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Not the Wiki?

Discussion in 'ECF InfoZone Discussion' started by Whistle_Pig, Jul 3, 2010.

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  1. Whistle_Pig

    Whistle_Pig Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 11, 2010
    Littleton, CO, U.S.
    Just curious about how this would be different from the ECF Wiki. If the main purpose is to have someplace which functions as an information repository, where things are easy to find, it seems a Wiki serves that very well. Granted, it's easier for forum members to just post threads, since there isn't any new Wiki markup to learn, and organizationally, a forum is a bit more loose than a Wiki, so it's mostly easier to find where to put whatever. But there's already a Wiki here. I've only just looked around a bit at it. I suppose one issue is that Wikipedia and vBulletin don't share login info. Not sure how tough it'd be to somehow hack that into place, as I haven't looked under the hood at either package. Probably a PITA. But then, depending on which CMS package you've chosen, doesn't the same issue exist? Or is there a CMS designed off-the-shelf to work with vBulletin?

    Either way, I think this a good direction to go -- I mean having something like a vaping encyclopedia, or whatever you want to call it.
     
  2. rolygate

    rolygate Forum Manager Admin Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 24, 2009
    ECF Towers
    Good question.

    There are 4 common dynamic website apps groups now:
    CMS
    forum
    wiki
    blog

    ...and each performs a specialist function. In fact, each will do some of what the others do simply because they all have a similar basis - for example a PHP - MySQL core that publishes web pages. So a blog can sometimes be used as a micro-cms, and so can a wiki.

    If you look at this page the differences are explained better:

    Compare CMS v Wiki v Blog v Forum

    The simple fact is that a CMS is designed from the ground up to publish and manage different types of content. A wiki is designed as a collaborative document editing system. A blog is designed for a type of online journalism where people start a conversation with the writer. A forum is designed so that people can keep up to date on information, or debate issues.

    Each can do what the others do, to a certain extent, but if you want the best discussion facility you use a forum; and the best content publishing, you use a CMS. Part of this is the plugin availability, since many of these apps are just frameworks and don't do that much by themselves, the availability of plugins to do different jobs is crucial. For example one CMS has about 100 plugins just to manage streaming media (YouTube vids etc).

    Some of the crucial advantages of a CMS over a wiki for our purpose are:

    • There is a choice of 3 or 4 plugin visual editors, to give a choice of editing tool, and all have both wysiwyg and basic code editing.
    • Or, you can have direct code paste-in.
    • There is no wiki code to learn in order to edit; and the visual appearance of the page does not depend on how experienced the editor is in using wiki markup.
    • The CMS has thousands of plugins to do any job we need doing in the future: want an iframe page (wrapper) to display another site page in? Got it. Want an RSS feedout off the page? Got it. Want an RSS feed publisher to display news from other sites on a page? Easy. Want to place any item of any kind anywhere on the page? No problem. Want a new menu with your own choice of name, wherever on the page you want it, whatever color you want, with Suckerfish or Mootools child links? Got it. Want to totally change the page layout / colors / overall appearance in 2 minutes? Got it. Want to incorporate an iPhone version of the site? Got it.
    A capable CMS can do whatever you need. Other apps need dev work to do some of the things you want.

    Bridging
    A 'bridge' is a way of joining two separate server apps, most commonly to get a single sign-on (login to both at the same time). We don't need this because there will be very few CMS editors at first, and it's best for security to keep them separate.

    Future needs
    We don't know what they are because the future cannot be foretold. But on past experience the best foundation for information resources, even when they grow exponentially, is a CMS.

    So the best bet for both now and future requirements is to use a CMS as we want to manage and publish various types of content, and this is what it is designed for.


    .
     
  3. leannebug

    leannebug Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Mar 5, 2010
    the deep south

    Question:

    Will you be using the Joomla version?- implementing the CMS and using the wiki and Forum as plug-ins? This seems to fit the ECF site the best (though perhaps not the easiest to implement, at first).
    Or are you moving completely over to CMS? If so, how will that change the rest of the site? (other than the "cover page" so to speak)

    Thanks (still trying to learn what exactly the CMS is, and how it works!)
     
  4. JerryRM

    JerryRM ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Leanne (why are you a bug?), the way I understand it, the forum will remain the main focus of the site and will not be changed. The CMS section however, will be the new front page, with access to the forum from there. The purpose of the CMS section, will be to better organize information, to make it easier to access any information that the members will need. Think of it as a library.

    This link shows how a CMS looks like, but the ECF will be the opposite, with the forum being the main focus and not the CMS page.

    Gizmo's Freeware Reviews

    One picture is worth a thousand words.
     
  5. rolygate

    rolygate Forum Manager Admin Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 24, 2009
    ECF Towers
    @LB:

    1.
    What he said :)

    2.
    Yes, we've decided to use Joomla. Drupal might have been a better choice in some circumstances but Joomla fits the bill here.

    The forum and cms will be independent. There will be links out of each to the other. The forum won't be a cms plugin because it is far too big, and also we don't want to bridge it either, there are always issues with that.

    The cms will be small potatoes for a time. It will have some excellent material to start, and will grow naturally. In terms of size / scale, the cms, at least at first, will be 1% of the size of the forum (or less actually). However - it will present the content that is judged to be the most useful, and that can best be organized for standard website publishing.

    The wiki: its future is not determined at present. If it actually worked as designed (ie, many people contributed to it) then I think it would be best to leave it as-is. However, it seems to me that it is mainly the work of one person, who has worked hard to make it what it is.

