Setting A Directory Up
Article Dashboard: I launched my first directory using the free Article Dashboard script on July 3rd 2007. It took about 3 weeks and many visits to the Article Dashboard forum asking for advice to get it up and running.
Article Friendly: I set my paid for Article Friendly script directory up on November 3rd 2008. It took 1 hour to get it up and running with no help.
Why the difference? First time round I was new to php and absolutely hopeless with understanding scripts and learned more over time. Even so I believe that the AF script is easier to install.
Although the really useful AD forum has been down for a while there are still several forums run by directory owners where you can get help. AF has it's own forum where you can get help with your article directory and also advice about other scripts including AD.
My fear of messing with php scripts has stopped me from doing major redesigns but there are a couple of sites offering very good free tutorials for AD directories and the AF forum offers lots of advice. There are also some great designers out there who own directories and offer design services especially for article directories. Good because they understand the functionality better than a general designer.
I personally have found it a little easier to redesign around the AD script, but as I've been using it longer I have more basic understanding of it.
Running Your Directory
Authors submit articles, you check them and either approve or decline them it's simple - or is it? With both scripts you can set articles to auto approve. The function is inbuilt in the AF script alongside mass keyword approval - or disapproval but with the AD script you need to mess with the coding or get an add on. Personally I would never auto approve articles, there are too many people out there who want to submit adverts, plagiarised articles and basic crap rather than the quality articles that any website owner would want on their site.
There are quite a lot of add ons available for the Article Dashboard script, some free and some paid for and some of which I use. A duplicate title checker is a must and that I got free. Whenever somebody submits an article with the same title it is flagged. Sometimes it's the same article, sometimes it's just an author being unlucky and I can let them know that they need to change their title. Article friendly has a duplicate checker built in.
Article Friendly also has an automatic decline function if an article's word count is lower than the amount that you choose to set up in the dashboard. I got a short article deleter free for AD and with that I can set the minimum wordage of articles that I want on the site, but as I could never get it to work it's a mute point. I'm sure that there are more such scripts available if I really wanted one.
Another feature that AF has that I like is being able to block unwanted authors with one click. It's not something I like doing but if somebody constantly submits plagiarised articles, adverts etc. banning them saves my time and theirs.
You can also block email addresses with the AF script. I chose to block free email addresses as most of the problem submitters come from free email addresses. I have no problem with free email addresses personally, blimey I use them myself, but as that particular directory is in the travel niche and most genuine travel writers use their website email addresses the block saves me time.
Another good feature on AF is being able to delete authors with no articles with one click. Some of those authors may genuinely set accounts up intending to submit articles but never get around to it, but I suspect otherwise with some new authors who join up and fill in their profile with a link to anything but a travel site.
Those features are only available on AF, but as I said earlier in this article there are all sorts of add on scripts available for AD and more turn up occasionally.
Keeping Things Clean
With AF there is a bad word block area in the dashboard where you can input words that you don't want appearing on your site. If an author uses any of those words the article is automatically declined.
I did buy an AD add on that scans resource boxes for words that you input into the script and you can delete offending articles in one go. That has proved invaluable as a time saver against masses of plagiarised articles.
More Article Friendly Goodies
AFs dashboard also lets you clean up, repair or optimise your database with one click, very handy for those of us who haven't got a clue how to do it themselves. You can also keyword optimise all of the categories very easily, add extra admin access, find articles or authors and mass move articles from one category to another. You can also link up to 4 different mass submission companies from your dashboard if you want to.
Article Dashboard Goodies
I seem to be favouring AF over AD scripts, but the main reason that I haven't converted my AD directory over to the AF script is that when I am checking articles I can also click on and check the authors links before approval. You would be surprised just how many authors submit articles with broken links, or links pointing to unacceptable sites. With Article Friendly I have to paste links in my browser to check them, or scrutinise the html and that takes time.
Another thing that I like better about the Article Dashboard script is that authors can use html within the article body whereas the Article Friendly script automatically rejects articles using html. Personally I prefer to use html where I can as long as it follows the directories guidelines. Html helps to make an article stand out and become more readable. However you can add html to articles in the admin area of Article Friendly.
There are more features that I haven't mentioned but I'm sure that you get the picture. Although the Article Friendly script is easier to install and use I still slightly favour the Article Dashboard script because of the last 2 features mentioned, but as there are regular updates to the AF script that could change.