YOUR CITY WEBSITE SUCKS — PART 5: PROVIDENCE, DO NOT PASS GO BUT COLLECT $200

WE NOW COME AROUND TO THE SECOND HALF OF OUR LOOK AT SUNSHINE WEEK AND OUR “YOUR CITY WEBSITE SUCKS” SERIES, GUARANTEED TO BE AT LEAST 500 WORDS LONG!!!!!!!!!!

NOW WE COME TO PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, FOUNDED BY ROGER WILLIAMS AFTER BEING EXPELLED BY THE PURITANS FOR NOT WEARING A TOM BRADY JERSEY ON SUNDAYS. RECOGNIZED AS MOST HONEST CITY IN THE UNITED STATES (IN A JOKE WE DID NOT STEAL FROM GELATINOUS_POOT ON REDDIT), THEY AM BEST KNOWN FOR SUCH UPSTANDING POLITICIANS AS LATE, GREAT FORMER MAYOR VINCENT “BUDDY” CIANCI. CIANCI AM NOT UNLIKE THE LATE, GREAT FORMER MAYOR TOM MENINO OF BOSTON… EXCEPT SO CORRUPT HE ACTUALLY HAD AN AMENDMENT TO THE RHODE ISLAND CONSTITUTION — DESIGNED TO PREVENT MR. CIANCI FROM SUCCEEDING HIMSELF AFTER THE FIRST OF TWO RESIGNATIONS (SEE SECTION 2) — NICKNAMED AFTER HIM.

TO HIS CREDIT, HOWEVER, WE UNDERSTAND HIM TO BE A FORMIDABLE SIMCITY PLAYER AND WOULD LOVE TO SEE A GAFFNEY VS PETTY SIMCITY MATCH (SO LONG AS THEY DO NOT PLAY THE GODAWFUL 2013 VERSION, ALTHOUGH THAT WOULD BE THE MOST WORCESTER VERSION).

THEY HAVE ALSO BEEN DUBBED THE “COOLEST CITY YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO” BY GQ WRITERS (WE PRESUME IT WOULD BE THE 34TH COOLEST CITY YOU HAVE BEEN TO AFTERWARDS)!!!!! THEY BOAST FORMIDABLE ESTABLISHMENTS INCLUDING RISD, JOHNSON AND WALES, AND BROWN UNIVERSITY (WE NOTE THEIR HUMAN SKIN BOOK RIVALRY WITH HARVARD).

BUT AM THEIR WEBSITE COOL??? OR SHOULD IT BE MORE UNSUNG… THAN COFFEE MILK??????????

METHODOLOGY

FIRST, WE PERFORM A SERIES OF TASKS ONE WOULD TYPICALLY EXPECT FROM A GOVERNMENT WEBSITE. THEN, WE COMPARE THOSE RESULTS TO THAT OF OTHER WEBSITES FROM CITIES OF SIMILAR SIZES ACROSS THE US. THEN WE ASSESS A SERIES OF ARBITRARY PENALTIES BASED ON SUBJECTIVE RAGE INDUCED BY THE PROCESS. WE SCORE LIKE GOLF (OR THE PREFERRED BIZARRO VERSION, FLOGGING); LOWER SCORES == BETTER THAN. IT COULD BE SIMPLER, BUT THEN YOU’D END UP ON A WEBSITE WHERE THE GRAPHIC DESIGNER WENT BOBBING FOR APPLES IN GASOLINE BEFORE MAKING THE ADS. AT LEAST WITH OUR FAUX-BUDGET WORDPRESS SITE YOU GET A SURPRISINGLY READABLE WEBSITE DESPITE OUR BIZARRO CAPITALIZATION AND BASED PRONOUN USAGE.

IN ALL CASES, WE ASSUME CITY HALL STAFF WOULD BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO HELP IN PERSON OR VIA PHONE WITH ANY TASKS YOU MIGHT REQUIRE OF THEM, IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN THAT THEY OTHERWISE HAVE TO DEAL WITH POLITICIANS ALL DAY.

NOTE: WE USUALLY STOP COUNTING WHEN REFERRED TO ANOTHER WEBSITE. HOWEVER, GIVEN THE SIGNIFICANT FRAGMENTATION OF THE SITE BETWEEN GENERAL INFORMATION AND THE COUNCIL-SPECIFIC PAGES, WE SHALL MORE ARBITRARILY ENFORCE THIS RULE IN A MOVE FAMILIAR TO PROVIDENCE RESIDENTS. WE SHALL STILL STOP AT LINKS TO CLEARLY STATE-RUN WEBSITES.

