Hello to all members of Transition Massachusetts,
As an administrator of this site, I strive to promote more (and more useful) interaction among site members, ultimately to facilitate the implementation of existing Transition initiatives in MA and to encourage the spread of the Transition movement across our Commonwealth.
In addition to serving as a member of the Initiating Group for Transition Newburyport, I follow other local initiatives as much as possible. Several "tools" on this site make it easy to stay connected.
The Ning platform offers great features for social networking in general and our interests in particular, but it can present hurdles for many users - because a few key features need to be activated by each individual user. First among these - and the focus of this message - are email notifications about key activity on the site.
When you register to join a Ning network, you must provide an email address, which is used as your ID and to send you notifications from the site. The good news is that the Ning system does not automatically flood your inbox with notifications of site activity, but empowers each member to control those notifications. The bad news is that unless and until you activate some features, you have no way of knowing about some happenings on the site without logging in frequently and knowing what to look for.
The first area I want to call to your attention is the Forum, where any member can initiate a Discussion visible to anyone who visits the site (only members can participate). This area presents great potential for rich interaction among members, because everyone can participate. Any member can easily opt to receive a notification whenever a new Discussion is posted on the Forum.
Here's how: Simply click on the Forum tab at the top of any page on the site. Then, scroll to the bottom of the Forum page where you will see a link named "Follow - Email me when there are new discussions." When you click on that link, it will change to "Stop Following - Don't email me when there are new discussions" (that's what you would click to revert to the initial status - no notification of new discussions).
That's all there is to it! Now you will receive a message whenever a new discussion is posted, with a link right in the message to take you to that discussion.
One more thing: If you now click on the link for any Discussion on our Forum (currently there are 182 Discussions on Transition Massachusetts), and scroll to the bottom, you will see a similar link named Follow - Email me when people reply. Activate that link to "follow" (receive notifications of replies to) that discussion topic. You must activate the Follow feature for each individual discussion topic you wish to follow. If you reply to a discussion, the Follow feature activates automatically.
The second key tool to facilitate meaningful interaction is Groups. Most groups on this site have a regional focus, but groups can also be formed around a theme or an area of interest. Any member of the site can view the comments/activities of any group, but only group members can add content. The Groups feature allows more focused conversation, and provides an excellent way for an initiative to share its activities with others.
Each group has it's own Discussion Forum, which works just like the main Forum. The feature to manage notifications about group discussions uses the terms Follow / Stop Following, which work just like Notify / Stop Notifying in the main Forum.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope everyone can now make better use of this site. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas for making our site more useful.
Looking forward to working with you,
this is a great post- it told me exactly what I was needing to know simply and quickly and Im very pleased now!
this seems a very important post for many to find/read, and, Im sure youve considered this many a time already, but perhaps to consider again? a link to this post in the menubar of the site (where it now has: Main My Page Members Groups Events Forum Blogs Photos Videos TransitionVT TN Resources) -- and in that menu, you could put other posts that you might know about that youve been thinking many need to see for effective use of Transition Ma (I would understand a reluctance to clutter the menubar there-- but you know...) Even that you would link to a forum post for info (rather than some sort of formal page of explanation), for me does two things-- one, it informs about how this site moves about important information, and two, it has the look and feel for how Transition work moves about important information too-- it has an "open source" feel about it, which is really kinda good.
thanks for the great work!
looking forward to some notifications now!
(btw, the word "follow" is not one I would have thought to search for to find this post-- but I did find it using the word "notification")
(btw2-- I went back to find the welcome email that gets sent out- it now says:
There are 4 simple things you can do to get started:
1. Invite your friends to join you:
2. Add Content:
3. Add a profile photo:
4. Tell your Twitter followers:
maybe to have a #5 that says "learn the key features of groups and forums" or something to that effect?)
again, thanks for the detailed work on this site, Im very glad to be here and getting back to it
Thanks for your thoughtful feedback, Tom. I have addressed your idea to make that post more accessible in two ways. First, there is now a box at the top of the left column on the Main page introducing the Forum, with a direct link to my how-to post. Second, I have featured that post in the Forum; it now appears at the top of the list of Discussions on the Forum page.
Your are more enterprising than most users in searching for and finding the information you wanted. I agree that the word Follow does not at first come to mind in searching for this info. That is Ning's term, and can't be changed. Once you understand what that feature provides, I find Follow a very clear term to describe the concept.
Please tell me if you find these changes helpful, and share any more ideas you have about helping people use the site.
LOL not enterprising enough!!!
THERE it is, as plain as day "Tips on Using This Web Site"
Thank you Conrad-- I was first looking where it said "alerts" in the menu that comes up (top right when logged in) that tells me something about third party apps etc-- (maybe later, Ill concern myself with such things-- not now), so "alerts" was another possible word to use-- I have no problem with "follow" now that I know thats the phrase-- and if ning says thats the word, then we'll have to go along, wont we...
No, youve done just fine putting it up there, my mistake in not seeing it-- thanks again