With the start of the new Toastmasters officer term, many clubs may be adding or changing roles related to administration of the website. Continuity is important, but this may also be an opportunity to give your club website a face lift or add compelling content that tells visitors why they should invest in learning about Toastmasters — and your club in particular.
Recommendation #1: Your Club Should Have More Than One Website Administrator
Toastmasters leaders come and go. Even if you personally have made a long-term commitment to the club, there could come a day when you are unable to keep participating because of illness, or a job move, or who knows what? Or maybe you are the club leader who has delegated most responsibilities for managing the club website to someone else — perhaps someone with more “techie” skills than you give yourself credit for — and one day that person goes missing.
You don’t want to find yourself “locked out” of your own website, which is showing outdated information (say, because your meeting location has changed), and you can’t fix it.
So name at least one additional administrator, someone who is reasonably comfortable futzing with web software, even if your primary admin continues to do most of the work. You can change user roles on the Toastmasters screen under Settings, or from the Users page on the administrative dashboard.
You may also want to assign officers and other trusted club members to elevated security roles. Your choices, with increasingly broad rights are:
- Subscriber – the default security role. Can sign up for roles and edit their own user/member profile.
- Contributor – Can contribute blog posts and submit them for approval by an Editor or Administrator.
- Author – Can create and publish blog posts without prior approval by an Editor.
- Editor – Can edit any of the site content, including blog posts, pages, and event posts.
- Manager – Can edit content and can also add or edit user/member records. (Not a standard WordPress security role — added for use by an officer such as the VP of Membership who needs to be able to add user accounts).
- Administrator – Can change configuration settings, enable plugins, and change the site design (color choices, banners, etc). On a stand-alone website, the Administrator can also install plugins and themes. On a multisite network such as toastmost.org, only the network administrator can install additional software.
- Network Administrator – On a multisite network such as toastmost.org, this super-administrator has administrative rights to all the individual club websites and can make changes that affect all websites.
As an Administrator, you can appoint a second administrator, and you can also appoint users to any of the roles below that level.
New Way to Submit Requests and Questions on Toastmost.org
Club website administrators should be able to operate fairly autonomously, for the most part. However, there are a few functions that require help from a network administrator. In addition to the WordPress functions you cannot access, tasks such as creating an email discussion list require access to server operating system utilities outside of WordPress.
In most cases, a network administrator can fulfill these requests within a day or two. I’m introducing two new tools to make it easier for you to submit these requests and for me and my backup admins to follow up on them.
- Requests and Questions Form – Use to request setup of email lists and email forwarding addresses, or submit any other request or question for the network administrators. This form appears on the main Dashboard screen and also as a submenu under TM Administration. The version you get to from the menu also shows a history of all your requests and the responses to them.
- Plugin Search – Plugins are optional software modules for specific functions. Plugins for many common purposes are pre-installed and just waiting for you to turn them on. Thousands of others are freely available from WordPress.org, and this new search screen (which you will find as a submenu under Plugins) lets you research them and request that additional plugins be installed.
One caution about plugins: don’t go crazy installing dozens of plugins on your website. Having too many active can slow down your website. They may even interfere with each other. Used judiciously, they can add useful functions to your website.
For example, searching on “poll” would allow you to locate multiple plugins for adding an interactive poll to a blog post or page. Before requesting additional plugins, see if an existing plugin for that function is already available. In fact, there are already two polling plugins available for your use. However, if another one looks like it fits your requirements better, go ahead and ask for it.
Requests for plugins will be reviewed based on factors like ratings and how frequently the software is updated. Plugins may also be removed form toastmost.org from time to time, for example if they have known security bugs or haven’t been updated in a long time.
In general, requests for mailing lists and forwarding addresses are more straightforward and will be processed on a routine basis. Just keep in mind that forwarding addresses must be unique. In other words, firstname.lastname@example.org will not work but email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org can be set to forward to whatever address or list of addresses you specify.