Webmastering the Worldcon, Part 1

Chaz Boston Baden, smofsweb@bostonbaden.com
Rev. 06-Apr-1997

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First, a little background. I've been on the Internet since February 1994. In July 1994, I was asked to run the Fan Publicity Dept. for L.A.con III (the 1996 Worldcon), and charged with promoting the convention to the fannish world. (Theoretically somebody else would take up the job of "professional" publicity, i.e. glossy ads and liaisons to the mainstream press and so forth. I considered the boundary line to be at the newsstand - if a publication would be on sale there, it's probably professional or at least a semiprozine.) I was instructed to identify and use all appropriate channels of publicity, including electronic, and told to recruit help for the project.

The scope of this series of articles will be limited to the on-line publicity. (One installment will mention our links to the BBS world.)

Assistants Needed

I ran the on-line presence myself, as far as 'content' is concerned. I had help from several parties - Blars (blarson@blars.la.ca.us) most notably, who gave us server space and a lot of his time and energy as a sysadmin - and also some friends (Lynn Boston and Pat Lawrence) who donated use of their accounts for a period of time. The demands on my own internet service account mushroomed, mostly with the megabytes used to store e-mail messages and a complete copy of the web page source files.

I should have farmed out certain areas to other people - I should not have done the whole thing myself. If I were to do this again, I would have to actively hunt down and recruit people who were willing to take on the long-term commitment to, for example, answer questions that came into the 'Help Desk' (more of which later), or research peripheral subject areas (much the same way that one or more persons are designated to research a restaurant guide), and so forth.

Another project that would have benefited from another set of hands was the E-mail Forwarding system. There were basically two areas there - a database to be maintained, as concom members were added and their e-mail address changed over time - and the forwarding via hardcopy of e-mail to off-line departments. Thankfully there were only about 3 departments that didn't have e-mail and received a noticeable amount of mail, and those were Regency Dancing, Writers Workshops, and Green Room. (Actually, the few messages that came in to the Green Room address were really personal messages for Fuzzy. But that's another story.)

So, anyhow, the thing I would do differently would be to try harder to recruit a larger team of on-line helpers, with clearly designated jobs to do.

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