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Guidelines for setting up and administering an ECA-SIG website and mailing list
According to ECA Executive Committee rules, each SIG should have a website and a mailing list to promote SIG activities and membership. The following is a non-exhaustive list of options.
Normally, any University or research institute can offer web hosting with FTP access on simple request. The SIG webmaster should contact her/his IT responsible to get support.
In the unlikely case that no hosting is possible in an institution, contact ECA webmaster to arrange a remote hosting at ecanews.org. This option has some limitations for security reasons: typically, the SIG webmaster will not have direct access to the web server but only to a local server which will automatically replicate the content of the web folder on the web server periodically (normally, once per day, at night). The SIG webmaster will also have to fax a signed agreement about confidentiality of the SSH (not FTP) access will be granted.
A SIG website should be reachable as sigxx.ecanews.org (xx being the number of the SIG), whatever is the real address of the website. To do that, a small modification of the web server configuration should be done: contact ECA webmaster. For websites hosted at ecanews, this will be done locally and the SIG webmaster will not have to care.
A SIG website should at least present:
- a mission statement
- the current officers
- list of past and forthcoming SIG activities
- list of members
- contact addresses
This content is useful not only to attract interest and new members, but also to the Executive Committee to retrieve information about the SIG activity.
Most important: the SIG website must be kept up-to-date: monthly is advised and a trimester/semester update will be the minimum acceptable.
Normally, the secretary of the SIG is expected to be the webmaster, but this task can be delegated to one of the other officers or, if none of them has experience in the field, to a fourth person.
A mailing list is an important tool to keep the SIG members informed of the SIG activities and news and to get feedback from them. Several options exist to run a mailing list
- Institutions often run a mailing server (mailman, majordomo, sympa, listservc) Contact the IT responsible and ask her/him to create a SIG mailing list
- In case an institution does not run a mailing server, it is possible to get hosting from IUCr – see http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/lists/ One can get a mailing list on simple request, but the number of features offered is limited
- Third party free mailing lists as Yahoo groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/) are a good compromise, provided one puts new members on moderation, to avoid spam. Approval of new members by a moderator (normally, the SIG secretary) is also suggested.
- Another possibility to keep in touch with SIG members is a BBS (Bullettin Board), i.e. a discussion forum. One can add a forum (for example, http://www.phpbb.org/ or http://punbb.informer.com/) to a SIG website quite easily, provided one has write access on the root of the web folder on the web server. Otherwise, ask help to the web server administrator. Drawback of a forum is that members get notification only if they subscribe to the forum or active an RSS feed, while messages from a mailing list reach every member and is therefore recommended. This option is not available if hosting at ecanews.org is requested but a mailing list can be created.