Next steps for the new site

We're now beginning work on the new version of the Science Blogging Aggregated site.

We'd like to have a working prototype of the site ready for the ScienceOnline conference in January.

Realistically, by then we'll probably be able to implement the following features:

  • Users login and register blogs

  • Some sort of administrative check-off on registration, with anti-spam measures

  • Aggregator compiles entries from registered blogs, displays on home page

  • No tagging of individual posts, but blogs are categorized by user-specified "themes"

  • Visitors can filter posts appearing on home page by theme

We may also add a language filter allowing users to specify their preferred languages. (This may be difficult to implement because it would require having curators in each language we support) Over the long term, we would like a multi-lingual interface, so all users can experience the site fully in their native language.

We are leaning towards a dense, information-rich layout for the home page, much like the existing home page, but with additional tools for users to filter posts, login, register, and so on.

In order to maximize the site's utility, we are thinking about pre-populating the database. This would probably be a manual process, based on the existing feeds for ScienceBlogging.org. This would require an additional feature so that users could "claim" their blog and personalize their account. However, we're not sure that's doable by the January deadline. If readers can suggest models for how claiming a blog could work, with a minimum of fuss, we'd appreciate suggestions.

We are also considering a a new domain name for the site—we'd like it to be a truly notable name, one that's memorable, says something about the site, and isn't easily confused with some of the other science sites currently out there.

So here's our plan for the next steps. We'll keep you up to date as we continue to work on the project:

  1. Develop a schema for a database that can handle the trimmed-down version of the site that we're planning for January, but is flexible enough to meet our long-term goals

  2. Arrange for site hosting. We can work on our existing personal server space for now but we'll need a permanent home, and the sooner we find it the better.

  3. Wireframe the first (limited-feature) version of the site: Create a template that developers can use to build the system, indicating what information will go on each page. Again, we may want to do this in anticipation of the higher-functionality site to come, so we don't have to constantly reinvent the wheel.

  4. Explore the process of creating a non-profit organization. This may be a larger non-profit that also includes ScienceOnline.

  5. Create a schedule for the process of developing the site up through the conference.

  6. Recruit additional help. We're really short on programmers and designers. Any volunteers?

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