On August 28th, I received an email from the new president of Esperanto-USA informing me that I was being replaced as webmaster. I was somewhat surprised at this turn of events, but have done what I can to help the new webmaster get up-to-speed with the website as it currently stands and to outline what I had identified as next steps.
My vision for the website has been to make it the repository for information about Esperanto-USA and its activity -- the primary goal being that people visiting the site see evidence that the organization is alive and active. For that reason, I have avoided creating "silos" where people go for different pieces of information that are disconnected from the main site (where the evidence of the other things going on would be absent).
I've also tried to prevent proliferation of individual sites so that most/all of the management of the site mostly is done through Drupal. I've avoided creating shell accounts for people and having to deal with managing file uploads, unix permission issues, etc -- not because they're necessarily any harder than doing it through drupal, but to avoid multiplying the amount of work that the sysadmin will have to do (ie manage drupal plus manage unix users and understand the potential interactions between the two -- or even worse, understand other CMSes). But note that there are a few, e.g. http://esperanto-usa.org/lk2011 And, as I say, because I want people visiting our site(s) to be exposed to our current activity, and not just the silo that brought them there.
One of the most successful things we did was when Robert Read organized and hosted a "LAN party", where we got 6 or 7 people together in one place to work on the website for a whole weekend. That's how the old pages got migrated (however inexpertly) during one frantic weekend. It might be worth repeating that somehow, when you know what you want to do.
In 2011, I had proposed a thread of the Landa Kongreso to be about updating the website: basically, I envisioned (1) a talk/forum about the website and services available/needed, (2) training sessions on how to get involved and contribute, and (3) a room through the whole congress (staffed by me) with a few computers where people who wanted to work on things could sit together and actually get work done. Unfortunately, when the date of the LK was arbitrarily changed, I could no longer participate. Maybe someone will want to organize this at the next LK.
The key things that I thought that needed to be done were these:
(1) reorganize navigation (less flat, more deep). We have too many top level categories that aren't really parallel and each is only one level deep. We should probably have fewer top-level menus and make them two levels deep, so people can burrow down more quickly to what they're looking for.
(2) combine and update pages. We have too many pages, many of which are similar to one another -- and most are out of date. While updating the site, we should try to merge similar pages together into a single page, to simplify the site and make them easier to maintain/update.
(3) fix, extend taxonomy. The taxonomy system is turned on and allows people to enter terms. Unfortunately, most people don't understand how it works. But we have a big repository of terms that people have used. We should probably migrate those terms into a system where we have a fixed set of terms that people are required to select from when posting stuff. I think a better taxonomy system would make it easier for people to find information and navigate the site.
(4) create landing pages for each of the funds. These would probably be "views" in Drupal parlance, and would each have a summary of a fund, a way to submit requests from a fund, a "feed" of articles (stories and blog posts) that were tagged as being about the activity of a fund, and a link encouraging people to donate to a fund -- maybe even building a purchasing system into drupal so that people didn't have to leave drupal to donate. On the "estraro" side, we would ask fund administrators to post updates about each time the fund did anything -- maybe with an admonition that funds that do nothing for an entire year will be discontinued and rolled into the general fund. It's stupid that we have funds that don't do anything: we should get rid of those.
There are some other resources of which you should be aware. This URL: http://esperanto-usa.org/chkmem.php is a script I wrote that checks members one by one to see if they're a dues paying member and adds the "member" role to them in Drupal if they are. It doesn't remove members who are no longer dues-paying: we have no mechanism to do that.
There are also google adwords and google analytics accounts for Esperanto-USA. You probably need to ask Tim Westover to add you to those, if you're not already in there. We could do a lot more with both of those. Tim used to do a lot, but hasn't been active for a couple of years and no-one else has filled in.
There is also the "retpagxestroj" mailing list. This is a list maintained at dreamhost. You should add yourself to that. You can leave me on or take me off, as you like. The people who are on the list are all endowed with administrative access at the website. There are also a few more people who have administrative access: I was pretty liberal in giving it, thinking that more hands are better. Administrators can do pretty much anything at the site, though, and, although it hasn't been misused you might want to think about it because it's a bit risky -- you may be more risk-averse than me.
The bookstore is its own thing -- it was set up and is maintained by Bill Harris. There are really attractive skins for zen-cart -- the one we're using is pretty ugly and clunky looking. It might be worth spending a few hundred bucks to buy a prettier skin so that the bookstore looked more attractive. Attractive sells. The bookstore needs more reviews -- there's a mechanism for users to write and submit reviews, but there are hardly any reviews in the bookstore.
We're currently using Drupal 6, which is now the legacy release of Drupal. It will continue to be supported until Drupal 8 comes out -- probably sometime next year. When that happens, we ought to be ready with an upgrade plan -- or some kind of plan.
The New York office of UEA is interested in switching to Drupal. I had asked the board to consider whether we should host their website if they were willing to share the cost of hosting (for maybe $5/month). It is simple enough to to set up separate sites that use the same codebase (t.e. "multisite"). That question has not yet been answered.
For a long time, there's been discussed about whether we should translate at least some of our webpages into Esperanto. The majority are only in English. The i18n and l10n modules are installed, but we mostly aren't using them, In my opinion, we don't have enough human resources to keep the English pages up-to-date and it doesn't make sense to double the amount of work. If you want to use the system I've found that it works reasonably well, but it doesn't play nicely with the book module. You will want to move pages that you want to translate from book pages to regular pages.
Finally, the last item I covered when I did my talk at the LK in Washington -- and which I had warned the estraro about -- was that someone needed to be thinking about finding a replacement for me, since I was the only one who understood Drupal well enough to manage and support the site. Evidently, that problem now has been solved. :-)
To be summarily dismissed wasn't really how I was expecting things to turn out, but it was time -- past time -- that someone else took over. I'll enjoy watching from the sidelines.