Post Forking – A Collaborative Approach to WordPress Content Curation

In the past, we have talked about how to improve your WordPress editorial workflow. Well today, Ben Balter, Daniel Bachhuber, and Aaron Jorbin have probably revolutionized the way of content curation in WordPress by releasing a plugin called Post Forking. This plugin offers a more collaborative approach to content curation in WordPress by allowing users to “fork posts” (create an alternate version of content). This is literally like bringing Github to Journalism.

Problems this plugin solve:

Collaborative Editing – By default, WordPress doesn’t allow two users to simultaneously work on the same post. It always shows the warning: xyz user is editing the post. If one user saves the post, the other user’s work will be erased. More importantly, there are permission issues when managing a multi-author site. For example, an author can only write or edit their own posts. In some cases, admins even take away the permission of modifying existing publishing content without editorial review. In this case, authors rely on other tools such as Google Docs, email, or a P2 theme.

Editing Published Posts – Currently, if you want to make changes to an existing post or page content, you have to do it in one sitting or do it in an external editor. Mainly because you don’t want the users to see your half complete sentences due to auto-saved drafts. You also can’t preview the change without actually making all changes live.

How does it work?

For our non-developer audience, Forking is a term used among developers when collaboratively writing code. It is when one developer takes the work of another developer and improves on it. If the original developer likes the enhancements, then it is implemented into the main software to improve the overall quality. That same concept is being applied to writing posts. Often on most multi-author sites, admins only allow authors to write the post. They are not allowed to edit published posts because it has to go through an editorial review.

This plugin allows authors or even registered users without the ability to edit existing posts to create an alternate version of the post “fork”. They can make any changes they deem necessary. When done, they can submit it to be merged with the original content. The post goes in WordPress pending review workflow. The editor or admins are presented with the modified version of the post. They can compare the new version with the old version to see the changes. If there are no conflicts, then they can accept the changes.

In a nutshell, it extends WordPress’s existing revision system. Allows the ability to clone existing posts, edit, and republish them. It schedule changes to posts, including taxonomies and metadata. It also allows front-end preview of changes.

Potential Use Cases

Smart Editing – When updating published post or pages, this is by far the smartest way of doing so. It allows you to work on the updated page without modifying the existing page. Once ready, you can merge the updated version into the existing page.

Collaborative Post Writing – Instead of using third-party tools to collaborate, now authors can work together on a single assignment. For on a review site, one author can work on the pros section and the other can work on the cons section. Later the editor can merge the two pieces into one argument.

Try out Post Forking plugin for yourself.

Additional Reading

Background of how this plugin came into existence

What are your thoughts about this plugin? Can you see this being a game changer?