Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues
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Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 22 May 2014 00:54 #8694

  • muench
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I had the feeling that suggestions by users for making the forum even better than it is now are sometimes "lost" in other threads and not really taken up, so I have now bundled them together in this new category. I invite you to post here any suggestions for forum improvements you may have. We can then discuss them and figure out whether it is possible from an IT-perspective to implement them (if it involves IT changes to the Kunena platform that we use). Or let's say if it's worth the effort (anything is possible but some things are more complicated and therefore more expensive to program than others). - Or if it not an IT issue we could think of steps required that would help us move into the right direction.

Below, I have copied the suggestions made to date by our featured users (i.e. these great people here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/145-featured-users)

They were all asked this question:

If you could change something about the forum, what would it be?

Kris Makowka:

The forum by itself is actually pretty nice, I just think the overall idea could be extended into both a broader theme and also by including more social media / collaboration features, like being able to join groups and online webinar/meeting rooms, build in chat, collaborative text editing/wiki etc. But I guess that is probably a bit out of the scope of SuSanA and would also require a rather large technological change.


Doreen Mbalo:

When it comes to the icons at the top, I would probably add an icon solely for policies and institutional frameworks and up scaling sanitation. There is very little focus on up-scaling sanitation in the forum.

Another aspect I feel we are not talking about is the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation. I wish this would be covered more strongly in the forum. In addition, we need to strongly look at how informal service provision discriminates the underserved. Up-scaling cannot take place through informal small scale service provision.

Let us highlight some of these topics a little bit more strongly and get practices out of different countries.


(due to her suggestion, there is now a new sub-category on this topic within the overarching category called "Miscalleneous": forum.susana.org/forum/categories/142-up...-sanitation-policies . When there is enough action, this topic could possibly be elevated up one level so that it is no longer hidden under "Miscellaneous").


Florian Klingel:

I’d like to see the forum expanding its user base to other groups than researchers and small NGOs. For example it would be nice to see people working for large funding organizations discussing about the best approaches for massively investing into bringing up sanitation coverage in a country; or people from service providers discussing about ways to increase revenues to finance their sanitation services. Maybe a start into this direction could be to try motivating the many SuSanA members that are not yet participating in the forum to actually do it.



Mughal:

The name – Sustainable Sanitation Alliance; and the acronym – SuSanA
In addition, since sanitation is due to the use of water, the title/name should reflect this – e.g., water and sanitation, with stress on hygiene.



Chris Canaday:

It would be great to recruit more microbiologists, epidemiologists, psychologists, and other specialists to answer our key questions and to have a look at the systems we develop. Maybe we could somehow offer them something in exchange (e.g., proofreading or translation of texts).

Could the computer somehow be programmed to send unanswered questions on the Forum to one of the most indicated Forum members or outside experts? To some extent, moderators and other members already do this, but it would be excellent for no questions to be missed, especially now that we have so many members and so many messages.


I suggest we add more options for quick feedback than just liking a post or adding or subtracting karma points. These could include:
• Please give more support for the ideas expressed.
• I would like to put this into practice myself.
• This would be an excellent thesis topic.
• This is a great option for the billions who have no toilet.
• This is excellent for elegant applications.
• This is very environmentally sustainable.
• This seems to have an excessive environmental impact.

If we do this, members could then search for these items. Also, some of our thousands of members may prefer to only see posts that others have ticked with one or more of these items … or to receive all the posts ordered according to these items (with a delay of several days to allow standard members to tick these). This may be especially important now that the Forum has grown so much and the list of posts is sometimes very long. This would make it easier for the “silent majority” of members to give feedback, even if just ticking these items … and some privilege, such as searching, could hinge on ticking.

Sometimes when we log in we are taken to some starting page, or one’s own profile page, and it is hard to navigate back to the thread that we were looking at and wanting to contribute to. This could please be fixed.
(Chris, I don't exactly know what you mean, could you please elaborate?)

It would be good to know the dates of the different posts when we do a search.
(good idea, might be simple to do, I will ask Steffen Eisser if that is possible. You mean this search here: forum.susana.org/gsearch ?)

Interesting to see that the featured users focussed their ideas more about the thematic scope and less about the forum "software" itself (except for Chris).

