10 Replies Latest reply on Mar 31, 2011 10:30 PM by Oosthuar

    How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

      I am new to Jive and familiar with Sharepoint and Livelink Communities. I have read up on Spaces and Groups and understand that these objects are the same as sites or community workspaces...what I cannot figure out is how do you structure the conversations within such a community?


      Besides my exposure to work discussion forums, my private interest expose me to off road biking sites such as Thumertalk.com, e-dirt.co.za and advrider.com which are all structured around topics. Similarly Livelink Communities allow you to create a discussion forum for which you define a very broad scope/guideline of what content is expected to posted. Once the forum is set up, people post their contributions / questions relating to the "forum topic". e.g. within the Mechanical Engineering COP (site) one would create discussion forums for each of the competency areas or practices or interests; such as "Vessel Design" or "Rotating Equipment" or "ASME Code / specification".


      Reading some posts on Jive, it seems that once you have set up a space or group, there is no further structuring of topics. Instead of finding 5 to 7 Forums with a each containing a number of posts, one finds one bucket of 300+ discussions spanning all topics.


      I have also read that you can set up categories to filter content and provide some basic browse-able structure but I also read that one is reliant on users doing the tagging and auto tagging is not perfected yet.


      Am I correct to say that the (only) ways to structure discussions (blogs and forums) are:

      • categories or
      • creating "smaller" spaces for each next level competency area with more defined topic scope or
      • creating groups for each next level competency area with more defined topic scope






        • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

          Hi Armand,


          The 1st thing our consultants would ask is what are your goals with the community? How many members do you expect? How much content do you expect? How big a variety of topics do you plan to cover in your communtiy?


          Your summary of JIve capabilities to structure content (discussions, blogs, videos, documents) are basically correct.


          in Jive, there are 4 "Places" that content can live

          - Spaces - Hierarichal and admin controlled

          - Groups - No hierarchy and created by end-users

          - Projects - Contained within a space or group and provide basic project management capabilities

          - You - Each user has their own personal place they can store content


          Within each of these places the 3 primary ways to structure content are

          - By content type (video, discussion, document....)

          - Categories - Created by the place administrator and selected from a drop down menu prior to posting content

          - Tags - Created by end users. Tags can automatically be associated with categories.


          Unlike traditional forums platforms that restrict content to the (Category, Topic, Forum) structure, Jive's content architecture is much more flexible in that we support both hierarichal and ground-up social constructs. Additionally, unlike Forums where one has to navigate through the Category, Topic and Forum hierarchy to get to content, with JIve, content can live at each node in your navigation. The trade-off with thie flexibility of course is that you have many options to structure content which goes back to the original questions, what are you trying to do.


          If you want to mimic traditional Forums as much as possible you can do this with Spaces with 2 levels of hierarchy. Parent Space would be the Category, 1st level of sub-spaces would be the Topic, 2nd level of sub-spaces would be the forums.


          You can see something similar to this in action here: http://community.us.playstation.com/community/games/action-adventure/god-of-war


          However, if you restrict all content to this hierarchy you might be adding unneccesary structure to content and topics or forcing your users to create content in locations where interested parties would never think to navigate. In order to allow for users to self-organize around topics we have the concept of groups.


          Netapp does a pretty good job of using both structures on their external community:



          To provide structure to content in the group the group owner can create categories. If the group becomes a huge success with hundred of users and thousands of pieces of content it might make sense for the community admin to create more formalized spaces for those content and discussions.

            • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

              Just adding to what Cameron said...


              The employees in my company are mostly electrical engineers, (BSEE/MSEE), so they like to overdesign things sometimes.  We originally had a multi-level hierarchy for our spaces.  Our Jive strategy consultant helped us see that we should start with one space (Armand, this is the "one bucket" you referred to) so everything can be easily found.  When the bucket starts to fill up, you'll start to see natural divisions within the content.  You can then subdivide into multiple spaces and easily move the content, so you have more buckets with less in each of them.


              To analogize it, let's say we had a community with one space: "baseball".  After users post a fair amount of stuff, we might see that the content splits between discussions about American League teams and National League teams.  We'd then set up 2 spaces, one for AL and one for NL.  These could later be subdivided by teams, or by city, or...


              The key takeaway is to let the content (and therefore the users) determine the hierarchy, rather than the administrators.  Crowdsourcing at its finest.



                • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?


                  We follow the same approach.  When I see many layers of sub- communities, that means they are designing a web site.  I also point out to the community owner that a fragmented community will make it harder to generate a critical mass, will increase their work load tracking and promoting the activities, etc.


                  One community space using categories can handle most needs.


                  • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

                    Thanx Cameron and Jim,




                    We have been setting up communities for the past 4 years and are doing a good job in defining the purpose and then to set up the items for users. We have also leant the hard way NOT to overdesign the workspaces (break it down to low too quickly) ..hence my question about how it achieve suitable buckets of conversations within a space that still has a diverse nature of topics (and thus avoid the need to create new sub spaces just for the sake of structuring the buckets of conversation).




