You may have noticed of late that some things about our site have changed! If we were an App on your computer or phone (which isn’t a bad way to think about it) this would be version 1.5 or thereabouts! The Buddhist Centre Online has been up and running in what we consider its basic form (version 1.0) for about 9 months, so it was time to take stock and continue our work at building on first versions of things. Here’s what we’ve been up to and a sense of what’s changed. Please get in touch with any feedback or questions you have - you can also let us know what you think in comments here.
Feedback We had several key areas of feedback when we took soundings earlier this year, and have been working to address the main concerns we picked up (all of which we shared and will be working to improve iteratively). It’s slower than we’d like with a very reduced budget overall this year but we’ve made some good progress. The five areas are:
Navigation, Usability, Content, Finding Information, Making Projects & Groups Simpler
We’ve gone live with our first set of changes in the last month, with some further exciting additions to come before the end of the year.
General design We’ve sharpened up areas of the visual design for higher contrast and reorganized and re-emphasized some of the elements (eg. removing backgrounds, moving sharing buttons). This is a work in progress and we’ve more to do, but the site should look and feel cleaner and a little sharper.
Easy-to-find content You’ll see that we now have three new curated spaces to help you get easy access to the best of the great flow of content that’s now moving through the site every week from around the world. You can access these from the home page and from the main Community home page, as well as via the new expandable sub-menu on every Project and Group.
Triratna News - Great, thoughtful reporting from our team on what’s happening around the Triratna Buddhist Community internationally.
Community Highlights - The best of what people in our community around the world post to the web about their own situations and Buddhist practice.
Triratna Features - All our headline stories and original Buddhist media content, including live, in-depth web coverage of major Triratna events.
Navigation/Usability/Making Projects and Groups simpler/Finding Information We got a lot of conflicting information about this but it’s clear that in developing the site we need to make sure things are as explicit as possible for users. Perhaps that’s what the Buddha meant by saying that explicit dharmas are better than implicit dharmas!
- Anyway, a first key change is that in tying together the three ‘top-down new content’ spaces (above), we’ve also re-emphasized the main ‘Community’ page (‘The Great Stream of Practice’) as the ‘root space’ for these areas of the site, as well as for those that are more to do with newly generated content that doesn’t come from the team (ie. from anyone else posting to the site - eg. you!).
So in tandem with this focussing on the ‘top-down’ spaces we curate, we’ve also re-thought and re-designed Projects and Groups. They now use a much simpler ‘breadcrumbs’ navigation system that makes the spaces easier to engage with and links them back at all times to the main Community space, so you can see at a glance what the relationship is and - most importantly - where you are on the site. We’ve also added a widget as part of this system (watch the video!) to let you quickly access the main Community menu at any time without having to go back there!
- You’ll also notice we’ve re-designed the content menus for Projects, Groups and Courses (under the big pictures), simplifying the initial menu and adding a nice ‘filter posts’ button that lets users sift through long feeds more obviously by content type. We’ve also changed the default landing page (depending on your membership or non-membership of a space) to mean the first information you see on any space is the most relevant to you as a particular user.
- We’ve also re-worked the ‘Projects & Groups’ area so it’s more intuitive and displays the information in a more immediately useful way, including a default listing of Projects & Groups you belong to (you can also still get to these via your account page as before).
1. Please be courteous at all times. If you’re engaged in any kind of discussion, be as prepared to listen as you are to express yourself. Remember that there’s always a real person behind a computer/device screen, and they are likely quite different from you.
2. Think twice before posting anything that’s likely to give offence or be inflammatory. That doesn’t promote good conversation. If you’re upset at something you see here, perhaps let a little time pass before responding. Bear in mind this isn’t a space to vent our views, it’s about exploring respectfully with others what it means to be a Buddhist within our community and in the modern world generally.
3. We may remove posts or comments that are considered off-topic.
4. Everyone has off-moments, and we’ll always try to be in friendly dialogue with you if a problem arises with one of your contributions. But we reserve the right to remove posts and comments (or even suspend user accounts) when we feel these guidelines are not observed.
Whatever you contribute, we very much encourage you to think about it in the light of the Buddhist ethical precepts around ‘Right Speech’. These encourage communication that is: truthful, kindly and gracious, helpful and harmonious.
We try to keep things light when it comes to moderation of posts and comments within this shared space. And we ask the community itself to lead with this. If you have seen something that concerns you, please feel free to contact us. However, we do ask that you bear in mind the following guidelines, which will help preserve a harmonious atmosphere throughout the site:
Remember there is always a person behind the post or comment you’re objecting to. They may just be having a bad day… If you’re upset, perhaps let a little time pass before responding to them or us.
Try contacting the person first in a spirit of open, courteous engagement to see if hearing their perspective changes your own view of things, or if hearing yours changes theirs.
Take care to make sure what you are asking us to look at is actually against the spirit of the group or the site itself, rather than simply a difference of view or of personal taste. If in doubt, ask a friend and/or the administrator of the group.
The most important things about this is the first bit: we ask the community to lead with this. That means you! Thanks for helping us promote good conversations on The Buddhist Centre Online.