No Longer Linking to City Pages

A quick bit of meta-news. cvillenews.com is no longer going to link to any of Charlottesville’s webpages, because it’s proved to not work. The addresses of their pages continually change, becoming increasingly bizarre each time. So a link to the Charlottesville Transit Service would have been (logically) http://www.charlottesville.org/transit/ a few months ago, the confusing http://www.charlottesville.org/displays/viewer8.asp?listid=4125&nav=&navM=21 as of a week or two ago, and today it’s (I swear I’m not making this up) http://www.charlottesville.org/default.asp?pageid=69BA9DD5-8CF7-4591-90EC-919ACDA784D1. This shifting landscape of URLs makes our links worthless almost as soon as we put them in a story, and updating them retroactively has proved not only exhausting, but also to be a merely temporary solution, because they simply change again. Consequently, no more links to the city’s sites. Please accept my apologies for the inevitable inconvenience.

45 thoughts on “No Longer Linking to City Pages”

  1. Nah, I’m not looking to gripe, just point out to people that we’re not just being lazy and not seeking out appropriate links. :) I know that they’re moving over to using a fancy content management system, and I’m sure that all kinds of benefits come along with that. I imagine that this is for the best for the city, as regards their ability to maintain their website. But if nobody can link to it, I do think that they might have a problem. :)

  2. Not linking to an informative site with fresh content is a pretty strong reaction to a trailing slash error in the URL. Is this an indication of the problem-solving abilities you will bring to a seat on the City Council?

    For starters, that’s just nasty. I’ve got about 20 minutes a day to spend on cvillenews.com, and I am not particularly interested in spending it on guessing URLs. Out of habit of creating well-formed URLs, I’ve always put in a trailing slash, because that’s how any reasonably-behaved server functions. Given that the address for CTS was never “charlottesville.org/transit” but always “charlottesville.org/transit/”, it is far from logical to guess that. (Though I’m pleased that you did.)

    Second, they haven’t used that URL for quite some time. But just to see if I was missing something, I not only entered charlottesville.org/transit/, but I also ran a quick search, that revealed that it had been indexed not as “/transit,” but as “transit/”. I tried that for a large number of sections of the site.

    Third, you just had a lucky guess. Council’s site used to be charlottesville.org/council/. No longer, with or without the trailing slash. News was at charlottesville.org/news/. Again, no longer, with or without the trailing slash. I’m not intentionally picking out pages that still work without the trailing slash — I can’t come up with a single other former URL that still works.

    Fourth, they haven’t used the old URL format of /sectionname/ for awhile. For months, it’s been the ?viewer#.asp?page_id=12345&menu_something=12345. So I’d assumed that the original URL format for transit, just like everything else, had been deprecated. And I can assure you that I checked a whole bunch of those URLs, and not a single one of those worked.

    Fifth, it’s neat that they have a redirect for that page, but it doesn’t help for more specific links. For example, a link to the page that provides an overview of the bus system would have been at http://www.charlottesville.org/displays/Preview.asp?listid=4281&navM=21. The new URL is http://www.charlottesville.org/default.asp?pageid=52C347BC-30B1-47B2-B256-70C4DD97D694, and there is no redirect. This is true for every single page on a specific topic that I sought out.

    Finally, I would appreciate it if you would not minimize the problem by making it sound as if I’m merely being uncooperative by refusing to list a slash. As you’ve now read, the problem is entirely different from that, although I am pleased to know that the city is using redirects to ensure that old links will still work, at least in the case of CTS’ page.

    Creative problem solving isn’t what you might call a weak point for me, Anonymous. But it looks like I’m falling short here. So how about you try a little more of your own creative problem solving to suggest what cvillenews.com might do to be able to continue linking to city web pages? Or, better yet, a little creative problem solving for the city so that their site works properly?

