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Ideas for Website Content Restriction similar to Expert's Exchange or Quora.

Posted on 2013-01-26
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-01-28
I am struggling with framing my question, and that's really my problem. I am not quite sure how to identify the thing that I am searching for.    Expert's Exchange has a content restriction system that works very elegantly: nice visuals, SEO friendly, great workfow, etc.   I've seen similar things in other websites like Quroa or Just Answers.  

I am looking for an equivalent that's "out of the box" ready to be implemented.  What I need, is a Joomla based one, but this thread is more about just collecting info on existing tools for other CMSs.    I am more interested in learning about features/options rather than just finding a product - today.

I've gone through the extensions directory, so far have found nothing close.  Obviously, ACL is present, so the issue of blocking content is not what I am after. I am looking for the streamlined and elegant way in which it is done here.

Any advice will be much appreciated.

Question by:TechBento
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LVL 54

Assisted Solution

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 1000 total points
ID: 38823297
It is a little confusing what exactly you are looking for.  

"a content restriction system that works very elegantly:"
"I am looking for an equivalent that's "out of the box""
"I am more interested in learning about features/options"
" so the issue of blocking content is not what I am after. I am looking for the streamlined and elegant way in which it is done here."

You want a content restriction system that is elegant and equivalent to what you have seen on EE and other places but it needs to be out of the box but you are not interested in the issue of blocking content but how it is done?   Is that right?  And probably want full control without having to do any coding?

You are either going to have to buy a service (EE has one where you can use this system exclusively  for your business) or code on your own.  There is not going to be a plug in or extension that will be "elegant" because any type of plug in will be one size fits all.   The reason you like this and others is because everything is custom.

Expert Comment

ID: 38823445
Perhaps you are mixing up your wishes for"how it should look" with "how it will work".
Starting with the nuts and bolts of "how it will work" - you need a payment/subscriptions manager. I have used one for Joomla - CBSubs - and it works very well, allowing you to set up levels of subscriptions. There has been a new change to CBSubs - it is now available to put on all your sites, instead of a per site license (a big plus for developers). Akeeba Subscriptions is something I am currently looking into - as it is free and seems to have many of the same features as CBSubs. I would recommend reading about both of them. I'm sure there are probably more out there I am not familiar with.

It is hard to address features for other CMS's, because how a component works is usually addressed to a specific CMS. All Subscription extensions will not necessarily work on all CMS's.

After you figure out if you have the right bolt (how it should work) for you, then the nut you wrap it up with should be your design template (how it should look). As @padas said above, EE is a custom coded site, so you won't find a "out of the box solution" that looks like EE. However, many elements can be made similar, if not duplicated. If you look at the page source of this site (or any site), you can see how pieces are put together.  

That being said, for your site to be yours, you really don't want it to look like someone else's, do you?

Author Comment

ID: 38824264
WebtechGal, thanks for the feedback.     You are correct about the subscription piece, we're running JomSocial.   That's already in place.  

And no, we're not duplicating EE;  mainly because it's for a beauty and skincare client so this specific look would not work.  

To better explain:  if you Google a tech question, good chance you will land on the post in EE about it.  You can click, and be enticed to buy a subscription... but while you are looking you can tell there is a Question you want and a probable answer.  That's what I mean by look and feel.   EE has a very clean way of handling it, so does Quora.   Sites like "Fixya" do not.. but they do apply the same principles.

So, it seems to be quite common; as there are several other websites that use this approach.  I would call it "content restriction" but that's getting me nowhere.  So, I turned to EE to see if anyone has seen plugins/extensions/etc for other CMSs (or for Joomla) that accomplish some of that.
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LVL 54

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 38824303
Speaking of google.... EE was hit a little when google did their panda update in part because of the way things were done.   Having some momentum was what got over a hump.  I wonder just starting out what you can expect when you give partial content.  Any pages of content you want included in search should somehow contain content that is usable but not giving away the farm.   Or maybe the newspaper approach where you get x visits per month or read x articles  per month before hitting the paywall.

Author Comment

ID: 38824393
Hey Padas,
Thanks for that. I think you may have spun my brain around in the correct direction. I kept thinking about tool that could magically decide what to show and what to hide.. I did not consider that we could just do everything beyond "Read More" (or some equivalent) as restricted.    

Your second suggestion might be a lot more cost effective and gives me way more traction, so thanks.    Effectively, the content we have is not super "secret", what we want is more encouragement to gain membership.  So, a pesky pop-up that counts sessions for NON-registered members might actually be sufficient.   Doing a popup with session counts is pretty easy; if it comes up in a modal/jquery it will obstruct the articles, and viola.

I'll leave this up for a few more days, but thanks, this might actually be what I needd.
LVL 54

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 38824469
Please visit some newspaper sites like http://online.wsj.com/home-page and http://www.chicagotribune.com/ or http://www.suntimes.com/  http://www.nytimes.com/

They are all trying to figure out the pay wall.   suntimes is more direct but very annoying.    You have to mix and test annoying vs returning and paying.  

Use your analytics and do A/B testing where you present different versions of how you encourage people, track what leads to signing up.  What is the mix of annoying vs giving away that works for your site.  
I  encourage you start at the end. Think from a user experience rather then "what can I do with technology".  Then use technology to meet your goal.  It is very common for people to limit their thinking to the technology they understand.   Work from the end, think of how it should work, even if you don't understand the "how". If you think it, it can be done.  This is the biggest hurdle I see people stumble on.

Accepted Solution

webtechgal earned 1000 total points
ID: 38827734
I would second the thought of designing how you want it to work and then implementing the strategies to make it work.

As an example of a newspaper site that uses a paywall -
I have used CBSubs for several years now on www.johnstownbreeze.com, which is a small-town local newspaper. They are a weekly. Articles on the front page are linked via "read more" which are behind the paywall. You are required to have a subscription to get to it. This site is not super elegant now - we are in the process of setting up a new responsive css site.  it is functional and subscribers pay to get current content. Either by day, month or year subscriptions. There is free content, too, not behind the paywall.  Using CBSubs, you can easily add/remove content to be free or not, to be accessible at whatever subscription plan you would like.

Because the advent of social networking has changed how some things work. The local paper has used their facebook page as a teaser and as a way to get leads to get the community more involved in looking at the paper online. Their facebook following is steadily growing.

The main reason we set up the paper on Joomla to begin with was - they want to be able to edit and update quickly and continually. They also sell the fact that they update "online" with "the rest of the story" type content that could not go out in the printed version.

Hope this gives more food for thought.

Author Comment

ID: 38827909
Thanks, it's actually really nice to see this kind of process in action at a Joomla site.  We're hung up on the actual flow and aesthetic of it, but you two have given me some simple options.   I am using jomScial, but I bet a subscription component for it will have this feature just like CBSubs.    

To summarize, I was looking in left field.  The answer really is a "subscription" component for Joomla while I was more focused on "content restriction".   Given what I've seen today, the aesthetic portion will be the biggest challenge.    

Many thanks.

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