RE: WATPA: FW: Community publishing via Weblog

From: Sean P. Cover <>
Date: Sun Nov 16 2003 - 12:22:18 EST

I've been lurking on the list for over a year now and have always been
meaning to drop in on a WATPA meeting, but never have. My apologies -
but with managing a full-time job, my own consulting practice, and a
house with 2 young children, getting anywhere is tough.

But you've touched upon a subject that I am very familiar with -
community publishing, which has the related topics of low-cost website
content management systems, easy website development & propogation for
local non-profits, and dealing with the technically challenged to manage
their own websites - all of which I've dealt with in great detail over
the past five years.

I own and publish (3 years old) and (5 years old), two leading Westchester news websites
which are examples of what one man can put together by himself if he has
enough gumption and know-how. And I've built,, and for others. And at The
Scarsdale Network, (5 years old), I've donated
websites or webspace to many local Scarsdale non-profit organizations.
So I think I know a bit about community publishing.

As the years have passed, the technology I've used to build these
community sites has changed.

Since I don't know what your discussions centered on at your last
meeting, I'm not sure what forms of community publishing you were
discussing and how it relates to the WATPA.

But if I had to take a guess, you were discussing easily replicable
content management systems you can employ to enable Westchester
non-profits to build and manage their own sites. This is something I've
been investigating for years and I've reviewed many such systems with
the hopes of using such a system for the organizations I already

If you are talking about providing blogs to ordinary Westchester
residents, I'd not recommend it. AOL and many other places already do
and if you do a search of their web communities for Westchester search
terms you find a lot of teenagers with blogs and other personal diaries
not worthy of your time supporting or publishing.

If you are talking about enabling people to build news websites like targeting Westchester communities, I'd dissuade you
entirely because this battle is being waged on many fronts already
between corporations, local newspapers, and spirited individuals like
myself who know how much work and time is involved in such matters.
People like me, who work doggedly at it, are few and far between. I'm
searching for them all the time in Westchester and can't find any. If
you find any, send them my way so I can interview them to join my
Westchester Network.

So back to my assumption that you are looking for tools to help
non-profits build and manage websites. When choosing any system you
always want to look ease of use, flexibility, auto-creation of
navigation elements, and integration of a good WYSIWYG editor.

Weblogs are a relatively new phenomenon created by new ease-of-use
server-based applications that allow quick updates and additions without
any advanced web-related experience. They have deficiences though in
that they naturally rotate content and are often not adaptable to having
static areas where organizations can put up About Us, Mission, Board of
Directors and other such items. And some of the systems are not very
good at all. Blogs remain best suited for online journals and diaries.

Blog systems I can recommend are Moveable Type (,
pMachine (, b2 (, or Radio Userland
( Not all of them are free, but all of them are easy
to use, best of breed blog systems.

I've done a lot of work in exploring CMS (content management systems)
applications over the years and you can explore a lot of them online at where you can even test-drive some of them. Many
of them are designed to build portals, which can be cumbersome and
overwhelming for the technically challenged and I do not recommend them
for use by non-profits.

A very good CMS system I can recommend is Mambo Open Source. See and It is in the midst of beta testing
v4.5, which I used recently to build a new website for the Scarsdale
Alumni Association at The prior stable release
v4.014 was very good and I used it to build a quick site for my own Mambo is a very good product and has a good
userbase creating add-ons and extras for it. I'd prefer a better
WYSIWYG editor but it is still my CMS of choice for the moment.

Another option I have been using with some of my paying clients is to
build custom-websites using Macromedia Dreamweaver (my tool of choice),
employing its templating system and having clients update the site as
they please using Macromedia Contribute, a $99 product that allows them
to update the select content areas of their site's pages (as designated
by myself), add extra pages as they please, but not ruin the complex
navigation or important page elements (header, menus, footers) I
developed. (See for more info.)

As I said, the available tools to choose from have multiplied and become
much more advanced over the years.

Unfortunately I can't make this Tuesday's meeting either. I'm speaking
at a local elementary school's PTA meeting that evening, giving their
committee chairs a tutorial on using email, setting up distribution
lists, and attaching files, etc.

But hopefully, I've added something to the conversation on community
publishing. And as best I can, I'd like to be involved. Guess I'll
have to make it to the next meeting!


In the meantime, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could keep me informed
as to where this discussion, its intent and direction goes so I can help
out via email, if I can.

Related and not too off-topic, I have renewed my energies in publicizing
one of my websites, It's a site
ranking/traffic distribution website of Westchester-based websites. I
think it's a win-win situation. Our website visitors find great
Westchester sites (like yours or your clients) and the
websites/businesses/organizations get more publicity for their site.
And it's free. We seem to be sending more traffic out than we get in,
but that's OK. I'm trying to help support local Westchester websites
and get more awareness of The Westchester Network. It's just getting
started but it's working out very well so far. Possibly you may know
sites that might want to be included.

Let me know more about where the WATPA sees itself in the area of
community publishing and maybe I can offer more assistance.

Thanks much.

Sean P. Cover
Scarsdale Technologies: Changing The World One Computer At A Time
(914) 723-5645
For all Support Issues, regardless of origin, please submit a Help Desk
Ticket at 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Norm Jacknis [] 
> Sent: Friday, November 14, 2003 11:19 PM
> To: *WATPA
> Subject: WATPA: FW: Community publishing via Weblog
> Please take a look at this before our meeting on Tuesday.  
> This is beyond what we were initially talking about last time, but ...
> Norm
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> WestportNow: Community publishing via Weblog
> Gordon Joseloff, a former CBS News and UPI correspondent, 
> started a local news site about Westport, Conn., in March 
> that takes the form of a Weblog,
Received on Sun Nov 16 12:22:28 2003

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