  3. I agree with Waldo and I’d also like to say that I feel Waldo is being rather diplomatic in his description of the new city web server. I personally I’m appalled at what a sloppy job the vendor has done and the fact that 8 months after going online with it they still haven’t got things working as well as they should have by last summer or earlier. Only in recent weeks did they finally get their search engine close to working right. And this nonsense of coming out with one set of cryptic URLs and then revamping them months later into even lengthier and more cryptic URLs is ridiculous. Not only is it a major pain for those of us outside the city server who want to link in, but it’s also a big hassle for the city’s in-house webmasters. And I’ve noticed at least one department that simply took out a bunch of useful links on a bunch of their pages rather than leaving them in and having to update them — with the possibility that they might have to be updated yet again at some future time.

    As someone who did a huge volunteer web design project for one city department, I have first hand experience with how clunky and inadequate the vendor’s web design portion of the software is. I’ve spent more than 2 decades using computers, most of it as a programmer and alot of it as a software tester and technical writer/proofreader, and my professional opinion is that the new city web design software comes close to achieving the old adage, “If you design a system that is truly foolproof, only a fool will want to use it.” They set out to design a system simple enough for non-web-designers to be able to make and maintain a department’s web site (such as the department’s secretary), and to a large degree they have achieved that. But in the process they ignored the fact that there were already several well-designed departmental web sites created and maintained by experienced web designers who were just as flabbergasted as me when they were told they would have to stop using their professional web design tools and redo all their sites under the new system. And not a sophisticated new system, but rather one that offers less functionality than a freebie design program like Netscape Composer (which is what I used to develop a 135 page web site for the department where I was volunteering before I found out much of my work would have to be scrapped or revamped to force-fit it into the new system). Another department’s experienced webmaster found that it was taking him 2 to 3 times longer under the new system to do the same website work.

    But even the inexperienced webmasters — for whom the system was supposedly designed — are having serious frustrations with the design portion of the system. Keep in mind that secretaries/office assistants usually have plenty to do separate from maintaining a web site, so they need to be able to get on, make some changes or additions quickly and successfully and get back to the rest of their job. One secretary/webmistress I know told me the other day that she had to spend time over the course of 3 days just to fix the formatting of text on one page because the system has trouble letting her edit line breaks and it also kept crashing out and losing her work, so she’d have to start over again and again.

    This is not ok. This is not a system that increases her productivity nor makes her busy job easier. But unfortunately the city would obviously prefer to gloss over what a mess they’ve got and pretend everything’s going great with the new system, albeit with just a few minor “growing pains” as one city official calls it, and do things like award the city web vendor with their “January City Business Recognition Award”.

  4. Stowe, the city ought to hire you. The page you worked on for the Parks Department was well done and easy to use. The current mess is a shifting maze and should be dumped. Pride will prevent that.

  5. In case you didn’t see Waldo’s original remark, it was:

    “The addresses of their pages continually change, becoming increasingly bizarre each time.”

    The point is, there’s no consistency in their URLs and Waldo doesn’t have the time to update the links in old stories everytime a URL evolves.

    And instead of making a snotty comparison to the link for this discussion, why don’t you look at the links for the static cvillenews.com pages? I mean http://www.cvillenews.com/user.php, http://www.cvillenews.com/submit.php, and http://www.cvillenews.com/faq.php. Nice and easy, right? The links generated for the actual stories, while a bit verbose, are standard slash (or slash-clone) fare.

    Are you a disgruntled charlottesville.org webmaster or something? :)

  6. There are two issues that Waldo presented here:

    1. the links on the City site are changing

    and

    2. the links are confusing

    In reply to the first issue. Waldo is right. The City’s site does have changing links. I believe the City is still in the process of building their site. Things seem to be changing on a daily basis. I don’t know why that is. Does Waldo? Did he even take the time to contact someone at the city to see if this was a temporary/transitory/permanent situation? Passing judgement without the background information is not a good move for a journalist.

    As far as the second issue is concerned, Waldo is being hypocritical. His site has links that are confusing as well as links that make sense. Same with the city site. Why besmirch the City’s efforts when he does the same.

    Am I a disgruntled City Webmaster? No, I am not. I’m not ragging on the site I’m defending it. Are you a disgruntled City Webmaster?

