Intro to Commons, Part 2: How to Customize Your Commons Site [September 18, 2013]
Drupal Commons is online community software that works right out of the box. As we saw in Part 1, Community Managers can make the most out of user-generated content. This content can be reported, moderated, and published across multiple groups.
In Part 2, we’ll dig a bit deeper to learn various techniques on how to best manage your online community. For example, we will review how to create groups with varying levels of privacy and access, which can provide your users with safe places to collaborate and discuss. We’ll show you tools to maintain your site and monitor participation.
You will also learn how to:
- Customize tags, terms and taxonomy across the site
- Configure privacy and group access
- Administer your online community
Molly Sloan: Today’s webinar is “Intro to Commons Part II, How to Customize Your Commons Site”, with Heather James who’s the manager of Learning Services at Acquia. We’re really excited to have Heather on the call with us today.
Heather James: This is Part II of “An Introduction to Drupal Commons”. The intention with these on two webinars was to really show you what Drupal Commons does out of the box. So these are the - for example if you're already managing an online community or you're looking for software that helps you do this and you want more control out of the software you're choosing, these two sessions are just showing you what Drupal Commons does out of the box. I should just briefly introduce myself as well. I'm manager for the training program, and really excited that we’ve been growing year and year and getting the word out there about Drupal. You can see on our training calendar we have training dates. We’ve had training dates most days this month, and hopefully something in your area across the US and in Europe and Canada as well. Of course, if you want to request training we can bring training to you. We do have some more partners who just recently joined who’s actually in the Middle East, so it’s great that we’re seeing growth in other areas.
Drupal Commons - before you showed up to this session because you're curious about Drupal Commons, it’s free and available for you to download and use. If you're not from a technical background, you can also request a demo. So definitely, check out the website there. An example website I use to actually - funny enough is no longer built with Drupal Commons. It was originally dev.twitter.com use Drupal Commons as sort of a kick-start to their community. I think they’ve made so many alterations and so much custom works into it, that we could say this is a unique website built on Drupal. Yet, you can think of Drupal Commons as a kick-start for your own community. You can, of course, follow the development path of Drupal Commons and benefit from the upgrading tools that are, for example, being developed right now, but you can also think of it as a community in a box.
So, this session is really for people who are sort of in the community manager mindset and you want to know what Drupal Commons can do. Or you may already have a Drupal Commons site, either with the most recent version of Drupal Commons or a previous one and you want to see what the newest versions Drupal Commons is like. Like I said, definitely check out a demo if you want some more detailed sort of feedback. We also have – and I’ll refer to this in a couple of times in this session - we have two sessions coming up. Part One is on October 2nd. Part Two is not on the website yet but that’s one October 9th. Those two sessions are for people who are building websites with Drupal Commons. So, my thinking was that these two sessions you could find out what Drupal Commons does out of the box, and the two follow-up sessions will be really like going beyond the standard, going beyond what’s default. So you’ll be able to actually see how you can change the defaults, change the layout, change the look and feel of your Drupal Commons site. So, just for folks who didn’t come last week, I just wanted to recap what we spoke about last week a little bit. Really wanted to spend some time just thinking about what these community managers have to do all day. There are a lot of different kinds of communities that need software. So, you may be in a situation where you have pure-led product support. Maybe you're trying to help your users connect with other users. You may be moderating content within health community. You may be someone who works for a government agency and you're helping to engage people in your local community to find solutions to common problems, and you may simply be a volunteer, like I am, a volunteer for example with my own Drupal Commons locally. So, maybe you want to help people connect.
So, you’ve got a lot of different aspects to your role as a community manager, whether you're telling stories, making great content and listening and seeing how people are responding to that content, of course, always making that experience, hopefully, entertaining and fun and, of course, safe in a lot of cases. So, your challenges really are growing that membership and encouraging participation. It’s definitely difficult even with being in a company for example to create and encourage natural conversations without being guilty of corporate-speak and letting people have a natural conversation without even so many challenges, for example, of just moderation. You probably have to deal with everyday, keeping people happy and not squelching conversation if you speak too much. So, that’s just your normal challenges. As we looked at right now a lot of organizations have a very fractured experience. We’ve got lots of different software and even your CMS is probably separate from your form, separate from your blog, separate from your wiki. So, Drupal Commons is helping organizations to bring all this together with one piece of software. So, of course, you're still going to have your social media. You're still going to have your e-mail campaign tool, your analysis software, but you’ll be able to keep your content in one place.
