The problem is this: People come to Crested Butte (it's mostly tourism-based) and they can't find out what stores and services are available, or what's going on.
To solve it, I'm trying to help a group of people here in town start a free community informational web site, and need simple software for them to use.
Oh, yes, we do have directory services -- printed guides and a couple of web sites (there's even a cartoon guide). The problem is that these charge a fee for a business to be displayed (much like pre-Google search sites). That just doesn't work because not everyone is willing or able to pay, and with multiple competing guides, even if you do decide to pay up, which one(s) do you pay for? The result is that you'll see some of the stores and services in one guide and not another, and some things (especially bodyworkers, snow shovelers and other independent services) don't appear anywhere. You quickly lose faith that you are getting any kind of coverage. Looking at any one of these guides hoping that you are getting a complete list of, for example, restaurants, rapidly makes you feel stupid for even considering the possibility.
The answer is something very simple -- Craig's-list simple -- that allows anyone to list themselves for free. In addition, designated writers can post articles, and there's two forms of a calendar: one which shows upcoming events, and a widget that draws from the other calendar and tells you what's going on right now and this evening (really just a different view of the calendar).
People must create accounts to post their business, service or event, and the person who manages the site must be able to exclude posters, to prevent the usual spamming problems and inappropriateness.
I could imagine one solution: using a blog as the landing spot, with links or widgets that allow people to search the store & service directory, which could be a second application. Assembling it from existing applications seems like one of the better approaches. I would also guess there's something in Drupal (which seems to be a very useful and flexible CMS that can be used anywhere there's PHP -- basically everywhere). That would be fine, but if there's some pre-existing service where you just create a site (Like Tumblr and Weebly do for web sites, for example), that would be better because my friends are not technologically inclined. They can certainly figure out how to manipulate user interfaces, but they don't know anything about servers, configuration etc.
Has anyone had any experience solving this kind of problem? I'd love to get some recommendations. Thanks!
For calendar events, you may want to look into Jon Udell's elmcity project at http://elmcity.cloudapp.net/. It combines events from any number of accounts in Upcoming, Eventful, Google Calendar, ... anything with an iCal feed. And it allows an administrator to include calendars using delicious bookmarks.
For the whole shebang, I've used Google Sites for two community sites. It's not great or polished, but people who are not tech savvy are able to create & update articles and upload files, with very little help. We use some widgets that get photos from flickr & picasa. It's a big step down from WordPress or Drupal, but the sites are updated often and the people who commissioned the sites really like the results. Who am I to be the enemy of good enough?
It's an open source CMS easily extended with modules.
1) Install CCK & Views to allow nodes to be extended. 2) The fourpack of filefield, imagefield, imageapi and imagecache will allow you to let businesses upload pictures of their businesses to their listings. 3) Date and Calendar will allow you to create an event node, display a calendar of events, and then create Views of today's events. 4) Workflow module would allow you to let anyone post a possible business listing, and then allow someone to approve them before it's posted. 5) It comes with a blog, and taxonomy module allows you to add tagging or other categories to entries.
I live down in Denver, and wouldn't mind giving you help with this.
I don't know software to recommend, but I'm a huge fan of the concept. A problem I've encountered with Google Maps lately, which would apply to a community site like this, is a surprising amount of very out-of-date information (in Queens, NY, not the sticks).
I don't know of a simple solution for this, but ideally I would hope the software addresses it in some way--mandatory yearly check-ins, perhaps.