The new eClub site

It is quite a challenge to come up with a site to meet the needs of an eClub like ours. There are so many levels of knowledge, expertise, expectation and use among our membership that I doubt any one solution would suit everyone perfectly.

To date it has been quite difficult to gauge accurately what the site should and shouldn’t have in place at the launch. So I’d like to use my spot on this weeks programme to put to all of you what I think are the headline features and perhaps get you to vote for your favourite and least favourite ideas.

There are 20 things to vote on at the bottom of the page but before you head off down there, keep reading for a few moments more.

So you understand where I am coming from and what I think is important here is a quick summary of my digital world:

I get about 200 emails per day. I have some 15 sites that I get notices from. I dislike Facebook’s trivia and security and find Linked-in a distraction with minor real commercial benefit. I dislike phone calls and interruptions because of the time and head-space I need when solving issues in complex technological stategies.

This means I have the following things in my mind when it comes to the eClub site.

Core:

I want the site to be a central repository for all the essential club information. This means member directories, news, rules and conduct guides, events diary and projects. This means I can get up to speed with a few clicks around the site and see recent and important stuff.

Social:

I want to be able to contact members on the site privately.
I want to make comments to posts without prior moderation.
I want to have a way of micro-blogging which allows me just to post a sentence or two, not a novel.
I want to be able to vote/rate (eg ‘Like or ‘+G’) a post when I agree with it but have nothing substantive to add.

Protocols:

Posts should be short and focused. Two subjects should mean two posts.
Comments should be shorter than the post.
Be free to voice opinion without deliberately offending anyone.

Notifications:

Summary of groups/forums via a brief post/newsletter once a week or month that collects/identifies the essential information and emails me.
I don’t want every comment posted on the site to generate notifications or emails.

That’s about it for my needs but it isn’t really about me but about what you and the rest of the members want to see.

Desires…

Some people have mentioned a chat room. That sounds great, when I have the time you can’t shut me up!

But what does a chat-room mean to you?

Some mean a Wall a la Facebook, others mean IRC chat room, others like the idea of something like Skype chat and others want video and audio too. Some hate the idea of video, others wouldnt have the equipment or environment for audio and video. Some want to chat in small groups, some like the idea it is just one room and everyone reads what everyone else has written.

Having a web-space that not everyone feels comfortable in can isolate members and exclude them from discussion even if they ‘could’ join in, if they don’t feel confident with the format, the technology, or just don’t have the technology or perhaps have a disability etc.

The current site is a good start to build on but I could really do with some more input from the membership to make sure we have as few stumbles and immediate irritations from the start of the new site.

As we are a new club we do need to start from somewhere and things will change and morph into new things and ways of doing things. That is part of my role to help get the system together that will allow us to do just that over time. Right now what I want is input from you to help us get the initial site ready and working quickly. So please vote on the following items and let me know your wider comments to this post. That way you should get more of the site you want and perhaps less of the site I envisage!
[colorvote id=”1″ style=”wpcvp-poll”]

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0 thoughts on “Devil is in the detail…

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Thanks Yzanne, the site is so central to the success of the club I want to make sure it works for as many peoples styles and abilities as possible from the start. So I need all this feed back, otherwise you may all end up with a geek site 😉

  1. Kevin Leaning says:

    Hi Kevin. I have completed the questions to the best of my ability. I hope you find it of some use, but do bear in mind I don’t know what I am on about with Facebook, Forums and Bloggs etc. I seem to just be able to do the simple stuff, and if I try something ‘advanced’ I get lost and confused on the site. I then give up. I had a tutorial from Tim and Janis, which was really useful, as I would normally have given up by now trying to find my way around and not sure what I can say and where. Good luck, I am sure it will be great! Kevin L.

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Hi Kevin, thanks for completing the votes, your input and comments are really useful. I don’t want the site to exclude anyone and using techie things is something that comes with time and a little help from friends. It is one of the reasons I don’t want to overload the site with lots of gadgets initially. Getting feedback from people describing what they can and can’t do is vital. Your eClub Needs You (pointing finger out of the screen).

