Video: Managing commentsAll societies face troublemakers from time to time and the anonymity the Internet provides encourages people to display their worst behavior without fear of discovery. Trouble often comes in the form of abusive or spammy comments. Fortunately, Drupal includes several features that not only let you control who can comment but also let you decide which comments should be published and hide or delete comments that have already appeared. On the lighter side, you can control how comments appear by default and whether or not your site's members can change those settings.
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Drupal is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) for a variety of platforms. It has a robust user community and easy-to-use administration features. Drupal Essential Training covers all the important aspects of installing, configuring, customizing, and maintaining a Drupal-powered website. Instructor Tom Geller explores blogs, discussion forums, member profiles, and other features while demonstrating the steps required to make Drupal perform. He also teaches fundamental concepts and skills along the way, including installation, backups, and updates; security and permissions; flexible page layouts and CSS; menu navigation; and performance monitoring and disaster recovery. He also discusses how to select and install the community-supported modules that further expand Drupal's capabilities, and gives experienced PHP programmers tips on customizing page templates. Example files accompany the course.
- Understanding the inner workings of Drupal
- Creating stories, pages, blogs, forums, and polls
- Managing users and comments
- Setting and customizing themes
- Exchanging content via RSS
- Stopping comment spam with a CAPTCHA
- Launching a site and joining the Drupal community
All societies face troublemakers from time to time and the anonymity the Internet provides encourages people to display their worst behavior without fear of discovery. Trouble often comes in the form of abusive or spammy comments. Fortunately, Drupal includes several features that not only let you control who can comment but also let you decide which comments should be published and hide or delete comments that have already appeared. On the lighter side, you can control how comments appear by default and whether or not your site's members can change those settings.
To start off, we are going to create content as the administrator in the forum by clicking on Create content and Forum topic. If you are a Lynda.com premium member or have the series on a disk, you have an exercise file that has the text for this Forum topic. We are going to go there now by clicking on the Finder and hiding everything else. Go to the Exercise Files, Chapter 10 and it's 10_04. The name of the file is forum-post.txt. Here, we'll copy the title by hitting Command+C or Ctrl+C on the PC and go back to our Drupal interface and paste it in the Subject, Command+V or Ctrl+V on the PC. We'll do the same thing for the Body.
Finally, we'll decide which forum we want to put this in. The question is what do you love most about living under water. The most appropriate forum for that I think is, Tips for underwater living. We'll scroll down to the bottom and we don't have to change anything else; we'll just say, Save. Very good, we've created our forum topic. Now, let's go and take a look at what that looks like from the point of view of Fishy Joe, an ordinary member. We'll go to the forum by typing forum next to our URL and there we are; Tips for underwater living.
That's the name of the forum. Go in and there is the post that the administrator just made. Click on it and there it is. Now, let's say that Fishy Joe is in a rambunctious mood and decides to add a new comment and do it all in caps and say, I HATE THE IDEA OF LIVING UNDERWATER!!!!1111. And the Comment says, Who Would Be So Stupid To Do That?!?!?! Fishy Joe previews it, says, yeah, I like saying that and says, Save, and it appears on the site.
Let's go back to the administrative interface and see what we can do if we see that and decides, you know, we don't want that on the site. So, we'll switch back and in here, we go to Administer and Comments. This shows all of the published comments and we see that at the top and we'd say, we don't like that; there are few things we can do. One is we can click in the checkbox next to it and then either un-publish the comment by leaving this as it is and then clicking Update or we could delete it by selecting that and clicking Update. A second way we can affect this comment is by going to the Edit link here and then go up to the Administration link at the top and here, we could just un-publish it by clicking on that radio button and going down, saying Preview and then save. We are just going to leave it alone for now.
We'll go back to Administer, and Comments. I want to show you another way that you can stop comments from appearing. We can do this by going to Administer, and Permissions, and then down to Comments. Now, you'll notice, we have permissions granted for all the authenticated user and contributing user to both post comments and post comments without approval. Let's say, we just want them to be able to post comments but we want to be able to approve all the comments that comes through. We'll uncheck these post comments without approval. Go down to the bottom of the screen, and say, Save permissions. Now, let's go back to Fishy Joe.
Let's say that he sees that he has made a little stink here and wants to add another nasty comment. He says Add new comment. He says I hate you all!!! You bottom dwellers!!! And then says Preview, goes down to the bottom and says Save. This time, however, his comment hasn't appeared on the site because we don't allow comments to appear without approval and in fact, he gets this message which must make him feel really bad, your comment has been queued for moderation.
