WORKING GROUP RHIZOME - member outreach

This working group is named after the Rhizome is a characteristically a horizontal stem of a plant, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes.

This groups role will be online outreach to new and current members. 



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Comment by Elaine Forde on November 30, 2011 at 6:31pm

Thanks for the info on website functions Keith, it is easy to wish for something that you can already do if you're not familiar with how it all works! I think I need to get to grips with more ofthe sites functions. My post was originally a response to John's question of how I imagine outreach could work, but I agree there's nothing stopping us, and indeed it is quite satisfying to act on your own steam in the meantime.


John: agreed on skype, perhaps we can put it to the other groups to initiate something  regular? For my part I spread ideas across boards that I am following if it fits but it seems good practice to communicate more regularly.


If we are agreed that language is probably the key factor in lurkism, can we assemble a group to outreach-thinking (if not formal duties) wth the right language combination? Since I am only anglophone, and John is but probably has others, that leaves portugese and I reckon Spanish, followed by French and German, given a scan of the country data below. Perhaps a known face could approach likely help with the right language skills?







Comment by Keith Hart on November 26, 2011 at 11:23pm

Elaine, I think it's great that you and John are getting stuck into this. What I propose is that we get to know what is going on in the new situation by starting with some modest, low-tech moves. When we understand our needs better, we can maybe introduce something more ambitious. But I find it hard to go from doing this stuff alone to planning the kind of semi-automated system you have in mind all in one move.

Let's start from what we have and see how we can improve it. I should say that having three or more people actively engaged with member outreach is fantastic and a first. In order to moderate membership applications, one has to have administrator status. At present six people have that: me, Fran, Paul, Justin, Nathan and now Abraham. You need this to change certain things on the site, like admit members. It may be that more of us will need that, but John has showed that you don't need it to greet a new member. Second, the list of members in reverse order is available under th eMembers tag in the menu bar. There is nothing to stop any of us checking out who has arrived and seeing if there is an angle worth following up, including letting the rest know. Third, while new members are important, our main task is to reach the 5,500 who are already there. And that means finding out more about who they are. Finally, the only person with sophisticated tools for managing the network is me as Network Creator and to let anyone else use it, I have to give them my password.

So, as I said, I think we should take it step by step and find out empirically what else is needed, expecting our priorities to evlove as we go. What you suggested is what I call blueprint planning, where we project a detailed map of the future. I prefer indicatiove planning, where we identify our goals, which may be mutually inconsistent, and move forward piecemeal while making the best compromise between we can. Sorry for the speech.

Comment by Elaine Forde on November 26, 2011 at 4:37pm

Hi all,


I'm copying here a message I sent to John visualising how outreach might work: a mix of technical wizardry and the human factor.


I don't think we shoudl underestimate the involvement of the so-called lurkers, I know for a fact that some people follow intently but do not comment so I agree with john's remark (somewhere?!) that the issue might not be attracting more users, but encouraging the ones we have.


I think we should consider sending an e-mail digest of activity to members on a weekly basis- such as is found on the homepage. I don't think it would be considered spamming but may pique interest at random- depending on what people are personally inetersted in. My message was as follows ( I would beinterested in any feedback about how the tech side would work)


Hi John,


I think a combination of automated technical processes when members join to evaluate them, then a volunteer at the end of it to make a personal note.


For instance, Wendy joins the OAC and fills in a quick Q and A. She tells us that studies in Manchester, she studies the cocoa industry in Ivory Coast, she speaks Welsh.


OAC would automatically suggest she joins the Ivory coast Group, the economic anth group, the Welsh group (to share language skills)


OAC would automatically flag her existence up to meet and greet volunteers with similar interests, I can think of Keith as think he is a manc and knows about Cocoa, and me, who started the Wales group. So in Wendy's case, Keith would be asked to welcome her, she would be flagged up to me also. If Keith declines as he is too busy, then my flag will turn red or something to tell me I should definitely contact Wendy, if I decline, then a general flag will go up on Wendy's name for any greeter to attend to.


