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Subject Re: Newbie help
Posted 10/20/2000; 10:20 PM by David Carter-Tod
Last Modified 10/20/2000; 10:21 PM by David Carter-Tod
In Response To Re: Newbie help (#1616)
Label None. Read 2057
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First off, I apologize for what was really a pretty rude question. I really should have explained myself much more fully. My only excuse is that I was in a hurry to get out the door and pick up the kids...

Tell us (me) something: Is it the entire concept that you don't understand, as in the idea behind Conversant, or is it some specific group of features that you don't understand? Perhaps it's just the admin area you haven't grasped, or how to set up certain features like a weblog or an event calendar?

It's not really a specific thing. I'm a long-time Manila user and Frontier user too, so I hope I "get" web-based content management. I think perhaps it's a terminology thing. What is a Zone? How does it differ from a Conversation? Why would I want more than one Zone, or more than one Conversation? Where do Topics fit into this? How do each of these relate to more usual web concepts like discussion forums, folders and directories? Where is the core stuff for creating stories, managing site structure, etc?

One last question: if you don't understand Conversant, why are you recommending it to a large international organization? I'm not saying you shouldn't, and we'll do what we can to help you figure it out (though we would help even if you just wanted to set up a small personal site for free), but I don't understand *why* you'd recommend something you don't "get".

Excellent question. Long answer. A whole variety of reasons. First off, the organization is the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) and their current web site is so bad, I almost dare not point to it, but I will --

Part I

1. The organization needs a web site that isn't shameful and that can be managed easily. Believe it or not, they don't even have FTP access to their own site. They have to e-mail content to some third party to put it up.

2. The organization's members are very geographically distributed, but there is a Special Interest Group (SIG) setup as well. I think they need a weblog style feature, discussions, topic areas, and generally the ability to manage stories and workflow via the web.

3. The graduate students in the organization have recently gotten together and are considering setting up an alternative site to demonstrate that it can be done much better (shadow, alternative, renegade, whatever). I instantly thought of a CMS like Manila, Conversant or Zope.

Part II

I'm really disappointed with the focus of Userland on the Radio Userland product. As a company they scratch their own itches and everything feels almost finished, but never is. I don't believe they've ever done any serious usability testing on Manila (see what Al Hawkins had to say on this today).

On the other hand, my impression of Conversant and what you're doing is that you are extremely focused on building a great CMS and that you do pay attention to details. I know you and the people who work for you in terms of what you have produced over the years for the Frontier community and I have a lot of respect for that work. Furthermore, people whose opinion I respect, like Duncan Smeed, who have used both Manila and Conversant, are consistently positive about Conversant, basically saying that it's Manila done right.

The other possibility is Zope. I haven't had a chance to dig into that yet, and many people say good things about it, but my impression is that it doesn't have the kind of user management or maturity that Conversant does. Maybe I'm wrong about that?

Either way, I have come to believe that Conversant is a great product, if only I can crack the door open in my own mind. I want to understand it more, if only so that I can make more informed decisions about a CMS.

I hope this is a more reasonable answer than my original question, and both explains my perspective and clarifies the questions.


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RE: Newbie help
10/21/2000 by Seth Dillingham
On Saturday, October 21, 2000 at 3:25 AM, David Carter-Tod ( wrote:

Re: Newbie help
10/21/2000 by Brian Carnell
David wrote: "It's not really a specific thing. I'm a long-time Manila user

Re: Newbie help
10/21/2000 by Duncan Smeed
[David, I originally posted much of the following in

Thanks and follow-up: Newbie help
10/24/2000 by David Carter-Tod
Thanks for all the postings. A couple of things have really helped in particular.