Building online communities with Community Server

A shared-source platform for blogs, newsgroups, content-management and more

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Mirroring blogs

Building communities isn't always about creating all the content. Sometimes it's as simple as creating a location where content is discoverable and can be shared. Community Server has support for RSS, and it has the added capability to mirror any other blog that supports RSS.

Mirroring simply means bringing all the content into the Community Server system and making it searchable and/or shared in the main feeds. New communities are now being built as "mash-ups," where content from a variety of sources is combined to create new content. Community Server makes this simple with its blog-mirroring functionality (Figure 13-15).

Figure 13-15. A mirrored blog

Figure 13-15. A mirrored blog

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Creating and managing user forums

Community Server's forums provide a complete set of tools for easily enabling discussion, and they include a full set of moderation and user-management tools that give the administrator of the community many options for managing content.

One of the innovative features that has surfaced in the discussion forums is a member points system -- think of it as frequent flier miles, but for participants of the community. Members gain points that can be used either to identify their value within the community or for some sort of rewards system.

The discussion forums also support full moderation, enabling moderators of the community to better control discussion topics, as seen in Figure 13-16.

Figure 13-16. Forum discussion moderation

Figure 13-16. Forum discussion moderation

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Searching a site

Search tools are one of the more important features of a community. Community Server provides two robust search options. The first is the default search technology, designed to support up to 250,000 entries (blogs, forums, photos, files, etc.). The second is a key and unique feature of Community Server: RSS-enabled search results. Results found from a search can be saved as an RSS feed and subscribed to from any RSS reader (Figure 13-17).

Figure 13-17. RSS-enabled search results

Figure 13-17. RSS-enabled search results

(Click image to see larger view.)

Support for RSS makes searching much more useful, as it provides an easy way to save past search results and view new results as they are added.

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