How do we want to structure and categorise information here?

  • ng
  • 11/10/08 31/12/20
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Posted: Sat, 08/11/2008 - 18:56

As the amount of information on the site grows and grows, proper categorisation and structure is becoming increasingly important, otherwise its like 10,000 documents all mixed up in one huge box.

Here are some notes on what's possible:

  • Comments can be allowed or disallowed by default, per content type.

  • The main content types are currently forum topic, group topic, news item, press release, poll. Blog item has recently been added.

  • Any number of new content types can be added. Each might have specific fields not present in other content types - e.g. phone number, favourite colour, interest rate. Thus the news item content type has a field for a url (link), most other content types do not.

  • Editors can turn comments on or off for any item, so over-riding the default.

  • Comment display format can also be set per content type - options are newest first, oldest first, summary view or detail view. If you take a look at the recent polls you'll see I've switched comments into summary view.

  • All types of content can have categories added, like we have in news items. Categories provide a simple search method.

  • Categories can be applied to content of different types. So, a view of all content with the category "Politicians" might show forum, blog, polls and press releases which have been categorised as "about" politicians.

  • Categories can be pre-defined (fixed list) or not - people choose their own.

  • With pre-defined categories, a hierarchical structure is also possible, e.g. top level "Politicians", second level "Brown, Darling, etc."

  • The search facility (soon to be reactivated) can be told to search for specific content types or within specific categories, etc. But without proper structure and categorisation, the danger is that the search will not easily allow finding of relevant information.

  • The above is by no means a complete list of features available, but some relatively key functionality of the Drupal CMS.

So, we have lots of possibilities, but trying to plan it properly and retro-fit onto the existing site is far from trivial!


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  • Xochitl
  • 27/10/08 31/05/09
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  • Wed, 12/11/2008 - 12:38

Hi ng,

Re: Forum topics only

I use another forum that has a great way of sorting out posts. You have your list of forums in a vertical menu, like "General Discussions", "Politicians", "Your Stories", etc. When you click on "General Discussions", for example, you will get a list of 'threads' written by individuals that are chronological in order (i.e."Iceland's rescue Package Flounders"). You click on the thread in order to be able to read the main message and any responses are added below. The responses are presented with the most recent one nearest the main message.

Additionally there is a forum "thread search" that you can use if you are interested in a specific topic. Search results are presented chronologically and you can search by subject word (in main message only), subject word (in responses too) member, or date.

Perhaps you are already aware of this but thought i'd pitch in! My parents find it a little hard to find their way around the discussions and get to the core of where the action is. Saying that, you have done a great job in so little time and I thank you VERY much for your effort and results!


I have been accessing the

  • 11/10/08 31/05/09
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  • Tue, 11/11/2008 - 17:26

I have been accessing the website every day - for hours upon hours in the first few days, less so recently due to pressure of work - and am beginning to be both a little concerned and a bit bemused by what is going on. I know that this is partly due to the fact that I have only spent 30 minutes or so a day on the website for the past week or so, but that is enough to give a 'flavour' of the mood. Here's my impression (for what it's worth) of where we are now and what we might do about it.

We seem to be losing focus as a group. This is partly due to the move by Expat (the 'human face' of the group from early on, after all he was the only person whose real name we knew and whose photo we had all seen) but was coming anyhow. We seem to be splintering off into smaller groups. We seem to lack a central focus (and Expat's departure from IoM will certainly exacerbate this feeling) and to be chasing new ideas briefly but not consistently.

I'd like to suggest a few things: (a) Put a London Team and IoM team 'Blog' on the front page. The entries don't need to be masterpieces but they need to update everyone briefly on what's happening on a daily basis. These blogs can include specific calls for action, all of which I am sure would be gratefully received by those of us who are in far flung places (b) Set up a group leaders' blog area on the front page where the elected group leaders (e.g. Andy Ish for the Middle East) can post the latest activity from their group. (c) Archive all content that is over 1 week old in order to free up the website and make it easy to read for members and visitors alike. (d) Reorganise the forums so that only the editors can post new topics. The current topics are sometimes repetitive and the postings could easily have been made in existing forums.