  2. Janice Mason says:

    Thanks Kevin, a really helpful programme. Just want to clarify my understanding from some points on the questionnaire.
    The Video/audio chat I see as being useful for Action Group meetings or things like our Assembly / AGM which we need to hold, the question is do we need the facility within the website or just agree a means to do this if people have the facilities ie. group Skype meeting (if anyone knows how to do it – we could all be on a steep learning curve here!).
    I don’t want to Login from other sites, but would like my phone access to go straight into the site without me having to login or even put my name – click an eClub website app and go straight in, if that is possible.
    You mention a Chat Room visible to anyone online, but would the comments stay posted so other people who log on at another time also add to the conversation if they wanted?
    Can I just have Coffee and Biscuits please, I don’t like Tea:-)

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Most audio and video actually work point to point. It might be started or triggered by contact at the website but in fact the work is done between the two or more desktop/laptop computers the users sit in front of. This means that each PC must have the equipment, configuration and communication standards to talk to each other. Skype does work on most systems but it is not a proper standard so some people may get problems.

      You do need a decent speed and quality of connection for useful video and audio. This might exclude some people and some may not want to be on video.

      I have run video conference meetings around the world and with normal webcams etc they can be quite boring especially if you have a lot of people and only one person able to speak! You also tend/need to have a chat running which often means people are bored, then chatting amongst themselves and not listen or watching! There is a service called BamBam which can stream in real time so people could watch/hear those in the meeting if they couldnt attend.

      The phone issue is going to be down to the handset not the site. The site will work with smartphones but I would not get into supporting apps especially for it and some of the ways of using the site are not practical on a small device. For reading, commenting and reviewing it is fine. There are WordPress apps on Android Market that help with posting and light admin.

      I think chat room gossip needs to be disposable otherwise it can be messy and cluttered to navigate and find specific information. Not that it has to be destroyed just that it should be inconsequential. There is something that later may be useful called etherpad, where people can simply type on a page in real time all together in different ink to discuss something, create a document or evolve an event/idea.

      I’ll have the tea, you can have the biscuits and the coffee. There is enough of me not to need more biscuits 😉

  3. Jill says:

    Hi Kevin

    Having worked through your very comprehensive list I have tried to respond to each point, within the scope of my understanding of what each means. So a little of what you have set out is not quite understood. I am a new member of the Club so not quite used to dealing with things in this way, although an experienced Rotarian!! Keep going and I hope to catch up. Regards

    Jill

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Thanks Jill, we need to understand the level of use and understanding from all members so we can make things simple yet useful enough. Thanks for your help.

  4. Mentor-Sue says:

    Probably shouldn’t have commented as I’m an eclub mentor not a member – but I just couldn’t resist it.Having said that there are points in there which would help me to keep in touch with members I am mentoring as I’m not doing too well at the moment. I hope all members consider and complete this excellent survey, Kevin. It will give all members the opportunity to move forward together as skills and equipment will vary as previously stated. There is no better way to lose members than for them to feel they are not involved or underachieving. Must try tofind the right level of contact members.

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Hi Sue

      Please do comment away! As a mentor you use the site and have something helpful to say about how it works and communications is vital in your role too. I think you are right that the key is balance, I’m as sure I will try to get things right as I am certain it will probably be wrong for some people.

  5. Polly Robinson says:

    I also am a mentor and endorse what Sue says, above. It’s important to remember that different people like different methods of communication, so one might argue that every method available should be used. However, this is time-consuming, so hopefully your poll will give an indication of what the majority prefer and you’ll be able to move forward accordingly. 🙂

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Hi Polly

      When looking at these things I recall a phrase in a film when George Burns says, ‘They invented so many ways to communicate, finally, nobody does.”

      I am a big believer in proper open standards with communications, it is the only reason the internet exists at all or that we can make calls to anyone with a telephone in fact, the reason we can all write anything at all. I don’t need to know whether you use a Siemens phone or an iPhone I just call.

      The issue with some standards is they are defacto and not open or structured and they generally have another agenda that is not just to enable communications but often own them.

      We can all use the web and we can all use email. We all need to be members of the eclub site. We need to be careful we don’t also need to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and 10 other ways to talk just to stay in the loop.

