Why is the federal NDP website so terrible?

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Dana Larsen
Why is the federal NDP website so terrible?

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Dana Larsen

The federal NDP website has a lot of problems. In my opinion, the NDP has failed to develop a quality web presence, and the poor quality and broken links on our website are a sad indicator of how little regard National Director Brad Lavigne has for the Internet and social networking.

A functional website is relatively cheap and an excellent investment. The Internet is an amazing tool for gathering support, organizing people, sharing information and winning elections. Sadly the NDP website completely fails on every single count.

I've been going over the website at http://www.ndp.ca and here's just some of the serious problems I have found.

YOUTH SITE ABANDONED

If you click on the "youth" link on the main page of the site, you get taken to the "NDP Youth" site at: http://youthunited.ndp.ca/ Sadly this page hasn't been updated for about a year, and virtually none of the links on this page work. The info on the executive is also not current. So much for engaging the youth!

ORANGE ROOM IS CLOSED

The first link under ACT NOW is to the "Orange Room," which leads to a page which indicates that the Orange Room is closed. So why not take the big link off the front page of the site until it re-opens?

E.NDP NEWSLETTER IS SPORADIC

Also under ACT NOW is a link to "eNDP Signup" which takes you to a page that lets you sign on to receive the NDP Electronic Newsletter. But sadly there's only been five newsletters since May 2009! That is less than once a month. Surely there is more news and events happening than that? Why even have an online newsletter if it is not at least weekly?

OLD HFX09 LINK

There is still a link to the Halifax Convention prominently displayed as the first link in the menu bar on the NDP top page. Is that really the main thing we want to be promoting on our site 3 months after the event occurred?

2008 PLAN

The PLAN link in the top menu bar has four sections, but each link goes to a page labelled "Platform 2008". It's almost the end of 2009, shouldn't those be updated?

FACEBOOK FAILURES

There is also prominent linking to Jack Layton's Facebook page from the NDP main page. Luckily, Layton's page gets updated fairly regularly so at least there is some content there.

However, by linking only to a page for Jack Layton and not one for the NDP itself, the party is not building a long-term FB presence. There is no actual Official NDP Facebook page, and so when Layton ceases to be party leader all of the effort put into promoting his personal page will no longer be useful to the party.

A lack of understanding about how to properly use Facebook also created some silly problems at the last federal convention. The party created an Official FB page for the Convention, and set it to be open for public posting of links and a public wall. But the page Admin then deleted every single link which had been posted except her own, and ended up deleting the whole wall after people began posting comments about my having been banned from the convention. Understanding how to use the FB Admin settings and having a staff member devoted to working on the party's web presence would eliminate such problems.

NO POLICY BOOK

The federal NDP created a detailed policy book which is available as a pdf file. But of course they have not linked it anywhere on their website.

LACK OF CONTACT INFO

The "contact us" page at http://www.ndp.ca/contact/ doesn't help anyone who might want to contact specific people within the party. If you want to contact a specific MP, or a specific person in the party administration, it is useless.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

From the point of view of that sees the election of NDP MPs as the remedy to every problem it may make sense to have a lousy web presence. Just tell people to vote NDP ... and shut up. What else do voters need to know? And why use social networking? It might get hijacked by the right (or the left, which is, of course, worse) or something like that.

Call me cyncial but I don't find it all that surprising.

Pogo Pogo's picture

Operating a website takes a lot of energy on a constanct basis.  It is easy to fall off the table.  That said it is so fundamentally crucial to building the party I don't understand why they don't have this at the top of the agenda.  I wonder if they measure hits (etc...) and if this is reported to the Executive on a regular basis?

madmax

When I check out a website and a link doesn't work. I tell the webmaster.

Doug

I suppose they either don't have or don't feel it's worth the budget to pay someone full-time to look after it. Another possibility is that they have the maintenance of the website contracted out to somebody who charges a lot for changes.

wage zombie

Doug wrote:

I suppose they either don't have or don't feel it's worth the budget to pay someone full-time to look after it. Another possibility is that they have the maintenance of the website contracted out to somebody who charges a lot for changes.

Are you kidding?

Tigana Tigana's picture

http://www.londontopic.ca/article.php?artid=16826

Hmm, looks like very big bucks are available to elected reps.

'Just imagine. A "gold-plated" pension every hardworking Canadian deserves and dares to dream about.' 

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Tigana, that post is completely off-topic.

Do you have anything to say about the Federal NDP website?

ennir

Wasn't there someone from Obama's camp at the Convention talking about just this?

I don't find it so surprising but then I am rather cynical, it just seems to me that when Jack took the party hard-line against crime it marked a shift towards strategy rather than substance and that that is what I have seen increasingly thus the Obama speaker but no real action.

Fidel

Tigana wrote:

 

http://www.londontopic.ca/article.php?artid=16826

Hmm, looks like very big bucks are available to elected reps.

'Just imagine. A "gold-plated" pension every hardworking Canadian deserves and dares to dream about.' 

