U3A Site Builder: Frequently-asked Questions

Preliminaries

What is the U3A Site Builder?
It's a program for creating public web sites for local U3As. There are now more than 400 such sites in use.
Where did it come from and who runs it?
It was created, and is now maintained, by members of a local U3A.
So, not the U3A national office?
No: there is some information about it on the Third Age Trust site, but it is an independent "grass-roots" initiative.
Is there a charge for using it?
No: any local U3A without a website is free to use it. The hosting fee is paid by the Third Age Trust; the support is provided on a voluntary basis, like many other U3A initiatives.
What guarantees are there about its future?
There are no legal guarantees, but it is approved by the Third Age Trust, and the current support team is committed to continuing with it for the forseeable future. It will be discontinued only when it is no longer needed.
How do I start using it?
You register with an on-line form, specifying the name of your U3A, and choosing a login name to be used for subsequent editing.
Must I install any special software on my computer?
Not usually: you just need in a normal web browser connected to the internet. It can be used with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome. Safari has presented problems, so Apple Mac owners are advised to download and install Firefox.
Will the information on the site be safe?
The hosting organisation performs daily backups, and the support team also takes copies of the data from time to time. Changes to the site can be made only by someone who knows the relevant login name. So far there have been no serious problems with lost information.
Can the files for a site be copied onto a local PC for backup, or moved to another internet host?
Not easily. A site doesn't consist of a collection of files — rather a set of database records, which are assembled into web pages dynamically as required. In principle it is possible to take a "snapshot" of a site at a particular point in time, but any subsequent changes would need to go back to the database. It is sensible to retain local copies of any pictures and documents placed on the site.
My U3A already has a site: can I make another one?
You can make a site in order to try out the Site Builder facilities, and decide whether to switch to it. But it isn't advisable to have two sites on the go for very long, as it can cause confusion. If you decide to publish your Site Builder site, it should become the "official" one for your U3A.
My U3A's site was created with different software: can it be hosted on u3asites?
No: the u3asites host is here only for sites created with the Site Builder. Using it for other sites or site-creation software would mean extra work for the support team, and we already have our hands full! There are many other places on the web where sites can be hosted.

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