With the Tenth Amendment Center’s 7-year anniversary fast-approaching (it’s June 25th), I thought it was appropriate to give our website some much-needed upgrades. We’ve changed quite a bit behind the scenes and added some significant improvements on the front-end too. They’re all way overdue. If you read on, you can learn about what we’ve done so far and what we have planned in the near-future.
Since the day that TenthAmendmentCenter.com was first registered in 2006 and blogs first started posting in 2007, this site has received millions of visitors. What started out as a blog to comment on federal abuses of power has become a leading destination to learn about the proper role of government under the Constitution, and how to work on a state and local level to effectively resist federal “overreach.” Over the years, TAC has been leading the charge in what can no longer be ignored as a national movement – nullification. In a recent poll by Rasmussen, 52% of mainstream voters were in favor of their state taking action to “block” the enforcement of federal laws that they disagree with on legal grounds.
I’m confident that the Tenth Amendment Center has, at least, played a pivotal role in bringing these ideas closer to the mainstream.
The most important tool we have is right here, our website. There was barely a “budget” to register the domain through iPower back in 2006 or set up shared hosting with Dreamhost to launch the site in 2007 (we’re now with WP Engine). And while our budgets are still tiny in comparison to big organizations (many of which don’t accomplish half as much as we do), we’ve certainly grown in that department too – thanks to the support of many generous individuals out there.
Our website has enabled us to do great things that couldn’t have happened before the dawn of the internet age. We’ve reached millions of people, hosted educational events around the country, regularly interact with media, published a book on the original legal meaning of the Constitution, and a book on the application of nullification in modern times. We even produced a documentary film on DVD about nullification. And our website has enabled us to build a powerful social media presence where one news report on Facebook earlier this year reached over 750,000 people in one posting.
The short version? What was initially a sub-$200 investment has grown into something which has helped build a national movement. And I think that’s pretty amazing.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some details about what we’ve been doing behind the scenes to make our website better, which will result in reaching more people. And, of course, the more people we can reach, the more concrete results we’ll see in support of the Constitution and your liberty. Some of the upgrades have been done by yours truly, and others have required professional help at a cost. I always try to do improvements on my own before hiring in an effort to keep costs down, but sometimes learning something new will take so much time that there’s a value in hiring someone to do it quickly. So here’s a pretty good overview of what’s been done so far and what’s coming up next too. Keep in mind that these upgrades almost exclusively apply to our national-level domains and not state chapters…yet:
1. New Website Framework. TAC runs on WordPress. It’s open-source, is very widely-used, and has served us quite well. Our most recent design was something I personally customized as a “child theme” from a custom theme from a company called GraphPaperPress. The design has worked well for us, and our top-navigation buttons have been especially nice in the advent of mobile devices. The ability to simply tap a picture makes it easier to navigate on a phone or tablet. But, while I’m OK at what I do with WordPress customizations, I’m still an amateur. And over time, what I built has been running a bit slow, caused a few back-end conflicts and really has been getting aged. That’s not to say that GPP isn’t a great company, but it wasn’t working well for us anymore. So last Summer, I decided to make a move and hired a great developer to customize the Canvas theme from WooThemes to look just like what we’ve already had. I finally had the time to set it up on our new host last month, and after some minor tweaks via Codeable.io, it’s now running. The site is much faster, more secure, and allows us the ability to customize and add on features in a snap.
2. TAC Login. I’ve always wanted you to have the ability to create an account on our website – so you could easily log in and comment with 1 single profile on any of our more than 2-dozen TAC domains (such as blog., radio., etc). This is now implemented so you can set up an account and login for easy commenting purposes across our national-level domains. You can add an image and brief profile as well. Eventually this will be expanded to all our state-level chapter websites as well.
3. New Comment System. We’ve been running the LiveFyre real-time comment system here for well-over a year. I think it’s awesome. The page doesn’t need to reload when you enter a comment and you can sign in with a number of social media accounts as well. But, there’s a big problem. In order to use it, you have to sign up for a LiveFyre account. I don’t like the idea of you having to setup an account elsewhere to use the website here. I apologize for creating that inconvenience previously, and now that’s no longer the case. The new comment system is built by WordPress – Jetpack Comments. It loads in the site quickly and you can comment with your own TAC login, or use Facebook, Twitter or a WordPress.com account to sign in if you prefer any of those. You can even comment without setting up an account with anyone. Just fill out a name and email (even if it’s all fake to protect your identity) and feel free to comment all you want!
