Closing my website for the Global Climate Strike - a Kirby plugin

On the 20th of September, millions of people worldwide are expected to walk out from workplaces and homes to demand radical course corrections in climate policy. In addition to taking to the street, I am shutting down my website for the day - using a tiny plugin for Kirby CMS.

tl;drI created a Kirby 3 plugin to join the digital climate strike.It’s on GitHubDeeply concerned about the state of crisis our climate is in, making sure to add to the headcount of people in the streets is my #1 priority on 20 September. Yet, beyond that, as a freelancer “closing shop” is not really a visible act.

With digital media’s significant role in today’s world, I do sympathize with certain forms of internet activism. And with my website being my “storefront”, I like the idea of closing it and putting a sign in the window - not unlike similar campaigns, e.g. promoting Web Standards on CSS Naked Day, have done in the past.

The plugin

I wrote a minimalist Kirby 3 plugin, that re-routes all page requests to a placeholder page informing readers about the ongoing climate strike. Apart from a few legally required URLs, website content will only be accessible the following day again:

On 21 September, the plugin overrides all but a handful of exluded URLs and returns a page informing about the site closure.

If your site is running on Kirby 3, feel free to reuse the plugin; it’s available on GitHub (contributions welcome!). I deliberately kept it as barebone as possible - including the placeholder template: as a static HTML file, it can easily be adapted.

Inpiration and design

As part of their “digital #climatestrike” campaign, globalclimatestrike.net offers a ready-to-use banner widget, which displays a similar (and visually more sophisticated) notice and is very easy to deploy: CMS-independent and with almost no technical skills required. It is a great tool and served as inspiration for this plugin - yet, it did not quite align with my requirements.

The Global Climate Strike website provides various tools for digital participation in the advocady efforts surrounding the event.

My own solution - based on my personal design criteria - differs in that it

  • does not load the banner from an external server (instead hooking right into the CMS’s own router),
  • does not rely on JavaScript (i.e. it is literally taking the site offline, not just covering it with a banner), and that it
  • does not include any tracking (unfortunately, the “official” widget includes Google Analytics by - configurable - default, which from my point of view raises ethical, potentially also compliance concerns).

This obviously comes at the expense of being less universal, but for websites running on Kirby 3, it is even easier than integrating the JavaScript widget; no production templates have to be altered. On the other hand, this plugin does not provide a pre-strike announcement banner as does the widget.

Furthermore, I wanted to ensure that

  • the 24h service disruption does not affect a site’s search rankings (the plugin returns HTTP error code 503 “Service unavailable”, recommended for maintenance pages and the like; i.e. the closure message is machine-readable),
  • the plugin does not introduce cookies or dependencies that may not be part of the regular site,
  • a footer displays legally required links (in Germany in particular, keeping the Impressum visible is critical; as is the privacy statement in the EU and other legislations), and
  • related to the previous point, critical pages can be kept alive by excluding certain URLs from the redirect.

Does this make sense?

“No more business as usual” is the key message of the ongoing climate activism. Regarding my personal website shutdown, there is a good chance nobody will notice or care. Yet, I do believe in two things:

  1. Only mass mobilisation will enable the global fight for a sustainable future and climate justice. In this regard, any publicity is good publicity; even making just one reader aware of the global climate strike would be a win.

  2. While the massive systemic issues our planet is facing cannot be solved by individuals, every action counts. And good ideas - like a “digital climate strike” - are worth spreading. Maybe some major websites or services will join the effort; that would translate to massive visibility for the cause.

I was happy to read that the Kirby team aims to be a climate-neutral business; handing this tiny tool back to the community is my share in that effort.

All ideas and improvements are welcome; leave a comment, send a webmention or raise an issue/make a pull request on GitHub!