Re: User forums: suggestions, experiences, guidelines, pitfalls, liabilities, etc.?

Subject: Re: User forums: suggestions, experiences, guidelines, pitfalls, liabilities, etc.?
From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: "Elissa K. Miller" <emiller -at- doubleknot -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:16:22 -0700

Hi Elissa,

I just saw this on twitter today:

@bkmcae <https://mobile.twitter.com/bkmcae>: What features should we look
for in an online community platform? -#assnchat
<https://mobile.twitter.com/search/?q=%23assnchat&s=hash> #cmgr
<https://mobile.twitter.com/search/?q=%23cmgr&s=hash> bit.ly/1km5kum
<http://t.co/egTBRa0eGE>

Might direct your thinking about specific features you'd need once you've
arranged for the staffing and maintenance.

-Tony

On Monday, September 8, 2014, Elissa K. Miller <emiller -at- doubleknot -dot- com>
wrote:

> A very small but vocal group of customers want my company to provide user
> forums so they can be in contact with other users. As "person care a lot
> about our users," it's my task to evaluate every aspect of this request.
>
>
>
> The benefits seem obvious-people can find answers instead of calling
> support, power users can use their vast expertise to help their peers, I
> can
> clearly see issues that trip people up and require better documentation,
> etc.
>
>
>
> On the other hand, I can see potential problems with a forum. It might not
> reach critical mass, and an empty forum is a sad thing. There's a vast
> skills gap between our most basic users (often administrative staff and
> nonprofit volunteers) and our power users, and power users who know the
> basic user answers may not deign to go to those areas, while the complex
> questions from power users can only be answered by our staff and the issues
> may be entirely related to custom integration and not relevant at all to
> others. And, senior management is concerned about providing our customers
> with a place to say negative things about us. Which I don't even know how
> to
> respond to other than "I appreciate your concern."
>
>
>
> Then there's the whole "so now technical communications would include a
> blog, documentation, online help, knowledge base and now forums-what's the
> mission/strategy/goal for each of them and how do they fit into the larger
> plan?" Also, "How much time will I need to spend answering posts in the
> forum if customers don't get help from their peers, or if the help is
> incorrect, unclear, or incomplete?" And, "I'll have to come up with
> policies
> and guidelines for handling off-topic or hostile posts." Also "Holy crap, I
> do not need more work."
>
>
>
> I am grateful for any suggestions, guidelines, experience, pros, cons,
> pitfalls, liabilities, and any other information you care to share.
>
>
>
> I suppose the first step would be to survey all customers to see if they
> think that they would use a forum if one existed, to find out their
> self-reported skill levels, and to learn whether they think they'd answer
> questions that they could answer in addition to posting their own
> questions.
> I expect that whatever answers I get will indicate more interest than there
> will actually be if it's launched, but it's a start.
>
>
>
> Thank you in advance for any help.
>
>
>
> Regards,
> Elissa M.
>
>
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References:
User forums: suggestions, experiences, guidelines, pitfalls, liabilities, etc.?: From: Elissa K. Miller

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