                    The options within Jive is either "next level" sub spaces (not preferred as already discussed) or using "categories" (also having some user or technology issues). I still need to make peace with this as I (and the other 2500 engineers in my BU) am used to working in community workspaces that has a few "defined" buckets and one "general catch all" bucket. This makes it easy to decide where to contribute/ask question (know the purpose of the discussion) and easy to decide if you want to subscribe and receive notifications.




                    Not having the ability to subscribe to only one or two useful topics of conversations within a large space (yet to be divided as maturity evolve), will either cause my users to get a lot of notifications he/she is not interested in or make him/her not subscribe at all and thus loose out on getting or contributing knowledge.











                      • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

                        Armand, I understand what you're facing.  We are facing a similar situation...basically, you want to put the content in a place that's easy for the users to find it (i.e., a big bucket so they don't have to sort through 20 different buckets to see what they're interested in) but you also want to allow them to subscribe to the content that they really want to see (i.e., get alerts/notified when certain tags or categories are used).


                        There's a small pilot project internally that's based off the same technology that powers Stack Overflow (http://stackoverflow.com/).  In this paradigm the content organization/user notification is driven by tags, not by containers that the data fit into.


                        We've looked at some customizations for Jive that would move us closer to this model, but writing the code to do that would take a lot of time and effort and would really be pushing the tool into a different way of doing things.


                        Having said all this, from what I hear Jive 5 will offer some expanded capabilities to get you closer to what you're looking for.  My understanding is that there will be better searching/notifications with tags, etc.  This will ultimately make it more about the content than the container.



                          • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

                            If it is any help, we started A LOT of specialized buckets for our community--some even 5 or 6 levels deep.  I found that some discussions may be in the right place, but no one saw it because it was so deeply buried.


                            I just recently reorganized all of our discussion spaces into about 8 major areas (consolidating down from over 50) and used categories to help filter the content in each area. It now makes  much more sense for the users and isn't as overwhelming.


                            If one specific topic takes off, I'll break it out in a subspace, but until then, the categories and tags will keep things organized.


                            My motto: "Launch and Learn"  Start smaller and let it grow organically.  Get them used to the basics before adding complexity (even if they ask for it up front). Plus, you'll look like a whiz later when you add what they ask for.

                    • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

                      I see that this discussion thread is quite old but I do think its a very important issue to comment on. Try to keep your community structure as simple and flat as possible keeping in mind your user exerience. Intuitive Categories as names are CRITICAL and don't launch sub communities unless you really need them. A good tagging structure can call out and categorize your content nicely.


                      Like Brad- I had a large community which launched with numerous sub communities- we found that most of the sub communities were unnecessary and users weren't engaging. It took alot of work to pare them down. But heres the deal- who wants to go to a party in mansion with 2 or 3 people in each room?

                        • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

                          There are two schools of thought – the “pure social networking” believing in very little structure and the “structured / technical “ topic environment. I find the Jive option to only structure topics with categories as limiting as both Sharepoint and Livelink COP’s currently offer structuring via “cat/tag” and “topic buckets” – this allows them to cater for both “cultures”.


                          In our business we have found that structured topics in one large space / COP is the only way to easily provide topic structuring without need to create next level spaces which only die out as the culture/ownership/value is not yet understood – especially in the early phases of community maturity.


                          In a perfect end state and mature business a topic will be equal to a space / group. Until such time, one need a way of creating a little more structure without the admin/workload of additional spaces/cop’s (as so many respondents to this post has mentioned).


                          Adding this ability to Jive would enable it to cater for both cultures (or various cop maturities).


                          PS: It is nice to see everyone sharing / warning about the fact NOT to overdesigning the community levels too quickly – a lesson we have also learnt in the past 4 years..






                        • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

                          Jive is a bit different from VBulletin as used on ADVRider (wengland out there!)


                          In a nutshell, VB has a Topic / Space model, where Jive has Space - Subspace model.


                          Instead of 'The Basement' containing two spaces, Jo Momma and Head Explody, you'd have a space, The Basement.  If you needed more granularity, you could create a subspace for Jo Momma.


                          In both cases strong moderations is needed to help users put content in the right place.  Rants get moved from Ride Reports to Jo Momma, etc.  Build a culture of competency and you end up with the right content in the right places.  Keep the structure simple and mostly flat, and you get better user behavior.

                            • Re: How do you structure discussion forums or blogs in Jive?

                              Thanks William,


                              I got the differences between the two engines...I merely quoted the sites to demonstrate the principle of structured topic buckets. I am also talking of a much smaller community than the 163 000 members (6000 online at a time) Advrider site. Our need is to have one space (for now as they start out) for ~ 100 people that has 5 ~ 7 discussion forums which are pretty much singular in nature (i.e. not overlapping). Not all are interested in all topics so splitting the topics will reduce spam but keeping them in the same space will help build en demonstrate the “community” culture. We expect these topics to grow into their own sub communities with time.