      I very much like the idea of pushing the clubs data and communications out through all those Social Media platforms and those yet to be established, but personally, I would discourage use that results in any of them becoming a defacto mandatory part of the club.

      😉

  6. Duncan Arinze says:

    Hello Kevin, i have completed the vote.Thankyou for conducting it. I believe this will take things forward.Duncan Arinze

  7. Mary says:

    I filled in the ?aire on the Facebook page. I thought an app for my Iphone would be a good idea but the guru seems to think that is not a good idea.

    • Janice Mason says:

      I did mention an app in my post too. It’s not necessarily the size of the print on this iPhpne that is the problem, it is the ad hoc way it scrolls or when I post there is a title bar across the top of the box so that I can’t see what I’m typing (and that’sy excuse for first line spelling mistakes and I’m sticking to it). An app that aided how the elements of the page fall together on the small screen would save a lot of frustration.

      • Kevin Dontenville says:

        The new site should present properly on mobile devices so that should help.

        The only issue with iphone and android apps is the cost esp Apple and the management of them across the iphone/android/win7/win8 versions released. Using HTML5 and some alternate views for mobile browsers should give you something simple.

        Also you can use third party apps to take pics and write posts direct to the site if we wish to allow it.

  8. Rachel Davis says:

    I quite like the idea of being able to link to other media – as I’m not sure that I have time for updating another status on another profile – if it would all link together and make it quicker and easier for us all to update what we’re doing, where we’re going etc, that would be brill.
    now then, where are the tea, coffee and biscuits that were promised??

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Hi Rachel

      We can see what we can do, what profiles do you update at the moment – that you would deem suitable for Rotary 😉

  9. admin says:

    The Directory is something members sign up for on joining, however in the eClub we have not given out addresses, only emails.

    I would like to have a lot of our site open to visitors and the private areas for our Club Business.

    This voting format would be useful for helping to get everyone involved in the decision making.

    The eClub needs to be committed to using Social Networks like Twitter, Facebook and Linked In, as these help to build relationships with each other and connect with Rotary both nationally and internationally. However members of the eClub need to see the Website as the home of the eClub, where business, our weekly programme and other eClub matters are published.

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Hi Tim

      I think what I meant was that they could update their information themselves and perhaps control what they are happy to disclose to members.

      As to wider access that becomes a decision on what is private club business and what is not. It will be vitally important for the distinction to be clear so posts are appropriately made. Unless we want to be an open club where all is shown? We could control authorship but publish everything we say and do in the club from comment to finance?

      I think the eclub needs to embrace communication opportunities but be cautious in its use of social media. Use of Facebook is not really growing like it did, Twitter has possibly peaked in growth-rate and MySpace diminished wildly and anyone remember Friends Reunited? The channels for operating and talking within the club are key to the commitment members will give. Independence, ownership, control and access are key things for the core activities of a club. I think external social media platforms need to be adjunct, a place to re-publish or invite from not a place to operate within. Personal opinion and perhaps not eclub policy but possibly I have been using the Internet too long and after 20+yrs I am too staid 😉

      • Janice Mason says:

        The Directory is the responsibility of the Admin Action Group and needs to be the gateway as it is not just the eClub Directory that needs updating, it is the District Directory and the RI national database. As Tim said, members agree to this on the membership application/confirmation form, and as we have made a stand as to what information is given out I did email information that was to be entered into the Directory to every member for their consent so that this was under their control.

        Under the eClub Constitution rules we have to have an area of the website that is private for members only, it is our decision as to what this is used for. Whatever we decide we need to ensure that part of the eClub induction for new members includes good instructions (both written and in person) on what is where on the website and appropriate places for posting.

        Re forms of Social Media please see my comment further down. What we are talking about here are tools people use for communication, just as the website itself is a tool, whereas what we need to be talking about is building up our desire to get to know each other, planning ways to work together and understanding the diversity we have in the eClub in how members prefer to communicate and engage.

  10. Janice Mason says:

    A quick comment before we move onto next week’s programme and something that hasn’t been mentioned anywhere. A real must for our new site is a photo gallery!

