Two recent issues of Bilkent News contained an impressive list of some 75 student clubs. Whilst it is only natural to expect that this list be available on the web, together with detailed information about each club and its activities, searching for it will prove long and fruitless. A quick look at the "Student Union" home page (under "Student Life") reveals only certain rules and regulations for student council elections, together with the election calendar from 9 months ago! On the same "Student
Life" page, the list of "Clubs & Societies" does include links to a few student clubs, but most of them are years out of date or contain broken links and missing images. In the keynote address at an international conference I attended a while back, the German speaker used Bilkent's website as an example of poor design, saying that he found it impossible to find anything on it, and it seems that little has changed!
On a more optimistic note, things are getting better, though not very rapidly. Until recently the "What's New" page was essentially empty, the telephone directory was stuck in the previous century and even Bilkent News was a month out of date! Most of these are now reasonably up-to-date, as are many other official catalogue-like pages, even if most are in a rather bland database format. In fact, the "Office of the Dean of Students" webpage (under "Facilities & Services") does now boast a slightly more respectable home page for the union and some of its clubs.
Maintaining web sites takes time, enormous amounts of it, but, increasingly, an institution's website is its first point of contact with the public. It is also a vital link for its own personnel. For this reason, the university needs to devote at least as much time, effort, attention and money to its web publishing as it does to its more traditional print variety.
Evidently, Bilkent finally has a full-time web administrator to support and coordinate such activities. Still, it is up to each of us, as individuals making personal webpages and as members of various clubs and departments putting together web sites, to help correct the current sad state of affairs. It is time we all make a conscious effort to maintain our very public web image.
David Davenport (CS. Dept.)