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  1. #1

    Question Ideas for simple "mayors office" type blog or forum?

    Hello,

    My local town (population of about 1500 has asked me to create a "website" for them. The purpose of the website is to help the mayor communicate with the citizens. (He's notorious for being very bad communicator, and one of his election platforms was that he would improve. This website is supposed to be the start of that promise...)

    So the idea is that the website would allow him to explain what he is doing, recent decisions, introduce his team of advisors and council members, allow people to submit anonymous questions, allow comments/responses and also to carry on some dialogue to the responses.

    I am not sure if a blog or a forum would be best. (Or maybe facebook, but he's pretty old-school and he's a total techno-phobe, so facebook probably wouldn't be best.)

    What do you think?

    A forum setup would best for full out discussions, where people can post a question, he answers them, and then people go on to discuss. The risk is that every thread would be dominated by the few people who make it their life's mission to discredit and troll everything he says...

    A blog setup would be good to let him "announce" things, post his thoughts, and also a "question/response" type of posting. Then (if he allows comments) he can moderate them easily. The focus would be on his main postings, but people would still be able to comment and carry on discussions. Kind of like how CNN does it, I guess. (Article is written, and then people can post their comments below the article.)

    I'm curious as to if anyone here has set up something similar, and how you did it. Also, if you think wordpress is best for this... what theme do you recommend?

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Barcelona, Spain
    Posts
    3,397
    it doesn't matter what you use, even if he would upload a weekly .txt file to pastebin.com. What matters is that he needs to break through bad communication habits so you as a developer need to make that treshold as low as possible, otherwise your client is falling back into his bad habits before you know it.

    Then to the technical part... Why ask here? You have a whole darn community willing to answer your question. Ask them! They'll be the one reading and using it.
    hi there!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by JayNL View Post
    What matters is that he needs to break through bad communication habits so you as a developer need to make that treshold as low as possible, otherwise your client is falling back into his bad habits before you know it.
    That's exactly what I'm trying to do. I want to deliver him something that is simple and easy to understand, so he will actually use it.

    One of the "reasons" he gave for his poor communication is that he doesn't have the tools to communicate. I know this is a bad excuse, but by giving him a simple and effective tool... maybe he is correct.

    Sometimes for old people (he's 65 years old), the whole concept of "computers" and "technology" is just overwhelming, so they don't do anything. If I can give him something super easy to use, then maybe I can help him see it isn't too difficult.

    Quote Originally Posted by JayNL View Post
    Then to the technical part... Why ask here? You have a whole darn community willing to answer your question. Ask them! They'll be the one reading and using it.
    The community is non-technical. They just want to be able to go to some website and read what the mayor has to say. They want to be able to fill out a form to submit their questions. They have no idea how to accomplish that. This is a community of mostly older folks...

    I'm thinking that a simple wordpress blog would work well for this. What do you think? I can add a "Ask a question" form, and he (the Mayor) can easily create new responses (blog entries) with a simple interface. Then I can enable discussion/replies, etc.

    Does anyone know of a decent template that might work for this situation? How about a good discussion plugin for handling comments? Are there any plugins that would make this easier for the Mayor?

    I've only used wordpress a handful of times, so I'm not very familiar with it. That's why I'm asking...

    Thanks.
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  4. #4
    As long as communication is done, a simple blog (with a not too distracting template) would work, and Wordpress would fit for that scenario with some simple configuration - I believe you don't even need any fancy plugins (as that might be harder for the mayor to handle if he's skeptical about the usage of computers) - note that simplicity is the best way to lower the entry barrier, so start with a simple setup and as the community needs more, expand it.

  5. #5
    Indeed I believe that going for the Blog approach would be easier for both sides. This way the main focus would be the news/announcements he makes and the commenting option under each post would keep the relevancy in the introduced news piece. And the Contact Form would be used for anyone that needs to submit a personal question or a question that is not covered in the blog posts. As it was mentioned, Wordpress pretty much has all that, you don't need any fancy plugins (maybe you can check some Contact Form plugins in the WordPress directory but generally try to be careful as WordPress is most easily exploited through its plugin base). As for the theme you are again in good hands with WP - whichever theme you choose, most are fully customizable so you can shape the outlook to your liking - maybe with a photo of the town, or the town hall or...well, you get the idea

    Once you prepare the ready version of the blog, I doubt it will be too hard to teach the mayor to use it, as he will pretty much need to use just a few of the many various options that WP provides
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Rado_Ch View Post
    ... (maybe you can check some Contact Form plugins in the WordPress directory but generally try to be careful as WordPress is most easily exploited through its plugin base)...
    Oh yes, it is worth mentioning that it'd be best if you start out with a smaller set of features from WP (both in Core and in plugins) so that you have a smaller attack surface. I'm not sure whether there'd be any malicious intention towards it, but you never know

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    196
    Not to tout WordPress, but I think this project would be fun to work on :-P Also WordPress allows someone to email the system to get the article posted without having to login. You could have him write his post and email it to someone, proof read and send to the system. Its easier to log into the system and add the proper structure such as featured image and SEO information. This helps the search engines which helps people who are not very computer literate, find what they are looking for. Also WordPress configured properly will allow your community to consume information as they would like. Joining a newsletter, following on Facebook and more. Registered users can post comments and your team can all publish their own articles or information. You can also schedule events and all kinds of fun interactive things. These plugins are designed for communities with different age groups and how different people want to get their information in mind.
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