Forums changes - updates thread!
Really excited to reach out today with an update about your forums. To cut to the chase, we’re undertaking significant work to upgrade and re-design the platform to be a space that better supports you and your needs.
I’m aware there have been some announcements like this in the past, which haven’t resulted in the change you were hoping for, and we appreciate that can be very disappointing.
However, while there is always the chance that things don’t work out as planned, this time around we are confident that we’ll be able to deliver significant improvements to your online experience. This has us really excited here at Beyond Blue and we’re so happy to start sharing with you more about what we’re working on, how we’re working on it, and when you’ll be seeing changes.
What we’re working on
Simply put, we’re setting up a brand-new technology platform to power these forums. We’re working with a great technology partner, who specialise in forums, to deliver a more modern experience with improved features (many of which you have been asking for for a long long time).
In setting up this new technology, we have a lot of work to do to make it align to your needs, to make it a safe space and to make it really valuable to you. But at the end of this process, we hope to launch with a fresh, modern website which looks and feels like a warm, supportive space, and which allows you to really get the most out of your interactions here.
To say we’re excited about this, truly is an under-statement 🙂
How we’re working on it
We know we cannot do this without your input and feedback. Beyond getting deeply acquainted with the existing feedback you’ve provided in these forums, we’ve also set up a ‘community group’ with seven of your peers to support this project. At the moment, we’re meeting weekly to talk through a range of questions, workshop out ideas and ensure we’re really representing community need with the work we’re doing.
From this point on, we’ll be using this space in the forums to provide updates on the work that’s in play, to get your feedback and comments and really bring you along this journey.
While we know we won’t get everything right the first time with this work, we know that involving you along the way, will help create a much better outcome in the end.
Please look forward to seeing more posts (hoping to update you all weekly) in this space!
When you can expect changes
At this point, we’re hoping to deliver the new platform in 2022 and are working hard to reach that goal. We’ll of course be updating you along the way if that changes.
Although there will be new things to learn and explore, we’re confident that the platform will provide much improved functionality and really improve your experience overall.
Interacting with this thread
We would love to hear your thoughts, feedback and questions! While we can’t respond super quickly to all questions, the aim is to send answers to any questions we’ve received weekly on Fridays - so be sure to check back in then
Next week, we’ll share some early updates on some of the new features that are coming with this platform and start talking about what we’re currently working on.
Thank you so so much for your support and we’re so happy to be finally making improvements to this space for you.
A big thank you to the team for your excellent communication. It feels really great to be included, informed and valued.
I am really looking forward to more updates and the opportunity to make a contribution to this very important strategic project.
Thank you for all the hard work that you are doing behind the scenes.
BTW I really like your vision to create a warm, modern safe place! We’re off to a great start!!
Kind thoughts to you
Good morning All BB’ers.
Great news about the technology update, cool. Which, if any, of the following forum software is your technological partner developing for BB?
MyBB, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Vanilla Forums, Simple Machines
Forum, FluxBB, Codoforum, Discourse or are you All going for a more
customized hand written option?
Will all the current posts be shifting into the new software/forum or will they vanish/go elsewhere?
Good luck with the change over, I reckon that will be challenging work.
Thanks for the replies back and the positive encouragement. It's really energising to read this!
Before posting an update for this week, I thought I'd answer some of the questions you've asked:
DavidnGoliath, such great questions, thank you.
Looking at the list you've provided - it seem like most of those are open-source technologies / frameworks I think? We haven't gone with those options, but instead we've chosen to partner with a market-leading provider of forums tech, who have their own custom technology, including some proprietary languages / frameworks.
Essentially, they provide the core functionality and we have the ability to build on top of it to make it fit the Beyond Blue Community 🙂
Regarding the current posts. Our plan is to bring across all the existing content from these forums. Some really old content, that hasn't been visited in a good while, is likely to end up in an 'archive' board, which is still fully visible to you, but locked for replying to.
We would do this so that we can tell search engines like google not to 'index' these old threads. This is helpful because by removing low-traffic content from being indexed, the Beyond Blue forums will rank better in google search results, meaning we can reach more people who are looking for support.
By the way, we're open to feedback on this one! But by keeping all content visible and accessible to you in the archive board, we're really hoping this is still sensitive to community need 🙂
OK... I'll start a new post to give the weekly update... incoming!
This week's update!
We've just kicked off design for the new platform, which is really exciting. To give you an insight into this, the technology partner we're using provides the core functionality as well as a basic 'template' for things like posts, buttons, topics, etc. It's our job to customise this to make it work well and feel great.
Today at our community workshop (with a group of your peers), we workshopped out some of the key issues with the current forums and looked at common frustrations when starting new threads, finding content that's useful, etc.
We also spent time reviewing other forums on the internet, including other mental health forums to get a gauge of what is good, less good, resonant, confusing, etc.
Things we're thinking about:
- Creating a supportive, encouraging, calm space to be in
- Making key steps really easy to use, such as starting a thread, replying to a post, exploring and navigating the content, searching the content
- A design that doesn't overwhelm with too much information, but allows you to focus on what you're here for - seeking support and supporting others.
We'll be testing designs with our community group, and we'd like to share some sneak peeks to you- perhaps in a few weeks time.
One big feature the community has been asking for, for a long-time, is getting notified when someone replies to a post.
Good news is that our new forums will have this feature and we've been working on setting it up this week.
The notifications are highly customisable, but one thing we've been working out is what the default settings should be. We don't want to bombard people with email notifications as soon as the platform goes live, especially as we're aware that many people might not like email notifications if they share an email address with someone else.
In light of this, we'll be keeping the notifications switched off by default, and allowing you to easily customise your own settings if and when you're ready to turn them on. Any feedback on this is more than welcome.
That's all for this week - looking forward to touching base again next week
Hi Project Team
Thank you very much for the update.
You said that you are thinking about, “creating a supportive, encouraging and calm space to be in”, which sounds great. However, I would like to ask you to consider if “safe” should be added to your list of design deliverables.
To me, a “safe place to be in” means all users are protected from harm. In my mind, safety should underpin every aspect of the forum, rippling through design, community rules, functionality, communication with users, privacy, security of the digital system, etc.
One particular safety issue that intersects with design and that sticks in my mind is the safety of young forum users. I think as part of this design process, thought should be given to how we can better protect children and young people from potential harm whilst using the forum.
With regard to notifications and other new features to come, I think it’s vital that you give community members as much choice as possible.
For what it’s worth, I support leaving notifications off as the default setting. It’s great to know the feature is available but also wonderful to know it’s not being forced upon people.
I highly value having choice and the ability to manage the change that new features bring at my own pace, if I want to adopt them.
Kind thoughts to you