OANA Technical Meeting
May 10, 2013, İstanbul
Minutes of the Technical Meeting
“Establishing the Quorum”
“Welcome address by Kemal Öztürk - OANA President”
“As OANA President, I would like to welcome you to OANA Technical Meeting on Website. It is an honor to have you here in Istanbul. To start my speech, I would like to thank Kyodo News for their lovely host of OANA Executive Board Meeting in November. Their efforts made the meeting very effective.
Today, we are going to focus on our own OANA Website. Our Website (oananews.org) is an important aspect of our organizations’ visibility and reflects the implementations and news material sharing among the member agencies. Together, we can encourage more sharing with our website and use our internet site to represent our organizations’ bright image.”
After the speech, Mr. Tayfun Salcı (OANA Website Administrator) took over to make Anadolu Agency’s presentation..
“AA Presentation Regarding the OANA Website – Mr. Tayfun Salcı (AA)”
In the presentation about the OANA Website issues were briefly pointed out:
In October 2011 AA launched the new oananews.org website in order to solve a number of problems old website was causing. These problems will be mentioned and suggestions will be made on how to solve them.
First of all, member agencies had a problem about login in to website. They were sending all the stories they produce by e-mails to the headquarters of Anadolu Agency to transfer these e-mails to OANA website. It was not logical so we first set up a system in which all members can do their own jobs according to their own timeline. Since OANA has so many members all over the world which were working in different time zones this was the best way to present fresh news to public.
Secondly, there were some tricks that some agencies were using like setting future dates to their stories so that their news could remain on headline. It was not a good example for the severity of the site.
Thirdly, documentation was a serious problem for the site. To solve this it was decided to use an open source Content Management System (CMS) for the new OANA website. In oananews.org version 7.7 of the CMS is being used with no custom modules. Modules used are made by Drupal community and freely accessible on www.drupal.org. Drupal is known to be one of the leading brands in the world among Content Management Systems. It was chosen and with some customizations it was applied to the OANA project. People need to have documents to understand the old system and to develop and take it further. So you must have a well-documented website to make this transition flowing as possible. It was a problem when we have taken the old website to our management because when we looked at the codes we could not understand why it is so or nor so. But with the open source software it is not a problem anymore. You can go to the Drupal website, you can read all the documentation, you can go into the modules/texts and you can understand everything and change it according to your needs.
Another point is, the design of the site was outdated and deformed by so many additions in the years past. We changed the theme of the site because news portal must have some special features and we applied these features to the new website. In the presentation there are two example sites that are made with Drupal to give you an idea how powerful a system it is. One of the sites is the site of whitehouse.gov which is one of the governmental uses of Drupal. The second one is the famous website of magazine, The Economist. It has been using Drupal since 2 years for all its publications. As mentioned before, with the new system agencies became able to upload their own content.
What’s more for new features is that, now there are 3 main content forms. One is news story content, the second as the main part; photos which can be public and premium. When it is public it is low resolution when it is premium it becomes high resolution so agencies can use each other’s photos if they log in to the site. The third and the new feature is the video story which enables video publishing and this feature should be discussed here today between members. Maybe it should be a main topic between agencies from now on.
Another issue is to come up with a resolution about the OANA logo. It can be decided on a new and a functional design for OANA website.
However there are still some problems when you examine the site you will see yourself such as AZERTAC’s monopoly over video section or MNA’s over photo section. But these are resulted from mainly the inactivity of other agencies in these sections. They don’t upload enough photos and videos. There are 13 agencies that use the site most effectively. Those are; MNA, WAM, BERNAMA, IRNA, TNA, TREND, AZERTAC, QNA, PTI, MONTSAME, YONHAP, KYODO and AA. Not all agencies are using the photo and video uploading features of the site. Agencies that use the photo feature most are: MNA, AZERTAC, TREND, MONTSAME, PTI, IRNA and YONHAP. There are only 3 agencies that are using the video feature: MONTSAME, AZERTAC and AA. Maybe KYODO would join them because last year some friends from KYODO asked us about the video function. But we know that KYODO is interested in video publishing. Since the launch of the new site daily average of uploaded news items are around 200. Since the feature became available, more than 750 video stories were uploaded.
In addition, in the new OANA website AA developed the navigation systems compared to the old system. Now agencies use tags for news stories but the problem is that most of the agencies do not use the tag function correct. Tags should be words or small phrases but the agencies use the full title of story in tag section and this is destroying our database. So we had to take some measures against it but the problem still exists.
Another innovation for the site is that now we have an archive tool so the stories can be brought according to dates and names of the agencies. What else, agencies have the option to make their stories public or private. As you see when a story is private only a short intro and a small picture is shown to anonymous readers. If they log in they can see the full story, high resolution photographs and also videos.
