Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues

  • jkeichholz
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues

I would like to second Sowmya's idea with pearltrees, as it reflects something we've also discussed on the EcoSanRes Yahoo! mailing list in the past: a bookmarking service that helps us tag relevant content and then share it with the group. So instead of one back office that feeds the library, there could be a global group where everyone contributes his/her links. Either as our own social bookmarking site or as a SuSanA group on Diigo, Delicious or Pearltrees that could be displayed here. E.g. groups.diigo.com/group/sustainable-sanitation , although I also like pearltrees and would personally prefer the tool with the best browser integration. Even pinterest!

(thx Elisabeth for starting this topic!)

Juergen Eichholz
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water, sanitation, IT & knowledge management
www.saniblog.org

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues

Before we go wild with suggesting "free" 3rd party services (if you are not paying for it, you are not the customer but the product...) we should probably look into what available (open-source) extensions there are for the platform SuSanA seems to be build on, i.e.:
extensions.joomla.org/
www.kunena.org/

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  • muench
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues

This has become a really excellent thread, full of ideas! Thanks a lot and please keep them coming. Some of the ideas raised by Sowmya go well beyond the Forum itself and deal more with wider issues around knowledge management and various sanitation databases... I am very happy that you (Sowmya) have found your way to the forum, your posts are very interesting! Please do keep them coming. :-)

Related to some of the suggestions you raised, I recently came across this definition of knowledge management or KM which I would like to share (the Forum plays an important part in KM, but cannot fulfill all functions, at least not in its current state):

There is more consensus on practices and activities that should be included in a definition of KM, including:

  1. Information management: the collection and management of material from one or more sources and making that material accessible to and usable by one or more audiences;
  2. Knowledge sharing: a set of practices that enables people to share what they know with others in the application of their work;
  3. Learning processes: both individual and collective or social, focusing less on the “sending” and more on the “receiving”, particularly the processes of sense making, understanding, and being able to act upon the information available.
  4. Communication: in the sense of a meaningful exchange, as a foundational competence for the interactions that are at the center of learning, sharing and managing knowledge

(I am not totally sure as to the original source of this definition, but I first read it in a report by Pete Cranston from March 2014).

As we discuss and mull over the suggestions made above, we need to (as Sowmya said):

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.


The more we know what users find improtant, the better we can decide where to put IT resources into.

Arno Rosemarin said to me today:

It may be also useful to get feedback on navigation from the sporadic users that come and go. The regulars have created niche habits and may not have ideas that will be universally useful for novices. I see that there are many people that visit the site but never return.


Actually, we should not under-estimate the importance of passive forum users (people who read but don't post), because also they might benefit enormously from the forum. I liken it to Wikipedia, where I read information almost daily but have never ever written anything! And yet, it's a great resource.

Any ideas on how to get feedback from the sporadic users? Maybe a targeted survey sent out by e-mail might do the trick?

Finally, to pick up on a simple suggestion that Sowmya made:

(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).


What do you mean with this? There is actually a link to the SuSanA website at the top left of the forum page. Maybe you didn't see it? Or it's not prominent enough? Or not displayed on all browsers perhaps (we have had strange problems with some browsers)?

And @ Kris: Yes the Forum is using Kunena which is a forum component of Joomla (the content management system of the SuSanA website). Any extensions or functionalities that are available in Kunena which we like should be relatively easy to implement, I think. (only small problem is that the version of Kunena that we use is a bit outdated by now; we use Kunena 1.7 and there is now Kunena 3.x)

On my to-do list now is to investigate about Zotero and Pearltrees, as I have never heard of those before. Do we have many forum users who use these?

@ Mughal: about correcting typos and language mistakes: it would be really neat to have an editor that underlines in red any typing mistakes just like Word does. I think this kind of forum editor would be called "what you see is what you get" editor. We need to look into whether that is possible. As a work-around, like Chris suggested, you could first write your post in Word and then copy & paste it into the forum. Secondly, anyone can edit his or her own post at any time (i.e. if you spot a typo a day later), just click on the edit button below your post when you are logged in. The moderators can edit all posts, and I have on occasions gently corrected typos here and there when the posts were important and I could see that the typos made the sentences difficult to understand. I do this under the assumption that people would be grateful to have such typos corrected in their posts and do not find it intrusive.

Oh, and you also said:

How can the forum users reward you both??!!

