When you are consulting online, one of the questions you have to ask yourself is "How much do I want/need to be involved?".

There are two aspects to this:

  1. Ongoing workload/management: Some of EHQ's tools are 'set and forget', which do not require your input or management once published. The other tools require you to check back in regularly and actively manage the space. You may or may not have time to do this, which is why the choice of tools is an important consideration.
  2. Facilitation: Some tools and projects might benefit from your active facilitation as a project team. You need to make the decision if you feel comfortable getting involved BEFORE you launch your project. This depends on the workload you can manage, as well as the nature of the consultation. Some topics might benefit from your expert input, others might not.

Below is a list outlining what tools demand your input AFTER you have published them, i.e. the ongoing workload / management. We have indicated how much work we think they require ordinarily.

The list also outlines if you can use the tool to actively facilitate the discussions and be the voice of the project team or even your entire organisation.

Forum

Workload: Little to a lot

Facilitation: Possible and encouraged for some projects

One of the easiest ways to get involved as the project team is in a forum discussion. You can post a comment logged in as an administrator. The comment will appear under your screen name and features a little blue banner next to your name.

If you have also identified yourself as a project team member in the 'Who's Listening' widget', then your role/title is displayed as well. See the example below.

Newsfeed

Workload: Minimal

Facilitation: Possible

In most cases, there is no need to get involved in a Newsfeed discussion, because usually you would have disabled comments on news articles anyway. If comments are allowed, then you can facilitate any discussions the same way as you would do in a forum.

Stories

Workload: Some to a lot

Facilitation: Possible

The workload of the story tool depends on the amount of stories you receive. We would hope that it is actually a lot. The more stories you receive, the more you have to manage the tool by accepting or rejecting the incoming stories. However, more stories also equal more engagement, which is always a good thing.

Similar to the newsfeed, the story tool does allow comments if enabled. However, in most cases you would probably not want to get in involved, other than thanking your community for the stories they have shared.

Brainstormer

Workload: Minimal

Facilitation: Possible, but not encouraged

The Brainstormer is very much a tool you set up and then sit back and watch as ideas come in. There is no need to actively manage it and you would probably do not see the need to post your own ideas as the project team, although you could.

Mapper

Workload: Minimal

Facilitation: Possible, but not encouraged

Similar to the Brainstormer, our mapping tool requires little time and work for you once published. You hopefully see lots of markers being placed and facilitation of this space is not necessary and would not make much sense.

Surveys & Forms

Workload: Minimal

Facilitation: Impossible

The Surveys & Forms tool is our most popular tool and one of the reasons might just be that it is very much a 'set and forget' tool. Sure, there is substantial amount of time and work that goes into the setting up a survey in the first place, but once published, you can sit back and watch submission roll in (if you have generated enough traffic to the project). Ongoing maintenance and management are minimal unless you input hard copy into the survey.

There is no room for active facilitation in this tool.

Q&A

Workload: Some to a lot

Facilitation: Required

The Q&A tool can be potentially very demanding. If your community asks lots of questions, you need to be prepared to answer these thoroughly and timely. This might require some time and consideration, especially if the answers are hard to come by.

The benefit, however, can be a very engaged and informed community with a lot of trust built towards you. You can try to anticipate some of the questions via the FAQ widget, which can minimise your workload.

Quick Poll

Workload: None

Facilitation: Impossible

The most 'set and forget' tool of the lot. Once the Quick Poll is set up, there is no more work for you.

Guestbook

Workload: Minimal

Facilitation: Possible, but not encouraged

The Guestbook is a space for people to leave quick comments. The way the tool is set up, there is not a lot of interaction. Hence you workload and the chance to facilitate are minimal. Do not use this tool if you want to facilitate the discussion, use the Forum tool instead.

In Summary

Ideally the potential workload is not a defining factor in choosing your tools. You should make a choice based on what serves your project or consultation best. The possibility to facilitate on the other hand might be an important factor. Think about this before you launch your project and have a plan about how and when you want to facilitate.

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