OAC could have a function for the welcome crew to see who has not been greeted, who has and has not responded etc, then whenever we can spare an hour or two, we can enter this welcome zone, see a list of unwelcomed members and welcome them personally. I do not support an automated welcome e-mail as they are pretty obvious and it doesn't take long to make a personal greeting. Matching greeters to newbies by interest is the surest way to guarantee an interaction beyond saying hello.


We could set a threshold for new members- once they had made three posts, or joined five groups or made ten friends they would graduate out of newby status and we wouldn't have to worry, they would probably have the bug by then.


Just an outline but you'll see I very much think the tech side will have a lot of functionality to throw at this so we need to collaborate closely. I am more than happy to act but there will be a limit to how much I can do- or anyone else for that matter- and any shortcuts will help.



Comment by Keith Hart on November 26, 2011 at 4:16pm

That's Kuroda. I am iused to editing my comments after I post them, but I can't do that here.

Comment by Keith Hart on November 26, 2011 at 4:15pm

John, The only variable you can click first is country. This generates 28 members for Japan. It might be worth scanning all of these in case they didn't list a city, but you find them interesting. After you have a country list, you can click 'modify your search' and this gives you City and School. I entered Tokyo and got five results, including to my astonishment the great economic historian Akinobu Koroda (he does plural monies in China and medieval England) with whom I shared a workshop in Paris last year. He joined within two weeks of the OAC's opening and hasn't been heard of since.

Comment by Nathan Dobson on November 26, 2011 at 2:15pm

I wasn't sure where to post this but it refers back to an earlier point about outreach.

A while back, Fran and I made a pdf with loads of information about the OAC users. The best thing about it was that it allowed people to browse the external links that people submit when they join. 


Comment by John McCreery on November 26, 2011 at 1:20pm


Is there any way to get breakdowns by cities? There has been mention of offline activities. If, for example, I knew which OAC members were in Tokyo, I could try arranging a meet-up like get together....

P.S. For lack of a better idea, I've started adding my welcome to yours. It would be great if others (Elaine, are you reading this?) could do the same. 

Comment by Keith Hart on November 25, 2011 at 8:55pm

I left out Switzerland with 35 members.

Comment by Keith Hart on November 25, 2011 at 8:46pm

I have done a quick count of members by country (total today 5,575). The top dozen countries with 100 members or more each account for two-thirds of the OAC. They are:

USA       1399   25%

UK           770   14%  

Portugal   237     4%

Canada    232     4%

India         225     4%

Germany  174     3%

Brazil        144     3%

Italy           142     3%

Australia    130     2%

Norway      129     2%

Netherlds   104     2%

France       100     2%

You can see why I targeted Portuguese-speakers as a priority. Also Scandinavians as a group (see below).

Here are the rest:

Romania 77, Denmark 73, Spain 72, Greece 66, Turkey 66, Sweden 61, Poland 56, Slovenia 41,

South Africa 39, Mexico 38, Belgium 37, Russia 36, Nigeria 36, New Zealand 35, Ireland 32, Finland 31, Georgia 31,

Pakistan 29, Japan 28, Taiwan 25, Argentina 24, Czech Rep 24, Israel 22, Iceland 21, Kenya 21, China 21

Serbia 19, Hungary 18, Croatia 18, Slovakia 17, Bangladesh 16, South Korea 16, Bulgaria 15, Iran 14, Philippines 13, Egypt 12, Ethiopia 10, Singapore 9.

Isn't that amazing? So many surprises. Now we have to reach them somehow.



Comment by Keith Hart on November 25, 2011 at 6:59pm

That should be 3 out of 5 vistors in the last month!

