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Ask Slashdot: What Web Platform For a Small Municipality?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the right-here-in-river-city dept.

Communications 161

First time accepted submitter r3dR0v3r writes "I have the opportunity to help improve / replace the website of my small U.S. town (~6000 people). The town leaders are open to most any suggestions, and are open to the idea of having the website facilitate a more open government — by being a place at which town documents, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, legal forms, ordinances, etc. can be found in an organized way and downloaded. And of course the site should provide general info about the town, it's services, recreation opportunities, etc.. Now, we have no budget, so we'll be looking at free/open software. I've considered options such as Drupal, but I'm doing this as volunteer work so I don't want to start from scratch and spend overly much time. Thus, I'm looking for advice about any existing platforms made specifically for municipalities as a great way to get a jump start. I'm guessing there are other slashdotters that have helped their communities in this way. Your suggestions please?"

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161 comments

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Packt Publishing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133827)

Obviously you choose Drupal. It's Packt Publishing approved.

Re:Packt Publishing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134465)

First let me say I have posting on Slashdot for years though I'd rather post this off topic story as an AC to avoid the karma ding. That said, it's all true (the payoff is at the end for the tl;dr crowd) and if you take it to heart, it could change your life for the better. Check it out.

So, here's how it went down. My girlfriend of 2 years revealed to me very early in the relationship how she had a submissive streak. She gave me a copy of "The Story of O" and asked me to read it. Oftentimes, I would come to her house and see only candles burning and when I'd go to the bedroom, she'd be laying there waiting for me having literally tied her own self up. Being very inexperienced I guess I didn't really see what I had so I kind of hemmed and hawed in really picking up the baton and running with it. Eventually her enthusiasm waned and it pretty much died down. Thing is, you don't miss something until it's gone so from time to time I'd clumsily try to rekindle that particular magic and she'd go for it some but never really put her heart into it. She'd get bitchy because I wasn't "doing it right" and it would shrivel on the vine.

Let me also mention that, ironically, my girl is very dominant in public. And as time wore on, she got bossier and bossier towards me. Basically, my power in the relationship was getting lesser and lesser and hers was growing. In the last 6 months it seems like all I ever thought about was doing what she wants.

It really started coming to a head in the last couple of months and I got into some deep thought over the issue. I thought about her submission thing and got kind of an epiphany when it hit me that she isn't submissive at all. The girl is dominant. Her game is to play the sub but really be pulling all the strings of her "dominant" puppet as her fantasy plays out. If I wrote the book, the details would bear this out but suffice to say, it's true. All fine and good but, first of all, if that were the case she should have just come out with it in the beginning. It would have been a fun game and I would almost certainly have went along. But she didn't. The second and more fundamental issue is, I'm nobody's sub. At least not for long after I figure out what's happening.

I stewed on this new-found revelation while the relationship just steadily got worse. She was ordering me around almost casually like I was her kid or something. When I'd snuggle up against her in bed, she'd always be "hot" and if I palmed her ass or held her boob while sleeping, I was as likely to get brushed off as anything else. And the constant smart-ass mouth, patronizing facial expressions, blank stares, ignoring me until I asked questions twice, and incessant bitching were bringing me to a boil like nothing before. It was maddening. How had my "sub" twisted me into this shell of a boyfriend obsessing over her every nuance wondering whether I'd made her mad or not.

I was perplexed as to how to turn it around so I figured I'd try to win her over one last time. I took her to the beach (Florida), dined her, played the chivalrous role, indulged her in her second-hand store addiction, and so on. It was flat exhausting and ridiculously time consuming. Like working a second job. Don't get me wrong, I like doing stuff for the woman I love, and it did improve things some, but I'd have to be independently wealthy and retired to sustain this kind of commitment. As my energy waned, her habits resumed with a renewed vengeance. Imagine everything above times 3. At the end of my rope and considering just cutting loose, here's what happened 3 days ago.

Sunday night, I was at my office sleeping and suffering a massive headache. It was so bad I couldn't even see straight. Wherewithal to argue was on negative empty. I had messaged her earlier and received no reply so I sent the final one with the usual goodnight, telling her how much I loved her, and she must be sleeping so sweet dreams, then sat the phone down. A bit later she texts me back with some smart comment about how she wasn't near her phone and didn't know I was texting. I was still awake so I sent a quick reply, "Awesome! I knew it. Night." I mean, just trying to be cool about her ignoring me and just letting it go. Of course, that isn't good enough so she starts. I spare you the details but she still hadn't sent any kind of a sign-off so I kept replying as, heaven forbid, I ignore her need to tell how much of a piece of crap I am. What happens for the next hour and a half as I am suffering the Headache of Legend is the most toxic stream of verbal venom I have ever been assaulted with in my life. Message after message on how I haven't treated her how she deserves, break all my promises, tear her down, aren't invested in the relationship and on and on and on. The best I could muster was a feeble, "I love you" and "I'm sorry" between the boulders being hurled through my phone screen. It was ugly. She gets into the emotional then. How she's crying and hurting because of me trying to make me feel as bad as she can. And, yes, you are just getting my side but, please accept on faith that her spiel is for the most part ridiculous and the product of a very narcisistic and selfish personality.

Finally, the last straw is when I tell her I love her and I will see her tomorrow at my office "with bells on". Some attempted levity and an indication that I was done. She responds she "hopes" we will see each other. I gloss over that one and ask if she'll be spending the night. Her response? I doubt it. Okay, so, not only has she treated me like her verbal punching bag but now she's keeping me hanging on whether I even get to see her the next day and she never once said she loved me just a simple goodnight.

