Since MAIN first went online Feb. 22, 1996, we have envisioned a lively, dynamic and
interactive website for local news and information and community-building.Though previous
versions of our website had lots of rich content, the homepage itself has been rather
static. We are proud to launch our new web site January 30, 2000.
One of the new website's major features is that it will change every day,much like a daily
newspaper. The site is divided into three sections. The right-hand column is devoted to
local news and information. Highlights include:
The center section is divided into two parts. The top section is the Community Calendar, which is
automated to allow local groups to submit their own events announcements. This section will
include links to daily "featured" events. The second part, below the community calendar, is
devoted to Community Network News. This section
features news specific to MAIN, such as community meetings, announcement of new website
features, and network operations updates (which will reduce the need for "broadcast" email
- The latest "current conditions" and weather forecast from the regional National Weather
Service office at the Greenville-Spartanburg airport. Thanks to webmaster Michael Tracey's
"magic," this feature includes "zoned" updates -- every few seconds -- for the northern,
central, western, and southern mountains. This feature will be augmented later this year
through a network of local "severe weather spotters" trained by the National Weather Service
in collaboration with MAIN. More about this later.
- Morning headlines from the Asheville Citizen-Times, including links to the full text of
the morning's top stories.
- Links to the week's top stories from Mountain Xpress, as well as other regional
- A pull-down "County Media" directory for access to local media in all the counties of
WNC (please let us know of any local media we are missing). Since many smaller, local media
do not have websites, MAIN will offer them free webhosting to help these important sources
of local news get online.
The lefthand column is anchored by two important features from our old website, Community
Resources and Mountain Voices. The former, which includes more than 250 local, nonprofit
websites hosted at no charge by MAIN, has been divided into Community Links for nonprofits, and Business Links for local
commercial ventures. Each of these directories are now automated, so please encourage local
nonprofits and small businesses to link their websites to MAIN.
Mountain Voices, the public forums where citizens
can speak what's on their minds, are using new software to make the discussions easier to
follow. This section has also been expanded to include a forum for every county we serve.
And building on the success of our Y2K and "Computers & the Internet" forums, we plan to
add other "special topic" forums (such as gardening) based on feedback from you.
Also, users must now register in order to enter and use the forums. This registration
process will allow us to ban users who repeatedly abuse the forums by posing as someone else
and/or posting libelous or slanderous comments.
MAIN has strong and proven commitments to free speech as well as online privacy, and this
new registration policy will in no way compromise either of these commitments. Free speech
rights are not absolute; for example, falsely yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater is not
protected by the First Amendment. Nor is slander or libel. Due to repeated abuse by a few
users more intent on disrupting the forums than on civil and open debate, we have instituted
this new policy and procedure.
The popularity of MAIN's "Swap and Shop" forum has led us to create a comprehensive "Classified Ads" section. This directory is a
huge new opportunity for MAIN users to share information as a community.
Finally, at the bottom of the left-hand column, you will find a pull-down menu for
county-by-county information across WNC. Each county page will include the official MAIN
county website (let us know if you have content for your county website or would like to
help maintain it), plus any other county information websites we come across.
Despite all these new features and functionality, please remember that this is a
work-in-progress. Also, as a community website, it belongs to all of us. So give us your
ideas, criticisms, and any other feedback.And please tell your friends and neighbors about
MAIN's new website, soon to be the most comprehensive online source of local news and
informationin Western North Carolina!