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Debunking Drupal myths - Part one: Content control

Acquia has quickly become successful in increasing the exposure of Drupal to "CTO-level" conversations at larger enterprises. Despite the fact that there are numerous examples of big companies using it, Drupal is really still pretty unknown in big organizations - at least when you compare it to commercial, closed-source content management systems (the "incumbents").

As Drupal starts to make inroads in these larger organizations, the incumbents are forced to defend why their expensive proprietary software is better than that "little Drupal project." Hooray! The mere fact that they now must have answers shows that Drupal isn't such a little project anymore, and it is starting to cause real pain to the incumbents. It's now only a matter of time: high quality, powerful open source software with a big community behind it is the biggest threat to any closed-source software. The incumbents are living on borrowed time.

But given that we're now impacting them competitively, we're all about to experience an increasing flow of venomous-sounding FUD coming from these incumbents.

Just think back to what Microsoft did when Linux started to take over the data center: they howled and spewed FUD about quality, licensing, functionality - anything they could grab onto. The same types of FUD accusations are now starting to emerge from the old-guard Content Management System incumbents. And - just like the Windows/Linux story - virtually any argument they make can be debunked. Nearly all their assertions are specious; it's not real poison.

So I, and others here at Acquia, will be blogging about the FUD as it comes to us. When we see an accusation about Drupal that is simply untrue, we'll post it here, and tag it so you can see that the FUD poison isn't poison - it's simply harmless spit from a miffed vendor.

Case one: Content Control

A couple of great myths came up last Friday, when one of these incumbents asserted the following:

Drupal lacks Content Moderation Tools. Assuming your company gets hit with a tsunami of vigilante customers that just want to spew bad comments on your community, Drupal provides no mechanism by which to flip a switch and force all submitted content to be reviewed by a customer representative.

This is patently false.

Drupal actually combines two powerful features - each useful on their own, but more powerful in combination - to offer enterprise-grade content moderation:

  • Roles / permissions. Nearly all critical functions in Drupal (including comment and content creation / moderation) is controlled by defined Roles, to which each is given a set of Permissions. For instance, administrators can define a "Moderator" role that a user must have in order to approve content for publishing; administrators only then add this role to employees (or external community managers) whom they trust to moderate content.
  • The modr8 module. This Drupal component prevents posts that are in moderation from showing up in lists, on the /node page, etc., unless approved by a user (/Role) that has the "administer nodes" or "moderate content" permission. This module also provides an admin interface for managing content in moderation, and an optional block to show how many posts are in moderation and the titles of recently added posts. The admin interface allows a user with the "moderate content" permission to preview content in moderation, as well as approve or delete each moderated post, and (optionally) to send an e-mail to the author informing him/her of the choice.

A couple of other minor notes:

  • Note 1: If you're using Drupal's Organic Groups (OG) capability to create different social groups on your site, there is an extended version of this module that makes it work with OG.
  • Note 2: Acquia's Peter Wolanin is the current maintainer of the modr8 module.

Don't let uninformed FUD influence you. Get the facts first.

More fun as we hear more false assertions!

Comments

Posted on by Greg Knaddison.

Community/multi-user moderation tools are another great solution. For the Economist we've helped to build a system where:

  • Anyone can report inappropriate content to moderate it "down" including providing a description of the problem.
  • The most problematic comments (based on votes) are sorted to the top of a view that is built on top of the views bulk operations module which allows moderators to efficiently review problem reports and unpublish them.
  • When the content is unpublished, moderators can also revoke the ability to comment, all in the same interface and same set of actions

I hope to polish this up and release it as a recipe or complete packaged module, but this is just one example of the kind of community based moderation that is possible that helps to reduce the content responsibilities of a few site admins and distribute them out among multiple moderators or even community members.

Posted on by Jay Batson.

This is an excellent-sounding solution, Greg. I recall running across several approaches to community-driven moderation when preparing the above, but neglected to mention them. The one you describe that you're implementing for the Economist sounds the most well-put-together. I look forward to seeing if what you put together (recipe or module).

Your contribution will be a great example of how community-driven open source projects like Drupal can move more rapidly, and offer more options, than any proprietary, closed-source product can.

Thanks

Posted on by larryledger (not verified).

From my experience, "tsunami of vigilante" visitors are often a competitor of yours. In WordPress you can actually ban ranges of IP blocks, which although sometime backfires, can largely stop from a single person or group to continuously slam the comment doors. The moderation tool isn't effective when there are barrages of authentic comments hitting on everyday..Is there some sort of Ip Ban plugins for Drupal? Thanks

Regards,
Larry @ soft laser
(Frustration turned into WP)

Posted on by Jacob Singh.

Hi Larry,

Ip banning is built into Drupal core. It is available in the "Access Rules" section under the "User" heading on the administration screen.

In Drupal 7 this is changing somewhat, and I think it will be in a separate contributed module, but not 100% sure on that.

Best,
Jacob

Posted on by tormi (not verified).

Here's some 5x more FUD to debunk: http://www.slate.com/id/223371 9/
;)

Posted on by j0rd (not verified).

Roles and Permissions in Drupal are great. Occasionally they need to be extended to have the fine grained functionality you require but, out of the box, they're pretty good.

I would disagree with the poster here. I'm not saying that Drupal couldn't be extended to have a robust enterprise level moderation, but currently modr8 falls way short. It's not robust or intuitive. To my knowledge it also does not allow for moderation of revisions. We can pretend Drupal has enterprise level moderation, but until it does, I don't think this myth is debunked.