Category: News database

After 15 years, a new way to post news quickly and easily to LabourStart

bookmarkletPeople have been asking for something like this for a very long time.  Today I finally wrote the code to do it.

Login to post news as you normally would.  On the second screen, the one that’s entitled “Main Menu”, look at the text highlighted to the left.  The yellow arrow is pointing at it.

Drag the red box that says “Add2LS” up to your bookmarks toolbar.  (The bookmarks toolbar varies from browser to browser, but usually it’s the part of your screen immediately above the web page you are viewing.)

Leave it there — it will say “Add2LS”.

You only have to do this once.

Now, go visit a website that’s a source of labour news.

Find a news story you want to put on LabourStart.

Click on the “Add2LS” link in your toolbar.

And magic — you can begin adding the news story.

The link sits there permanently in your toolbar, and you never have to login again.

News stories always appear in one window (or tab) and the form in another so that you can glance back at the news story for stuff like the name of the publication, the title, and so on.

This should make it easier and quicker than ever for correspondents to post news stories.

Try it and let me know what you think — and how it can be improved.

The weeks in review – 7-20 February 2014

berlin-logo-300Berlin conference:  We’ve made lots of progress on a wide range of issues, most of the work having been done by the organizing committee in Berlin.

We’re now up to 352 registered participants from 58 countries with the largest groups coming from Germany (77), the UK (49) and Nigeria (31).

Because of the very large number of people who’ve signed up to come from Africa, we’ve actually done a mailing to all of them and have recruited some new correspondents.  We’ve also been warned that some of these will not be representatives of genuine independent and democratic trade unions and are showing caution in who gets invitation letters (to get a visa into Germany).

Because of number of registrants we did consider moving the conference to a larger venue, but the majority of members of the organizing committee decided to stick with our current venue.

We’re still putting together the agenda, organizing solidarity housing for the 147 registrants who requested it, working on the visas, dealing with interpretation into the various languages, and much more.

Only 3 months to go!

Campaigns:

  • It seems like we’re about to launch a new campaign in support of workers in Korea — details coming soon.
  • We were going to close down the Sri Lanka campaign today, after three months, but IndustriALL has requested an extension.
  • We received a lovely email from the union at the Labatt brewery where our campaign helped them win their very long strike — and we emailed our entire list about this win.
  • We also received a message updating the Huber Ballesteros campaign (see below).
  • We closed two campaigns — Mexico and a UK-only campaign but haven’t gotten updates back from either union.  It’s very important that unions which request campaigns from us report back to us on a regular basis and particularly when a campaign ends.

New language: We now have LabourStart in Hungarian — with some news already added by our only senior correspondent who speaks the language …

News interface: Now available in Italian for our Italian-speaking correspondents.

MailChimp: We’ve had our first mailings done by users other than me (which I need to approve) and these have been successful.  It’s great to share the load here.

Donations: I’ve now fixed the donations page so that if you’re donating in US dollars, the USA becomes your default country; if in Australian dollars, Australia is your default country, and so on.  This had been causing problems for some Americans trying to donate by credit card via PayPal.

The week in review – 31 January – 7 February 2014

Campaigns: I’ve fixed two things that were nagging me — (1) When signing up to support a campaign, you now must choose a country, and “Select a counrtry” doesn’t count.  Previously, we had “Afghanistan” as our first country and had large numbers of people ignoring this and letting that remain.  They’re now being forced to choose.  (2) You now have to enter a valid email address, with a “@” and full stops (periods).  Obviously we’re not completely testing, and some invalid email addresses will slip through., but at least you have to enter something that remotely looks like an email address.

News: See below — this should help expand the reach of our news stories.  (I’ve written to all our correspondents about this today.)

Mailing list: I’ve invited a number of senior correspondents and translators who already do mass mailngs to use MailChimp directly — and very pleased to see that several have taken me up on the offer.  This should speed things up a bit when sending out mailings.  We’ve nearly completed the migration of our language mailing lists from Sendy to MailChimp.

Berlin conference: Lots happening — details to come.

Interface for adding news: Our Finnish and (soon) Italian correspondents will have an interface in their languages when they post news.  This is already the case with a number of the languages.

Books: We’re making progress on the Dan Gallin book, which is already several hundred pages long.  Andy has translated the global labour book into French.  Tom is doing an inventory of books in the office and calculating how many we’ve sold in the first year as a publisher.

Dates of news stories: The dates appearing next to news stories now appear in the more standard dd-mm-yyyy format — an improvement suggested by Andy.

Campaigns:  There are a couple of suggested new ones.  Meanwhile, we closed the Fiji campaign — a big win.

Articles: I had two more articles appear on the KESK trial in Turkey — in Labor Notes and OpenDemocracy.net.

