RDCA Webmaster Role

A job description

By Bob Stephen

RDCA, Rochford District Community Archive, has several nominated "official" positions: Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, Webmaster (there was once a Deputy Webmaster role but the post fell into disuse). Anyone else can join the archive and come along to its meetings as an ordinary member.

The archive was set up around 10 years ago by the Essex Records Office in an online initiative for the South East of Essex. There are 7 online archives in total.

The RDCA committee meets regularly to discuss the progress of the archive and to deal with any difficulties etc. It additionally meets formally at an AGM to review the previous year and to elect people to the official positions. 

RDCA welcomes those who want to take part in the regular meetings of the committee and it encourages them to promote the archive and add material to it themselves. Naturally this promoting and adding role applies to all members of the archive and everyone is encouraged to look at the site reasonably frequently and suggest additions and improvements. And also to celebrate any noteworthy articles or comments that have appeared on the site.

RDCA is also a member of SEECAN which is an affiliation of Webmasters and technical experts who help out with ideas and problems to do with all the 7 archives. SEECAN is short for the South East Essex Community Archives Network which is an umbrella "help" organisation for the 7 archives.

SEECAN is our gateway to our site builders and maintainers, Community Sites of Brighton, a small but well established company which has so far built over a hundred community sites across the British Isles.

In general the Webmaster is responsible for the routine running of the site itself which fundamentally boils down to looking after the content of the site and the placement of the content and also dealing with new online material that arrives by (i) publishing comments on articles, (ii) publishing new articles and (iii) publishing forum messages. Some limited editing may be required on these but it wouldn't be technical work, more like correcting anomalies or querying things.

If material is offered for inclusion of the site that is not provided online then the Webmaster should be given help from other members of RDCA who can do simple scanning and editing work and pre-prepare an article for inclusion on the site, so that the Webmaster can then concentrate on adding it to the site. This help is currently not available. It is therefore  suggested that the Committee nominates two or more people as Editors who would do this job on their own initiative or at the request of the Webmaster.

These are the fundamentals of the Webmaster role and its not difficult, either in the time taken or the level of technical expertise required.

Beyond this the Webmaster can add other material to the site, such as audio and visual material, add links to external material and can alter the page layouts using provided templates.

These less usual requirements are partly covered in a set of integrated Community Sites instruction manuals which are here on the site.

Manipulation of audio and photo material, email client systems and social media are not covered in the instruction manuals. Also such things as handwritten and printed material and also images that need retouching and resizing. These activities, if required, should be relatively easily assimilated and managed.

After this the Webmaster can, if he/she wishes, operate nearer the limits of the site and can also get help for this from SEECAN and other technical people who are familiar with CMS (Content Management Systems) and the underlying codes.

However, it is strongly suggested that anyone wishing to take on the Webmaster role should initially start with being asked to do the fundamentals and then being allowed to progress gradually at a pace that suits them.

I should mention that most Webmasters in SEECAN operate at the fundamental level and call in help from other members if they get stuck. Only a handful of us are computer "geeks".

Training will be provided by me as necessary for all parts of the fundamental role. This will also include, if wished, visits to 2 hour monthly meetings with the SEECAN Webmasters where they will meet members of the other archives and get to know how the other archives operate and what difficulties they face or ideas they have. The meetings are generally quite stimulating and you do get a free cup of tea/coffee!

Bob Stephen


This page was added by Bob Stephen on 28/02/2020.
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