Human dignity can only take so much so I hit back with a subtle copy-pasta of a text she sent me 24 hours earlier telling me she loved me and to dream the sweetest dreams. That set her off. "24 hours? 24 months ago... you love to hurt me." My head hurts, I'm tired and at this point, my last fuck had been given about 20 minutes ago. Starting with the low hanging fruit, I lay in with "Your hypocrisy makes me worry you might hurt yourself talking out of both sides of your face." As are most women I've known, she's pretty good with the verbal repartee but much to her chagrin and early in the relationship surprise, I'm better. Pardon me but I do the shit all day long for a living; I have the natural talent, a stand-up comic's sense of rhythm and timing, an underlying sense for the lexically precise, and the raw ability to spin a logical, persuasive argument out of the most malign bullshit you ever heard in your life. This is kung-fu with which she will never be able to fuck with. I usually give her a break as she just ends up crying when she can't argue me down throwing up the "you're condescending" and the "you make me feel stupid" defense mechanisms. But not this time. So if the honey-coated "How to Win Friends and Influence People" method gets me nothing and even a little "Sun Tzu's The Art of War" only serves to escalate, it's time to whip out "The Prince". Yes, go for the kill Machiavelli style. A Little Boy here, a Fat Man there, I keep dropping the bombs. Until finally, all she can sputter back are feeble "fuck you fuck you"'s. Oh, for reals? fuck me? Okay, I'll see you at my office tomorrow. Go to the bed, bend over it, and take your spanking for your smart mouth. Afterwards, we love each other and life goes on. She hems and haws but doesn't actually reject this. Slightly emboldened, I tell her to tell me she loves me and goodnight. I guess pride and ego got the best of her because she couldn't do that. Fuck that. I respond: No. Not good enough, sweetie-pie. Send the text. Now.

But I get nothing. She's finally shut her mouth but she after all that she won't even tell me she loves me. I wait about 5 minutes feeling more hurt and dejected by the microsecond. I've felt this way many times before with her but never quite to this extent. I look over the stream of texts she's sent me in a sad post-mortem chronicling of my attempts to placate and how they were summarily thrown right back in my face. So add sadness and a faintly glowing but getting steadily brighter ember of anger to the emotional mix. By the time I got to the crescendo of her missives that little ember had somehow lit and consequently come to the business end of a fuse culminating in a white hot explosion obliterating everything in my mind save the rage only a jilted love can feel combined with the mind-numbing headache thus catalyzing a complete loss of empathetic inhibition. Let's scorch some earth, motherfuckers.

No matter what I say at this point, she'll either leave me or she'll go for it. Figuring it's a win/win scenario, I go for broke. Practically verbatim, I text:

When you arrive tomorrow, come inside and strip. You will then, on hands and knees, wait for me to call you into the back office. When you come into the back office, there will be something in your place to rest on. Continue crawling to the end of it closest to me and bow down completely. Have a razor and toiletries close-by since I'm sure you'll need additional care before you are ready to be corrected properly. Bring a marker too so I can write a few reminders down for you on how you will be expected to conduct yourself henceforth. They'll be on your skin for easy reference.

Since a simple spanking doesn't nearly cover how you've acted, I will have other lessons not involving corporal punishment so expect it to take a while. And if I hear one single word in protest, whatever you are whining about will be doubled. You will learn some respect. And when I'm satisfied you've learned your lesson for the day, you will thank me for loving you enough to give it to you. When being punished, My name will be replaced with Sir. You will earn the right to again call me by the former when you have paid your debt in full.

You would do well to commit this all to memory as you will only hear it again when your lack of compliance is being punished. Any whining about the description of your unworthiness to either receive direction or punishment will be treated appropriately by the replacement of your attire and beverage container du jour with a diaper and a baby bottle. Your indulgence from me will be that this will be a private affair. Otherwise, if you whine like a baby you will be treated like one.

You will ask for permission to leave my presence, enter my presence, go to the bathroom, and to get into bed with me. You will follow my instructions precisely. You will follow any additional rules as they are outlined for you. You will serve me honorably and enjoy pleasing me.

I can see inside you and you are obvious. A frustrated woman silently begging to be collared yet not even fully realizing this one deepest desire. In frustration you lash out. Especially at your significant other when he's too busy or weak to take control of you. I will love you, calm you, guide you, and in owning you, I will release you. A love found nowhere else, I will give you. I don't expect it to be easy for either one of us but I love you too much to waver. I don't like hitting you or making you feel pain but I have to if I really love you. And I do, so I will.

Your place will always be at my feet and you will always do what I say but when I am satisfied your attitude has changed and you can be respectful I will consider returning some of your privelages as I see fit.

And that was basically it. I laid it on about as thick as you could imagine but, what the hell?

I woke up the next day and called in sick to work since I'd stayed up so late the night before and while my headache had subsided, my throat was bothering me. I thought about the girlfriend thing and the messages but I didn't really know what to expect. Lo and behold at 2:12 Monday afternoon, my phone dings. [girlfriend]: I will be there, I will let you know when I am on my way as you have told me to do. You do as you think is best. Can you provide all that is required? [girlfriend]: I cannot text more. I will respect your wishes. I do not have anyting extra w/ me. Only myself.

Imagine the internal dialogue. "She went for it. She actually went for it." Then, "Oh shit, I have to follow through with this."

I need to stall so I hit her back with, "We'll talk more. Right now just being yourself and the few items I mentioned last night."

To make a long story less long, she ends up doing exactly what I told her, crawling naked to my chair and bowing down at my feet. I'm still incensed about the conversation the night before so I'm in no mood to be nice. I make her kiss my feet in greeting. Then when I get up to inspect her, she looks me in the eye. I slap her ass and tell her to never do that. She whimpers a little and turns her head downward. She failed inspection (of course) and had to be shaved. I told her to lie on her back with her legs spread and in about 5 short minutes she was as bald as a peach. I got a marker and wrote my initial on her mons pubis to emphasize that she was now my property. I then bent her over the bed in the other room and had her count off as I spanked her for her insolence. I then put her nose in the corner and outlined her new rules and the consequences of breaking them.

After that, I brought her her shirt and allowed her to put it on. It wasn't my intention to have sex with her at all. I wanted to make it clear that this was about punishment for her misdeeds. I also wanted her to understand that I was serious and this wasn't a game I was playing. Her new life would be at my feet doing exactly what I say. I allowed her to lie down in the bed and I held her telling her she had done well and had pleased me. I told her that from now on, that would be her focus. Pleasing me and only by extension pleasing herself. She would derive happiness by making me happy. If she received pleasure or indulgence it was because I wanted to and for no other reason. Finally I told her to leave and that I would see her tomorrow.

