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Welcome to Pollxn

What Is Pollxn?
Pollxn (pronounced "pollen", "poll 'n", "paul-hen", etc.) is a lightweight discussion engine for Blosxom and other weblog/blogging applications. It lets people post comments about your blog stories right on your site.

Like Blosxom, Pollxn was designed to be fast and easy to use. Think of it as a simple bulletin board. It consists of a single Perl script and a few HTML templates. You can customize it or use it as-is. It doesn't require a database in order to work, so it's (hopefully) easy to install. It interfaces directly with your web server's file system, and stores comments in/the/same/folder as the story being discussed. It runs on OS X, Solaris, Linux, Windows, and other operating systems where Perl and a web server are installed. And of course, it's FREE.

Why Pollxn?
There are many free discussion boards on the web that you can use to host discussions. QuickTopic is a good example. But since these boards aren't hosted on your web server, they...

     ...are hosted elsewhere, so visitors must leave your site to post comments
...can crash or go down for maintenance
...can be hard to integrate with your blog's content
...are nearly impossible to integrate with your blog's search engine
...are hard to archive
...don't offer customizable templates
...don't provide raw access to your discussion files
...aren't owned by you

Pollxn is designed to run on your server so you're in control of its operation, appearance, and discussion files.

Here are some of Pollxn's features:

   •  Allows users to post comments on any Blosxom blog story
•  Uses standard Perl — no CPAN downloads required
•  No database required — uses your webserver's file system
•  No confusing "pings" or "feeds"
•  Easily modified — uses HTML flavor templates similar to Blosxom's that you can change on-the-fly
•  Posts can include plain text and hyperlinks; all other HTML is stripped out
•  Flexible — you control max posts per blog allowed, if anonymous posts are O.K., etc.
•  Includes optional plug-in for Blosxom 2.x that displays number of posts per blog story
•  Can display posts in alternating colors just like QuickTopic
•  Can display all comments for a topic on a single page or in multiple pages
•  Browser-friendly — requires no cookies or Javascript
•  No file locking problems — each comment post is stored in a separate text file
•  Includes tool that automatically spiders and archives, turning each old discussion into a single
"read-only" file while saving disk space
•  Lightweight — core engine is only 8KB
•  Tested on OS X, Solaris, Linux, and Windows

How Does It Work?
Blosxom (and similar blog programs) store their blog entries in hierarchal folders by topic. The address for a blog entry about Homer Simpson might look like:


Pollxn stores its discussion files in the same folder where a blog entry is stored, which would be /homer in the example above. Each discussion entry is stored in a separate file with a .pollxn file extension. When the time comes to display a blog entry's comments, Pollxn gathers up the .pollxn files, sorts them, and displays them using the HTML template flavor you specify. Storing comments inside your blog's folder structure makes it easy to search, move, or archive your blog as a single self-contained unit if the need arises.

To make organization even easier, Pollxn includes an archiving tool. When a blog topic reaches a certain age, you can choose to have it automatically archived — all of its .pollxn files are combined into a single file to save disk space, and the discussion becomes closed and "read-only" so no new comments may be posted.

Anytime you want to host a discussion for a blog entry, you just provide a link to Pollxn's pollxn.cgi Perl script, along a few parameters to control it. In this example, pollxn.cgi will display the /homer story and use the HTML template flavor called yellowhomerhair:

   <a href="pollxn.cgi?storypath=/tv/simpsons/homer&flav=yellowhomerhair">Discuss</a>

When a visitor clicks the link, Pollxn displays the most recent comments in reverse chronological order, and allows new comments to be posted. You can host discussions in the main browser window, or offer them in a pop-up window. And, by creating different HTML flavor templates, you can have different "look and feels" for different discussion areas of your site.

You can see what Pollxn looks like here.

Pollxn's Blosxom Plug-In
If you're using version 2.0 or higher of Blosxom as your blog engine, you can also use the optional Pollxn plug-in for Blosxom to dynamically display the number of comment posts available for each of your blog entries. The result might look like this:

     Homer Simpson Gets Slow Haircut
In his feature film debut, Krusty the Clown spends 90 minutes
cutting Homer Simpson's hair with rusty toenail clippers.
Link | 43 comments

In the entry above, the "43 comments" link is generated dynamically by the Pollxn plug-in for Blosxom. When visitors click on it, they'll see 43 discussion posts about Homer and can post their own comments.

Download Pollxn to get started. It's free.


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