What's up at WisCommunity in January 2021 | WisCommunity

What's up at WisCommunity in January 2021

January 24, 2021 - 6:09pm

So many projects, so little time. Once in a blue moon, I write a little article to let readers know what is going on here, and what you will see coming in the future. 

First of all, an apology. You may have noticed that the WisCommunity calendar has been a little sparse for the past week or so. A lot of the events in the calendar are imported from Facebook events through a process that I won't go into - Facebook tries to make that hard these days even though a few years ago it was easy - they're trying to keep all the eyes on Facebook. In any case, for some obscure reason, the ical feed from my personal account moved to a different URL, so the WIsCommunity site kept trying to import events from  - well, nothing. I finally fixed that and made a few other improvements to the process yesterday, so that should be stable and working again. The calendar is again filling up nicely. Let me remind you all that you can put your own events in the site. It's easy, but you need to on the site first - you can only create events when you're logged in. If you have questions, .

I've been a member of for some time now, which brings a lot of good things to WisCommunity. As a LION member, I have just sent in an application to take part in the  They will only be accepting 12 publications to take part, so odds are probably not great, but if you don't ask, you don't get. So I'm asking.

The current site design is fairly complex and cumbersome and doesn't really suit the needs of a modern news publisher. I originally built the site as a community discussion place that happened to have some news. It was a much harder sell than I expected to get community organizations to use the platform, primarily because generally people were firmly convinced that Facebook was the answer to all questions. I still think that is wrong, but sometimes you need to admit defeat. Anyway, the site suffers substantially from that background for many reasons. The platform it is built on (OpenAtrium, a Drupal distribution) is in some ways extremely flexible and full of features. Unfortunately the site now only uses about 10% of those features, and the site is being dragged down by the other 90% of code that isn't in use. The site is also a little clunky and not as good on mobile devices as it should be (and about 70% of our readers now read the site on mobile devices). Lastly, the current site is built on a base of Drupal 7, which will eventually not be supported (the end of 2022 because the Drupal folks have moved the shutdown date back because of the pandemic). I'm working on moving the entire site into a more modern Drupal 8 (or perhaps 9 by the time I'm done) which will make the site perform better and put us in a good position for the future. But since this is largely a one-man operation, I'm often stuck between producing news and being a code jockey. The upshot is that for the next month or so it's likely that news coverage is going to suffer (this has actually been the case for the past few weeks, but I thought I should explain why it Is happening). Bear with me. 

There are a few new projects underway. On Feb. 2 I will be producing the video broadcast of a candidate forum for the Menomonie School Board. This forum is being run by the  and the  This forum can be viewed , the LWV website and Facebook page, the WisCommunity Facebook page, and . There will be more news on that soon. 

A few months ago WisCommunity committed to doing some community outreach and reader survey. That is still in the works, and there'll be more information on that next week. We'll have some surveys where we'll ask you what we can do to better serve you and the community at large. If you're interested in participating we're still looking for a few more panelists - if you're interested in spending a few hours with us to make local news better, .

Another project that is still on the back burner is a Chippewa Valley musical event where we'll have live streams of musicians from around the valley. Frankly it's just been hard to get to getting that project going, but it will happen as soon as I can squeak up the time to organize it.  If you're a musician and would like to participate (we'll try to help you raise some money in the process) and could do a short set of original music - let us know.

Well, that's enough for today -

Steve Hanson
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