Frequently Asked Questions

Control over access to 'premium content'

Each individual node can be identiifed as 'premium' when submitted for publication. Nodes that are designated in this manner are only accessible to registered users who are authorized (via their roles) to review that material in it's entirety. People who are not authorized are able to review a 'teaser' of the content (which is automatically extracted from the body of the full material), but will be given a message when attempting to access the node that describes what they need to do in order to get the addtional access required.

Material can also be 'promoted' to premium content automatically after full access has been granted for a designated period after publication, if this feature is enabled by the site administrator.

What are blocks?

Blocks are visual containers of information that appear on the left or right hand margins. The functionality and content of each block varies, and the appearance of blocks are dependent upon whether you are logged in or not, and what pages you are viewing. In general, blocks only appear in the right hand margin on the home page. The blocks on the left hand margin include a login block (accessible only when not logged in), a menu block (accessible only when logged in). Additionally, the following other blocks are available on the left margin:

  • Coming attractions, a list of content in the moderation queue. Depending upon your access rights, you may or may not be allowed to review this content before it is approved.
  • Words of wisdom, a random presentation of a entry from my Quotes file

These blocks are available on the right margin:

  • Best of, a list of material which has received high ratings through the site ratings facility
  • Known site issues with recent activity, a list of issues associated with this web site that have recent activity associated with them.
  • Things that work and some that don't, a list of emerging technology that I've tried to use, and my assessment of how well it works
  • We recommend, a random selection from my Bookshelf.

What are ratings?

Ratings are votes that are provided by the community on user-submitted content. When the average vote of such content is sufficiently high, it can be promoted out of the moderator's queue 'implicitly'. Additionally, published and approved content with high votes will be placed into the 'best of' block.

How is a user granted access rights?

Users are automatically assigned the rights of 'registered user' after logging on to the system. At present, the following additional roles are supported:

  • administrator, which can change what roles mean, and grant users rights to fulfill those roles. Administrators can also fundamentally change the configuration and architecture of the overall web system
  • moderators, who have the right to approve (and edit) content submitted for moderation
  • partners, who have all rights of moderators, and additional rights to create new groups and associated infrastructure

What is a node?

All content in this website is stored and treated as nodes. Nodes are the generic descriptor for any postings such as blogs, stories, polls and forum topics. A node widget controlled by the administrator manages these content types and is one of the strengths of Drupal over other content management systems.

Treating all content as nodes allows the flexibility of creating new types of content, and enables new features or changes to be designed to apply to all content. Comments are not stored as separate nodes but are always associated with each node.

Nodes are created through the 'create content' command under the menu block.

How can I get email notification for changes to site content?

This feature enables users to subscribe to be notified of changes to nodes or taxonomies, such as new comments in specific forums, or additions to some category of blog. All nodes also have an additional link that allows the user to change their subscriptions. Each user has a tab on their user screen to manage their own subscriptions. This functionality is also accessible via a link from the menu block. Users can use these features to set an auto subscribe function which notifies the user if anyone comments on posts they have made.

Administrative options are outlined here.

How can remote blogging tools be used to submit content?

Many users prefer to use blogging tools to improve their ability to read and post responses in a tailored way.  Such users can use programs like Ecto to create and publish posts from their desktop. This site supports several XML-RPC based blogging APIs such as the Blogger API, MetaWeblog API, and most of the Movable Type API. Any such blogging tools or other services (e.g. Flickr's "post to blog") that support these APIs should work with this site. Each of these sites will have their own site-specific ways of using this API.

This site also allows administrators to configure which content types can be posted via the external applications. For more information please read the configuration and customization handbook BlogApi page.

How can new content be entered directly into the site?

Registered users who are authorized to enter content can do so using the 'Create content' menu link in the menu block. Content can be entered in a variety of formats. The filter module allows administrators to configure text input formats for the site. For example, an administrator may want a filter to strip out malicious HTML from user's comments. Administrators may also want to make URLs linkable even if they are only entered in an unlinked format.

Users can choose between the available input formats when creating or editing content. Administrators can configure which input formats are available to which user roles, as well as choose a default input format. Administrators can also create new input formats. Each input format can be configured to use a selection of filters.

Information for administrators regarding permissions for content entry can be found here.

How are books created and managed?

Books offer a means to organize content, authored by many users, into a composite product. Most of the elements of books require special privileges, including the following:

  • Creating a new book
  • Being able to edit pages of a book other than those that you have created
  • Changing the order of the elements in a book

If you have been granted the privilege to add new pages to a book, you will see the 'add child page' link underneath a book page. That link will allow new content to be posted for that book.

A book's hierarchy has mplications in the moderation queue. If individual elements for a book are unpublished, they will not appear in the book's outline until the corresponding nodes are published. In a similar way, each node that is published can be placed in the moderation queue separately (or not). The preferred approach for most situations is to promote the main page of the book to the front page, and neither promote nor place into the moderation queue the subordinate pages.

See also the administration help regarding books here.

How does revision tracking work?

Revision tracking allows successie changes to a node to be stored, and the differences reviewed. Additionallly, if there are any reasons to do so, these revisions can also be 'rolled back' to a previous baseline.

Revisions are only created if the 'Create new revision' check box is enabled (under the 'Publishing options' group) when submitting the results of a particular node editting session. If that option is not selected, any changes overwrite the previous latest version. The list of existing revisions can be reviewed by selecting the 'Revisions' Tab, which is only accessible when looking at a full node display (as opposed to a teaser).

A 'Diff ' button can be used to compare the differences between two node revisions.  Admininstrators can set up who has rights to do this here.