Monday, November 16, 2009

The Life of a Webmaster

Okay, so I don't really know what the life of any other webmaster is like, and I've made posts like this at least an even dozen times over the last 3-4 years, but the Halloween roll-out was slightly more successful this year than last, and that one was slightly more successful than the one before it, and so on, so I wanted to jaw a bit about the whole thing.

All websites are WIP - Works In Progress. I say that a lot because it bears repeating. I am always learning new tricks and tips, and coming up with new ideas, and I try to implement them as soon as I can. Things like the letter o "bolt" design snafu really slow things down. The reason I actually stop and try to fix these kinds of things is because the details really do count.

I don't know how many of you there are, but I know that I (the website, really) have a handful of fans and followers. You guys know that while things sometimes stall-out for months on-end (while I move, get new computers, etc., etc.), I eventually do come back around and fix them. However, everybody else just sees a lame website with a bunch of funky... nothingness. Not in the Descartes way of, like, promise (even "nothing" has value); just... nothing.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of shitty sites out there - especially in the tabletop RPG arena. I don't want to be another one of those.

Unfortunately, my life's been really... shitty lately. It's because of where I moved; it's a corrupt, horrid, little town of small-minded bigots and outright thieves. Every time you turn around, someone else is either gouging you, threatening you, or slandering you. It takes its toll - emotionally, mentally, physically - it really does take its toll. For these very reasons, I have not had the money I need to actually do this.

Now, one of the fundaments of The Weirding was to create something from nothing; I wanted to prove that "Content is King" and you didn't need millions of dollars and a staff of four to 40 to make a decent website. Though The Weirding is aimed at tabletop roleplaying gamers, it could just as easily have been... I don't know - the cure for the common cold or something. The point is that, with good content and steady work, you could create something for a rock-bottom investment. To some extent, I feel I've been successful.

However, one of the things you absolutely must have to be a decent webmaster is a computer! When you live in a corrupt shithole of a town - an area where power outages are frequent and come without warning... Look, this is my fourth computer in two years! I literally just got finished paying-off the Vista machine when lightning hit it, and it took about six months for me to save the money to get the Win7 laptop... which has no modem card! I'm getting hi-speed soon, but because I'm so far out, it's going to be really tight, financially speaking.

A change in geography will do a world of good, but I just spent my last dime on a new computer that I can't even use!

Moving is foremost on my mind these days, but remember I am disabled: I'm scheduled for major surgery this January, and the doctor has already told me it's bad enough that he thinks two surgeries might be warranted - we won't know until after the first one. It's a bad situation. Unfortunately, I have little control over it at this moment; it's going to be March or so before I'm even back to my normal strength, and may be facing another surgery then... Regardless, I'm stuck here for now, so I'm doing the best I can. Still, having to worry and argue and research legal matters every week or so takes its toll. Especially when you add all of the regular, daily chores and just general life to the mix.

So I do fret over those "minor" details and make them a priority, because those little details matter. Which makes one question the entire "content is king" maxim - to some small degree. I still believe that content is king, but having seen so many shit RPG sites - most of which are little more than a collection of barebones campaign notes or solid text - I've come to think that presentation counts, too! And that's one thing I've got over nearly all the competition - and I say that gently:

There is a lot of good RPG content out there - in groups, on personal sites and free servers, - but not a lot that looks good. I think The Weirding looks good (on the pages where I got it right, at least), and while others may disagree, no one can say I'm not trying.

The Weirding was always meant to be a work of art: a place where content - real content, in every sense of the word - is king. Design, talent, and effort is poured into every page and I am constantly checking things out and fixing the little problems I find. It really isn't about some obsessive, Mr. Monk-type, "I can control this part of my life" disorder or anything; it's my progress as a webmaster and my attempt at getting things right.

So, things are slow - as always - but I've gradually come to accept that, because when the product turns out right, I think it looks, feels, and reads great. And that's my goal as a webmaster and self-publisher.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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