Best software for running a small book-anchored online community?


I’m assuming that ArsDigita Community System (old book chapter; current version) cannot, nearly 20 years after its inception, be the right software for running a small online community anchored by a book. But that raises the question of what is the best software in a world where one can’t expect anyone to truly join any community other than Facebook.

Here are some things that the site needs to do:

  • let people read chapters
  • into the text of each chapter add the following:
    • link to Amazon so that they buy a Kindle version
    • Google Ads
    • widgets for readers to promote the page to standard places (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon, what else?)
    • tags for Google Analytics
  • question-and-answer forum with newer messages displayed in reverse chronological order and older ones categorizable in two orthogonal dimensions (so there are two dimensions for categorization but the categories in one dimension are not subcategories of the other)
  • a blog for news articles about misc. topics (but maybe the blog should actually be the Q&A forum? Just let anyone post a new topic but require approval before a topic/question goes live?); this too needs to be categorized in two dimensions
  • users registering for email alerts of new discussion forum postings, new blog entries
  • ability to log in with Facebook credentials and other credentials (just to get the person’s name and email, not to go poking around among their friends or do anything else invasive)

I think this is basically the feature set of WordPress but I’ve never quite figured out how to make WordPress do the boring static web site stuff. Drupal also comes to mind but it seems like overkill if all that we need is a single blog and a Q&A forum plus some fundamentally static web pages.

What’s the community wisdom?

Thanks in advance for sharing your expertise.

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

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