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Subject RE: Newbie help
Posted 10/21/2000; 12:35 AM by Seth Dillingham
Last Modified 12/4/2000; 3:07 PM by Seth Dillingham
In Response To Re: Newbie help (#1618)
Label None. Read 2240
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On Saturday, October 21, 2000 at 3:25 AM, David Carter-Tod (

(the double quoted text is mine - SD)

>>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?

I'm going to answer your specific questions now, and then try to give you
the "concept" on Monday or Tuesday, when I return (I'll be travelling for
the weekend). On the other hand, there are lots of other people around here
that can answer your question(s), if they feel like helping out.

The short answer for zone: it stands for "zone of control".

Here's an overview of how it all looks:

One server contains:
    any number of zones, which contain:
        any number of members
        any number of groups (of members)
        any number of conversations, which contain
            any number of messages
            any number of pages

Preferences (settings, properties) can belong to ANY of the above.

That might not mean much to you now, but it's really beautiful... it's all
managed automatically and EXTREMELY consistenly.

Anyway, the difference between a zone and a conversation is... well, they're
really nothing alike. A zone is a container, it holds members,
conversations, and groups.

A conversation is where messages are stored and used. It's simplest analogy
is "a website", but that's also an over-simplification, because a
conversation doesn't actually NEED to have any web interface at all: it
could be used solely as a mailing list, or a members-only newsgroup, or
accessed via whatever other I/O system is provided.

Topics are simple: they're just messages that aren't replies to other
messages. It's just a shorthand term, and it's one that I don't personally
find very useful. I never look at the topics pages. Others find them very
useful, and actually base a large part of their discussion groups around the
"topics" and "threads" models.

Topics themselves have nothing to do with web pages, though. Again, a topic
is just a message that isn't a reply to another message. It can have
replies, which makes it the first message in a thread.

The "topics page" is just a listing of the topics in a given conversation.
It's as if you performed a search for all of the messages in a conversation
which aren't replies to other messages.

Creating stories is done by "binding a message to a URL". Now THERE is a
term that I absolutely despise, and one which I'm hoping to retire this
month as we work on making things easier. Let's forget the term story, and
the "binding" idea. The point is, you have a message in your discussion
group that you want to be viewed as a "traditional" web page. Well, it's
easy: there's a form at the bottom of the page (if you're an admin) that
allows you simply type the path where you want the message to appear, and
then click on the "Bind to URL" button (that's the part I hate).

Technically, that's just a shortcut. We have a complete structure editor
which you can find in the zone's admin area, at a path like this:


There you can create directories, pages (of any type, not just "URL-Bound
Messages" (gag, there's that term again), assign templates, set page
properties, and lots of other important details.

I hope this answers a lot of your questions! I need to leave early in the
morning, so I guess I'll find out on Monday, when I return.

To everybody else: why are you being so quiet? At least one of you is trying
to start a newbies site, and I know that some others are planning to
participate... sheesh! Somebody asked a question, why don't you try
answering it, too? (please don't detect any annoynace in my virtual voice,
there isn't any, I'm just teasing you suddenly-bashful folks) :-)

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RE: Newbie help
10/21/2000 by Mark Morgan
Shy? Rather. David, your question is really about Conversant's CMS, but I'll

Re: bookmarks?
10/23/2000 by Johannes N
RE: Newbie helpI really appreciated this briefing of various concepts in conversant.