In December 2009 the <uwebd/> Ning network was created by Mark Greenfield “as an experiment to see if web 2.0 technologies could be utilized to create a community for [US] higher education web professionals.” The network grew steadily over the years and by September 2016 had over 4,800 members.

However in September 2016 I received an email from Mark Greenfield which said:

Activity on the site peaked in the early years but has declined as new social media tools have become available. That being said, the site is still fairly active with 16,000 unique visitors to the site two years ago and 10,000 in the past year. (This compares to 85,000+ annual users in the early years)

Ning has recently increased their prices substantially and I need to make a decision about the future of this site. I have not actively managed or promoted this site for the past several years other than approving new members and monitoring content. I am willing to put the time and effort into revitalizing and improving this site if there is sufficient interest in the community.

Looking back over the history of this site, the decline in activity can be directly attributed to the growth of Twitter. For me personally, I now find Twitter to be of limited value for professional development. It seems that professional conversations are happening on a variety of platforms including LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack, Twitter, etc. and there may be an opportunity to rethink how we can use the uwebd site as a platform for higher education web professionals to connect and collaborate.

Following a discussion on a post entitled “the future of the uwebd social network” on 6 February 2017 Mark published a post entitled “The UWEBD Social Network Will Live On” in which he announced that:

I am happy to announce that the uwebd social network will live on thanks to our friends at OmniUpdate. OmniUpdate is a major supporter of collaboration and knowledge sharing within the higher ed community and is pleased to continue their sponsorship of the uwebd site.  And for a limited time you can still get a free uwebd mug by clicking on the graphic on the home page.

Moving forward, I will be making some changes to the site. If there are new features you would like to see, old features we should remove, or sites and social media channels we should syndicate, please let me know by responding in the comments below.

Thanks again to OmniUpdate for their sponsorship.

The home page for the <uwebd/> is illustrated. As can be seen there is a discussion forum together with various groups and blogs.

This must surely be of interest to the UK Web management community in the UK higher education community, I thought. Since the mid 1990s the web-support and website-info-mgt Jiscmail lists have been available for the community but, as described back in June 2010 in a blog post entitled “The Decline in JISCMail Use Across the Web Management Community” use of these lists has been in decline since the early 2000s. Last year, as can be seen from the data of the number of posts to these two lists, there were 27 posts to the web-support list and 122 to website-info-mgt, significantly down from 2,542 messages to web-support in 2002 and 568 to website-info-mgt in 2001.

Might it be time to make use of the <uwebd/> community, I wonder? .The community is intended for University web developers and there are likely to be sufficient areas of interest for those based in the UK to make the community worth considering.

However I should add a note of caution. There have been 156 posted published on the community blog but the last one was posted in March 2015. Similarly the list of groups suggests lack of activity since 2015 as can be seen from the image sorted by most active groups.

But Mark Greenfield (who, I should add, has commented on this blog) has pointed out that:

I will be making some changes to the site. If there are new features you would like to see, old features we should remove, or sites and social media channels we should syndicate, please let me know

Might a group on <uwebd/> aimed at the UK higher education web management community be of value, I wonder? Let me know what you think.