“WHAT CAN BE DONE?”
The graphic design of the site needs to improve. To do it, first of all member agencies should agree on the new logo of OANA which will function as a guide for a new design. There are some proposals from agencies about this and this logo will function as a basis for the new design.
The server infrastructure of the site needs to be upgraded. OANA can buy its own servers by its own sources and set up them in scalable architecture with a view to serve to global audience.
As the site moves from one agency to another it continues to change. Some agencies have better conditions but do not have enough sources to maintain such a site. OANA can have its own infrastructure, maybe a geographically distributed one all over the world.
OANA needs more member agencies to upload their content regularly. This will help to improve the publicity of the oananews.org and increase the number of exchanged news items between agencies.
Mobile versions of the site can be developed. It need to be agreed on the terms of how people or organizations will reach full content, namely how the content will be sold and we need to set up a mechanism to achieve this. We have been receiving demands from organizations and people as to how they can read the full version of a story but we cannot give satisfactory answers to them. It can be agreed on how it will be solved and technical people should set up a mechanism for this issue.
For all those tasks, an inter-agencies technical development team can be formed. This team can be in touch online continuously to develop ideas, policies, strategy and software and implement them.
IRNA: Our delegation assuming this is a technical meeting and we have prepared a power-point presentation for the member news agencies. Out of the assumption that at least one member from each news agency is a technical staff as an IT personnel. We will mostly stick to recommendations. The recommendations are in red font. So those slides which are in red font are our recommendations. Before we start, we would like to make one point. One of our staff who is dedicated to filling news and pictures on OANA website, we asked her a feedback before coming here and she mentioned that Anadolu Agency has made a great job on OANA website. We are very happy the usage of site was not user friendly but an editor friendly based. We would like the meeting to take notice that the site is very easy for our editors use it and find their stories. Again, we think that this discussion here today will be mostly of interest of ITAR-TASS because we have 3 months to go to General Assembly; we believe that our colleagues from ITAR-TASS will take a serious notice of what all delegations have. We will make very fast and simplify the presentation, he told me that he is ready to e-mail this power point presentation to all members in OANA within this session so that they can take it back home and analyze it, you are welcome and we are available for that. Thank you very much. Firstly about visitors, Traffic Estimations We uses multiple tools to estimate web traffic, including Google™ Trends and Alexa™. Nevertheless, your analytics will provide the most accurate traffic data. A low rank means that our website gets a lot of visitors. Your Alexa Rank is a good estimate of the worldwide traffic to your website, although it is not 100 percent accurate. Reviewing the most visited websites by country can give you valuable insights. Quantcast provides similar services. About Distinctive Audience This website tends to be popular amongst: males aged between 25 and 34 connecting from work Relative to the general internet population, the above audience is over-represented at oananews.org. This data is provided by Alexa™. It needs consideration. The point here is that, according to my colleague he noticed that from social media there is not a considerable connection to the website. So this is an area which needs to be attended carefully. So all social media sites like twitter can get connect with website because these are future media not just from ordinary media. This was the first point in red so I wanted to catch your attention.
IRNA on Content Sharing with Mobile Devices: Loading time from mobile is exceptionally longer than if you want to load it for example from desktops. That means for loading OANA website on mobiles it takes longer than usual. So this is an area which also should be attended. If someone wants to use his or her mobile to get connected it is unusually longer than normal. About the uploading, IRNA stated it took time to connect to the website through mobile.
AA: As we mentioned in the presentation mobile versions can be developed for the website.
AA: Right, and as for the social media we were thinking about the problem is that we don’t serve the full stories to subscribers. We don’t have a mechanism to sell these stories to companies. If we decide on a membership policy we can promote our stories and invite people to read them but if we invite them they can’t read anything. They will see only the title and a little summary. So we have not worked on the social media but it is a “must” of course in the world today so I am taking notice of what IRNA delegation said about it. Thank you.
IRNA: IP Canonicalization is good, robots.txt is good, XML Sitemap is good. Underscores in the URLs is not good. About Title; OANA NEWS title’s length contains 9 characters. Ideally, our title should contain between 10 and 70 characters. About Description it is missing. Our meta description should contain between 70 and 160 characters. We mean that only 2 out of 37 pictures have captions about what a photo is about. He means that when you go to a picture a very short sentence could be seen. Same captions as we say.
AA: There is a place for captions for pictures but editors do not use it. So it stays empty. Maybe we can make a little script which will take the title of the story caption so when the editors leave it empty the titles can be the captions. I am also taking notes of this.
