Content reflection



  • OK, I want to open up a discussion in a weird direction.

    If I am an old-school CIO I have a website full of content, made by content-makers, about what they think users want to see.

    If I am a current CIO I have a website as above, but I also have a discussion board or capability where people are reacting to my content.

    If I am a new-school CIO, well, what am I thinking: mainly that I don't want to employ content writers, I want to attract a large group of contributors, who will essentially write my web site content themselves, with a little moderator help.

    OK, so then I have to sell it to the board, to the staff, to the old-school customers. They see chaos. They see the end of all that beautifully written and "safe" content. They see no way a pure discussion board like NodeBB can offer the structure and format they love.

    tl;dr: Up to now we have had web sites that have a discussion page; now we need discussion topics that have web pages.



  • So I can think of a number of ways to make a NodeBB site appear to have a sort of content-structure beyond topics and posts.

    Architecturally, you could simply stand NodeBB next to a nodejs content management app like Calypso - or you could roll your own, either separate from NodeBB and make a lot of links, or as part of a Fork.

    That said, what would an integral capability look like in NodeBB? I can't see what it would take exactly, but the outcome would look something like this:

    1. The Category view would include a content section like the landing page MOTD. Admins enter that content.

    2. In addition, the Category view would enable Admins to present a specialized view of posts - like a searchable listing that pulls specific items in as if they were links to content or data items (which of course is more or less already in place).

    3. Finally, Users would be able to enter structured data - with textboxes etc, and that structure would follow to the database to facilitate the structured Category post views. So a user could comment about a price for something, but also post an "official" price entry (ultimately these reflect the same gesture - "I have something to share" )

    This would enable the app to (A) conform to a legacy idea of seeing content, (B) expand to structured data entry and retrieval system, and (C) retain the discussion format as the matrix from which these useful extra functions operate.

    My question: how hard would this be to do, assuming we accept the architectural proposition that NodeBB is a realistic platform for this sort of thing?


  • GNU/Linux Admin

    As it stands -- right now the aim of NodeBB is to replicate (with slight deviations) the core of that made forums great. That of a standalone community with its own content.

    Now, this obviously is contrary to how integrated websites are nowadays, with content and comments tightly coupled.

    The trick is balancing these two needs to deliver something that everybody can use, but even that is possibly an unattainable goal. If we swing too far one way, then NodeBB is no longer a forum, if we swing too far another way, we alienate potential admins.

    I can say that we encourage cross-compatibility between standalone apps. For example, a website built in Calypso, with NodeBB bindings to periodically scrape content and automatically create topics based on new entries. This is do-able today (with some minor work).

    I can also say that we don't want NodeBB to be a CMS. They are very different markets, with very different goals.

    What I cannot say is how these views will change in the next 2, 6, or 12 months. It depends on a lot of factors, including feature requests and trends.


    Now, as for #2, my personal opinion is that departing from the traditional "Category -> Topic -> Post" structure leads to confusion to first time users. Almost all users (and I realising I am generalising here), are familiar with that schema, and up-ending this is a risky move.

    Discourse does not follow this structure. Their topics can have multiple categories, and their home page just shows a list of the latest topics. Whether or not this is successful or not is up to debate, but I will say that when I first visited a Discourse site, I was confused, as I expected to "drill-down" to a category of interest.


  • GNU/Linux Admin

    If I am a new-school CIO, well, what am I thinking: mainly that I don't want to employ content writers, I want to attract a large group of contributors, who will essentially write my web site content themselves, with a little moderator help.

    That said, nothing is stopping anybody from building a Calypso or Docpad plugin that periodically scrapes a NodeBB for "popular" articles, and automatically posts them!

    e.g.

    [NodeBB] A topic hits "10" favourites
    [NodeBB] NodeBB has a Docpad plugin installed
    [NodeBB] NodeBB pings Docpad with title, content, and url
    [Docpad] Receives NodeBB's ping and creates a new article with links back to the topic.


  • Thanks. We agree that retaining clear vision is critical.

    Can you comment on which direction you would suggest - write a plugin to NodeBB that links docpad, or the other way - a docpad plugin that links in NodeBB, or both?

    What's your estimation as to the level of difficulty involved?


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