THL Toolbox > Community & Communication > Discussion Forums
Contributor(s): David Germano
THL at present uses online worksites called “Collab,” each of which has a standard set of tools, including discussion forums. Thus a worksite might be dedicated to “Tibetan Dictionaries,” or “Tibetan GIS,” and thus the discussion forum within it is used for discussions relating to that subject matter. These discussion forums to not have a public dimension, and participants have to apply to THL to get permission to participate. See THL Collab Worksites for a list of all worksites and contact information if you wish to join.
Discussion forums are also referred to as “threaded discussion lists” or “bulletin boards.” Their two chief advantages are:
- They don’t intrude into the user’s inbox; rather, they reside on the server until users read and/or submit posts at their discretion
- Topics can be posted, so that instead of one generic list the forum can be broken down into multiple areas, which users can ignore or participate in as they like without being overwhelmed with things in which they are not necessarily interested
Each discussion forum is essentially a space for conversation in which users post “topics.” The opening page has a list of “Topics,” along with a new button for “newtopics.” Clicking on the “newtopic” button will allow you to create your new topic for others to discuss. To read an already extant topic, click on one of the titles listed under “Topics” and you will see all the postings listed under that Topic. It will also give you a button “post reply” which allows you to post your own thoughts on that topic. All replies are permanently posted under the topic in chronological order, so that anyone can easily follow the thread of discussion from beginning to end. In addition, the “Search” link will allow you to search all of the topics simultaneously to find if any given person, item, or whatever has been discussed in past exchanges. Searches can be limited to specific forums. To summarize, the Discussion Forums have three levels of increasing narrowness in scope:
- Forums: Areas dedicated to specific subject matters
- Topics: users can specify without restriction unless the moderator deems something inappropriate
- Posts: The specific messages; users can specify without restriction unless the moderator deems something inappropriate
In this way, discussion forums can be used to have rich conversations with the results permanently archived in a topically organized fashion. In choosing topics, we urge people to do so when the topic seems productive of conversation, and not simply make announcements. For example, one might put up a new book as a topic for discussion as framed by some interesting questions, or an interesting historical problem, or issues of climatology in Nepal, and so forth.
The discussion forums are centered on topics under which postings are organized and held exclusively on-line rather than via email. All topics and postings are archived and can be searched. Mailing lists, in contrast, are not organized formally into topics beyond, but rather proceed via emailed announcements and questions, to which responses or comments can be emailed as well. All email can also be archived for later inspection. Both discussion forums and mailing lists thus have distinct virtues and limitations, such that at THL we have chosen to employ both. We utilize mailing lists largely for announcements and updates, and promoting the use of the discussion forums for most discussion and dialog. We have done this since we believe that discussion forums are a better organized and more coherent medium for tracking discussions, while mailing lists are better for announcements of various types since they are delivered directly into people’s inboxes.
We encourage people to use Unicode diacritics for representing Sanskrit and other languages that need special diacritic marks when represented in Roman script. These diacritics can be used in searches as well. See under “Unicode diacritic fonts” for help in setting your computer up with the necessary THL Toolbox Fonts Page.
For a list of discussion forums, please see Discussion Forums.
Provided for unrestricted use by the Tibetan and Himalayan Library