on the page.

Of course, I might just charge for some Chaos Magic stuff.

Pagans, though, are cheap-ass bastards. We are. We're a generally protestant culture (everyone can contact deity equally) that often doesn't want to do hard work (magic can do that for me) and have a persecution complex (no one understands me or likes me, guess I'll go eat worms). There's no value on Clergy in such a culture, and most Neo-Pagans don't get far enough ahead to pay for things, anyway.

So ADF has some problems getting cash. We always will until we can show that our clergy have real value (hard to do with sacrificial priests). Even our training is problematic: we need to show that we're better than the books, better than OBOD, and better than being solitary.

Heh. ADF needs a marketing firm.

Visibility, though, goes a long way in that. That's why I'm so active on LJ, so visible in other communities, and run that damn big website. We have to add value (perceived or real) to ADF.
From:snakesinspace
Date:November 24th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
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Darling, stop paying for web hosting-- just come over to my server for free.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:November 27th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
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Would you like to host Wikinomi.com? Seeing as I have the domain registered?

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