Now, let's go back to the administrator site and see exactly what that means. We go to Administer and Comments and this link up here Approval queue. This shows all the comments that haven't yet been published on the site because they haven't received our approval. We could look at it, of course, by clicking on it. I don't like that, I am going to go back and say, Delete the selected comment. But right now, we are gong to publish it and I'll show you why in just a moment. So, we have these two abusive comments, which for some reason we've decided to leave. Let's say, the administrator decides to go into the forum and try to make peace. Goes to that same post, goes to one of the comments and says, you know I am going to reply to that and say, Why so much anger? Breathe in, breathe out... Try to calm down, Fishy Joe. And then we'll just say Preview and once again, Save.
You'll notice something here. When you reply to a comment, it indents it in this way. We'll show how you can change that sort of display, but enough about abuse. Now, let's change how member see comments including how this is indented. To do that, we stay on our administrative interface and go to Administer and Content types. Now remember, this was a forum post. So, we are going to change the way people see comments in the forum posts by going to forum topic and clicking on Edit. We are going to take a close look at all the comment settings that are possible in the forum topics. We click on comment settings and we have a lot of options.
First of all, whether or not we allow comments at all. If we don't want to allow comments in forums, we could just click on Disabled or Read Only, which would only allow administrators to post there. Secondly, we can change how they are displayed and when you saw that indenting, it's because it was a threaded list. I am going to say, Flat list - collapsed and we'll go back and take a look at how that looks. Let's scroll down, Save content type, then go back to Fishy Joe's account, reload the page. So, you can see that we've changed the way that comments appear instead of being expanded and in a threaded format, they are now flat for most recent to oldest and to see any one of them, you have to click and then you see the comment.
Going back to the administrative interface, let's edit more ways that people comments in forum topics by clicking on Edit and Administer, Content types, scrolling down again to the Comment settings and clicking on that link. So, let's turn it back to Threaded list - expanded. You can change whether the most recent or oldest are at the top. You can change how many comments appear on a page, if more than this many comments are on the page, there will be a link at the bottom that says More, which users can click on to see the older or newer comments.
Finally, we can change Comment controls. I am going to turn these on above the comments so you can see what a difference it makes. Scroll down and say Save content type. So, we have changed whether for not Fishy Joe can affect how he sees comments. Let's go back to his account and click on that forum topic to see if the change is good. And indeed, he can now whether or not he sees that as a flat list or he sees it as a threaded list - collapsed, how many comments per page he sees and so forth. If he clicks on Save settings, then there you see it. There is this collapsed list, which is threaded just as he wanted it.
There's one more thing we can do as the administrator to display comments in an interesting way. Let's go back to the administration interface, click on Administer and then to Blocks. There is a block that is installed by default when you have the Commenting module turned on called Recent comments. We are going to move this into the right side bar along with those other things we have by clicking on that drop-down menu and moving up to right side bar and then scrolling to the bottom and Save blocks. Now, if you scroll down the side here, you'll see all of the other things we had to have before in addition to Recent comments, it shows only the title of the comment and how long ago it was added.
If we go to Fishy Joe's, we'll see that the same it true. Scroll down the right-hand side and you'll see the recent comments. If you click on any of these comments, you'll go directly to it. Here's that why so much anger. Now, before we finish this video, I am going to go back and clean up all of those abusive comments by going once more into Administer, Comments and selecting the ones that I don't like, these two, and delete them. Yes, I really do. Finally, we'll look at the Approval queue and make sure that we have nothing there that was waiting for approval.
As you can see, you have many options for controlling how comments appear on your Drupal site, including whether or not they appear in the first place. In addition, there are modules that will extend these features but Drupal's built-in features for handing comments should be able to handle pretty much everything that you need to do.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Drupal 6 Essential Training .
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- Q: While following along to the installation instructions in the “Installing WAMP and Drupal on Windows” chapter in the Drupal Essential Training title, an error occurs when attempting to open the local host page. Nothing appears except for an error reading “WAMPSERVER server offline.” What is causing this?
- A: There is a known problem with some versions of WAMP that include a version of PHP (5.3) that some versions of Drupal is not compatible with. See http://tomgeller.com/content/tips-running-drupal-windows-using-wamp#comment-831 for more information.
If that is not causing the issue, reference the tips at http://tomgeller.com/content/tips-running-drupal-windows-using-wamp.
If you don't see the solution at either of those links, try using another AMP stack, such as XAMPP or the Acquia stack installer. See http://tomgeller.com/content/what-hells-wrong-drupal-wamp for discussion about these.
- Q: After installing XAMPP and running Drupal for the first time, the Administration menu does not appear. What is the reason for this?
- A: There are several possible problems. Here are some likely solutions. (These may also solve problems encountered with other AMP stacks.)
- Increase XAMPP's PHP allocation.
