General Question

wundayatta's avatar

What's an efficient, low-cost, secure way to facilitate an online support group?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) January 26th, 2009

I’m not quite sure exactly what I’m looking for. I know you can use Yahoo groups, or equivalents in other places, but those seem kind of clunky to me. I’d kind of like a newgroupy feel, or a bloggy feel, but also friendly and encouraging. It’s hard to describe it, probably because I don’t know exactly what is needed.

If you have experience with this, please let me know. Also, if you could talk about the advantages and drawbacks for each solution you can think of, I would be very grateful.

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12 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Is this about the ‘Live up to Your Potential’ support group?

wundayatta's avatar

sssshhhhh

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Are you asking how to make Fluther? just kidding

If you have a website its fairly easy to throw together a forum with simplemachines forum or phpbb .. but since you aren’t quite sure what you want, I’m not quite sure what to answer

funkdaddy's avatar

newsgroupy + website = forums
blogy + community = social site

You might want to check out Ning they’ve got some good tools to help you create a community site in pretty much whatever way makes you happy.

I’ve never created a site there but have been impressed with some of the communities I’ve seen created by “non-techies” without too much time and expense.

Trustinglife's avatar

Ning is good, but that seems a little like start-your-own-Facebook for a small group.

I’m still trying to understand what you want. How is it different from Fluther? What is it organized around?

fireside's avatar

Find ones that are close to what you like and let us know what the pros and cons of each are. From there I’m sure a solution can be found.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s different from fluther in that it is about sharing feelings and experiences, not answering questions. It’s a way to maintain contact with a specific group of people who share a similar interest. Does Facebook have groups? Well, I’d want there to be more privacy than Facebook allows, even if you set your privacy settings to the most private.

It’s organized around depression, or, more to the point, strategies for learning how to incorporate more positivity into our lives.

fireside's avatar

Ok, so we have subject matter identified.
Now, how about the interactivity?

Do you want to be the primary poster with comments below, or do you want a more interactive site where members can all post topics and then a discussion can be formed around those topics.

Fluther has a pretty good format for interactivity, more so than many blogs. I think they are working on something that can be plugged into other sites, but I have no idea what kinds of costs may be involved.

Otherwise, you can set up a private forum that would be sectioned into different general topics (Medication, Happy Thoughts, Support, etc.) and that would allow members to post different topic threads within the main categories.

wundayatta's avatar

I guess threading might be the best. However,everyone should be able to start one. But it should be private, in order to allow folks to say stuff they might not be able to say, otherwise.

Trustinglife's avatar

Sounds like you have a good start. What else do you need? Do you have a clear enough sense of what kind of site you’d want? Do you have the people you’d want identified?

maybe_KB's avatar

Go to MaybeKB will help support 4 u .org
just kidding

scamp's avatar

I like the phpbb site that @NaturalMineralWater mentioned. It’s very easy to use and you can make it as simple or complex as you like. You can divide the board into several sections for topic discussions, and add a section for general converstaion/sharing. You can try one of the free boards first to “get the hang of things”, then get fancier later one if you like.

That site gives you complete control of privacy issues, such as requiring a certain amount of posts to enter an area that may be deemed ‘sensitve’, and it has the option for members to send each other private messages, just like here. You will be able to see member’s ip addresses, so if you have a troll, you can ban them, and see if they try to sneak back in under a different user id. You also have the option of having arcade games, so members have something to do when the board action is slow.

As you can tell, I highly recommend it as a starting place. Good luck with your project no matter what you decide to use.

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