Another piece of conventional wisdom is that it’s better to keep such Web sites simple: that content and social cues, not fiendishly complex design, is what will attract people and inspire them to contribute. This was something I arrived at with my Macintosh history site, largely out of exhaustion and poverty: I didn’t have the resources to do anything really complex, and I didn’t want to get into the Infinite Loop of creating my own software or Perl scripts. For the historian as well as the prospective readers, focusing on the content pays off.

Not everyone thinks this way: for example, “How They Got Game,” a Stanford-sponsored history of video games. It required Flash to access, and you should plan to 1) access the site from a T1 line or better, because it’s very multimedia-intensive, 2) turn off your speakers, because there’s a techno-hip bass line that seems to play the whole time you’re on the site, 3) tone down your expectations regarding archival material, because there’s actually not that much there. At the moment, it’s a triumph of Flash over substance.