Blogs and forums

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 1.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Blogs and forums.

I think it's worth making a distinction between external blogs and internal to Moodle blogs since anyone who can read your internal blog can also take part in a Moodle discussion forum with you, or look at your User Info page and see what you've been talking about. External people can't and in particular external bloggers can't interact using pingbacks, trackbacks etc. (External trackback/pingback for externally published entries have not yet been fully removed from the code base. There is/has been an admin setting to disable trackback/pingback to/from your site making this a local admin's choice. I would prefer to allow local admin choice given that some moodle sites are corporate training sites, etc.)

Things you can do in forums that you can't do with the (current test version) internal blog

  • You can apparently search Blogs in the same way you can search Forums and Glossaries but I can't find it! I'm looking on the test site that Martin linked to, could anyone point me in the right direction? (Short answer: no, there is no search for the current code base. Long answer: The search code you see on the demo site has all been removed recently and it was never fully functional for Moodle. I never went all the way with the code becuase it's redundant. I'm all for a central full search mechanism in Moodle which blog could simply plug in to. Otherwise each section of Moodle will have to recreate search capbilities on their own giving the end user a disjointed experience. Why should I have to go to a course to search that course? Why go to a blog to search blogs? Why not search Moodle and have the results returned from all sections I have access to? I like the way half.com and ebay.com handle their searches and subsearches with a selection menu for the section and subsection. Imagine a single search whose results included user's by name and username, forum entries, glossary entries, blog entries, messages, etc, etc.)
  • Track via RSS, subscriptions or a single web page conversation on a single broad topic (unless it occurs in a Wiki, Blog, Glossary, Private Message etc.) UNTRUE (you could make an RSS feed of a category) -- is that category applied across blogs or only within a single blog? (Each blog can create its own categories which are for that blog only, each teacher can create course categories which are then made available to all students when they post a new entry, admins can create site categories which are made available to all users when they create new entries. RSS feeds can be limited to a given category and will contain entries which have been posted to that category regardless of the blog they came from.) Does that mean these categories are more like 'tags' mentioned in the next point? (Yes, they are very much tags. An entry can be associated/post to multiple categories so a single entry can have the category/tag "personal" and the category/tag "family" or have the category/tag "moodle" and the category/tag "online LMS systems") Also, does 'could' in 'could make an RSS feed of a category' mean 'theoretically possible', or 'is an admin option in current code'. (It means it's very much a capability of the system. Not sure how else to say that. The feed takes different arguments. For instance if I want a feed of all recent blog entries for mysite I would request http://mysite.edu/moodle/blog/rss.php. Now if I want to limit that to a user I would do http://mysite.edu/moodle/blog/rss.php?userid=#. If I want all entries across the site for a given category http://mysite.edu/moodle/blog/rss.php?categoryid=# and you could combine them so I can get the entries for a given user in a given category, which itself may be user specific to start with anyway, http://mysite.edu/moodle/blog/rss.php?userid=#&categoryid=#. Hope that helps.)

(Another note in that the current code base was recently changed for RSS. It used to support RSS 2.0, RSS 0.9/1 and ATOMv2. I have matched the moodle forum code by stripping off RSS 0.9/1 and ATOM completely and the blog module now only creates RSS 2.0 feeds)

  • Following on from the above you can reach an audience that has signalled interest in a broad topic. (this is conceptually similar to blog tagging) (See the use of RSS feeds limited by userid or categoryid described above)

Things You can do with an Internal Blog that you can't do with a Forum

  • Create drafts that can be edited and reviewed by the author or a 'teacher' before publication
  • Customise your personal 'space' that contains publications/conversations started by you (or that you choose to continue on your own blog, rather than comment on another persons) (This currently includes defining a moodle theme for your personal page and managing blocks and their postitions on said page.)
  • Track via RSS or a single web page an individual's major publications/discussion contributions (unless it occurs in a Wiki, Forum, Glossary, Private Message or comment on another Blog) (A single RSS feed or web page with, at least, links to all areas within moodle where the user has contributed is certainly possible and might prove useful with or without blogs. This seems fitting with the user profile where I can see discussions I have been involved with - it might be nice to see all resources I have been involved with.)
  • Tag your post to categorise it (Glossaries also provide categories, though not freeform text. There was talk about adding this to Forums to allow them to be used as a Bug Tracker, Database)
  • If the posters categorise or tag their posts you could view via RSS or a single webpage all weblog posts by that person on a particular subject. (again, as above, there was talk about adding similar to Forums)

Things you can do with an external blog that you can't do with a forum or internal blog

  • Become part of the blogosphere and interact via standard blog idioms with other bloggers (trackbacks, pingbacks, technorati listings, RSS feeds) (All of which have been available in the current blog code. I have completely removed comments from blog entries though.)

Things you can do either with a blog or forum (with notes on minor differences of form)

  • Publish a statement to the world that doesn't require or expect an answer. (In forums people will generally assume that you are looking for an answer. In blogs you can turn off comments (and trackbacks?) to signify active disregard for responses. Either could be referenced by URL if you really wanted to talk about them in another Blog or Forum.)
  • Start a conversation. (In Forums you create a new Thread. In blogs you create an entry)
  • continue a conversation (Add a new post to a Forum, with blogs you have the choice of commenting or tracking back to your own blog. Generally this comes down to a matter of length/substantiveness of reply)
  • Respond to something (In the world of blogs it is generally assumed that the something will involve a link, but it can just as easily be a an external world event or thought in your head. Everything within Moodle can be referenced by a URL, as can the rest of the web. I'm not sure how tech-savvy you need to be to be able to do this though, and whether having a 'discuss/blog this' link would make it much easier for and obvious that this is a good thing)

See also