I realise that this may seem prescriptive but it's my experience as a website user that this kind of organisation gives coherence to us as a group and makes the flow of information much easier.

I am enormously grateful - as we all are - for all the hard work that you and the other leaders of the group put into the maintenance of this site.

organising the website

  • banna
  • 15/10/08 01/03/10
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  • Tue, 11/11/2008 - 22:59

I certainly agree with suggestions (a) and(c) in AJM's proposals. I think (d) would limit too much new ideas and suggestions. I also agree that the current approach (drupal) is better than other 2 formats mentioned below.

A masterclass in "power to the people"

  • P.Taylor
  • 19/10/08 31/05/09
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  • Tue, 11/11/2008 - 22:53

The alternatives would have been either:

(1) A blog, where users can respond only to an administrator's topic, or

(2) Forums, typically in the style of

A feature of the system now in use on this website (Drupal) is that someone can respond to a particular comment and appear directly beneath it instead of in a typical forum chronological list where users "quote" the relevant comment (which may be much higher in the list) - this can be a nuisance to readers and contributors alike. As a reader rather than a contributor I tend to prefer the current system instead of (1) or (2) above, though I agree that this tends to dilute the focus.

But as things develop (hopefully in a favourable direction), the more flexible Drupal system perhaps offers better opportunties to adapt the website to fulfill its evolving purpose and I think the administrators are doing an excellent job, given the standing start they were faced with. I think that what you have here is a masterclass in the use of the web to give "power to the people."

state of the site

  • mikeinfrance
  • 12/10/08 28/09/09
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  • Tue, 11/11/2008 - 19:39

My overwhelming impression of the site now is that it is just clogged with so many completely unnecessary new forums,for example a new forum today is just a reply from an MP whereas there is a forum devoted to such posts. Some way of limiting the number of new forums would be very welcome.

Website Phase 2? (and DAG Phase 2?)

  • ng
  • 11/10/08 31/12/20
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  • Tue, 11/11/2008 - 21:45

I guess you mean topics - there are relatively few forums - - I'm not quibbling over terminology, just trying to understand.

One of the challenges we've had from the start is that many users here are not (or at least were not) very used to using web based discussion forums. Another issue is the sheer number of people posting - we cannot force people to post in a particular way. If you hover your mouse over the Forums link at the top of the page you'll see it says (and has for some time) "consider whether commenting on an existing thread or starting a new thread would be more appropriate" (well, actually I've just noticed it says exiting rather than existing but I'll fix that!)

Phase 2

I think the site and probably the DAG itself is entering Phase 2. Phase 1 was, basically a panic reaction (though of course we organised many important and worthwhile activities during that time.) Phase 2 will, I suspect, be more thoughtful, more objective oriented and more focussed. For the web-site, I think it will be about providing clear and concise information and news. Well, we shall see.

Forum structure

  • ng
  • 11/10/08 31/12/20
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  • Tue, 11/11/2008 - 21:58

Forgot to mention - forums can be hierarchical - i.e. Action and Strategy can have sub-forums - IoM, UK, Iceland for example (just an example, I'm not suggesting that would necessarily be a good structure.)

In addition, all posts (forums, blogs or other types) can be tagged with categories).


  • Peasant
  • 10/10/08 31/05/09
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  • Tue, 11/11/2008 - 08:39

I have mentioned the lack of structure before, other forums (fora :)) have been active for years with something like:-

Each Forum Headings:-
Thread |Thread Starter | Replies | Views | Rating | Last Post | Button New Thread
Each Thread has:-
Information:- This thread, which was started by xxxx, contains 1 replies, has been viewed 63 times, and contains 0 attachments
Author | Thread | Buttons to:- Post New Thread | Post A Reply

Each Post has buttons along the bottom:- Click Here to:- See the Profile for xxx | Send xxxx a Private Message | Find more posts by xxxx | Add xxx to your buddy list | Edit/Delete Message | Reply w/Quote

Author (Date registered, No. of posts) | Thread (Posting) = 2 boxes across the screen.
Replies to Original Post (OP) remain attached to that post, a new reply causes it to rise to the top of its forum. Thus on each Forum the active topic rises to the top
Each Forum has:- A moderator who can remove postings and designate a thread as "sticky" which remains at the top.
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