So then we looked at - just again to recap what we showed last week is sort of how Drupal Commons helps you address your challenges and reach your goals. Drupal Commons is unusual and if we kept on comparing it to - we can compare it to say, for example, form software or we can compare it to Facebook or compare it to Twitter. Among all of those, it really helps. The intention with Drupal Commons is to lower barriers to participation. So, the defaults are set to be very permissive. Anyone can create a group, for example. Anyone can follow content even if they’re not a member of a group. People can interact with group content, ad hoc, in a way and keep things really simple. You can actually see, for example, as well - you want to see the content. You could say if you're going to add a piece of content, for example, it will show you what’s most recent. So there’s a very simple form. There are not a lot of fields. We’ll look at how we can change - we can modify this somewhat, but just to get a sense of the fact that we’re encouraging participation and a classic situation, for example, on a text form is, “Have you already done a search before you’ve added a question?” Well, this will help people see what’s most recent, what’s been happening before they ask another question. There were also a lot of features within Commons that help people connect to each other so we can follow users which would be something similar to the Twitter experience where you can follow someone. I don’t need permission to follow someone and to keep track of what they’re doing. With Facebook, just like Facebook, you can add a trusted contact. So in that sense, it’s a handshake. I can add Lisa as a trusted contact but it awaits her confirmation. Once she’s done that, then we have a way we can communicate. I can send her private messages, for example. Private messages help people communicate to each other. Adding people as contacts, as well, has other benefits. I'm going to show you some of those content benefits next.
We also looked at creating a group. So with Drupal Commons, everything is sort of organized within these groups. Anyone could create a group within Drupal Commons, but it does require administrator approval. You can change the setting, of course, but this just puts it in a moderation queue so the administrator can keep on top of what’s being added. So these groups, for example, have various privacy settings. I only touched on some briefly last week. So I'm going to go into much more detail this week, because once we sort of overlap our individual role permissions with the group permission, it can be confusing with this matrix possibilities.
So, we saw a different type of content as well. So, for example, you can actually have Events and you can - there are specific configurations with every content type. With Events, for example, we can register on that specific - on our site or use another site to register. We also saw some ways that you can moderate and report content as inappropriate. So, we saw that administrators have another view. Their administration, for example, their administration interface is a little bit different. They can, for example, review some reported content and take action on that and moderate the user or delete and block them. So, we’re picking up from there and this week, we’re going to dig in a little bit more into individual sort of areas of site we didn’t get to look at in much detail. One of those is “Terms and Categories”. Actually, they’re called “Topics” on Drupal Commons. Topics allow you to connect the content across the site. You can actually follow a topic. So, here we have a topic on the website called “Recipes”, and I can follow that. When I follow content, I can then see that in my notifications. So let me just show you a quick demo of that. As I did last week, I used multiple browsers for multiple users. So just to show you sort of what that looks like, here I am logged in as Mary Magoo. Mary Magoo is actually someone who has a little higher permission. She’s a community manager, so she has some administrative permissions on her - within her user role. She’s going to click on a specific topic and follow that. What she’ll see in her own profile is you can see her notification settings and she’ll see that she’s following her groups. She’s following specific topics she has posted. She has her - Lisa, who she’s following. Then she’s got this topic she’s following as well. She’ll get e-mail notifications whenever new content comes up that she’s interested in. So, that’s generally what the topics provide. We can also see with the specific topics actually - with familiar benefits, there’s actually an RSS Feed for a per topic, basically, that’s generated. It’s available down here. My browser is picking it up and it’s connecting to my specific RSS reader, but here’s basically what it would look like. This means someone can use their RSS readers, for example. In addition to connecting content across different groups, topics also provide RSS feeds. I will just go back here to the presentation. All right. As long as we understand at this point that - content process site and users can add topics ad hoc. Administrators can manage these topics. So I'm going to show you now how you add topics to content. So, when you're going - as we saw last week too, there are multiple types of content you can add to your groups. One, for example, is wiki and that simply means everyone is going to be able to edit that piece of content. So, like if you're familiar with wiki, it means it’s a collaborative editing form. So, we can click to go to full form and you’ll see the full form including - on the right here you can see where you can enter in various topics. I'm just going to show you what that looks like. If I go to my - back to my group. Here we are. I just have to be adding one in here now. I think I may have actually added that, just double check.
