Groups, Forums and Subscriptions

The CNP-consultants mailing list has had over 500 posts and replies since its inception in about May 2007. The ATCN-members list has also been active, but I have not seen the traffic. The technology used was cheap and cheerful and it is now time to replace it with something better.

Facilities

The new system offers a combination of online discussions, with email notifications of new post. I can offer a much larger number of groups and forums with overlapping memberships, with little maintenance. These all use the same software system but I have divided them into

Forums
Public discussions that any browser can see. Only members of the site can join a forum and contribute
Groups
Closed discussions for a selected audience, with variable visibility to other site members. Not visible to casual browsers

The original post can use HTML formatting, although there is no editor for this yet. It can have files of arbitrary type attached for others to download. Replies to this are made as comments and they can be "threaded" so that users can reply to a comment rather than the original post. Every post and every comment generates email notifications, to which group and forum members can subscribe. For each subscription you can choose how often you are notified and in how much detail. You only need a browser to access the messages, and can do so from anywhere, so there is no longer a need to subscribe multiple email addresses in order to be able to contribute from home and work. At present the system can only send notifications to one email address per user.

Instructions

Setting up

You need to be a member of the site to use this system. Membership is open to UK health professionals with an interest in Clinical Neurophysiology and a few others. This is not a forum for patients. You can request an account from the "Create New Account" link in the bottom left corner of the home page. Note that there is also a link for those for have forgotten their passwords ... To view your subscriptions, click "My Account" from the main menu on the left, then "Notifications" from the tabbed items at the top and finally groups. For every group and forum you belong to you can now see subscription options. Turning off the checkbox or selectiing a "send interval" of never will prevent notifications. A send interval of immediate will mean that you get immediate notification of every change, usually one at a time. The other items provide a digest - ie a summary of changes made in the last time period. The system is capable of much more, but I have enabled only the simplest facilities until we, collectively, gain more experience.

Creating a new post

The easiest way to create a new post is to browse to the group in which you want to post it. In the top right hand "block" on the page you will then see a link to "Create Group Post" which will take you to a submission form. Please ensure you have chosen the correct group or groups using the link near the bottom of the page, and respect the "Public" setting. You can upload files using the link at the bottom of the page. Previewing the post before finally submitting it allows you to spot any errors!

Continuing the discussion

You can create a comment on the initial post, or reply to someone else's comment to continue the discussion. At the bottom of the page you will find controls that allow you to see the full comment or just the heading, and to display the comments in time order or 'threaded' - so that you can see which comments are replies to others.

Using the email notifications

The emails contain links to the relevant group and forum posts, as well as your subscriptions. If your browser is not logged into the site you will probably see an "Access Denied" message. Do not be put off by this - simply log in and all should be well. On some computers you may need to click the email link a second time after logging in. At the very worst you may have to copy and paste the URLs from the email to the browser. You can change the amount of detail you receive in each email, and the frequency with which emails are sent, by going to the "My account" page.

Change over period from old system

The new system was launched in Dec 2008. Please use it for all new messages. I have arranged for summaries to go out to the old mailing lists, until they are switched off. I hope this will be possible in Jan 2009. Until then you will get notifications from both the new and the old systems, and I hope this will not be too problematic.