SEDS-USA has for many years (practically since the birth of the internet) had a web presence and are now the proud owners of a very nice server courtesy of the Phoenix Mars Lander mission in 2008 that was run by our friends at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona (they still host the physical server for us). This server hosts the seds.org website you are viewing as well as the Messier Database, the Yuri’s Night website, the NASA Academy Alumni website, and the Tuscon Amateur Astronomy Association website. The server also hosts our wiki, forums, blogs, galleries, and e-mail system.

Any SEDS-USA chapter or SEDS-Earth chapter (or country) is allowed and encouraged to use this server for their group and is allowed and encouraged to have their own e-mail lists, pictures, and blogs hosted here as well. While we have no problem with allowing a group to create their own custom html or php type website on the SEDS server, we have created a simpler and easier method of creating a web presence for your SEDS group. One reason to carefully look at this option is the real possibility that your SEDS group may not have anyone with good html, java, or php skills available during every year of its existence.

For this reason, we have set up the server to allow each group to choose a site address such as http://chapters.seds.org/bu/ (Boston University) or http://chapters.seds.org/isss/ (Iowa State University) and simply and easily create a custom wordpress site there for their group. To help streamline this, all of the wordpress sites are administered overall by the SEDS-USA webmaster, and he/she is tasked with keeping the wordpress MU installation up-to-date, meaning that you will not need to worry about it yourself. There are also a number of ready-made, professional themes to use for a site and many helpful plugins already in place that one must only activate:

The steps to set up a site like this for your group are as follows:

  1. Contact the SEDS-USA webmaster at webmaster at seds.org requesting a wordpress site for your SEDS group and specifying the preferred address extension (e.g. bu for Boston University SEDS).
  2. The webmaster will create a blog site for you on the SEDS server and the creation of the site will automatically send you an e-mail with a admin username and password.
  3. Using the username and password at your site location, you can change to a preferred theme (or create your own and send the file to the webmaster for inclusion).
  4. You can also begin creating pages on the site by going to the “Pages” tab and “Add New Page”. This will allow you to create static pages on the site for things like contact information, meeting times, group positions, etc. As an administrator, you will be able to even post in advanced html code into these pages (only available for administrators for security reasons). Below the box to fill in information for each page, you have the options to allow comments or pings to the page and the option to change the menu link from a page to a external link (handy for linking to school resources or other websites). You can also make the page into a photo gallery page by clicking the button with “WP/GR” on it, selecting an album of photos in the SEDS Gallery already, and clicking the bold “Insert WP-GR tag” button. This will add clickable photos to the page content automatically from that album.
  5. By default, your front page is a blog page that can be used for noting upcoming events and the like in new blog posts. This can be changed to a static page if you like, by changing the setting in “Settings” and “Reading”. You are also able to add more users to your chapter’s blog by using “Add New Users”.
  6. Plugins are a fun part of wordpress sites, allowing you to have content updated by the day, hour, or minute automatically. Some useful plugins are currently offered on our wordpress sites, but if there is something you don’t see, tell the webmaster to install it. We recommend activating at least Akismet, Unfiltered MU, WP-Gallery-Remote, jQuery Lightbox, and Page Links To to provide the functionality mentioned in the steps above. Akismet is very important because it prevents you from getting comment spam easily. If it does not automatically have an API key, get your own and enter it to get it working.

As you toy with the wordpress site, you should find that it is easy to manage and use. Just make sure you transfer admin control over whenever your group’s leadership shifts. Please let us know if there are any improvements we should make or that you would like to help us make to our website or to the wordpress blog setup. Also feel free to send us a line to show off your wordpress skills with your group’s site. We’d love to see it! Please send all requests or comments to webmaster at seds.org

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