The next day, she cooked dinner for her parents and I was invited over. Everything was pretty much as is usual between us. I gave her "the look" from time to time and she always returned it demurely with eyes downcast. As I was leaving, she went out with me and I told her I would expect her at my office tomorrow. She agreed, we kissed and I left.

At this point I wasn't completely sure what to make of the whole thing. She wasn't exactly chomping at the bit that I could tell. But then, maybe that was her game. Maybe she was testing me. Maybe she was seeing if she could control what I was doing and making me modify my approach. Maybe she really didn't like it after all. At any rate, I just steamed ahead. Worse case, she ends up leaving but I still get the sex of my life until she does.

She came to my office again and by the end of the night I had my answer. Her attitude was better but still not perfect. When I inspected her this time, she was shaven completely everywhere so at least she can follow those orders. The inspection was much more thorough too culminating with her bowing down and reaching her hands back to spread herself completely open while I looked for the smallest flaw. Even the tiny hairs around her anus had been sheared. Hmm...

The first punishment came quickly. For her smart mouth, argumentativeness, and disrespect, I told her she needed something in it so she might remain a little more mindful. I had her lie flat on her stomach with her head to the side. I then told her to open her mouth. She did so immediately. Then I unceremoniously inserted my left big toe completely until the webbing was touching her lips. I then told her to close her mouth. As I'm sitting in my chair watching my beautiful girlfriend lie completely naked with nothing adorning her but my foot on her face and having my toe resting on her tongue, I couldn't help but feel an immense satisfaction. This was the bitch that had dogged me not 48 hours before. And now look at her. I lectured her about how she is to speak to me in the future and what will not be tolerated. I then told her that the time of the first and last verbal infraction of the day will be noted. However much time elapses between those two times would be how long she has something in her mouth as punishment. I did give a limit of 2 hours though just for shits and giggles. Even I don't want to have to sit for 9 hours with my toe stuck in her mouth.

After about 20 minutes of this, I get her up and put a collar on her that I had gotten. She accepted it with no protest and looked rather smart if I do say so myself. She was quite the dapper young slave girl.

I took her into the room and had to spank her again for 2 cases of disobedience (4 licks per) and had her count them off to 8. I wanted to do some writing so what I did next was lie on the bed with one leg to the side. I was naked so I told her to come lie down with her head on my inner thigh and "get comfortable". As with the toe I had her open her mouth, plopped it in, then had her close her mouth. We remained this way for probably an hour as I wrote. I did let her pull it out for breaks every so often since I dont' want to be too cruel to the poor girl.

After this, I let her go on a short break and when she came back, I was ready to give back just a little. This is when everything got interesting. She has always liked pain. She loves her nipples pinched and her breasts squeezed. She also has a thing for being choked a bit. As things progressed, she immediately got excited with heavy breathing etc. It dawned on me that she had never been this excited before. She was writhing all over the place. I went down and gave her some nips around her inner thighs and labia which drove her wild. This I had never done before. I carried on for a bit getting more and more into it. Finally, she says, "May I ask that you spread me open? I want you to see inside of me." So I spread her open as much as I can and work my fingers around. She keeps saying how she wants me to see and have everything. Do I feel like I own her inside and out. Whoa. Full stop. She just essentially confirmed that she's on board. She's into this whole thing. She likes being a slave and being dominated. We go on doing other things and she keeps reinforcing how much I own her. At the end, we lay there recovering from legendary sex and discipline gets slightly lax. When we lay down to go to sleep finally, I move her down to where her head is level with my waste, give her the pillows and put my dick in her mouth. She already knew what was up that I would be falling asleep that way tonight. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. I patted her on the head and told her she had done well and not to forget who she serves. She said "Yes, My Love" and I drifted off to sleep.

I'm writing this today since I'm still in shock that it is happening. I guess projecting the utter confidence that she would do it along with saying and doing just the right things turned the key in the lock opening her up to what she always wanted. I'm three days in and now I just have to maintain the momentum. Wish me luck.

Re:Packt Publishing (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134823)

for a minute i thought the my clean pc guy was back

Re:Packt Publishing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134857)

Whiskey.
Tango.
Foxtrot.

Re:Packt Publishing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135343)

As long as she doesn't get any subluxations...

VIVA BRAZIL! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133833)

FirstCMS, huehuehuehuehue

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133841)

LAMP... well acronym for the grammar Nazis

Re:One word (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133943)

LAMP... well acronym for the grammar Nazis

That would be lexicology Nazis, you semantics-insensitive clod!

Sincerely yours,

lexicology Nazi.

Re:One word (3, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135109)

Even better word is...VM. There are several Linux distros with VM support built in and VMWare has several LAMP builds already set up and ready to go.

Why a VM?because its pretty obvious that if this guy is going to ask Slashdot he has little to no experience at the task at hand (because if he did he'd already have preferences) so he is gonna make mistakes and with snapshots he can just roll back the image if he makes a boo boo without wasting all his previous efforts. So the smart move would be a minimal distro with VM support and one of the prebuilt LAMP setups from some place like VMWare, its the choice with the fewest risks.

Re:One word (2)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135237)

Yes -- VM appliances rock, and they're scalable, at least to the point where you can copy the VM across to a larger machine whenever you want, and boot it up there. They're also easy to recover. Plenty of them on Sourceforge. I used to use Dekki (now Mindtouch I think) for a portable wiki, as a consultant. Great for gathering data and disseminating it to my peers. Proved the appliance theme for me.

Ruby on Rails (-1, Troll)

Pirulo (621010) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133861)

it has all you'll need, and can easily provide an API service with little extra work,

Re:Ruby on Rails (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133883)

Do not listen to this advice. RoR is totally fail. It sucks at performance, scaling and pretty much every other metric that is important.

Re:Ruby on Rails (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133959)

Mod parent up. The only quality that RoR is better than anything else is in hipsterness.

Re:Ruby on Rails (4, Informative)

tattood (855883) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134199)

Also, RoR is a framework for creating a website from scratch, which is exactly what the poster did not want to do. There may be CMS packages written in RoR, but Ruby by itself will take a lot more work than he wants.