    • Kevin Dontenville says:

      Hi Janice

      When you say photo gallery do you mean for members mug-shots or specific posts or something else? Lots of ways to think of using images on the site, did you have something particular in mind?

      • Janice Mason says:

        A simple place for anyone to post up a photo if they want to share something they have done and a place for us to post photos of events that we are involved in with commentary attached to photos to keep members not present informed.

  11. Kevin Dontenville says:

    Many thanks to everyone who voted and/or commented to this post.

    I will leave the questionnaire open for late-comers to vote and post, but it looks like the results have given us a democratic table of priorities to start with.

    Thanks All!

  12. Heather says:

    Hello. Slow to reply to this – sorry.

    To me, the crucial point is that no-one should miss out on any information or opportunity to participate in decision-making etc just because they don’t use a particular form of social media. The 1100eclub Twitter account is there to add value, and I hope it does, but any member of the eclub not on Twitter won’t miss out on anything vital. I think this should apply to any other incidental web presences the eclub may have, otherwise the group will fracture before it’s really even come together properly. Of course we all have our favoured corners of the internet and ways of communicating and eclub conversation will spill out onto those and that’s fine, but IMO we must have a clear, single focus of club information and activities, and that must be the website.

    • Janice Mason says:

      But isn’t that the case? We have never said any different other than that the website is the place where all eClub information is posted. Other forms of social media are used for relationship building and general chit chat. As I said to Yzanne, at any Rotary club the activities and ideas are discussed in all sorts of places (in most clubs on the golf green!) or by people talking over the phone or sharing a pint, and this is natural and right that communication happens outside of the club walls. What we are making sure happens (and what all members need to do as the Action Groups get under way) is bring key points for information, consultation and agreement to the club meeting place ie. the website. The thing that will fracture the club is mistrust and uninformed complaining: that is why it is essential that we get to know each other, get to know how different members prefer to communicate and talk to them. The eClub needs to buzz with enthused members talking away to each other and doing Rotary and then coming together to share their excitement.

      • Kevin Dontenville says:

        Sure, I don’t think that anyone is saying differently. What has been stated is obviously the stated intention. My thoughts are just that sometimes organizations embrace things that have some real benefits but don’t balance out sufficiently the negative or side effects.

        I have been involved in running, working and managing remote people around the world for over 20 years and keeping geographically and socially diverse groups of people communicating is hard to do even when the main connections are simply email, fax and phone. More is not always better as I have seen in many instances especially in IT services.

        There is already a proportionately significant subset of members that check and chat on the facebook group that don’t connect actively at all on the club website. What will change that? If we are attracting Facebook users then they will, obviously, use Facebook as their primary tool. Same will be the case for users that first meet Rotary on whatever their preferred social media platform is.

        So my first question is, does the club care that there are separate focal points? To take your example, eg that a large group are also golf club members, and that they chat and make their minds up on the green about decisions and club actions.

        I know it is stated that all members are to be active on the main club site but in reality what will make that intention happen? For example, check the list of people actively using the Facebook group alongside the names in the comments on this post they wont be matching. As stated, they simply would be less involved or active if there was not a Facebook group for 1100 eclub.

        Perhaps we are looking at all this in the wrong way.

        Maybe the underlying question to ask is should the eclub ‘primarily’ exist on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn? If the main area of target growth for Rotary are Facebook users, as recent Rotary presentations suggest, then mainly existing on FB will keep all those new people happy and fit in with their way of using social media. It would also stop non FB users that are potential members feeling excluded by virtue of the closed arena. ie they wont see it if they aren’t on FB.

        It may be that instead of one eclub you have a FB Rotary club and perhaps a Twitter one and another for LinkedIn. Is that a bad thing? Should a club in fact coalesce around the media it feeds on? Someone once described Rotary to me, as an old mans dining club, which is fine for old men wanting food and a chat. Why not a LinkedIn Rotary club for people who use LinkedIn as a primary business meeting place or a Facebook Rotary club for those who centre on Facebook?

        As to mistrust, I completely agree, if separate groups are not talking together there is always much more room for distrust and disengagement. That in a nutshell is my concern.

        • Janice Mason says:

          I have said how we will get everyone communicating on the website and you don’t refer to that.

