General feedback

Status: In progress
Step: 
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Found things that work great?
Found things that don't work as they should?
Found things that could work even better?

Leave your suggestions here!

Hi Mary,

Re: the email - Thats my mistake then... I've used an email file that was a bit older... sorry 'bout that.

Most performance issues seem to have disappeared again, I think?
I'll ask Frans and Kester to go through the logs and hopefully find out what happened.

Pelle

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Hi Raul,

Yes we're using OG (Organic Groups, a group solution - for non-Drupal-insiders) I'm not sure what you mean with 'having a container' on My NABUUR though?
Can you explain what that would look like?

Pelle

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Hi Lode,

I think most posts here were about disappearing 'new' flags.
Private messages shouldn't disappear (except for some SPAM messages that are deleted).
You should be able to find all your private messages here: http://www.nabuur.com/en/privatemsg

If you think you're missing a message: do you have a link that I can test?

Pelle

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Happy New Year! I very much hope it will be a good one for everyone!

Romina, Siegfried, you asked for our thoughts on the Nabuur plans for 2009, so here are mine….

1. The focus appears to be very much on adding more and more villages - I see they reached 200 yesterday, having been growing rapidly over the last week.

When many of those villages have come online over the last few days, they have almost no information in them - no background details, nowhere for even basic discussion to take place. All you see is what country they are in and a few pictures.

Would it make sense to ask that a village has at least the basics before it is made visible to everyone?

2. They are all shown on My Nabuur, and at the top of the Villages listing pages. So if I am a neighbour looking for something to do, I will find it very difficult to find anything as the villages with active tasks are not easy to see.

This will not fill people with enthusiasm, many new neighbours who have just signed up will have a quick look round, be unable to work out what they can do, and will probably go elsewhere never to return.

3. Is there a general change in focus of Nabuur?

In the past, it has been very much about communities looking for assistance. But that appears to have changed, with the focus being on getting more and more villages online, whether or not they achieve anything. I agree that Nabuur is a great way to connect with people around the world - I have made friends in many places - but is that its main aim?

4. The message about plans suggests that the website will be changed to better handle all these new villages, make a distinction between the village and its associated projects, if any.

I am very surprised these changes were not done first, before the expansion. Is there a more definite date when they will be done, and will we be able to see a preview on the Demo site?

5. The majority of villages are inactive.

This can be for a whole variety of reasons - some communities may not want/need Nabuur assistance any more, there may be no facilitator, tasks may not be well defined etc. But there seems to be no desire to do anything about this.

To me, it would make sense to go through these, find out which LRs do still want to be active, look at the reasons why they are not.

If they want to be active, help them with task definition, finding a facilitator, communication skills etc.

If they do not, either take the village completely offline (with the option to come back), or at least remove all the project tasks, and mark them as a village that does not have an active project (similar to what is being suggested for new villages).

6. There are a large number of villages that don't have an active facilitator.

Is the intention to recruit more, or to encourage Local Reps to work on their own?

From experience, the villages that work best are those with a very proactive facilitator and a LR who is able to join in, answering questions and taking part in discussion.

For a LR to be able to do everything for themselves, they need time, commitment, good internet access, computer skills, experience in communicating with people from other cultures, and at least some basic knowledge of how to run a project. This is true of some LRs, but not all. So those without the experience will miss out unless they will receive training and support from Nabuur.

7. The plans say that new LRs will work together to define their projects.

This may work well for some, but others may have no experience of project definition, may assume all they need from outside is money. Will Nabuur be giving them any guidance at all or simply leaving them to get on with it?

8. I see that the number of Nabuur staff is reducing again

I do of course wish Gerdie good luck!

Will it be possible for you to cope with all the work that is required, or will this reduce the amount of support available to LRs and facilitators?

-----

I think Nabuur is a great idea, but I believe that the emphasis on expansion without working out all the issues first, without finding ways to help villages stay active and achieve their goals, makes it less and less likely that communities will get the assistance they need.

I would be very interested to see answers to some of these questions, and also to hear what other neighbours think.

---

Pelle, I have had a couple of recent experiences of the site running very slowly, but it seems OK today.

Mary

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Average: 4 (2 votes)

Hi everyone and a very happy new year to you all. Just a biref comment regarding Mary's feedback. I mostly agree with your comments Mary. I firmly believe a "filtering" of existing Villages is important. It is currently difficult to ascertain which villages are genuinely active and which have just fallen off due to a lack of activity. It's confusing and it's not helping new neighbours who wish to contribute. I believe that doing a few things really well speaks volumes- as opposed to having lots of Villages on-line with very little activity or no project work. Whilst i would not wish to "limit" the potential and opportunities on Nabuur for local reps who want to promote their village- making it easy for new Neighbours to find a Village or task to work with, should, I believe be a priority. It is obvious that there is a small pool of active Neighbours who work on many villages- it would be ideal to find a way to get new neighbours to really commit to being active on Nabuur.
I think Nabuur is brillant- I'm sure we'll reach the "tipping point" one day soon. Let's ensure we have the mechanics working effectively for when that time arrives.
Regards, Carolyn

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

Pelle-

Would it be possible to structure the News Tab the same way you did the Groups page? I realize there's multi-sections, but maybe it could be done in two rows? I would also really like to see the actual news from the villages be moved back up to the top row and maybe move the SMS's from the villages to the bottom since not too many of those seem to be coming in.