IRNA: So this is a suggestion for all members not for the host as you said. Every news agency that is uploading pictures should also put some points explaining what this picture is about. About Text/HTML Ratio it is 10.56 % for OANA website. This page's ratio of text to HTML code is below 15 percent, this means that our website probably needs more text content. A ratio between 25 and 70 percent is ideal. When it goes beyond that, the page might run the risk of being considered spam. As long as the
AA: Maybe it is due to our premium and public differentiation. When you are not logged in there is no text – not enough text you are right - but when you are logged in full story is available.
SECRETARY GENERAL: It is the technology changing quiet rapidly so we have to follow it and it is a dynamic process. Maybe in every OANA meeting if it is EBM or if it is General Assembly, it must be more or less related with technical issues technical developments and the changes in media. Maybe it has to include at least more or less few topics to be discussed relating technical issues.
IRNA: DMOZ is not supporting our site. We are not registered.
AA: We can submit our website to that, yes.
IRNA: We could not find a Print-Friendly CSS.
AA: When you are logged in you can see but if you are not logged in you don’t see the printing function because there is nothing to print when you are not logged in.
IRNA: Loading time; is one of the biggest complaints of web user. If the load time/Kb is short, it means your homepage is too big 0.62 second(s) (277.25 Kb/s) is our time. Microformats; We found 0 type(s) of Microformat A microformat is a technical semantic markup that can be used to better structure the data submitted to search engines. Dublin Core is missing in our site. This page does not take advantage of Dublin Core. Dublin Core is a set of standard metadata elements used to describe the contents of a website. It can help with some internal search engines and it does not bloat your code. Domain Availability; Register the various extensions of your domain to protect your brand from cybersquatters. Oananews.com, oananews.net, oananews.info, oananews.biz, oananews.eu
Thank you for your attention and your patience to our presentation. Just one point to evade any misunderstanding; points in green and red – green meant we are already doing well and red does not mean we are week but it needs more attention. And of course thanks to the efforts and contributions of our dear colleagues in the Anadolu Agency we are very thankful to what they are doing.
SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you very much for your contribution to this dynamic process. As we already pointed out, as Secretariat, we expect our members’ contributions both during this meeting and after because this is a dynamic process, day-by-day changes, new innovations, new technologies takes place, and as long as the OANA website is concerned, we have to get it updated accordingly and as soon as possible. We always appreciate your contributions. Any agency, not only ITAR-TASS, upcoming President of OANA, but all other agencies’ contribution in innovative manner is important, because this is a crucial part of media and technology. During the transfer, we will talk with our Information Technologies Department and ITAR-TASS Technical Department, so all the technical infrastructure and servers will be transferred to the ITAR-TASS. This is what we have done in the past.
AA: We think that there are two options. One is the physical movement of the website and the technology to ITAR-TASS and the second option which is more viable for OANA is a cloud solution. OANA sets up the existing system on a cloud environment and an agency gets the technical responsibility of the website. By that, there won’t be any need for moving the servers, installing etc. The cloud solution has also the advantage of better accessibility on a global basis so it can be much faster, it can be like “amazon.com” cloud or any other international cloud providers so wherever you are in the world, you can access the website easily. It can be an option. I think the new website, because of the Content Management System (CMS), it allows every agency to upload news and contents themselves rather than sharing documents. It is one of top three content management systems in the world and it is an open source, no cost. It is very flexible, new features that have been discussed in the meeting can be added as part of that system. IRNA’s suggestions can be easily implemented as well to that system.
YONHAP: Changing the way members upload news contents; Automation; We suggest that all the members transmit their news material to the OANA website via automatic feeds such as FTP instead of the current method of uploading manually on a daily basis. Enabling automation will encourage more news agencies to upload their content because it will require minimal effort by them.
Proposal on the technical infrastructure and web design; We kindly ask the next Chairman of OANA, ITAR-TASS to arrange its technical infrastructure such as website servers toward guaranteeing a good site speed. Furthermore, it would be great if a more user-friendly interface and intuitive content arrangement could be considered for the new website scheduled to be designed by ITAR-TASS
Posting OANA banner on Yonhap's English website; In light of the opportunity to establish a fresh OANA homepage, we also would like to inform you that we plan to post a banner linked to the OANA website on Yonhap's English website. In other words, the OANA website will pop up if users click on the banner on the Yonhap homepage. This will give more Korean people the opportunity to access news content provided by OANA member agencies.
ITAR-TASS: We are thankful for IRNA Agency for their presentation for it will be useful on our further work. I hope for support of Anadolu Agency as well because as you mentioned the work to be developed every day, every year. We will keep your (AA) proposal in mind for General Assembly to have a technical meeting on every meeting. You mentioned the servers’ transfer to ITAR-TASS and a cloud system; hopefully it can be resolved for General Assembly. I guess we will have a special section on this.
