Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fake Charities once more...

Your humble Devil would like to ask a quick bit of advice regarding FakeCharities.org.

As regular readers will know, it has hopped around a bit—according to server, whim, CMS suitability and time—and I would like to get it settled down. However, it is currently on WordPress (a blogging tool that I am coming to loathe) and I don't think that this is the right medium for this kind of site.

It was the wife who suggested that I should actually convert FakeCharities.org into a wiki—possibly using WikiMedia (the same system that Wikipedia runs on—and run it as a more actively community project.

Could I solicit feedback on that idea—and how many would help out...?

UPDATE: thanks for the feedback. As regards the wiki idea, I would most certainly restrict the contributors. I take the point about not letting it be too "MediaWiki" in its styling: although this is something of a secondary concern, I shall take it into consideration.

The main factor in trying to find the right medium is simply time; neither I nor my original partner in this endeavour has an awful lot of it (far less than when we set the site up originally). As such, it is becoming out of date and thus less valuable as a reliable resource—FakeCharities.org requires lots of contributors to make it work.

I hope that a wiki format might encourage more people to help out.

16 comments:

Suboptimal Planet said...

A Wiki could be a good idea, and though MediaWiki isn't my favourite, it probably is the best fit for this use case. Hopefully it would be possible to style it so it doesn't look too much like Wikipedia.

My main concern with the "community project" idea would be for the quality and consistency of the writing. There's also a risk that a certain amount of inaccurate (and possibly libelous) information will appear at any given time (until it is corrected by others). And if it's open to the general public, there's the risk of vandalism.

I think we want FakeCharities to be a trusted source of information, not something that our enemies can dismiss as the croud-sourced ravings of a disaffected minority.

I believe it's possible to restrict MediaWiki to a trusted set of users, so that would probably be the way to start.

Henry Crun said...

A cracking idea DK...clearly Mrs DK is much blessed in the brains dept., and I'm surprised you didn't think of it before.

The wiki thing will certainly provide more inof than just a database of societal leeches. It will enable the authors to add evidence as to why these charities are indeed fake.

Pogo said...

Probably not a bad idea - as long as it's possible to limit the "add/update/delete" access to a trusted subgroup in order to keep out the bozos, trolls and intentionally libellous.

Shaun said...

Wiki is a nice idea but you will have two, linked problems:

1) The quality of the data could reduce and
2) The charities themselves will start altering content, as you see on 'contentious' pages on Wikipedia

#2 is very likely because fake charities and 'astroturf' go together like Bert and Ernie. And Bert, as we know, is evil...

What's your problem with WordPress, by the way?

Anonymous said...

How about wikia? Or do you want full control?

Longrider said...

I would reiterate the above comments - providing you either vigorously moderate the content or restrict editing to a few very trusted authors then it is a good idea.

Mr A said...

Yes, the fact that the Charities could change the info is an ever-present one if using a Wiki. I've changed the ASH entry on Wikipedia to say how much income it receives from Pharmaceutical companies (rather than the more benign-sounding "We get our money from Cancer Research UK" entry which is there now) a number of times (and referenced the Charity Commission source) but it's rarely there for long. I think they must actually employ someone to trawl through all tobacco-related entries.

chris said...

Personally I like the MoinMoin wiki, but then I am Python biased. It has an access control system so you could limit it down to a core set of editors if needed. It is also fairly easy to extend, there is one plugin that gives a moderated comment system to pages.

Anonymous said...

What about "none of the above"?

Dealing with MediaWiki, WordPress, and any other kind of content management system is going to be a constant pain in the arse, having to keep them updated all the time to patch security holes, having to deal with new spam threats all the time, etc. You're a talented developer, from what I've gathered about you: write something from scratch to do it. I can't imagine that would take more than a couple of days if you use one of the established web frameworks to do it.

Good luck, DK.

Anonymous said...

By the way, this isn't back-seat driving: you can take that as an offer. Give me a computer, accomodation and food for a dew days, plus a web host that supports Django, and I'll happily write one for you. Interested? :)

Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

"You're a talented developer..."

Actually, what I generally do (in real life) is design and spech the systems (and generally develop the front-end UX and UI); I have programmers to do the hard-core development...

"Give me a computer, accomodation and food for a dew days, plus a web host that supports Django, and I'll happily write one for you. Interested? :)"

Hmmm, maybe. I know how complicated multi-user systems can get...

I will definitely consider it as an option though: I know what I actually want, and I don't know of an off-the-shelf system that will deliver at least one part of it...

Let me ponder...

DK

Anonymous said...

Give it a good think, DK; the offer's there. I'll be keeping an eye on the comments for a few days. :)

Techno Mystic said...

I will be a bit different and suggest Drupal. Takes a bit of getting used to but the results look good eventually. The Economist and Respublica websites use Drupal.

I have found the Fake Charities site very useful, by the way. My MP Rachel Reeves, who is constantly being tipped for great things, is up to her neck in fake charities.

Kevin Monk said...

Joomla and Drupal are two other options. The ASI site is Joomla.

ALternatively, grab the Firefox Wappalyzer plug in and find a site that has the sort of functionality you like and see how they do it.

I'd advise against re-inventing the wheel with something like Django if there's something 90% of the way there.

Just my tuppence.

Dioclese said...

Did you ever get any further with the new site host?

Suboptimal Planet said...

FYI, there's currently a rather embarrassing bug showing up in all the search results:

Warning: Missing argument 2 for fc_trim_excerpt() in /home/f/a/fakecharities/web/public_html/wp-content/plugins/fakecharities/config.php on line 125