Best Collaborative Content Management Software
December 15, 2006 8:25 AM   Subscribe

I am about to create a website for a university class on collaborative ethnographies. What software would suit my needs best? Right now, ExpressionEngine and Drupal 5 are my top two choices. If I am barking up the wrong tree, please let me know.

Our project requires some combination of the following:

1) some sort of blog-like space where groups can post their ethnographic reports. Inspirations include Politics of Food and How Stuff Is Made, but we are looking for a more flexible, css based layout.

2) a forum, in which students can discuss their projects and issues relevant to the class.

3) Clean, user-friendly photo, sound, and video repositories where visitors can browse the work of the students.

4) Contributory permissions for all students, to upload media, write reports, add comments to postings, etc. At this point, all student accounts and permissions can be set by an administrator. Accounts should work for all areas, including content, media repositories, and the forum. Email capability is a bonus.

2) Eventually we might expand the project to include non-students as contributors. For the administrators' sake, some sort of automated account registration would be nice, with a public permissions type that is more limited than what the students have.
posted by billtron to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think Drupal is the way to go. It can do everything you're looking for, either with the default modules or with a few add-ons. The learning curve can be a little steep, but I just upgraded to the 5.0 beta, and I think the new version is much more user friendly than previous versions. The installation took me (literally) ten minutes, and the new administrative interface is much more intuitive.

I've used Drupal two or three semesters in my college classes, and my students have had very little trouble learning how the system works. Several collaborative academic websites already use Drupal for the type of project you're describing, so you could find plenty of inspiration for how to use the CMS for a university class. If you'd like some links to those sites, my email is in my profile. Good luck!
posted by lewistate at 8:53 AM on December 15, 2006

Drupal - no no no!

Expression Engine has a much shorter learning curve and actually makes sense. Especially when it comes to setting up member groups and user permissions.

And it can do all that you want.

And the community is a very helpful one.

My email link is also in my profile.

(I'm currently working on about my 10th or 11th EE site - and I tested Drupal and dismissed it after 5 hours of trying to wade through it's warped language and set up)
posted by gomichild at 9:01 AM on December 15, 2006

Drupal yes! I use it for something similar to the OP's question. Drupal makes plenty of sense to me. It's easy to do the basic stuff (the poster's needs are pretty much all standard modules). By the way, the Expression Engine forum module only works (so they say) with the non-free version.

I cannot say enough good stuff about Drupal, and it too has a very helpful community and is undergoing virtually constant development and improvement. The "learning curve" stuff refers to the taxonomy system, which is a little complex. Otherwise, Drupal is nearly transparent to use. I have taught people how to get going with it in 20 minutes.
posted by spitbull at 6:07 AM on December 16, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for your comments. I think I will try drupal, since it is free, and if the learning curve ends up being too steep, I might fork over the money for EE.

Since you all speak of projects that are already doing the types of things we are planning, would you mind sharing the sites for inspiration's sake?
posted by billtron at 10:59 PM on December 19, 2006

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