Some notes on spambusting and ongoing development
I've been grimacing at all the spam groups on the front page for the last few months, but for various complicated reasons, neither Ethan nor I have had time to delete. Well, it's spring here in the southern hemisphere and today I finally got around to having a major spring clean here on CoActivate. A whole bunch of spam groups have been deleted, along with the users who set them up. I hope these SEO-optimizing marketing vampires get the message, and keep their gaudy snake oil sales pitches out of our community space. As always, if you see what looks like a spam group, please let the admins know through the CoActivate Users Group (you're all team member on that project, right?).
You've probably all noticed that CoActivate hasn't changed much for what feels like a really long time. Probably because it hasn't. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? When things actually break though, they usually do get fixed, like when the problems with the mail system got fixed around this time last year (although we are still having some teething problems with the Export system).
Anyway, although it's not always obvious, there is work going on behind the scenes to create the next version of the software engine that purrs under the hood of CoActivate. Ethan has been doing a lot of thinking about what the user experience needs to include, and a lot of experimentation with different ways of making that happen using more up-to-date tools. A few months back he started playing around with a free code tool called Docker, which significantly simplifies the tasks of developing and deploying the complex bundles of software required to make a site like CoActivate work. Using this tool will make it easier to involve more coders in development, and all going well, speed up the process of getting CoActivate 2.0 ready to roll.
In the meantime, please make the effort to contact Ethan and let him know how much you appreciate his unpaid work as the solo sysadmin of CoActivate, and lead developer of the underlying software. Once you've joined the user group, maybe visit the How I've Used CoActivate thread, and share with Ethan and the group about how CoActivate has been useful in your community (note to self: must do this). Nobody wants to do hours of exhausting volunteer work on a piece of tech if nobody seems to appreciate it.
Finally, are there any developers out there who would be willing to get involved in the open source project that develops the software engine used in CoActivate? Particular those familiar with using Docker, Python, the Plone CMS, and its various web frameworks (Zope/ Django/ Pyramid etc), or keen to learn about them. If so, check out the GITHub repositories at Social Planning, and drop into the #socialplanning IRC channel on Freenode.