As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
Meanwhile, someone (who shall remain nameless) pointed out a difference between "advanced" dancers and "experienced" dancers. I had used both terms interchangeably but I realized that they were two separate things. Unfortunately, I got this note on Sunday (Feb. 4) so I didn't have time to think and write about it. I'd like you all to think about the distinction between the two terms and write to me about it. Do it early enough and perhaps I'll have something interesting with which to cause more trouble in next week's Soapbox.
Meanwhile, I hope you all have a nice week.
One of the "tactical strategies" used in the development of these pages was that I would type in every bit of HTML code to create the website. This meant that I knew why every little HTML tag was put into the file. When using applications to create webpages, you will find that you get files with extra "junk" put in. Some of this is important (like for W3C HTML 4.0 compliance), but many times a program will insert extra "junk" for itself that is not needed for W3C compliance and just serves to make the file larger. On the other hand, I'm always looking to see where I can cut back and make the files load faster.
I use only generic HTML that should appear correctly in both Netscape and Internet Explorer (though I rarely test in IE). It's a long process but I'm going through each page on this website to make sure they conform to the W3C HTML 4.0-transitional standard which should assure that the files can be read in a variety of browsers. Both Netscape and IE have features that don't appear in their rival's application. Some of them cover "badly-formed" HTML code by assuming what the author had intended.
I pay attention to colors and backgrounds (and images) to make the pages quick to download and easy to read. (Never red on blue or vice versa!) Images on generic pages (regularly visited) should not be more than 10K to keep the download speed down. Images on venue pages should be less than 50K so the reader doesn't get bored waiting for the image. I use size information for the images so the user doesn't have to wait for the picture to load before being able to read the text. Proper compression on the images makes the files download quickly.
While this takes more time to download, I try to keep the calendar information all together. This allows the user to see all the information at one time, as opposed to checking the listings for each specific date. If a reader is looking at information for a specific date, they won't miss the events that might be happening the next day.
However, I think that the most important aspect of the DanceNet website is the fact that it's updated regularly. I still find many websites that point to the old DanceNet location. This website gets updated every week, if at all possible (I'm typing this on the plane to San Francisco) because fresh information is what keeps readers coming back. I know of several websites that waited for readers to type in their information. This leaves only the most ambitious businesses entering the information and the other venues left out. At the same time, I think that many people lose interest in maintaining those kinds of websites fairly quickly.
However, while I do spend a ridiculous amount of time on this website each week, it doesn't mean that I go looking for information to fill up the space. I get many venues sending me information every week so I don't need to hunt for it (even from venues that I'm not interested in). I don't go cruising through other websites for information and if I accidentally see something on a discussion forum, I assume that it's just rumor or gossip until I get an official notice from the dance promoter. If you see a Boston swing event not listed on this website, that's because the promoter didn't send it to me.
The readers of this website can help out here by constantly reminding these promoters of the audience that reads this website every week. Listings here are free; it seems rather silly that any dance promoter would ignore the publicity that they could get by just taking a few minutes to compose an email message to me.
I really got only one significant response, it being an interesting note. That note was rather clear on the writer's opinions, but I was hoping for more responses to get some sort of concensus.
Lacking any additional responses, I tried to put together a sample of what I hoped might make my readers think not about what they are, but what they would like to be:
I remember dancing at the IC during November of 1998 with my friend, Judith. The place was thoroughly packed and we were dancing at the edge of the dance floor for safety. We were having a grand ol' time dancing with each other and somehow, space cleared around us, even though we hadn't done anything to cause it. Somehow, we caught the eye of an attending writer for Smithsonian Magazine who watched us for the rest of the song. I didn't know about the writer until afterwards; all I had wanted to do was make sure we had fun dancing with each other. Having fun got us mentioned in the Swing article in the magazine's March, 1999 issue.I consider myself an advanced-beginner or beginning-intermediate dancer. You can tell me if I'm an experienced dancer or not.
At the same time, about 8 pm on Sunday (Feb. 25), one of my friends (yes, I do have a few) mentioned a situation that I thought would be an excellent topic for the Soapbox, but I'm not about to huddle over my keyboard on a nice Sunday night to get the stuff typed in. Of course, my best stuff happens when I've had the whole week to make changes in it, so you'll probably see it next week.
Several people have threatened to write for this column. I wish they'd hurry up.