Comment by Keith Hart on November 25, 2011 at 6:57pm

After China in 41st place, you will find in this order (all with less than 50 visits, Belarus was 29th with 84):

Crotia, Serbia, Czech Rep, Russia, Slovakia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Colombia and Israel.

These rankings are very unstable. At one time Georgia was in the top dozen and Russia had several groups.

Yes, individuals inflate the level of some countries. Me for France, John for Japan, Nikos for Greece. I am sure the Philippines is high because of M Izabel.

Yet Belrus has 3 members and Russia 36. If you care to find out who are members from your country or any other, go to Members in th emenu bar, click on advanced search and pick a country. But of course this doesn't tell you how many of these are still active.

So we do have tools, however imperfect, to find members and make contact with them. And yes, language is a important source of division, but we should also recognize that 3 out of 5 members come from an Anglophone country.

Comment by Keith Hart on November 25, 2011 at 5:42pm

Distribution of visitors in the month ending 24th November (Total 15,583):

USA                4674

UK                  2132

Canada            951

India                 483

Germany          456

Australia           370

France              351

Portugal            349

Italy                   330

Brazil                 307


In rank order

Europe (32%): Germany, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Roumaina, Slovenia, Poland, Belgium, Hungary, Belarus, Finland, Croatia

United States (30%)

Other Anglophone (28%): UK, Canada, India, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, Kenya, Pakistan

Others (10%): Brazil, Japan, Philippines, Turkey, Mexico, Taiwan, Indonesia, Argentina, Chile, China

So the ration between these categories is roughly 3:3:3:1 which modifies somewhat the OAC's claim to be truly global organization, even if we are less selective than any other anthropology-focused organization.



Comment by John McCreery on November 24, 2011 at 8:13am

This is a great idea. When people post something, they should receive some response. This, too, however, is a task that needs to be spread around. I've been responding to a lot a posts in just this spirit. Then I start to feel pulled in too many directions and also like I'm taking up too much bandwidth. 

I also agree about the working groups thing. I wouldn't say table or abolish them. We do need to think, however, about how to ensure communication between them. One possibility might be a monthly or once every two-week Skype (or Webex?) conference to review what the groups have done and coordinate new initiatives.

Comment by Elaine Forde on November 24, 2011 at 3:45am

John, as I posted on the other board, a response to new comments would also help, since one poster noted his embarassment at having been ignored, making hom then reluctant to post. It would be nice to think that members' threads got a response so could an admin posibly flag up new discussions and allocate to sweepers?


As per your comment above / below, I'm not sure what is required when users join, but a Q and A could begin which gave us some idea of how to introduce folk to OAC, what their interests are, who else shares them , where they have activity, possible groups etc. maybe even automated,  again a point for the admins. It seems that a lot of ideas still need to have collaboration between techies and volunteers so while I think working groups are useful, I'm not sure we're at the stage of forming specific groups yet, how do we cross groups when necessary? I will go with this unless it becomes unworkable but there is great value in an open discussion for a period of time.

Comment by John McCreery on November 24, 2011 at 3:08am

Question No. 1 is what do we mean by online outreach. As I have mentioned in another post, the model for my still  only partially formed idea is an online equivalent to the evangelism committee at the Lutheran churches my parents helped to found. Our role is to contact newcomers on a personal one-to-one basis soon after they join the group and receive their initial welcome from the administrators, to follow-up and encourage participation. I can imagine asking about their interest in anthropology and what brought them to OAC, suggesting groups in which they might be interested, people whose posts they might want to follow....

One important logistical task will be to compile a list of new members and figure out how to allocate responsibility for getting in touch with them. I'm imagining that it is possible for the administrators to supply us with a list, say once a week. We could, then, use the friending mechanism built into Ning to get in touch with those for whom each of us assume responsibility. 

Whether this works or not depends entirely, of course, on how many new members there are/the number of members in this group. In the best of all possible worlds, this will be a task easily accomplished in a few minutes a day...

What thoughts would you have about how to proceed?


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