Looking for good, easy to set up 'Content Management Community' web-software
January 6, 2010 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Web-Design-Filter: I am looking for a free (or very cheap) and easy to use Content Management System that I can use to set up a private, dynamic blog, content and community space for multiple users. I would be willing to look at Wordpress type software bases, but would like to integrate something of the functionality of lifestream systems like Facebook and Sweetcron/Tumblr.

I want to set up a private web-space to be used as a university-department community hub. I want it to be much more dynamic than a simple 'forum/message-board' for the department. I envisage a kind of 'University-news meets facebook meets tumblr' community space.

These functions would be pretty central to the site:

- Every user can set up their own blog space within the system

- There is a central 'calendar' type section to the site, where events and important dates can be posted.

- Users can also or instead (of a blog) submit RSS feeds from content systems such as delicious, Flickr, Youtube, Twitter which would automatically be archived and published by the site, ala Tumblr. I want users to be easily able to share content, such as links or videos, within the system or via an external rss feed that automatically gets added to the site content.

- All the content, whether from users blogs, from the feeds or the calendar, is aggregated to a central web-hub. So, any registered user - whether they have a blog/feed or not - can see every other users postings in a single, centralised location. It would be great if every post could have a date attached to it, so that these postings could easily be turned into events that would show up on the calendar view.

- The integration of a tagging system that allowed users to see only posts about a certain topic. It would also then be possible for users to subscribe, whether by RSS or email, to tags of their choice, users of their choice, or the entire output of the web-hub

- Lots of nice customisation for users, so they can feed in facebook profiles etc. to their user pages.

- Users can choose whether their content, whether from RSS feeds or their entire blog, is visible only to registered users of the site, or to the world at large (e.g. dynamic privacy options built in to settings).

I realise that this might be a tall order, especially for free software, but I am sure it is possible to do this quite simply and without having to strap loads of plugins onto a wordpress blog or whatever. I have ~some~ experience with CSS, PHP and MySQL, but the less I have to do the better really. I would ideally like to set up an URL, setup a MySQL database, install some systems, tweak a little, and finish up. I realise this, also, is a tall order.

If it takes several different bits of software to acheive this, how difficult would it be to stick them together to create the illusion of coherence?

I would love your advice and input.
posted by 0bvious to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ning sounds like it might do a lot of what you're trying to accomplish. Check out a few examples on their blog.
posted by zooropa at 8:05 AM on January 6, 2010

Best answer: I know you say you don't want a whole bundle of WP plugins, but perhaps Wordpress MU with Buddypress installed would be simple and cohesive enough?
posted by Magnakai at 8:16 AM on January 6, 2010

Best answer: Joomla, along with its extensive collection of extensions, might be useful. While I haven't played with blogging stuff, I use it for several other sites, and it's been easy to set up and maintain, and is well supported.
posted by GJSchaller at 9:50 AM on January 6, 2010

DotNetNuke is free, open source, does everything have specified, and has a vibrant community of skin and module developers. The blog and events (calendar) modules are part of the core distribution. You can also take a look at Snowcovered.com to see the kind of modules and skins that are available (some free, some paid).

Full disclosure: I do quite a bit of DotNetNuke development (both modules and skins) and operate multiple DotNetNuke websites, so I certainly biased in favor of that solution. I would be more than happy to answer any implementation questions you might have, my email address is in my profile.
posted by Lokheed at 10:14 AM on January 6, 2010

I'm seconding Joomla. Comprehensive, flexible, large use base. Not the easiest to learn, but easy-to-use once learned.
posted by eaglehound at 1:05 PM on January 6, 2010

It sounds like you'll like elgg, the "open source facebook". It was built from the ground up with user profiles and user blogs, and adding this trackback plugin which adds items to a user's river will give you the tumblr stuff you need. The River, btw, is like Facebook's newsfeed.
posted by sleslie at 8:00 PM on January 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the tips. I have been playing with Wordpress and Buddypress, which seems quite powerful. Am going to try Joomla now.

Sadly I can't test DotNetNuke or elgg on my host because of compatibility issues. I'm not willing to upgrade my plan just to run a few tests. Something to think about for all web software distributors methinks.

Any idea how to get some of the power of Tumblr in Buddypress or Joomla? Know any specific plugins? Any help would be appreciated...
posted by 0bvious at 5:56 AM on January 7, 2010

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