Community Website Beginning Alpha Testing

I've been working on a community website for several months and we just launched the alpha test site to try out the user interface and workflow. There are lots of community-building features and they are all integrated with a central database that contains the information that the group association revolves around.

The publicly-accessible online database will be editable and expandable through the contributions of group members. Flexible search features allow everyone to find information related to the group's work quickly and easily.

The site has blogging features for each member, and each blog entry can be attached to one of the member groups that a member belongs to, which creates a multi-authored blog for the group "site" itself. Group sites each represent a physical location and are a gathering point for people who work at that location. In addition, blog entries can be tagged as being related to items in the central database and tagged as belonging to a topic in a flexible topic hierarchy.

The front pages of the site lead visitors into a group-edited online book (similar to a wiki), which will explain and expand upon the goals and objectives of the group members.

A full-featured discussion forums area is included to facilitate more immediate conversation and to allow members to answer questions for each other. Discussion topics can also be tagged as being related to a database entry or broader topic in the same way as blogs.

To help the group be more accurate when referring to published works, an online bibliography is included which can be linked to in footnotes.

Finally, the tagging and integration mentioned above allows the search feature to suggest related blogs, discussions, books, articles and websites when someone searches the central database.

Continuing work will include development of workflow process control in the group-editable areas of the site to allow reviewers and editors the ability to roll-back changes made to the site, and finer access control so that members can choose to keep some journal information private.

It's an ambitious project! We look forward to watching the community grow and seeing how the members will use all of those features.

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