Getting trade union news out to a much wider audience

facebook16twitter16Every news story on LabourStart, in every language, and even on our country and state/province pages, now has a Twitter and Facebook icon next to it. I completed the writing of the code for this today.  Click on the icons and you can tweet the story or post it to Facebook.  (You need to be logged into Twitter or Facebook to do this.)  This will (potentially) greatly expand the readership of these stories and provide a huge boost to unions trying to get their message out to an international audience.  Try it out!

The weeks in review – 1-10.1.14

Campaigns:

  • We’ve closed the Korean teachers’ campaign and will soon be receiving a report back on the results.
  • The Cambodia campaign, launched yesterday, is taking off very quickly — already considerably larger than the Carnival (Crown Holdings) campaign launched a week earlier.
  • We’re now running our first campaign ever in Ukrainian.

Berlin 2014:

  • I’m off to Berlin tomorrow with Tom to meet with the organizing committee.
  • At the moment we have 260 registrants for the conference, 54 of them from Germany, 40 from the UK.
  • We’ve updated the database adding a number of new fields to begin recording where people will stay, their flight details, contact phone numbers, etc. This information will be added by the conference organizers.

Books:

We’ve just heard from Dan Gallin that he’s assembled the texts for our next book, which we can now begin to produce and sell.  This will be LabourStart’s fourth book.

Mailing lists:

We had a problem with Sendy, trying to resolve it with help from them.

French edition:

Derek and Andy have made several suggestions for improvements which we’ve begun to implement.

Fundraising:

  • We’re about to do the quarterly fundraising mailing to people who regularly support our online campaigns.
  • I’ve also written to all our correspondents about the Svensson prize (having already told our entire list about it) and fingers crossed maybe this year LabourStart will be considered for this.

Newswires:

We now have a Vietnamese English-language newswire at the request of our comrades in Australia, and it appears on the website of the committee to protect Vietnamese workers.

News database:

We’re adding additional languages to allow new correspondents to post news without having to deal with an English interface. The Finnish one is now ready and others are on their way.

The week in review – 11-17 September

Calendar: Sale of our LabourStart Calendar for 2014 have stalled — we only sold 18 in the last 6 days (of those, 8 were in Canada, 5 in Australia, 3 in the UK and 2 in the USA).  I’ve already done two rounds of publicity and today will be mailing to nearly 500 state federations of labor and central labor councils in the USA in an attempt to boost sales there.

Campaigns:

  • August was an exceptionally slow month for us, so 5 days ago I wrote to all our campaign partners — GUFs and others — asking if anyone needed help.  We got answers from a number of them an expect to launch several new campaigns in the next couple of weeks.
  • Edd and I met with a leader of the UN staff union and they have been facing a brutal attack on workers’ rights from the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and will probably be needing a campaign from us in the next few days.
  • We closed down the Philippines campaign one month early (see below) and the GE Erie campaign one month late (at the request of the union).
  • We did a special mailing to our Canadian subscribers boosting a number of campaigns there (not all of these were hosted by LabourStart).

Intern: As I reported below, Edd is leaving us at the end of this month (though will continue working one day a week for LabourStart) and we’ve begun the process of recruiting a replacement.

News:

  • The biggest improvement, described below, is that now you can get beyond the first 50 news stories on any of our country pages.   (This will soon work on our home pages in the different languages as well.)
  • I’ve also fixed a problem with links to the country names that were appearing on the home page in English — the first time the name appeared, the link would take you to our new, correct country news page, but the second appearance of the country name still took you to an old page.
  • With so much coverage of the British TUC conference last week, we did a special mailing to our UK list promoting the news page.  It’s very important that we continue to draw attention to our news service, as many of the people on our mailing list are familiar with our campaigns — but not with the news we provide.

Correspondents: 

  • As reported below, a correspondent can now change their default language and country — either temporarily or permanently.  This caused a small problem for senior correspondents, as Derek discovered, but this has now been fixed.
  • We’ve been struggling to make sure that we have current email addresses for all the correspondents and Edd has nearly completed this task.
  • This week, I resumed weekly mailings to correspondents and I intend to keep doing this.

Internationalization:

  • Our failure to sustain LabourStart news in any Nordic language except Norwegian has been with us for some time.  This week, I wrote to all our subscribers on the English list from Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden and have received responses from 10 of them — at least one has volunteered to be a correspondent, others have already contact their national trade union centres in the hope of growing interest in LabourStart.
  • Our French home page was the last one to be converted to our new format and this is now complete.

Kiev 2013: There will be a meeting of LabourStart correspondents from Russia, Ukraine and Georgia (and other countries?) in Kiev at the beginning of November.  Masha has drafted an invitation letter which I’ve read and approved, and Edd has found email addresses for all our correspondents from the region who have been invited.  I will be attending myself.

Berlin 2014: I’ve fixed a meeting at the ITUC in Brussels for two weeks from today to discuss how our conference ties in with theirs.  They’ve been exceptionally cooperative and this is hugely important for the success of our global solidarity conference.

