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View Full Version : Hosting SWRPG Sites - Add Your Comments



Nealos
29 April 2002, 09:43 AM
Hi all,

This is a thread to discuss how to open up hosting to swrpg sites. There are two stumbling blocks...

1. Space and money. For the most part, I'm working on this myself, and expect to be able to provide it through my company. Let's leave this one alone for now...

2. Most importantly, what policy should be applied? There are a lot of sites out there. On one hand, I don't want us to turn into a Geocities where we've got 2,000 sites and only 40 of them are good to use and updated with some frequency. On the other hand, I don't want to offer it if it's going to be a "you can host your site here if we think it's cool."

The ultimate question here - how does one create a policy that is quality and community-minded all at once?

Discuss!

Armage Bedar
29 April 2002, 11:06 AM
Just a few ideas, and as such I have little idea as to their actual usefulness...

<ul>
<li><b>Only offer space to sites that are already established</b>. IOW, only allow existing webmasters the chance to set up shop on Starwars-rpg.net. This would give users a chance to try their hand at webmastering on Angelfire or Geocities before unveiling something on Starwars-rpg.net that could turn out to be terrible. This would obviously be controversial, because it would turn away a lot of people -- but it would also raise the general quality level of the sites hosted, IMHO.
<li><b>Sites should be (and have a history of being) updated once a month/quarter.</b> This would turn away sites that have a fairly rapid start but taper off to dormancy within months. Again, controversial, and might require kicking sites off that just aren't updated very often. It does, though, keep things fresh and interesting, which will keep people coming back again and again.
<li><b>Original material of some kind is a must.</b> Sounds obvious, but sites made up of material copied from books, D6 or d20, should be barred.
</ul>

That's all as far as I'm concerned -- past this I think it's just a judgement call. I'm not sure what kind of interest you'll spark with this offer, but you'll definitely get some good sites.

darkweji
30 April 2002, 12:50 PM
I think a policy is a very touchy situation. From the several past conversations that Tim, Chris and I have had, we couldn't settle on one. Each different concept we came up with had its pros and cons and we were having a hard time finding one that sounded acceptable and fair for everyone.

I have to agree with Armage's statement about only allowing established websites. Think about it, new webmasters might be very into their webpage at first, but all of a sudden get bored with it and never touch it again - I've seen that happen all over the web.

As far as enforcing some kind of mandatory updates, well, I think that makes us a bit more controlling than we should be over these sites. I don't think we should be going around and saying, "Oh, you haven't updated your site in 5 months so we're going to delete it and cut off your server access." There are some good sites out there that haven't been touched in eons, but still host quality material that people will find useful. I say that we simply recommend that webmasters coming on board plan to update at least every couple months (and yes, I am being a hypocrit right now). :D

Original material is a must. What is the point of a webpage unless it offers something unique? A website recycling previously published material or material from another site is simply a waste of server space and bandwidth.

Chris Curtis
30 April 2002, 03:18 PM
I'll pretty much agree with both of the above posts.

Established Sites: Definitely a must. I've seen far too many sites (and reviewed far too many on RS) that pop up on the scene promising all kinds of things and go well for maybe a month or so. Then they just sit there with very little content and really not much use as far as being a resource goes. So I'd definitely support having a mandatory requirement about how long a site but be up and running before it could be admitted. I was originally going to suggest 6 months, but that's probably really pushing it. 2-3 months maybe?

Updates: I'll side a bit more with Ryan on this one in that it's not necessarily feasible to set down a hard-and-fast rule for this one. However, any potential hosted sites should certainly be encouraged to continue updating on a regular basis.

Original Content: Again, definitely a must. Not only is copyright infringement illegal (whether the copyright holder is WEG, WotC, or another community member), but it's just really bad form and not the kind of thing we should encourage in the community. Any hosted site should contain nearly all original material, and I think this rule should be enforced -- even to the extent of kicking sites if they don't fix it.

Nealos
30 April 2002, 10:20 PM
I've been wracking my brain. The best I have so far is this - you have to have something really unique or do something better than any other site out there to get hosted. Also, what about having it where people can submit their site to us and we have the community vote on whether or not they get to receive hosting? The voting could be anonymous...

Just some thoughts...trying to get creative... :)

darkweji
1 May 2002, 11:27 AM
I see no problem with being selective about pulling in new sites, but I don't think voting is a good idea, anonymous or not. Personally, we should do the first batch of sites as invitations. Let us scour the net for some of the better sites out there now and extend an offer to them.

Nealos
2 May 2002, 08:12 PM
Good news so far. My company placed a server for redundancy in the data center of a client (they're letting us use their bandwidth for a few things). I spoke with my partner (who is more the technologist of us than I am) and he said he doesn't anticipate any problems with moving starwars-rpg.net to that server and providing hosting for other sites. I figure as long as we constrain the growth of the number of hosted sites so as to keep the transfer rate under control, we should be good to start with. I just don't want to underestimate the traffic and load requirements.

As for a timeline on moving to the new server, best I can say is that I'm pushing for next week. Everyone, please keep in mind that my work consumes roughly 14-16 hours per day, six days per week and my company is taking on four very large projects at the same time, three of which started this week. Not fishing for sympathy (and nobody thank me for anything!!) - just making everyone aware of my situation. :)

darkweji
2 May 2002, 08:35 PM
Tim, I really sympathize with your time restraints and work load. Just let me say thanks for everything.

BRodgers
3 May 2002, 05:11 AM
Hey Nealos, Ill give ya sympathy,and ask for nothing in return!:D

I do agree about the quality and update issues. It drives me nuts when a site sits for MONTHS on end and never sees any sort of udate. And I would only consider established sites for hosting..such as, sites that have been around for more thana few months who have a history of quality and top notch material.

