Content Moderation in Textpattern

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In a multi-user organisation, the publishing workflow is often a crucial part of the content management system. Today, I’m going to explain how Textpattern CMS handles the content that users create, and how your Publisher(s) and Copy Editor(s) can control what is (and isn’t) published.

To briefly recap, each user within the Textpattern hierarchy has a role and permissions appropriate for that role. You can read more about Textpattern roles and their assigned permissions if you want to get up-to-speed and refresh your memory. For this article, I have created a fictitious-yet-somehow-plausible 6-person organisation using Textpattern as their website publishing tool for a magazine:

  1. Alice: website manager – technically-astute, but not confident with user interaction or user experience, prefers code to stories
  2. Brian: hands-on office manager – the go-to guy in the office, confident polymath with a little knowledge about a lot of things
  3. Clare: founder and visionary – focus on the company direction and magazine output, doesn’t care for website technology
  4. David: lead author – sits next to Bert, writes articles that he knows will please Bert, wants Bert’s job in a year or two
  5. Erica: temporary staff – works remotely, headhunted for her exceptional writing skills, unpredictable and sassy at times
  6. Frank: graphic designer – works alongside Alice, responsible for visual branding and is uncomfortable with writing

Each person in this organisation has a role in their website content production, and that can translate into an equivalent Textpattern role:

  • Alice is a Publisher
  • Brian is a Managing Editor
  • Clare is a Copy Editor
  • David is a Staff Writer
  • Erica is a Freelancer
  • Frank is a Designer

Alice and Brian have very similar abilities in Textpattern, the main differences being that Brian cannot edit user roles: the logic here is that if a Managing Editor can edit user roles, they could escalate themselves to Publisher status, which isn’t ideal. Alice’s area of expertise is website code and optimisation, so she has full control over that. Alice also has control over the articles and users, so may also be called on for user administration tasks or small edits to articles that may inadvertently break website functionality or validation. Additionally, Brian cannot enable backtrace logging when a technical problem arises, but Alice can.

Brian and David are the source of many articles for the magazine. Brian has an idea, and can choose to write the article himself or pass it to a member of his writing team. If it’s something that both David and Erica could handle, he may select one of them to write to his brief, or ask both of them to write the article on the same lines, selecting his preferred choice for publication after he’s seen drafts of each.

Clare can also brainstorm ideas and choose to either offload creation of an article to David or Erica in the first instance, or Brian, or write it herself. Erica prefers writing articles for Clare, but her extraordinary writing talent has caused problems in the past, so she’s closely monitored by her editors (Brian and Clare). Alice and Frank work closely together and Frank doesn’t care for article content. Frank needs access to the presentational elements of the website, and Alice handles the technical elements outside his comfort zone. Frank doesn’t need access to the article content of Textpattern, and therefore access is not permitted to him – the tab is removed from the navigation and visiting the page by changing the URL will result in an Access Denied-style error message.

David and Erica, the main writers, are responsible for the majority of the articles on the website. As a Staff Writer he is able to create articles with optional accompanying images and files. David can publish (i.e., make them live) directly to the website, set them to pending status (to have Brian read and marvel at it first) or choose another article state (draft, hidden or sticky) instead. Erica, however, has different permissions: her articles are set to pending and need to be approved prior to publication. Both David and Erica can read one another’s articles, but cannot edit or change the status of them. Brian has full control over article content, and Clare has some control. Both can write their own articles and publish them to the website without approval. Both can approve pending articles from David and/or Erica, too.

If you use the scenario above in conjunction with the permissions quick reference I linked to at the beginning, you’ll have a good foundation of how Textpattern content is moderated and managed. Next time, I’ll be talking about the other side of website contributions: user comments. I hope you’ll join me.

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Author Spotlight

Pete Cooper

Pete Cooper

Pete Cooper has been using Textpattern since 2005. Textpattern is his preferred CMS weapon of choice. Its logical and flexible approach to content management makes Pete happy, as does its lightweight core and helpful user community. Pete's website - petecooper.org - runs on top of Textpattern and chronicles his day-to-day experiences from his home near the Atlantic in north Cornwall, United Kingdom.

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