AA: We can share the cloud idea with an IT guy in ITAR-TASS. With the cloud system, it doesn’t matter where your servers are, so you just make an agreement with service provider, a global service provider, and they dedicate a server to you. Wherever you are in the globe, you install this application to that environment, let’s say a $5000 equipment, and when another agency takes the Presidency and the website, they will not need to do anything other than getting the administrative user ID and password and that’s it. OANA News just has to identify the cloud provider, it can be Microsoft, and it can be Amazon. Anadolu Agency with ITAR-TASS would move this installation to the cloud environment which can be done I assume very straightforward.
SECRETARY GENERAL: I think it’s ITAR-TASS’ decision on which technology to choose, which infrastructure to apply, because it is the matter of technical personnel, investment and capacity. ITAR-TASS will choose to take the server from Anadolu Agency and archives will be transferred to ITAR-TASS like Anadolu Agency took over from ANTARA. ITAR-TASS and Anadolu technicians will meet and discuss. The presentations made by agencies can be submitted to you and your personnel can discuss on this. Whenever your technicians need help from OANA or specifically from Anadolu Agency, we are happy to support and we are ready to cooperate. But the main point is, as for Secretariat, the transfer is a technical process, technically speaking, engineers should work on that. It is up to ITAR-TASS, you decide, we will act accordingly.
ITAR-TASS: Yes, we made a discussion among ourselves to develop it. We thought about social media with and ideas like that. I think that we will discuss again, the technical part, the content part, the wishes of the members etc. so we will have a kind of connection with you to go together with the next steps.
SECRETARY GENERAL: In Anadolu Agency Information Technologies Department is based in Ankara; I think the main investment was buying servers, and AA has done this as OANA.
AA (to ITAR-TASS): In your Presidency, you can maybe form such a team just for OANA? It is just a proposal. Up to know, whenever a technical problem arises, the editors contacted me, except from KYODO, only in KYODO I have spoken with the technical department. Generally, editors are reaching us and we try to solve their problems instantly. Concerning the technical problems, maybe technical departments of agencies’ can contact with each other. The solutions may be faster that way.
SECRETARY GENERAL: The minutes of the meeting and the discussions will be reported. The minutes will be published on the OANA Website as well. So regarding the discussion on website’s development, are there any other agency willing to speak?
KYODO: We support ITAR-TASS for the success of the General Assembly, thank you.
AA: To summarize it, there are two ways for transferring. The cloud system will make the OANA members’ lives much easier. Cloud is the next technological breakthrough. Transferring could be done in days, not in months. We can focus much more on improving the usability, the other aspects of OANA to introduce our agencies’ to the rest of the world. There are more than 140 news agencies in the world so not everyone knows about the rest of the agencies so I think this website is a good opportunity for OANA members.
ANTARA: It is good that you mentioned about this. We can have a discussion that but basically it is up to ITAR-TASS.
ITAR-TASS: We need some consultations with our team and personnel in ITAR-TASS. We will do the best for members of OANA.
AA: On a cloud system, every agency can have easy access to OANA website for sharing. For example, if you like to access the website and see the images and the videos, you will not have to wait for 30 seconds, it will be much faster. We use the cloud technology in Anadolu Agency. Because there is a huge amount of data and we wanted to be accessible fast by the rest of the world. Instead of just managing by the servers in Ankara, we distribute it on a cloud system with a much wider internet bandwidth. At the moment, we don’t have so many visitors. We have a daily average of 300. The most goes up to 600 and this will not cost much if you buy a cloud system.
SECRETARY GENERAL: OANA provides to the website. I guess OANA Members will bear the cost, whatever it will be so to that extent, the Presidency will decide on which technology will be applied and regarding the costs, we will discuss on that. It depends on the servers you buy, how many areas, locations you have, how many visitors you have, what’s their distribution, as I understand.
IRNA (to ITAR-TASS): Can you please inform us with the dates of the General Assembly? Because in Tokyo EBM, it was decided that in February members would be informed and the invitations will be sent. Normally, you know that Septembers and Novembers are the months for international conferences, I am concerned about the General Assembly will coincide with some other important meeting, so OANA is important for us, if you kindly give us some information on the dates?
ITAR-TASS: Regarding the General Assembly and organization, we will be glad to inform all OANA Members as soon as possible. We will send the invitations. The General Assembly in Moscow will be interesting, it will be on a comfortable environment and it is very important to develop our relationship among the organization.
SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you very much for all the participants.