This is a guest post from NSGC Communications Committee Chair, Amy Sturm.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am the current Chair of the NSGC Communications Committee. One of the Committee’s unofficial charges this year was to head up the transition from the current NSGC listservs to a newer technology called Discussion Forums. We established the Discussion Forums Task Force after the AEC in late Fall 2010, and have been working since then to learn how the forums work, test their functionality, and develop Frequently Asked Questions and How To’s Documents for the NSGC membership. These resource documents are now on the NSGC website under Member Center after you log in: http://www.nsgc.org/MemberCenter/DiscussionForums/tabid/390/Default.aspx.
Task Force members also recently recorded short webinars to guide members through topics including how to navigate the forums, set your own personal forum settings, receive messages in digest format if preferred, post and reply to forums, include attachments, search forums, and other enhanced features. These webinars are also live on the NSGC website under Member Center.
I have to admit, at first I wasn’t sure what to expect from forum technology, since I had never used forums previously to using the NSGC forums. My husband frequents forums daily, such as slickdeals.net, in order to search for the best online deals, coupons, and discounts on computer equipment among many other products; however he also works in the field of Information Technology, so I wasn’t immediately convinced that forums would work for me. I am a member of five NSGC SIGs and also receive the general NSGC listserv, so receiving listserv messages in digest format is very important to me as well as easy posting and replying capabilities!
Luckily, I found out that the new forums technology is not all that different from the current listservs that we have all become accustomed to over the years. For example, if you choose to subscribe to an individual forum, such as a SIG-specific forum (e.g. Cardiovascular Genetics SIG Forum), you will automatically receive all new posts and replies to that forum in your email’s Inbox. You can also sign up for daily or weekly digests if this is more manageable for you compared to receiving each post and reply as an individual email.
Another very nice feature of the forums is something called “threaded topics”. This means that all posts and replies to that initial post are organized together under something called a discussion thread. This allows for a very organized view of forum topics and improved ease of tracking and being able to follow the conversation.
While the archives from the current listserv, which date back to 2006, will no longer be accessible, please remember that you will be able to post a new topic to the Discussion Forums at any time and receive responses from your NSGC colleagues with the most up-to-date information. The deadline to access the current archives will be extended to June 30, 2011. Please refer all questions to the Executive Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.