What I want for my website

I really only want two things for my website: (1) I want the software that runs my website to be high-quality and (2) I want my website's content to be high-quality. It sounds easy and straight-forward but I assure you it isn't.

I want the software that runs my website to be stable, efficient at handling my website's traffic, and flexible. Good content management systems meet these requirements, but it took years to get where we are today, and we still have a really long way to go. Fortunately, all my websites run Drupal, so the first part of my requirements presents no problem. If you want, you can have a Drupal site too -- it's free! :)

I also want the website content to be of high-quality. That applies to both the quality of my own writing, as well as that of others that participate on my site. I believe this is a much more difficult problem to solve -- I'm interested in helping to solve it.

I'll be moving from an apartment to a house with a small yard, so last weekend we bought a hose to water the plants and the grass. Now that I'll have to get into gardening, it struck me that maintaining and improving the quality of my website is a bit like gardening too.

First and foremost, you have to keep the weeds out. In the world of websites, that means preventing spam comments and other unwanted posts. I never liked weeding -- as a kid, I had to help weed our garden. Collecting a bucket of weeds each vacation day was no fun. I don't like manually deleting spam comments either, so I addressed that with Mollom.

So far so good -- Drupal and Mollom make me a pretty happy camper as my two requirements are mostly met.

Just weeding your garden, though, doesn't make it beautiful or interesting. The same is true for websites. My favorite websites are those where the quality of the comments exceed the quality of the actual posts. I think there is much more that can be done to improve the quality of content on websites.

For example, I often wish I could tell people that their comments are poorly written or formatted before they even submitted it. It would be nice if more comments used proper capitalization and punctuation like we learned it in school. Or better yet, imagine having a service that estimates the added value of any new comment, or that somehow encourages thoughtfulness and constructive debate. I know I'm dreaming (and rambling a bit), but I also believe that these kind of tools are in our future for those that want them. They would be a natural addition to Mollom so maybe I'll be working on them myself, especially if people keep getting their capitalization and punctuation wrong. ;-)

Comments

Posted on by koleary (not verified).

You know I was thinking exactly the same thing the other day as I was working in my garden, but from a slightly different perspective. Maintaining a site is a lot like gardening, and maintaining a the design of a Drupal site is like maintaining the design of a garden.

In the early days of the web we designers had a very static approach to building sites. We thought of them more like we though of printed pieces; you design it, it's approved, you go live. Done. Now sites are much more alive, especially with user generated content. As designers we need to think about how a site grows organically, like a garden, and plan for what happens when parts of the site grow and others die. I don't know if there are ways to automate some of this but I'm thinking about it.