The next MOL update - this May!

Just wanted to give everyone a quick heads up.  Over the past 3 months, I've been working with a development team to assist in making the next leap in the Maplewood Online (WorldWebs) platform.

It's an incredible challenge, but after running an online community for 20 years now I believe the platform will have all of the necessary elements needed to run a successful local community.

I don't think the forum update will be as tricky to get used to as the last one and you won't need to update your passwords this time.

We are also looking for Community Moderators to take over a few of our other sites such as Millburn - Summit - Morristown - Montclair - South Orange and West Orange.  Or if you would like to run a local town community from scratch - let us know!  We mainly prefer the person running the site to be a resident of the town they're serving.

So we're looking in early May as a possibility.  I'm always a bit pessimistic with these timetimes - there's always something more to do, but with the team I have in place now - we appear to be close to our timeline.  The next update goes beyond the forum as well, new homepage, calendar, for sale, job market and business directory sections.  We are also creating a more traditional blog area.  Your blog will have the ability to show on one community - or you can make it available on many communities.

More details to come.

Are you looking to separate SOMa?

Right now we have and - so they're separate now - but they share a lot.  We'll probably maintain the two domains and keep the shared content.  Maybe add more town specific content on each one.

As an aside, Jamie, I would recommend you carefully consider your moderators and not just choose anyone who volunteers. You want someone who will be even-handed and, as the title suggests, moderate.

Hey, I can be very moderate (when I want to).

bramzzoinks said:

Hey, I can be very moderate (when I want to).

oh oh I knew you would take that personally, and I really didn't mean it to be, but if I pointed it out, it would seem like I was directing it at you.

What is involved in running a community?

Back to the SOMA issue.  I do think that someone closely connected to the village can create a more robust site and residents will get a lot more out of it.  

As for moderators - it's more then just volunteers - we'll really looking for entrepreneurs who are interested in doing this as their primary business or part time.  There really is a lot to do in running these sites - it's not just moderating a forum.  So we're not taking casual commitments.

One tricky thing I've been trying to come up with is the best term for someone who is running the site.  Community moderator seems too light of a term because the job is more than moderating.  Community owner is too strong because ultimately you cannot have true ownership on a shared platform.

Are you trying to be like Tapinto? It seemed up to now the two of you were more complementary rather than competitors. 

mbaldwin said:

What is involved in running a community?

Since most communities are not as established as Maplewood Online - getting the word out is a big part at the beginning.  Maintaining a calendar of events - business directory - soliciting advertising - get people talking on the forum - highlighting features for the homepage - these are just a few.  I'll try to put together a more robust list as to what is involved.

bramzzoinks said:

Are you trying to be like Tapinto? It seemed up to now the two of you were more complementary rather than competitors. 

People running a community will have the ability to write new stories if they wish, so they can be like tapinto.   I did read a few years ago that it cost $7,000 a year for someone to run one of their franchises - we're not trying to be like this.  Our model will be a monthly fee plus a percentage of ad revenue.

As for hyperlocal news reporting, I think Maplewood has the highest number of new reporters per capita then any other town in the state.  So the hyperlocal news aspect may not be as necessary here - but it should be an option in towns where they don't have it.

Would Community Administrator be a more appropriate title?  Person taking on this responsibility for a community, I assume, would have administrative rights to oversee/control content with a gentle hand and would also be responsible for administrative tasks such as marketing, recruitment (of sponsors and content providers), updating, etc.

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