  7. Actually it’s not. The link is http://www.cvillenews.com/article.php?sid=400. That’s not fair either because this is a lot more complecated than the city’s site — you can set the number of posts, if it’s threaded or not, the order of the posts and so on. That’s why the link I gave is so short, is because all of that stuff has been left out. also the links never change. Complicated links aren’t so bad if they stay the same, but simpler like http://www.cvillenews.com/article.php?sid=400 is better.

  8. Jeeze, what’s this person’s problem? You’d think (s)he would have something better to do than to troll message boards with this inane nonsense.

  9. Who cares? This website doesn’t represent the best of journalism anyway. The only reason this site is somewhat popular is because of its “interactivity” (ie. people can post a message in response to a news item). I don’t recall there being a journalism degree in the site manager/city council candidate’s bio. Please correct me if I’m wrong… What do you expect from a “writer” who admittedly only spends 20 minutes a day on the site????

  10. Who cares? This website doesn’t represent the best of journalism anyway. The only reason this site is somewhat popular is because of its “interactivity” (ie. people can post a message in response to a news item). I don’t recall there being a journalism degree in the site manager/city council candidate’s bio. Please correct me if I’m wrong… What do you expect from a “writer” who admittedly only spends 20 minutes a day on the site????

  11. I think you miss the point of this website. It’s not intended to present original journalism. It’s a forum to call attention to the journalism of other local news organizations and allow reader comment on the news. Why would somebody feel a need to be so harshly critical of the volunteer who put together and maintains the site, for not having a journalism degree?

  12. The one strength and the one weakness of this site is that people like “Anonymous” can talk all the trash they want, without having to show any courage by revealing their true identiy. Waldo is a good man and has done more for this community than most people have — you should follow his lead, Anonymous, and stop the mudslinging. Please note that Waldo’s post about the City’s confusing web site was not a personal attack on anyone, but rather the valuable sort of critical commentary that makes systems and processes function better in the end, for the benefit of us all.

    It is easy to see why there are a lot of people in this town who are excited about Waldo’s candidacy and the fresh perspective he would bring to City Council.

    Dave Norris

  13. of course the links here are confusing . You couldn’t have the title of every story in the link, they have to be numbers. So article?sid=400 is pretty good. alot better than the city’s 1290-8123098-12381238-1209381-20938 for every page plus it has “article” so you know it’s an article but with the city there’s only numbers. PLUS there aren’t many sections on Cville News, just news so there aren’t many possibilities.

  14. Things seem to be changing on a daily basis. I don’t know why that is. Does Waldo? Did he even take the time to contact someone at the city to see if this was a temporary/transitory/permanent situation? Passing judgement without the background information is not a good move for a journalist.

    That’s where you’re mistaken — I don’t claim to be a journalist. cvillenews.com exists to give people a forum to discuss things of topical interest in Charlottesville, and to drive traffic to the websites of local media outlets. I don’t write news, I refer people to news found elsewhere. I am not interested in marching down to City Hall and demanding that they explain why they run their website the way that they do. They can run it however that they want, and I’m not about to attempt to convince them to do otherwise. As a long-time veteran of website development, I can assure that you that there’s nothing more irritating than strangers insisting that you should run your website differently. (No matter how correct that they are. :) The purpose of this story was only to let people know that their current setup is, as you’ve noted, awkward enough that continuing to link to pages on the city’s site is unlikely to be any more useful to linking to pages on the Progress’ site (who erases stories after 24 hours.) If you are interested in finding out why the city runs their site in this manner, I recommend that you ask them. I’m in no better a position to do so than you or anybody else that uses cvillenews.com.

    To reiterate: I don’t care about the background information, and I’m not a journalist. I just want people to know why links to relevant portions of the city’s website will no longer be put in stories on cvillenews.com.

  15. Boy, there’s nothing like running for office to bring out the nitpicking dickheads.

    Has anyone noticed the lack of ads on this site? Waldo doesn’t make a nickel on this. He apparently does it because he saw a need, and stepped forward to fill it.

