Special day statements: go big or go home. Why I say go home

I have to admit the one year moratorium on special day statements wasn’t my first idea about how to handle the burgeoning busy work of creating statements to mark the progress of the calendar.

My first thought was a sort of harm reduction program. As a web content person I was focused on the website. The harm I wanted to reduce was the topic page that listed eerily similar statement titles, each exactly a year apart and with nothing in between.

I felt for my search index as it groaned under the weight of near identical content and struggled to return meaningful results.

I cringed at the thought of the union’s reputation as an organization fighting for equality and social justice, belied by this obvious tokenism.

So I proposed copying a trick from Google. They change the logo on their home page frequently to commemorate many ‘special days’. There’s no duplicate content, we leverage the medium’s strengths, and all the website’s visitors see it, rather than just the 25 per cent who land on the home page.

We’d pay illustrators to create versions of the logo along the theme of the day and replace the logo for the day. There’d be a tooltip or an internodal dialog box that would pop up with a one sentence explanation of the logo, like “Today is Earth Day” or whatever.

It would still be tokenism of a sort, but it would involve less work and make less of a mess than what we suffer through with written statements.

I’ve gotten the powers that be at two different unions to agree to this. Because frankly it is a really good idea.

But in both cases the backsliding began immediately or even before the first ‘special day logo’ got moved to the production server.

“So for these days, then, we’ll have a special logo,” my better began, as we went over the plan for marking the days with special logos, “and then for these others, we’ll have a logo and a statement. Can we link the logo to the statement?”

Another time, my director barged into my office all bug-eyed and breathing heavy asking how quickly we could have a statement about one of the special days put up on the website.

“People aren’t seeing the logo. They don’t know what to do with it.” Yadda yadda yadda.

In both cases, the effort to do something token, yet more web savvy and less labour intense, was having the opposite effect. All the tokenism, twice the work. So I pulled the plug.

And I fear the same thing would happen if we followed one colleague’s suggestion: “We have to give them something – a tweet maybe.” Or in that case what would happen is that we would be repeating the same tweet at 20 minute intervals (to make sure The Twitter saw it) and then posting a screen grab of it on our site along with a statement explaining why we tweeted it, what Twitter is and how committed the union is to fighting for whatever.

So we have to go big. Another statement for another special day landed briefly on my desk today. I won’t say which one. It turns out we failed to publish a statement about that day last year. “And yet here we are,” I pointed out. My colleague agreed that no one had noticed.

It can happen. We can do this.

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