What do you all think of these suggestions?

And if you remember any older posts that have made suggestions for forum improvements, please bring them to my attention. I have searched the forum and moved them all to here now to have it all together in one spot:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/148-yo...vements-of-the-forum . But I have the sneaking suspicion that I forgot some really good previous suggestions by some users?

And if you have seen on other forums any useful features that we should have, too, then please bring them to our attention as well.


Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Community manager of this forum via SEI
(see: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects?search=SEI)
Wikipedian, co-founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation

Frankfurt, Germany
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Twitter: @EvMuench, website: www.ostella.de
Last Edit: 28 May 2014 09:56 by secretariat.
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 22 May 2014 08:59 #8697

  • ggalli
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  • PhD Candidate (Wageningen University) on Sanitation Governance in Gemena, DRC. Interested in governance, socio-technical approaches and politics of sanitation.
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Hi,

Thank you for the 'sanitation governance' sub-topic. I would suggest moving it up to a higher level (e.g. thematic issue). This can be a great place to exchange ideas, experiences and approaches on striving for systemic change. I also think this would allow for greater contribution of users outside the 'usual suspects'.

Best,
Giacomo
Giacomo Galli
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 22 May 2014 14:35 #8705

  • canaday
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  • A biologist working toward sustainability
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May 2014
Dear Elisabeth,

What I mean is that I usually read SuSanA posts via email and, when I find something I want to comment on, I click on the link to that thread. Then I click on the LogIn button, but I am usually moved to some general page or my profile page. Next, I have to navigate back to the thread I want to comment on. If this is only happening to me, it may be due to the slow developing world internet connection here.

Thanks for analyzing our suggestions ... and for your constant excellent work on the forum.

Best wishes,
Chris
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com

Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 23 May 2014 09:51 #8708

  • secretariat
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  • SuSanA secretariat currently allocates 2 full time person equivalents of time from members of GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Team: Arne Panesar,Trevor Surridge,Annkathrin Tempel, and two interns Jona Toetzke and Evelyn Herrera Lopera
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Dear Chris,

We have looked into this issue on both Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, using different accounts, but this issue has not occurred for us.

For example, when I open the link from the digest into the Forum discussion, it takes me directly to the thread, and then if I log in at the top, it refreshes, but stays on the same thread.

Has anyone else experienced this issue as Chris has described, or found a reason/ solution for the problem?

Chris: which internet browser do you use?

Thank you,

Roslyn

P.S. Chris: do you normally tick the "remember me" box when you log in? I recommend you do (unless you use a shared computer), because then you don't need to login in each time.
Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
Follow us on facebook: www.facebook.com/susana.org and twitter: twitter.com/susana_org
Last Edit: 23 May 2014 10:18 by secretariat.

Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 24 May 2014 03:36 #8718

  • Sowmya
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I really like Chris Canaday's suggestions for the buttons (liking a post by purpose / action item for the user and that enables a search function also). Would like to have the following:

(1) Enable a personal workspace approach: SuSanA enables members to do each of the steps necessary to find, implement and evaluate impact of good ideas. So, as a community and as individual users, we should be able to track ideas, add notes & tags on our personal dashboard (and have the choice to make a note public - similar to Shelfari, I guess) and be able to support an idea with a specific recommendation (Chris Canaday's like buttons suggestion). Enable users to ping a specific user to take a look at some idea. After classification by theme, the next most important thing is ideas. The orientation on ideas. Accelerating information exchange and collaborative action for design and development, informed decision-making, public safety & welfare, risk management.

(2) Finding attachments mentioned in the discussion threads: When a user uploads a document as an attachment, the platform / background technology will recognize it as attachment. We could then have a feature starting off from there - the orientation around file attachments. Once a file is attached, the tech could automatically create a page sort of thing where the original user (who uploaded the file) or others can add bibliographic details (atleast title, author, author & original user's contact info, date of doc), tags, notes (comments and / or links to the discussion thread for which the file was attached - the link to the first discussion thread could be an automatic insert also). So, documents can be searched more quickly and, equally important, users can do a quick read of the notes and bibliographic details before downloading the entire document. It would also make it easy to get to the relevant discussion thread(s). This would then enable a wiki-style 'crowdsourced archiving' of documents and discussions - and thereby, prepare for scale-out activity levels. On similar lines, enable a user to refer a document in the 'crowdsourced archive' in another discussion thread so that the file is not uploaded again.