Basically i think starting with some of the sites on the Reviewed Sites page might be a good idea..for a few reasons:

1) Any webmaster who gives half a darn about his site has more than likely submitted it for review...so that weeds out a LOT of people who dont care very much or arent around long enough to care.

2) it can give you an idea of what other people think about that site (regarding the new rating feature and comments ection)...

3) It is a solid starting point...rather than imposing on your precious time by having to go out and randomly scour the net for decent sites, you can use the RS (andheck, even Link Archive) as jumping off points.

4) My site is listed on the RS page.:D

Just kidding on the last all, but you KNOW I had to say that.

Seriously, quality is pretty hard to find these days in regards to SWRPG sites...and with the release of EP2 in a few days, ya know every two bit GM with a gaming group and web access is gonna get "inspired" to make his group a web page...so things may get cluttered very very soon.

just my dos cents of course.

Chris Curtis
3 May 2002, 01:06 PM
Cool, that sounds great, Nealos. Just let us know when the change-over's going to happen. Once the domain is hosted on a server you have access to, I presume you'll be able to install software onto it (such as, say, ImageMagick)? If so, then we ought to be able to start testing out a CMS for SWAG.

Anyway, with a server change looming on the horizon, that reminds me that I really ought to backup the domain's database... :D

Matt Richard
3 May 2002, 06:46 PM
Well, I have been following this thread for some time, and its great that starwars-rpg.net and its sites are coming back in action. Its also great to see that DLOS is getting back to updates. I also like the idea of hosting sites, and its good that the community is getting larger and starwars-rpg.net has always been a key to keeping the community together. But hey, you didnt ask for commentary, you asked for advice, so here is my two creds worth...

BRodgers had a good point about looking in the direction of SWRPG Reviewed Sites. Anyone who got a Outstanding award should get an invatation. If that isnt enough invitations, then start going down the list at other high ranking sites, and that should be a good system

Another factor is updates. Regardless of how long the site has been running, there must be updates. In my opinion, I could care less how established a site is, just as long as it has updates, its a good site for me. UPDATES IS A MUST.

Ultimately, it really should be up to you three (there are three of you, right?) on who gets in and who doesnt get hosted, even if that means turning someone down, and being called, "selective". I wouldnt ask your fellow webmasters, or the community, I would keep it up to you guys and trust your desiscion.

Well, I hope it didnt just sound like I was repeating what has already been said, but remember this one thing:
starwars-rpg.net has and will continue to provide the best community environment on the net. The public does appreciate what you have done, and it will support any desiscion you guys make.

Good luck in your desiscion.

Nealos
3 May 2002, 09:58 PM
darkweji, didn't I say don't thank me? ;) You're welcome anyway. Besides, same back at ya - I hear your job is taking a toll on you as well...keep your chin up.

I like the idea(s) about basing hosting offers on how they are reviewed by the RS staff and the public comments for the site. I also agree with the suggestion of offering hosting to established sites.

Chris, we'll have access to the server so that we can install whatever software, so long as said software doesn't interfere with other accounts on the same system. Shouldn't be a problem...

Matt, thanks for your compliments and vote of confidence. One of the reasons I want a good established policy for hosting is so that it can be posted on the site - people can go read it and have a) no question as to how to get in and b) can maybe give up and coming webmasters something to shoot for. Otherwise, I suspect the webmasters of starwars-rpg.net and swrpgnetwork.com will probably band together and create a "hosting committee" so that we can submit and vote on sites to be hosted. That makes five people, which I think is a really good number for balance and whatnot.

Anyway, another good update on the server. I don't want to speak too soon, but it could be late next week that I've got a new starwars-rpg.net account setup on our server. If so, I'll hand the IP address to a few of the hosted site webmasters and let them fiddle with the account and give me feedback on what's needed before we move everything over and complete the switch. I already know I'll need to see about getting PHP loaded on there correctly...

I'm really excited about all this. :)

Matt Richard
4 May 2002, 01:18 PM
Thinking about the situation more, I came up with these points:

When selecting sites, you should probably go back to the original hosted sites and think how you decided that they should be selected. Use these same standards when deciding on new sites.

I read a reference to a commitee. This should probably be a very formal type of commitee because if it is too informal, someone who is rejected might feel that his/her site wasnt accepted just because the committee didnt like him/her, but if there is a very formal committee, this will not be the case.

On this commitee should be the following:
The three webmasters of starwars-rpg.net.
The three reviewers of Star Wars RPG Reviewed Sites (Chris, Ben, and I cant remember the third, sorry)
Two webmasters of the most updated or most viewed sites that are currently hosted by starwars-rpg.net
Armage Bedar (the HoloNet, being formerly hosted by starwars-rpg.net)
Two community webmasters (ones that already have a domain name, so they would not be hosted by starwars-rpg.net, ie Deck, Nazgul, etc.)

This keeps the number of members odd, so you dont have to worry about hung jury's or anything like that.

With this committee, you have something on the site in the form of a application to being hosted. On the application, there should be quesitons like: What does your site offer to the community? What unique quality does your site have that is often not seen by the community? Have you contributed to any starwars-rpg.net sites in the past? Why do you want to be hosted?

Then the application is sent, the committee reviews the application. If the site was reviewed highly or won the outstanding site award from Reviewed sites, this should certainly be credited towards the site. If the majority of the committee votes in favor of the site, then it should be accepted. Keep in mind that hosting sites should not just be a one time event because people down the line may create great websites and may want to be hosted by starwars-rpg.net.

Well, Ive talked too long, and taken too much space, but you get the idea. Please consider this idea, but if you dont, Im sure whatever is decided will be fair and good.

Nealos
5 May 2002, 11:28 PM
All very good ideas! We just might assemble said committee and go from there. :)