Beware! This is a rant!
For the past two years the Federation of British Columbia Writers’ website has been in constant upheaval as its executive seeks to make it relevant and accessible to writers. Their Fall/Winter 2010 magazine, WordWorks, carried the announcement that their soon-to-be-launched upgraded site was “a new [virtual] front door to the Federation of BC Writers, a renewed… rejuvenated web site”, and that the plan for the new site was “now live online.” It was the first of many similar announcements, with each attempted site revision becoming more complex.
When volunteers were sought, I was one of three who worked on transitioning data from the original site to the new one during the spring of 2010. Before our work was complete I returned to the site after my summer vacation to find everything we’d done had been altered, and there had been a change in personnel and the executive.
Web gurus took a turn at trying to get everything reorganized and functioning. Then it became mostly a members-only site, with passwords that didn’t always work, and material dependent upon member input that rarely occurred except by a handful of insiders.
I know I sound cranky and critical, but my inner voice has been shrieking, “It’s a WordPress template, for goodness’ sake. How difficult can it be to have an introductory front page and links to pages of appropriate info, with a blog page for easily added news?” “And why do we need detailed bios for hundreds of members – “profile [to] include a list of publications, awards and workshop skills… and a professional quality head shot” — when our achievements will constantly change, requiring regular updating?”
The website has been ‘in transition’ for over two years. I often wonder if anyone bothers to access it anymore, except perhaps new visitors who must wonder at its state, and the occasional curious member like me who despairs of it ever again being a useful site for the writers of BC who the BCFW purports to represent.
Be clear about one thing: I am not criticizing the efforts of our executive. Past President George Opacic and current President Ben Nuttall-Smith are also remarkable, but the workload they undertook has been overwhelming. It’s my personal belief that what the executive wants the website to become is both unrealistic and unnecessary. Efforts would be better directed at maintaining it at a basic level and continuing the present forms of communication – the VOX monthly newsletter, the Facebook page and the members’ WordWorks magazine. That would leave the exhausted executive free to focus on its many other services to the membership.
An announcement on FB July 21st said, “Physical transition from the old to the new site will take place Thursday, August 1 from 10pm to 8am.” On August 2 a further announcement said, “We’re well on our way to launching our improved webpage. The grand launching will be on August 16, 2013 so in the interim, please bear with us. What you see right now if you go to the page is simply the scaffolding for its creation in its new form; places to build our new creation. Mark the launch date in your day planners. Its going to be a great page.”[sic] I’ll believe it when (and if) I see it.
The photo I’ve used above is one of my own. Except for these Fed initials, I have no idea what our logo is anymore – the header gracing the website and FB pages changes every time I visit. The website’s current front page carries a changing photo banner, followed by an equally large section devoted to three advertisements for ‘cyberchimps.com’. I have to say, that made me giggle.
In a letter, FBCW President Ben Nuttall-Smith recently asked, “How can the Federation regain its relevance for BC Writers?” I think the bigger question is how can it regain its credibility among the membership?
There you go. Rant over.
If you are a FBCW member, what do you think the website should accomplish? If you are a writer or a reader what would your one suggestion be for writers who are creating a new website or blog?
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