Oh you cheeky bloody...

Just so you know: this page was imported from my old blog. Some pages were rather mangled in the process; my apologies if things don't quite look right.

I like to keep an eye on what other Students' Unions are doing online - I'd be the first to admit that I don't know all the tricks, ideas and guidelines behind designing any sort of website, so I will happily admit that I take my cues from sites designed and run by more knowledgeable people.

However, one thing I refuse to do is to simply copy designs, ideas, etc from another website - if someone is doing something cool, for example the BBC Blogs website, then we look at how and why they do things that way, and how we can adapt and improve it to suit our needs.

It's because of these two rather conflicting principles that I am more than a little annoyed at a statement by Southampton SU's Media & Communications ossifer, Laura Fewell, who published a Union Council report in May saying UPSU.net has "ripped [SUSU.org] off something rotten", and then goes on to say "But on a plus, they have linked to Wessex Scene Online news feed because we rock and they don’t but want to rock like us."

Ok Laura, whether or not you're reading this, here's a reply to your statements (and please remember that this is *my* reply - not that of UPSU.net, Portsmouth Students' Union, or anyone with any actual say in anything at all whatsoever, so if you want to send an angry mob to Pompey, send them to me, and not my bosses... ;o):

  • On the subject of (allegedly) ripping SUSU.org off:

    What makes you think we have? Is it that we have a news section? Or that we have a big advert on our homepage? Or a list of links to common areas of the site on the homepage?

    Is it that we provide forums for students to chat on? Or ... Well, I'm stumped, so tell me - what have we "ripped off"?

    Admittedly, my questions are a touch flippant, but that's purely because I really can't see how we have taken any great influence from your site in our design process. Yes, SUSU.org has a huge range of content - varied in style and generally consistent in being of good quality - but then almost every Students' Union which has made a commitment to providing a comprehensive online presence has similarly well-developed content.

  • And as for linking to Wessex Scene online:

    When I was involved in the design process for UPSU's news section, I wanted to include news and information which was up-to-date and relevant to all of our students. I am no snob, and nor are my superiors - we know that there are many good sites external to UPSU.net which offer interesting content for students. We felt that we wanted to pick out some of the most relevant and
    interesting content for students in the Portsmouth (and wider
    Hampshire) areas.

    Of those sites, those which have taken the time to provide this news as a publicly-available RSS feed were ones we could syndicate from, including Wessex Scene. I must admit, I like reading WSO - I think the style is interesting and funny, and the articles are varied and well-written - and it was for this reason that we are making use of the RSS feed from Wessex Scene in our news pages (scroll down and it's a block of four small links on the bottom-left of the main news column).

    Maybe next year, when we bring Pugwash online, you or your successor might consider reciprocating our interest by linking to us via our Pugwash RSS feed - who knows? Maybe you and our Media & Communications Officer Fraggy should get together over a drink some time...?

I am genuinely interested to hear any and all feedback - from anyone - on this matter. We work hard to develop UPSU.net and I must confess, despite the best efforts of the human resources bods, we are all only human, so if the site is broken, wrong or looks strangely like somebody else's work, we want to know about it, so go on and tell us!

/al

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