Government websites: the good, the bad and the ugly

The good

I needed to start looking at some 2009 dates for work, which entailed knowing when certain public holidays are, so I took myself over to the Ministry of Manpower website. As always, they faithfully list the public holidays for the following year, but now they've gone one better and provided the dates in an iCal format.

So all I had to do was download the iCal file and let Google Calendar import it. Easy-peasy. Importing information from the web into real life should always be this easy.

The bad

Okay, first off, let's make things clear: I like the library. I love books, and books live in the library where people can borrow many interesting ones for free, so I love the library. You don't have to make me go there or want to use it or want to like it. I'm sold. Tell me that I can access library materials or services online, and I'm thrilled that it saves me a trip down to the physical location.

(See how many times I used italics in that paragraph?)

That said, what the hell has happened to the National Library website? Or websites, I should say, because where before http://www.nlb.gov.sg served all library needs in one place, they recently decided to split their web presence into three domains:
  • http://nl.sg --- the National Library
  • http://pl.sg --- the public library
  • http://nlb.gov.sg --- the rest?
To which I'm like, we're a nation-state, isn't our National Library already a public library? And where do I go to find what information? And why the hell do the sites take so damn long to load if the web assets have been divided up? And why the hell aren't any links, including "Contact info", working? (That last complaint occurred yesterday on pl.sg; within a couple of hours they emailed me to say that the links were working again.)

To quote from my email to the helpdesk yesterday:
I don't know what else doesn't work, but I'm tired of trying to find anything on this website. I miss the old NLB website. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't as frustrating and impossible as the new ones.
I can only conclude that they're trying to be deliberately inefficient and, as I said to a web-savvy friend over IM:
maybe their secret plan
is to frustrate people
so we HAVE to go to the brick and mortar library
The ugly

Uh ... take your pick. Most government websites give me eye pain.

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At 7/17/2008 1:32 am , Blogger Q++Studio said...

Please note that the 2009 Deepavali date posted on the MOM website is in all likelihood incorrect. I do not mean the frequent +/- 1 day change that has occurred in the past (such as 2002, 2003, and 2008), I mean that the published date is oof by ONE MONTH. The actual date, when finally corrected will be around October 17, instead of November 15.

At 7/17/2008 3:43 am , Blogger Tym said...

Thanks for your note. I've alerted the MOM website and updated my calendar.

At 7/17/2008 3:51 am , Blogger Q++Studio said...

Oh, they are aware of it (and me). And so is the HEB (Hindu Endowment Board). But their position is that their website states that dates are subject to change, so there is no need for further action.


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