Otnews.net started in June 2001, during the run up to "The Hit" as a means for fans to keep track of the latest news about personal appearances, publicity stunts, and the nefarious operations of the record industry (and Woolworths) in their efforts to keep Otway out of the charts.
Following Otway's successful storming of the charts in 2002 it was decided to keep Otnews going as a rallying point for the hordes of new fans he had undoubtedly gained. Or at the very least as a place to keep track of any future Otway news.
Over time the news started to peter out. The almost-daily newsflashes of The Hit campaign slowed to occasional updates about Otway's World Tour efforts. When the World Tour was unfortunately cancelled the amount of news slowed to a trickle.
During this time it became clear that the software that was powering Otnews was showing its age. Several attempts were made to upgrade to a newer version of the same software, but all resulted in issues that prevented the new version being used on the live site. Various band-aids were put in place to help the admins deal with the hundreds of spam messages that were being posted to the site on an almost daily basis, and we started to think hard about our options.
With so little news coming in, it didn't make much sense to continue Otnews as a CMS (a "content management system" - a more traditional type of news site). Instead the idea of switching to a wiki gained traction - turning Otnews from a news site with some extras into a fully-fledged information resource for anything and everything about John Otway.
In May 2008 our ISP announced changes to their hosting which meant that the old CMS-based site would stop working in early June. This effectively forced our hand, and on 21st May 2008 our Mediawiki-based site went live for private testing amongst the Otnews admins. Mediawiki is the same software that powers Wikipedia.
0n 10th June 2008 the new site went live for general consumption, and the old site was closed down. The final hit count for the old site was 2,800,279 pages viewed!
There's still a lot of work to do - including migrating and tidying a lot of the more interesting content from the old CMS system - but with a modern wiki system to work on we hope that Otnews will run for many years to come.
Otnews is a fan-based site and is not directly sponsored by John Otway or his record company. In the early days of Otnews, John generously donated an original notebook of lyrics and ideas which was auctioned on eBay. We also had a small number of adverts which ran on the site.
When we migrated from the CMS that originally ran Otnews to the CMS we ended up with we lost the ability to host adverts. We're not quite sure what happened, but try as we might, we couldn't get the ads to appear. With that change we therefore lost our only source of ongoing funds, and had to make do with whatever was left in the coffers from the eBay auction.
For the past few years those coffers have been well and truly dry, so all hosting and domain registration fees have been paid out of the pockets of the admins. Remember to say thanks if you bump into them at a gig.
With the switch to the wiki software we are reconsidering our options regarding funding. This may result in a return to advertising on the site, or simply a call for donations. In any event there are no plans to require any sort of subscription or payment to simply use the Otnews site.