Site Update – February 27, 2011 Plus Some Answers

Status of the UOJournal.com
It’s actually pretty good….except for three months worth of stories that are offline, as you can see from the notice at the top of the site. We actually went “live” a lot faster than I expected, otherwise I wouldn’t be discussing missing stories. More on that in a minute. The reason being that we like to have either images/screenshots accompanying our articles, or small icons indicating what the story is about. When we moved over, the actual content of those stories came over just fine. The links with the images didn’t because the addresses were hard-coded. The result would be a lot of stories with broken images. I thought it didn’t look very good, so I took them offline yesterday, and will make them available either as I upload the icons to UOJournal.com, move the images over to our public Flickr account (see below), or if images don’t contribute much, I may just remove them. Things will seem odd for the next few days. I apologize, but I just did not like seeing stories and articles with broken image links. There were also stories that related to what became UOJournal.com, and I need to change the references in those as well to reflect the new domain name.

This is a very long read, as it answers some questions asked of me this morning, and much of it will probably bore most of you, so unless you are interested in the behind-the-scenes part of UOJournal, you may want to pass on it.

As I explained in our Official Launch of the Ultima Online Journal post, the website you see before you has been running on a private website since November. It moved to the UOJournal.com domain name a few days ago. We had a few people who had access to it before the move, to provide us with feedback. Even though it was a private site, we treated it like it was a live website, and we were adding stories and content as if there were normal people who followed the site. We started off adding a lot of content, with the idea being we add everything that interested us, and then remove that which doesn’t seem to fit. As a matter of fact, when things are back online, you may see certain things that we covered from November up through early January that we no longer cover for one reason or another. Then again, I may not even place those stories back online – we want to keep UOJournal.com very focused. As I said in the “Official Launch” post, the core ideas that we had for what became UOJournal.com remained intact from November up until now.

The goal was that by the time we “officially” went live, we’d have a lot of content and people would see it and want to come back or check back regularly.

Why UOJournal.com?
Back in November, we set up the website you see on a private server/subdomain. As we were adding stories and content, we were working through what we wanted to name the site. We had a big list of potential domain names, but we were not in a hurry to register a domain name right from the start. The last thing we wanted to do was to get a domain name and then have to make our ideas fit that domain name. That would add some pressure and would not feel natural. While the core ideas of UOJournal.com have remained from November up through now, it’s very possible that had we selected a domain name from the start, it would put us on a slightly different path.

Working with Others
As we added or removed content in that time after November, we began to cross off domain names on that list as well as add a few. We had half a dozen names by early January, but two were crossed off almost immediately once we discussed them in depth with others. Out of the four remaining, one was a defunct UO fansite that had a frontpage dating back several years. It took us a few weeks to get a hold of the owner. The site had been around for years, but had only really had about nine months worth of active work, but it was relevant to what we wanted to do. We liked the idea of taking over an established site and bringing it back to life. The owner started out asking how much we would pay him for it. As far as we know, he hasn’t even played UO in years. I think he spent a few days looking at his traffic or trying to figure out what our interest was – was there some massive expansion of UO on the horizon, etc. We discussed running it together, but him being in charge and deciding what we would write about was not going to happen and we were not going to pay any of the prices he named. There are only a very small number of sites we would be willing to work under, and even those would let us write about what we wanted to write about. He’s made noise about reviving his site, and if he does, great. The UO community could always use more sites. We have no hard feelings about it. In the end, things worked out for us.

We came down to three names as we moved into late January, and UOJournal.com was on that list. Two were unregistered, and one was registered but not in use, and had a price tag of a few thousand dollars. That was not going to happen. It was a very good domain name, and might have been the front runner, but the price tag ruled it out. We actually talked to the company that owned it over a week or so, but they were not going to budge much. Even if we had the money to spare, if you spend a few thousand dollars on a single domain name, that is a lot of pressure to get into advertising or something else to cover that cost. This is an Ultima Online fansite – we don’t expect any money from it. Our hosting is also provided by a friend who also plays UO, so the budget is low and is volunteer-based. Setting up a website that costs thousands of dollars just for the domain was not in the cards.

In the end, UOJournal.com won, and we are both very happy with it. To me, it has a lot of flexibility, and it’s easy to remember. It allows us to post both news and original content, commentary, and articles – a study of UO if you will.

We went “live” a lot faster than we expected.
Oh yes, we went live a lot faster than expected. Much faster than expected. Our plan was to register UOJournal.com last week and then spend the following week migrating everything over. I was a little antsy – I had covered the attack on Queen Dawn as well as her death, and was preparing that to be one of our first major articles. Our goal was to be up and running for public viewing on March 1st, 2011.

Well the 2011 UO Developer Video came out last week, with the addition of a Video House of Commons on March 1st. These were big stories that we wanted to write about and discuss. Mix into that, Queen Dawn’s memorial and burial this weekend, and we had a very packed schedule. The Video House of Commons is, in my opinion, going to define UO over the next year or two, and that is huge.

We made the decision to just roll with it and start spreading it around a little bit. The broken images thing really bit us, but other than that it’s been great to finally have it open to the public. We’ve already started getting feedback. As a matter of fact, you may have noticed the site has undergone a few changes in the past 48 hours as far as the style, due to some feedback.

Future Plans
Yes, we have plenty of future plans. We both think UO will be around for quite a while, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this. Our future plans, we’re not really discussing at this time. We’ve got a full plate right now for the next few weeks, and some of those plans involve formally working with other UO websites/fansites. If you have ideas though, or would like to work with us, by all means contact us using the link at top. I can tell you that we are hoping to contribute quite a bit to UOGuide.com, but it will be as UO players and fans of UO, rather than UOJournal working with UOGuide. We inherited a lot of stuff from a defunct UO fansite, and we also have quite a bit of UO items of sorts and information, and all of that…we could post it here on UOJournal.com, and it’s possible we might post some just as special-interest articles, but really it belongs on UOGuide.com and that’s where it will end up. That’s the best place for that kind of stuff. Although he doesn’t know either one of us (maybe Tim from playing on Atlantic), I’ve always liked and appreciated what JC The Builder has done for the UO community.

Forums?
UO.Stratics and UOForums.com are going strong, we see no reason to get into the forum business. You are always free to leave comments here.

Enough of my rambling – the above was in response to a couple of questions asked of me this morning, and I didn’t mean to go on for as long as I did, but I figured it would be good to give some background.

Other things.

First off, apologies to EM Aname on Lake Superior. Two weeks ago when I talked to EM Aname, I planned on having videos, etc. ready of the death of Queen Dawn. They are still coming, it’ll just be this week, along with videos covering Dawn’s memorial. We are re-editing them for time and for YouTube – we now have a public YouTube channel (UOJournal of course), but we’ve not uploaded anything just yet.

New contact information:
Email (Images, stories, etc.): uojournal @ gmail.com
Flickr account: Flickr.com – UOJournal photostream.
YouTube Account: http://www.youtube.com/user/uojournal


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