Re:Ruby on Rails (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134299)

If getting a stupid little RoR project up and running is going to be more work than the asker wants to do, he should just quit now.

You must be a PHP "Professional" (2)

Safety Cap (253500) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135571)

Wow, Argument from incredulity [rationalwiki.org] on teh interwebs.

I've written rails apps that supported a very large newspaper's site, which got well over 15 MILLION pageviews per month. Never once did my apps stumble or crash.

Like anything else, you have to know what you're doing, boychik. Now go read pp 14-16 of the Pragmatic Programmer [pragprog.com] and learn a little.

Re:You must be a PHP "Professional" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135689)

15 million page views per month is chicken shit. Thats what, maybe a few hundred thousand unique visitors a month?

Come back when youve got 15 million unique visitors a day and tell us all how great Ruby is.

tough one (0)

mozkill (58658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133863)

Thats a tough question since whatever you choose, you would want integration with online social communities and a nice comment system. Because of that fact, the choices narrow...

Re:tough one (4, Informative)

BrownLeopard (876112) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133981)

Actually, joomla and wordpress both have multiple free extensions that handle Facebook comments, Disqus comments, twitter feeds, etc.

Re:tough one (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135285)

Thats a tough question since whatever you choose, you would want ...

Security. Whatever package you choose, make sure it is secure and that you stay on top of security updates. Small municipalities are a great target for vandals/activists/hackers who want to strike against a target that has some semblance of government.

Wordpress, Joomla, etc are very susceptible to hacks. Do your homework and make sure you're using the most secure version or add-ons that you can get.

BTW, congrats on giving back to your community. I hope it turns out to be a great project and that you get paid work as a result of local businesses seeing what you've done.

Several options (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133865)

Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress are all viable options... just go with whatever you are comfortable with...

CMS (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133871)

Use a CMS like Joomla, Drupal (or any other similar)

Or, if you're a glutton for punishment, Sharepoint. (yes, that is a joke)

Re:CMS (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134117)

Compared to Joomla pretty much anything else is a good choice.

Re:CMS (3, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134883)

WordPress? ;)

Joomla is fine for smallish sites. 6000 people in a community is smallish. Drupal is powerful sure enough, but I've found that power also includes (unwanted) complexity. I didn't recommend Wordpress, because I don't really count that as a CMS, though it has CMSy features.

I've used Joomla, WebGUI, Drupal, Wordpress, and even a few Forum (old school) systems as a "website" framework. Each has advantages.

Re:CMS (5, Informative)

La Camiseta (59684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134167)

Take a look at Drupal and the different distributions that are available for download (pre-defined packages of modules and features known to work together). It looks like they have a distribution right up your alley in OpenPublic (openpublicapp.com [openpublicapp.com] ).

Re:CMS (1)

gorzek (647352) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134305)

Drupal's a good choice, if you've got the hardware to run it. But it is probably the most flexible system out there for this sort of thing, short of writing your own from scratch.

Re:CMS (2)

acoustix (123925) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134809)

Take a look at Drupal and the different distributions that are available for download (pre-defined packages of modules and features known to work together). It looks like they have a distribution right up your alley in OpenPublic (openpublicapp.com [openpublicapp.com] ).

That is awesome. I was in a similar situation about 3 years ago where I was trying to help my community with their web presence. We tried Drupal, and it worked for the most part. But OpenPublic would have saved us a lot of time and grief.

Re:CMS (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134351)

TFS says he doesn't want to spend a lot of time and doesn't want to start from a blank slate. So just saying "drupal" doesn't really answer the question.

Re:CMS (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134457)

Well, it kind of does. He wouldn't be starting from scratch; he'd be starting from a deployed, functional CMS ready to receive data.

Alternatively, what about MediaWiki? It's tailored for lots of people editing content, and the page history functions seem completely appropriate for a government website (so that citizens can track document changes over time).

Re:CMS (3, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135165)

I recomend ShairPoint on Windows 8, and you don't even need the server edition, Win 8 Home should have enough power to tackle a 6000 strong office environmant. You will be able to share all your Microsoft documents And the great thing is the IT support you get from Microsoft - tops bar none.

In a nutshell - SharePoint ROCKS!

Re:CMS (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135259)

Uh, ouch. Sharepoint has its place, and I think this isn't it. Especially since they are mandating open source for budget reasons.

Re:CMS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135319)

In a nutshell - SharePoint ROCKS!

This sounds like the perfect solution for what I need. Will it run on my Windows 8 RT tablet? It has those screen cover things, so it's secured and ready to go.

Easy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133879)

Drupal with CiviCRM. Perfect for what you've described.

Re:Easy (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134183)

That does look interesting, as does LocalWiki referenced below. Some combination, CiviCRM for formal administration and the wiki for more free-form content sounds ideal to me.

Re:Easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134521)

Depends what you want to do with CiviCrm, as soon as you try to do anything other than the most basic of basic tasks, you start hitting bugs and issues. Trying to get help on the forum basically being asked to sponser the fix for $100 an hour

whatever you choose (5, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133881)

Make sure to have a clear support contract, paid or otherwise. This could become an unpaid time sink unless you set clear time and other boundiaries NOW. You may not notice if you do,but you will pay if you don't.

How a hacker does not know this? (0)

lsolano (398432) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133893)

I mean, 'r3dR0v3r' should know about web platforms.

Re:How a hacker does not know this? (1)

mitchaki (1797554) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134057)

Oh yeah, I forgot only h4xx0rz know |337...

Dropbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133921)

Ugly, and you could do better.
But why not simply have a publicly viewable share and dump the documents there.

Stuff life Dropbox is easy for non-technical people to use.

Later you could put together a fancier solution. Or just use the current website to point to "active" directories.

IMO "no budget" is dumb

Nginx and Mod Security (Varnish optional) (0)

philbreed (2784617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133925)

Now that mod_security has added support for Nginx I can see no better option. Fast, flexible and secure. Maybe varnish if you really need it out front, but Nginx can do 90% of that anyway

Re:Nginx and Mod Security (Varnish optional) (2)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134243)

How in the hell does that address any part of the submitters question?

