are CMS's more fun?
February 4, 2009 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Noobie question: CMS or BB? Which should I set up for a basic writers forum?

For now we're just a bunch of friends who write and want some common space online to talk about all things writerly. In time I imagine we'll invite friends of friends and I want to take *some* growth into account at the outset.

I've been charged with setting it up since I'm the only one with a hosting account. We're all internet noobs though.

My hosting company (godaddy) offers a plethora of BB's and CMS's. I cant decide whether I want a BB or a CMS for something like this.

My impression is that a BB would be simple to use, but a CMS would offer a more fun/dynamic interface with more options (though I dont know what those might be really).

Is there any reason to install a CMS instead of a BB for a group site like this?
posted by jak68 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (oh, and if you have any specific recommendations for either bb or cms, that would be helpful too :)
posted by jak68 at 12:21 PM on February 4, 2009

Many CMSes have BBs as plugins or modules. So it's entirely possible to have your cake and eat it. Examples of this are bbPress and Joo!BB. Note: examples, not necessarily recommendations.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 12:48 PM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: I'm also just learning about bb's and cms's that are search engine friendly (preferred, I guess) vs those that are not... of course I havent a clue which ones are and which ones arent : )
posted by jak68 at 12:51 PM on February 4, 2009

posted by zengargoyle at 3:36 PM on February 4, 2009 probably not what you want. (I've never used drupal personally, but several experienced coders I know have each described it as powerful but complicated, and a hell of a lot of work to set up. Those who love it clearly love it and suggest it for everything, so it must have something good going on in there, but I don't think it's for beginners.)

I generally suggest picking something that has the features you need with the least amount of work for you, and don't worry about the features you don't need. (If it's you and your friends talking about writing, do you really care if it's search-engine friendly?)

Most CMSs of the sort you'd be looking at are generally organized around the concept of either a blog or a news publication -- the expected structure is that there will be individual posts or articles followed by some level of comment discussion.

If you envision your site fitting into that structure, choose a CMS. (Most of the more advanced CMSs will allow you to add other stuff or to change that presumed structure, but it will of course take extra work to do so.) If you're picturing it working more like a discussion board, or if your users are more comfortable with / experienced with that format, then choose some bulletin board software.

Or.... People are going to poke fun at this suggestion, but the LiveJournal format is surprisingly well-suited to writing groups. If you want to spend your time talking about writing instead of wrestling with website configuration, you might consider just getting a few free LJ accounts and using those instead of spending time setting up something customized.
posted by ook at 4:19 PM on February 4, 2009

I'm biased, as I just co-authored an O'Reilly book that walks people through building sites like this, but it is definitely possible. Drupal really doesn't give you much guidance when you're setting up your site, though; it's like being handed a bag full of building blocks.

If you just want a cool place to hang out and collaborate with your friends, a bulletin board is a good starting place. Moving to a CMS later if you discover you'd like to do more is possible, so don't feel that it's an absolutely final decision.
posted by verb at 4:50 PM on February 4, 2009

Wordpress with some bells and whistles might do it. It depends on your requirements.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:19 PM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: thanks for the responses. After some consideration I decided to go with a simple BB. Drupal did look a little scary.

I went with SMF (simple machines forum). I was able to install it on my godaddy account from the godaddy hosting control panel, just a couple of clicks to set it up and even a newbie like me was able to navigate the control panel. Nice clean look, too. And plenty of responsive support at their website.
posted by jak68 at 12:46 PM on February 5, 2009

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