Forum Organization Shared Practices

I have a "shared practice" type question and wanted to get thoughts from my fellow community architects using Telligent!

We're creating a group called "Questions & Discussions" that house most of our forums.  We want it to be really easy for users to navigate between the different forums, but make it feel like they're staying in the same place... creating a seamless UX for all questions.

 I'd like them to see a listing of all recent forum threads and be able to use the sort/filter tools to look through existing questions. I'm guessing the best way to do this is by using the Forum - Thread List widget. Then, on the right side (1/3) of the screen I'd like to see a list of our (15) Main Topics... similar to what Appian has done (image, right)

Now here's the caveat... Each of our Main Topics have 5-15 different sub-topics or categories. I would like to have this list on the right to function in a similar way to what Appian has done, so when a viewer clicks on one Main Topic, it would go to that forum AND show a list of all the sub-topics or categories within each main topic. SEE ATTACHED PDF.

So I was thinking that the best way to do this would be to create sub-groups for each of our Main Topics, beneath our ROOT "Questions & Discussions" Group. Then, we could create as many forums as we need to represent each of the categories within our subgroups.

I can envision so many ways to do this but I'd love to have a discussion with others to see what they would do, and why!

Some specific questions:

  1. We'd like to allow users to subscribe to individual forums, so I was thinking we would need to have them all as sub-groups. Would we need to have all of the granular categories within a Main Topic (Sub-group) as another sub-group??
  2. We'd like to have it so when a person clicks on one of the categories/main topics, on the right, that it opens to reveal all of the sub-groups or forums (depending on which we end up doing). What considerations should we take into account in order to be able to do this? Architecturally, would we need to use sub-groups vs. forums to be able to show all of the sub-topics?

Here's a sketch of what I was thinking of doing...

  • I have a very strong opinion about it but it really boils down to a choice. Telligent is a concept of Groups in which Applications reside. It is not an Application in which Groups reside. I see this all over the place . I see it a lot even in Telligent's own community. I don't agree with it but it can work especially if you do  not have too many groups. If you use Telligent as a Forum then indeed go ahead (but why did you buy Telligent and not a pure Forum). If you use Telligent to engage with a groups of people with a wide range of interests, then this approach may backfire on you. People do not subscribe to an Application, they subscribe to a Group in which you engage and one element is indeed a forum.

    You can mash up forums in a separate virtual group

  • I'm actually just in the middle of some of the same discussions without our community.

    And I fully agrees with Wilfried. But that's the beauty of TC. You can do it either with functional or interest based silos. Way back, when it was called Community Server, then the only option was functional. The navigation was root/forums, root/blogs, root/wikis etc. You could then divide your forums into forum groups, with optional sub-forums to your forums. That model caused a lot of problems to us. Originally our group were just about one product. When the company behind later merged with another product, they became part of our community to. But in reality we were two different groups of people, with the foundation in common. But it really didn't work, because of the functional silos.

    As Wilfried says, then this model might work if you have a rather small community. I can see an issue if you don't have any natural way where your community members group them selves. In our user group, besides having the group split per product (AX, NAV, CRM etc.), then our most of members fit into 4 different categories: end users, developers, functional or technical consultants. And often their interests do not match, so I was considering almost the same as you. Create separate sub-groups for each "Subject" and then having more sub-subject forums in there.

    But I don't think that it would work for us. Mostly because our forum is not that big (only around 200-250 active members per month + a 100000's of viewers, who does not engage). Subdividing in more groups/forums would without doubt result in "empty rooms". Nobody likes to get into a forum where the last post was made a year ago.

    Personally I prefer forums with are more flat, but then intensively uses tagging (combination of enforced community subject tags and custom user tags). Sadly that is not really possible with Telligent. At least not OOTB. I have seen it done partly at community.dynamics.com (). You would also need it to be possible to subscribe to individual tags.

    Another issue with groups and sub-group is if you are using gamification and leaderboards. If you basically have one community (or main group), then whatever activity your users does in the sub-groups, does not count in the main group. Your leaderboards are either site wide or group wise.

    What would be great was if it was possible to create sub-groups which were only navigational. Membership and permissions should be inherited, same as "points" etc. goes to the parent group.

    I took a look at your site. And although some of your most active forums are just as active as some of our most active groups , then I would still be afraid to sub-divide it further.

  • Not a reply to the architecture, but the Discussion Categories widget is exactly what our community has been asking for and what we have lost since migrating from Jive to Telligent. I can't find it in the available widgets. Is this a custom widget? Am I looking at the wrong widget title?

    Seeing this got me so excited! I'm REALLY hoping I can squeeze how you configured it out of you so our community can finally get what they've been asking for!

  • Thank you all for chiming in here and for elaborating on your thoughts. In Jive we had a "categories" feature that could be used within a group and it allowed you to categorize content within a group. It also had tags that you could use to further subcategorize content in a group. 

    Based on the feedback I received from y'all and thinking about this more, I'm leaning towards having one single group for Questions and Discussions and adding a "Forum" Application to represent the category for each Main Topic of questions/discussions. Then I will leverage tags for each of the sub-categories within each Main Topic.

    brought ups some great points. I'd like to hear more from on what they've done to enforce tags to empower community members to organize their content as they post new threads. 

    I'm also wondering if anyone has insight on how to allow people to subscribe to individual tags. If one of our members wants to be notified whenever someone posts about a particular tag, is there a simple way to allow them to subscribe to that tag/topic? I'm sure will have an answer to this question.

  • I'm also wondering if anyone has insight on how to allow people to subscribe to individual tags. If one of our members wants to be notified whenever someone posts about a particular tag, is there a simple way to allow them to subscribe to that tag/topic?

    That is EXACTLY what our users have loudly been asking for (for some time). showed me a workaround to create keyword rules that emails the identified users when that keyword has been used. It definitely isn't a simple subscription process, though. It's manually adding/editing emails in the rule itself whenever people say they want to follow that keyword.

    More insight on this would be extremely helpful.

  • Subscribing to Tags had been submitted as an Idea a few years ago but didn't get much traction. Perhaps it needs to be revisited....

  • brought ups some great points. I'd like to hear more from on what they've done to enforce tags to empower community members to organize their content as they post new threads.

    From what I can decipher, Archie is empowering his community members by providing a list of Forums called specific names which represent Topics, Categories, or Tags.

    OOB you can not force a tag to be used in a thread however you can provide suggestions similar to what Jive would do if in the case of Categories. When you create categories in Jive, there is a field to add suggested tags.

    Here is how you can add suggested tags for EACH forum:

    Under each Forum you can add a tag to be used in the Forum however it is not automatically applied to the content. When a user clicks inside the tag field, the tags used in the forum, including the one you added displays giving the user a selection to use.

    Hope this helps a bit.


    Another Idea is to add Tag List Widgets to the page if you are creating specific types of content yourself. For example, If you have the contant tagged individual with one of these 4 tags, Groups, Membership, Permissions, Widgets you can then put 4 Tag List Widgets on the page and Filter each widget to show only content with that tag.