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California - LCAP

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  • Groups and Hidden Topics

    There are a lot of things to talk about when you are interested in strategic planning. The Chorus shows everyone the basics but, it also supports you in expressing interest in some of the more specialized topics. These are accessed by joining a Group.

    You can review the groups that are available by clicking on the groups icon in the site header. It's the one that looks like someone's head is exploding...

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    If you click on this, you will see a bunch of groups. If you click on any of these, you will see a list of people in the group and a list of posts.

    You will also see a Join button. If you click on this, that topic will appear on your main page. If you are already in that group, the button will say, "Leave Group" instead. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out what that does.

    It's worth noting that the forum software supports private groups. If you join one, the button will say, "Invitation Pending". The next time the group owner visits the site, he or she will be notified and can then accept you into the group.

    posted in How to Use the Forum
  • Posting Basics - Editing, Topics and Replies

    There are three things in the Plans Together forum: Subcategories, Topics and Replies.

    Subcategories are containers for topics and other Subcategories. You don't need to worry about those much because they can only be created by the administrators of the system.

    Topics sound like a big deal but are actually the main starting place for a discussion. A new question or idea starts its life on Plans Together as a topic.

    Replies belong to topics. They are answers to or discussion about a topic.

    This post, Posting Basics, is a topic. If you look below it and to the right, you will see a button that says Reply. This is used to make a comment about this explanation. If this was a question, that's where you'd put your answer.

    If you want to make your own topic, in this category, you'd back up so you were looking at a list of topics, eg...

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    And there you see the New Topic button. Clicking it opens up an editor window in the bottom half of the screen. (If you are a person who wants to work on a bigger editor, click the black circle with an up-caret in it.)

    If you have clicked on a topic and want to discuss it. Look to the lower right and you will see a blue button marked Reply. Clicking this will give you an editor, too. (If there are already replies, there will be more than one blue Reply button. These are there for convenience. It doesn't matter which you click. They do the same thing.)

    You will see that the editor is very straightforward except for one thing. Unlike some online editors, this uses a preview to let you know how your post will look instead of trying to make the text you are typing on look like it will when published.

    This is especially interesting when you make something BOLD. Clicking the 'B' in the control bar surrounds the selected text with asterisks. IE,...

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    That's because this editor is based on something called Markdown. It's a way of styling text using special characters. You can do a lot of things. If you click on the gray "compose" at the top right of the entry window, it will give you a link to a lot of information about Markdown that will help you make your posts look just the way you want.

    posted in How to Use the Forum
  • Practicalities of Use

    First, there is a round icon in the upper left corner of the screen. It probably has your first initial showing. If you click on this, it shows a menu with your user name and a few status selections.

    Choosing your user name will show you your profile. This is information that will allow other people to know who you are, as well as to indicate your forum preferences.

    Looking at your profile, notice a blue dot on the left with three dots on it. If you click on that you will see many options but one of them is Edit. If you choose this, you can enter or change the information people can learn about you from your profile.

    One thing that people like to do after clicking Edit, is to change their icon. Notice it on the left of the page and that, below it, there is a menu labeled Options.

    You can also enter your name and other good information to make it so that your colleagues on this forum can know you.

    Another important function of that blue dot is Settings. This lets you control many features of the Chorus.

    Second, there is a row of icons along the top left. Hover your cursor over those to see what's what. These give you a variety of ways to access the information in the Chorus.

    An especially important one is Tags. These can be defined at any time on any post. If you choose the Tags icon in the header, you will see all the tags in the system. If you click on one, you will see all the entries relevant to that tag.

    You can do the same thing with Users.

    posted in How to Use the Forum
  • The Main Idea of This Software

    Here's the first thing to know: This forum program is much closer to Facebook than to some old-school bulletin board. It has topics and questions and answers but it also has chat and following and notification and real-time update. Once you find these functions, you can use them to reach out to specific colleagues and to know when people answer or otherwise talk about your issues.

    The second thing to know is that there are a lot of ways to find information here. There are tags and general search, categories and groups and people. Each of these gives you the ability to locate information in various ways.

    Tags seem especially valuable. If you add a tag to your post or reply, then someone can later notice that tag and use it to find your post.

    These search methods are important because of another excellent thing about this program. It allows the users to organize data in ways that make sense for the topic. This site is initialized with categories, but more can be made. You can have replies to replies.

    The final thing that is important to note is that this program helps you judge the quality of the answers. The most important feature for this is Upvote and Downvote. These allow you to tell the next reader that you judge the post to be of high quality.

    The system also maintains a reputation system. Depending on many factors, especially including up and down votes, it will let you know that the person who wrote a post has a good reputation for getting things right.

    This is helpful if you are going to decide what to believe, but it's also fun. By doing things to improve your reputation, you are also doing things to help other people create and execute better plans.

    posted in How to Use the Forum