How should the IT/web function be handled?

Background and objectives: 


As most people here know, the DAG is in the process of forming as a legal entity. Thereafter, the IT function could logically be part of that. Whilst I stress that I have every confidence in the members of the DAG Strategy Team, I can nonetheless envisage some reasons why the IT/web function should perhaps be kept separate.

Some important functions of the IT/web role are:

  • Take decisions affecting the web-sites, content and functionality, try to plan for future needs.
  • Control access to privileged information such as email addresses and data from registration forms, etc.
  • Decide (very occasionally) whether content should be "censored", a member "blocked", etc.

Currently these things are done by me on a best effort basis, in communication with DAG Strategy Team members, and where relevant getting input from all site members via a poll etc. I also try to respond appropriately to input made directly to me via email from members, etc.

So, what are the options?

For simplicity, I am referring to the new formal entity below as simply DAG Ltd. The two fundamental options are:

  • DAG Ltd is in charge of IT/web. Funding comes from the DAG Ltd "pot" which in turn is funded by members and goes towards legal and other costs. The IT function reports to the DAG Ltd "management" and that team therefore ultimately controls the web sites and related data.

  • IT/web is independent - funding is provided directly by members, probably via a monthly or quarterly subscription. Ultimate control of the web-sites remains (as currently) with me or perhaps some other provider who might take over.

So really the choice is one of (a) control of web-sites and corresponding data and (b) funding process and simplicity or lack thereof. And can see positive and negatives to both approaches both from the DAG perspective and my personal perspective. There is potentially a third option which would be some combination of the two routes.

Who should take the decisions?

Another question might be who in the DAG as a whole would be the best person to take strategic decisions for the group's IT needs. For those who have never looked, you can find information about me here and here Unfortunately I am not in a position to be involved here on a purely voluntary basis, and that factor alone might be considered positive or negative (I would personally not like to be operated on by a volunteer heart surgeon.)


A real-life and recent example is that there is a sub group on the site (non-divisive) who wanted to have a private area here to continue their discussions. If the DAG Ltd were in charge of the site, then presumably they would be allowed to access that private area or indeed decide that such a private area should not be allowed. Whilst I (if still involved) would make input, it would not be my decision.

In summary

The DAG as a whole (or at least those members who are likely to contribute to IT/web funding) need to decide which approach is best. I don't feel that this decision should be taken without consulting the DAG membership as a whole, hence I'm posting this poll.

Related: web-sites and IT funding - survey

IT/web should be entirely controlled by the new DAG Ltd entity
38% (81 votes)
IT/web should remain independent, as currently
39% (85 votes)
Some combination of the above is needed
23% (50 votes)
Total votes: 216
@Ramsey Resident, have you

@Ramsey Resident, have you tried: Track? - available via the My account link.

Posted by ng on Wed, 18/03/2009 - 23:14
Quite agree Lucky Jim. You

Quite agree Lucky Jim. You post something one afternoon and then go offline until the morning and it is impossible to find your posting to read any replies or further comments

Posted by Ramsey resident on Wed, 18/03/2009 - 16:46
Marriage is a patnership

Marriage is a patnership between two people. Both should live & work in harmony with each other in their common-union.
The organisation of the DAG is essentially a marriage between 'operational' and 'administrative' activities. Wherever the management of the 2 Forums fits it must come under one management umbrella of the DAG Strategy Team

With regard to the CHAT Forum itself... it has grown like topsy and many members no longer bother with it because it has become hugely difficult for them to navigate within it. Also it looks as though it exists as an end in itself rather than a means to an end.

I believe the time has come for the Forum to become more focussed on the issues that remain in assisting the accomplishment of the DAG's Mission. It needs a makeover, simplifying its presentation, layout and navigation.

The historical bulk of the present Forum should be archived on discs so that expensive space on the server can be freed up and the money saved put to better use.

Posted by Lucky Jim on Wed, 18/03/2009 - 16:37
Staggered, there are two

Staggered, there are two separate sites. The public site does not require you to log in in order to read information, however there are some advantages in logging in - view of your "unread" items and "notification" options. The reasons why there are two sites is historic - the name/password issue is covered briefly here:

Unfortunately, email communication puts a huge load on people ... 1000 or more DAG members sending emails to a handful of DAG volunteers is not efficient. The "forum" site is a better solution. One feature I want to implement is an email interface to posting on the forum, i.e. to be able to post by sending an email rather than directly on the site. I think this will help.

