ocPortal Tutorial: Feedback and user interaction
Written by Chris Graham, ocProductsocPortal allows you to create a highly interactive site if you desire, with numerous features for user feedback at your disposal.
Most major content in ocPortal can be:
- commented upon
- given track-backs (this is defined and discussed in the 'Advanced news' tutorial)
Table of contents
EnablingWe recognise that many websites owners will not wish to allow users to affect the state of their website: because of this, commenting and rating may be enabled/disabled on a site-wide basis. They are, however, enabled by default. To disable the elements of the feedback, check-boxes are given in the 'User interaction' subsection of the 'Feature options' section of the main Admin Zone Configuration module.
In addition to site-wide control of feedback, feedback may also be enabled/disabled on a content entry level. For a piece of content to support rating, for example, that content must be configured for rating, and ocPortal must have rating enabled site-wide.
Feedback commenting is very similar to, and actually implemented as, a forum topic being attached to a piece of content, and displayed beneath it. To allow users to comment on ocPortal content, in addition to site-wide commenting any commenting for the content entry being enabled, the named comment forum must exist; the default comment forum name is 'Website comment topics', but this is configurable in the 'Feature options' section of the main Admin Zone Configuration module.
This content page demonstrates rating and comments
Our own forum does not allow poll voting by guests, and hence more serious rating/poll situations may be handled there.
There is a 'main_rating' block that you may use to allow any Comcode page to be rated (by placing the block on the page).
The comments blockThere is an ocPortal block named 'main_comments' that allows any Comcode page to become a page with its own comments. This is a very useful feature, usable for purposes such as:
- a guest-book (see the default 'guestbook' Comcode page)
- documentation where users may make comments, adding to it, or directing staff to make improvements
Placing comment topicsBy default, all comment topics all placed in the configured website comment topics forum.
However, you can use the OcCLE set_comment_forum command to set it so resources under specific content-types and categories have their comments into forums of your choice.
The feedback blockocPortal also includes a feedback block, 'main_feedback', that allows you to have users leave messages that other users can't see. It works via a hidden comment topic, and is very useful as a way for staff to get private feedback without resorting to support tickets or e-mail.
The shout-box blockocPortal includes a 'shout-box' block, which is essentially a little portion of your menu that can be used for members to place short messages. Like all blocks, the shout-box is of course optional. The shout-box is tied to a specified chat room, which by default, is the 'General Chat' chat-room.
Initially there is no poll, so the poll block displays like this
- to charge the atmosphere of an interactive website
- to increase the feeling that the website is regularly updated, by changing polls
- to gather feedback from those who are not likely to go to the efforts to write it down
- to generally find answers to questions that may not be very important, but difficult to find the answer to without a poll
Adding a poll
The poll block, once a poll is chosen
Members can only vote once in a poll. Guests may only vote once. IP addresses as well as member IDs are used to see who has previously voted. If a user chooses to view poll results before voting, they forfeit their vote. Once ocPortal has decided a user cannot vote (again), that user will only see the results whenever they see that poll.
Any numbers of different polls may be shown on your website if you choose to select them using poll ID number as a block parameter, rather than relying on the standard selection mechanism (click the "Add Block" button when editing a Comcode page if you'd like help placing main_poll blocks).