  16. As a veteran to the web design world, I’m not sure why Waldo would bring up this issue at all. Go to Amazon, Ebay, Slashdot,etc, etc, and all you will find are links filled with long strings of numbers. With dynamic, database driven websites that contain thousands of pages, it is not possible to assign nice and easy URLs to each of the pages.

    On a more personal note, I think that much of Waldos animosity towards the new website comes from his lack of success in his own business. When he starts to create websites with 5 – 30 thousand pages of content that are easily editable by anyone who can use a word processor, he can come back and talk more about this issue.

    A final note about the website: The links of pages do not change on a daily basis. The changes in format have corresponded to updates in the management system, and the latest iteration will be the one that stays for the foreseeable future.

  17. As a veteran to the web design world, I’m not sure why Waldo would bring up this issue at all. Go to Amazon, Ebay, Slashdot,etc, etc, and all you will find are links filled with long strings of numbers. With dynamic, database driven websites that contain thousands of pages, it is not possible to assign nice and easy URLs to each of the pages.

    You’re right, it’s not not possible to have a URL that is devoid of an ID-based URL system — you can see that here, on cvillenews.com. But that’s not why I won’t be linking to Charlottesville’s pages anytime soon. Long URLs are unfortunate, and I certainly discourage the use of them, but they’re hardly unlinkable.

    As a side note, it’s certainly obvious that the average user would, in fact, regard the progression of URLs as “increasingly-bizarre,” which was my only comment along those lines. For more information on this, one need look no further than Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox from March 21, 1999.

    I’m not going address your second comment because it’s rude, entirely false, and I refuse to entertain such a discussion.

    A final note about the website: The links of pages do not change on a daily basis. The changes in format have corresponded to updates in the management system, and the latest iteration will be the one that stays for the foreseeable future.

    I never said that they change on a daily basis, and I don’t believe that anybody else did, either. But some of them have changed every few weeks, often enough that links expire rapidly. I intend for cvillenews.com to be a lasting archive of the events of Charlottesville and people’s reactions and thoughts about them. Sites that retain data at a permanent location (the Cavalier Daily, George Loper’s site and WINA come to mind immediately) are linkable. Sites that do not, are not.

    Let me say this one more time, just in case I haven’t been entirely clear: I think that the city has a fine website, and they’re certainly free to use any content management system that they want. The only problem is that when that CMS’ URLs expire, I’m obliged to update cvillenews.com’s links, which requires far more work and watchfulness than I’m prepared to put forth.

    That’s all I’m sayin’.

  18. Go to Amazon, Ebay, Slashdot,etc, etc, and all you will find are links filled with long strings of numbers. With dynamic, database driven websites that contain thousands of pages, it is not possible to assign nice and easy URLs to each of the pages.

    Do you really expect us to believe the new city web site is (or is likely to be) as large as the sites you mention? I don’t buy that. When I look at the city’s new URLs I see what look to me like hexadecimal digits — 32 of them, by my count. That’s 128 bits of data and no, I’m not willing to believe the city needs to uniquely identify 2^128 individual web pages. I was told last year the city has about 5000 web pages. But let’s round up and say that the city web site will need to address up to 100,000 web pages — I can represent that in decimal as 0 thru 99,999. And if I drop out the comma separator, that’s a mere 5 characters. So please explain to us how this dynamic, database driven web site can’t seem to address its web pages in less than 36 characters (32 hex digits and 4 dashes) beyond the “http://www.charlottesville.org/default.asp?pageid=“. (And I’ve noticed that some pages have even longer URLs!)

    I think that much of Waldos animosity towards the new website comes from his lack of success in his own business.

    Huh?

    When he starts to create websites with 5 – 30 thousand pages of content that are easily editable by anyone who can use a word processor, he can come back and talk more about this issue.

