TUMBY BAY - Many Australians who spent time in Papua New Guinea, and who want to keep in touch with others who were there too or simply want to find out what’s going on, follow three main websites.
These are the Ex-Kiap website, the Papua New Guinea Australia Association (PNGAA) website and, of course, Keith Jackson and Friends PNG Attitude.
A few Papua New Guineans follow the first two but a much larger number follow PNG Attitude.
For many of us, regularly checking these websites has become something of a ritual.
For older readers they are a welcome alternative to the frenetic, exploitative and shallow offerings of such sites as Facebook, Twitter, Fritter and all the other dross available on the internet.
What a lot of readers don’t really appreciate is the tremendous amount of work that goes into running and maintaining these websites.
This is all done on a voluntary basis. None of the publishers has a profit motive. At best the only reward is the satisfaction of keeping people informed.
I hope I’m not offending anyone by also pointing out that the people responsible for the websites are not what you would call spring chickens.
The PNGAA website is run by a committee, currently comprised of Lyn Arden, Nigel Wong and Nick Booth.
Their main organ of communication with members is a quarterly magazine called Una Voce that is available in either printed or digital form.
The Ex-Kiap website is run by Peter Salmon and PNG Attitude is commanded by Keith Jackson and, as he would insist, his friends.
I didn’t really appreciate the work that these people put into what they do until I got involved in the Crocodile Prize and its spinoff publishing arm, Pukpuk Publications.
When you embark on such a venture you not only create a rod for your own back but rob yourself of precious time.
If you add to that the inevitable problems that are visited on anyone in their senior years, such as poor health, the burden becomes even more pronounced.
As the readership of the websites has increased over the years there is also the problem of meeting people’s expectations.
People expect to be able to read the websites without realising the pressure this puts on the website creators. There is nothing more debilitating than the realisation that there are people out there expecting you to deliver the goods on time come hell and high water.
Thomas Hardy, in his epic novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, describes the stress that is involved in being obliged to make a regular payment on a debt and I imagine running a website involves a similar sort of feeling.
On top of that again is the proclivity of certain types of people to abuse the privilege of reading the websites. They do this by attempting to post derogatory and inappropriate comments.
This means that the website creators have to be on constant guard to prevent such posts seeing the light of day.
Just because you disagree with someone’s political leanings or take on a particular subject doesn’t mean you can be offensive. Thankfully these instances are no longer as common as they once were.
Neither are the threats of litigation. Once commonplace, they are now rare. Such threats were usually pure bluff and indignant posturing and their exponents quickly learned that they don’t work.
The aims and standards required by each website are made plain for people to read. Unfortunately some people don’t bother.
The short answer to these people is that, if you don’t like the content of the website, don’t read it.
I don’t know how people like Keith, Peter and the PNGAA committee do it. It is not something I could do. I lack the discipline and the organisational skills.
So when you next read something interesting on PNG Attitude, the Ex-Kiap website or the PNGAA website spare a thought for the dedicated and hardworking volunteers who make them possible.
Hats off to them all!