Letter to IMC London contributorsTagged as: culture indymedia
Published by group: Indymedia London
Our grand new site has been up for a while, and besides struggling with events that transcend the sphere of our influence, we've been trying to get rid of bugs and generally improve the site. In order to do so, we've been looking closely at how people use the site. Doing this, I have noted some things that I don't understand. Lacking a general way to get in touch, I've decided to write an open letter to IMC London users.
(Disclaimer: Everything I say here is my personal opinion and does not represent the IMC London Collective)
1) People don't tag!
We've introduced tags as a chance to improve the immobile category system. By tagging articles properly, everyone will contribute to the creation of categories and improve site navigation for everyone else. The separate place tags were meant to reflect the size of the city and enable people to keep track of what's happening in their neighbourhoods. But more often than not, people only tick our suggested tags or leave them entirely empty. Why is that? If someone wants to spread word of something that's going on, sure they have the time to type in some tags.
Note: as stated above the tag box, tags on this site are separated by spaces. If you want to use tags consisting of two words or more, I suggest using _ instead of the space key.
2) All kinds of maps...
At the end of the publish form for events, right above where it says "create" we have a mapping tool build into the site. Clicking "Add a map?" opens up a street map of London, and it is easy to zoom in on the right spot and place a marker by clicking on it. This feature hasn't been there right from the start, but it's been around for quite a while now. But people still insist on linking to google maps (with google being an evil corporation and all) or other maps, using ridiculously long links, that half the time don't even work. Why?
The text editor on the publish form enables people to easily insert links into the text. All that means is highlighting the words that should link to another page and clicking the little link button in the edit bar at the top of the text box. A little window will pop up, asking for the url to be pasted in and a description and that's it. While I get that this is a bit more work, and the link button isn't part of regular text editors, some people use tinyurl links, which are more work to get and I don't like them because I never know where they lead me.
Same as with the maps, people tend to upload their video to YouTube and the like (and guess what? They are big corp evil as well), rather than uploading to IMC London. I've often heard that this would be better as more people actually see the video. But if you think about it, that's not necessarily true. There's so much stuff on YouTube, that most videos have a couple of hundred views even after months. And your report of an action will definitely not get featured there. At the same time, anyone following IMC London will be generally interested already, so you might stand a better chance to actually alert more people to your cause here. Don't get me wrong, I don't want people to stop using YouTube. But please don't just post a link to YouTube from IMC London. Take the time to upload your videos here, and rather link to IMC London from YouTube.
Note: We've just now improved our video player to enable 16:9 aspect ratios and be generally bigger and more pleasant.
5) All Caps Titles
I HATE THEM, they drive me mad and are definitely not good for my blood pressure. While I do understand that there are extremely devastating and urgent news posted to the site, please do keep in mind that other news might be just as important. Using all caps titles is like trying to drown out everyone else by screaming louder than them. Also I find it makes things hard to read. Please, please don't ever do that.
Having said all this, a big Thank You to everyone who's been contributing. Some people have been doing amazing work there, and one of the advantages of moderating Indymedia is getting to read about how much is going on in London.
Also if anyone has suggestions, would like to get involved, or needs help with anything, please do get in touch. Also, if you like Indymedia and want it to keep running, keep in mind that running websites does cost money and consider donating.
Keep the good stuff coming.
P.s. We're always happy about feedback, so do let us know when something doesn't work the way you want it too, you have ideas for improvements or just don't like something. (But beware, while we are happy to hear something like "hey, nice job on the site, but the photo resizing really screws up sometimes and it's quite frustrating" and will try to fix it, something like "the photo upload failed, I hate you and will never use the site again" is not going to earn you very affectionate responses.)