Competition is Good

For over two years, I’ve been running Planet Westminster. It’s a simple site which aggregates blog postings from all UK MPs. I built it in an afternoon (based on my software Perlanet) and have tweaked it here and there since then. I always thought that it would good to have it working well before next year’s election campaign gets under way as I think that blogs will be an important part of that election.

This morning, I see that I’m not the only one with that idea. Blogminster is doing the same thing. And the annoying thing is that it seems to be doing it better than me. Not only does it just look nicer than my site (I never claimed to be a web designer!) but it has some really nice features – for example the ability to show just the blogs of MPs for just one party. They also have more MPs on their list than I have – it’s been a while since I did one of my sporadic trawls to find new MPs’ blogs. But that’s ok, I can just steal details from their list.

But I really need to put some effort into improving my site. Some things I’d like to do:

  • Make it look prettier
  • Just display the latest entry from each MP
  • Have filtered pages for each party
  • Have a separate page for each MP showing previous entries
  • Have an option to not display all of each entry (some MPs can write a lot)

There are also some things I need to work out with the parsing of the data and the formatting of the output.

Some of these improvements will also be useful to other people using Perlanet. Some of them are probably going to need to be custom built for this site.

It’s clear that I got the site to a “just barely usable” state and have largely ignored it since. I’ve proved that the concept works and is useful, but it’s not really in a suitable condition to be shared with the world. That needs to change.

If you have any interest in getting involved in fixing the site, then please let me know. I’m particularly interested in anyone who can make it look nicer.

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