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July 29, 2018

CTCallboard is Changing (And Staying The Same)

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If you have visited The Connecticut Callboard lately (one of Connecticut’s longest, continually running theater websites), then you will have noticed a few changes. As technology changes, so too must CTCallboard, long due for an overhaul. So here is a list of what has changed, what is staying the same, and what may only look different.

tl;dr: Sean’s back, the layout is different/new; there’s a better way to submit stuff, Facebook/Twitter/Email works again, and some other stuff. Proceed if you want to know the deets.

  1. Sean has returned (that’s me). In 2015, I was facing the very real likelihood of closing down CTCallboard.  Luckily, Rob Tromp came along and shouldered the burden for me until he moved away very recently. He offered the site back to me, and I am pleased to be in the saddle once again. I hope you’ll join me in expressing gratitude to Rob for being excellent in the extreme to step in and help when he did; it’s because of him that CTCallboard remains today.
  2. Theme Change: The “theme” is what governs how the website looks. The old theme, which I built in 2012, was beginning to show its age. It’s been updated to one that is more flexible and works more like you expect a website to work today. It is a little bare at the moment, but that is because when I am building a site, I tend to turn features on one-by-one to make sure they don’t kill the site, or it’s performance. I will be adding more content as we go, and updating the FAQ. If there is a feature you would like to see as a user of the site, please do let me know. If there is a practical way to make it happen, I will try.
  3. Front-end submission: The website is built atop the blogging platform WordPress, which has a lot of amazing features, but it can present a learning curve to new users. It’s improving, but I have added a “front-end” submission form that allows you to post your audition, performance or gig directly, without having to use the backend dashboard. It simplifies things and lets you enter only the information you need, without all the options that most users ignore anyway. You still have the option of using all the bells and whistles by using the dashboard, but many will probably prefer this option. Access this form by going to the “Listings” link in the header menu, and choosing “Submit My Listing.” If you haven’t logged in yet, you’ll be prompted to do so. Remember, membership is always free.
  4. Help Desk: When there is a problem, few things are more frustrating than trying to get help. As you know, CTCallboard is a completely volunteer venture, so we can’t hire professionals to help you out immediately when there is a problem with the site. I have connected the site to the cloud-based version of the helpdesk application that I use at work to support my network users. When you have a problem or question about CTCallboard, clicking “Help” from the header menu will take you to a form where you can fill in your email address and the description of the issue or your question. I will be alerted to your “ticket” and will respond as soon as I am able. The helpdesk portal will allow you to keep track of progress, and you will receive emails through the system whenever I have followup questions or leave notes on the ticket. Hopefully, this will be a better way to serve you.
  5. Social Media Cross Posting: I fixed the ongoing issues with the Facebook and Twitter feeds. Now, whenever you post a listing on CTCallboard, it will be automatically posted to both platforms. I have tightened up the integration to allow cross-commenting, we will see how that works. Don’t forget to Like and Follow!
  6. Email subscriptions should be working again, thanks to a CTCallboard member who kindly alerted me that it wasn’t. When you subscribe by email, you receive an email whenever there is something new posted to the site. This is a good option for people who don’t need or want to be members to post their listings, but still, want to get updates. We do not spam you with advertisements or sell our email list to third parties.
  7. Speaking of advertisements, yes Virginia, we do have ads on our website. I try to keep them minimal and unobtrusive. You will never get those annoying popups that other sites have. With that in mind though, if you employ an ad-blocker on your browser, please consider allowing Connecticutcallboard.com on your “whitelist.” We generate a modest income through those advertisements, and that is what helps to keep the website alive.
  8. Sister Site: The Western Massachusetts Callboard (wmacallboard.com) is the sister site, and it has always been less active than its older brother, so the changes have not been ported over there yet. Once things get settled down, I’ll update that site as well. I am hoping, at some point, to lure a team of volunteers to help moderate and grow the membership there. Currently, if you are a member of one site, you are a member of both. As we move forward, I will decouple the two sites, giving you the ability to opt-in or out for each site. We have had some inquiries over the years about building a sister site to support the community theatre family in New York. If we can make it work, we’ll do that too.

I look forward to moving The Connecticut Callboard into the future with you!

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