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Helpful forum management guides and samples of messages for common situations in forum management.
The sample text has been tested and refined by Forum Managers in many situations. If you find text works for you, they should need only minor modifications.
Many of these resources were drafted before our large expansion into neighborhood Issues Forums, but are still relevant.
First Step to Opening a New Forum
After you've gone through the Start A Forum process, worked with E-Democracy.org staff to technically create your forum, and started recruitment efforts (using our example forum invitations), you can now prepare to open and manage your community's new Issues Forum.
- The first few messages to the forum ought to accomplish the following goals:
- We highly recommend starting with an initial round of "Introductions" to humanize the forum - You may do this with 50 or more members to help you build "who's who" momentum to attract the next 50 your need to open. Getting 25 of 100 members to introduce themselves publicly is a good start. Introductions are a simple way for people to learn how to post to the forum and it creates the impression/reality that the members themselves are the content producers/sharers.
- Ask them to invite others to become members (provide a sample invitation for participants to pass along to others) - one idea is an e-invite signed by at least seven initial members for forwarding
- Introduce the purpose, local scope, and rules of the forum
- Make sure that participants understand how the forum works ... or that they will be getting lots of e-mail, unless they change their delivery settings
- Make sure that they understand the different ways to read and post (One message per post, "digest", and "web only") - Assuming we've set up the Facebook Page and Twitter feed, introduce that option separately down the road
- How to sign up for other forums
- Introduce an opening topic or simply ask participants what community topics they would like discussed o the forum. You can use the list generated down the road when forum traffic is light or when you want to direct attention away from a topic that is less civil than you'd like by trumping it with something more interesting to members.
Examples of Messages for Common Situations of Your Forum
- Example forum invitations
- Welcome message
- Messages to help get a new forum off to a good start, these are samples we used when launching the Roseville Issues Forum in July 2006 - feel free to use them as is, or modify them to fit your circumstances:
- More recent start-up sample messages to be integrated into this wiki section
- Moderated - Pre-Opening Period
- Invite Others
- Invite Public Institutions/Power Players - They have announcements to share and can often take our discussions into the political process
- Digest Instructions
- Call for Introductions
- Features Summary
- Additional advice
- Once you get your desired number of introductions and you've reached your recruitment goal (we strongly recommend 100 members, but we are experimenting at 50), your would then announce that the forum in open for general posting and switch those who have introduced themselves to unmoderated.
NEW - Example Hamline Midway "priming posts" pre-opening from 2011
- If you cut and paste this text, reformat the text from scratch or you may end up with broken lines
- Welcome, still recruiting to 100
- Use and Interaction with Forum
- Local Scope
- Forum Rules
- Invite to Forward
- Digest Version - Note if you cut and paste this you need to replace "e-mail obscured" with the posting address
- Call for Introductions
- Open for Posting
Examples Messages for Other Situtations
- What is a Forum Manager
- Definition of Local Issues
- How to: Start A Discussion - A list of tips, directed at forum participants, on how to start a discussion in their forum.
- Subject Lines - Advice on how and when to change them
- Forum Guidelines Reminder
- Email Management
- File Upload Suggestions - Groupserver
- Official Warning - Example of warning message to forum member.
- Notice of Official Warning - Example of a message to tactfully inform other forum members about recently issued warning messages
- Forum features summary - Text to customize per forum
Administering Your Forum - Drafting
- Forum Managers Guide To Groupserver - A guide to using groupserver
Facilitating Your Forum - Drafting
- Encouraging introductions
- Welcoming new members
- Rules education and enforcement
- Information seeking - Monitoring local websites (gov, media, orgs, etc.) for items of interest like new documents on your local government or neighbourhood/neighborhood website
- Discussion starting -
- Neighborhood links template - While we do have a "links tab" on a forum home page, these links are not yet editable via the web admin. Even if they were, there is value in opening a simple longer links directory for local websites. You will need to copy this template to its own wiki page - like Cedar Riverside or Frogtown - and fill it out considerably to get your forum members to "crowd source" the rest.
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