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Five Steps to Reviving Your Failing Anarchist News Web Site
29 Mar 2010
1. Use a real host provider.
Hosting your site in your sketchy friend's basement might seem like a great way to save a hundred and twenty bucks a year, as well as making you feel all edgy and hackerish, but when your sketchy friend doesn't pay his electric bill and gets cut off your site goes down. Eventually your readers will get sick of this sort of thing and go back to getting their anarchist news from Google searches. Professional web hosting companies, while not perfect, can at least be counted on not to let your site disappear for a week with no warning.
2. Make it easy, or at least possible, to create new accounts.
The harder it is to sign up for a user account, the fewer people will bother. Forcing new users to check their email to get the password you sent them creates an unnecessary barrier to entry (not to mention being a security risk).
Especially when you never actually send the password.
Especially when, when they try to sign up again, you tell them that there is already an account using their email address.
3. Don't be a fascist.
Your readers really don't care who said what to who at A16, or whether you disagree with the platform of the organization featured in a particular story. Rejecting stories on the basis of who submitted them, as opposed to the quality of their content, only aggravates users and deprives your site of interesting material. Let your readers decide for themselves what they want to read. You can always express your opinion in the comments section, that's what it's for.
4. If you screen stories by hand anyway you don't need a spam filter.
That goes double if it doesn't even work. If your filter doesn't let users include URLs in text submissions, but cheerfully passes those same URLs in the link tags of HTML submissions, you should just turn the thing off.
5. Learn how to code.
Or if the intricacies of PHP and HTML are completely beyond you, find somebody to help who knows what they're doing. There's no excuse for repeated down time caused by preventable bugs. There are millions of news sites on the internet that DON'T periodically collapse for days at a time while displaying useless error messages, and there's no reason yours shouldn't be one of them.
Bonus tip: Try not to be a hypocrite.
The next time you feel moved to, say, write a long-winded comment attacking a group you know next to nothing about, or post a picture of a long standing radical project as an example of a "failing anarchist bookstore," consider the possibility that the people you're criticizing are better at their jobs than you are at yours.
This work is in the public domain.