20210102 - New Online Presence

Post date: Jan 2, 2021 1:49:06 AM

During the 'net today I raised the issue of the online presence of F-troop. This website. It's implemented as a "Classic Google Sites". Google has announced that the technology behind this site will be switched off at the end of 2021. Before then restrictions will be placed on  creation and editing of the content.

The current website can be converted to the 'New Google Sites", but one of the central features of this site, the announcements, like a blog, are not supported. This means that creating a post on the new Google sites will create extra work.

Another consideration is that the current site is only editable by a single person, me. I can add individuals, but there are limitations and doesn't really allow for any two-way communication.

While the domain name, vk6flab.com is paid for by me, the rest of the infrastructure is at no cost. This is attractive because F-troop doesn't generate any income. We could solicit donations, but that creates an administrative and accountability overhead that is unattractive. Incorporating F-troop as a "club" might alleviate some of that, but there are already plenty of radio clubs and creating a club entity for the purposes of this net is in my experience not viable.

A suggestion was to approach the WIA and use their infrastructure. There are some amateurs who do not want to be aligned with the WIA in any way and using their infrastructure would be contrary to those concerns.

We could migrate this to a mailing list. This is attractive because it allows anyone to send an email to it. We could moderate it, have it used as an announce-only list, have a web-archive, etc. We will likely quickly run into storage limits associated with any free service and paid mailing lists again require an income stream. Another issue is SPAM and filtering.

Another option is to host a mailing server on Amazon Web Services using SES as the underlying infrastructure, a paid-for option.

The traditional "blog" site, blogger, still exists. It's not seen much love from Google and it's unclear if it will continue to exist and for how long. There may be other blogging sites around that would be suitable.

We could use a free hosting service like WordPress, but the storage limits are going to become an issue sooner, rather than later.

I have also considered using GitHub pages, but storage limits quickly become an issue.

There are a few free wiki-based websites. They may be useful, but many seem to be struggling for funding in the same way that other free services are.

Facebook is an option, but it requires a Facebook account, which is not universal and their history of privacy breaches are not encouraging.

We could create a reddit sub specific to this 'net. This is attractive because the infrastructure to maintain discussion, moderation, etc. is already in place. It's free and it offers many attractive formatting options. One disadvantage is that information can and will be lost when contributors delete content, something which the current site avoids by uploading specific files as page attachments.

If you have thoughts on this or references to other options not considered, please drop me an email or raise it during F-troop.

I would like to mention that I don't want this to become a unilateral decision by me. So far F-troop has been a community effort and I'd like it to continue to be.

Look forward to hearing from you.

73, de Onno VK6FLAB