My wife is the president of our neighborhood homeowner’s association. A few months ago she convinced me to take control of the web site. I dithered around for a while, not sure of what I wanted or how I wanted to do it. I looked into several specialized “neighborhood site” applications but didn’t really find anything that really appealed to me. I didn’t want the HOA to be saddled with a monthly fee and I was also concerned about the longevity and viability of these applications.
Last night I finally decided on a course of action and within two hours I had my new site up and running with all of the content from the old site moved over and in its place! How did I do it?
I created a Wetpaint wiki and copied the old content over, page by page. I uploaded a number of PDF documents (the neighborhood CC&Rs, directory, and so forth) as attachments and linked them in. I also created a section called “Family Pages” with a link to some information about me, my wife, and my kids — links to our blogs and information about the fact that my son can teach piano and that my daughters are always looking for babysitting jobs.
The finished result looks really good. Access to the wiki is by invitation only and will be limited to homeowners in my neighborhood. I’m going to keep it locked down in order to encourage my neighbors to feel comfortable contributing and sharing. That’s the real challenge. Given that we live in a high-tech neighborhood in the shadow of Microsoft, I’m expecting some good results. Like I told my wife, the real issue here is a social one. We need everyone to understand that they are empowered to add their own content. They need to take an active role in creating and maintaining what could prove to be a very valuable information resource.
My hope is that some extremely useful and wholly unexpected uses are found for this wiki. I have lots of ideas for more types of content, but I am going to resist the urge to add more features (that’s what the Microsoft folks are here for and will sit back to see what develops.
If you happen to live in my neighborhood and you are ready to participate, send me an email and I will reply with an invitation. We’re going to start out quietly and then roll this out at the annual meeting in April.