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Edinburgh Geekdom Web Portal

Edinburgh Geekdom is an idea I’ve had but will probably never implement. There’s a huge amount of work required and to keep on top of things requires more time and resources than I can deal with. I already maintain the Edinburgh Gaming page, and for now it’s a project placed on the back-burner.

What is/was the idea of “Edinburgh Geekdom”?

Edinburgh Geekdom was originally inspired by the fact that Edinburgh has a huge population, but each gaming community largely does their own thing. There’s very little communication between them which is a bit of a shame, as a “cross-pollination” works for the entire community. It’d be nice to have everything in one place. It was a germ of an idea when we started planning the Bleak Midwinter campaign a few years back (see the Archive and Ideas Dumpster).

Ideally, Edinburgh Geekdom would be a web front-end (or even App) allowing the parsing of RSS feeds, submission of events and postings of news relating to every aspect of everything geeky in Edinburgh. It would appear in a form of a searchable calendar that would be a one-stop shop for anyone considering themselves a geek in Edinburgh to find out what’s happening. A bit like the List, but with dice. Much like the late RPG Bloggers Alliance and combined with Geek Native as it were, but purely for Edinburgh and the Lothians. In fact, a very Edinburgh-specific version of something similar to the UK Gaming Media Network.

It’d consist of the following:

  • Wargames: posts of club nights, events, reviews, tournaments etc. from the Edinburgh clubs (SESWC, ELG etc.), including University societies. Also news from 6s2Hit or the Games Hub.
  • Shops: listings – and possibly adverts – for book shops, comic shops, games shops, model shops, book shops etc. Also art/handicraft shops and shops that may be useful for cosplay/LARP.
  • Boardgames & CCG: boardgame launches/meet-ups/events and CCG tournaments. Plus news from EGH, Black Lion, Edinburgh Board Game Geek Guild, etc.
  • RPGs. News of games from ORC, GEAS, Watt gamers, etc.
  • Crowdfunding – local Kickstarter, IndieGoG, Patreon campaigns etc. relating to Edinburgh.
  • Mega games. Edinburgh has hosted a few of these over the years – Portal of Geekdom would link to the event (see http://www.megagame-makers.org.uk/)
  • Sci-fi/fantasy/horror news of events from sites like 2.8 Hours later, e.g. zombie walks, casting calls, plays, filming, stand-up comedy.
  • Local authors & writers, book signings, publications, readings etc.
  • Movies. News of special screenings, talks, filming.
  • News from fan groups or related clubs like the Dawn Duellists, Edinburgh Fortean Society, and Edinburgh Browncoats.
  • News of Edinburgh LARP events from Camarilla UK, Embraced, No Rest for the Wicked, and others.
  • Pokemon league events and news.
  • Cosplay events, news links to useful suppliers/stores.
  • Comics – news and reviews from Deadhead and Forbidden Planet, plus also news of Edinburgh ComicCon.
  • Historical event news like renaissance fairs, jousting, enactments, etc.
  • Retro gamers and online gaming – news of the retro gamers events, such as charity events or tournaments.
  • Software & technologies – news of developing local technology research and development, including computer games.
  • Local convention news and reviews e.g. Conpulsion, Claymore, Edinburgh Comicon, etc.
  • Lectures & Tours – news of events that may be of interest to the Geek community, including “open door” events.
  • Companies and careers. Adverts for proof-reading services, beta testers, artwork, call for submissions etc.

Quite a list really. So, how to go about implementing such a thing?

Implementation

I’m no programmer, so a bespoke solution was pretty much a non-starter. If anything, I’d also learned from the problems of RPG Bloggers Alliance: multiple hacking attacks, constant rewriting of code needed due to social media APIs changing, etc. Plus the time involved would be costly for me, not to mention possible stress. Unfortunately it’d be the way forward.

Edinburgh Geekdom would need to be largely automated – perhaps pulling RSS feeds from a site, two-factor authentication etc. There’d still need to be the option to manually submit an entry to Edinburgh Geekdom though. Both feeds and user submissions would need to be validated and checked. Perhaps registered users could submit events without moderation – although checks and balances would need to be in place to prevent excessive over-use/self-promotion. Event Submitters without a login would need to either subscribe to the site or be moderated. Either way, there’s a minimal time overhead from that.

So, why not use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. as a solution? Easy: not everyone has access to these. Nor are they automated enough. Software like Twitter is best used to share links due to the character limit. Facebook and Google+ are notorious for clunky interfaces. Warhorn.net is more for organising games, and not really a news delivery medium. What about paper.li? Well, it works, but not for manual submissions. They all have their uses, though. “The ability to access social media is insignificant to… the power of the Force”. Um. Sorry. The ability to publish to social media is far superior, and a much better way of reaching multiple target audiences across multiple media.

Risks

Basically, what would be the risks of Edinburgh Geekdom?

Lack of engagement is the biggest one. Edinburgh Geekdom would rely on a lot of community input early on, plus regular updates. The site would need to establish itself very swiftly, with no margin for error. If there’s no ability to set up recurring events, submitters will become swiftly disassociated, for example. Many of the communities already have their own internal communications and ways of informing members. What’s in it for them?

Funding is also another consideration. How do you keep a free website up and running? What happens when you’ve gone from three events a hour to three events a month? With ads. Banner ads. You sell space to Google Adsense (and possibly, indirectly, that toxic Evony crap) or try and get local businesses to advertise, which is something that could mess up everything you’ve worked for if it goes bad. Or you back it out of someone’s pocket – cf. Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Ken Whitman (no, not really! I feel for those that got swindled!), or a venture capitalist… You’d have to shut it down, as soon as legally possible if things go wrong.

There’s also no real demand for a portal of this kind. It’d require a constant stream of information from all aspects and contributors to the Edinburgh Geekdom site. If there’s no actual reward involved you’re relying on a lot of goodwill and volunteers. As soon as that goodwill dries up, there’s nothing you can do apart from add the information yourself. That can take some considerable time, if you have to chase down news items.

Conclusion

Ultimately Edinburgh Geekdom was/is a nice idea – a fantastic resource that all aspects of the various hobbies could use. The main reasons I’ve never acted upon it is simply the time involved and money. I don’t have the time to develop the software, or the financial resources to keep it going. There’s also a serious amount of diplomacy required to keep the various “factions” of the hobby interested.

For me, that’s the biggest stumbling block – getting enough folk interested in Edinburgh Geekdom for it to be a useful resource. The investiture of time and money is a big issue too. My Edinburgh Gaming page remains popular, so that’s the closest I’ll get to creating an Edinburgh Geekdom site in the meantime.

2 Responses to Edinburgh Geekdom Web Portal

  • A noble enterprise where it ever to become a reality Bill. Fully appreciate the investiture of time being a major issue; I struggle to maintain a semi-regular blog!

  • It’d certainly be a useful resource, plus it’d circumvent “gamer politics”. But, yes, significant amount of time required.