Totem is a packaged distribution designed for organizations that want to build communities of users who have very specific interests and who want to share topical discussions, media and events with their peers. A "community" might be defined as:

  • A group of like-minded researchers who want to collaborate and share data, figures and lessons learned.

  • A member-based organization looking to create dedicated collaboration spaces for its working groups (such as local chapters or unions).

  • A group of folks brainstormed by your client, centered around [insert primary business objective here]; this client wants a branded, Facebook-like site to call their own. Millions will be made...they just need the right free distro to get them there. All you have to do is download and install...

to·tem noun \ˈtō-təm\ an object (as an animal or plant) serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a reminder of its ancestry.


Totem provides the following feature modules:

  • Common – This module provides the community, page and "resource" node types. Arbitrary new node types created by site builders can be flagged as a Resource; nodes then created will automatically be listed in the front-end "Resources" section of the site.

  • User – This module handles the critical task of permissions management, allowing for controlled access to communities as well as individual content items within them. It also manages the additional capabilities granted to community leaders and managers. Additionally, it allows members to sign in using their Facebook account, and also invite their friends to join communities via wall posts. (See README for further details on configuring the Facebook features.)

    July 2013 update: Open and Restricted communities can now optionally be accessed by anonymous users via the "Access community node view" permission.

  • Activity – This module provides community and user activity feeds. It serves as a sort of "wall" to give a quick view in to participation from an individual member or to a group of members in a community.

  • Search – This module extends the Drupal core search module with performance and usability enhancements.

  • Media – This module allows members to add files - referred to as "media" by default - to their communities and group these files into "media collections". Each uploaded file is stored within its own node, and thus can have its own comment thread. If your communities are geared towards showcasing rich media, the module's optional "gallery mode" is ideal for sharing photos and videos.

  • Discussions – This module provides communication tools between community members, including discussion threads, AJAX comment functionality on all community content, automated notification messages, and private messaging between members.

  • Events – This module provides an event list and high-level calendar view of all events defined on the site.

Sites using the Totem distribution


Paul, Tory and Nate have been hard at work on Totem for the better part of a year. We're very excited about this project, and welcome any feedback, feature requests and bug reports in the issue queue. And of course, we'd love to hear about any sites you'd like to showcase on this project page!


A lot of people have helped make this project a reality, but we wanted to send out a few extra-special thanks to these folks:

Project information