What's Up at WisCommunity? | Wis.Community

What's Up at WisCommunity?

October 27, 2020 - 1:01pm
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It has been quite a while since I last wrote a community update. But life has been crazy here, and something else always gets in the way. Today I am fixing this.

First of all, I'd like to thank the , the , and for both a training course in User Research and for a generous grant to fund user research at WisCommunity. This will be put to good use as we're starting a user research program here. Some of you have already agreed to participate and have filled out the first reader survey. This will be kicking off soon, so if anyone else is interested in taking a journey with us to improve WisCommunity and to fill the gaps in local news in the Chippewa Valley, it would be great if you could fill out the

I'm hoping to accomplish many things in this project (which in some form or another will continue forever). I'd like to know more about what you value in WisCommunity, what you think needs to be improved, and what new features and content you'd like to see in the future. In the long run, I hope that this will involve either having a reader advisory panel or possibly changing the structure of the project to be a cooperative. Cooperative news is an exciting new thing that is going on in journalism. I am currently taking part in a cooperative journalism research project of different news media that are thinking about moving to a cooperative model. 

Eventually, my goal is to have this stop being a one-man show. In fact, I'd be really happy if the day comes when I could step away and let some younger folk carry on, since at my age this is clearly not a sustainable model, and I'd love to actually feel retired at some time in my life.

Other things that are going on? I'm trying to squeak up the time to do an entire site rebuild. The current design is based on a lot of functionality that nobody was ever interested in using. I built this initially as a community discussion and news platform, but nobody has ever really seemed interested in the discussion part. In general, the only discussion that happens is when articles get cross-posted to Facebook, and the discussion all takes place there, for better or for worse. I think we are really badly served by the model where Facebook becomes the internet, but there's also a need to go where people are. In any case, the site carries a lot of baggage from some of the lofty goals I had initially that never took place. So I want to remove a lot of that cruft from the site, and rebuild it more as a straight news platform. Also, deep underneath the site is built on Drupal 7. Version 7 is going to be dropped from support completely next year, and I want to upgrade to a newer version that will be supported longer and that will make ongoing transitions to new versions less painful. So I hope by early next year that this site will be much more attractive, faster, more flexible, and running on Drupal 8 or possibly 9. 

I won't kid you - the pandemic makes everything more difficult. It's hard to do in-person interviews, and a lot of the content here is built from virtual interviews and meetings. I'm working on leveraging that into some more interesting forms, including something I'm thinking of as a weekly news wrap-up that will both be in video and audio form, and will become a weekly podcast. 

Some of you who are friends have been following the never-ending saga of the RV. I bought a 35-year-old tiny RV a few weeks ago and I am working on making it more useful come spring. One of the roles it will serve, I hope, is as a portable video and audio studio for WisCommunity. So - once the weather turns nicer you can expect to see it at some community events and sometimes just parked around town as a listening post. But it needs work. As does much of life. 

Please consider filling out the survey form to participate in helping WisCommunity to serve the Chippewa Valley better, and as always, if you have news tips or suggestions please send them along to [email protected].

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