Thursday 14th of November 2019

Site cleaning

It is great to see that YD has had a consistently strong following since its inception over a year ago. And along the way the YD team has tweaked the site to suit the needs of the day. Perhaps now would be a good time to start discussing wider ranging, site cleanup/tweaking exercise, if it is deemed necessary.

We should probably start by looking back over the original ideas for the site, and then the feedback we have received from members along the way. From where I sit I would like to see:

  1. Some work on the theme

  2. Revenue generation

  3. Promotion to bring in new YD members, hopefully members who directly contribute to content.

On these issues. The current theme is good in that it is clean, but I don't think it is particularly clear. The blocks and the content can all seem to merge into one big blob, especially through tired eyes. I've actually created my own personal theme based on the current one called shift2 (goto my account -> edit -> Theme settings), where I fix this issue to my satisfaction. However, we may be better served by rethinking the whole theme, after looking at some other sites which we like. This especially includes the way the blocks are laid out. I like the WebDiary recent comments block better than ours, so perhaps we could investigate this.

YourDemocracy is quite a low cost site to run, but we are approaching the limits of our hosting at the moment, mainly in terms of storage, but also in terms of bandwidth. And although we could expand this hosting, or shift it off shore (we are proudly hosted in Brisbane), it needs to be done in a sustainable way. If it costs us more money, we need to bring that money in through either donations, merchandise, or advertising. Merchandising is great because it also promotes the site, but it is then going to take up someone's time to sell/send this merchandise out, so unless we can find an only tshirt/cup/sticker seller who will make and sell our products and give us a cut of the profit, then I don't think this is going to work as a full time option.

Advertising isn't a bad option, so long as it doesn't overrun the site. My suggestion would be to have text banner ads, Google or otherwise, which are only shown to people who are not logged in. These would be below the login box, with a not saying “When you join/login these ads will not be shown”. I think this would be the easiest way to bring in a passive income stream, and maybe also encourage people to join, stay logged in, and contribute.

Finally promotion. I don't know what Gus thinks of this, but when there is a cartoon that really hits home I tend to print it on an A4 of A3 sheet, with yourdemocracy.net.au printed under it, and pin it up around campus (University). This kind of thing is good because it is something anyone can do, and it doesn't cost much, and even if we only put the site name in some people's minds, that better than nothing.

Similarly, I would like to use the site, specifically the local forums, as a place to collate information about community actions, projects and discussions. For instance, the alumina refinery they are putting in our back yard, and there has been a community group formed around this issue, and using YourDemocracy as our point of information which we can put on our fliers. This promotes YD to a community of action minded people, who can hopefully contribute positively to the site. (This is largely hypothetical, we actually used another site as the basis of this campaign, though I did post a report on YD)

But I understand balance is important. If YD were to get overrun with protesters then we may end up alienating sections of our current readership, and even though we can keep discussions on topic, in their relevant forums, we really need to grow consistently across all our groups of readers and contributers.

I'm sure there is plenty more to say, but I'll leave it at this for now.

Nigel