    Hmm… As I mentioned in my other post in this thread, I recently heard how one departmental webmaster who easily types up pages of text in a word processor in minutes found that it took her part-time over the course of 3 days of wrestling with the City’s buggy and crash-prone Content Management System just to reformat one page of online text. When I combine stories like that with my own first-hand bad experiences with the city web vendor’s software, I’d say that even the city web vendor has still not yet come up with a reliable system that is “easily editable by anyone who can use a word processor“. So how is it relevant whether or not Waldo (or me or anyone else) has created any 30 thousand page web sites? How about we tell the city web vendor to go away and not to come back until they learn not to beta-test — or should I say not to alpha-test — on their end users? When the city and its web vendor describe their system as a professional one, then I have the audacity to expect it to stand up to the scrutiny of a professional software tester like myself as well as stand up to every day use by end users. It does not.

    In the case of, say, a given automobile, a person does not have to be an auto engineer nor a factory worker in an automotive plant to be able to make valid criticisms of whether that particular vehicle is well-designed and easy to use and whether it meets their needs. If they are familiar with automobile operation as a user, perhaps also familiar with some of the basics of auto maintenance, then that’s enough to qualify them to make legitimate criticisms.

    The links of pages do not change on a daily basis.

    Maybe not, but in my case it sure felt like it for many days as I scrambled to update my web sites that were linking into city web pages.

    The changes in format have corresponded to updates in the management system, and the latest iteration will be the one that stays for the foreseeable future.

    And the reason we should believe this is — why? You posted under Anonymous. Are you a city employee or city web vendor employee? I’m guessing the latter… I’m willing to make strong statements under my own name and stand by them. How about you do the same?

    I was led to believe last April that those url changes were going to be around for the foreseeable future too, but that only lasted about 8 months. Shall we conclude that “foreseeable future” = 8 months, meaning I’ll have to update my city links again this coming autumn?

    I’m not going to apologize for being one of the people who prefers human-readable, and preferably short URLs to lengthy, cryptic ones. Some of us like to be able to use URLs that can easily be printed out, or written by hand, or displayed on a TV screen and/or spoken over the phone with a very high likelihood that the reader or listener will be able to write it down and type it accurately. For example, a printed newspaper article about local parks could mention Darden Towe Park and inform its readers that “directions to Darden Towe are available on the county web site at http://www.albemarle.org/parks/dardentowe.html “. Their readers stand a very good chance of typing that URL into their browser and getting the right page.

    But if that same article wants to direct its readers to the web page of a city park such as Azalea Park, their readers are faced with trying to type in this: http://www.charlottesville.org/default.asp?pageid=F1DEE580-81B9-4C69-A942-33089C106C3F .

    Very few readers I can think of would bother trying to type that.

    Stowe

  19. Nowhere in my statement did I say that the city site was as large as Ebay or the likes, I was just drawing a comparison between sites with great amounts of content. The long string of numbers is necessary to gaurentee its uniqueness in the database. The content management system is not specifc to the City of Charlottesville, and therefor future clients must be taken into account. While the city is only about 5000 pages as you mention, other users may have more, and the system was designed to accommodate these larger sites. But why does it matter anyway? I don’t see any difference between a URL with 10 number or 30. You are living in the past if you think that the majority of sites have friendly URLs. Earlier in this thread someone posted the link to this page:

    http://www.cvillenews.com/comments.php?op=Reply&pid=1445&sid=400&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

    which is no easier to read than an address to a city page, but this point was brushed off.

    To everyone reading this :

    Stowe Keller orginally created the Parks section for the cities’ old website. He chose to do this stictly volunteer, and spent many hours of his own time. The product was very good, and the best aspect in my opinion, was the content. Descriptions of the parks and photographs that he took were were informative and thought out.

    BUT…

    When the city decided to create a new website, Mr. Keller raised hell. If the new parks section didn’t look EXACTLY like the old one, then that just wouldn’t do. I would be upset too, if I spent many hours on a project and then it was changed and I could no longer take credit for it, but thats the way the world works, and one must except it. I bring up this issue to point out that Mr. Kellers opinions are unquestionably biased and should not be taken at face value, and readers needed to hear some background information regarding his comments.