    That makes the decision a little difficult. If that person would like to transfer the information to the CMS, in due time, it might be best. Everything that exists in the wiki would be the same in the cms, there aren't really any issues there, and it will be easier to edit as well. However I'm not going to force that, I'd prefer to see how things develop. There is a lot of good info in the wiki, as a result of much hard work, and I have to respect that.

    As far as the ECF site appearance and future plans go: the forum is the main part of the site and always will be. However, a forum is basically anarchy as far as organizing material and finding it quickly is concerned, so at a certain point a giant site has to make some tough decisions.

    If you are just a forum, and have no resources, then it's OK to stay as a forum. But if you have a growing library of resources, then a forum is too disorganized to handle that aspect efficiently, and something has to be done about it. For example if you look at the list of the world's largest forums on big-boards.com, you'll see that those sites with wider resources changed from a forum index front page to a cms front page, in order to organize and present their assets better.

    This is what we're doing. The front page will change but the forum stays as-is. It will appear to be a major change, because the front page will be different, but keep in mind the cms will have 10 pages to start with, but the forum has hundreds of thousands. What we'll do is have massive links from the front page to the forum, so it can be found very easily. And if you have bookmarks, they won't change - you'll just go straight to the forum index or the board you wanted, as per normal.

    In fact if your bookmark for ECF is what it most likely is: www.e-cigarette-forum.com/forum/

    ...then you won't even be aware of any change at all. It's only if you follow a link out of the forum to the new Home page that you'll see the new front page. Or if you type the straight domain in, of course: www.e-cigarette-forum.com

    The cms will allow us to move onward and upward, as ever. It's a bit of a technical challenge, and a shift of thinking perhaps for long-term members though (and maybe the biggest obstacle), so some other forums open a whole new site just for this purpose. I don't agree with that approach though - it's better for the site if the two sections are combined, it's better for existing members once they've got their head around it, and it's about a million times better for visitors and new members.

    Our cms will be very simple to start with, but to see what is possible try these:

    BBC News - Home
    BBC - Homepage
    Telegraph.co.uk: news, business, sport, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sunday Telegraph - Telegraph

    These are examples of giant portal cms sites. I include these because I know them well and because they are good examples of the type. The BBC site is an example of one of the best-run giant portals in the world: it's fast, easy to use, and has many different topic sections, some on different domains. The Telegraph site in contrast is hard to use as it's so slow, it has chronic usability issues due to poor advertising management - but it has a lot of interesting content if you can just get to it. (The Telegraph is a big UK paper like the Times, but with a little more humour.)

    Needless to say, the ECF cms will not be on this scale. However you can see what is possible, with these two examples. The key is that any page can be edited at any time by the Editor who 'owns' it, which means that info stays current. In addition, just about anything can be published anywhere on a page, and that makes things much easier if you want to add something. Layout, graphics and colors can easily be changed at any time.

    As a website solution it's ideal and it's the way to go. But the forum is the core and always will be. It remains to be seen how the membership will take to the front page changing, and to be honest I expect a storm of protest. I think that's why other forum sites have gone for other routes. But come back in six months and all that will be over and done with - and it's my job to plan for the future. Ecigs and ECF are here for the long term, in ten years' time we'll see the real state of play - today's issues are just a hiccup on that scale.

    In ten or fifteen years time I fully expect ecigarettes to be a mainstream consumer product, tobacco sales falling rapidly, and this site to be many times larger. We'll just have to wait and see...
     
  6. Whistle_Pig

    Whistle_Pig Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 11, 2010
    Littleton, CO, U.S.
    I can envision a not-terrible migration path, since the Wiki code is already there to generate HTML from Wiki markup. A bit of fiddling to get the authorship correctly attributed, and it seems fairly straightforward. Of course, the devil is always in the details.

    I've some experience with a wiki attached to a another forum, and it's the same issue.
     
  7. leannebug

    leannebug Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Mar 5, 2010
    the deep south
    Jerry: thanks for the info, a picture truly helps!... especially for us "visual" learners. (my grandmother used to call me a "pest" all the time, I finally spoke up, and told her I wasn't a "boog".. it's been a family joke ever since ;))


    Roly: After muddling around here myself, and helping others find information, I can see why organization is needed. It should help in that aspect, and in all future growths that are expected.
    I don't understand why it would be a problem though? Isn't growth to be expected? It seems as if you are doing everything to keep this easy on the rest of us (ie: you've posted the notice, given us room to ask questions, our links will stay the same, the forum won't change) Why would any one complain??
     
  8. rolygate

    rolygate Forum Manager Admin Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 24, 2009
    ECF Towers
    Wow LB, don't you realise the main function of ECF? It's to complain :) At us, if there is nothing else useful for a target. And don't get me started on the Vets...

    :D

    But I think you'll understand when you see the new front page. Just the fact that it's different, and it isn't the forum index, will be enough. Believe me...

    I fully expect the debate to run for months. But, hey, it will be fun.
     
  9. JerryRM

    JerryRM ECF Guru Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Chris, that happens in the "real" world too, not just on the ECF.
     
  10. rolygate

    rolygate Forum Manager Admin Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 24, 2009
    ECF Towers
    I wouldn't know, Jerry, I'm just a virtual person now. :)
     
  11. leannebug

    leannebug Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Mar 5, 2010
    the deep south
    lol... well, I AM a parent, so I think I can sympathize a little. But I don't get them either :laugh:
     
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