Hi there. I am the Executive Vice President / Program Director for the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association, Inc (or, the SFAAA for short.) While this may sound like it's somewhat of a big deal, the reality of it is that we're a relatively small not for profit astronomy club located in Broward County, Florida. Our club may be relatively small, but our goals certainly aren't...
Our primary goals are:
To develop an environment where amateur astronomers (or folks that are simply interested in astronomy) can learn more about the hobby, it's tools and skills, and astronomy in general in a friendly group setting that actually gets members out under the stars together
To provide educational outreach to the public both at our own observatory and at many public functions throughout the area
To work toward preserving what dark sky places still exist and generate greater awareness of the issues surrounding light pollution, its effects and mitigation
I'm the club's "webmaster". Like my position on the club's board, the reality of this job is less impressive than it sounds. I'm not a web professional by any means, and as most folks in my situation, I look toward extensions to help us do what needs doing.
I've been looking at the "Social Professional Bundle" for quite a while now. I've been disenchanted with other extensions in the past which offered what seemed to be the perfect answer to whatever our need was at the time, but once installed they fell short. I have already pestered the poor folks at Stackideas with question after question about this bundle, and their willingness to let me take my time to thoroughly understand what their products can do has helped immensely to make me feel confident that the "Social Professional Bundle" can help us solve some nagging issues with user engagement on our club website.
I had already planned on lobbying our Board of Directors to authorize me to purchase it when I saw your blog post about user engagement and the contest you're running. I was elated - in an organization such as ours, where we fund and run our own observatory solely through club dues and donations, every penny counts! I'm certainly not a cheap person, but I had to take this chance to win one for the club!
Here is why I feel that the "Social Professional Bundle" is a perfect fit for us. Recently we have realized that we have some problems with user engagement - not just from visitors to our website, but also (and arguably even more importantly) from our own membership. I feel that we must tame this "two headed snake" if we are to grow our website the way we want to.
In an effort to get more engagement from the membership and to also provide some additional "value" to membership, we recently changed our Joomla! website from a model where nobody but admins could log in to administer the site to a model where only members were allowed to register. Members can now see exclusive content and are also able to contribute content if they so desire, but engagement by membership isn't what it should be.
We have some very talented folks in our club, and they are not at all shy about posting their comments and photos. It's not as if they don't (or won't) contribute... it's just that they prefer the way that they do it right now, which is through the club's Yahoo! group.
The problem with the use of this "channel" (for lack of a better way to put it) is that its intended primary use is to gather the membership together when the weather is clear to travel to dark sky as a group. In order to protect the security of our members, the Y! Group is therefore closed to public access - only members are permitted to join.
The Y! group is a bit like Vegas - what happens there tends to stay there. The problem we have grown for ourselves here is that it is very easy for the members to contribute photos, discussions and such here (via email is the overwhelming choice for this), and it has become the preferred method of sharing with the membership because it doesn't require you to log in to contribute - you simply post an email.
Unfortunately, it is very labor intensive to "port" content from the Y! group to our web page. Our website visitors miss out on almost all of what the club is doing outside the realm of public outreach because of this. As a result I feel we are not telling the complete story of what the club is about on our web site, and I fear we are not attracting as many folks to actually join the club or contribute as we could because of this.
Easy Blog and Easy Discuss are tailor made to address this accessibility issue because you can easily contribute to your blogs or discussions via email. If our current contributors could post content and discussions directly to the web site as simply as they now post to the Y! group, this could change everything for us when it comes to member engagement!
There's no question in my mind that fixing the issues with member engagement will help us immensely, but we also need to tackle the issue of visitor engagement. At present, visitors to our site cannot really contribute in any way. As our "webmaster", I feel that we need to change this long standing paradigm of ours to catch up to the times. We have started to develop a presence on social media - we should extend this friendly hand to our website visitors as well.