(3) Incorporate other apps: Would it be possible to incorporate other apps in SuSanA workpages? Like Pearltree for collaborative building of URLs, use Zotero or EverNote, etc?

(4) Searchable directory of users and organizations: This relates to Florian Klingel's suggestion that we increase engagement with small organizations. This is a really important suggestion, I think. A small organization is likely to be a grassroots organization and also one that is farthest from reach of the development community. One step to increasing collaboration is to enable users to add individuals and organizations to an online directory (I guess it would become something between an online trade directory, LinkedIn and Twitter pages! ) with some added features for SuSanA and development community members. For instance, allow people to add recommendations, scores / ratings, suggestions, updates relating to the organization, etc. So, anyone who wants to contact a local / grassroots organization anywhere in the world can do so using the directory. Well, that sounds remarkably like development community's LonelyPlanet to me.

(5) Empowering the novice: WASH and other development sectors being multi-disciplinary and inter-professional, a critical KPI for achieving our goals is the speed at which a beginner (could be an expert in one field and beginner in another) can gain the requisite knowledge to become highly functional. We already have a wealth of documents and discussion threads. It would be great if we could have a set of pages that state, for a beginner in any topic, what are the key documents to read (with links to the relevant documents in the library or crowdsourced archive), which organizations are most active in the user's geographical area of interest, etc. The documents and organizations could show the linkages from policy to action, for instance. Or, quickly understand the KPI, targets and milestones for the sector, etc.

(6) A link to SuSanA's home page (www.susana.org) on the forum page (once the user has gone to the forum page, there is no way to navigate back to the home page without typing URL in another tab / adding home page to browser bookmarks and navigate from there).

(7) Viewing KPI, targets, milestones, policies and action items across geographies: From a 'global' perspective, we have identifiable geographies over which multiple actors (from international to local community level) exert influence and dedicate resources for reaching development goals. It would be great if we could have a database feature where all these actors' stand / policies on critical matters, targets, milestones, KPI, action items can be viewed. This would enable a lot of people to gain quick understanding of the operating environment across geographies as well as assist organizations (of all sizes) in strategic decision making and execution. We could also have a discussion thread on SuSanA forum to help determine the key fields in such a database.

I am new to the community and love (enjoy and learn) reading the discussion posts, thank you for making it a lovely experience. Three cheers to the organization and the community members!

Thanks and regards,

Sowmya
Sowmya Rajasekaran
Director
Verity SmartLife Solutions
www.veritysmartlife.com
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 24 May 2014 14:46 #8721

  • canaday
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  • A biologist working toward sustainability
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Featured User
May 2014
Dear Roslyn,

I use Firefox 12.0 and I do tick "Remember me" (although this does seem to untick itself). This seems to be a problem of my slow internet connection, so I am glad that most do not suffer this leaving of the thread when logging in.

Dear Sowmya,

Thanks for your support for, and addition to, this idea to make the Forum more interactive, participative and personalized. I do not know anything about the apps you mention, but will try to look them up.

How do you pronounce your name?

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com

Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 25 May 2014 06:23 #8722

  • F H Mughal
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Mar 2014
Dear Elisabeth,

First off, you need a pat on your back for your constant endeavors in improving and incorporating interesting features, so as to make this forum simple and easy to navigate. I can see Roslyn is also working very hard. I especially like your and Roslyn’s prompt responses. How can the forum users reward you both??!!

My English is lousy. I make spelling mistakes and my grammar is poor. My sentence structuring is also at fault. Is there any way for this forum’s built-in mechanism to improve all those errors, when the message is finally posted? It is not good to see professionals making mistakes, while posting messages. Remember, you have a world-wide audience, so the bar must be set at a high level!

Regards,

F H Mughal
PS: English on this forum is based on European/UK English version. My computer works on American English. Does it matter?
F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan

Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 25 May 2014 10:44 #8724

  • canaday
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  • A biologist working toward sustainability
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Featured User
May 2014
Dear Mughal,

I think you are doing very well with your English here on the Forum. One suggestion may be to write each post in Word (or a similar program), where spelling and grammar are checked, then copy and paste it to the Forum. These same features could potentially be integrated into the Forum, but I suspect the programmers would say that this would be difficult.

