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  1. #1
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    Need Help Learning to Create a Membership Website

    Hi. I'm hoping the knowledgeable people here can point me in the right direction. First, I am not looking to make fast cash and I am not looking for shortcuts. I am prepared to learn what it takes to create a functional membership (free) website for a community of artists. I created my first website with nothing but html and notepad about 8 years ago, but I know I have plenty more to learn to create my vision, which is much more complex.

    Some of the key features of the website need to include:
    - a free sign up and login for members
    - members will be able to create a profile (links to their website, etc.)
    - members, once logged in, are able to upload images into appropriate "galleries"
    - clicking on a thumbnail image within the gallery brings up a window containing a larger version of the image with the artist's links (also from here I'd like the user to be able to move forward or backwards through the gallery within the larger image frame)
    - the gallery's thumbnail images' order is randomized upon each refresh
    - these "galleries" will be contests where contribution to a prize pool is necessary through paypal.
    - update prize pool upon each entry and calculate prize payout for each place according to a mathematical algorithm
    - close the gallery for submissions and open voting capability for members on a certain date
    - only members who enter a certain contest will be able to vote in that contest (three votes each, can not vote for their own)
    - organize entries at the end of the voting period from first to last
    - (optional) program an automatic payout via paypal to winning entries (if possible - I have no problem doing this manually)

    Those are the important functions I'd like to create for the site. Obviously there will be more to it than that like an FAQ page and Rules page, etc. That's the easy part.

    So, where do I start? Is this something I can take on myself in notepad? Learn CSS and what else? Recommended books? Or is there software that will help me build this? I'm not knowledgeable as to what's out there for website building software nowadays or even if there is software that will meet my specific needs. I am willing to learn and take years if needs be to build this correctly.

    Thank-you for pointing me in the right direction!

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaintingsbyCES View Post
    - these "galleries" will be contests where contribution to a prize pool is necessary through paypal.
    What country are you in? In the United States (and in some other countries from what I have read) that is of questionable legality. You generally cannot require someone to make a purchase or contribute to a prize pool. That is why there are no contests like this and the few contests that do exist are open to everyone including those who do not help you generate revenue to apply to a prize pool (which is a stupid law).

    Quote Originally Posted by PaintingsbyCES View Post
    So, where do I start? Is this something I can take on myself in notepad? Learn CSS and what else? Recommended books? Or is there software that will help me build this? I'm not knowledgeable as to what's out there for website building software nowadays or even if there is software that will meet my specific needs. I am willing to learn and take years if needs be to build this correctly.
    To do what you want will take you years. You are starting from scratch and must first attain the relevant knowledge to do this. Then you actually have to do it.

    A free forum script like phpBB or something else and maybe a blog such as Wordpress and perhaps an image gallery script you can plug into the forum or blog would be a way to get started. No, you will not be able to do everything that you want. But you will not waste hundreds or thousands of hours building something which may never attract a following. Plus you could have a site up and running in minutes or hours, not years.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your reply

    I'm in Canada. I know there are Internet gambling laws in the US, but not here. Also, there are similar contests all over the web. EBSQ chip-in exhibits, FASO, DPW (Daily Paintworks) monthly contests. All of those websites are based in the US. Lots of online art contests out there.

    I currently have this contest running on a blog with Inlinkz as my upload gallery with voting function - I would be happy continuing this way if I could control who votes. I want only artists that enter to vote. So far everyone who's playing has upheld the rules, but all it takes is one social share from a newbie and the integrity of the contest is compromised. I don't want it to become a Facebook popularity contest with freinds and fans voting.

    I have a fairly solid base of artists participating already. It could be so much more if social sharing wasn't going to affect my voting rules.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaintingsbyCES View Post
    I'm in Canada. I know there are Internet gambling laws in the US, but not here.
    Gambling laws do not apply in this instance. Contest laws do and Canada has some of their own.

    I guess contests where winners are not chosen by chance are allowed to charge an entry fee in the United States.

    http://contests.about.com/od/sweepst...recontests.htm

    In addition to federal United States law, there are the laws of 50 states to contend with. But as you are in Canada, I guess that does not matter much to you! Unless Americans are entering the contest. Then, which law applies? Here's a little about Canada in case anyone is interested:

    http://www.ipvancouverblog.com/2010/...law-in-canada/
    http://contests.about.com/od/sweepst...llquestion.htm
    http://www.thompsoncoburn.com/news-a...gulations.aspx

    As far as where to start, you can start by learning HTML, CSS, and then a scripting language like PHP or something else plus learn a little about databases.

    XAMPP - Quickly set up your own web server and database with PHP and more.
    Netbeans - Free integrated development environment where you can write HTML, CSS, and write and debug PHP and more.
    PHP Manual
    MySQL Manuals

    PHP is a good language to learn for newbies in my opinion. But there are plenty more options out there.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    There is so much involved here that it would take you a long time to learn enough about PHP and MySQl (things you'd almost certainly need to use here) that you'd be asking questions here for a year or longer, and still have mistakes. Better to use existing product to make the site.

    Wordpress has several membership scripts available, several gallery scripts, voting scripts and so on. You could put together a set of these plugins to get most of your ideas in place. The membership script could take memberships fees as your entry fee for these competitions as well.

    Unless your are an experienced programmer this is a much more practical solution than trying to start from scratch!

  6. #6
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    Thanks to you both! After much thought, I'm going to look into Wordpress and see what I can do from there. This is certainly not a money making site and putting years into a project just for the fun of it is not something I can afford to do.


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