Allowing the public to comment on the things that they see on our website and "like" what they see is so standard these days. We should have done it a long while back, but in the past we've had issues with folks who were really out there to cause problems, ad the decision was made to close off access. Nowadays newer extensions can help to reduce this sort of problem, and Komento seems to be a perfect fit for this. No matter how the contest fares, or what the board decides as far as expenditures go, getting back the ability to engage our visitors must happen.
I hope that you'll find our story to be compelling, and I do thank you for your time and attention.
Congratulations Charlie - we have chosen your entry for the first prize. A copy of the StackIdeas Social Professional Bundle will be coming your way soon. We thought that your situation is a perfect fit for this bundle of extensions and look forward to hearing how it helps the SFAAA website.
I’m trying to redesign our web site and am excited to be able to add QA and blog to it as we are new association and trying to reach to new members and implement every body’s idea for improving our association. I am new to Joomla 3.0 and am learning to use new extensions for our website. I’m also trying to create poll and collect info. Before, I used Pre-designed templates and just changed it to suit our purpose. This time I’m trying to do it by using new extensions. I believe using EasyBlog and Yahoo Answers will enable us to reach our goals faster and easier.
One of my upcoming projects is to revamp my wife's website which I developed 6 years ago in Dreamweaver. My lack of experience with Joomla means I haven't got my teeth into it yet, but it has to be done!
The theme of her website is Hypnotherapy treatment and all things Pregnancy, (she's a Midwife). As you can appreciate these topics raise lots of questions from clients so as well as her blogs it would be a good idea to incorporate a dynamic Q&A stream that she could edit, (to correct bad advice and misconceptions). A tried and tested tool for that would be great, and save me development time.
(NB this post is date stamped Saturday, but it's 10am Friday 28th here in Alberta)
Ok I’m totally hooked, having looked really closely at this extension and can think of endless possibilities.
For starters :
For our web company we'd have an FAQ with the answers to the questions our clients ask most often about their new Joomla! websites. Wow! that saved us time (=money) immediately (you know we're going to have buy this if we don't win, another cunning plan to get customers Stackideas!)
I'm trying to work out what possible reason we have for not using EasyDiscuss on our site, it’s common sense we'd increase traffic by providing a resource of really useful Joomla! Information AND we'd save time currently spent replying to individual emails.
We’d "spark that forum with EasyDiscuss" for our clients website all about parrots, we'd move their social media discussions to their website, a really useful way to get their visitors quick answers on the “discussion stream”, away from social media where trawling through what your friends had for breakfast to find the answer to your question about parrots can get very distracting. EasyDiscuss would put people in the right place to find the answers without the distractions. And as the upgrade to their brand new 2.5 site is imminent we could also use EasyDiscuss to poll for feedback about the new website.
Sorry can’t keep it to 100 words it’s too exciting a product with many possibilities for user engagement from a simple FAQ, a discussion board, to the more in depth user led knowledgebase for parrot lovers. What we can't think of is a reason why we don't have this already.
Hi, I'm Gary from Canada. I'm a web-designer and I'm currently working with a client who wants his site converted to a fluid / responsive layout. The site in question is going to be a real challenge to convert because it's HUGE (dozens and dozens of articles, interviews, press releases, FAQ's, product pages and on and on. It's also got a lot of fancy layout, typography, artwork and styles - which is going to be extremely time-consuming to "port" over to Joomla. I still haven't decided whether to go the Joomla route or WordPress.
WP, I'm familiar with, Joomla, I'm a newbie ... and it is daunting. The reason that these user interactive modules interest me, is that my client is an educator, one of the cutting-edge innovators in the Health Foods fields, and he wants to embrace some form of interactivity with people who have inquiries, questions, product feedback etc .. in a sense of education, community-building ... perhaps leading to a paid-membership based "members access area" of the site.
I'm feeling Joomla is much better suited to developing user-interactive areas than WordPress, but I have a lot of resistance to diving into what is a NOT-INTUITIVE interface and one which I've experienced a lot of frustration just to get beyond the basics. So, I'm at a crossroads with where to go with my design plans.
