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Question about creating a custom skin

Im trying to figure out how to create a custom skin, and the official method for creating a custom skin as described here and here seems a bit backward to me. easy_install installs askbot under /usr/lib/python.. for me, and creating a new directory there under skins for customizing my webapp that lives somewhere else is not really an option since that is a directory writeable only by root, and is not under version control.

It would make much more sense to put your customizations under the main app directory created by startforum, but there doesn't seem to be any way to do this, or am i missing something? The only way i could think of to accomplish this was add a directory to TEMPLATE_DIRS in settings.py, eg /home/me/askbotproject/templates, and then copy the files i want to customize there, eg. base.html. That way django seems to read them first before going to the default skin.

Is this a really bad way of accomplishing this? Is there a better way? Did i miss something?