Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

Not one, but 3 of the contributing writers of Spoken were chosen among the Top 200 Young South Africans. This is an annual listing done by the Mail and Guardian. I am aware that there is an open process of nominations for young leaders in various fields to be nominated into the list, but I am unaware on how the final decision is made. Having said that, the Top 200 Young South Africans is somewhat a prestigious list that would not list paupers like me for example.

Our 3 writers who made it to the list are David Maimela, Castro Ngobese and Floyd Shivambu. I challenge you to find another group blog that has as much top young South Africans contributing in it. We are very pleased and proud to be in online company of such great young people. However, we do not pretend to claim the credit, as Spoken for their listing. As I understand it, their listing relates to their activism on the political front rather than writing for Spoken.

Our excitement about our top young writers led us to rethink some of the work we had neglected. We reviewed the Spoken website and tried to identified a few features that we could add quickly. This is because Spoken does not have any full time person who takes care of the website. We have only 2 volunteers who are very busy people, who often take some of their little spare time to tweak the technical side of things in the website.

As we explored the quick features we could add, we discovered that the website was almost out of space and therefore, adding features would not be possible. We then requested our generous host to give us additional space. Which he responded swiftly. We remain indebted to our host for his generosity.

As some may know, this website runs on Drupal, which uses Php. Strangely both our technical volunteers have a combined experience of zero lines of coding in Php. We then had to rely on already available Drupal Modules to explore those that would be quick and neccesary features for the website.

This weekend we then made time to add the following features;

  1. Facebook Like Button – as it is self-explanatory, our view is that this button will enable more people to share with more friends the contents of what our writers are writting. The more the readers, the more the feedback and we enrich each others opinions and share experiences.
  2. A reCatpcha form – this will help us solve a persistent problem of spam we were experiencing. We had a lot of automated registration done by computer programs. We are now pleased that this will speed up the process of clearing new users who register on the website to comment. If it works as we expect it, we may as well open comments to unregistered users trusting on reCaptcha to filter out computer programs that may be intent on submitting junk to Spoken.
  3. Contributing Writers List – We have opted to list our writers on the frontpage so that it is easy for readers to go straight to the material of their favourite writer without too many clicks swifting through the latest articles to get to the writer. Our future plans are to explore including picture of our writers and perhaps more structured profile of who they are.
  4. Recent Posts – We have increased the list of our recent posts from 5 to 10. We were motivated by that there seem to be too low a frequency of writing lately (maybe due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted in our country this past month).

We are confident that these few changes will go a long way in improving sharing of opinions on Spoken.

However, we remain concerned by the absence of women in our contributing writers. We wish to extend our invitation to all writers who wich to contribute to Spoken to email their articles to After 3 approved articles, you then granted a username and password that will give you unlimited access to run your blog. You will still be subject to the Code of Authors. The writing does not have to be on politics, it could be on sports, entertainment, social issues, etc.

I wish to, again, congratulate David, Castro and Floyd for their listing in the Top 200 Young South African you have to take to lunch. At Spoken we are proud of your achievements.

Let us keep those keyboards busy.

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