Dorchester's new online home

The Dorchester Reporter has a spiffy new look - and, equally important, the beginnings of a new online community for Boston's largest neighborhood.

I have to admit I'm a bit biased, though, since I helped build the site (see, I haven't just been sitting around moping and feeding my Twitter addiction). Actually, I'd be most grateful if you could check it out and let us know what you think - both good and, especially, bad, so I can bask in the former (no ego here) and fix the latter (I already have a checklist started).

Let us know in this forum, where Managing Editor Bill Forry explains the reasons for the changeover more eloquently than I could. It's the first time the Reporter's had a forum, which is one of the ways we're trying to build that community. You'll see other community hooks as you explore the site, with more to come (think of what a community newspaper could do with maps) - but in addition to finding problems, let us know how the site can better serve the neighborhood.

A search-engine note: We're using Google's coop search. It works well and means less server issues on our end. But until Google indexes the new site, which should take a few days, the links will all go to old versions of articles (all of them with the same exact title).

From this:

Old DotNews.com

to this:

New DotNews.com

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

Free tagging: 

Ad:

Comments

Congrats on spreading the

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Congrats on spreading the hyperlocal wisdom. Hopefully a number of papers will want to enlist your help.

On migrating Google search from the old pages to the new ones: if you have a programmatic way of getting a list of the mappings from old URL to new one, you can configure the server HTTP permanent redirects from the old URLs to the new ones. Besides not waiting for Google to crawl the site, redirects might preserve a little Googlejuice once the crawling does happen. But no big deal; that makes more sense on larger news sites that have more linking to them already.

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Oh, yeah, redirects

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Thanks, I'd forgotten about that - and it's something I need to work on anyway, so Google doesn't have to figure out which of two versions of the same basic story to index (or worse, penalize us for having those two versions).

If I had been smart, I would have been a bit more careful in the beginning on how Drupal (of course I used Drupal over there) builds the new URLs, which would have made mapping a lot easier (once I read up on .htaccess stuff). Instead, I might do a more generic global 404-ish page for the old stuff.

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Great!

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The reporter has another venue in which to neglect Neponset.....most likey the only area in Dot that pay for that rag.

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Apache fun

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You could even recover the old URLs by doing programmatic Google queries. :)

Once you know the old URLs and how they map to new ones, then it's just a bunch of "RedirectPermanent" directives in your top-level ".htaccess".

Or if there's a simple translation you can do (like, the article numbers remain the same), then you might be able to do the redirects with a few lines of directives from "mod_rewrite" with a 301 redirect, rather than enumerating every old URL in its own "RedirectPermanent".

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yes

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Dorchester just got a litte bit better. Thanks, Adam. -WK..

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nice, clean, easy to use

I'll let the Dorchester folks post to their own forum, but I'll chime in here to say that it's very well done, the kind of site I'd bookmark and come back to frequently, maybe daily.

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Recommend it

I'm going to recommend it to a spuckie-eating friend. She'll take a diggah over it.

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Four thumbs up!

You know I like it AG...Dot, baby, Dot!

The best neighborhood in Boston now has the best hyper-local paper too.

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Dorchester Reporter- Great News

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Thanks for the info. The Dot News is a great paper. The Forrys have done a great job over the years, and the new look shows it.

Sometimes I think that one of the Boston newspapers should open a bureau in Dorchester to cover the news there, but alas they just don't have the resources to cover the area.

Keep up the good freelance work.

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not to be a critic, but

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I would certainly congratulate Universal Hub on helping the DOT Reporter take a step forward at least with functionality and hopefully web presence, etc. However, I can't say that its a smashing success. The design leaves a great deal to be desired, though certainly an improvement over the old site. The content is entirely disaggregated (that is articles are with articles, news with news, calendar with calendar). Everything is linear and flat. Why on earth is all of the video content just shoved into a page buried on the site? Why on earth is the calendar, for lack of a better phrase so ugly? Also, it seems to have formatting issues on some views. The ads on the site are poorly designed, placed, and managed in general. It seems to me worse to have that than no ads if the organization can't manage them with any quality.

Further, the site has rss, but it isn't also embedded on the page and has no social bookmarking or other such features. The few times I tried "sending to a friend" the site generated an error (I'm using Flock just in case you would like to replicate the problem). The comment feature is archaic and akward. All of these things are not only easy to incorporate, and free, but are a must if a site is to be taken serious as an outlet for news.

By looking at the advertising, and then reading the advertising info on the page it seems clear that the site was not developed in conjunction with a specific technology business plan. Where's the connection to other sources of information? The Reporter seems to welcome contributions to the calendar, and possibly content. Why not make this more explicit?

I could go on a great deal, but don't want to come off as a wingnut or detractor. It is a good step forward, but to me seems a shame not to go further. Just about everything I mentioned, perhaps minus the a better design is free. Local media is going to need better than this to remain relevant. I hope this is just a first step.

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Thanks

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All valid issues. What went up isn't the end of the transformation, and we're working on it! I'll look at the send-to-friend thing specifically today.

"The comment feature is archaic and akward."

Could you be a little more specific here? How would you make it better?

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