New look to the site

Jim Jepps, editor



after much hoo-ha and kafuffle the new Socialist Unity Network site is launched. We hope you like it. The Guardian has gone all 'Berliner' and the Independent on Sunday has followed its weekly sister paper into the realms of tabloidism, so rather than feel left out we've had a spruce up.

In terms of content we hope to continue to bring you news from all over the progressive movement and a grown up dialogue between those who hope to see a better world. One of the reasons that this site was launched a year and a half ago was that we felt that all parts of the movement had contributions to make and something to say that was actually worth listening too.

It's a sad fact of life that on the left we're often much better at talking than we are at listening to each other, and this is often reflected in our publications. How often when reading one weekly paper or another have you felt you were reading the line rather than the news? It sometimes feels like we're reading a justification of the theoretical position of one group or another rather than reading about real events involving real people.

We certainly can't step out of the fact that we all have our own specific way of looking at the world - but we can have a commitment to (attempt at least) to respect and listen to positions other than our own, and to delve slightly deeper into issues than a placard sized slogan.

One of the inspirations for us, in fact, was the anti-war group Iraq Occupation Focus who are both able to play a valuable role within the anti-war movement, including the Stop the War Coalition, and simultaneously go beyond some of the stranger polarised pictures that you will come across at any anti-war event.

It's also been the case that we've been committed to a more humane version of socialism than you might get from the unfair and cruel stereo type of the yelling student or hard bitten hack - which is why we've attempted to bring stories about sports, publish original poetry and taken note of those the left often does not think of as fellow travellers - community activists, anarchists and greens to name a few.

Of course it's also been a process where we've learned and made mistakes - and we hope to continue to develop as time goes on. As part of this we are hoping to expand the discussion making use of an open forum (to be launched within the month) and inviting contributions from all parts of the movement on the issues of the day.

The forum will be a real experiment for us which we're willing to give a go, although whether it's possible to have an open forum which also has a sensible and grown up discussion is yet to be seen. As time goes on the etiquette of the list will have to develop but it wont come as much of a surprise if trolling, obnoxiousness and spamming are given short shrift - but we shall see.

One of the changes you'll notice on the site is that we've attempted to bring as much to the front as possible. There have been well loved and useful sections of the Socialist Unity site that have effectively been tucked away in a ghetto - unseen by many of our readers.

That's why counterBLASTS' home page is to be discontinued and the content brought to the fore where everyone can see it. Likewise the gazette of the press has been extremely useful for those who knew it was there, but a break down of the hits of the site showed clearly that these readers were a select band. The gazette will now be smaller, by necessity, contained in the left side bar but hopefully, by bringing this onto the front page more readers will be able to make use of the facility.

In that spirit we're going to experiment by bringing some 'featured' links onto the front page (although not as a replacement for the revamped links page) where we will highlight links relevant to current events (with the stop the war conference coming up we're highlighting that right now for example).

However, the diary section has been scrapped for a number of reasons - partly because its a pain - but mainly because tucked out of sight (or should that be out of site?) it simply was not getting used. So we'll be highlighting far less upcoming events - but in a more prominent way, on the front page.

Aside from the technical improvements, invisible to the naked eye, we're hoping that the new style is clearer, cleaner and less clunky. There's nothing worse than a clunky site after all. But we also hope that the usability of the site has not only been maintained but increased.

It's almost inevitable that there will be some teething problems - if you spot them let us know! If you have comments, good or bad, we'd love to hear them, after all there are no finished products, only works in progress.

We hope you'll keep reading, keep contributing and keep fighting for a better world.