[Theforum] evolt.org revamp comment period open

Marlene Bruce marlene at members.evolt.org
Wed Jan 29 21:11:54 CST 2003


Over the last month or so the Steering Committee has been discussing
a major upgrade to evolt.org's site, lists, and services.

We want to improve many aspects of what we're currently doing, including:

* providing better content and services to our members and visitors,
* better facilitating community ownership, participation and communication,
* revamping our back and front ends,
* dramatically lowering our costs, need to fundraise and resulting
risk, increasing the certainty of evolt.org's continuation,
* and more...

As you can imagine, these are major undertakings. Come this December
evolt.org will be celebrating our 5th birthday, and we'd like to
unveil a dramatically improved evolt.org prior to and in anticipation
of this milestone.


There are several steps that we have already identified, though this
list may not be comprehensive:

Hosting with Ron has been very good for evolt.org - he took us in and
provided a highly effective place for us to host our 5 boxes, and has
been patient in accepting reimbursement (~140GB a month at $3.50/GB).
We've only been able to pay 2/3 of his first invoice, which
encompassed the last 4+ months of 2002. Our inability to pay in full
and the ongoing cash drain on Ron's company can't continue.
We propose:
* To move to an environment such as http://www.rackshack.net with
data costs of ~US$0.30/GB (nb this is where eouk & css-d are hosted)
* To reduce the number of boxes required to 2 (likely one for leo,
and one for all the web content & apps)
* To use managed hosting (rather than owning our own boxes in co-lo)

As the above setup is unlikely to be able to run Oracle as the
back-end db, and we don't currently have the documentation required
to satisfy a license audit on Oracle or CF, we propose:
* To move the backend db to another technology (either an OSS
solution such as Postgres or MSSQL). MSSQL will likely require a
Windows-based provider who will also supply necessary license for
operating system and DB. To maintain the current CMS will also
require finding a CF license supplier.
* To make such changes as are necessary to the CMS layer to cope with
that change. This will be a major undertaking as it has a large
amount of Oracle-specific code.

We don't think that the current meo service is sustainable or develops the
evolt.org community much, and we propose ending the current meo
services in favor of a whole new members hosting environment and
features. The reasons for this radical change are:
* At present, meo provides the same facilities as f2o, but f2o does it better.
* Because it's free, we have to come down very hard on anyone using
it as a production hosting service as we can't afford the bandwidth
* It doesn't provide much in the way of community building,
integrated with the other things we do
We specifically propose:
* To kill meo as is - stop taking new accounts immediately, and give
existing members time to migrate elsewhere if necessary
* To develop a hosting environment which will provide pre-built
applications for members to host content such as photo albums, wikis,
blogs, event-diaries ("Next month's beervolts...) etc.
* To charge a small monthly fee for this. The fee will balance
affordability with helping evolt.org to be financially
self-sufficient, and shouldn't be much above US$10 a month in the
first instance. If we got 50 accounts, this could fund evolt.org
*entirely*, and we may be able to offer a "scholarship" program for
those members who simply can't afford the minimum fee.

We propose:
* To improve the site's IA & usability in the light of our experience
with it over the last 2 years, based on Javier's work at
* To revisit the visual design & coding standards
* To add a general-purpose wiki, starting with much of the content on


With all that in mind, we realize that we aren't going to get
everything done at once. Our proposed (and changeable) time frame for
each is:

* Hosting and Technical Architecture - March 15
* Hosting migrated - May 1
* Members.evolt.org - July 1
* Frontend and content - October 1

The urgency for the hosting migration is due largely to the fact that
for every month we remain in our current situation, it costs
evolt.org about $500. Our donations have dramatically decreased in
the last week, and I'm concerned about meeting our obligations before
the move (assuming we do move). (BTW, I'm adding two more options to
the donation page in addition to PayPal, and hope to have those up by
week's end.)


What we need is agreement in principle from theforum to start
pursuing the upgrade. To that end, we will:
a) open the above proposed issues for comment and discussion
b) following the comment period, revise the proposal
c) vote on the revised proposal on theforum

This email formally opens the comment period, which will extend until
February 4, unless the need for a deadline extension becomes apparent.

If you want to read the discussion we've had on Steering, you can see
the full text starting at
http://lists.evolt.org/steeringarchive/2002-December/000163.html and
continuing until the present. If you're interested in commenting on
what we (on steering) propose, please read the discussion first.

Voting will commence at the end of the discussion period, and last 5
days. I will send specific details about voting just before it begins.


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