VCCS Litonline Introduction to Literature
Editing Front Page Forums
This procedure involves accessing the table of contents and the actual content of web pages made when someone makes a submission. All of the forum submissions are turned into pages that match the design of the forum web. All of these are kept in a folder with a self-generating table of contents file called "tocproto.htm," which is embedded in the "Contents" page. Front Page sometimes allows deleting of selected pages (comments) from the forum--sometimes smoothly, sometimes not.
Manually Editing the Table of Contents: For instance, with the Emily forum on which I was working most recently, I delete the offensive, empty, or just mediocre and redundant comments by deleting their page. In the Emily forum, this does not also delete the link from the "tocproto.htm," so I have to manually access that table of contents set of links and delete the link or, for comments I am saving, sometimes alter the wording for the link to a better title, as well as rearrange page links to group submissions better.
Overlapping Submissions Share a Page: The Emily forum is particularly tricky because newer submissions started posting INTO existing submissions a couple years ago, so that a comment from 2000 will be on a page first made by a comment in 1997 or 1998. Each comment still is listed in the table of contents, so if I delete a page and the link to it, I still have the older link intact elsewhere on the table of contents (which is about 10-12 screens long at the moment). Luckily, I can look at the table of contents in a browser and the visited links will be a different color; guided by that, I can go up a few screen lengths to the other link on the "tocproto.htm" file and delete the other, older link, too. Without doing that, the older links would simply generate a "File Not Found" error message.
In some cases, of course, I want to keep one of the comments on a page that has been doubled up, so I just edit the page to hold the one comment worth keeping and delete from the "tocproto.htm" the link that corrresponded to the deleted comment.
Disappearing Tables of Contents: In other cases, things are more volatile. For instance, in the "Essay Draft Drop Box" and the "Oedipus" forum, deleting a page blanked the entire "tocproto.htm" except for the very first comment ever sent to the forum. I'm guessing that the workaround for this would be to insert a blank page into the forum folder and place a table of contents component on it (Front Page makes tables of contents for instructional webs automatically, including adding new pages when one is made). I haven't tried this yet because I want to cull both forums first, but in the meantime they are dead. I tried adding a search engine to the "Essay" forum, after specifying to users which works of lit. are analyzed there, but this is of limited usefulness.
Automatic Deletion from the Contents Listing: When the forum works right, as the "Trifles" forum mostly did, deleting a page automatically results in deletion of the link from the table of contents, but that level of cooperation from the software is rare.
Editing any forum can be a tedious business. With Front Page, the trade-off for being able to edit individual forum pages, which is an asset, is risking losing the whole contents listing and being able to delete only one page at a time.