DIY community events portal
December 4, 2005 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Craigslist has yet to visit my community, and from what I can tell there's a real dearth of comprehensive entertainment/events listings. There are two local colleges, a very small local music scene, and the usual array of chain restaurants and movie theaters, plus some community events. There are some listings in a freebie paper entertainment guide. Anyway, I want to make a site that aggregates all of this information and is searchable by category or key word. Is there a pre-existing content management system that might work well for this?

Bonus question: is this going to drain every available moment of my life, and is it possible for a small local website of this nature to generate small amounts of revenue somewhere down the line?
posted by craniac to Shopping (18 answers total)
How about Upcoming?
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 2:18 PM on December 4, 2005

The majority of the work that you described is data collection, and organization, not display.

If you don't want it to eat your life, I'd suggest being happy with a very partial display, based on what is easily available, and what people feel like posting for free.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:21 PM on December 4, 2005

YES. Craigslist is too narrowly focused on big cities. There are a lot of us geeks in smaller towns who are unconnected with one another. The closest thing I've seen to knowing who's around me is the metafilter member display by zip code. Whatever you do, go minimal and stay away from the garish big biz models... they'll sink such a project like it's the Titanic.
posted by rolypolyman at 2:24 PM on December 4, 2005

P.S. I amend my reply as I see you are just looking at entertainment listings, but go the whole hog if you can.
posted by rolypolyman at 2:26 PM on December 4, 2005

I can't answer any of your questions outright, but I can point you to (Kansas) as an example of how well-done this could be--I think someone there is making some money, but I could be wrong.
posted by hototogisu at 2:32 PM on December 4, 2005

Check this out.
posted by Firas at 2:42 PM on December 4, 2005

You sign up for a ning account, 'clone' the app and you're pretty much all set
posted by Firas at 2:43 PM on December 4, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks.

A scarce supply; a lack: “the dearth of uncensored, firsthand information about the war” (Richard Zoglin).

I would say the word means exactly what I think it does. There isn't a site out there for my community, 84058, that isn't just some bot-generated piece of crap with so many ads that it is unreadable.

I'm thinking of using wordpress, and using categories, like "may05" or "music may05 free" or what have you. Flickr for local events rather than photos would be ideal.
posted by craniac at 2:45 PM on December 4, 2005

Response by poster: Upcoming is cool and all, but it's very music focused, and entering multiple events through their interface is tedious, in my opinion. I'd like something that allowed me to do the following:

1. enter events or import them directly from csv

2. search by multiple categories (dollar movies/worth watching/local/9pm/today)

3. And include lectures and other events on the two local campuses, stuff that never makes it into something like city search. The campuses are divided into little fiefdoms that don't put all of their event data in one place.
posted by craniac at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2005

Check out CivicSpace which is an extension/repackagins of Drupal. CivicSpace is the software which ran the Howard Dean campaign website in the last presidential election. It may get you most of the way towards what you're looking for.
posted by tayknight at 2:53 PM on December 4, 2005

Response by poster: YES. Craigslist is too narrowly focused on big cities.

Yeah, is really underpopulated and has a lot of spam. And it doesnt' extend, really, to my county, which is 45 miles south of SLC. If I could create a site that gathered enough traffic so that users input their own events for me, I wouldn't care if it generated revenue or not.
posted by craniac at 2:53 PM on December 4, 2005

sounds like you're going to have to invent something if you really want it do what you want.

Yes, this will occupy a lot of your time, at least at first for sure, 'cause whether know it or not, you're starting a business.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:48 PM on December 4, 2005

I had this exact idea for my town (and even a clever name picked out...). I finally decided it would be feasible (also using publishing software as you mentioned), and only gave up the idea when it became apparent that I'd be moving.

Anyway, I think it's a great idea. You might want to network and find someone who'd be interested in co-publishing it w/ you, perhaps overlapping events you're not as interested in. I found people I thought might work for my own idea by checking out blogs from my area to find those who were well-connected.
posted by artifarce at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2005

Re Django was created as part of building and so doing a similar site would probably be squarely in the sweetspot of the frameworks capabilities.
posted by Good Brain at 4:14 PM on December 4, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the advice. looks great.
posted by craniac at 5:50 PM on December 4, 2005

Re: again, I absolutely loved that site when I was in Kansas and have often thought of developing such a site for the college town where I live now, but is run and supported by The Lawrence Journal-World. It would certainly help to be affiliated with a local newspaper so you don't have to do quite as much work researching local events; people will come to you in that case. That said, Django looks great and I would recommend it based on the experience I have had using and on a short overview of the documentation.
posted by kyleg at 7:28 PM on December 4, 2005

Best answer: Craniac: once upon a time (1998-2000), I tried to do something like what you're trying to do in your area -- but just with music. And just keeping up with the subset of events at ABGs, Wrapsody, and a few other miscellaneous other venues/events took a fair chunk of time. I did make a lot of music friends in Utah Valley, and some of those connections later bore some fruit, but ultimately, I gave up the directory. After a year of effort, I was probably drawing maybe 2000 eyeballs a month. I couldn't get advertisers, and I took a hard look at the time it took, the other stuff in my life that wasn't getting done, the growing sense of futility I had about trying to grow a Utah Valley scene... and realized that these efforts I was making were a proxy for my real ambitions: being able to work on my own music, and network with others for the purposes of sharing live music. So I gave up that project.

Now, back then, there weren't any really good off-the shelf affordable CMSs in those days, and the one that I hacked together in my spare time was probably more trouble than it was worth. And Ad Words as an easy formula for revenue didn't exist. And I don't want to completely curb your enthusiasm for it: lots of ideas have to be done wrong or fail in some way before somebody gets it right, and with a good CMS and a small network of people willing to help, maybe you could be the one make it work.

If I were doing it again, I would see if I could team up with a group. Maybe even a newspaper. The pickings are also slim for decent papers in Utah Valley, unfortunately, but you might want to hook up with the folks at the Utah Valley Monitor, who are essentially trying to create a decent alt-weekly for the area, something with a bit of the spirit of BYU's old Student Review.

Finally, if you're interested in talking about the problems of trying to convey and promote event information in Utah County, feel free to email me.
posted by weston at 10:18 PM on December 4, 2005

I do this for my own neighborhood in Cleveland, and basically run it as a blog with an attached bulletin board. Getting the word out about the site is the most important part initially, as well as talking it up to various people who might send you information for distribution on the blog. It's working pretty good for me so far. I probably spend an hour or two a week on it. [self-link]
posted by sciurus at 2:06 PM on December 16, 2005

« Older Anyone know about portable mic preamps or...   |   Things to do in Boston for New Year's Eve? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.