When CMS training goes bad (and makes international news)

Adweek story on CMS errorAdweek reported on how a reporter for The Sunday Times in Perth, Australia had some fake stories accidently go live while training on their Fatwire Content Management System. Oops is right.

One of the fake stories reported that Rupert Murdoch was married for a fourth time in a shotgun wedding to one of the newspaper’s reporters. I can only imagine it was a stressful few days for the CMS administrators hustling to clean up the mess (and save their jobs perhaps).

While it’s rare to see the CMS specifically called out in the story (Sorry Fatwire), premature stories hitting the wire are nothing new (Celebrity obituaries for example)

The reality is this error could happen to many organizations with improperly configured content management systems and lax editorial processes.

Most sites today still have content authors editing directly on production servers, with very little controls or oversight on what goes live. While CMS training should be done in a development or sandbox environment, it often is not. Training is also often used as a way to get real content into the system, increasing the change that fake content gets mixed with the real stuff.

While content strategists may groan, it is a case for using Lorem Ipsum as obvious placeholder text, so not to confuse fake content items that resemble final content.

Mainly, it’s a reminder that content management is more than a technology issue. The best CMS in the world can’t prevent this type of error if you don’t have the right processes and people behind it (although some definitely can separate production and staging environments better than others).

And a final lesson learned, if you’re going to write a fake story, probably best not to write an embarrassing one about your boss.

(Hat tip to Tom Wentworth for heads up on the story)

About the Author
Jeff Cram

Jeff Cram is Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design), a digital agency based in Portland, OR and Boston, MA. As the Managing Editor of the CMS Myth, Jeff is passionate about all topics related to content management, digital strategy and experience design.

More articles from Jeff Cram


3 responses… read them below or add one.

  1. Justin says:

    A perfect example as to why you need those sometimes painful workflows in place.

    Congratulations to Murdoch, and if anyone is looking to hire some trainee CMS Editors I know a few that should be looking for a job shortly.

  2. Mark says:

    Content governance is more advanced than the old-school physical separation of server environments. What is the business process behind approving content to move from one environment to the next? The same business process (good or bad) that moves content from one status and permissions to the next. That’s right – it’s not a question of technology or what servers your working on, its a question of how to take advantage of corporate governance systems so that they strengthen internal processes. Sounds like a pain… but it can in effect enhance business. Or quickly highlight a need for better internal process when you get your name in the paper for all the wrong reasons!

  3. sungoddess says:

    “… increasing the change that fake content gets …”


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