Content instead of page/blog/file/discussion/bookmark/wire

There's been a lot of push in our organization to simplify the creation of content in Elgg. Since almost all the bundled tools have a title, long description, comments, and show up in lists, it isn't always obvious which tool should be used, and when looking for something, having discrete bins of content makes hunting for content tedious (search doesn't always work). "Was that thing I saw a blog post, a discussion, or a page?" Turns out it was a discussion around an uploaded file! "The meme I posted got a ton of responses; I wish I had posted it to my blog."

One proposed half-solution is to have a single "Add content" button that would pop-up (or open on hover) a dialog to help route users to the best tool depending on their needs.

The larger solution is to replace most of the bundled content plugins with a single type with a form that has: a longtext (an expanding plaintext that can be made into WYSIWYG), an optional title, and ways to upload file attachments, add highlighted URLs, embed other Elgg content, etc. Comments could be toggled, drafts could be optionally stored when editing, etc.

This streamlines the content creation experience because you don't choose a type, you just create and it is what it is, maybe becoming something else later.

The model that comes to mind is a tumblog with functional labels:

  • I create some content.
  • By default it goes into the main stream where those permitted can see it.
  • At any time I can add the "blog-post" label, making it show up on my blog.
  • A "on-my-profile" label makes it show up on my profile.
  • A "group: My Group" label auto-creates an object in the group that points to/embeds the content.


  • I like this idea. However, there is a bit of complexity inasmuch as

    1. different (literary, stylistic, content) forms are more suitable for different tools and, more importantly,
    2. context matters: comments in one context may have no meaning in another

    so it would be important to allow repurposed content to be separated from the parent. 

     It would not be difficult to build a plugin that copies an object's content to another, optionally with annotations, that I think would give more flexibility. We have developed (coming soon to the community plugins via Matt Beckett) a plugin for importing RSS feeds to various tools, which is largely for those who maintain content on other systems but which is also intended to enable content to be copied around the system, so you can easily copy content from (say) your blog to a group blog or wiki. Inefficient and error-prone, but fits more easily within the existing Elgg model and, I think, mostly does what you are seeking. Some issues with authorization, but we have already built an authenticated RSS plugin that gets around the problem (if you are using HTTPS - otherwise password issues can become problematic).



  • One difficulty is that Elgg sites can be expected to be static as well as transitory. My users often need to find and manage old content, not just read a stream. How do you find Facebook posts that are even a couple days old? FB is not geared for you doing that, but Elgg users might expect it. So the trick is finding ways to make content trivially findable and pinnable on profiles.

  • Jon, that plugin will certainly be helpful. We're struggling with the monotony of copying content between sites.

  • This may have more to do with design than data model. Facebook has content types, Google has content types, etc. I agree that some content types seem very close together, though: file/image, blog/wire/discussion, etc., and it may not make sense to have both types on the same site, or you may have to do a little extra work to present these content types appropriately to make the distinction clear.

    For example, it makes no sense to me that there is a "thewire" stream distinct from the main activity river. What is the purpose of having a separate place to go, except for the fact that that's how every other content type does it: has it's own page that lists the latest posts/uploads of that content type in reverse chronological order.


Feedback and Planning

Feedback and Planning

Discussions about the past, present, and future of Elgg and this community site.