June 30, 2008

pipes|drums launches first “online community” for pipers and drummers

In a bold redevelopment that includes a fresh new look, multiple new features, improved functionality and an even more satisfying experience for the reader, pipes|drums has unveiled the first-ever “online community” that brings together pipers and drummers.
“My Sporran” is a special new section exclusive to subscribers to pipes|drums that enables them to maintain their own blog, post scores and sound files of tunes, and create their personal “dashboard” for pipes|drums favourites and recent developments. My Sporran users – who must first opt-in to the community by updating their profile – can search for other pipers and drummers with similar interests and preferences.
Subscribers to and members of pipes|drums can expand their personal details in the profile by listing such things as the make of their drones, chanter, drum, favourite bands and composers, and other traits that will bring them together with others in the pipes|drums community.
“‘My Sporran’ is just the beginning,” said Andrew Berthoff, who manages and edits pipes|drums. “Right off the bat people will be able to connect with other pipers and drummers, find and post new music, and report on and write about their own news and thoughts.”
The new “TuneShare” feature in My Sporran replaces the previous TunePost feature. It is hoped that the many who took part in TunePost now add their compositions to their My Sporran profile page.
pipes|drums has now integrated the power of Google Maps with our database of pipes|drums members and subscribers to create a real-time depiction of the world’s pipers and drummers. Without divulging confidential information, the dynamic MAP Project links to the places of residence that registered members list, with the objective over time of being the first-ever accurate tracking of the world’s Highland pipers and pipe band drummers.
Every locale is depicted by a gracenote pin-point, and visitors can drill down as far as seeing how many pipers and drummers registered on pipes|drums are from a single town.
“The MAP Project is really exciting, and it’s fun to see new gracenote pin-points appear,” Berthoff said. “I really hope people take the time to ensure that they’re included in the MAP Project.”
Every day pipes|drums visitors will receive a new tip from the world’s top pipers and drummers. More than 200 tips have been amassed so far, ranging from advice on reeds, to improving practice, to tuning, to marketing, and just about everything else related to modern piping and drumming.
“Over the last months dozens of the world’s most respected pipers and drummers provided their thoughts for the Tip of the Day database,” Berthoff said. “We’re grateful to them for sharing their prodigious knowledge, and expect these to be of great value to pipes|drums readers.”
Before now there has been no central database of winners of the piping and drumming world’s biggest competitions and BigPrizes is a handy and fun resource for pipes|drums readers that allows them to look up who won what when and, in many cases, with what tunes.
Historical data from the Northern Meeting, the Argyllshire Gathering, Maxville, London, Skye, the Glenfiddich Championships, the World’s, the World Solo Drumming has been compiled in this work-in-progress.

“We’ve pored over our own online archive as well as back-issues of hundreds of piping and drumming print publications to compile this material,” said Berthoff. “It’s important to bring this material online and make it accessible to all.”
BigPrizes users can search by winners, by contests, by tunes played and many other combinations to find what they’re interested in.
“We will keep adding to the database as we go along,” Berthoff added, “and we hope that readers will help us along the way.”
pipes|drums has added RSS (really simple syndication) feeds and bookmarking tools across the entire site. So now, anyone who wants to know exactly when a new article is posted to the site can find out by setting up an RSS feed.
“pipes|drums readers can now choose to track specific sections or the entire site on their RSS reader,” Berthoff said. “This is especially handy if you’re without access to the net for a day or more – you can easily see what you might have missed.”
RSS feeds and bookmarking are a part of pipes|drums’ “Web 2.0” integration.
The popular Classifieds features is now improved to allow those posting ads to add descriptors that will make it easier for pipes|drums’ readers to find their item or service. Readers can also now upload images, include a website address, and include searchable keywords of their item.
pipes|drums’ members can still post events, but visitors can now search using new tools. Events are also part of the new Rating and Comments system, and visitors can check past and future events to check their popularity and any positive or negative thoughts from readers.
New! Improved Polls, Trivia and Surveys
Visitors can now enjoy expanded Polls, Surveys and Trivia quizzes through pipes|drums’ integration with third-party resources. More options, functions and features will make these more fun.
Poll- and survey-data will also be more accurate through prevention of multiple entries by IP address detection.

Improved Comments
The popular comments feature has been improved. Now, the “nickname” that a user designates in his/her profile will be included automatically to provide better continuity from comment-to-comment.
Report inappropriate content
While comments will continue to be unmoderated, pipes|drums’ readers can now alert the editor to any comment that they feel might not adhere to policy guidelines.
“In the 19 months since readers have been able to post comments, there have been no more than five of the many thousands submitted that had to be edited or removed,” Berthoff said. “This is a real testament to the honesty and integrity of our readers. But we’re asking readers to help us to monitor the site, by alerting us to anything they feel is out-of-bounds. We don’t think the “Report inappropriate content” tool will be used a lot, but when if it is we will be able to react even more quickly.”
Article ratings
Readers who have registered as members can rate almost everything on the site using our new system where five gracenotes are “Excellent” to a “Crap!” rating of one gracenote. The average ratings will appear along with every article, dynamically linked throughout the site.
On the heels of the popular BandNamer feature, pipes|drums has added the fun TuneNamer tool to help composers come up with creative – and sometimes cheeky – names for their latest musical concoction. Hours of silly fun!
Blogpipe upgrade
The popular Blogpipe has been completely redesigned, migrating to the WordPress blogging platform for better use of Web 2.0 tools and integration with the blogosphere. Import of archived Blogpipe comments by readers is expected to be completed over the next few weeks.
The redevelopment of the non-profit site – the world’s only independent news publication for piper and drummers – started in November 2007 and has included the data migration and recoding of more than 20,000 articles, user-comments, subscriptions and archived features.
“This was a massive endeavour – one bigger than anyone will ever know,” said Berthoff. “There are still a few kinks to work out over the next few weeks, but we really hope that readers enjoy the new look and features, and, as always, send us their constructive feedback.”
With the redevelopment and introduction of new features, the subscription price has been adjusted to CAD$14.99 for one year, or CAD$24.99 for two years, or about the price of two pints of lager. Full subscribers have unlimted access to all archived material, My Sporran, and the many Features and Interviews planned for the future.
Berthoff added, “We hope that you enjoy pipes|drums.”


  1. Nice job. Migrations like this are a nightmare – well done pulling it off so smoothly. I had wondered why the flow of articles had slowed recently…



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