QUESTION: Is it possible to issue an email of scientific submissions quarterly?
(not the discussions). So that it is more like an electronic WBG?
I think it is clear that at least some people would only like to receive the juicy bits and pieces
of information, if possible, by email. Bionet.celegans cateres to this partially by allowing email subscription.
Such a request is understandable as many are very busy in this day and age.
The present Forum:
SMF was one of two Forum Software packages that Todd at Wormbase installed and tested, and it was the one with
more features. So that was selected. This software at present does not offer to send out emails of posts automatically.
So, no automatic digests of posts can be sent currently. However, the Forum does have a feature that allows you to receive
an email when a post is made to a specific board or topic. You can choose yourself which boards or topic will send out a notification
when a post has been made. For this you click the “notify” botton in the board or topic index. You need to be registered for this to work.
There are other software packages, such as FUD Forum http://fudforum.org/
which offer mail list and news server features. Those would allow posting to the Forum by email, as well as
posts being sent out by emails.
Depending how the Forum will develop, perhaps there will be sufficient interest in such features
and a move to another software package may be warrented?
But how would the Forum contents be moved from one software package to another?
This also raises an issue that I would like to bring up with Todd: How can we safeguard the long-term survival
of the “important” posts on the WCF through time, considering changing hardware and
software in the future. At present old WBG and meeting abstracts are stored in Wormbase as text files,
so can be maintained. What could be implemented for the Forum? There is an archiving feature,
but does this make the posts accessible in text form, or through textpresso?
All in all, we are dependent on the resources that WormBase manages to allocate to maintaining this.
We should all be happy that this Forum has now been started.
With respect to sending posts by email: At present, there are only 21 registered users at bionet.celegans
according to Google. So perhaps there is not such a big demand for email notifications after all? It’s also
worth pointing out that the WormBook chapter on Web Resources doesn’t even mention bionet.celegans,
so it doesn’t have a high profile anymore.
Adding email features to SMF in the future?
There may also be the possibility to add features to SMF. For example, there is phpBB M2F (Mail2Forum)
which is an add-on software for the phpBB forum system. I don’t know if someone is developing something
similar for SMF. Wormbase also has a mail list server, I’m not sure if that could be used
together with SMF for the WCF. And as mentioned, some email features are present in SMF, as one can email a post.
But how this could be automated I do not know presently.
What CAN the present Forum do:
Notification: As a user, you can click the Notify button on particular boards or topics to receive email notification,
if something gets posted in that section. The email will initially not contain the contents of the post, just that something has been posted.
However, you can set the email to contain the text of the post: Go into your “Profile”, choose “Notifications and Email” under the “Modify Profile”.
Click the checkbox for “When sending notification of a reply to a topic, send the post in the email”. Save your settings.
Now the boards/topics you subscribe to with “Notify” will email you the post. CAVEAT: Do not reply to these emails as all emails
will just go to Todd Harris. Instead, use the Forum to reply, if you would like to reply.
RSS: Using RSS works actually beautifully with Safari Version 2,
not so well with Firefox version 2. If you are on the Forum web site, just click the blue RSS button in the URL line
of Safari, and you will see the RSS feed. You get the headlines, with the slider you can adjust how
much to see of the text of each post, and there is a link the read the full post. You can also sort and search easily. Just
bookmark the RSS feed to use it. At present SMF has a default limit to view the 5 last posts. Todd
might be able to set this to a different value in the SMF software. However, you can also set it personally to
any number of posts you like. Do it like this:
The normal RSS feed URL looks like this:
just insert the following in the URL: limit=20; (or 30, 50, whatever)
Now you will see the, e.g., 20 last posts.
It may also possible to somehow tweak this to see only posts in particular boards,
but I don’t know how easy this is. Anyway, I could recommend the RSS as a simple way to look at
headlines, perhaps once a week, and only read those posts you are interested in.
Identification of interesting contents:
One aspect implicit in the initial question is “quality contents”, something that one might expect to see in the old style WBG.
We have one specific board in the Forum dedicated to this, the Worm e-Gazette. So, one could set up notification
when something gets posted there, or perhaps there is a way to tweak RSS to only show posts there.
However, one might miss interesting posts in other sections.
Another way to identify interesting pieces is that someone extracts the information manually.
Perhaps one could find a volunteer that scans all posts every few months and generates a digest/newsletter from
that that gets mailed? Who would do that?
Another idea for identifying interesting posts is using a rating system. There is an add-on for SMF that
allows ratings of posts by users. In this way, one could have a manual or perhaps automatic way of sifting interesting
from less interesting posts for digests.
Bionet.celegans was also operating under the guidelines that people should summarize replies they got by email and then
post a single email with all the replies. That worked to some extend. One could also put something like
that into guidelines/welcome message for the WCF, perhaps it might help to get people involved, especially
those that don’t feel like posting to a topic directly. The Forum does allow emailing and messaging between members.
It would also elimate replies/post that don’t add content.
So, this summarizes the Forum features on how to “keep up with the posts” for the moment;
others are welcome to comment with ideas and suggestions, of course.