Drupal is a good start (1)

javawocky (1160907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133933)

Starting of with Drupal is probably good. It should more than handle the load on without too much trouble if you need more horsepower. You can pretty easily setup up and configure users to add content and its not exceptionally difficult to code extensions or find a developer to hack something together. I think the fact that power users can make it do 80% of the work means you will save time on all but the most complex stuff.

Go with Drupal (2)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133953)

Drupal is an excellent choice for whipping up a sophisticated website. It has modules for doing all sorts of things from event calendars to forums and whatnot. Also, unlike Wordpress, Drupal does a pretty good job keeping up security. You can put together the basics of a functioning website in a matter of hours.

There are also lots of free themes available, including ones that provide easily extendable frameworks so you can come up with your own theme if you're so inclined.

All that being said, the bulk of the effort will NOT be making the website. The bulk will be in entering the content, and server management/security. For content, your best bet will be to use a wysiwyg editor module that is capable of handling copy-and-pasted word documents. I suggest installing the wysiwyg module, along with CKEditor or TinyMCE. Security is something you'd have to do reading up on, as there are no magic bullets.

Re:Go with Drupal (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135139)

Also, unlike Wordpress, Drupal does a pretty good job keeping up security.

I have been thinking of setting up a server, and vacillating between Wordpress and Drupal.

I was leaning towards Wordpress as that it looked a bit more turnkey.

What are the security implications (weaknesses?) of Wordpress vs Drupal?

Re:Go with Drupal (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135589)

Also, unlike Wordpress, Drupal does a pretty good job keeping up security.

Evidence/proof please? I don't really see them as being significantly better:
http://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvekey.cgi?keyword=joomla [mitre.org]
http://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvekey.cgi?keyword=drupal [mitre.org]
http://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvekey.cgi?keyword=wordpress [mitre.org]
http://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvekey.cgi?keyword=plone [mitre.org]
http://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvekey.cgi?keyword=django [mitre.org]
OK they only had 5 sql injection CVEs in 2012 while Wordpress had 6. But "pretty good job" doesn't seem to spring to mind when I look at the Drupal CVEs.

Start small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42133955)

Start with something small. Get an old box, slap a Linux distro and LAMP on it. Toss Wordpress on there and start uploading content. Don't take this on as some big project with a lot of things integrated into it. Begin with the bare basics and add features on a as-needed basis. Don't over think the early stages or you'll get bogged down before you even start.

Re:Start with security in mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134479)

Get an Enterprise server from IBM running AIX on POWER. You can start small by using some bug-ridden distro, security compromised X86 system, the roach motel of CMS's wordpress, or start with the mind set of protecting your small towns government documents.

Code for America (4, Interesting)

Rinisari (521266) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133987)

This is where I pitch www.codeforamerica.org and see what it may offer!

why reinvent the wheel? (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133997)

google docs might take care of some of this

no budget, no money for onsite servers means cloud

even then for such a small environment there is no reason to buy your own hardware and code everything from scratch when someone has probably done all the work for you in a hosted solution

Re:why reinvent the wheel? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134015)

You seem to have misread what they said:

but I'm doing this as volunteer work so I don't want to start from scratch

Emphasis added.

Joomla on top of my previous sugeesting (1)

philbreed (2784617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42133999)

If the base beneath your CMS is not fast and secure your CMS will be compormised. Also check out Magnolia it is a powerful and interesting CMS that is java servlet deployed.

Drupal (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134001)

Because 300 connections to the database to display a picture of your cat can't be wrong.

Software Suggestion, Pointers (5, Insightful)

llin (54970) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134003)

For the type of things you're looking for, I'd recommend LocalWiki [localwiki.org] . While so far it's been used mostly by communities vs municipalities, it includes robust permissions [readthedocs.org] , is under active development, and is built w/ some nice geo-extensions for where that's applicable. It's very easy to get up and running [localwiki.org] and you could run a micro EC2 instance to test out for (practically) free.

I'd also suggest that you try to connect w/ others that are doing similar things. There's a large community of civic hackers. For those working directly w/ municipal govt, check out the Code for America Brigade [codeforamerica.org] , a community that's all about that and can provide help/support for exactly this sort of thing. You may want to check out their deployable app list [codeforamerica.org] , and maybe also check out CfA's github repository [github.com] which has a lot of projects that may be useful, and their Civic Commons [codeforamerica.org] project which gathers the sw/infrastructure that cities are using.

Why make it... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134009)

...harder than it has to be.

Google Sites + Drive

The primary purpose of the site is to share information. This would also make it easier to have the town update/work with the site themselves.

Re:Why make it... (1)

llin (54970) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134159)

Actually, this is probably much better than my suggestion. +1

1. Create a simple static html page (5, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134013)

with info about the town that does not change (name, location info, some pictures, etc)

2. Create the town's Facebook page, populate it with dynamic data, and hand over control of the account to the town manager (or whoever)

3. Embed Facebook data into your static html page

You can go Drupal or Joomla but do you really want to be responsible for security and upkeep? Joomla in particular gets hacked a LOT. Drupal is a nightmare to train newbs how to use.

Re:1. Create a simple static html page (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134649)

I did a non-profit's web site from scratch in 2002. When they wanted a different site some years later, I did it in Drupal. It need regular maintenance to stay secure and a web-savy person to maintain the content. You probably won't have that so I'd look at something that has a fixed format (a wiki has been suggested). It will allow non-web people to update and maintain pages without requiring to much upkeep.

If you're setting up a web site, be sure that some entity in the city government owns the site's domain. A local police department had their site setup by a volunteer who paid for everything. At some point the relationship soured and the volunteer took down the site, thereby paralyzing the police department's web presence. They threatened arrest. He threatened to sue. It was ugly but you'd think that a city in the heart of Silicon Valley would know better.

Nope.

Re:1. Create a simple static html page (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134703)

Everything you said is the problem with "web developers" these days.

Facebook for a municipality? Really?!

If you have no budget ... (2)

tgd (2822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134019)

If you have no budget, keep it all on paper.

