By: Scott Robertson
Posted On: 2010-07-13
There are many ways to run a website, and depending what your purposes are which one is the best. What will follow are just some ideas, tips, suggestions, etc...
The website itself could be a bunch of html pages you maintain with say dreamweaver of komposer and just upload to a webserver. You could also use existing software such as wordpress and drupal to power your site. You could code a site yourself. Lastly you could use a site that makes it simple for you such as ScoutLander.com does. If you want standard hosting for a website you create yourself check out e-scouter.net for both free and paid hosting (this is one of my sites).
There are pros and cons of course to each of these methods. One of the big things to remember is its does take time and effort to run and maintain a website, regardless of the method you use. If you do not keep the site current then what is the point? There may also be costs involved including hosting and domain name. For those of you who do not know a domain name is the address of the site for example InsaneScouter.org. I personally get my domain names from godaddy.com for just under $11 a year.
What should you have on your site? Will that partly depends on the unit. For example many units op not to include pictures for privacy concerns. Others op not to include meeting location / time so they have to contact you for said info. There are no hard and fast rules. When I was running a unit website I had meeting details, campout details, photos, contact info for the scoutmaster, calendar, committee meeting minutes, etc. I was also trying to create patrol pages but never got that organized. Keep in mind I create custom websites for a living. We did have some rules for example no last names, and no unit roaster on site.
Remember this one thing if nothing else... anything you put online will be taken and used in ways you do not intend. There is no fool proof way to protect it, anything and everything can be hacked. Did you know hackers have stolen windows code from the MicroSoft servers? Did you know hackers can break into banks and steal your credit card numbers? Well there are people out there who would love to get info on boys in Scouts and will find ways to get around any security you use to do it. If you do not want it in wrong hands DO NOT PUT IT ONLINE PERIOD!
I highly suggest you check out this page on BSA's website titled “Unit Web site Guidelines” http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Marketing/Resources/UnitWeb.aspx
I would like to hear about what you have on your unit websites and what rules you have in place to protect your members.