Introduction is an online community for readers of the Gaming Industry News, a monthly print newsletter for top executives of video game companies. The newsletter, published by Ziff Davis Media, contains articles about hot industry trends, upcoming releases, and insider gossip - business information for decision makers. is a pilot project to increase the value of the commentary, news, and business analysis articles already produced by Ziff Davis staff for the print newsletter. The central idea is to use these articles as magnet content for an internet application rather than simply mailing them out printed on a page. An internet application is capable of many things a monthly paper newsletter is not, notably:

  • providing continuously updated news
  • supporting regular dialogue between the publishers and readers
  • fostering a community of users who can interactively share their knowledge and experience, generating yet more valuable insights and commentary.

Building an interactive community around these articles makes them far more useful to newsletter subscribers, and hence more financially valuable to Ziff Davis.

The site itself combines key aspects of a publication management system--facilities for editorial approval and rejection, versioning, and archival--with features encouraging community involvement, e.g., user comments, forums, and profiles. The site is tailored specifically to business executives with neither time to waste nor patience for a cumbersome interface. The site's unusually context-sensitive page flow and simple visual design help decision makers get the information they need quickly, with minimum hassle.


From An Executive's Perspective

Here are some site features making life easier from the perspective of a typical user, that is, a professional in the entertainment industry:
  • Extremely simple, user-friendly interface, coupled with maximum context-sensitivity, speeds up routine tasks like filling in forms, responding to articles, and perusing user profiles.
  • Threaded discussion forums on articles provide registered users a chance to hear multiple perspectives on an issue and have their own say.
  • Specialized Rumor Mill threaded discussion forum permitting both anonymous and non-anonymous postings. Allowing anonymous postings to this section of the site enables users to post provocative information without fear of reprisal. Valuable inside information on the video game industry is posted at this venue before it is reported anywhere else.
  • Alternative modes of access, including an RSS feed of new articles and email digests of the Rumor Mill, deliver site content to executives in the form most convenient to them.
  • Advanced full-text search of all content, including any-term, all-term, and exact-phrase searches, provides instant answers.
  • Sensitive information is protected via SSL-encrypted registration and login.
  • Browseable and fully-searchable user profiles facilitate social networking between community members.
  • Comprehensive user manual for visitors to the site.


From An Administrator's Perspective

The following are a few essential features and highlights from the perspective of the site's publishers and technical administrators.
  • Editing and submission of articles in standard HTML format; protection from malicious markup. Articles can be edited and previewed right in the browser, making it simpler to author new content, revise old content, and migrate print articles to the website.
  • Full content versioning, including the ability to revert back to specified versions. This enables editors to more easily collaborate on articles through the web interface until releasing a finished version.
  • Synchronized site-wide updates of time-sensitive content. All published articles can be given release dates and/or expiration dates, automating the task of keeping site content fresh.
  • Full control of who is allowed to view which content on the website. Content designated 'subscriber only' is invisible to non-subscribers.
  • Thorough site administration manual describing how to edit articles and use the content management and versioning systems.
  • Comprehensive documentation for each software module comprising the site, including:
    • a description of the module's purpose
    • a list of its limitations and any assumptions it relies upon
    • summaries for all page scripts
    • its fully-annotated SQL data model
    • diagrams as needed
  • Separation of presentation logic from business logic via the Smarty templating engine. Graphic designers can change the look-and-feel of the site without needing to understand or modify any PHP.
  • Centralized site activity summary containing detailed information about recent subscriptions, logins, popular articles and frequent search terms.
  • Hourly automatic emailing of any new server errors to a designated mailing list of developers. Any technical problems are discovered quickly and thus affect few users.

Site Homepage
The Gaming Industry News Homepage

User Profiles
Community Profiles

The Rumor Mill
The Rumor Mill Threaded Discussion Forum

RSS Feed
Gaming Industry News RSS Feed

Posting Comment From Email Digest Message
Posting a Comment Directly from an Email Digest Message

Content Management Interface
Administrator Content Management Interface
Site Statistics
Site Statistics Derived from Server Log Analysis


  • Written, Produced, and Directed by Jeff Bartelma (MIT '03) and Jonathan Grall (MIT '05)
  • Client: Jimmy Guterman, Editor-in-Chief Gaming Industry News, Ziff Davis Media
  • Development Schedule: 9th September - 18th December 2003
  • Special Thanks: Ben Adida, Hal Abelson, Philip Greenspun, Mr. Bungle
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