Seriously, anything you pick, at all, will need ongoing long-term maintenance, security monitoring, etc ... the only thing worse than no system is an abandoned system.

If the town thinks its valuable, they should fund it appropriately (no matter what technology you use). Or get the scouts to run a bake sale or something.

Use a Drupal distribution like OpenPublic (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134031)

Based on your stated requirements (no budget, not wanting to start from scratch etc) I'd suggest using one of the many pre-configured Drupal distributions like OpenPublic (http://drupal.org/project/openpublic) which is built specifically for the needs of government.There are many other distributions available at http://drupal.org/project/distributions. Using one of these will save you a lot of time.

wordpress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134033)

much easier to put in place, plugins are simpler to put in place

Sharepoint (3, Funny)

Darktan (817653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134035)

The increased staffing required to develop and maintain it will drive your little town's population up to 20,000 in short order. Best of all, most of those new jobs will be for highly paid SharePoint consultants, so the town should get a lot more property tax revenues!

Oh, can't wait (2)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134051)

To see the mess this turns into in a few years. Relying on a volunteer using a platform and all products that they choose, none of with will have any sort of actual support model behind them is a recipe for disaster as soon as you become disenfranchised with it all. Seriously, take a look at the number of projects out there that start off and then die on the vine as soon as interest is lost, which in something like this will be very quickly once you get something running and interest wanes.

OpenPublic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134055)

OpenPublic - http://drupal.org/project/openpublic

I've never used it but it's a Drupal distribution specific to your use case.

Quit now (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134067)

This is not pessimism; it's realism: stop while you're ahead, or at least hammer out an agreement in writing.

Doing any sort of web development for a large community, and gods forbid a government agency, is going to eat up a lot of your time -- time you've already said you don't have. Worse, though, is that it will never end... your involvement will become increasingly needed and even demanded as services fail or need to be expanded, or your site is hacked. How much liability are you assuming in designing what amounts to the PR page for a group of professional, elected lawyers?

You absolutely need to make sure that there are clearly-defined boundaries at every level of your involvement, preferably in the form of a contract, even if the work is completely voluntary.

Local hosting is not a good idea (3, Insightful)

lucm (889690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134077)

It's not always cost-effective to host your own platform - you need hardware, power and cooling, a reliable internet connection with good upload speed, maintenance, backup, etc. and you get to live with a pager, There are plenty of cheap Linux hosts out there where all the possible software is available. As an example there is Bluehost where the $5/month hosting plan comes with a SimpleScripts subscription which allows you to deploy just about any application in a jiffy (including all the CMS, blogging and social media stuff you can think of, including Drupal). Of course for that price you can't expect stellar performance, there will be hundreds of other websites on the same machine.

If you want something more robust and you are open to other things than FOSS than have a look at Microsoft Azure. It's more expensive than cheap Linux hosting but for $25-$50/month you can have a very robust cloud setup (load balancing, backup, etc) and no additional license cost. And the nice thing on Azure is that you can deploy an configure a new CMS (like Joomla or DotNetNuke) using a click wizard, it's even more user-friendly than SimpleScripts, you get to choose the various options, not just the admin password. Also with Azure you get a 3 months free trial to see if you like it. And if you somehow can't sleep with the idea of a .Net webapp you can deploy PHP stuff - you can even host a Linux VM and run whatever you want on it but that would kinda defeat the purpose of using cloud services.

Whatever you do make sure you don't become the "owner" of a local setup. People will start to have unrealistic expectations and will be mad at you when "your" server is down because of a power or internet failure. If you really can't afford a few dollars a month go see an elected official and ask for guidance, I'm sure they can find a federal program to get you pennies.

Re:Local hosting is not a good idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134285)

Don't recommend they get a budget webhost!

Most cities, even the small ones, will have some form of technology infrastructure in place. If you need to get a new server in, then they should have the budget to maintain it. Any companies that start to provide services to a city will need to get picked through an RFP process, which generally cuts out the budget web hosting services.

Re:Local hosting is not a good idea (1)

lucm (889690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134647)

Don't recommend they get a budget webhost!

Most cities, even the small ones, will have some form of technology infrastructure in place. If you need to get a new server in, then they should have the budget to maintain it. Any companies that start to provide services to a city will need to get picked through an RFP process, which generally cuts out the budget web hosting services.

This is not correct. In any level of government there is a threshold under which there is no need for a costly RFP process, and since the OP is basically saying they don't have money, there is no point in going that route. Anyways no decent provider will waste time responding to a personnalized RFP for a webhosting kind of budget, it would have to be included in a bucket of IT services and that's a whole other story.

I made it clear in my comment that I would advise a full-scale cloud provider (such as Azure) but given the choice between a local frankenserver connected to internet with a cheap DSL modem and volunteer-like support or a cheap webhost it's a no-brainer.

Re:Local hosting is not a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135061)

Except that there might not even be an option for that. In my state, all political subdivisions have to have their websites on state servers under state law. My advice would be to contact the local attorney for the city to see if there are any requirements, then the county one and then the state AG just to make sure. At a minimum, it would need to meet the bidding law, the state FOIA and open meetings laws, god knows how many privacy laws, properly follow city copyright issues dealing with ownership and, depending on the department, department specific rules.

Re:Local hosting is not a good idea (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134515)

It's not always cost-effective to host your own platform - you need hardware, power and cooling, a reliable internet connection with good upload speed, maintenance, backup, etc. and you get to live with a pager, There are plenty of cheap Linux hosts out there where all the possible software is available. As an example there is Bluehost where the $5/month hosting plan comes with a SimpleScripts subscription which allows you to deploy just about any application in a jiffy (including all the CMS, blogging and social media stuff you can think of, including Drupal).

Don't go with Bluehost, I myself tested them a few months ago and I just moved a client off them last month. I don't think I've ever seen a system load below 20 on their machines (at least they do provide SSH access) and I've seen it get scarily close to 100. The performance is exactly what you would expect on such a loaded server.

