I have not participated in online forums much before this course. I have joined the NZ weather forum to get a taste and also found a site that seems to build software for forums that looks great- it is set out as a forum itself http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showthread.php?t=249460 . They suggests a range of things people would look for in a forum (which of course they provide!!). They suggest among other things the need for Inline Spam Management and Prevention Tools, Thread Tagging, Reciprocal Friendships Between Users, Public Messaging, User-Created Social Groups and Inline Moderation Enhanced Authentication. The abiltiy to enable rss feeds is also important. As another forum moderator suggests: The SolidWorks Discussion Forum has a new look and feel to it.  The interface to me looks much cleaner now.  The biggest change to me is the addition of RSS feeds to the forum.  You can now get feeds from the forum (by Category) piped directly to your favorite news reader (Examples include Netvibes, iGoogle, Yahoo, etc.)

The NZ weather forum http://www.weatherforum.org.nz is a site that seems to be subject/ theme/ date orientated. You can pick a thread and participate in a conversation. I was asked to provide details by the site administrator of my location. I noted too that there were links to other weather sites, so that this forum could be the ‘one-stop-shop’ for weather hounds. It could benefit from a co-ordinated facilitation event that discusses an issue. In searching the site I was not aware that this had been done before. This along with someone summarising the threads would improve the forums grunt.

Facilitaiton techniques that might build the community aspect of forums are evident in the weather forum to some extent- there are clear topics related to time. There is visual stimulation and recent activity. There are icons being used such as smileys. A useful article that helped me understand more about these techniques is http://www.fullcirc.com/community/faciliplay.htm . The play aspect of a forum facilitates involvement and community. I have not found much on our foc08 blogs about this to interact with.