Under the discussion board’s hood

July 12, 2007 at 8:23 am Leave a comment

website toolbox logo, (c) Website ToolboxI’ve had a few inquiries from other Extension website managers about our discussion board. Here’s what I’ve been sending out in response:

We use Website Toolbox for the discussion board platform. It’s relatively cheap and seems to work well. (According to my records a one-year subscription cost us $42.) By far its most important strength is spam control: Knock on wood, we’ve had no spam problems at all in the 4 months or so that it’s been up. That may change (?), but it’s good for now.

Website toolbox is easy to set up and use, but has some limitations. A more expensive product might have more functionality. Some settings that should be modifiable seem hardwired, which at times is annoying. This is a relatively minor thing though, and overall I’m pretty happy with the software.

Discussion board usage has been good. In the first three months after launch, there are 34 threads, averaging about 100 views each. There are a total of about 100 posts, so each thread includes about two replies. There is significant variation by topic.

There’s room for growth, but overall I’ve been pleasantly surprised with this. The discussion board is not meant to be an ask-the-expert thing, it’s supposed to be a forum for discussion. But, in most cases I write the first reply, and I try to do that within 24 hours of the original post. With that in mind, although more questions would be nice, a lot more questions would strain my capacity to address them.

The discussion board is not moderated, so we do not review posts before they appear. They go up as soon as the writer hits “submit.” We do, however, receive email notifications of new posts, and we tend to check them rather frequently.

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Entry filed under: about myminnesotawoods.

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News and information of interest to Minnesota woodland owners. Sister site to MyMinnesotaWoods.org.

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