    As to posting anonymously, I choose to do so because I am expressing my personal viewpoints, not those of any organization I am conntected to. Regardless of any diclaimer I gave, people would connect what I say to where I work, and I do not want that to happen.

  20. You seem so comfortable “exposing” your vast “knowledge” regarding the intricacies of web design, Munk & Phyber’s client load and Stowe Keller’s experience with the Charlottesville City website. The web is full of people like you who love to rant, rave and post opinions but will not do it without the cover of anonymity. You obviously have a bias of your own which is very evident in your postings. Would love to know who you are so we can put up our personal/snide comments about you – I can imagine it would be quite easy.

    Non anonymously – Lisa McCade

  21. “one must except it”

    Now there’s a good reason to post anonymously : bad spelling.

    Or should I say, “speling”?

  22. Like I already stated, it would be a disservice to my employer.

    By the way, your website (www.mccadedesign.com) dosen’t work right. The background repeats itself several times if you have the window maximized. Just so ya know.

  23. Boy, you sure are a Snotty McSnotterton. Somebody oughtta take you out to a dark alley and drown you with hugs and kisses.

    -Anon.

  24. Wow – you really must be an interesting person. What happened in your past to make you so bitter – or should i just say “eee-vil”. In my world (the real one), spelling and typing skills don’t really mean that much in the overall scheme of things. Obviously you like to focus on the really important facets of your fellow human beings. Most of us would rather go through life making some mistakes – it actually helps one realize that nobody is perfect – “except/accept” you, my friend.

    Lisa

  25. Ahh, nothing like a flame war to spice up a Monday afteroon. People have posted that my responses have been “snotty” and the like, but I direct your attention to Waldo’s origional post, which I find very confrontational. While Waldo could have chosen to write “Because the website is still being developed, I choose not to link to it at this time,” he writes inflamitory statements such as:

    “proved to not work”

    “increasingly bizarre”

    “inevitable inconvenience”

    These show that this was not merely a FYI post, but and expression of Waldo’s opinions towards the site. He attempts to cover himself by stating later that it is “a fine site,” but he obviously does not think this. I will direct all future accusations that my comments are “snotty” to this first post, and show that I am only following the lead of the moderator.

  26. Dear Snotty –

    A big difference between your postings and Waldo’s original post: Waldo was making statements/comments in regards to the city web site. You, on the other hand, have been making statements and comments about people. Big difference in how these things are taken when read on the web. If you are indeed affiliated with the city’s web site, you may find that your time would be better spent learning to listen to constructive criticism. If you are not affiliated with the city’s web site, then you may want to consider finding a hobby.

    Lisa

  27. Well, let’s provide a little context here, shall we?

  28. “proved to not work”

    What I actually wrote was: “cvillenews.com is no longer going to link to any of Charlottesville’s webpages, because it’s proved to not work.”

    What that means is that links from cvillenews.com have not worked. If I’d meant that Charlottesville’s webpages were not working, I would have written “they’ve” not “it’s.” And there’s certainly no arguing that it hasn’t worked.

  29. “increasingly bizarre”

    I wouldn’t call that inflammatory, but, sure. I guess it’s theoretical for a user to believe that the progression from “/transit/” to “/displays/viewer8.asp?listid=4125&nav=&navM=21” to “/default.asp?pageid=69BA9DD5-8CF7-4591-90EC-919ACDA784D1” is not, in fact, “increasingly bizarre.” I’m not sure that I’ve ever met such a person, but I’ll grant you that one.

  30. “inevitable inconvenience”

    What I actually wrote was “Consequently, no more links to the city’s sites. Please accept my apologies for the inevitable inconvenience.”

    The inconvenience is not the city’s website — it is the lack of links on cvillenews.com. Yet again, this has nothing to do with the city’s websites, but is instead an apology for the shortcoming of cvillenews.com in this regard.

    Please don’t project your own beliefs onto my words. If you want to interpret “increasingly bizarre” as confrontational, then you’re obviously free to do so, and then I apologize for being confrontational when no such attitude was necessary. But don’t attempt to stretch my words into something that they’re not. If you dislike what other users have said about the city website on this thread, please address your comments to them, not to me.

