[development] High level request for hints...
sjh_drupal at shic.co.uk
Thu Jan 22 23:25:21 UTC 2009
I've decided that I need to create a niche portal for a topic I've
recently discovered I find interesting. My ideas are kind-of grand, but
- potentially - flexible, too.
The topic for my site is expected to be controversial, sometimes
subjective - and usually complex... and the grand aim of the site is to
establish a collaborative system in which a vast number of external
sources can be referenced, summarised, peer reviewed and, in light of
constructive criticism, improved. While I expect and accept that
opinions will be posted, it is my aim to structure the site such that
material backed by supporting evidence (such as a link to a
corroborating document elsewhere on the web) 'floats' to be most
prominent. I intend the material to my site to be more structured than
that contributed to a Wiki... but to be organised more like a Wiki than
a forum or a Slashdot clone.
As I see it, the primary challenges I'm faced with are:
* I need a bespoke ranking system for contributions - each of which
needs an attribution, annotations of sources (maybe referencing one or
more earlier contributions), peer-reviewed accuracy and relevance
scores... where contributors accrue some sort of score relative to the
credibility - which determines their influence on rankings.
* I need a bespoke strategy to collate contributions so as to create as
coherent a collection of data as possible... including both sides of a
debate - if one arose.
* While I've a few ideas about the broad structure of contributions now,
I expect this to evolve during the lifetime of the site. It is
essential that the implementation of the site remains flexible.
* Each contribution, I think, can be captured on a "form" - including
free-text, labels, dates, numbers - etc. - but contributions are likely
to have associations... and I need to be able to display these.
* I expect topical conversations - and I'd like keywords to link back to
the emerging 'consensus' data - and for discussions to prompt enthusiasm
and material to expand the more structured data.
* Initially, I expect a very small volume of traffic and data - but I
need to be able to cope if this were to grow exponentially... I can't
justify building a site for 10,000 concurrent users at the outset (when
10 would probably be a coup) but I don't want to paint myself into a
technical corner making it difficult to grow the site in future.
In essence, I guess, I'm trying to build a self-organising expert-system
based upon the contributions from site visitors - guiding and collating
the material that emerges.
I've fiddled with out-the-box Drupal 6, and I'm very impressed. I
suspect that I may need to develop custom modules in order to achieve
what I want - but, for obvious reasons, I hope to make maximum use of
modules that already exist - where that reduces the burden of
development. My main uncertainties at the moment include:
* I'm unsure if I should pursue using the CCK - It seems to target
something like what I'm trying to achieve using forms - but I'm
uncertain if the DBMS schema that emerges will pose later problems...
For example, it seems undesirable to have a 'node' for each of my CCK
forms... and I'm concerned about scalability with the definition of
views. Is it worth my while to persevere with the CCK, or am I best
trying to use a custom module and define my own DBMS schema that way?
* Should I start from scratch with my ambtious ideas about ranking
contributors and their contributions, or is it a better idea to try to
extend an existing modules (Karma, for example)?
* Is it likely that I can integrate an emerging 'knowledge base' into a
pre-existing forum module, or will I need to embrace/extend - or write
I'd be very interested to receive comments from those better versed in
Drupal than I am... of all the frameworks I've researched - it shows the
most hope... yet quite a lot of hurdles remain. I'd love to know if
Drupal is already deployed to run a site with a structure similar to
that I've described. I'd also appreciate hints as to suitable books...
I've got "Pro Drupal Development" - the Apress one - but that seems to
assume I know when I need to write a module, and how it fits into the
wider scheme of existing modules. I'm wondering if there is something
that covers topics such as making most effective use of the CCK and
views... online tutorials seem somewhat ad-hock... if I'm going to use
CCK then, I suspect, I'll need to think carefully about the DBMS schema
to support later collation.
Any pointers and/or hints gratefully received...
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