4. Trending Content. On the right sidebar, you’ll now see a new “trending articles” section powered by our new social media sharing product, AddThis. It displays the most popular article across our entire network (state chapters included) and updates every 20 minutes or so. While the top-5 doesn’t change THAT often, it’s nice to be able to see what others have been looking at. I’ve noticed some articles that were published months ago hit that top-5 for a while, and was happy to see that new people were reading important articles that I had forgotten about previously.
5. Social Media Sharing. Speaking of AddThis, we’ve implemented new social media sharing icons at both the top and bottom of all our posts. It’s much faster to load the site than the “floating” share buttons that were on the site previously. And, I think they look nicer too. And below the AddThis buttons at the bottom of articles, there’s another JetPack share feature which allows you to post our articles directly to Reddit, StumbleUpon, or your own blog on WordPress.com or Tumblr.
6. Instagram. Want to see a little from behind the scenes at the TAC? Follow us on Instagram, the social network for sharing pictures. We share a few posts every week from here at our LA HQ (my home), out and about at events, of friends in the movement and more. I really enjoy being able to share some of the day-to-day life behind the TAC – and some of the people who spend endless hours making this train keep chugging along.
7. Related Posts. At the bottom of each post, you can now see a “related posts” section. This will display a handful of links that are of a similar topic to what you’ve been reading in the current article. This is one of the most common recommendations for the site – make it easier to find more content to read and share. This is a small, but important step forward. The related posts will actually improve its relevancy over time as we update our database to more accurately reflect which topics each article belongs to.
We’ve moved our top navigation links to a black bar at the very top of the website. We can easily adjust this across our websites. And, this also allows us to have a promotional banner in the top-right where the navigation used to be.
8. TAC Daily Digest. With our site more stable, loading faster, and better commenting across our national-level properties, I felt it was appropriate to make our content available by newsletter every weekday for those who prefer to receive updates that way. During the week, we generally publish anywhere from 3-6 posts per day. And rather than you being required to click through all our domains to find out what’s new and what’s not, you can get a simple email which sends you a brief few lines on each new article published over the last 24 hours. That way, you can read what’s interesting to you and skip what’s not. And never miss a beat.
Visit this link to subcribe to our newsletter or update your profile to receive the TAC Daily Digest: http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/newsletter
We’re barely scratching the surface with these upgrades and there’s plenty more to come – much of which is being worked on right now. The following projects are “in progress” and while we won’t get them done in time for our 7 year anniversary, they’ll all be released in the near future.
1. New Book! We’re smashing the opposition in a 60 page mini-book that will be free to TAC members by download and pretty cheap for everyone else.
2. Members-only access. We’re (finally) building a members-only section to our website. This will be a place where you’ll be able to easily log in, check your membership status, renew your account or upgrade, plus have FREE access to all kinds of cool members-only features. Our online courses that we released last year will be included here. Plus the ability to download our new book (above). We’re also planning on a live video presentation and conversation with our members every few weeks, or monthly. This, and more – will be coming over time. For those of you waiting for this, thank you for being so patient. It’s finally coming together!
3. Store Overhaul. The TAC store is being completely rebuilt. We’ll be able to offer new payment options, easy membership renewal, ebook downloads, account management, and more. We’ll likely add members-only discounts, and an affiliate program over time as well. The store will be more secure, faster, and easier to update.
4. Action Center. This is the biggest project yet – and the most expensive. But, we’ve been offered a GREAT deal from one of the top WordPress developers anywhere. Over time and in phases, we’re building an internal action center where you can click on your state, track legislation and know what to do to support legislation on a specific issue – all in one place. The key to expanding the nullification movement is your activity, and this major project will. This is going to cost us over $10,000 and we’ll be releasing it for public use in phases (one feature at a time), but we expect it to be a powerful tool for you to know just what needs to be done in your area.
I’d be dumb if I didn’t include a request to help us pay for all this. We’ve gotten quite good at stretching a dollar here at the TAC and have done well in growing our work even with the limited number of devalued Federal Reserve Notes on hand. I won’t belabor the point – if you believe in our work and want to support us, please consider giving us a gift to help us grow stronger. You can do that here: http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/donate. It doesn’t matter if you can give $2, or $20,000. Every dollar counts.
I can hardly believe that 7 years have gone by. And I can hardly believe how much effect this organization has had. I’m honored to be a part of it, grateful for the support, and humbled by some of the early results. I hope it inspires others to do the same.