100% Open Source Review Site Software

CIOpenReview is a lightweight, powerful, and easy to use CMS for building review sites quickly and easily

CIOpenReview User Guide

Getting Started

Log in to the manager area in your browser. The url for manager will be whatever your site url is with /manager added at the end, like th...




Enter the username and password you chose when you were installing the script. If you can't remember your log in details, click the 'forgot your password' link and follow the instructions to reset your password.

The Manager Menu Reviews

To add a review to your site hit 'Create a Review' and fill in the form. The title can contain most characters, it's url will be automatically filtered to a nice SEO friendly url. So if you enter the title as Review #1, My First Review!!!!! its url on your site will be


Use the text editor to write the review content (description). You can add colors, font styles, links and images to your review. You can also hit the HTML button if you prefer to edit your review content using HTML.

Next select the category your review will be under. You have to select a category even if you only have one main category for all your reviews.

If you want this review to appear in the 'featured' section on your site, check the box.

Tags are used when a visitor searches your site and also in the tag cloud that appears in the sidebar. Separate each keyword with a comma, you have to enter at least one keyword in this box. An example would be review,computer software,games

Next you can optionally upload an image to be displayed in the review, or provide the url of an image to be downloaded to your site. If you have any problems uploading or grabbing an image, you can always come back and fix this later by editing the review.

You can enter a name for the review in the next box. This name will appear in the statistics in manager so just use a name that means something to you, it won't appear on your site. It can be the same as the title or something shorter if you prefer

The 'Review Link' is the url where you want the visitor to go when they click the button at the end of your review page, or click the review image. They won't see the actual url, they will see something based on the review title, like yourreviewsite.com/recommends/laptop_computer for example.

Finally the last two fields let you enter custom meta data for the review. Meta keywords and meta description are automatically done for you if you leave these boxes empty (based on your review title and content) but you can override either or both of them here if you want to.

Now submit your review and you should see a message confirming your review has been saved. Click 'Reviews' on the menu again to see the list of reviews. You can click the review title in the list to see how your review looks. There are also links for editing the review and visitor comments, features and ratings. Reviews can be approved/unapproved. Only approved reviews will be visible to visitors to your site.


Categories are really simple to set up. Click 'Create a category' and enter the name of the new category. You can also edit or delete categories here. If you delete a category the reviews in that category won't be deleted. Instead you will be asked which other category to move those reviews to.

You will notice there are two more sections on that page for default features and default ratings. These are the features and ratings that are automatically added to new reviews you create in this category. You can select from the dropdown lists of all the available features and ratings. Features and ratings are described next in this guide.


Features are used to describe the attributes of whatever product of service you are reviewing. They really can be anything you want, it depends completely on the content of your site. For a category containing reviews of laptops for example, you might have 'Screen size', 'CPU', 'Memory Size'. It would make sense to have the same features for each review in a category but you are not restricted in any way. You can add whatever features you want to any review. All you need to enter when you create a feature is its name. The actual value of the feature is entered later when you create the review.

As mentioned earlier, you can set up default features for any category to save time when adding new reviews.


These are similar to features but instead of entering a value (for example the feature 'Color' could have the value 'Blue'), you will give the rating a star value out of 5. As with features, you can set up default ratings for each category to save you having to add them to every new review.


Articles with relevant content can help your site get higher search engine rankings. As with reviews, the title of your article will be converted to a SEO friendly url. You can add a link that is displayed at the end of the article. You can override the automatic meta data here if you want to.

Custom Pages

If you want a add a page of content to the site and want it to use the same theme, with the same header, sidebar and footer, this option lets you do exactly that. This is useful for 'static' content such as FAQs where you want to add a link to the template of your site.

Enter a name for the page (it won't appear as a title but is used to create the url for the page). Next create your page content using the editor. After creating the custom page click 'Custom Pages' again on the menu and click the page name in the list to see how it looks and to find out the url of your new page.

If you want your visitors to find this page, you should edit 'template.tpl' in your site template and add the link (in the header or footer for example).


