Well I’ve gone ahead and made the domain purchases for tech-artist.com, .org, .net, and tech-artists.org and .net. I have a tentative web admin for now and have a friend who I can ask for questions and help if needed, as well. Over the course of the next week, we will be setting up the Wiki and Forums. Once they are up, I will start porting over my site content to the Wiki along with other content I’ve already gotten the go-ahead for. After that, I’ll be sending out emails to some VIP technical-artists and animators for feedback on the idea of the site and their feelings about a tech-art community. I’ll also ask about porting over some of the tutorials and articles they have on their site. I hope to officially launch sometime in late June, probably with a contest of some sort to draw some attention.
At the same time, I’ll be working on a few more tutorials and articles, especially about .NET stuff in Max, which is not very well documented, yet, along with some Puppetshop things I’ve been doing at work.
A couple issues I am considering are:
-Initial workforce: A functional Wiki requires a core group of editors, especially initially before a critical mass of users is reached. I’m going to look mostly to younger technical artists like myself, and students, as we hopefully have more energy for this sort of thing. It will also be a learning opportunity for aspiring technical artists, I think, and that may be attractive for certain people.
-Moderators: Credit/link backs for contributors. The purpose of personal sites is generally promotion, and the reason people put articles on their personal sites is promotion along with education. I am not worried about getting information from Wiki’s and articles, but there needs to be some incentive to encourage people to put or duplicate their articles on tech-artist.com. This is especially tricky when their personal sites are more well known and popular than the new site, though I suppose it will be easier once the site becomes more popular. A related issue is ownership and the wiki- wikis can change and the author will not have sole control over his article. To get around all of this, I’d like to establish a practice of crediting articles, with a very clear link to the site of the original contributor and a clear list of changes from the original- and, hopefully, feedback for the original contributor on the changes (since this is all about learning, right?). I can be an idealist in some things, but when it comes to the motivation of people, I take a very real approach- embarking on a project that requires large anonymous contributions that are, in a way, a negative result for the prestige of the contributor (since it would otherwise be on their site and closely tied to them) is doomed to fail. This is an issue I will need to keep considering and feedback will be useful.
-Promotions/marketing: Initial costs will be out of my pocket, and my pockets aren’t very deep right now (though as I recover from my recent relocation things should be fine, and I don’t spend much money). Fortunately, running a website isn’t very expensive while it is small, since I have hosting already. But this hosting won’t support a large site (especially one database heavy with forums and a wiki), despite its claims of huge bandwidth and storage (DreamHost). Or so I hear. Anyway, I figure once that size is reached, I will have a popular enough site where I can place some Google Ads that will absorb at least some of the cost of new hosting. What I’d like to spend most money on is prizes and contests and anything I can do to facilitate the site, education, and exchange of information and goods that would contribute towards these goals. Prizes have the benefit of drawing views and members, tying the community to the site, and also rewarding those that contribute with what will help them do better work and continue contributing.
I’ll try to update here as to how the coming weeks unfold and do some planning as well (even if no one else reads it, writing for public is useful as it forces my thoughts to congeal and allows me to evaluate and consider them more thoroughly than keeping them only in my head).