Okay. Here you can see when I add - let's just go back. I'm in my secret club and I'm going to add in a wiki. [Pause] I'm going to - I actually made a change to this form. I'm going to show you how to do this in a second, but normally, you wouldn’t actually see these topics show up. What you would see if I go back to wiki here - I’ll go back to “Add a wiki”. Click to “Go to view full form”, and then you’d see the topics on the side. Problem is making something - here’s one I did earlier. What you will see when you go to the full form is you’ll see the topics on the side. You’ll also be able to edit these topics - sorry, add topics when you edit a post. What I was going to show you and it’s that my default if you just opened up Drupal and used this mini form that’s available, you won’t actually see an option to add topics. I've actually made a site administrator change. You can see at the bottom, it says, “Display in the mini form”. That now means I can see the topics available when I go and create that new content. So, I meant to undo that change before I showed you this. What I'm showing you - the reason I'm showing you this alteration is that this is something you're going to do at the time of site building. These are ways you can customize even the forms that are available and the fields that are available to people. So, that’s something I would consider as site administrator, a site builder would have to undertake, and we’re going to talk a lot about that in much more detail for next week. I wanted to give you a sense of the fact that Drupal is so flexible that there’s quite a lot you can do. So, I'm just going to go back. Bear with me. Here’s the one I have drafted. So when I go to “Add in topics”, if I already had some topics available, I just simply type ahead and they’ll come up as options for me. After I've added the content, it brings me back to the full group page and I can then edit. I can go click on a specific piece of content and click “Edit” and again, you’ll see the topics you have available. So, that’s just very general. Let me give you a sense of what’s actually already in there. So go to “Structure”. This is again something as a community manager, you may not have access to. This is what the site administrator sees. So, we can go to “Structure” and “Taxonomy”. So if you have some experience with Taxonomy, Genus, etcetera, you probably have an idea of how to make hierarchical kind of categorizations. “Topics” just happens to be the default one with Drupal Commons, but you could add other vocabulary. So you could have something where you have a piece of content such as you’ve got recipes, for example, and letting people add in random recipes. But if it’s something we’re going to be doing a lot, I may want to have a vocabulary that will allow me to kind of force, even force participants to choose a specific taxonomy term for a specific group, for example. So let's see - let's first see under “Topics”, I just want to show you what the defaults are here - sorry, not what the defaults are, excuse me, what the terms are so far. So these are the various terms that people have added on the site, for example, that as an administrator you can edit these and you can change what they are. But as it is, it’s sort of like an ad hoc kind of categorization. So, I can actually add a vocabulary and let people choose. Say we’re going to be using recipes a lot. Here’s our new one and we can add terms to that. [Pause] I'm going to go back to - and I can see it’s gone into alphabetical list, but I’ll just reorder it into some chronological order. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. As it is, this is again something we’re going to dig into more about content types next week, but I think as a community manager, the content administrator, you really probably want to know how to do this. So you have these wiki pages and I'm going to manage fields. One of the fields we’re going to add is a term reference, which will allow us to reference those taxonomy terms. You’ll notice that one of the things - some things we have options for are the input format. I hope you can see this. Actually, it’s quite small. Check boxes, radio button, select this or auto complete terms. That’s what we’ve been using for the topics. So we’ve been using this auto complete term widget where anyone can add new terms to it. In this sense, we just want to have a select list so we’re going to limit what people can add. Now, I'm actually adding a field to the wiki page as it’s appearing all across the site. So, here we go just going through some of default settings here. I'm going to set the number values to one and save that. Just to show you if I go back now and I'm going to go my group here, I go to wiki and go to full form. I can see that I can choose a various meals for that. As we saw before, it’s going to edit this particular form field and have it show up in the mini form. Okay. Now, when I refresh, I go back again to my group. If I refresh now, I see the topics and the e-mail showing up. Now, this makes sense within my favorite recipes group and my whole group and my whole site is all about food and travel and stuff like that. So, it will make sense in here, but if you wanted to reuse this content type across different groups and it didn’t make sense to have this on each wiki page, you're going to want to know how to make new content types like a recipe, for example. That’s what I'm basically going to be covering next week. At least you're going to understand that from seeing this that Drupal is quite flexible and there’s quite a bit you can do here. Okay.
