Met with the senior administrative team this morning to give them an update on where we are with our new school Website that we’re building around Manila sites. Everyone liked the look (thanks, Bryan), and everyone likes the concept of having more people creating content on the site. That’s the good part. Now comes the piece that I knew I would have to tackle at some point: how do we make sure that all of this distributed content is appropriate and correct and representative of the Star School that is Hunterdon Central? The easy answer is that we put the onus of appropriate, correct and representative content on those who are creating it. But as past practice has shown, while most of what is generated for public consumption from our school is of high quality, there are moments when what we create does not reflect the highest standard. I think that’s probably true in most schools and organizations. At the moment, the senior team is very sensitive to these kinds of issues, and so the subject turned to Weblog as Website process.
First off, we decided that until we get more comfortable with this, we’re going to turn off the comments. Since we haven’t found a way to review comments before posting, this wasn’t going to happen anyway. Maybe a year or so down the road we can start experimenting with reader feedback. My superintendent wants two levels of review for posts that are made by advisers or departmental folk or whoever might be posting. Ultimately, the district public information officer would push the final “publish” button. I don’t think this is unreasonable as once we get all the sites running my guess is we’re talking about maybe a dozen posts a day (which would make me very happy.) With the notification feature in Manila, everyone in the loop could be notified automatically when a new post is queued for approval. So, in general, I can see it working. But there are all those little in between steps that I have to figure out. Who approves what? How, when, where do I train all of them? What flak will I get from adding the review process to a lot of people’s plates? Who is gonna win Iowa?
I’m almost glad I’ve gotten to this step. It really has been the last kind of murky piece in the picture. I’ve got a pretty detailed process to write of how we get from idea to publish. Hopefully, when I’m done, we’ll really be ready to see if this works.
Thanks for blogging this. I’ve been watching and waiting to see how this will come together–who will approve the posts and how!
When I was the Web Director for the City of Austin we faced this issue of responsibility for content qulaity. The City Manager was reluctant to competely decentralize the authority. We reminded him that the department and division managers already had full authority over flyers, mailings an other means of direct contact with the public. Based on this fact, we ended up fully distributing content authority for the web. I am no longer with the City of Austin, but while i was there, we had a few problems, some serious. In my opinion though, those probems stemmed from a lack of understanding of the Web on the managers’ part resulting in them further delegating that authority without proper oversight in their own area.
This problem, I think, is related to the perception of web visitors as invisible – the phone’s not ringing – complaints are going to a “techie webmaster” – there’s no line of customers at the door. I think if managers are provided with meaningful (Tufte-like) data on visitors, they will be far more likely to attend to their content. Eager to see how this transpires.