I am organizing a one day workshop as a part of a major conference in my field. I would like to have a website to

  • introductory text (static html)
  • announce things (some content management)
  • keep everybody up to date (mailing list)
  • maintain a pre-workshop and post-workshop online discussion forum

Is there a web service that would implement these things easily?

Also, I don't want the visitors to register accounts. Perhaps a mailing list accessible via web would be sufficient, since I do not expect anybody to regularly visit just to check the forum (except for myself). Is there a mailing list/forum service suitable for such purpose?

Free would be best. I am capable of building such website myself, but I do not want to host it nor spend too much time setting it up. In the past, I used wordpress.com, google sites, google groups and such...

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    If you used Wordpress (and maybe Google's Blogger), why don't you create a blog and set its privacy settings? You end up with a few people having access to your website and getting notifications if they subscribed to it. The only thing is that there is no such thing as a forum, but you can still create a post to initiate the discussions. – PatW Sep 4 '13 at 16:06
  • And what was wrong with WordPress? Unless you want to have something really specialistic, it should work seamlessly. – Piotr Migdal Sep 5 '13 at 1:32
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about academia: it is seeking shopping recommendations for a web service – EnergyNumbers Sep 5 '13 at 3:53
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    @EnergyNumbers the question has criteria that are specific to a given academic settings, and at least one of the current answers is a tool specific to academics… I don't see how it is “not about academia” – F'x Sep 5 '13 at 10:08
  • @F'x none of those criteria, either jointly or individually, are specific to academia. Furthermore, it's a shopping question, which is also off-topic. Either of those grounds are sufficient for closure and deletion. – EnergyNumbers Sep 5 '13 at 10:18

I would recommend a generic tool for making websites.

WordPress.com (or WordPress.org if you are more tech-savvy and want to host it on your univ. server) is a popular option (e.g. NetSci2013).

In both you can add comments for discussions.

Other CMSes would work - for example Wikidot (e.g. Offtopicarium).

When it comes to mailing, Google Groups are one easy solution (unless you want something more sophisticated.)

The only general advice is to use as many made tools as possible, so you don't waste time on reinventing the wheel (or dealing with too many services at once).


Some large institutions maintain platforms for such tasks: some of them are restricted to their members, others have a more liberal policy. For example, the French CNRS (largest national research institute) has developed SciencesConf.org. It fulfills your requirements, except for the forum (which, as far as I can tell, is rather unusual for conferences to have).

  • forum is not a must. more of an experiment. It looks like participants have to create accounts for sciencesconf.org, is that indeed the case? Can anybody use sciencesconf.org? – Memming Sep 4 '13 at 18:58
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    @Memming the only limitation is stated on the front page: “This tool is reserved for academic and research institutions”… other than that, there is no restriction. And participants don't have to create accounts if they don't want to be on the mailing list – F'x Sep 4 '13 at 19:02

If the forum is not a must, for static web pages Google Sites is another easy-to-setup option which has inter alia a visual editor available.

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