So, next thing we’re going to look at is different types of groups. Drupal Commons allows you to have different levels of group access. We’re assuming, of course, that you're dealing with community groups where you want people to be able to create groups easily and join groups easily. But with a few changes, you can actually make things a little more moderated and a little more private. So, let's consider the first option of an open group. This will be a group where anyone can create a group; anyone can follow content and add content without even being a member of a group. So, that’s the idea where you're just collaborating on a specific topic. There’s also a moderated group where you have to request to join. Then your group administrator makes a decision about who can actually add content to the group. Finally, two more options are “Invite only”. I'm going to go in a little bit more detail and make a little more sense, but just so you understand that you can actually create moderated groups, which allow anyone to see content and follow content or you can have closed moderated groups where only people who are members of the group can see the content and add contents. So, open groups are really good for most ad hoc collaborative groups which allows even non-group members to post content into groups. These groups, again, everything has to be approved by the site administrators by default but you can, of course, change that. What’s unique about it is that you don’t even need to be a member of the group to have that content.
So the next level would be an “Invite Only” open group. In this case here is, for example, say you have a large community and you have some official groups. These groups need to be “Invite Only” for public. So, that allows the group to be moderated without the group owners being spammed with requests to join the groups, but it still allows the group’s content to be publicly visible so you can actually see what’s available. The next level of getting private and closed group options involve the change in configuration. So this is similar to that - something that will happen at the stage where you're developing the site. It is something your site administrator would do, and I just want to show you as a community manager so you understand what’s available to you. So, last week we looked a lot at just those two options I've just shown you, for example. I just wanted again some more detail here. A special module is enabled, that’s Organic Groups Access Control. You don’t need to remember that. It’s not on the test but it will require that if you're sort of enabling that as a later stage after you’ve done some testing, you’ll notice that content access for existing content, existing groups isn’t changed basically until your content is saved again. That’s just sort of a little “Got you” there. What it’s allowing you to do, what this new functionality is allowing you to do is limit access to specific groups. So, we can have now a moderated group. That means that you can request membership to join a group just as you could before as we saw last week in “Request Membership”, or you can invite people to be in a group. It means you’ll actually have the contents. We’ll see more content options like hiding content, for example. So when you request membership, you can write a message to the administrator saying why you want to join. I’ll show you what that looks like actually right now. So here we are. We’re logged in as “Caitlyn”. Caitlyn sees this moderator group. It’s actually invitation only. Let me go back. All right. I’ve missed a step - okay. I'm going to step back a second and show you how to make a new group that is request to join or this way rather than - sort of like to request membership group. [Pause] So, we’ll set that - joining requires administrator approval. This option whether or not you're hiding contributed contents from non-members is taking a step towards saying - the only people who can add content to this group are people who are members of this group. As you saw last week if you showed up where I sort of recapped it this week, anyone can join a group and, by default, anyone can add content even the groups they’re not a member of. So this sort of closes that off and says, “Well, we’re not going to have non-member content in this group.” So, there we have our new group. Actually, it’s good to note that I've just gotten a message that this group has entered the moderation queue and will be reviewed shortly. We’ll go back as an administrator and see some of the content that’s available. This is again - this is another browser I'm logged in here as the site administrator and I'm looking at the groups that have been proposed. I’ll select it and publish it. Now, when I go back as Mary Magoo and I've gotten notification that my group was created, it’s public. This is - we’ll go see what Caitlyn sees. I'm sorry for skipping between the browsers. I hope that’s not confusing. I’ll try and make it clear each time. So Caitlyn sees there’s a new group available and it’s called, “Frequent Fliers”, and she can click to join the group. Okay. So, here she’s selected, she’s requested to join the group and she’s sending a message that your membership request is pending review by a group organizer. So, what Mary has to do then is basically go up and administer the group and look at the people that are in her group so she can see herself. She’s clearly an administrator and she can see Caitlyn would like to join the group. We can here modify, for example, her membership status and make her active. Now, we can see Caitlyn is an active member of the group. I'm going back to Safari back to Caitlyn’s page. She’s happy now. She’s a member of the group and she can now – obviously, she can opt to leave the group but she’s actually able to add content now. So that’s sort of the difference between the moderated groups and non-moderated groups. You’ll notice, however, that in - I'm just going to log out here and I go to the group here. The content in this “Frequent Fliers” group is completely available to public. So, it’s simply controlling who can actually create content in a group rather than who can see it.
