Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Week 6 -Discussion Forum

Task for Week 6 - Discussion Forum

1. Locate an example of an online forum and post to your blog a link to the forum with an assessment of the identifying features you might look for in an online community. Include in your post a comment or some ideas on how the forum might benefit from facilitation services - such as a coordinated event to help focus people around a particular issue, or the writing of a summary to close a thread in the forum.
2. Conclude your blog post with a list of facilitation techniques you think might be useful in assisting community communications through discussion forums generally.

Before I immigrated into New Zealand, I was living in China. A forum for people like me who are considering their immigration or are waiting for the results of their immigration application did help me a lot. The forum provides all the updated news on immigration policies. I went there to read all the latest news, essential information of the life in NZ. The most attractive part for me is that I can ask questions and I still remembered how anxious I was waiting for the answers from others in the forum. People in the forum even group up together by areas they are living and by the time they moved to NZ. They helped each other, exchange information and even made phone calls to their ‘friends’ on the forum. I really enjoyed the time when discussing and browsing on the forum. Even several years later while I am living in Auckland I still go back to the forum and help other new comers fit into the new situation. That might be the so called “sense of belonging”? It’s a shame that I cannot show you guys because the forum is in Chinese.

To complete the required task for this course, I tried another forum about travelling to China. The address is:

This forum is very well structured. You can find relevant information in different topics, and you can even choose your travel destination so all the posts relevant to your destination will be displayed.

Obviously this is a very popular forum attracted thousands of people. There are posts on travelling tips, living in different cities, general info of China, etc. And people asking and answering questions quite actively.

For the forum like this, people just come and exchange information. As a facilitator I won’t expect doing too much on it. But what I can do is maybe:

  • Providing general updated information;
  • Post information on topics that people might be interested;
  • Summarise most interested and most frequently asked questions from ‘old’ posts (maybe weeks, months or even years ago)
  • Highlight the title of ‘good’ posts (could be important notice, latest update, most popular post, useful introduction, informative post, etc…)
  • Set certain threads (e.g. most important, helpful, popular) on the top of the forum
  • For some popular topic maybe could provide cross links to other threads / forums / websites
  • Try to raise questions that is practical to the travelling
  • Encourage people post their travel stories and reviews of their experience.
  • Provide suggested travelling plan in details, e.g. details on 5 days tour in Beijing, including accommodation, transport, food, sites introduction, event information and background of each travelling sites, etc.

Any more ideas, guys? Pls leave your thoughts here ^_^