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SCI’s online forums

Joanna Pegum

The Web Team's Joanna Pegum tells us a little more about one of the exciting new features on the SCI website…

What’s the aim of having an online forum? Why have them on SCI’s website?
JP: The main aim of SCI is to bring members together and an online forum can help us do this through the web. Many members will not have time to come to London – or elsewhere – for meetings and events, valuable though these are. As our membership becomes more international, there are also time zones to think of.

Neither of these time issues are problems online. We’re also hoping that this new medium of connecting people will particularly appeal to our younger members. While you can read postings on most of our forums without signing in, you do have to sign in to post a message or reply. To do this you’ll need to activate your account on the website.

Were the online forums hard to set up?
JP: We ran a pilot version in autumn 2008, featuring a limited number of our Interest Groups. Each nominated a facilitator, who received training at SCI. The facilitators posted welcome messages and encouraged other group members to post messages and reply to existing queries. Although the Horticulture group turned out to be the stars of the pilot, our warm thanks go all to those in the Membership Affairs Committee – Lipids, Fine Chemicals Group and others – who took part and helped us test the technology.

Is that why at the moment only a few of the SCI Interest Groups have forums on the website?
JP: Yes, but it doesn’t stop there. If you belong to a group which doesn’t have a forum and you want one, please send an email to communications@soci.org.

Why will members want to use forums, particularly SCI’s?
JP: Forums are an easy way of announcing news and views and sounding out others for information. Like e-mail, you can do this without interrupting others. But unlike e-mail, everyone gets to benefit from the answers. Members might also find it’s a way of building up their reputation and prestige by becoming experts on particular subjects!

While there are other forums around, SCI’s remit is 'where science meets business'. Our special offering as a society is to bring these two groups together, and the forums can really help with this.

Are all the forums the same? What about the ‘Careers Opportunities’ forum?
JP: This is a noticeboard to post details of any kind of vacancy, work experience or internship, either offered or wanted. We also have a general forum for news that doesn’t fit into any specialist area, including my tips on how to use the forums.

A couple of our Committees also have forums for their own use.

Have you got a message for members wanting to use the online forums?
JP: Yes – don’t just wait for someone else to post a message. Go ahead and give it a go!

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