So, what we’re going to do next is create a group where people can’t see the content outside of their group. So, I’ll go back to the group’s list here. Mary is going to create another group. [Pause] Now, I mentioned before, Mary is an administrator so she’s able to automatically publish the groups. However, we could have actually gone through the step again of having to approve. I'm just sort of saving myself a little bit of time. So this group is - of course, I should be showing that - it’s going to administer - the option I chose is that joining requires an invitation. So that simply means that you can’t click to join the group, basically. So if I say here - and I'm logged in again as Mary, and I go back to my group - group listing. Hopefully, My Secret Garden Group shows up here. I'm going back to Safari where we’re logged in now as Drew. I go to the group listing. I don’t see the secret group. So, the secret group content is hidden. This is only available when we added that modification, but just so we understand now, we can see how to hide group content. So, just to finish out that activity, what I'm going to do is add Drew to the group. I'm going to administer the group, add people. Drew. This actually - just to understand, this request message is not for a message for Drew. This is a message for the other administrators of the group. If I go back here to our Secret Garden Group, I can see administrator - go to people. I can see Drew has been added and he’s active. So, we don’t need any other step for another administrator, for example, to approve Drew because I'm an administrator of the group. I added them so we’re sort of there. Now, if I go to see what Drew sees, I refresh. He’ll see his Secret Garden Group now available to him. It’s now possible for him to add content to this group. So, yes, pretty clear I think.
I'm just going to show you - next. So in this sense we saw - I also showed you how to request admin approval. So, anyone can create those admin approval only groups. Again, just like the others, these groups have to be approved by an administrator. You have to be approved as a member of the group. You can actually change as I showed you. You can actually change whether or not you can add content being a member or not. Hopefully that’s fairly clear. I showed you a private invitation only group where you may, in the case of having sensitive content; it’s just the same as the others. Anyone can create a group. You have to be approved. You have to be a member. In this case, only group members can see the content and follow the group. So, a little bit different than the click to join. So, that option then, joining requires invitation. I guess I showed you that demo briefly. I also showed you how you add a member and request for someone to approve her. We looked at how to administer members. So, you can remove people from a group or make them active. One thing to note is that adding content to a hidden group also hides content from anyone else who’s not in the group. It literally hides content in other groups. So, it overrides everything. Kind of an interesting thing you could…so, for example, if you can have content and only show it to your contacts and you can add content to only show to your folks in a hidden group or in another group. Let me show how that works. Sort of going down a bit of - it goes down in some ways – it’s useful for some specific-use cases, but you may find it sort of like - it may not be useful for you in all cases. Let's say, for example, I have this content I'm going to add into Frequent Fliers, “Which budget airline is the best?” I can see that content showing up here. Just to prove it, I am going to look at Drew’s site. He can see the Frequent Flier Group, but he can’t see the content in that group. He is, however, a member of the Secret Garden Group. So let's see if I go back to my group. This is - logged in as Mary. I hope that’s clear. I'm going to my Secret Garden Group of which Drew is a member, and we’ll add another question. Okay. So, there’s a content appearing. I'm going to go back and look at the group, the secret group and Drew. “What’s the best time to go to Venice?” Okay. What we’ll do now going back to Mary’s account is - I hope this isn’t too confusing. What we’re going to do is edit this and add it not only to the Secret Garden Group but also to the Frequent Flier Group which Drew doesn’t have access to. So, let's see what happens. So, it’s still showing up for me in the Secret Garden Group. Here I am logged in as Drew and Refresh. Oh, I must have made a mistake. I love it when a download doesn’t work out as you expect. [Laughter] Okay. Let me log out from Drew. I think Drew actually isn’t active with me. Okay. I'm