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

GENERAL

APPEARANCE

PROVIDENCEWEBSITE

  • OVERALL IMPRESSION: BRIGHT, NON-DISTRACTING LAYOUT WHICH P’S IN THE CORNER. SEPARATE VERSIONS OF THE HEADER PICTURE EXIST DEPENDING ON THE DEPARTMENT (CITY PROPER, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, MAYOR’S OFFICE, ETC).
  • MOBILE VERSION: VIRTUALLY UNUSABLE.
  • FRONT PAGE HIGHLIGHTS: IN A STUNNING USE OF VIDEOS WHERE THEY MIGHT ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE, A TOURISM SALES PITCH UNDER THE VIDEO TAB.

FUNCTIONALITY

(ALL TASKS ATTEMPTED BY FOLLOWING DIRECT LINKS FROM HOMEPAGE. WE STOP AT TRANSFER TO THIRD-PARTY WEBSITES, WHICH WE DID NOT TAKE TO INCLUDE COUNCIL.PROVIDENCERI.COM OR GOPROVIDENCE.COM.)
  1. CONTACT CITY HALL: 0 CLICKS (ON MAIN WEBSITE)
  2. FIND OUT WHERE TO VOTE: 3 CLICKS
    1. CITY DEPARTMENTS, “Board of Canvassers/Voting
    2. Voter Information
    3. Where do I vote?” (DEFERRED TO RHODE ISLAND VOTER INFORMATION CENTER.)
  3. VIEW MUNICIPAL CALENDAR (AND OBTAIN ICAL OR OTHER CALENDAR FEED): 3 CLICKS
    1. CALENDAR OF EVENTS + PUBLIC MEETINGS
    2. FIND INFORMATION ON… “Council Calendar
    3. CLICK THE APPROPRIATE BUTTON (ICAL FOR .ICS FORMAT)§
  4. PAY PARKING TICKETS: 1 CLICK
    1. PAYMENTS, “Parking Tickets
  5. OBTAIN A BIRTH CERTIFICATE, WITH CONFIRMATION IN SYSTEM: 2 CLICKS
    1. DOWNLOAD FORMS, “Birth, Marriage or Death Records
    2. Birth Certificate Request
  6. FIND INFORMATION ON PARKING BANS: 3 CLICKS
    1. CITY DEPARTMENTS, “Public Works
    2. Parking Bans
    3. Mayor’s Office“‡
  7. REQUEST REMOVAL OF RESIDENT NUISANCE BEAST: 2 CLICKS
    1. PVD311
    2. “Other Requests”
    3. “Dead Animal on Roadway or Sidewalk”
  8. FIND SCHOOL CLOSINGS: 1 CLICK
    1. Student“#
  9. FIND YOUR SCHEDULED TRASH DAY: 3 CLICKS
    1. CITY DEPARTMENTS, “Public Works
    2. Trash Pick Up [SIC] Schedule
    3. SELECT YOUR STREET.%
  10. FIND THE CURRENT COUNCIL AGENDA: 3 CLICKS
    1. CITY COUNCIL
    2. Open Meetings Portal
    3. SELECT THE TOP ITEM ON THE LIST.^
  11. REVIEW PREVIOUS COUNCIL MEETINGS: 5 CLICKS
    1. CITY COUNCIL
    2. Open Meetings Portal
    3. Full Calendar
    4. SELECT THE APPROPRIATE YEAR.
    5. SELECT THE APPROPRIATE MEETING.
  12. OBTAIN A LICENSE/CERTIFICATE FORM FOR YOUR BUSINESS: UNABLE TO FIND ON CITY WEBSITE.Δ
  13. OBTAIN INFORMATION ON APPLYING FOR A LIQUOR LICENSE: 2 CLICKS
    1. DOWNLOAD FORMS, “License Applications
    2. Retailers License Class F“◊
  14. APPLY FOR A JOB WITH THE CITY: 1 CLICK
    1. JOB POSTINGS, “City Jobs
  15. FIND THE LATEST BUDGET: 2 CLICKS
    1.  CITY DEPARTMENTS, “Finance Department
    2. SELECT THE TOP ITEM ON THE LIST.
  16. FIND AUDITS: 2 CLICKS
    1. CITY COUNCIL
    2. PUBLICATIONS
  17. FIND RECIPIENTS OF CITY-ISSUED CHECKS: 2 CLICKS
    1. OPEN PVD
    2. OPEN CHECKBOOK
  18. FIND CITY-AWARDED GRANTS/TIF AGREEMENTS/ETC: UNABLE TO FIND ON CITY WEBSITE.↕
  19. CONFIRM AND CONTACT YOUR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES: 2 CLICKS
    1. CITY COUNCIL
    2. Who’s My Councilperson?“↑
  20. OBTAIN CURRENT WEATHER CONDITIONS: 2 CLICKS
    1. VISITOR
    2. CLICK THE TEMPERATURE DISPLAY ON THE UPPER RIGHT.