There are 3 places built in to CIOpenReview where you can add advertising:

There is a section in the sidebar, best for tall banners, or text links. Lists (search results, latest reviews on the home page) have Ads inserted between items. For example, if the visitor get 10 search results, randomly chosen Ads will be displayed twice within the list of results. The review page shows an Ad above the review and another below the review. When you set up a new Ad, you can choose which of these 3 positions it will be displayed in. So if you have a 120x600 tall banner, check only the 'Ad Visible in Sidebar' box. If you have a square 120x120 Ad, then you might show it in all 3 positions.

The first thing to enter when creating an Ad is the 'Ad Name'. This is just for your reference so you can easily find it in the list of Ads later, it never appears on your site outside of the manager area.

Next you enter the Ad details. Before creating an Ad, you need to know what kind of Ad you are trying to display.

If you are copying and pasting some javascript from a site, you would probably just paste it into the 'Ad Text' box and leave 'Link' and 'Image' empty (javascript ads usually do that part for you).

If you have an image and want to create your own link url, then upload the image (or enter the remote url where the image is) and fill in the 'Link' box with the url, leaving 'Ad Text' empty.

If you are copying and pasting some HTML that shows a text link. Just put it in the 'Ad Text' box and leave everything else empty.

If you are uploading an image, you can optionally specify the width and height you want the image resized to.

Really it's best to experiment until you get the results you are looking for. When editing an Ad, there is a preview of how it looks at the bottom of the page, but really you should check how it looks on the actual site to be sure it's what you want.


You can create additional manager-level users who can log in and use the manager area. Right now, this is the only reason for having users but in a later version might be used to allow visitors to register on your site. For this reason, you have to specify the 'level' of each user. Level 10 is the current minimum level to get manager permissions.

When creating a user, enter the username, password and email address.

You won't be able to delete a user if that user is the only one remaining with manager-level permission (level 10). Neither will you be allowed to edit the user level of a the last remaining manager-level user. If either of these were allowed, you could find yourself banned from your own manager area!
Site Settings

This option covers a lot of settings that affect how your site works. Most of the options are self-explanatory but here are some details that might help.

Site name, site manager's email, site summary title and site summary text do exactly what you would expect. 'Log Debug Messages' enables some extra messages that are added to the log file. You do not need to enable this unless you are experiencing problems and need more info on what is happening.

Review Page Settings

Featured Section Settings

Control which pages you want the Featured section to appear on and the minimum/maximum number of reviews that will appear in that section. The default numbers for both are 3

Sidebar Section Settings

Hide/show sections in the sidebar

Maximum Ads in Sidebar

You can limit the number of ads that will be shown in the sidebar on various pages

Maximum Ads in Lists

As above, but the limit of the number of ads in lists such as search results

Approval Settings

Reviews can be automatically approved as soon as you submit them. In later versions, the ability for non-manager users to add reviews might be added.

You can require visitor comments to approved by a manager before they appear on the site.

Items Per Page

Items in lists are grouped in pages. You can set the number of items per page here.

Theme Settings

Both the main site and the manager area use themes to control the layout and design of the site. To change either theme, just select from the dropdown lists.

To install a new CIOpenReview theme:

  • If the theme is in a zip file, unzip it
  • Upload the theme folder to either the '/themes/site/' or the '/themes/manager/' directory depending on which type of theme it is. For example, a site theme in a folder named 'new_theme' would be uploaded as '/themes/site/new_theme'
  • Go to 'Theme Settings' in manager and select the new theme from the dropdown to activate it (don't forget to hit 'Submit Changes' at the bottom of the page!)

You can also upload a logo here (the standard themes included with CIOpenReview use this logo but other themes might not) and set image size limits.


Here you can update the XML sitemap for your site. You can do this any time you want to update the sitemap. It's a good idea to do this before logging out after adding or editing any of your site content so your sitemap has the latest data.

You can also delete session data, log files and cache files (if caching is enabled) from here.

The 'Repair and Optimize Database' option fixes any problems that might have occurred with your database. You shouldn't need to run this but it's there just in case you ever do!

Note: This user guide has been taken from the original OpenReviewScript and modified as necessary