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Escouts

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Escouts is one of the largest online Scouting communities and provides services aiding people involved in Scouting, primarily the United Kingdom. The organisation offers free website hosting [1] to Scout groups within the UK, as well as various other services such as website awards, a scout search engine and a Scouting forum of around approximately 3000 members.

History

Escouts was first founded in April 2001 by Richard Fairbairn, a cub scout leader. Escouts started life as a free hosting provider using some spare hosting space on one of Richard's accounts. In the spring of 2002, Jonathan Bloor joined Escouts. The pair set up a dedicated server to host scout websites.

In the next few years, a number of people joined and left the Escouts team. The services are now staffed by Richard Fairbairn, Jonathan Bloor, Dave Field, Daniel Haigh, Richard Willars, Graham Macaulay and Gavin Holt[2].

The re-branding of Escouts took place in the summer of 2008. The main idea of the rebranding was to bring all the Escouts services together and to improve the experience for the end user [3]. All the systems were designed and built by a development team consisting of Richard Willars, Gavin Holt and Jamie Shirra.

Services

Escouts: Community

The Escouts: Community forums are free to use forums that are used by members of Scouting worldwide to discuss scouting issues, technical issues and life outside scouting. Many Scouting program aids and resources are shared between the community members.

Escouts: Dashboard

The dashboard acts as the frontend for the whole of the Escouts services. The Dashboard allows Escouters to access information provided by all the other Escouts services, in an easily customisable environment. The Dashboard heavily revolves around 'widgets' much like iGoogle, which range from RSS feeds to photo galleries. The Dashboard has an aspect of social community to it, with users being able to interact via photos, profiles and messages.

Escouts: Hosting

Another major service that Escouts offers is the free hosting service. Scout groups in the UK and UK Overseas Territories are eligible for this service. Accounts are also offered for BSWE (British Scouts Western Europe) and BGA (British Groups Abroad). Only groups that are members of The Scout Association or the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association are eligible. The hosting package includes 100MB of hosting space, free of adverts and pop-ups, 1GB of monthly bandwidth, unlimited POP3 and FTP accounts, Unlimited MYSQL databases and sub domains, Full CGI and PHP access, PHPMyAdmin Access, email filters and the Installatron script installer. [4]To view the whole package specifications click here. Whe signing up, users are offered an Escouts (.net) sub domain or can purchase their own domain. In March 2008 552 unique hosting accounts [5] were on the server.

Escouts: Awards

The Escouts: Awards are Scouting website awards judged on many factors including design, content, ease of navigation and various other criteria [6]. Once the site has been submitted, it will be reviewed by the awards team and your site will be given a starred rating of 1 to 5. The awards are well known and are the most popular of their type. You can self-test your site at the Escouts website before submitting.

Escouts: Helpdesk

Escouts: Helpdesk is essentially the 'support centre' for all the Escouts services. It consists of a support ticket system and a FAQ knowledgebase. The FAQs range from tutorials such as 'Setting up an Email account' to the Escouts: Community rules. Support is given by the Escouts Team, who are all active Scouts in the Scout Association.

Escouts: Mobile

Escouts: Mobile allows Escouters to access the most important Escouts services such as Hosting, Helpdesk, Search and the Dashboard using mobile devices such as mobile phone and PDAs. The services are very much limited in terms of use, but it allows easy access to the core functionality of the Escouts services. Examples of the main uses include checking the status of the hosting servers and checking email accounts. This service has not yet been completed.

Escouts: Search

Like the mobile service, Escouts: Search will be released in 2009. Escouts: Search will be a search engine for Scout websites in the UK. The main aim of the project will be to store information about every single Scouting website in the UK. The search will also return contact details for leaders of Scout Groups, like the old SID on Scoutbase. It will also store details of all the Scout campsites in the UK.

Escouts: Route Hiker

Escouts Route Hiker was designed to make planning hikes easier. It allows the easy calculation of Route Card values and enables the user to plan a whole hike online at no cost. It is intended to be used by Scouts, Guides and people taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. Escouts Route Hiker will be available until the commercial version of the application is released [7].

Retired Services

Escouts: Badges was developed so young people could work their way through Scout badges online. Leaders were also able to share programme resources. This project was retired in late 2006 [8].

References

External links