TOTAL CLICKS: 39

PENALTY CLICKS

  • § – ALTHOUGH WE APPRECIATE THE COUNCIL CALENDAR HAVING AN ICS FEED, WE DID NOT SEE ONE FOR THE GENERAL EVENTS CALENDAR (THOUGH YOU CAN HAVE THE EVENTS SENT BY EMAIL). SEPARATING THE EVENTS CALENDAR FROM THE COUNCIL CALENDAR MIGHT LEAD READERS TO BELIEVE SAID COUNCIL CALENDAR DID NOT EXIST. AT BEST, THIS WOULD BE A SERIOUS OMISSION. 15 CLICK PENALTY.
  • † – WE CONCEDE IGNORANCE AS TO RHODE ISLAND LAWS REGARDING BIRTH CERTIFICATE ACCESSIBILITY. IF IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL FOR THE CITY OF PROVIDENCE TO ACCEPT AN ONLINE TRANSACTION FOR A BIRTH CERTIFICATE, LET US KNOW. OTHERWISE… 15 CLICK PENALTY.
  • ‡ – WE FIND THIS A NEEDLESSLY ROUNDABOUT WAY OF CONFIRMING PARKING BANS. AND WE AM FROM WORCESTER!!! WE LOVE ROUNDABOUT WAYS!!!!!!! JUST LOOK AT UNION SQUARE!!!!!!!!!!! 2 CLICK PENALTY.
  • # – “School closings and changes will be posted on our main page…” PER THE SCHOOL WEBSITE. WE SEE NUMEROUS ALTERNATE SOURCES OF DISTRIBUTING INFORMATION, WHICH WE ACCEPT WITHOUT ASSESSING ANY FURTHER PENALTIES.
  • % – AN EXCELLENT IMPLEMENTATION EXCEPT FOR… *DUN DUN DUN* THE SCROLLING DROP-DOWN BOX OF DOOOOOOOOOM (HEY, YOU TRY GETTING ANNOYED ABOUT THE SAME THING IN FIVE DIFFERENT CITY WEBSITES)!!!!!!!!!! 5 CLICK PENALTY.
  • ^ – ALTHOUGH WE NOTED PROVIDENCE COUNCIL MEETS TO BE HELD ON “the first and the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 O’Clock p.m.”, WE DID NOT SEE ANY INFORMATION ON HOW FAR IN ADVANCE AGENDAS WOULD BE POSTED. WE MAKE OTHERS WAIT FOR ARBITRARY PERIODS OF TIME!!!!!!!! HOW DARE THEY MAKE US WAIT AN ARBITRARY PERIOD OF TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ONLY WE GET TO INVOKE DOUBLE STANDARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 10 CLICK PENALTY.
  • Δ – WE FOUND THIS PACKET ON THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WEBSITE, BUT NO CLEAR INDICATION OF ANY FORMS THE CITY MIGHT NEED EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE. A PACKET WOULD BE VITAL. 20 CLICK PENALTY.
  • ◊ – NO INDICATION AS TO WHAT THE PROCESS WOULD BE TO FILE SAID FORM ON THE WEBSITE. 20 CLICK PENALTY.
  • ↕ – AS WITH TEMPE, WE PRESUME ANY SORT OF TAX INCREMENT FINANCING AGREEMENTS (SHOULD THEY EXIST) WOULD ALSO BE IN THEIR OPEN PVD PAGE. HOWEVER, BEING UNABLE TO FIND ANY SUCH GRANTS, WE CANNOT CONFIRM NOR DENY THEIR EXISTENCE. ALTHOUGH WE GIVE THEM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT SINCE THEY DO PROVIDE A LIST OF ALL THEIR BUSINESS PARTNERS, WE INVITE ANY WHO COULD PROVIDE A MORE DEFINITIVE ANSWER TO CHALLENGE OUR 10 CLICK PENALTY.
  • ↑ – WE FOUND THIS TO BE A TREMENDOUSLY ELEGANT SOLUTION FOR A 15-MEMBER BODY. THE ENTIRE LIST OF COUNCIL MEMBERS MAY ALSO BE FOUND HERE. WE DEDUCT A -5 CLICK BONUS FOR THIS EXCEPTIONAL TOOL.
  • ¶ – ALTHOUGH AN EXCEPTIONALLY USEFUL TOOL, WE FOUND THIS A SLIGHTLY ROUNDABOUT SOLUTION AS NON-VISITORS MIGHT ALSO WANT TO KNOW THE WEATHER TOO. 5 CLICK PENALTY.

