Filed under: Content management
I’m chairing a conference on content management at the moment, thus the flood of CM related posts. One of the topics that has repeatedly come up is web 2.0 and user-generated content in specific. The question was raised: what do content management systems provide in this space?
The answer is: not much. There is a significant gap in the ability of CMS products to handle user-generated content. Let’s explore this further…
Content management systems are fundamentally designed to support a publishing process. That is, people within the organisation produce the original content, it’s reviewed and finally published. There is also a focus on the manageability of the site around this, including review and expiry dates, etc.
Then web 2.0 comes along, and we want to provide site visitors with the ability to interact with the site. This ranges from the very simple to the very complex:
- adding comments to pages
- “was this page useful?” functionality
- adding reviews to supplement editorially-produced content
- seamlessly associating discussion with static content
- having the majority of the content of the site produced by site users
At present, CMS products have been caught on the “back foot” regarding these needs, and are still stuck in the world of traditional editorial processes. I see this is a challenge on two levels…
In the short-term, CMS products need to catch up their feature set to encompass some of these needs. Beyond this, there is a significant architectural challenge for CMS products in handling user-generated content. For example:
- How should user-generated content be captured?
- From the wrong side of the firewall?
- Is it versioned?
- Or reviewed?
- Via workflow?
- How is it managed in the CMS repository?
- What tools should be provided to site administrators?
These aren’t easy questions to answer. Right now, it means that product purchasers are bound to be disappointed by the functionality offered by CMS solutions in this regard. It’s also going to require a lot of thinking and talking to work out what the solutions should be, and what role CMS products will play.
PS. for vendors thinking they are offering web 2.0 functionality by including “blogs” and “wikis” as CMS modules, think again, you’ve got a lot to learn.
As ever, email me your thoughts…