JazShak's Community Tools module fosters interaction

JazShak, a new integrated Web-hosting service from Baseview Products -- which provides software tools for publishing, including editorial, advertising, circulation management, production and Internet solutions -- has introduced its latest module, Community Tools, targeted to professional publishers.

Community Tools offers a way for publishers to find out where their community stands on an issue and get some quick feedback on some ideas. Their readers can enjoy polls, discussion boards and an interactive calendar, according to Baseview spokesperson Jodee Taylor.

It's "Mac compatible" in the sense that it's a hosted solution. Baseview won't be selling it for deployment as it's a tightly integrated (though not bound) to Live!Que 2.0, which is Mac only. The client and admin interfaces are all via Web browser.

"It is a PHP solution, that can be deployed (and has been for development and testing) on Mac OS X, but isn't being served to our customers from OS X," Jack Rosenzweig, program manager, JazShak, told MacCentral.

JazShak's Community Tools let you quickly create polls to place on your Web site, Taylor said. Polls can be linked to stories or section fronts and they can be posted for as long as users wish. The software automatically prevents "ballot box stuffing" because it will only allow visitors one vote a day.

"Creating the polls is easy," Taylor said. "From a Web page, just type in a question and up to 10 answers and press a button. That's all. No HTML coding is involved. Since this is part of your site, the results aren't taking your traffic off to another Web site, like many of the 'free' polling services out there. You keep the visitors on your site, looking at your content."

For the times when you want to find out what your community thinks about a certain subject and a poll won't do, there's the discussion forum capabilities of Community Tools. With JazShak's new community module, publishers can let their readers give their detailed opinions and view what other people have to say about the same issues. They can attach a threaded discussion to any or all stories on your site, create discussions on any topic you choose, or allow visitors to your site to create discussions.

"You can have as much or as little influence over the postings as you would like," Taylor said. "The discussions can be wide open to all viewers or you can only allow registered members to post. You can allow everything to be posted right away or you can have staff-moderated forums."

An online calendar feature lets users and their community post events to a central location. The events can be placed in categories that correspond to the various sections of the Web site. For instance, today's sports events can be listed on the sports pages, and so on. Community Tools users maintain full control to approve and deny the posting of new events yet eliminate the need of a staff having to field phone calls and type numerous entries, Taylor said.

"Your JazShak-hosted Web site will attract traffic by focusing on your own local content," Taylor added. "By allowing users to create their own content and interactions on your site you are providing the tools to keep them there."

This story, "JazShak's Community Tools module fosters interaction" was originally published by PCWorld.

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