I also suggest that we not worry about the differences between UK and US English. The differences are small and fully intelligible in both directions.

We all know that many Forum members are not native speakers of English, so we should not expect perfection.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com

Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 25 May 2014 13:36 #8725

  • AquaVerde
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Dear Sowmya,

Your point
(2) Finding attachments mentioned in the discussion threads: ...

I suggested this partly many months ago, but using a kind of German-English . Maybe it was not understand well by the susana-office... Probably your detailed suggestion is now prompting IT-changes in this direction!?

All the Best
Detlef
www.aqua-verde.de
Sanitation-Solutions without external energy
Low-Tech Solutions with High-Tech Effects
"Inspired by Circular Economy"
www.flickr.com/photos/aqua-verde/

Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 25 May 2014 17:15 #8727

  • F H Mughal
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Mar 2014
Dear Chris,

Thank you for your nice comments, and for the suggestion.

I reckon, Elisabeth and Roslyn will give their views, when they are back on work on Monday morning!!

Regards,

F H Mughal
F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan

Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 25 May 2014 20:09 #8728

  • Sowmya
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Hi Chris,

Thank you for the message. My name is pronounced sow-mya ('sow' is pronounced 'sove' to rhyme with 'dove' - dove the bird though I cannot claim to be as nice - and 'mya' has the same pronunciation as 'mya' in 'myanmar').

I really hope you will check out Zotero and Pearltrees.

Zotero (www.zotero.org): I recommend simply because I love it - it is a free-to-use research (bibliographic) tool that resides in your web browser and is displayed as a small button that you can click on to open the zotero window (the zotero window is simply superimposed on whatever content you are viewing on the browser and can be resized as per your convenience). Then, you can add URL links, citation for articles published in scientific journals, add all your pdf documents, create unlimited folders and sub-folders, sync across devices, put it in an external hard disk and carry it with you when you travel and collaborate with others. You can also create citation in different styles directly from zotero into MS Word! And what I think is fab about it is that we don't need to do "printscreen" multiple times if we want to save the whole of a long webpage or "print as pdf" - the entire webpage is saved in zotero, very useful when there is a possibility that the link might not work later on / need to work offline etc. I once found a discussion thread on how to sync between Zotero and EverNote (another bibliographic tool). Zotero can now be used on Google Chrome also.

Pearltrees (www.pearltrees.com): On Pearltrees, we can collaboratively create a collection of URLs to webpages, files, notes, photos, etc. Each piece is considered a pearl and we create pearltree(s) of it. I will create an example on Pearltrees and share it soon.

Best wishes,

Sowmya
Sowmya Rajasekaran
Director
Verity SmartLife Solutions
www.veritysmartlife.com

Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues 25 May 2014 20:36 #8729

  • Sowmya
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Hi Detlef,

I had read your post and so, I should have given reference to it in my wishlist, my apologies for having forgotten to do so.

Though, I think it will take some time for the IT team to revert (if our suggestion is not prima facie infeasible within the existing tech structure) because this is part of a larger discussion on possible software improvements. That means waiting for more responses / suggestions, compiling and discussing solutions as a batch (to enable prioritization & avoid ending up with mutually exclusive choices!), evaluate cost effectiveness, possible tech partnerships as required and a million other things to explore / decide on.

I have also been following the discussion on English language usage. Just my personal opinion, I think it is lovely to have the discussions the way it is now. If someone has a different usage of English, there is an added layer of language appreciation when we read the message (for instance, a thing is always "it" in English but some languages attribute gender to things - so, we get to learn nuances of different languages without actually learning the entire language). It is as haute as appreciating cuisine from all over the world and as relevant as gaining surprising nuggets of wisdom from reading folktales from different parts of the world. In any case, language is for communication and if it is not going to mean the difference between success and failure, why not enjoy all the diversity instead of going into homogenous communication mode? Why stick to Wren & Martin when we can have our own fusion music? (metaphors mixed )

Best wishes,

Sowmya
Sowmya Rajasekaran
Director
Verity SmartLife Solutions
www.veritysmartlife.com
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