Anglicans Online, the site that began the process which created the constellation of Anglican websites is looking for some help.
From their front page:
“For the first time in 11 years, we’re taking the cry of the Bereans as our own: Come over and help us! We could use some assistance. We welcome people who might like to be a part of this venerable website, one of the oldest on the web and perhaps the best known in the Anglican Communion.
This page will give you a bit of an idea of what it means to be a part of the Anglicans Online staff. We trust that will be helpful and not intimidating. Have a look — and see if you see yourself there. (Or here.)
For the entire 11 years of our time with AO, there’s never been a paid advert anywhere on this site. We are a part of no official organization in the Anglican Communion. We don’t apply for grants or gifts from Anglican bodies. (Instead, we adopt the quirky technique of having irregular and infrequent appeals for donations from our readers.) We offer Anglicans Online as our weekly labour of heart, soul, and mind, for the good of our beloved if somewhat broken Anglican Communion. We have no plans to do otherwise. We’d simply like a few other good souls to labour on with us.”
Read the rest here.
Maybe you’ve been looking for a way to get involved?
I used to read AO faithfully every Monday morning, and occasionally contributed to the coffers. I greatly admire the charitable tone the staff consistently takes. But it’s been forever since I’ve spent any time there. They only come out once a week. They don’t have an RSS feed. Their “forum,” viz., weekly publication of email letters to the editor, is simply not workable for blog-style conversation. Most importantly, the rise of the Anglican blogosphere has spawned many competitors (including thee and me) for AO readers’ time and attention.
AO needs either (1) to seriously rethink their approach, or (2) to prayerfully consider closing their doors, with the gratitude of their many readers, as having honorably served their purpose and completed their mission.
Fair points D.C. – but I wonder how much of their format isn’t because of who they intend their readership to be.
I get chided by our communications person here in AZ for my writing on this blog. She says my prose is a “little dense” for most people. She’s right – but it’s partly because I’m writing for a specific groups of people who are primarily people who know me personally and/or people who are interested in my ideas. When I write on the Cafe I intentionally use a different style and vocabulary.
AO is, near as I can tell, meant to serve the entire Anglican Communion, not just those of us in the Web 2.0/broadband world. If you only have one or two times a week to access the Internet, as an Anglican, you would be well served hitting AO.
I think the Cafe is intentionally trying to fill the niche you’re talking about – and that’s partly because I had a hand in convincing the rest of the editorial board to do just that.
I agree, Fr. Nick; I like AO for what it is. But an RSS feed for their front page would be great; sometimes I forget to go over there myself. A feed would bring the front page to me, and I wouldn’t miss issues.
re: an RSS feed for AO; I don’t think they’re set up to archiving. Near as I can tell it’s a static site with updates done by hand. I guess an RSS feed would be nice for pulling the scraping the data off the page, but I’m not sure how it would signal that an update has occurred.
But I’ll be glad to ask the gang over there. It’s a good question.
I had a brief email exchange with Brian Reed a couple of years ago. What we see is static HTML, but it is created by a hand built content management system. I think all of this predates RSS feeds, and since the software is custom, the RSS bit would have to be built by hand. Not an impossible task, but quite a bit more involved than checking a box on your blog software control panel.
Ah, the tyranny of the legacy system!
They might find it easier, on a going-forward basis, to set up a WordPress or Typepad account for all future entries. (I just started using self-hosted WordPress for my technology-law blog and like it much better than TypePad, where I’ve had the Questioning Christian blog for going on five years.) They could leave the old AO site in place for back-referencing. I think that’s what Kendall Harmon did when he moved TitusOneNine a year ago or so – he didn’t even try to migrate the content from his old site.
I’d think it would be pretty natural for an all-volunteer organization to struggle along a little bit at key times in its growth cycle. Seems to me that as organizations expand, they hit walls where they either have to reformat what they’re doing to bounce up to a higher level or shut down completely. I think if you’re not growing you’re already dead. Like a plant.
But the whole thing about Anglicans Online brings back a lot of memories for me. I remember reading AO way back in 1997 as a college student when Tod Maffin was still running things. That was my portal into the Anglican world back when I was still a Southern Baptist and searching for something very different – even though I didn’t know what I was searching for. I remember in horror when the whole site shut down when Maffin said he was stepping down, and I wondered if it would even be able to continue under the direction of the new editorial team and, if so, what it would look like. (Obviously, they’ve done great . . .)
I remember going through all of their categories systematically and thoughtfully, and it was there that I found links to what was then the Episcopal Synod of America, St. Sam’s Cyberparish & LUTI (an e-mail list for us GLBT folks), liturgy and theology resources, and a whole lot more.
All of the nostalgia aside, it’s possible that I might not be an Episcopalian today if it hadn’t been for the resources they provided. I think they have a lot of lurking friends out there who will chip in to help them out of any crunches that they’re in.
Thanks for giving us a heads up about this.