July 25, 2006

Packt Publishing announces Open Source CMS Award

Author: Mayank Sharma

The number of content management systems (CMS) available under an open source license is staggering. A brief visit to cmsmatrix or opensourcecms, which are excellent resources for comparing and demoing the various options, shows more than a few hundred! Which is the best? Birmingham, UK-based Packt Publishing has decided to answer that question with its Open Source CMS Award.

Packt, which publishes more than 10 titles on open source CMSes, including Drupal, vBulletin, Mambo, Joomla, Typo3, and PHP-Nuke, has decided to conduct the award in two stages. The first stage, currently underway, asks users to submit their favorite CMS along with their reasons for nominating it. In September, the five CMSes with the most number of votes will be presented to a panel of three judges, who will select a winner to receive a $5,000 prize. The second- and third-place finalists will receive $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.

We talked with Damian Carvill, the marketing manager at Packt who is in charge of the contest, to get details about the selection process and the benefits of the award to users.

NewsForge: Who is the award open to? Is this a popularity award?

Damian Carvill: This isn't designed as a popularity contest by any means! The Award is open to any open source CMS. As long as they are made available under an open source license, they are eligible for entry.

NF: How will the entries be sorted and shortlisted?

DC: We want as many open source CMSes to enter as possible through the nomination process. We don't expect the judges to plough through hundreds of nominated entries, which is why only the five with the most nominations will go through to the final. I can see how this can be misconstrued as a popularity contest by default, but we felt that this was the best way to arrange it.

The final five is made up of votes from the judges. The top three from each judge will be awarded 3, 2, and 1 point respectively. The CMS with the most points will be declared the winner. In the event of a tie, a fifth independent judge will be brought in.

NF: Who are the judges?

DC: Scott Goodwin from the Open Source Collective has been actively involved in the open source community for more than four years now through various Web sites and companies, including OpenSourceCMS. Lenz Grimmer is representing MySQL, where he is a member of the Community Relations team. Lenz has been involved in Linux and open source since 1994, so brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. The third judge is Nathan Gervais, who is representing the Eclipse Foundation, where he works as a Web developer. The final judge is actually the public!

NF: What role does the public play in the final selection?

DC: Visitors will actually make up the final judge. We will be opening up voting on www.PacktPub.com after the nomination stage. Their vote will be counted towards the final voting decision alongside the industry experts'.

NF: On what basis will the entries be judged?

DC: The judges will demo the final five and then make their decision based on a number of factors, including usability, accessibility, ease of configuration and customization, scalability, and security, for example.

NF: How many nominations have been received so far?

DC: A lot more than we anticipated, in all honesty. We've had thousands of nominations so far; it wouldn't be right to say who's leading the nominations at this stage either.

NF: How, at its conclusion, do you think this contest will help end users?

DC: One of the things I mentioned in the marketing blurb about the Award is that we often get asked which is the best open source CMS. This is such a difficult question to answer, but we hope that the Award will give end users the opportunity to see exactly what open source content management systems have been selected as "the best" by a panel of expert judges.

Of course, my hope is that the result of the Award will help a number of different stakeholders, not just end users. The results and comments from the judges (including the public) will help the teams behind each and every content management system understand in more detail what users are looking for, what they like and dislike, and what can be improved.

It would also be fitting if we could bring some extra publicity to open source software in general. If the Award highlights to users the number of different professional open source solutions currently available as a free download, then I will feel as though it has been mission accomplished.

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