Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Worldcon, NASFiC, and WSFS Web Sites

For some years now, the WSFS Mark Protection Committee has wanted to re-design the Worldcon, NASFiC, and WSFS web sites. The old sites were showing a great deal of age, and were generally quite difficult to update, requiring a small number of people with the necessary access to have the time to do the updates. This is no knock on those people (some of whom read this LJ), but having pinch points was a problem for us. However, the issues in getting the sites changed were many, mostly political more than technical, as study committee after working group tossed around their own ways of doing the One True Perfect In Every Way Web Site. There were also difficulties getting the domains untangled, as they'd been acquired by multiple well-meaning people, and it took several years to get them straightened out and under the control of officers of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee (which pays the bills, out of the small amount of money that Worldcon committees pay to fund the MPC).

During these years of wrangling over what to do about the Worldcon/WSFS/NASFiC sites, the MPC set up the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, which was able to set up the Hugo Awards web site separately. Cheryl Morgan did the heavy lifting and set up the WordPress site that we've been using ever since. I do most of the maintenance these days, but multiple people in geographically dispersed areas have the keys to the site, so if I drop dead, other people will be able to keep things running.

The last straw in the Worldcon sites discussion came when George Mitchell, who had been hosting the sites for us for free since the 1990s, came to the WSFS Business Meeting in Spokane and said, roughly speaking, "It's time for you to leave." The WSFS MPC discharged the last vestige of the Worldcon Website Working Group (which had, thanks to Mike "Dr. Plokta" Scott, fixed the mess that was the domain registration) and authorized the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee to sort out a solution on the other sites.

A couple of months ago, Cheryl Morgan, with me consulting, but with her again doing the heavy lifting, built new sites for Worldcon, NASFiC, and WSFS, and we moved the actual hosting over to the same commercial service ( we use for the Hugo Awards site.

All the sites intentionally share a family resemblance. All of them can be maintained by people who are not heavy duty HTML wizards. All of them have relatively simple graphics and structure. It's not flashy, but it's clean and I hope easy to use.

One issue though: The old site's file structure was a mess. I made the executive decision (so don't blame Cheryl) to let all of the old "deep links" to individual files on the old site break. So if you have a deep link to, say, the old versions of the WSFS Constitution or old WSFS minutes, those links have now broken in favor of the new structure. I'm sorry about that, but if we'd spent much more time trying to maintain the old structure and meet our mandate to migrate the site to the new servers this "WSFS year," it would not have gotten done.

An additional issue pointed out by Mike Glyer is that search engines still have the old (now broken) links in their cached searches. So until those links refresh, your web searches may lead you to a dead end. Rest assured, however, that the old files, particularly the various WSFS documents, are still on the site, just in a different location than they once were.

I've been wanting to get this redesign done since at least 2008, and I'm glad it's finally done. I'm also extremely grateful to Cheryl Morgan for doing the work and to the rest of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee for authorizing the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee to get the job done.
Tags: hugo awards, nasfic, worldcon, wsfs

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