"Group blog" v. "Group discussion": what's the difference?

I'm relatively new to Elgg, and hope to mount an instance (soon!) for a small educational institution to support courses, where we'll use the "group" functionality for course/module cohorts.

Having played with my test install for some weeks, I'm wondering what the difference is between the "group blog" and "group discussions" features. The only overt difference I can spot is that blogs give you an "excerpt" field, and discussions don't, although discussions gets an auto-excerpt on the group's main page.

(For that matter, the "bookmarks" look just like the "discussions"! For me, it would make sense for these to have a much more "compressed" listing presentation, without all the screen real-estate that the discussion and blog pages have.)

Can anyone enlighten me on what I'm missing? Are there feature distinctions that I'm overlooking? Many thanks!

  • You wouldn't have to use all plugins if you think one or even a few are not required for the purpose of your site or if your think they are redundant. It all depends on what kind of postings you expect to get and/or how you want to organize your site. It could be that it makes sense to have different plugins for different kind of postings, if such a distinction makes sense. On the other hand it might make no sense on some sites to provide several different posting channels.

    As I see it the blogs are aiming at someone posting some kind of article that is not necessarily expecting replies. Of course, people could reply but it could also stay as it is standing alone. Let's say you would have a site where people post travel reports. Then such a report could be made as a blog posting that might also be a lengthy posting.

    The discussions plugin provides a simple forum section. You would rather expect that the postings made there are made also for the purpose to get responses. Length of the postings is not limited (well within reasonable limits) but I would expect that discussion postings / replies might be shorter compared to blogs. There was a plan to extend the discussions plugin to also provide a forum section outside groups. But this hasn't been implemented yet (and won't be for the foreseeable future, i.e. Elgg 3). So, for a disucssion section you would need the groups plugin enabled, too. Whereas the blogs plugin also works outside the groups context.

    I think the original idea of the bookmarks plugin is to allow a quick way to share links. This could be done without adding a description. I think this plugin might be the most mis-used plugin to some extend. By my experience people mostly bookmark pages of the Elgg site their on itself with the purpose to have a reminder for themselves. But instead of setting this entry to private they leave the default access level so every other member sees the bookmark being made, too, without gaining much if anything from it. As you must provide an url to be bookmarked for every bookmark entry and this url is prominently presented, it might be of some use compared to a blog posting in some cases while you couldn't make a bookmark posting if you have no link to share.

    Add also the pages plugin as one additional posting option. It has some simple wiki functionality, i.e. more than one member could work on a posting (not at the same time). It might be useful on some sites while it's not needed on others.

    If you expect different groups to be created on your site (or plan to create them yourself) you might also want to keep in mind that you wouldn't have to enabled all these different features for all groups. The corresponding plugin would have to be activated of course, but with the plugin active you still can enable/disable the functionality per group. So, you might want to have a discussion section in one group (e.g. a group dealing with support issues or other kind of Q&A stuff) but no blogs or other sections in this group. And in another group you might only enable the blogs section etc.

  • @iionly - This is a thoroughly thoughtful and hugely helpful reply. Many thanks!

    There is certainly a good deal of flexibility, and we can get going "out of the box" without too much trouble, I think.

    It will take more familiarity before we're able to "hack" things (without messing with the "core") like presentation of bookmarks, but that can come later. 

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to reply so fully.

  • Yes, I agree with you @David. @iionly wrote a very comprehensive and useful reply. Although every part of the answer is already known, the total is greater than its parts.

    It would be beneficial to add a similar explanation to the Docs.

    Well done, @iionly, and thank you.