By Tim Hjersted
Nov 6, 2010
Oo-de-lally!! After twelve months in development, the site has finally gone live!! What started out as a simple plan a year ago to make a few minor visual tweaks and navigational changes ended up morphing into an over-the-top, head-to-toe redesign of the entire site. It's been an epic adventure of long nights, coffee, and dreams of the day we'll someday be done, but the day has arrived!
Facebook Connect, community contributed content, member accounts, messaging - the new features list below is about a mile long and we still left out a ton of the new changes.
One of the changes we're most excited about is the organizational split between our international "main" site and our City Chapter sub-sites, which have several features dedicated to providing locally-tailored information channels for each Chapter's city.
But the first thing you'll notice is the new look. Our team's graphic designer, Mason Umholtz, did an amazing job creating a new visual aesthetic that re-imagines what an online newspaper dedicated to the people might look like.
Our website programmer, Eli Dragen, performed the incredible feat of turning every big idea Mason, Matt or I had into tangible reality. I can't remember how many times I asked him, "Is it possible for us to do this?" And every time he said, "If you can think it, we can do it." And of course he didn't disappoint. Topping over 28,000 lines of code, if the website were put into a book it would be longer than the Iliad. But enough reminiscing from me.
We'd love to get your feedback on the new site, so dive in, enjoy the knowledge swim, and let us know what you think. Create an account and you can leave us a comment below, or send us a message through the contact page.
Here's a breakdown of all the new features:
Create a Films For Action account with just two clicks with Facebook Connect.
The core of our previous site - a constantly growing resource of online viewable documentaries, short films, and videos hand-picked to change the world.
Republished and original articles covering the global transition to a socially-just, sustainable paradigm.
Providing a wealth of action ideas for individuals or groups to draw inspiration from. Accompanying each "Action" are supporting articles, how-to guides, related websites, media tools, videos, and other learning materials to help carry out the action.
Community Contributed Content
Anyone can add videos, news headlines, original articles, and actions.
The top results appear as you type, or you can hit enter for advanced search options.
Fully featured member profile pages, with info tailored to encourage collaboration and real world connections.
Notifications alert you to comment replies from other users and comments made on any content you added.
Send messages to other members.
Join us for an experiment in participatory democracy! Vote up the content you'd recommend to others and vote down the duds. The best content will be featured on the homepage, while the duds will be hidden, accessible through a link.
Your reputation serves as a general mark of how much others on the site trust and value your contributions. You gain reputation points whenever another user votes up something you added, whether content or a comment. You can lose points by the same measure. When you hit a certain reputation/level threshold, your votes will be given a greater weight, making it easier for you to push content to the front page. This essentially allows the community itself to choose which members gain greater editorial privileges, to help choose the best content to feature on the site.
As you add more content and participate more in the site, you gain levels. You'll level up at different times depending on the type of content. With each level up and a comparable reputation level, you'll gain additional "voting weight," making it easier to push content to the homepage or hide the duds. In this way, members receive greater editorial privileges directly from the Films For Action community and their own participation.
When you go to any member's profile page, you can "follow" them, adding their activity to your friends' activity feed on your profile page.
Want to support the project? You can easily make secure donations by credit card, debit card or check through the Donate page.
Custom Embeddable Widgets
Embed regularly updating Films For Action videos on your website or blog. Customize how the videos are updated and what subjects you want your widget to feature.
Browse dozens of activist films hand-picked to change the world, available from Amazon. You can also browse our links to recommended documentary film distributors to buy many lesser known, hard to find films.
We've scoured the internet and watched thousands of videos in our efforts to catalog over 500 of the best social-change inspiring films available to watch free on the internet. We'd consider it the best of what can be found online. That said, 500 videos is still a lot of videos, and save for the hardcore documentary junkies among us, we realized we needed another layer to help orient people that want to jump straight to the most recommended -- so consider our featured films the cream of the cream!
Easily share any content on the site with friends and social networks. At the top of every page you can find links to easily share it on virtually any site you can think of.
Get RSS feeds of your favorite content, including: newest videos, what people are watching now, newest independent news, newest actions, local events and more.
Super Totally Awesome Fast
The site code has been optimized for a surprisingly fast user-experience.
Create a Films For Action chapter in your own city. Get a few friends together, start organizing film screenings and launch targeted campaigns to advance local issues. In addition, our City Chapter sites offer a variety of tools geared to help create a vibrant independent media resource for your city.
City Chapter Features:
A calendar of events, detailing all of the progressive/radical activist events happening in the city's area at any given time. A daily snapshot of the week's events is displayed prominently on the homepage, allowing awareness of our events to reach hundreds and eventually thousands of more people.
News and articles written and contributed by local residents in the spirit of democratic, participatory journalism.
A listing of local activist groups, united by our common vision for a better future, detailing who they are, what they do, and how those interested can get involved. Each page features associated resources, a bulletin board for group members to stay current on recent updates, and a handy subscription form to sign up for the groups email Newsletter or list-serve.
Every film that the city chapter acquires becomes added to the Lending Library, allowing anyone from the area to borrow them for free.