If I go with Joomla, it would likely be Joomla 3, due to it's reputation for adaptation for mobile and tablet devices, etc. Our target audience would be people interested in Health, Diet, Wellness and topics associated with Nutrition and nutritional pharmacology.
Thanks to Richard (and his 17 fish) for de-mystifying Joomla and making it accessible for development and customization. Hoping to brave the learning curve while I still have enough memory cells left!
I got my start in computers around 1993. I had read an article in a newspaper about something called "Bulletin Boards". How a person could use a personal computer and a modem and connect to these 'boards' and get "all this information for free". Anything you could ask or wonder about was out there, and all you had to do was to connect!
This fascinated me. I went out and bought a computer, an Emerson 286, 40 meg hard drive and blazing 2400 baud modem! Wow! Talk about speed! Three months later, I put up my own bulletin board called "Terminal Madness".
What I loved, and still love about "the good old days" was the personalization. We were a community, we knew each other, locally. But we could also "touch" others a world away! It was, and still is today, this type of connecting with others that still fascinates me, almost 20 years later!
But a lot of the good old days has been lost to commercialization. Yes, we all need to make a buck, but how nice was it to actually watch videos online without having to watch a 30 second commercial between each video? How nice was it that we could enter a 'conference' or log into a forum without being bombarded with ads? How nice was it that one could actually ask a question and have a reasonable expectation that you would get an intelligent reply?
Those days are long gone, except for software like Easy Discuss.
Easy Discuss gives the content creator, (Sysop, in the good old days) the ability to connect with their target audience or customers personally. It allows the user to feel that they are important, that they are or can be a part of a community. That they can help others, that they exist. I am not reaching here, over commercialization breeds the inability to connect with your audience.
Easy Discuss gives that back to you, to your customers, to your community. That is what I would use Easy Discuss for.
Congratulations Chris - we have selected your entry as the second place winner. You'll be getting a copy of EasyDiscuss Professional. I can relate to your history, although I go back a little further to 1983 and the Tandy TRS-80 III. Our family's first modem was 300 baud down, 75 baud up. My first reaction to the Internet was "wow - this is just like a worldwide bulletin board". Everyone went out of their way to help and that now clichéd word - "community" - certainly applied. Commercialization is a double-edged sword. It has drawn the spammers and the snake-oil salesmen online. But it also injected a huge amount of money to drive the thing to where we are now. I am still amazed that I can walk down the street and engage with the world using a phone that fits in my pocket, that runs all day and costs me less than $50 a month. And when it goes wrong, there are still some nice guys and gals around to help too.
Its 3am, the moon is full, I am lying in my roof top tent on the Land Cruiser in Chobe Game Park Botswana listening to the stomach of a huge elephant rumble noisily just metes away. I watch it through the “security” of the mozzie gauze as it picks succulent leaves from a nearby tree with its trunk. His massive tusks reflect the bright moonlight, its massive outline silhouetted against the glittering water of the Chobe River, he turns and moves towards me, his trunk raised tasting the air, he moves majestically past and on to the nearby Marula tree, it's fruit a favorite.
This is what I do, I take adventurous people of all ages on exciting expeditions into the remotest parts of Southern Africa. I have a Joomla web page created by someone else, now I must make it work for me, I am no IT whiz but i need to get people involved, talking about this amazing continent, our safaris and the wonderful animals that live there.
Hi Mike - congratulations - we have awarded you with the third prize - a copy of Komento Professional. Details on how to pick this up are coming to you shortly. This will make a nice addition to your site as your visitors will now be able to comment on your shots of elephants digesting the wilderness.
My bucket list includes hiking to the roof of Africa. I hope to get there while my body still has the strength.
I am not going to use this extension to save any poor and cute animal or teaching about Jesus to people.
what I'm going to do is make a Yahoo Answer like website on my domain (Persian word for Curiosity) and I will be the first one, you may not know but Yahoo and many other sites don't have Iran and Persian language in their listings.