          When I joined Rotary I was a member of an eClub that met solely on Facebook despite having a website and it didn’t work, important information was buried in time before everyone had a chance to see it. At this eClub I personally campaigned for the website to take a greater role and after a year of operating they agreed and moved their activity. What they didn’t do was get to know the members, just kept saying ‘talk to us on Facebook’, which only engaged half of the club, other means of communication needed to be used to reach out to the others. This is why I’m passionate about making our website accessible and relevant.

          This is a very new club and people totally new to Rotary, relationships have to be built up to encourage people to engage. To do that we need to reach out to where they are and draw them in, not sit here and wait for them to come. You say you have been building IT communities for 20 years and we respect that, please also respect that Tim and I have also been developing group work and community projects for 30 years which involves engaging diverse people to work together. We’re all actually saying the same thing and aiming for the same end result, you just need to give the development stage more time and help encourage it to happen. The more negative commentary we get in the website the less likely members are to login. Don’t get hooked on the tools to engage, we all need to use all methods possible to get to know people, engage them in the Action Group activities and programme and encourage everyone to come to the website as an exciting place to come. It has been said that a new Rotary club takes 18-24 months to really embed in and get up and going, don’t expect too much too soon, but for all those reading this be part of the developing group that enables it to happen. Network, meet and pick up the phone, use the website, all means of communication are right to get to know each other.

          We mustn’t also forget that Rotary is not just about our eClub, we are part of a District (which itself has Zones within it), we are part of RIBI and we are part of 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide. Meeting with all of them by all means possible is also important for us to truly understand and enjoy being part of this wonderful organisation.

          • Janice Mason says:

            Maybe also worth repeating here our strategy which we shared in a programme early on in the eClub’s formation:-
            For the eClub membership to develop effectively we need to use CARE:
            Contact – make contact with members and keep doing so to encourage them to come to …
            Activities – provide activities where members can meet and work together in order to build …
            Relationships – which will initially be tentative, but the more activities we are all involved in will lead to …
            Engagement.

  13. Kevin Dontenville says:

    I completely agree, we all want the same thing.

    I am trying to draw out the reasons why our current stated approach is essential and then find how we support that and make it happen in reality. I guess I am used to a strategy for guiding information & communication flow that can then be implemented in some form based on the community and tools available.

    I would, therefore, differ in regard to the importance of the tools.

    For example when people read a paper, see a poster, hear the radio, watch theatre or see a play or even TV, they can react differently and that effect is a tool. Each is used to inform and guide the flow of communication and information. There is an end point or destination for any objective when using those tools. You can use those tools to raise awareness, remind, prompt to action, engage or transact. If we want the stated club objectives to be met or encouraged we need to choose the tools and use them in a way to meet the objective. If we set a tool as an endpoint then that is where the flow ends.

    So the question is, what are the big social media tools, signs or end points? End points simply can’t be both.

    When used properly tools do indeed make a huge difference to outcomes. This means their choice and deployment is an important strategic decision, supporting the club’s objectives, in this instance, as you say, that is CARE.

    Just to clear my earlier comment, so you know where I am coming from 😉 – I was not involved in building IT communities but building the IT infrastructure to support groups and employees around the world who were either isolated or in small teams and certainly not involved in IT. Keeping debate and decision making in a common forum at a common time was absolutely essential for trust and engagement. As was as much physical connection in meetings, weekends, events etc. Getting people to come to the events and join in was indeed the result of connecting people together in other ways. Between you and I, we add up to 50+ years of experience 😉

    As you have explained, you are aware of the issues of media based groups, I concur, especially as a point of personal preference! I am not certainly not criticizing anyone for using or preferring Facebook or some other platform, just very aware of some of the unintended slip effects it can have on the flow of information and communication.

    Part of the solution is for us to have a great site for members as an end point, which is part of my job, but they have to be prepared, want or even need to come to it. The other bit of the puzzle is not to tacitly or actively encourage tools that are meant to be signs to be endpoints. Unless they are!

    I think I have made all my points, maybe too forcefully so I will shut up! I just care about this sort of stuff in the same way you so obviously do about the club itself.

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