ArsDigita Archives

Webmasters Guide

to the ArsDigita Community System by Philip Greenspun
This document contains instructions and pointers for the person who makes publishing decisions on a site backed by the ArsDigita Community System.

Setting up your site

First, decide which major modules of the ArsDigita Community System you're going to actually use. For example, you might say
  • yes, we'll use the /bboard discussion system
  • no, we're not going to have classified ads from /gc
  • yes, we're going to track all clickthroughs from our site to others
  • since we don't have banner ads, we're not going to use the banner ad server
  • yes, we're going to use the member value system to bill people a subscription fee every month
You can realize these decisions to some extent by using the forms in /admin/content-sections/ but also by editing any static files that you might have.

Second, decide how much moderation you want to do. Generally, the ArsDigita Community System allows anything to be commentable. For example, there are facilities to let users comment on a static file. User A can post a news item and User B can comment on that news item. Any time that users are able to contribute content, you can choose between three moderation policies:

  • open -- contribution goes live immediately; moderator may be notified via email; moderator can revoke approval or delete the contribution if he or she wishes.
  • wait -- the software solicits contributions from readers but doesn't show those contributions to other readers until a moderator has approved them
  • closed -- the software does not solicit contributions from readers
Note that these are configurable. For example, in February 1999, had an open policy for /bboard, a wait policy for top-level /news items, and an open policy for comments on approved news items. For policy configuration, have your programmer edit your /parameters/ad.ini file and restart the Web server.

Editing standard files

Visit /www/global/ and edit the standard files that AOLserver (if properly configured) will send for server error messages, file not found, etc. You might also want to take advantage of our predrafted copyright and privacy.adp pages (you will have to work these into your site).


Users hate dead links. They will complain to you via email even if it isn't your fault so you want to make sure that you at least get rid of dead links in
  1. your static content
  2. user-submitted related links
The ArsDigita Community System contains automated tools to help you check both potential sources of dead links. Every few weeks, run /admin/static/link-check to make sure that your static files don't contain embedded references to sites that no longer exist.

For the user-submitted links, visit /admin/links/ and you'll find an automated sweeper that checks every user-submitted link. If a link is unreachable on three successive tries (separated by at least 24 hours), the ArsDigita Community System will ignore it in the future (though you can still recover it from the database).