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Let’s do something Rational

By John ~ Tuesday, 02 July 2013

The 3rd of July marks twelve months since the Rationalist Association got in touch about redesigning their site and what started as a four month contract has become something of a labour of love.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with the RA, they’ve happily let me poke my nose into all aspects of the charity and I have been given incredible amounts of freedom to do what I think is the right thing.

I think we’ve done well. The transition from the New Humanist being the dominate brand to the RA being up front has gone well, or at least that’s what the feedback and statistics seem to suggest. We’ve made the content more mobile friendly and importantly we haven’t added a load of features we’d struggle to support at this point in time.

There’s a little background project going on, as and when we can find the time, to try and tidy up a few things like the homepage and the articles & posts page but these are largely cosmetic.

There is though a gaping hole, community. We know it’s out there with the many founder members who have signed up and the 20,000+ followers on Twitter, as well as people following on Facebook and SoundCloud.

What to do for that community, or rather what to build? We ran a poll and we’ve got some results, and one thing from that poll is being worked on right now, but it’s not just a case of plopping in a forum and hoping for the best. We need to seriously consider how we go about it. Building something for the community takes money and you will notice that the RA is blissfully free of advertising, so there’s no advertising revenue to call upon. It also takes time, not just time to plan, design and build the thing but time to get it up and running, to market, to monitor and get feedback from. Building a community on the web is devilishly tricky and time consuming.

There is one feature that we’ve proposed that is particularly close to my heart and it involves finding all the great writing out there that would fit under the umbrella term Rationalism and I’d like to collect and curate it for RA members to browse. Building a system to do that may well seem fairly straightforward but I assure you it’s not that simple. There are technical complications behind the scenes.

So, I’d like to make a proposal.

I would like to find people, RA members or not, who are interested in trying an experiment to gather this great writing out there on the web and organising it to make a case for building something like this specifically for the RA. To begin with we’ll need to find a third party tool to do the job.

The technology isn’t important right now, I am more interested in finding people who might want to participate in the experiment, so we can build the case for a Rationalist Association endorsed ‘Thinkers Library’ for the 21st Century.

Please remember this is not an official RA project, just an experiment on their behalf.

The trigger for me to go ahead with this is a minimum of 50 people (more is fine too!) so if you are interested please email me at john@mrandmrsok.com