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Notes to the Webmaster

This Wiki's URL

This wiki doesn't have a friendly URL because:

Bethany L. Rizzardi said:

Hi,

Because Google Sites are not designed for instructional or other official
HSU business, ITS and the Web Office are not able to provide redirect
services from these default URLs to different URLs. The best way to create
a relationship between your Google site and any other websites you may
have is through linking.

This is probably not worth fighting because even if we do get a short URL, that'll probably turn Google Sites into "instructional/official HSU business", which would likely mean that this would have to require to the same restrictions as a regular HSU web page (see below for why that's bad)

Why our website is on Dreamhost instead of HSU's servers

  • HSU does not allow shell access to our web account.  Want to wget or rm -rf something?  Too bad.  Need to mirror a folder from another server?  Too bad.  Do it through SFTP one file at a time using your computer as a go-between.  Want to be productive?  Too bad.
  • HSU does not offer many web host features.  Want a cron job?  Too bad.  Want to set up another SQL host?  Too bad.  Want to set up more users?  Too bad.  Want to use FTP?  Too bad. Want Google Apps?  Too bad.  Want more email accounts?  Too bad.
  • HSU has inflexible security restrictions related to Unix permission groups that makes it very difficult to run a wordpress-based system, especially when it comes to autoupdates, etc.  Files that Wordpress creates are by one user (probably either root or their web daemon, I forget) whereas files we create are tied to individual usernames.  The two are in separate groups and cannot interact, meaning upgrades and edits break all the time.
  • HSU strongly prefers Drupal over Wordpress or any other CMS.  Good luck getting anybody else at CCAT to learn Drupal.
  • HSU has disk space and bandwidth limits... not a big deal currently, but an eventuality we'd have to deal with
  • HSU first-tier support staff are not very knowledgeable and all support requests must go through them.  This is an issue at any support organization, but at least the people at Dreamhost all know they're a webhosting company and that's all they talk about.  HSU Help Desk is trained more to help students with day-to-day computing and don't really know how to help with any of the behind-the-scenes web stuff
  • HSU higher-level IT people are not very willing to help or make exceptions, or maybe they just don't really like me
  • HSU enforces state-mandated accessibility requirements that are difficult to follow and time-consuming; we've never received a request or complaint about this and it generally seems not worth the time.  One would hope that modern screen readers are smart enough to deal with normal coding practices, and if not, that users requiring more accessibility would simply call us or at the very least email us to tell us how our website isn't working for them.

    For the most part, our images are decorative in nature and not an important part of the actual content, and where they are important (i.e. project diagrams), forcibly describing them in text wouldn't really help matters anyway.
  • Having our own domain name helps with Google search rankings and is easier to type and tell people about
  • Dreamhost is free for non-profits and awesome and they carbon-offset all their operations
  • In summary, HSU's web service is a horrible nightmare of a bureaucracy whereas Dreamhost is a dream come true
  • And to top it off, they know this and they themselves told us to move our website off-campus, probably after realizing we're more trouble than we're worth
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