What if I want to create a Confluence site for documentation for an open source game engine where I would be the only one who could create/modify the docs, but I'd want it to be public and anyone (anonymous users) could view the docs and add comments? It would pretty much be a site for my portfolio, but also a labor of love (because I love the game engine).
How would the pay structure for that scenario work? The Pricing page (https://www.atlassian.com/software/confluence/pricing/?tab=download) lists "users" but not what kind of users nor this specific scenario. I don't wanna pay $8000 for a labor of love.
Get a $10 licence. You'll be able to have up to 10 accounts for editing.
Put the whole thing public, then, for each confluence space you want anyone to read, enable "anonymous" view.
I usually recommend not letting anonymous do anything else on public Confluences (You get an amazing amount of junk comments, malicious attachments etc)
See https://confluence.atlassian.com/display/DOC/Assigning+Space+Permissions for more.
So, the accounts/user licenses are only required for users who will be able to modify the site/add pages?
What if, for one of the spaces in this Confluence server in the cloud, I wanted to restrict access to people who could view the topics but not edit them? (For example, before I make a topic public, I might want someone to look it over for accuracy.) Would those people take up one of the paid licenses? If not, how do I set permissions for that?
That's what I'd recommend for your question - anyone can read everything, but if you want people to do anything else, you probably want to limit it to a small set of people and to do that, you need to identify them, which means they need accounts, and that means they chew up a licence.
For the drafting of documentation, I tned to set it up in one of three ways. They all have strengths and weaknesses.
Personally, I prefer the second one, but I think it's a very personal preference and wouldn't insist that it's any better than the others - the others could well be much better suited to the way you think and work (and generally, 3 seems to work better for new Confluence users, as the page trees make it quite obvious where things are)
There are also plugins that provide workflow and publication type routines, but I haven't really used them, so I can't comment beyond pointing out that there may be something out there that works better for you.
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