I'm now doing reseller hosting for some clients. I can get you a very decent hosting setup, and customize it to your needs, and install a CMS for you, for $10 monthly. It would be comparable to what you'd pay about double that anywhere else, and honestly, resource-wise it will seem like you've got just about the whole server to yourself. Email me, my Gmail username is the same as my Slashdot username.

Here is my current system load, unedited right off the server:
$ uptime
  20:58:34 up 9 days, 10:57, 1 user, load average: 0.16, 0.15, 0.11

Re:Local hosting is not a good idea (1)

lucm (889690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134791)

It's not always cost-effective to host your own platform - you need hardware, power and cooling, a reliable internet connection with good upload speed, maintenance, backup, etc. and you get to live with a pager, There are plenty of cheap Linux hosts out there where all the possible software is available. As an example there is Bluehost where the $5/month hosting plan comes with a SimpleScripts subscription which allows you to deploy just about any application in a jiffy (including all the CMS, blogging and social media stuff you can think of, including Drupal).

Don't go with Bluehost, I myself tested them a few months ago and I just moved a client off them last month. I don't think I've ever seen a system load below 20 on their machines (at least they do provide SSH access) and I've seen it get scarily close to 100. The performance is exactly what you would expect on such a loaded server.

I'm now doing reseller hosting for some clients. I can get you a very decent hosting setup, and customize it to your needs, and install a CMS for you, for $10 monthly. It would be comparable to what you'd pay about double that anywhere else, and honestly, resource-wise it will seem like you've got just about the whole server to yourself. Email me, my Gmail username is the same as my Slashdot username.

Here is my current system load, unedited right off the server:
$ uptime

  20:58:34 up 9 days, 10:57, 1 user, load average: 0.16, 0.15, 0.11

Ok so basically the guy would have to pick :
1) an established provider that is hosting millions of domains (says them) in their 50,000 square ft data center in Utah for $5
2) some dude who is doing fly-by-night reselling for an unknown host and is advertising his 9-day uptime server for free on Slashdot and of course offers better performance (says him) for $10

I don't have a dog in this fight but if I had I'd go with the Mormons and use the $5 I saved to keep a mirror site on another cheap provider.

Re:Local hosting is not a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135137)

Actually, I've used Bluehost for over 10 years and never had a problem with them. In addition, they're the only host at that price I've found that allows video/audio streaming.

Webgui from Plain Black Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134119)

How about Webgui?

CiviCRM and whatever CMS you feel best with (3, Interesting)

gQuigs (913879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134123)

I would use CiviCRM [1] and WordPress if there were no other constraints. I am of course assuming that your town wants to be able to do email outreach, has events, and likely could use case management to handle citizen requests. If not, then there is little point in using CiviCRM or anything besides a plain CMS.

I personally would prefer seeing town meeting summaries as blog posts then PDFs (which is what most towns seem to do currently).

Although if you really have NO budget, then I guess WordPress.com hosted or Google Sites.

[1] http://civicrm.org/ [civicrm.org]

OpenPublic (Drupal-based) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134151)

I'll bet you can get pretty far with http://openpublicapp.com right out of the box, then add CiviCRM down the road if it comes to that.

I admittedly work for Phase2 Technology, the company that sponsors the OpenPublic project, but it's actually a great starting point for the type of site you're talking about:)

You have no idea what you're getting yourself into (5, Informative)

AnotherShep (599837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134175)

Just a few questions to see if you've even bothered to think about this beyond "Websites are cool, open is awesome!"...

These questions all come from firsthand experience.

1) Who will maintain the data on the site?

a) Does the city have the budget for them to do this?

b) Will there be resistance to the amount of work they have to do / training they have to take?

c) Will you train them?

2) What do the solicitors think? Will they even let you post what you want on the site?

3) Do the departments want the information available? Are they going to push back if they don't?

4) You have no budget. Who pays for or does the hosting? Registration? Admin stuff? Maintenance?

5) Do you actually have buy-in from the people you need it from, or are they just humouring you?

6) Are you being used? This is the sort of thing that municipalities (Yes, even your small one. Look at its tax roll sometime) can easily justify dumping $20k+ into

7) They have done a feasibility study, right?

8) How familiar are you with accessibility standards? Are there some you legally must meet to even put the site up?

9) Who is responsible for the site itself?

10) Are you prepared to have this project drag on for over a year?

11) Finally, the hardest one - are you certain you know the scope of the project?

Good luck, but don't get yourself in trouble...

Re:You have no idea what you're getting yourself i (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134425)

2) What do the solicitors think?

Solicitation is a crime in the US.

Re:You have no idea what you're getting yourself i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135797)

Troll? I was hoping for Funny. It was a US question, with a UK response. Lighten up, mods!

Re:You have no idea what you're getting yourself i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134723)

These are absolutely terrific questions. If the city you're doing this for is big enough to have a city hall, police department, and an annual budget, then you'll need to coordinate all this. To much for you? Bow out NOW.

If this is for some place like Lake Woebegone, MN, which is a much smaller community, you may find it easier to deal with so few people. Otherwise, you're in for a really fun time (for widely varying values of fun).

Re:You have no idea what you're getting yourself i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135205)

Mostly good points above (I'm sure won't be a feasibility study. More likely there will just be a PIP "Put it in Production" test.),
Here's one more from firsthand experience.

What happens when there's a regime change among the town leaders?

In the best case, you must be prepared to replace new leader(s) faces and names everywhere the old faces and names were.

There will be a lot worst cases.

) The new town leader is a fanboi, and wants the site to follow the true faith.

) The new leader won't care, until the day (s)he does care.

) The new leader will not put in an ounce of effort to learn the system, but will blame you and system for all shortcomings.

) The new leader, who has not been on the site, say their friends think it's "hard to use". Ask them what's they mean, they have no clue.

) The new leader thinks they are experts, but have less clue than a "Ask Slashdotter".

and worst of all, the new leaders think they are experts, have the experience to actually be experts, and know how to delegate (to you).

OpenPublic - another vote (3, Informative)

sstern (56589) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134177)

Out of the box, it has probably more than what you want. http://openpublicapp.com/ [openpublicapp.com]

Banshee on Hiawatha (1)

Aethedor (973725) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134207)

Use the Banshee PHP framework [banshee-php.org] on the Hiawatha webserver [hiawatha-webserver.org] . Both have a strong focus on security and offer good speed. Use stuff like Drupal, Joomla and Concrete5 if you want your website to be extremely slow. Use Wordpress if you want guarantee to be hacked.