Posted by ng on Tue, 17/03/2009 - 11:13
I am please to have this

I am please to have this opportunity.
I believe the center of information should be from within DAG. I believe the center of confidentiality should be from within DAG. I also believe in a simplistic approach. I don't want some IT firm demonstrating how clever they are in their whizz-bang ability to offer-a multitude of options.
I hate having to wrestle with computers, websites, code words code names, passwords bogs or blogs. I'm into secretaries (If you'll forgive the expression ) not Confusers. I greatly appreciate all that is bering done on my behalf but I do find any dealings with this website ( is that the correct term ) complicated. I understand I must have a password to gain entry to each of the various "forums". Why is there more than one?
We are all in the brown stuff together. Some, like me up to their necks in it fighting for life.

So what I want is a much simpler, more direct method of communication. I understand the amount of work involved but I guess there are any number of people who are IT wired who would carry some of the work load.
Someone is doing a fantastic job but,
I want to be able to communicate directly with someone- even if it is the "Editor" because each set of information sent out by "noreply " raises questions of clarity.
Right now I feel I am outside the cage looking in thro the bars.
Now, how the hell do I "send " this

Posted by Staggered. on Mon, 16/03/2009 - 12:09
I favour separation as in

I favour separation as in absence of a democratic structure within the DAG it is the best way of insuring the free circulation of ideas and open debate. We don't want an opaque one party state!

Posted by nivit on Sun, 15/03/2009 - 09:56
Now we are nearly 6 months

Now we are nearly 6 months down the line and most of the member facts have been established I think we should review what we now require of the web site and maybe simplify it and thereby reduce costs.

For my part I am looking for latest news regarding the recovery of our deposits and also advice from other members and council regarding how to vote when it comes to liquidation and alternatives.

We require a low maintenance website!

Posted by Patrick Laming on Sat, 14/03/2009 - 01:35
Personally I think it is

Personally I think it is better from both a funding and a strategic perspective to keep the website within the DAG organisation. It feels more unified as well. There would be only the need for one fighting fund, thus reducing the risk of confusing people about which cause to support or having to make separate payments. Ng, you could also then have a proper 'arms-length' support contract and be properly remunerated for your time rather than have to worry about fund raising as well. Isn't that something you have been wanting? So I say keep it all together and keep us all together.

Posted by David9J on Fri, 13/03/2009 - 22:48
Surely the IT function and

Surely the IT function and the management function should be inextricably linked to ensure the strategy of the group reflects accurately the needs and wishes of the group members.

If control means interference/censorship then it is clearly not desirable.

However, the IT function is essential to the clear development of strategy and therefore should be managed by the strategy group.

Fragmentation of the two functions would appear to be unhelpful.

Posted by stuartb on Fri, 13/03/2009 - 18:12
Presumably if the web site

Presumably if the web site goes 'independant' then DAG members would effectively have little say in how the site was run and what content it has.

By independent I mean not controlled by DAG Ltd, but controlled (if that's the right word) through input from site members, DAG members arguably get the same say in matters either way, only the control structure is different.

If the new 'webmaster' wished to pass the site on to someone else they could. Presumably if under DAG control, then the webmaster is working to the 'members' direction, as would normally happen in a business?

Since the beginning, I've always tried to cater for the wants and needs all members and "sub-groups" here. It's a near impossible task (you can't please all the people all of the time!) but I think the result has been acceptable. Putting the sites under the exclusive control of DAG Ltd might change that, whether for better or for worse. This might especially be true if the whole thing was sub-contracted out to a third party service provider (non-depositor).

Who moderates or edits the site content once it has gone 'independant' - if it went that way.

Important to note that very little editing or censorship has taken place, especially since the "site split" some months ago. In generally any "editing" is done by posting an addition rather than removing the original. Again, this is my policy, it might change if the control structure changed.

Posted by ng on Fri, 13/03/2009 - 17:07
Presumably if the web site

Presumably if the web site goes 'independant' then DAG members would effectively have little say in how the site was run and what content it has. If the new 'webmaster' wished to pass the site on to someone else they could. Presumably if under DAG control, then the webmaster is working to the 'members' direction, as would normally happen in a business?
Who moderates or edits the site content once it has gone 'independant' - if it went that way.

Posted by Tricky Dicky on Fri, 13/03/2009 - 15:29
Anyone voting "combination",

Anyone voting "combination", please post a comment with more detail, otherwise that becomes the "cop out" option :)

Posted by ng on Fri, 13/03/2009 - 14:35
go mann, I'm not sure that it

go mann, I'm not sure that it would be less work either way. Less responsibility yes, as I could say to them "it's your decision - tell me what to do!". But in practice I would have to recommend a decision, so the work is the same, only ultimate responsibility/accountability changes.

Posted by ng on Fri, 13/03/2009 - 14:34
I think I made the right

I think I made the right choice there. It seems to involve the Webmaster with less work and responsibility on general matters, leaving the Webmaster to focus on IT aspects.

O was I wrong?

Posted by go mann on Fri, 13/03/2009 - 14:23