WE AWARD AN ADDITIONAL 20 CLICK PENALTY FOR A CUMBERSOME MOBILE WEBSITE, ESPECIALLY EGREGIOUS WITH ANY ATTEMPT TO USE THE ONLINE 311 TOOLS. WE ALSO FOUND THIS FAQ ON THE COUNCIL PORTION OF THE WEBSITE TO BE REMARKABLY MISPLACED AND AWARD ANOTHER 20 CLICK PENALTY.

TOTAL PENALTIES: 137

FINAL SCORE:

176

CONCLUSION

WE NOTE AGENDA PRESENTATION SIMILAR TO SPRINGFIELD’S. WE WERE SURPRISED TO FIND INFERIOR DOCUMENTATION FOR STARTING A BUSINESS, PARTICULARLY REGARDING FORMS, AND A CONSISTENT LACK OF ONLINE SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS.

HOWEVER, WITH EMPHASIS ON SUNSHINE WEEK BEING ABOUT GOVERNMENT OPENNESS AND ACCESSIBILITY, THE ABILITY TO TELL WHO TO EMAIL REGARDING CONCERNS IN YOUR WARD AT A GLANCE SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED AS AN EXCEPTIONAL WAY OF ANSWERING WHAT CAN OFTEN BE A DIFFICULT QUESTION. ADDITIONALLY, WE FOUND NUMEROUS OTHER USEFUL TOOLS INCLUDING EASY ONLINE ACCESS TO RECORDS (WHEN AVAILABLE), AND HAD MINIMAL ISSUES WITH THE SITE.

APPEALS

APPEALS IN BIZARRO WORCESTER USUALLY INVOLVE US LISTENING CAREFULLY TO YOUR COMPLAINTS AND THEN MOCKING YOU WHILE WE MOVE ONTO SOMETHING ELSE. WE HAVE DECIDED, GIVEN THE SUBJECTIVITY OF OUR PENALTIES, TO OPEN THEM TO APPEAL. ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, YOU MAY POST YOUR OPINION ON OUR PENALTY AND ASSESS YOUR OWN — HIGHER OR LOWER. IF YOUR OPINION SHOULD GET AT LEAST 5 LIKES AND BEAT OUR EXPERT REBUTTAL (WE SHALL BE COPYING AND PASTING “WE DISRESPECTFULLY DISAGREE” OVER AND OVER AGAIN”)… WE SHALL REVISE OUR SCORE USING YOUR PENALTY INSTEAD. WE SUGGEST THE FOLLOWING FORMAT WHICH, IN OUR TRADITIONAL BUREAUCRATIC STYLE, SHALL ACTUALLY BE MANDATORY:

PENALTY: SO AND SO (A MILLION CLICKS).

REASON: I LIKE CHEESE.

RECOMMENDATION: 0 CLICKS.

REMEMBER: YOU FIGHT FOR THE DISHONOR OF YOUR CITY!!!!! SO BE ON NOTICE, CITIZENS OF WORCESTER… AND ACROSS OUR QUASI-GREAT NATION… BECAUSE YOUR CITY WEBSITE MIGHT ACTUALLY SUCK MORE THAN OURS.

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