The best reward any forum user can give us forum moderators is - as you do already - to write plenty of good posts, engage in discussions with others, help other people along when they ask questions (especially novices) and so forth. This is how you can make me and Roslyn happy! :-)
(Roslyn, who was an intern in the SuSanA secretariat, is actually leaving the SuSanA secretariat this week (her successor is Sebastian Klos) - but maybe she will still say Good-Bye herself)

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
E-mail me to get involved: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues

muench wrote: On my to-do list now is to investigate about Zotero and Pearltrees, as I have never heard of those before. Do we have many forum users who use these?

@ Mughal: about correcting typos and language mistakes: it would be really neat to have an editor that underlines in red any typing mistakes just like Word does. I think this kind of forum editor would be called "what you see is what you get" editor. We need to look into whether that is possible.


Concerning Zotero: I used that before, and it is very nice for managing a large number of citations when writing scientific publications. Not sure how it would benefit SuSanA though...

@Mughal and Elisabeth: while there are ways to do that in the editor (there should be a plugin for TinyMCE or CKeditor, what ever this forum is using) it doesn't work very well with all the different browsers and operating systems out there.
However this function is also build into modern browsers like Firefox (and Chrome I assume). It should work automatically in every window you type in. Maybe you have to install a language pack via the extension manager and select it by right clicking (under right click-> languages you also find a link to add additional languages).
Just like in Word it makes red lines under misspelled words and if you right click on it it gives you suggestions for the correct spelling.

Edit: support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-do-i-use-firefox-spell-checker

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  • petecranston
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues

Hi

Great thread this. I have just started working on a Knowledge Management (KM) project for the Gates Foundation Building Demand for Sanitation (BDS) programme (and Elisabeth, that definition of KM is 'mine' in the sense that I constructed it from other sources and my own experience, and it represents a perspective that has informed the plans for KM in BDS over the next 18 months). The report from the event that outlines the project proposal has already been uploaded here (see susana.org/lang-en/library/library?view=...eitem&type=2&id=2023 ), so people can see the direction in which we're hoping to go.

Two points

1. Excellent to see the thread on curation of link. I'm a long time user of Delicious.com, and know about the strengths of Diigo (no idea how people do collaborative research without using something similar!) A key part of the steer from the BDS grantees in the consultation that led to the KM project was about curating resources - signposting and summarising so that people can judge relevance and worth. A public collection of links in something like Diigo or Delicious (or Pearltree...) is one way for people to review, comment, rate specific resources. It will be interesting to hear about Joomla extensions, although I'd note that keeping everything within SuSanA restricts the opportunity for sharing outside this network, exploiting the serendipity that is so valuable in open, public spaces.

2. I'll be discussing how the BDS KM project can complement and link to SuSanA at meetings this week in Manila, with Arno Rosemarin from SuSanA, Roshan Shrestha and Jan Willem Rosenboom from the Foundation. I'd be really interested to meet anyone from this network who might be at the Asian Sanitation Dialogue this week and talk about KM within the sector.

Cheers

Pete
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  • Sowmya
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues

Dear Elisabeth,

I was wondering if we can have the following:

(a) To "like" and "favorite" documents on SuSanA Library? And, similar to the "Favorites" table of posts on our member profiles, it would be great if we could have a similar table for quick access.

(b) Tag (by everyone or for accessing on members profile pages) posts to quickly find posts based on some specific thought / area of interest to work on / refer to later.

(c) A link in the email digest (similar to "click here to reply online") to like and favorite / subscribe to a post. I read the daily email digest and so, this link would be great to have.

Warm regards,

Sowmya

Sowmya Rajasekaran
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Verity SmartLife Solutions
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  • secretariat
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Re: Suggestions by featured users for improving the forum - thematic issues and forum software issues

Dear Sowmya,

many thanks for your great ideas on how we could improve the Website and Forum functionalities!

We were discussing your ideas with our IT experts, but unfortunately the implementation would be very difficult and time consuming.

A link in the email digest (similar to "click here to reply online") to like and favorite / subscribe to a post, for example, would be difficult to implement because of security and technical reasons. For that you need to send out every digest mail personalized with private likes/favorite links. Means that every Email has to be generated for every single user. Now it is only generated once and sent out to all. Another problem is what happens with the mail if you forward it or somebody else read it and clicks on the personalized link..

Nevertheless, good ideas on how to improve the Forum and Website functionalities are always welcome!

Best regards,
Annkathrin (on behalf of the SuSanA Secretariat)

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
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