On your mark, get set, go!

Did you ever handle an email campaign?  There is one moment when you have to press the start button to get the campaign going. Mailchimp - a popular mailing application - portrays this by a sweaty, hairy hand that stretches a finger towards a red button but also hesitates and pulls to and fro. 

This - I think - appropriately describes the tension behind the simple click on the send button that will release hundreds or thousands of mails. Every mistake still contained in these mails will be multiplied by this number.

This very moment exists in Discuto as well when you invite participants but - in contrast to mailing programmes - inviting people helps to improve the document and to make better decisions with less effort. Finding mistakes and getting suggestions for improvements are two key reasons why you might upload your document and invite others to vote and comment (for mor information on this please have a look at the "How to" page.

Before you invite people, testing how Discuto works is an essential part of starting a discussion. You first

  • upload a document

  • vote and comment yourself

  • then invite a small number of people you trust to test the system and

  • get a feeling for how it works and how the discussion can be managed.

Once you understand this you might upload the document to be discussed and really invite the people that should validate your ideas. If the document is already uploaded you just invite more people.

Inviting people to discuss your document, reading comments and responding to them are the most exciting moments in Discuto.  The larger your audience, the more likely are suggestions for improvement that may range from simple typos - if anybody cares - to more substantial suggestion on contents or new ideas.

Any mistake that pops up can be corrected by either “editing” the paragraph when it is minor or “changing” the  paragraph when the meaning is changed. In the latter case you would click on “change” below the consensus meter, edit the paragraph and save the changes. All users that voted or commented on the paragraph will be informed about the change and asked to give their views again. Changing paragraphs keeps the discussion dynamic and participants notice that you are repsonding to their input. That a huge incentive to contribute further. Just “editing” will go unnoticed by participants and can be done by clicking on the edit icon (pen) in the upper right corner of each paragraph.

Voting on paragraphs helps to highlight controversial issues. This is  where you have to put your efforts to solve the “conflict”:

  1. Analysing the feedback to understand the arguments

  2. Finding better solutions

  3. Changing the paragraphs and thus proposing a new solution

  4. Checking the votes and comments on your new proposal.

If they are positive and no longer controversial you have proposed a better solution and have taken a decision together with your community. You may have to do this more than once to find a solution that sticks.

Whatever changes you make and whatever decision you take, you should always explain to participants why you have changed your views or left the document unchanged. All participants have invested time in improving the document and to arrive at better decisions. Make an effort to communicate that you appreciate their efforts and explain the changes made. This kind of feedback is essential to keep your community alive and willing to participate in the next round as well. Sending an email after you made your final changes is essential to accomplish this.

About the author :

Hannes Leo

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