Formed following the heartbreaking of re-election of President George W. Bush, BlueBroward has existed in one form or another since early 2005. A lot has changed in 14 years. Some of the most grandiose plans I and a cofounder had at the beginning didn’t work out, but the site evolved into a pretty good community calendar for Broward Democrats.
Over the past few weeks, I have gone through a housecleaning intended to make it easier and simpler for members to post events and blog articles to the website. I was getting a lot of feedback that too many of the technological “improvements” I had added had only served to complicate things and confuse people.
If you are on the BlueBroward email list, you can post events to the website. You can also post your opinions, your analysis, and your ideas about how to campaign more effectively. You can see in the screenshot above that part of the original idea was to create a “Brain Trust” of smart, experienced activists. The goal lives on, but I would love to see a greater diversity of participation.
If you don’t already have a password, you can get one by verifying your email address.
When you log into the website, the new, improved member’s dashboard looks like this:
Click Post an Event to post an event or Post to the Blog to post to the blog. Use blog posts for opinions such as candidate endorsements or any information you would like to share with the community that’s not tied to a specific date.
You will use the same editor — a web-based word processor — in either case. The only difference is that for an event, you will first visit an Event Setup screen that prompts you to specify the event date. (If you regularly post events for a club or other organization that meets on a regular schedule, see the section below on Event Templates).
You can ignore the other event checkboxes on the page, unless perhaps you wish to collect RSVPs (registrations for an event). The underlying RSVPMaker software can collect event registrations for you. However, the features related to collecting online payments are not enabled.
A few tips for working with the editor:
- You can simply type the content of your blog post or your event description, or copy and paste from a program like Microsoft Word.
- Select any word or phrase within your content, and you will see a menu that allows you to make that passage bold or italic or add a link to a web address.
- To add images or other types of content, click the (+) button in the upper left hand corner of the screen. If you hover your mouse between any two blocks of content, you will see a popup (+) button that allows you to insert content in that spot..
- You can copy-and-paste the link to a YouTube video, and the video player will automatically be embedded in the content of your post or event description.
BlueBroward is based on WordPress, the world’s most popular web publishing software.
Working with Event Templates
If you represent a Democratic club or other organization that meets on a regular basis, using the event template system makes it easier to represent your club more consistently, for the software to track your events, and for multiple club leaders to share editing rights.
If you have been granted access to an event template, you should see it listed in the Your Templates widget on the dashboard with a number of associated options.
For each template you have access to, you will see the following options:
- Edit next event – if there is already an event on the calendar associated with the template, you have an option of updating it. It’s a good idea to pre-post the basic details for your events but then update them closer to the time of the event — for example, with details on speakers or activities.
- Add Event – add a single event based on the template.
- Create / Update – add multiple future dates based on your template. For example, if your template says the club meets on the first Monday of each month, the Create / Update event will show you future Mondays and allow you to check off one or more to add events for. (More on this later).
- Edit Template – update the boilerplate details in your template, for example if your meeting schedule or location has changed.
- Grant another user editing rights – share editing rights with another trusted member of your organization.
The dashboard also shows a listing of all the templates currently active on the website. If a template is already listed, and you need access to it, you can get access from one of the currently authorized editors or from the webmaster, email@example.com.
If no template for your club or organization exists, you can create one by going to the Add New / Event Setup screen and clicking the New Template link in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Instead of asking for a specific date, the New Template version of this screen asks for a schedule such as First Monday. You will still supply a start time and other details that should be included in all events based on this template.
After you submit the form, you will find yourself in the WordPress editor. The Document panel on the sidebar shows that we’re in an event editor, not the editor for a specific date.
Once you edit and publish your event, you will see a prompt at the top of the screen suggesting that the next step is to do one of two things — Add Event based on the template or Create / Update a batch of event based on the template.
If you click New Event based on a template, you will be taken to the event setup screen and prompted to confirm that you wish to add an event for the next projected date based on the schedule supplied in the template.
An event created this way will be loaded into the editor as a draft (not yet published) including the content and other settings from the template.
If instead of following the New Event path you choose Create / Update, you will be presented with the option to add multiple events as a batch operation.
If you previously posted events for one or more dates, the same screen will show checkbox options for events to be updated as well as events to be added. For example, if you change your meeting location, you might want to update any previously published events that would direct people to the old location.
When you post a batch of events, the confirmations displayed on screen include links you can follow to edit or view any of the individual events.
In this way, you can post a batch of projected meeting dates and immediately edit the next upcoming event with the names of speakers or other updated details.
I hope everyone who posts events to BlueBroward will find these to be improvements. If you have suggestions for further improvement, please share them with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional RSVPMaker Options
Most event editors can stop reading now, but there are a few options related to collecting event registrations that must be set on separate screens.
From within the editor, you will see an RSVP / Event Options link on the black menu bar that appears at the top of the screen when you are logged in. There are several other items under that menu for altering the registration form or setting up automated event reminders.
More details at rsvpmaker.com