  31. In the second paragraph of my original post I made comments regarding the success of Waldo’s business, which I do not know to be facts, and therefor retract those statements. Everything else I will let stand. If someone states opinions about something, I believe that it is my right to post counter statements explaining why I believe that person’s post to be false. Stowe Keller posted negative comments about the Charlottesville site, and I merely pointed out the fact that he had a connection to the old site, and I believe his viewpoints to be skewed because of it.

  32. “Let’s argue sematics here!”

    (damn, no…turns out I’m wrong.)

    “Now, let’s not get caught up in semantics here!”

    you’re funny!

  33. I don’t get it… http://www.charlottesville.org/transit worked just fine for me!

    Indeed — I chose a bad example. :) The address of that page always used to be “www.charlottesville.org/transit/” (note the closing slash.) It was changed to only exist without the slash, which is a great step in the right direction. Many other pages no longer exist, slash or no slash.

  34. it’s quite obvious that the tone of your post is negative.

    I can tell you exactly what was going through my head over the five minutes that it took me to write that: “How can I say this without sounding rude or negative? How can I simultaneously state the facts in a way that will be clear to people that aren’t familiar to the web?”

    That’s what I set out to do, and that’s what I did. I don’t think that it’s at all negative, and I continue to offer my apologies for the fact that you perceive it to be negative.

  35. While it’s only my opinion, I’ve just read the original posting several times, trying really hard to read animosity or malice into it, and I just don’t see it. Perhaps a miniscule bit of justifiable frustration at the shifting sands the city’s site seems to be built upon, but certainly nothing worthy of the resulting flames.

    Waldo presented the problem, stated the reasoning behind not wanting to maintain links to the site in question, and asked all to accept his apologies for the inconvenience.

    Waldo certainly doesn’t need me or anybody else to come to his defense, but these threads are ridiculous. Kind of makes one wonder if this is one of those issues that would have passed by without comment had the original author not been a candidate for City Council.

    Waldo, I sure hope there are no “Nanny Problems” in your past!

  36. Waldo,

    You continually amaze me with your diplomacy, and I mean that as a compliment. I’ve never seen a person who, online at least*, has been so patient and loathe to offend. Not bad qualities in a politician. Kudos to Mrs. Jaquith.

    *not that I don’t think you have these qualities in “real life,” but I can’t attest to them.

  37. Lisa,

    I think your comments are perfectly on target with this poster, especially re his need to handle negative feedback and constructive criticism better.

    As a result of his postings I’m 99% convinced of his identity: I’m certain that he is none other than the city web vendor’s representative with whom I had many interactions starting in April, shortly after the new server went online. I finally had to cease all contact with him last summer when it became obvious he and I could not interact in any way without quickly degenerating into a flame war or a shouting match. This Vendor Rep repeatedly exhibited disproportionately angry responses to legitimate criticisms of his company’s software and lack of documentation, just as we’re seeing our anonymous poster overreact to legitimate gripes and comments here in this forum.

    I find it quite typical of this anonymous poster to try to dismiss my valid criticisms of the city web site by telling people not to take my statements at face value because of my alleged “bias”, while he continues to hide his own identity and his own bias.

    I could easily “out” him by name here but I would rather pose my challenge to him again to be responsible enough to come forward and own up to his identity and his affiliation so that others can decide whether or not to accept his statements at face value.

    Stowe

  38. Time constraints on me the past 52+ hours have prevented me from responding to this post sooner and as in depth as I would like, so for the moment I want to state that I have not walked away from this escalating flame war and I’m not about to let slide the ongoing misrepresentations and omissions of fact.

    Yes, the web site on which I did extensive volunteer work was the city parks web site. I did not do that work alone; the city Parks Manager and his half-time staff Volunteer Coordinator spent many dozens of hours working with me on the project over and above the approximate 500 hours of volunteer work I did.

