Hello TuDiabetes community!
As you already read in this announcement, this spring TuDiabetes will be moving to a new home! The main platform we will use is called Discourse, and it offers a host of cool new features which are not available on our current platform. I’ll be filling you in on some of those features as we get closer to migration time, but first I want to give you an overview of some of the features we currently have that will either change or be lost completely when we move. In a later post I will talk about things we will gain in our new home.
Groups: TuDiabetes currently hosts 420 groups, the vast majority of which are very small and inactive. Those inactive groups will not move to the new platform with us. However, all the large and active groups (such as Parents of Kids with Type 1, Omnipod Users, and Dexcom Users, to name just a few) will still be represented, in the form of forum sub-categories. For example, we may have a forum category called “insulin pumps”, within which are subcategories for discussions about specific brands of pumps. The exact categories and subcategories have not been selected yet, but we will ensure that they represent all popular topics in the community.
The two main differences between this structure (forum sub-categories) and the groups pages we are used to are: 1. members will not be able to create their own sub-categories (although we are always open to suggestions!), and 2. you will not need to “join” a subcategory to participate in the discussion, the way you need to join a group.
Blogs: Our current blogs section on TuDiabetes has a number of strengths and weaknesses. Strengths include the fact that all our members have the ability to write and publish their own blogs, and they are housed within the community. This, however, has historically led to confusion about which posts should go in the discussion forum, and which belong in the blogs area. As a result, we end up with a lot of great potential forum discussion posts erroneously placed among the blogs, where they get lost. Discourse does not host a blogs section for members to write posts in, so posts intended to be discussions will go to the right place, and be discussed.
A downside to this change is, of course, that content which members truly write as blogs will no longer be hosted on TuDiabetes. Instead, we will help members set up their own, personal blogs using other platforms. There are a multitude of good, free, and simple platforms that host personal blogs, and we will publish a detailed tutorial on TuDiabetes to help members who want to set up their own, personal blog sites online.
In addition to this, on the new site we will host a dynamic page with links to external blogs which we believe to be of particular value to our members. This will be a cross-section of perspectives and information from the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), aimed at giving TuDiabetes members easy access to a host of great diabetes-related content from across the internet. We hope that some of our current bloggers on TuDiabetes will create their own blog sites that we can include on this resource page!
Profile page customization: Profile pages on Discourse are very simple, and do not show much personal information. Nor do they have comments sections. We’re working with the folks at Discourse to add as much information and customization to our profile pages as possible, but at the moment we do not know exactly how much we’ll get. Regardless, the profile pages will undoubtedly be much less customizable than we are used to.
Discourse does offer a much wider variety of badges than we currently have, and these badges are a way to convey important personal information. For example, we will be able to give members badges that indicate the type of diabetes they have, whether they use insulin, whether they have a child with diabetes, etc.
Discourse also offers a much easier way to view basic information about other members, and send private messages, which I will explain in a later post.
Videos and photos pages: Discourse does not host specific pages dedicated solely to member videos and photos, the way we currently have them on the Ning platform. Instead, Discourse makes it easier to embed photos and videos within any discussion thread. This makes for more visually interesting and dynamic discussions, and we think it will be a big improvement!
One added complexity, however, is that any video embedded on Discourse needs to come from a platform like YouTube or Vimeo, and not just downloaded off your phone. This means that if you have a video on your phone (for example) that you want to post in a discussion on Discourse, you will first need to upload it to another online platform.
Currently, our videos page on TuDiabetes is dominated by recordings of our Live Interviews. These will instead be catalogued and organized on a dedicated page, where members will be able to search them by title, topic, keyword or other identifier. This will be a HUGE improvement to our current archive of Live Interview videos, which is not easily searchable.
Events: In the new platform we are going to replace the events section with a calendar on the home page that displays a month-to-month view of upcoming events, and allows members to subscribe to receive e-mails about events. This calendar will also automatically post events on members’ google calendars or iCalendars when they RSVP to attend.
Birthdays list: You may have noticed that our current platform displays member birthdays each day on the home page (pretty far down, on the left). It is in alphabetical order and only shows 20 people, so the majority of our birthdays actually don’t display, and this has always been a disappointment to members who don’t show up there. Discourse does not normally display members’ birthdays, or compile a daily list, but we recognize that wishing each other happy birthday is a TuDiabetes tradition, and we want to keep it going! So we’re working with the folks at Discourse to create a new birthday system, and they have assured us that something can be created to generate a list of birthdays each day :)
Chat: will remain!! It might look a bit different, but it will do all the same things (and possibly more).
All that said, Discourse has a plugin API, which means that new capabilities and features can be built and added to our site as we go along. We expect that once we move to our new home and get oriented to the new environment we will begin to come up with changes and additions we would like to make, and unlike our current home, the Discourse platform will allow us to do that! Exciting times are ahead for our community!!
As you can see, things will be a little different on our new platform. This is a much more modern platform, which exemplifies the current thinking around online communities. In a future post I will outline some of the features we will have on Discourse which we do not currently have, and I think you’ll agree that they’re very exciting!
I invite you to check out some of the features on Discourse through their “Try Discourse” tester site! And stay tuned for my upcoming message about some of the great features and capabilities we will gain in our new home!