Scoop's sections are designed to categorise the stories, but also have the ability to put one story in multiple sections, or restrict access to particular sections based on user group. Most section configuration is done using the Sections Admin Tool (A.9).
Topics are a different way of categorising stories, and are represented by the image icon shown with the story. The topic and the section are completely independant of one another. Most topic configuration is done using the Topics Admin Tool (A.8).
For basic separation of content, topics and simple sections are all that is needed. You'll want to think carefully when creating your sections, because they can make content easy to find if they're set up properly, but incredibly hard to find if not.
For most sites, you will want to split your sections based on the type of story that will go into it; for example, news, opinion or reviews. Such a split makes it instantly clear what will be found in each section. For more specialized sites, this may not be adequate; for example, a music or literature catalog may have sections for each genre, or if a single-genre catalogue, for each author.
You will have to decide what set of sections best suits your site, but it's worth thinking carefully over. If you decide to change your sections later, you will need to re-file all existing stories into their new proper sections.
Topics are less constrained, but also have fewer options; for example, you can't restrict posting to a give topic the way you can with sections.
Sometimes you would prefer a heirarchical section structure, rather than a flat section structure as described above. To turn on Scoop's subsection functionality, turn the variable enable_subsections on.
Stories filed in a heirarchical section behave much the same as stories filed in a flat section; that is, they are still posted to either the front page or the section. The navigation and display used to sort them is slightly different, however. If your index_template uses the box section_title_subsections to display the section title, the path to the current section will be displayed in a familiar slash-delimited format, with each parent section name displayed as a link to the parent section's index page. There are no links to any child sections, however.
Subsections can have more than one parent section; in this case, the section title will have as many paths as the subsection has parents, recursively (that is, if a parent also has more than one parent section, it will also display all possible paths).
If you want a story to show up in multiple sections, you can create a subsection and set each section you want the story to appear in as parents, then set that subsection as ``inheritable'' in the section configuration for each parent. Any story filed in the child section will then appear in each of the parent sections, even though the story's section link will be for the child section.
Yes, the inheritance is backward; parents get stories from their children.
If desired, sections of the site can be made private, denying access or even hiding the section's existence entirely, using section permissions. A section can be hidden from any user group, including just anonymous users.
There are two ways of hiding sections:
Scoop shows the same behaviour for individual stories within the sections if the user finds a link directly to the story.
Some sections can also bypass the queue entirely, for certain user groups, by giving those user groups ``Auto-post Front Page'' or ``Auto-post to Section'' permission. Those will automatically post a submitted story to the location indicated.
You can also make sections read-only for either comments or articles, based on the user group, by giving read but not post permission.
When creating your sections, if most of them will have the same permissions, you can set the first one's permissions and check the "Make Default Section Permissions" box so those permissions are used for every newly created section after that.
Some examples of useful applications of this feature include: