Ever visited Lebanon's online English paper, The Daily Star?
According to popular blogger, Qifa Nabki, it is:
…one of the worst websites I’ve ever seen. It is slow, clunky, and hideously ugly.
Another blogger, Richard Hall, describes The Daily Star‘s website:
…as easy to navigate as a 1920’s Russian steam boat.
The Daily Star, Lebanon's only English paper, has been providing online news from Beirut for over a decade. Since its launch online, the paper has refused to upgrade its website, frustrating many of its readers.
The “ugly” Daily Star has prompted Lebanese bloggers to act, with an online campaign launched by creator of the Beirut Spring blog, Mustapha.
Mustapha has cleverly created a mock Daily Star website – the Better Daily Star Project or #BDSP on Twitter – using WordPress functionality to highlight the incompetence of The Daily Star's IT and web design team.
Although his actions might raise eyebrows at The Daily Star, Mustapha insists his intentions are positive:
-The aim of #BDSP is not to steal away viewers from The Daily Star's website. It's to regain back readers who have left them in frustration. In fact, the DS should pay us to do this :)
-This project is not meant in any way to hurt the reputation of the Daily Star. The point of this project is to try to steer the Daily Star's website away from what we believe is the wrong course
-When the Daily Star finally puts a better website in place, this project will no longer have to exist. Our mission will be done. In fact, we will turn into their biggest cheerleaders
- We completely respect intellectual property rights. We never pretend that we own this stuff or that we wrote the articles, this is why this project strives to make the correct attributions to each and every article
Why am I doing it. What's the point?
Well, I am trying to say this: If one guy (yours humbly) can use freely available opensource software (wordpress if you must know) to create this alternative, arguably better website in two weeks, why can't a newspaper with an actual IT department do it? In other words, I'm shooting down the argument that it would be too expensive to do. Listen to me well: They're just being lazy.
But isn't this Illegal?
Probably. But I'm not making any money out of it (in fact, I'm paying some in effort and hosting fees), and I promise that as soon as they do something about their site, I'll gladly bow out. Besides, it will cost them more to sue me than to actually fix their site and let me off their back.
Mustapha's initative indeed caught the eye of the mainly supportive Lebanese blogosphere.
Rami at +961 added a few words of support on his blog:
What to do when you’re just fed up waiting for something to happen? Best thing is to take matters into your own hands! And that’s what fellow blogger Mustapha did while waiting for the Daily Star IT people to renovate their website.
As did Tajaddod Youth:
While we’re on the subject of dysfunctional websites, after many years of anglophone frustration with the Daily Star’s website, one bloggerhas decided to act.
The result, not just a critique of Lebanon’s only english language newspaper’s poor excuse for a website, but a completely redesigned homepage for the newspaper we all love.
Supportive comments for the #BDSP poured on Qifa Nabki's blog post on the subject:
wow. I feel I can breathe!
I positively HATE the Daily Star website as it is now (does it sound strange that reading it makes me claustrophobic?)
A huge improvement. The real site is absolutely terrible. It looks like a spammy ad-infested blogspot site, or worse.
Many Daily Star readers will be hoping that the #BDSP campaign will prompt a change at The Daily Star, turning the “1920's Russian steam boat” into a 21st century cruise liner.
Also on Global Voices Online:
Lebanon: The Better Daily Star Project