going to log back in as Lisa. Now Lisa can see Frequent Fliers. She can see the content. She can’t see this exists. She can’t see the Frequent Fliers’ content and she can’t see the Secret Garden’s Group. She’s going to join Frequent Fliers. Okay. When she gets access to that, going back to my group, I can see I'm clicking around too much. I hope you can still follow me. Here I am logged in as Mary and looking at our people, I'm going to approve Caitlyn. So, she has access to the Frequent Flier Group. Back here looking at Caitlyn’s page and she can see – basically, she can’t see the contents. She actually has a membership. She actually is a member. Sorry. Bear with me. We’re logged in as Lisa. Right? So Lisa, now if I refresh, she can see her Frequent Flier content and she can also see this. Okay. I think I've made a mistake in my demo. [Laughter] Fantastic. So she can see this content even though it’s also shared in the private group. So, I'm really sorry about that. I think I made a mistake in my preparation for this. Well, that’s fantastic. [Laughter]
So, just to wrap up basically, that’s wrong and I should have more information for you about sharing content within different groups. What you can do, though, with - in terms of hiding content or keeping content private is that you can share content not just within a group but to show you when you edit a piece of content. You can just post it to your contacts so only your contacts can see the content in their follow list, and it doesn’t even show up in a specific group.
So, what’s the last point about private/public content so far? What we’re going to look at just briefly is what we’re going to talk about in the next session; so, things we’re going to talk about setting a site with your Drupal Commons. We’ll look at how to change the group page layout so you’ll see - there’s various ways you can change the layout. Not only just with how many columns are available, but you can even have images on the side or you can have list of content, list of users, and change where they appear. We’ll look at roles information across the site in more detail. I mentioned last week that I created a role called Community Manager. You may want to look at creating your own roles and share permissions across the site and compare that to the group permission. So group permissions and permissions across the site will have some intersecting points. I’ll also show you how to add your own content type. I gave you a hint about that when we looked at how to add a field to a piece of content type, an existing content type. I want to show you how to add your own. You’ll get a lot more control. So, that is Part One. That is on October 2nd. It will be just figuring out what decisions you need to make when setting up your site. Then there’s Part Two which is October 9th and we’ll look at actually in more details adding modules and new features and new roles. Okay. Are there any questions?
Molly Sloan: Thanks, Heather. We can open up to questions now and if you have any questions please ask them in the Q&A tab. I don’t see anything just yet, but we can wait a few seconds so I can see if anyone has any question. [Pause] All right. Not too much trickling in. Heather, do you have anything else you want to touch on. Let's see if we can - if there’s anything else that you wanted to mention, we have a little bit more time.
Heather James: Yes. Just to say, there’s - we’ve only really sort of scratched the surface of what you can do with your Drupal Commons out of the box. I think when you start playing around with it and if you are curious and you do have a chance to go for a demo and you have questions, what’s interesting is that being developed right now with a lot of other organizations and we are constantly taking in feedback. I've even asked some questions about different types of configurations available and my colleagues are saying, “Oh well, we can go and change that in the next version.” It’s a very responsive community. So, hopefully, if you have any sort of - if you're scratching your head around anything you’ve seen, I’d love to hear your feedback.
Molly Sloan: Definitely. I don’t see any questions, so I think that means you did a fantastic job. So, everyone, thank you so much for attending today and thank you, Heather, for the great presentation. The slides will be posted to SlideShare and the recorded webinar will be posted to our acquia.com website in the next 48 hours and definitely please check out that October 2nd webinar that Heather had talked about. That’s for Commons for Site Builders. Registration is live on our site, so please sign up when you get a chance. Thanks everyone.
Heather James: Thanks, Molly.
Molly Sloan: Take care.