ALTopedia in 2021
February 11, 2021
Happy belated New Year, everyone! I was going to make a post to that effect in January, but with the worsening coronavirus situation in Japan and the alarming news coming out of my home country of the US, it didn’t feel right to make a post ringing in the new year.
2020 ended up being a tough year for everybody. The pandemic upended everyone’s lives, livelihoods, and plans for the future. We all had to deal with sudden and inconsistent changes to how we taught and lived. There’s still a lot of lingering uncertainty. Let’s all hope that 2021 will be better as vaccines are distributed to the world and normalcy begins to return. There’s a lot that I’d like to do with the site this year, so I’ll start getting into that.
My goal is for this to be the year to where the site recoups its costs. My server bill in January was for $104 US, and it looks like the bills are going to be at least that much from this point on. The site has more visitors now than it’s ever had, which is great from a community perspective but bandwidth costs are starting to grow as well.
Right now what I’m thinking about is some form of premium membership that would be purchased directly through the site. Members will get access to additional features, but the site would still be free to use, join, and contribute to. Until I get that set up, the Patreon page will be the way to participate in this idea if you want to support the site financially.
The site is in a fortunate position where there’s no parent company, investors, or advertisers. I can see why many sites or apps or other web-based communities might try to go corporate as a way to pay their staff’s salaries, but since I had to fight so hard for the site’s independence last fall, I’d like to move ahead on a different and unique path. I think it’s becoming common knowledge that a lot of sites today use psychological tricks to draw in audiences and monopolize users’ attention to show them as many advertisements as possible. A lot of these sites may not even realize what they’re doing, but nonetheless find themselves unconsciously following the business currents of the day.
As you can probably guess, I don’t plan on going down that road. I try and follow the guiding principle of making a site that I would want to use. There are a million things that need to be improved or worked on, but I hope every update will be one small thing that makes the site a better source of ideas and inspiration.
I hope that I’ve communicated this before, but I’m very thankful for the extremely kind community that’s developed around the site. I’m continually amazed by the creative ideas that people share, and it makes me smile to see people writing comments that they tried someone else’s activity and had a great class with it. There’s no one else that I need to appeal to or satisfy besides all of you.
My big goal for 2021 is to have the new interface ready and integrated into the site. I’m in the beginning stages of it making it now, and I’ve put up a couple posts for Patreon supporters as I go. I don’t plan on massively changing the look of the site, but the fact that I will have built it all myself will mean that it will be a lot easier to make changes. Right now I use a pre-built UI framework, but it’s a bit clunky to modify and the newest version will stop supporting Internet Explorer 11, which a lot of users still have to use.
Another initiative I want to look at is adding more information to tags. If you remember Englipedia, there were longer explanations on each grammar point, with the Japanese name and plenty of example sentences. I’d like to build something similar for each tag in ALTopedia. This would give the search system more things to key off of when you’re looking for something for a grammar point, and help you prepare for how to teach it in class. Maybe this could be something that the community could help out with.
I’d also like to have some period of time where I (or maybe another moderator) go through all of the activities to see if the tags make sense. I think some grammar point pages show a lot of activities that don’t really apply to the grammar point, or only apply in a vague sense. I’ll need to draft up some sort of tag guidelines to help people choose tags that make sense. Something like a maximum of three grammar point tags per activity, or a system where there’s one “primary” tag on an activity and that’s what is prioritized in a search. There are now over 1100 activities, so being able to browse through them efficiently is important!
I recently added a Special Needs class section after a user suggested it. I try and add any good links I find to the Resources section, so feel free to check in on that from time to time. I’ve added textbook publication years to textbooks and I’ve tried to enter the new JHS textbooks that I’ve found under their 2021 entries. Hopefully that means that if you have to deal with multiple versions of a textbook, you can look up the grammar points for both of them.
This year is going to require some more resilience out of all of us, but we’ve made it this far! Keep it up!