Ha ha! And she doesn't mention the gold-plated pensions and perks handed out to Canadian senators for showing up to work so few half-days out of the year. Maybe the NDP should have a direct link to http://senatehalloffame.ca somewhere on the front page? I dunno. I'll bet all the white males in Canada's red chamber wouldnt appreciate it very much at all. In fact, I think they prefer to remain as inconspicious to the public as possible, and like they always have been.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Fidel wrote:

Maybe the NDP should have a direct link to http://senatehalloffame.ca somewhere on the front page?

And maybe they could put in the hall of fame those nasty senators who tried to hold up the [url=http://rabble.ca/columnists/2009/11/proposed-laws-have-activists-doing-m... crime bill[/url] that the NDP voted for in the House of commons.

 

Unionist

M. Spector wrote:

And maybe they could put in the hall of fame those nasty senators who tried to hold up the [url=http://rabble.ca/columnists/2009/11/proposed-laws-have-activists-doing-m... crime bill[/url] that the NDP voted for in the House of commons.

 

Amazing article - and who is this brilliant young woman!?

Quote:
Emily Hill graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2001. She currently practices in the areas of criminal defence, family and mental health law in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Looking forward to more of her columns! Her conclusion:

Quote:

For now, these two amendments are not yet law. Bill C-31, which contains the Identification of Criminals Act, has only passed First Reading. In contrast, the Orwellian-sounding Truth in Sentencing Act (Bill C-25) -- which contains the sentencing provisions -- has received Royal Assent on Oct. 21, 2009, though will not come into force until a later, yet to be defined date. Interestingly, the government rammed the bill through notwithstanding the fact that the Senate Standing Committee of Legal and Constitutional Affairs had suggested amendments to ensure that judges could still exercise discretion when it comes to counting pre-sentence time as time served. Undoubtedly denying judges this discretion will cause concerns for both activists and their counsel alike.

Yes.

Fidel

M. Spector wrote:

Fidel wrote:

Maybe the NDP should have a direct link to http://senatehalloffame.ca somewhere on the front page?

And maybe they could put in the hall of fame those nasty senators who tried to hold up the [url=http://rabble.ca/columnists/2009/11/proposed-laws-have-activists-doing-m... crime bill[/url] that the NDP voted for in the House of commons.

Well they were almost seen to be actually doing something more than nothing. And if it wasn't for the two old line parties who appointed them to their cushy part-time job slots with full-time pay and excessive benefits, Canada's senators might have one reason to exist in a modern democracy. But they didn't and they do not. So they will just have to stick to lobbying for corporations and accepting corporate board appointments, and organizing corporate fundraisers for the two old line parties on the Canadian taxpayer's dime.

Canada's Senate: a great idea for a Canadian history museum display, right next to a future display for our 19th century Westminster electoral system.

Tigana Tigana's picture

Statler and Waldorf ask:

"Who is Emily Hill?"

http://www.rabble.ca/taxonomy/term/8207

CanadianAlien

Without a doubt, using the internet to communicate and interact with people is important but don't overstate the ability of a website or any other internet presence or communication method to "rescue the NDP" or to "move the NDP forward". 

The important thing to to highlight is the strategy, the campaign... the big picture .. writ clear and loud, with an action plan, and the means to achieve them ..

Seen in this light, the criticisms of the NDP website are really about overarching NDP strategic objecitves and action plan and means to reach them .. get high level .. then the pieces can come together ..

Michelle

Thanks for getting back on topic, CanadianAlien.  Tigana, please try to stay on topic when posting.  Thanks!

Bookish Agrarian

Maybe it's just me, but I find it hard to believe that more than a few political junkies spend their time perusing a political website outside election times, or when a hot-button issues comes up.

That is not to say the website doesn't need work, but honestly can we expect a website if fixed to usher in an era of peace, prosperity and the end to male pattern baldness.  I doubt it.

Unionist

Dana Larsen wrote:
There is still a link to the Halifax Convention prominently displayed as the first link in the menu bar on the NDP top page.

Hi Dana, great to see you around!

Yeah, I noted that and other hiccups [url=one">http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/ndp-needs-kick-ass-strategy-an... month ago[/url] - including the instructions on how to bike to the Halifax convention (maybe that's where you went wrong... sorry, bad joke). I used the email form at the time to suggest they correct the page. They fixed the search function (which was down at the time) but are still advertising Halifax. Maybe it's a subliminal admission that they went wrong, and are preparing to re-do the convention?

 

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

madmax wrote:
When I check out a website and a link doesn't work. I tell the webmaster.

Not if you're mad at the party's National Director. Then you'd point all of the broken links in a public forum and try to make the case that he's incompetent.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Bookish Agrarian wrote:

Maybe it's just me, but I find it hard to believe that more than a few political junkies spend their time perusing a political website outside election times, or when a hot-button issues comes up.

That is not to say the website doesn't need work, but honestly can we expect a website if fixed to usher in an era of peace, prosperity and the end to male pattern baldness.  I doubt it.

I think that if you looked at the web logs of most sites you'd find that site visitors look at the "front page" and maybe click on one link at most.

That being said, you want to make the front page as interesting as possible so that folks will indeed click through to other parts of the site.

Michelle

Not necessarily.  Often web sites get lots of hits to other pages, if google searches (for instance) turn up a lot of hits on a topic in an "inner" page of the site.  The front page often ISN'T the landing page on a website.

Caissa

For example, I always land on Babble not rabble.