- Check to make sure all XAMPP's paths are correct and that permissions are correct. If the database information appears, but not Drupal's supporting files, and an included theme is being used, the supporting files will be in the /modules folder.
- Another solution is to not use WAMP or XAMPP. One option is to use Acquia's Drupal Stack Installer ("DAMP"), which can be found at http://www.acquia.com/downloads. However, that installs Acquia Drupal, which is a version of "normal" Drupal extended with additional modules. If only core Drupal is desired, see the instructions at http://acquia.com/blog/kieran/try-drupal-7-alpha-your-laptop-or-desktop. (The instructions are for Drupal 7, but will work for Drupal 6 as well.)
- Q: In the "Using the example files" movie, the method of importing information to the database is shown, using the backup in Chapter 10. When attempting to do this, the following error is shown: "No data was received to import. Either no file name was submitted, or the file size exceeded the maximum size permitted by your PHP configuration. See FAQ 1.16." The system is running the latest versions of Apache, PhP and MySQL, on Windows Vista. What could be causing the problem?
- A: This is probably caused because your AMP stack allocates too little memory to PHP.
That's especially true if you're using WAMP, which only gives PHP 2MB of memory, when it really needs at least 16MB.You'll see the issue if you go to the MySQL-controlling phpMyAdmin screen (probably at http://localhost/phpMyAdmin) and click "Import": The maximum file size allowed is 2,048K. That's only 2MB, and the databases for most Drupal sites are much larger than that. (The example site for Drupal Essential Training gets as big as 5MB.) The video "Installing WAMP and Drupal on Windows" shows (at around 3:30) where the php.ini file is, but here are some more-complete instructions to increase that memory limit.
- Click the WAMP icon in your system tray.
- Select "PHP". In the side menu, select "php.ini" to open a file containing PHP's configuration options.
- Search for the line, "upload_max_filesize = 2M".
- Change it to "upload_max_filesize = 32M" (or whatever you like).
- Save the file and restart WAMP. (Better yet, restart your computer entirely to be sure. I'm frankly not sure whether it makes a difference.)
- Now go back to that "Import" screen in phpMyAdmin: You should notice that the limit has changed.
- Q: I don't remember the default username and password used demonstrate Drupal.
- A: The default username used in the course is "admin"; the default password is "booth".
- Q: How can I change Drupal's administrative username and password?
- A: If for some reason the default exercise file username (admin) and password (booth) don't work, you can change them in the database itself using phpMyAdmin. (This technique is demonstrated in a video from Chapter 8, "Recovering from disasters".)
- Open your Drupal database with phpMyAdmin.
- Go to the "users" table. Click the Browse icon.
- For the row where uid = 1, click the Edit icon. (Note the value under the "Name" column: That's the administrator's username.)
- In the "pass" row, select "MD5" under the "Function" column
- In the same row, enter your new password under the "Value" column.
- At the bottom of the screen, click the "Go" button. You should now be able to log in with that username and new password.
- Q: In Windows Vista, the WAMP icon disappears from the system tray after a certain amount of time. How do I get it to reappear?
- A: To make the WAMP icon reappear (so that you can access localhost, phpmyadmin, php.ini, etc.), you have to activate the "start WAMP server" icon (from start menu, desktop or wherever). The system tray icon will reappear.
- Q: My .htaccess file disappeared. What caused this?
- A: A few times during the Drupal Essential Training video series, the instructor says to copy a Drupal installation by selecting all the files in the folder and then "dragging and dropping" them, either to a server or another location on your local computer. This is not the best way to do so, as the hidden file ".htaccess" will not be copied.
There are two ways to get around that problem:
Sorry for the error.
- When installing Drupal for the first time: Instead of copying files from the Drupal folder, move the entire folder to its target location and rename it. This is the easiest solution for those without experience with Unix.
- Use the command-line interface to copy the .htaccess file.
- Q: In the video, the instructor says the current version of Drupal is 6.3, but on the drupal.org site, the latest version is 6.17. Which is the newer version of Drupal?
- A: Drupal 6.17 is newer than version 6.3. For some reason, the the version numbers go 6.3, 6.4... 6.9, 6.10... 6.17. It’s counter-intuitive, but that’s the order.
- Q: My WAMP phpMyadmin will not allow me to upload the exercise files. It returns this message: "No data was received to import. Either no file name was submitted, or the file size exceeded the maximum size permitted by your PHP configuration. See FAQ 1.16." There was no previous database to drop, so what do I need to do to make this work?
- A: This is a common problem, caused not by Drupal, but by WAMP. WAMP only allows you to upload files of 2MB or smaller, which is much too small. The solution is detailed at http://tomgeller.com/cant-import-a-drupal-site-in-windows.
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