Small screen version of LabourStart: Edd’s been working on a version of the site that will automatically appear when you view it on a smartphone, as we’ve done with campaigns.  This is nearly ready.

Daily tech tips for trade unionists: I  wrote ten of these which appeared over the last couple of weeks and got some nice and interesting feedback.  Would be interested to know if comrades would like this to continue.  Meanwhile, I’m pausing the effort.

Better late than never – easy access to older news stories

If you visit any of our country pages (e.g., the USA), you’ll now see at the very bottom, after the last story, a link for more news.
If you click on it, it will show you the next 50 stories, and then after that, another 50 stories, and so on.
At the moment this is only working on the country pages, but tomorrow I’ll aim to get it working on the home page in all languages as well.
We’ll also be adding Search once again to the site, but this new function — which took quite some time to get right — is a huge improvement over where we stood until very recently.

The week in review – 5-11 September

Calendar: Our first-ever wall calendar has appeared and it’s beautiful.  So far this week, we’ve sold 97 of them.  Have you ordered yours yet?

Campaigns:  Our campaign demanding the release of jailed Canadian John Greyson, held by the Egyptian police, went global and was publicized in a mailing.  It’s now up to 3,845 messages sent. Tomorrow we’re meeting with an activist from the UN staff unions, here to discuss efforts to weaken trade unions for staff at the global body — a possible campaign.

Berlin 2014: Last weekend I was able to meet with another member of the Berlin committee and discuss many of the issues around our upcoming conference.  I booked flights for my visit to Berlin next month where I’ll meet the whole committee and help take planning forward.

Photo of the day: I made changes in how we do the photo of the day feature on the front page of LabourStart in part to deal with problems that came up with our use of CloudFlare to cache our site.  But it’s also allowed us to do two things we hadn’t planned on — to pre-load a photo for a date in the future, and to show an archive of all photos we’ve had recently.

Correspondents: Every correspondent is given a default language and country, and while this is usually good enough, sometimes it needs to change.  Correspondents themselves now have the ability to do this after they’ve logged in.

Coverage of the British TUC congress: Thanks to Edd and others we have very impressive coverage of this and today will be doing a mailing to our UK list (over 10,000 addresses) to spread the word about this.

Our next book: We’re still writing the book and hope to have it ready in a few more days.  It’s hard to keep pace with the ever-changing world of mobile phones, but I think it will be a very interesting book.

Daily tech tips for trade unionists: A series I started on my blog which may be of interest to LabourStart correspondents.  Click here to see the first few.  Please feel free to add comments and make suggestions.

The week in review – 24-29 April

book2The Global Labour Movement – An Introduction: We’ve now completed the work on this, awaiting delivery of 100 copies to sell at our book launch on 4th May in London. Andy has been sent the text for possible translation into French.  You can order copies already – here.

Campaigning Online and Winning: We distributed 769 copies so far, of which 44 were free copies and 725 were sales. (77 were in French and 692 in English).

Campaigns – new: On Friday, 26 April, we launched an urgent action campaign at the request of IndustriALL in response to the disastrous building collapse in Bangladesh. I’ve added some text about the campaign to the Wikipedia entry and hope to continue to use Wikipedia in future to publicize our campaigns.

Campaigns – closed: We closed the Korea campaign. Still waiting to hear from the KGEU about what effect, if any, it had.

Campaigns – overhaul: I’ve successfully migrated our campaigns from the old, flat ASCII (text) database to a relational database using MySQL. Now I’m working on correcting the script that shows campaigns to show this one instead.

News – by country: I’ve changed the sort order so the most recent stories now appear first.

News – posting: Now when you modify a news story posted by someone else (senior correspondents only) it will not change the name of the correspondent who originally posted the story.

2014 LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Berlin: Edd has begun work on this.

May Day party in London (Saturday, 4th May): We’re up to 227 yes/maybe. Edd and I visited the venue last week.

Our 50 languages – beginnings of a comprehensive review

I’ve begun a comprehensive review of the use of languages on LabourStart and have begun tightening things up, trying to make sure that a language that appears in one part of our system appears in the others. Over the years, it’s all become a bit of a mess, but here are some preliminary observations:

  • In our news database, we allow input of news in 50 languages.
  • Until recently, only 28 of those languages – the active ones – were properly tagged. From now on, all 50 languages are properly encoded.
  • Only 28 languages have translated frameworks and are therefore listed on the front page.
  • The five most heavily-used languages – the ones that have had 10,000 news stories or more in our database – are English, Finnish, French, Polish, and Norwegian.
  • There are 25 languages that can be used for campaigns, though any code can be entered — even inaccurate ones (e.g., xx).
  • As of this morning, we have mailing lists for all 50 languages. The 8 biggest, with more than 1,000 addresses each, are English, French, Italian, German, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.