Could that be done?

Jennifer

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I was wondering if it would be possible to include the location of the village on the project page for a village? Yes I know it is on the overview and background page, but sometimes I just go to a village because I see a post that someone has made and I want to read it - and I am taken into the project page. I like knowing where the location of the village (and being able to see it immediately). Also, when you are searching under villages and go to say Africa, a whole list appears but again the location is not showing under each name. I know you can go to the side and select a specific country... but I guess I just like to know!

Barb

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I am not going to re-write my thoughts on Nabuur 2009 as Mary has written them perfectly :O)

I do understand that Nabuur needs (just like a business), to show continued growth so that they can get sponsorship, which provides the funds to keep it running. I assume this is part of the reason why there is a push to keep adding more communities on a regular basis.

The trouble with this (in my inexperienced opinion), is that just like a business, there is a fine line between continual expansion and complete collapse. If a business is spread to thinly without the proper grounding it eventually collapses, as witnessed by the financial crisis lately.... no structure underneath (a simplified view, I know).

I have been involved in several communities that have just completely died. There is a range of reasons not limited to.... lack of LR input, not enough volunteers to keep the discussion going, no facilitator, a facilitator who has no people skills or the LR just getting frustrated because the online community is not going anywhere.

I have been involved in several charitable organisations offline and I understand one of the biggest issues is not actually recruiting volunteers, but keeping them active. This is something that is not easy to do. Most organisations run on limited funds and as such have limited staff numbers. These staff usually have HUGE workloads, and don't have the time to hold the hands of each new volunteer and make them feel like they are part of the whole project.

Sorry, I am rambling. What I am trying to say is that we need some way to make the new volunteers feel welcome and that they are part of the organisation, a part of the COMMUNITY. That they really are making a contribution. This place can be pretty daunting as a newbie, especially when you join community after community and nobody responds to your posts, or you just start to get into helping and the project dies.

Maybe what we need is a great BIG "help" button that is visible on EVERY page, possible right up the top right next to Logout/in. It could open into a forum where people (especially newbies) could post questions on general Nabuur issues and some of the more experienced volunteers would be able to wander in and give answers when they are online. This would probably take some of the load off Nabuur staff answering emails, and also create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for the newbies. Not sure of how exactly it would work.... just a suggestion :)

Melissa

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Hi Pelle,

If you install OG you can then install OF Forum (I think you might be already using it unless you are using views combined with regular discussions). When you have OG forum installed, you can have all my current villages under the same forum container (this would be the drupal terminology once you go to setting on OG forum you can place all villages under the same container.

If you combine this with the Advanced forum module, this would not look to different from a regular forum only software like: http://couleeregiononline.com/forum

In this way,you would get both an indication of the villages with new postings but also once they are read they will stay there for you to come back and review it at any time. The "new posting" indication will dissappear once you have read the message.

Have a look at OG-forum module for more information. In any case this could also be achieved by changing the query on the views if that is how you are approaching it.

Hope it makes sense,

Raul

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Hello Mary and everyone,

Mary, it is great to see that you have put these thoughts together. I agree with all of them. I also feel in a bit of a difficult position in regards to providing my personal opinion provided that I spent a few months as s staff member earlier this year. What I can say from a volunteer perspective which is a lot more experience that the experience gained from the few months as staff member, my major concern is also one of Mary's concerns which is in regards to the number of villages growing without a system in place that is sustainable for the growth rate that the site is experiencing. In my case, that just makes me feel less motivated because the few results get lost amongst a huge amount of information from so many empty villages.

The theming of the site is still not inviting at all.

I would really hope we also get clearer information about what is happening with Nabuur. From the information posted it is not clear it the future of Nabuur is secured.

Also shared with Mary the concern about so many villages without a facilitator. Although I do nto have enough words to say how impressed I am with facilitators like Jennifer that has taken in some many villages, I guess it is not the ideal.

I really hope we are able to use this information in the best way.

Raul

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Hi Jennifer,

I'll have a look at the news page later this week. I might be able to show an alternative page on the development site, will let you know when it's there.

Pelle

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Hi Raul,

You're getting too techy for me :-)
I've added your suggestion to the tech issues, for Kester or Frans to find out.

