If you have used the Forum tool as part of a project, it's important to consider how you are going to interpret and present the data you have collected.

In this article we look at how to use data collected via the Forum tool for reporting on your consultation. Detailed below are options to either view the tool report on screen or download the detailed report or use a comment analysis report.

Before you begin

Before you begin reporting you should ensure that you've archived the tool so you are certain that you are working with the final dataset. Of course if you choose, you can begin working on your data before the end of the consultation period, you just need to be aware that you may not be working with the final data set. Looking at your data before the consultation ends can be a good thing to do if you would like to pull out some preliminary insights.

In order to archive your Forum tool in preparation for reporting, visit the project page where you have setup the Forum tool.

  • Click on Tools > Forums to reveal a list of all the Forum topics you have created.
  • Use the dropdown menu next to the topic you would like to archive and select Archive.
  • If you would like to include a custom archival message write it in the Archival Message dialogue box and click Submit to confirm.

You have now ensured that your Forum topic is closed from further contributions and you can begin to analyse your data.

Using the Detailed Report

One of the best ways to explore and work with the data collected from your forum activity is to use the Detailed Excel Report download.

To generate this report simple visit the Reporting > Project Reports section of your site.

  • Select the project and time period to filter the data for your report. If your consultation has been archived you can use the All Time option to select the whole period of your consultation. Click on Update.
  • Next click on Download Reports and select the Excel option for the Detailed Reports section. If the button is not clickable, ensure that you have not selected more than 5 projects for the report.
  • Open the downloaded folder and open the excel file of the project you wish to analyse. The detailed report downloaded, will have a separate file for each project selected. Open your project file.
  • Locate the tab at the bottom of the excel sheet which corresponds to the Forum Topic activity you would like to analyse. You may have several tools activated on this project so each tab will represent a different tool instance on your project.
  • There are three main sections for exploring the excel data; 

Summary information about your activity. You can see this pane on the left hand side in blue. This gives you an overview of participation and a breakdown of the user status of participants. eg. Registered, Unverified, Anonymous.

Contributor & Comment information is displayed in the green sections. This information includes the following; The contributors details (Date and time, Login and Contributor Summary); the forum comment itself; the comment details - the number of participants who agreed, disagreed. responded, the reply and the number of votes received.

Sign up form questions are shown in the blue section and allow you to filter through your responses based on sign-up form questions. This information will only be complete for participants who have signed-in to complete the activity. Sign-up form information won't be available in the excel sheet if you have selected unverified participation.

Using the Detailed Report is the best way to look at your data as a whole and begin to explore your data.

Using the Tools report

Another way to explore the feedback collected is to use the Tool Insights section of reporting. This will allow you to generate some useful graphs and further explore your forum data.

To begin using Tool Insights go to the Reporting > Tool Reports and then select Forum.

Use the filters to select the project you would like to look at and also select the data date range. Click on Update to generate your report.

The page will be refreshed with the newly generated report for the projects and time period selected. Below is a description of the data represented in each of the sections seen on the report.

Overview

Use the overview section of the Tool Insights page to compare different forum topic activity.

As you can see in the image above, the overview section presents your data as a scatter bubble, allowing you to easily compare amounts of engagement between each forum topic.

  • To filter your data use the dropdown Select a Forum Topic to view it's data option to select the forum data you would like to look at in detail. 
  • This section also displays the unique summary information about the activity in the call-out box on the right hand side. Here you can see the amount of visitors, number of unique contributors and contributions as well as information about whether the participants were registered. Read our article on How site visits and visitors are captured to understand this number further.
  • You can easily export this graph to include in your report by clicking on the hamburger icon. (see below) Simply choose the format for your export and download your selected option.

Using the overview section is a great way to quickly check on this activity, compare it to the others and quickly download a chart.

Demographics

Using the demographics section is an easy way to quickly report on who was involved in your forum activity.

The demographics information presented is gathered from your site sign-up form so it's important that, this form reflects the demographic questions you require for reporting. For more information read our article on Developing a registration form. to  know how the sign up form should be created so that the required information is gathered for reporting.

The sign up form questions are used to show the demographic insights. Any of the sign up form questions can be selected from the dropdown box.

The button on the left can be used to print or download the graph.

Demographics information is useful for reporting as it helps you better explain the profile of people who contributed to your forum activity. 

Visitor Statistics

Using the visitor statics panel allows you to easily compare your activities in a table.
This information is particularly useful for comparing the amount of contributors to an activity.

This section shows the detail of each instance of the Forum tool from each project selected for reporting. It details the number of visitors, the number of contributors, number of comments (separately the admin comments) and the number of votes received.

Forum Insights

Insights allow you to see all of the submissions on your forum topic. 

This section with display the comments from the participant along with the number of participants who agree, disagree and have replied. You can select which of the topics you would like to anlayse by selecting it from the drop down list.

You can also filter the comments displayed based on the sign up form questions, so for example, you can filter on suburb, to only see the contributions from a particular locality.

Using the text analysis report

Since the forum comments are free form text it will be useful to analyse the topic discussion using the text analysis tool and then extract a report. Read our article on Text Analysis to get detailed instructions.

What's Next?

Why not circle back and take another look at our article on Adding Forum Topics to review the information you are collecting in the tool to get the required insights.

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