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AFS Review: Did You Know...?

You Can Receive AFS Forum Posts in Your Inbox

Wednesday, May 27, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
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AFS Forums are a web-based alternative to email-based discussion groups, like listservs. Because each tool has its own pros and cons, Forums won't replace email lists, but the two tools can be used strategically for specific communications, or to complement each other.

Listserv/Email distribution lists

Pros: Listservs are easy and "friendly" for the individual user

  • All postings come directly to your inbox.
  • You can reply directly to the list with a click of the mouse.
  • Email may feel more private or secure than web-based communication. In the case of distribution lists, recipients can see the recipients of any given message (except for those who are bcc'd).

Cons: Controlling the distribution of messages is hit-and-miss

  • If repliers are not very careful, they may inadvertently send private communications to the entire list.
  • If all senders/repliers aren't careful, individuals may be inadvertently dropped from an on-going discussion, or may miss specific messages or asides.
  • Some users may prefer not to receive all replies to topics that don't interest them directly.
  • Unless individual users have access to a well-archived discussion, they may have trouble finding information from past messages; likewise, those who come in late on a discussion may have a hard time getting up to speed.
  • Listservs are hard to keep up to date for groups whose members ebb and flow; they don't work for AFS Sections, for instance, since new members can join at any time and reasonably expect to automatically receive all subsequent section communications.

AFS Forums

Pros: Forums provide stability and continuity for users who come to them

  • All postings remain indefinitely in order of posting and in the full context of the discussion.
  • Threads can attract new readers in addition to the ones who were originally addressed.
  • Users can more easily tune in to the threads that interest them, and tune out the ones that don't.
  • Users can subscribe to forums or even specific threads, so they will receive either an immediate email notification of postings, or a daily digest. See FAQ/Folklore Commons/Forums for instructions.

Cons: Users have to come to them

  • If users don't subscribe to the forums, they may miss communications.
  • It adds at least one step: clicking from the email link to the web page, or regularly browsing the forums; if users want to reply, they have to sign in.
  • Open Forum content is stable and accessible for the world to see; users must realize they are public. Group Forums are accessible only to members of the group.

We recommend that AFS Sections use both email and forums -- email from the group page for announcements that all group members should see, and forums for discussions that are less critical, or that are intended to reach out to a broad audience. Use them together: send an email to the group to invite them to subscribe to a new discussion in a forum.

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