June 15, 2013

A New Web Site for the Anglican Communion

Graphic from Web site banner
Branding from new ACNS site
Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), which hitherto shared space on the Anglican Communion Web site, has just occupied its very own piece of World Wide Web real estate. Replacing a collection of rather dreary pages rooted at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/ is a graphically more interesting and content-richer site at http://www.anglicannews.org/. Visitors to the old URL are automatically redirected to the new ACNS home page. (ACNS’s own story about the new site is here.)

Whereas the old ACNS site offered a single chronological stream of news stories, the new site classifies stories by geography—Africa, Asia, Americas, etc. The menu also includes links to Other News, Features, Comment, Multimedia, and Picture Galleries. The Comment section, a sort of op-ed page for the site, invites reader comments, a feature not offered elsewhere.

An About Us page explains that, due to limited resources, the site is an English-only one. There is also this caveat:
We balance our duty to act as a communication channel of the whole Anglican Communion with our responsibility to protect the vulnerable from harm and avoid unjustifiable offence. While we endeavour to publish any relevant content sent by Member Churches, we reserve the right not to post anything that would put people at risk or that would reduce ACNS to a vehicle for maliciously criticising individuals, dioceses, Provinces or the Instruments of Communion.
Don’t expect to see too much controversy on ACNS pages.

A mechanism is provided to search the ACNS archive by month and year or by particular words. Search results can be filtered by clicking on terms listed at the left (Africa, Asia, Americas, etc.), a very helpful feature. On the other hand, searching by user-specified terms is less effective than one might like. Searches for New Westminster and "New Westminster" return the same results, including stories mentioning the Diocese of New Westminster but also stories that do not (e.g., a story titled “Dramatic chapel for Holy Trinity” about a New Zealand cathedral, one that happens to include the words new and Westminster, but not the two words juxtaposed).

The archive itself may have its limitations as well. Searching for information about Gene Robinson led me to a story from Episcopal News Service titled “Bishop Robinson invested in New Hampshire” from March 10, 2004. Only four lines of the story were offered, along with a link to http://www.episcopalchurch.org/ens/, where the visitor is expected to find the rest of the story, but doing so requires a search of the ENS site. This turns out to be harder than it looks. (Try it!)

The ACNS site offers other features, not all of which I will mention here. I do appreciate the provision of simple code to add an attractive ACNS news feed to a Web site. (The containing page is here.) ENS once provided similar code for its own news feed, but that code no longer works, and ENS now apparently expects Webmasters to figure out on their own how to generate such a listing.

Zebedee Creations is to be thanked for managing to build the new site without breaking too many existing links. For example, a story on the first day of the Standing Committee meeting in July 2010 used to reside at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2010/7/24/ACNS4716. The story can now be found at http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2010/07/the-standing-committee-daily-bulletin-day-1.aspx, but the old URL automatically redirects to the new one. (Try this one.) Not every old URL is properly redirected, however. For example, http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/digest/index.cfm/2010/4/12/SAMS-Goes-Global-Announces-New-Name-and-Vision simply redirects to the new ACNS home page, and this example is not unique. (The old page can be viewed in the Internet Archive. The story can be found on the new site at http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2010/04/sams-goes-global-announces-new-name-and-vision.aspx.) Another old URL sent me to this unrelated story in Portuguese!

The new site is very attractive, and efforts are being made to include pictures or video wherever possible. That content is now scattered across categories could be considered a problem for visitors checking for the latest news, but one can always search the current month for a single list of stories in chronological order.

On the whole, the new ACNS site is a welcome addition to the Anglican region of the Web. Zebedee Creations seems to have been especially diligent in its development, particular for its sensitivity to the needs of long-time ACNS users. The new site isn’t perfect, of course—these things never are—but I expect that visitors will have few reasons for voicing serious complaints.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are not allowed. Gratuitous profanity or libelous statements will be removed. Comments will also be removed that include gratuitous links to commercial Web sites. Please stay on topic.