[pydotorg-www] project plan

skip at pobox.com skip at pobox.com
Wed Apr 21 17:11:10 CEST 2010

My feedback on Rich's outline document so far:

    * (Agility) I don't think the site content is difficult to update.  It
      is in a fairly simple to read/write text format.  Except when brain
      cramps get in my way, updating the site generally involves little more
      than editing the text and checking in the changed file(s).  Switching
      to some kind of through-the-web editing system would be massive
      overkill in my opinion.

      As for the appearance, I lean more toward the simple Google end of the
      spectrum when it comes to website appearance, and I detest websites
      which think it's ok to spew out JavaScript or Flash animations which
      peg my computer's CPU.  I do, however, think that whatever appearance
      you settle on should be used in the wiki as well.  They are two sides
      of the same coin in my mind.

    * (Involvement) I agree that more involvement by the community would be
      beneficial.  Frequently when the site has lagged behind content-wise I
      think it's because it contained content which was naturally dynamic.
      In several instances we have moved content to the wiki so the
      community can keep that content up-to-date.

      Regarding the wiki, while more community involvement is worthwhile,
      wikis can devolve into little more than a "bag of pages".  I think
      some effort to provide overall structure to the wiki would be
      worthwhile.  Deciding if/when to cull data from the wiki would also be
      helpful.  (For example, frequently people create personal home pages
      on the wiki which contain nothing more than their email address - I
      guess that's the default with the home page template.)

      There are certain parts of the site which I think should not be turned
      over to a broader audience, however.  In particular, download/release
      content, news and job postings should be fairly tightly controlled in
      my mind.  I hope the reasons for tight control of download/release
      content are obvious.

      The job board seems to be a well-used part of the site, at least based
      on the number of posting requests I've seen and notes about taking
      down postings because positions have been filled.  There is a fair
      amount of give-and-take at times between Martin and the people posting
      job announcements to help the submitters get their posts into
      reasonable form and with appropriate content.  (At least once a month
      I would suspect that postings with no apparent Python relevance are
      sent to the jobs address.)  The job board is a good marketing tool for
      Python the language.  I think it would be a shame if the high quality
      of the content was diluted by lack of oversight.

      News postings fall into a similar category as a marketing tool.  "Wow,
      look at all the Python events!"  There is limited space on the site
      for news items.  There appears to be room for five to seven items
      "above the fold" given the current layout.  While I think it would be
      nice if more events could be posted, that is limited real estate.
      OTOH, maybe all news items could be submitted and will go out in the
      RSS feed, while only the most important are tagged for display on the

      Another area where we could use some help is in squashing/redirecting
      old content.  Fairly frequently email arrives at the webmaster address
      referring to old pages from previous incarnations of the website which
      have broken links or are simply badly outdated.  In almost all cases I
      think we should redirect to a page in the current website or wiki.
      Simply identifying old content would be a significant project.  It
      would be great if the larger community could help identify old pages
      and a suitable redirect target.  The folks who twiddle the bits on the
      web server config could set up the necessary redirection and take down
      the old page.

    * (Localization) I would like to see some way to highlight local user
      group meetings.  I realize that's somewhat at odds with my comments
      above about news items.  It might be worthwhile to also offer storage/
      display/indexing space for presentations from local user group talks.

    * (Extensibility) I'm not sure what you're after here.  I think you need
      to expand, maybe give an example.

    * (Accessibility) Traditionally, aside from the main Python tutorial
      (which assumes some programming background) tutorial information for
      complete novice programmers has been left up to the broader community,
      then referenced from the main site or the wiki.

      (Thinking out loud here...)

      - I wonder if the PSF might consider funding a competent technical
        writer with essentially no programming experience to learn the
        language and produce a good tutorial aimed at complete novices.

      - Allowing the community to annotate the online documentation (though
        still keeping the actual documentation content "in-house" - sort of
        midway between a closed site and fully editable wiki) might be an
        excellent way to improve it.  Users could point out errors, add
        examples, maybe even easily suggest ways to restructure signficant
        parts for easier use.

      - Would Google App Engine be a suitable environment for an interactive
        Python exploratorium?

    * (Presentation) As I indicated above I prefer a "lighter" look and
      feel.  Sidebars can be handy, but we seem to have taken them to an
      extreme.  With both constant-width left and right sidebars on the
      front page you lose anywhere from one third to one half of the space
      available to display actual content.  That said, I am all for
      highlighting activities such as GSoC (maybe displayed as a thin banner
      across the top of the page?).  I think you could move the "... uses
      Python" box to the bottom of the left-hand sidebar, eliminate the
      "What they are saying..." altogether, and merge the "Using Python
      For..." box into the left-hand sidebar as a dynamic hierarchical menu.


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