Arvada, Co has a nice one (1)

gatfirls (1315141) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134225)

They went with a hosted solution though. Their harvest festival pages were especially quick.

Liferay or Alfresco! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134231)

Either https://www.liferay.com/ or http://www.alfresco.com/ fit your use case perfectly. Alfresco might fit a little better but Liferay might be a little easier IMHO. Sharepoint might also work but I've never seen an installation that isn't ugly as sin.

WordPress Hosted (5, Informative)

yakatz (1176317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134249)

WordPress recently started a service specifically for municipalities: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/wordpress-for-cities/ [wordpress.com] Even with their paid upgrades, you would probably be saving money on development and you are paying for hosting or (bandwidth/power) anyway.

Drupal, but... (2)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134269)

... outsource the hosting.

Don't build it from scratch, use a wiki, or... (1)

realmolo (574068) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134437)

You aren't going to make any money doing this, and it will be a time sink.

Get a Wordpress blog setup from one of the zillion different providers that offer that. Problem solved.

Keep it simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134455)

You don't say what's currently in place, and if the existing infrastructure is worth building on. But to avoid too many headaches in the future, I suggest looking at hosted solutions with simple front-ends such as SquareSpace or similar. You want to spend minimal effort setting this thing, and be able to train someone not skilled in web-programming to update the site and add documents. Setting up some complex beast made up of different frameworks glued together with custom code is a recipe for either you being miserable, or the town leaders being disappointed with what you gave them.

GovOffice.com (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134477)

My small town of ~5,000 uses http://www.govoffice.com/ and it does everything you speak of.

What are the business requirements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134573)

Does your public library need a web front end to their catalog?
Does your parks and rec department want to post schedules and rosters and allow online registration for rec sports?
Do you need to allow property tax payments online?

Drupal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42134705)

Drupal has more backers and a larger community. The issues won't fall on your shoulders, however there is a learning curve. Once you're over the hump you will be good to go. I feel it is best option for building a small site initially and then you can add on over time.

Web Service? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42134875)

Perhaps try some rented build-a-site web service so that you don't have to install and babysit a physical box. You may be willing to do such, but if you move or get sick, they may not have a replacement technician.

This was me...five years ago (5, Informative)

ChiefGeneralManager (600991) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135251)

Five years ago my local area ("Parish" in the UK) asked for my help. I realise the question is about a 'platform' but really do have to side with the process people here. I developed a site on Textpattern, and editable at the back-end. Three main things happened:
  1. 1. The design was critiqued by committee...move this picture here; have links this colour; can we have this scrolling etc. Indeed I was asked by separate members of the committee to do contradictory things!
  2. 2. The content became my responsibility: I was handed paper photos; old documents and asked to get them online. The few things I was emailed were in Word documents and when I tidied them up I was challenged about why my fonts had been lost
  3. 3. Whenever someone saw something on another website, they wanted it on ours: picture scrollers, Flash animations, user accounts, personalisation, weather forecasts you name it!

Since, in a gig like this, you can never enforce your own conditions (like saying you won't amend the design on every whim) you have to let the tools enforce this for you.

If I was ever to try this again I would opt for an easily user-editable, hosted solution. Wordpress will be ideal: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/wordpress-for-cities/ [wordpress.com] You can cast your role as advising them on how to run it: information architecture; doing the limited number of graphics and showing people how to use the editor. Your role is not to continually re-design (just customise the template), nor to populate the whole thing. You'll also not have to put up with a 2am phone call from the Mayor to say your site is flagged as having malware and is littered with anti-city comments. Wordpress will deal with that for you.

I have used Drupal (and CiviCRM) for other sites and they are phenomenal tools...I just think for a 6,000 grouping they are overkill. And remember if the city wants personalisation, user accounts, billing, consultations etc. online then they really should be paying for someone to develop it for them (perhaps using those tools).

Hosted Wordpress will also help you see whether they are ready to run their own online affairs.

Elgg (1)

beck24 (1772278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135281)

http://elgg.org/ [elgg.org] A simple setup social network that can handle everything you've listed almost right out of the box. A couple of community plugins for additional features, slap a theme on there to make it look pretty and you're on your way. If/when you have a budget or some time to invest you can customize it pretty much any way you can think of.

Wlak away, just walk away. (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135293)

No budget, and relying on you for (free) voluntary support? My only recommendation is to walk away as fast as you can.

Re:Wlak away, just walk away. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135449)

Seconded.
Run, don't walk, no good deed goes unpunished.
Without decent funding it _will_ fail and you'll be the culprit, it was all your idea etc.

Re:Wlak away, just walk away. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135757)

Thirded

No Budget? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135375)

No budget means don't do it. You will regret it and so will the person who is eventually paid to fix your half assed job.

I am often paid to fix things people do for free, and it those free projects are usually of such little quality that they may as well not even have been attempted in the first place.

Don't forget the ADA (1)

johnkoer (163434) | about a year and a half ago | (#42135473)

Remember the ADA [ada.gov] when coming up with your solution. If you use CAPTCHAs, make sure you provide one that has both audio and video. If you are using image links, make sure you support screen readers with the alt tag.

If people are posting documents make sure they are in an open format. Many municipalities use MS Office and will just post docx or xlsx files without thinking about it. I

Use Mezzanine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42135673)

Mezzanine is a CMS for Django.

It is out of the box simple to use and full featured. Connections to social media and comment services etc.
Another benefit is that it is a Django application; so it is possible to use django apps together with it.

I am building a web site for my collective housing myself using Mezzanine, django-wiki, django-schedule,
django-issues, django-auth-ldap, django-ldapdb.

Although, having been a webmaster for a small company myself I can only concur with those that give advice
about being mindful about time, effort, and cost. Even this small company took a lot of time to discuss with,
implement new features, and support. I can only imagine what a application potentially used by 6000 users
would bring to the table.

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