    One of the points I am making at this moment is that my extreme displeasure of the new City web server and the impact on the Parks web site is not limited to the city’s web vendor. Much of it is aimed at that amorphous bureaucratic blob known as Charlottesville city government, whose Information Technology department staff was apparently hopelessly uninformed/misinformed as to the major details and ramifications of the conversion of the city’s web site to the new server. I was unemployed at the time and with no job prospects and recognizing the need to boost my portfolio, brush up on old skills and develop new ones, I offered to do the parks web site on a volunteer basis in exchange for a verbal agreement that I would get credit for the web site I made, for the photographs I took, and especially, that the site would not be scrapped nor revamped for at least one year. The Parks Division had been informed that every city department and division was now obligated to have their own up-to-date web site, and that they would NOT be provided with funds to pay anyone for that web development. Thus, the Parks Division jumped at my offer to do their web site on a volunteer basis. Very little info was provided to me about the pending web server, so before starting the project I had the Volunteer Coordinator repeatedly check with the IT department and we were repeatedly assured of several things, including: that it was permissible for me, a volunteer, to do the web site instead of a staff person; that I could choose to use any web development software I selected; that we could go with pretty much any layout or design we chose; and most importantly, that the impact of the web server change would ONLY involve changes to the top level navigation and that there would be NO impact on the individual department/division web sites when the change took place. We started the project on that basis and it wasn’t until some 6 months or so later that we found out to our shock just how far from the truth those latter assurances were. Had we been properly informed at any of one of several earlier points in the project that the new web server would impose numerous design restrictions on each department, we could have chosen any one of several other courses of action that would have minimized or totally avoided wasting huge amounts of effort.

    When the city decided to create a new website, Mr. Keller raised hell. — Anonymous.

    Not accurate. Anonymous has munged a bunch of time together to come up with this statement, as well as leaving out the fact that the Parks Division Manager, the Volunteer Coordinator and I COLLECTIVELY “raised hell” about the new website. And only AFTER we had gotten about 80% of the project done, with 100+ web pages resulting from 400 hours (up to that point) of my volunteer work. And perhaps as much 20 to 25% of those hours were spent on design issues with the parks site, getting it to look EXACTLY as we wanted it — I think our web pages were proofread and checked 5 to 10 times EACH. The feedback we were getting was overwhelmingly positive, with alot of those comments being about how nice it looked, how well laid out and without the “cluttered” look of many other web sites — instead, my site was based on simple HTML and not bogged down with potentially buggy Javascript nor Flash animations etc. We were also complimented on how easy it was to navigate, how the links to other sites “made sense”, and so on. We had people coming out of the woodwork to compliment us on it, we had at least one local newspaper do an article about it, I was told the local NPR station announced its debut, I had Parks and Rec Advisory Board members and some City Council members personally thank me for it, and so on. This is why we felt so proud of it and why we “raised hell” over the prospect of scrapping the exact look that we had worked so hard to design and implement over the previous 6 months.

    As best as I could determine, the city’s decision and actions to create a new web site with the vendor was done sometime by Summer 2000. The actual go-ahead from the Parks Division manager for me to make a major update to the Parks web site was around late September 2000. The point at which we began “raising hell” was in mid to late April, when we found ourselves blindsided by the web server conversion, a mere 6 weeks after we had placed our new parks site online. With no specific advance notice we found ourselves locked out of updating our online site. And at what point did the City IT Department send out the email to inform the existing city webmasters of the switchover and their need to contact the web vendor in order to work with their new website? That email was sent out five DAYS after the fact.

    I need to wrap up this post and I will follow up with more posts later. But to those still interested in following this topic, I encourage you to take a look at the city parks web site prototype that the city could have had — it’s on my personal home page at: http://www.cstone.net/~stowek/CityParks/home.html

    Compare this with the current, official city parks web site, which is a stripped down descendant of my prototype, and can be found at: http://www.charlottesville.org/parks . I am interested in hearing people’s opinions on which aspects they like and don’t like of the two versions, and whether they think the official parks site would benefit from including the additional photo galleries that are on my prototype.

    Stowe

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