I thing a system like Yahoo Answer can be very beneficial for a society under heavy censorship on very both sides.
I'm going to start my idea with a free extension Anyway.
I am currently working on an InChristBibleStudy.com (not live yet) website where people could learn all aspects of the Bible in a easy to understand format. Free Bible Lessons will be provided on all subjects relating to the Bible.
To answer your questions:
1. What you would do if you won:
EasyBlog and Kommento would give me a solid way to engage those who are participating by allowing them to create their own Bible Study Blog with a great easy to use commenting system.
EasyDiscuss would allow me to create lively discussions on each Bible Study subject which I believe would help generate user participation and interaction. A true socially functional web experience.
2. What format would you use?
Joomla 2.5 (Responsive)
3. What is your target audience?
Anyone who wants to learn more about the Bible.
I have been looking for an answer to help me to combine an online learning website with the ultimate social experience and I believe StackIdeas Extensions is truly what I need.
Honestly never used these extensions and would LOVE to get my hands on them. It has been a long time since I worked on my own site. Perhaps winning these would be just the motivation I need to finally do that rebuild. Not to mention learning how to work them would provide me a great way to close the deal on creating sites for others. Especially the SEO aspect of using them.
Being retired I have spent most of my time working with animal rescue groups, saving abandoned dogs and cats, adoptions etc. And engaging the public is becoming huge. Right now Facebook is the main source of communication between the public and each organization due to costs that most of these groups can't afford. It looks like easydiscuss would be a great addition to any of sites that I have been working on.
I have been running several different sites using a variety of open-source software, including Simple Machines Forum, Wordpress, PMWiki and Moodle, for many years.
I have more recently started a Joomla site (www.certbrasil.org) for the volunteer rescue teams and Community Emergency Response Team training that I undertake here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in partnership with other non-profits and local authorities.
I am very interested in being able to use the EasyBlog application as I haven't had enough time available to be able to implement a properly-working blog on the site, and I really need to be able to keep it updated with news and photos (such as this article from my personal blog showing the disaster response training we gave at a local school last week).
I am also interested in using the EasyDiscuss forum software so as to be able to maintain contact with the trainees, graduates and volunteer response team members that we are coordinating.
By reading all the posting about the Stackideas products. I would be very interested in using them for my new website I am designing. I am new to Joomla 3.0 and very excited about using new extensions for my website.
To force myself up the Joomla! learning curve I've been helping several churches in my area bring their websites into the 21st century. I'm using EasyBlog on a few commercial sites and want to introduce it and EasyDiscuss to a couple of the church sites.
The pastors would love an Easy way to keep up a communications flow.
A couple of Youth directors are buying into the idea of having an Easy to use forum just for the Youth.
Throwing in the ability for visitors to comment Easily on new posts by the teams of volunteer authors would keep their enthusiasm going.
Winning the Social Professional Bundle would get those churches going with modern Easy to use methods of keeping in tune with their members while attracting the attention of those looking for a church.
I'm very happy with EasyBlog, both for my clients' needs and the support received when needed. Need for support is rare but is usually because I need help expanding the way I use EasyBlog.
Thanks for the opportunity to take advantage of more of StackIdeas' great work.
I am in the process of building an industry based website bringing together all the disparate resources from around the web as no-one else has built a dedicated portal site for this industry. Part of this website will be a discussion based area for subscribers to discuss, and request help on, manufacturing or technical issues and benefit from networking on a global scale.
I have spent several years preparing and planning for this website, and the biggest issue I have faced is finding the right mechanism to make this question and answer section user friendly and easily navigable. I have trialled many of the forum extensions and other interactive extensions and none of them have given me what I feel is the right blend of features and presentation I was looking for.
EasyDIscuss however seems to be the just the thing I am looking for as it gives that beautiful blend of Facebook, LinkedIn, bulletin board and forum all rolled into one.
If I don't win a copy of this I will be buying it anyway!