The Lure Of IndieWeb.
Why Did We Move?
You may have noticed a new look and new host to the DDD East Midlands blog. We have moved away from Medium and to a self hosted solution.
We’ve been asked what has lead to the decision to move. The honest short answer is listening to our community. In the spirit of transparency behind our decisions, we’d like to provide a bit more detail.
Listening To Our Community
Though Medium was a great place for us to start, there are a number of concerns we felt we needed to address by moving. Here, I’ll list a few of the main themes and why they swayed the final decision.
We want our blog to have a number of voices from the community. DDD East Midlands is a not-for-profit community event, currently run by two people. We get tired of our own voices and want the blog to have the same communal feel that hopefully the event will have.
Being on Medium has put off potential contributors for the following given reasons:
- You need to create a Medium account to post.
- The process to submit to our page is “confusing”.
- Sharing posts for “review” wasn’t an obvious process.
- Not wanting to contribute to Medium due to their paywall.
- Medium own content posted on their site. Some contributors were uncomfortable with this.
Though Jekyll doesn’t have a nice UI, we are offering that if anyone is uncomfortable with writing markdown/HTML but want’s to contribute - they can do the following:
- Send organisers their post with photos in a format the author is comfortable with (PDF, Google Doc, Word etc.) and we will transpose it into a Jekyll post and put them as the author
- Raise an issue on GitHub with your content attached, so someone else can write the post into Jekyll for you.
This is another handy addition - with Medium we couldn't write posts for people and assign them as the author. We can using Jekyll.
Pull Requests and Raising Issues
Some of you may have spotted, but having our blogs in this format has enabled us to provide “issues” towards Hacktoberfest. As part of DDD East Midlands 2019 we are pushing support for contributing to Open Source. Anna and Jamie are running Hacktoberfest Corner at the conference, where they are helping people with their first pull requests and contribution ideas.
For those unfamiliar with Hacktoberfest, it is a global celebration of open source. This is the ability to contribute to publicly available code projects. By opening 4 contributions to open source projects (pull requests) within the month of October you can be rewarded with swag from contributing companies. See the Hacktoberfest webpage for more information.
By having the blog in a format where we can enable people to make changes through GitHub, we can provide a safe space for people to make their first changes. We would not have been able to do this while hosting on Medium.
Ownership Of Content
This was addressed by some of the potential contributors, but applies to DDD East Midlands as well. We want to have ownership over our own content, how it is displayed and who it is available to. There are restrictions around all these points by hosting on Medium.
Control Of Accessibility
There have been a few improvements on our website and blog around accessibility. Thank you to the amazing community members who have helped us with this.
By hosting our own page we have more control over the HTML, tabbing behaviour, colour contrast and more. By having more control over the structure and layout of our site, we can make determined efforts to try to make the content more accessible with the help from community members who have knowledge and experience in this field.
By moving to Jekyll we have copies of the blogs and record of their authors that we can move into any other format if we want to.
Are there disadvantages?
Yes. There are a few.
One place is our SEO will be impacted as we won’t be featured by Medium which has previously provided the blog with some traffic. The other is, until we find the time to add GA, we won’t have any tracking around the blogs. We would love to know what content is popular, how many people are reading the blog and where from to help us guide decisions around the blog and it’s content.
Resources from East Midlands Community Members
These are but a few of the reasons we have made the move. Those who have voiced their concerns around us being on Medium have not been named as we want to encourage people to give us feedback on how we can improve. Jamie Tanna has kindly offered that we an share his post on this topic however. He is a vocal supporter of IndieWeb and the benefits hosting your own content can have. He also doesn’t shrink away from the disadvantages.
So now we’ve moved - how can you contribute
- Raise a pull request with changes or with a post you would like to contribute.
- Raise an issue around something you would like to read.
Want to post a blog but you’re unfamiliar with Jekyll/Markdown etc?
- Send the content over to one of the organisers and we agree it should be on the site, we’ll add it. If not, we will provide feedback.
- Raise an issue with your content and ask someone to add it for you.
We look forward to seeing your contributions!