Pelle

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Hi Mary, Carolyn, Melissa & Raul,

Thanks for sharing your ideas and concerns.

Raul, to address your concern first - Siegfried wrote:
More and more partners are interested in working with NABUUR. Six business firms and ngo’s are now jointly looking with us at how to further strengthen NABUUR’s outreach.
6 business firms are now looking with us at the future of NABUUR - as real partners, not 'just' donors - which is the reason that we're positive about the future. We'll stay around.

I'll get back to the other points mentioned tomorrow - allow me a bit of time to give it some thought.

Edit 07/01: Sorry, have been running around today. Will get to it tomorrow

Warm regards,

Pelle

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Dear Mary, Carolyn, Mellissa, Raul & others,

Most of the concerns written below are related to the role of Villages on NABUUR, boiling down to the question ‘Is there a change in focus of NABUUR?’ The answer is yes. However that change of focus is not new. It’s only that those changes become visible now.

I’ve dug up a posting from March last year:

"
Evaluation of the way NABUUR works
During extensive discussions with NABUUR Local Representatives, Facilitators, Neighbours and staff in the summer of 2007, the way NABUUR works was evaluated and improvements were thought of. As a result, the document ‘NABUUR Improvement and Redesign’ (attached) was written and approved by the Supervisory Board.


Improvement & Redesign
This document describes the process Villages go through on the NABUUR website (from application to project conclusion) and the different roles of volunteers during these stages was made clear. The role of the NABUUR staff was evaluated as well and the outcome was clear: The role of the NABUUR staff should be more of a facilitating one, and should never be a bottleneck in the process. Local Representatives, Facilitators and Neighbours should have tools, making it easier to do their thing on the website, independent of the NABUUR staff.


Staff not a bottleneck
Together with a more facilitating role for staff, a few bottlenecks in the old process can be solved, enabling NABUUR to eventually host more communities without needing more staff. As a result of this new direction the way of working is gradually changing,
[…]

"

The new direction for NABUUR also spoke of a different role for Villages: more empowerment for Local Communities, less handholding, or to quote Dennis Argall:
"Central to thought about these issues is the question of whether NABUUR needs to control or needs to enable community."

This is what you can see happening on NABUUR right now. New Villages are no longer being added, but eager Local Representatives are registering their communities through a process where they collaborate and give each other feedback. By themselves. With only limited help of staff they are finding their way.

They are all looking forward to use NABUUR as their window to the world… and maybe at a later stage also run a project, together with the committed Neighbours they have met by that time. But they need your help to discuss ideas or define that project:

  • The Village site is of value in and by itself: people from around the world can connect here, experience the Village and its people, witness the events. It’s possible to discuss the developments in the Village and come up with solutions/ideas that may eventually turn into a project.
  • The Village can opt to start a project, i.e. follow a more structured approach towards achieving their future goals. The project takes place in a separate functional collaborative environment (still offering the familiar range of shorter and longer term assignments).

I must say I’m excited by the way the new Local Reps are getting started!

I also realise it’s not ready yet:
- A possibility for basic discussion will be added to the new Villages ASAP. This should also help those Local Reps that ask now: 'what next?'
- Concerning the basics for a new Village to come online: if you think there’s important information missing – let me know
- I agree there should be a clear overview of the concrete tasks at hand. This also implies that the inactive projects in current Villages should be clearly marked. This is on top of our priority list.

Melissa – I heart your ideas about the peer-to-peer ‘Welcome group’ or forum. Could you help set that up?

Raul – I’m sorry to hear that you still feel that the few results get lost amongst a huge amount of information from so many villages. Especially the last few months a lot of stories were made clearly visible, presented on an attractive page AND volunteer story tellers are lining up to keep the stream of good stories going. If there’s other kinds of stories/results that you think should be emphasized, broadcasted, promoted... I’m all ears!

I hope I haven’t missed too much.
Looking forward to hear your thoughts,

Pelle

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Hi Pelle, and thanks for the answers.

I agree that the communities should be in control, but for that to happen, the underlying Nabuur process and website have to work well, which may include some redesign to cope with the new focus.

Most volunteers come to Nabuur with a desire to do something, and at the moment its just so hard to find things to do. Go to the Villages page and try and find the active projects and you will see what I mean. If you go into Africa, only one of the villages on the first plage has an associated project.

You also ask what is missing from the new villages. In many cases, pretty much everything as all they have is a name, picture and location. Not even any background information. So how will that motivate neighbours to get involved?

I feel that what you have said is still very focused on getting new villages online and does not address my and others concerns about the general lack of activity among existing villages, how this will be resolved (remove or assist), and what can be done to help volunteers find suitable projects to work on.

Please can you explain a little more on those areas as per the questions we have asked.

I have seen the Improvements and Redesign document before, I just don't believe that the current site makes most of those ideas possible.

Mary

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