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Posting to multiple private forums at the same time? Managing group forums question

Sorry for all the questions recently, I appreciate everyone's time.

I'm using a forum as the tool for discussion for some online education content. Each group accesses the same page of content on our site, but then dives into their own private, small group forum. Right now I'm just creating duplicate posts in each groups forum. I only have a few at the moment so that's not to much of a pain, but as the number of groups grow, the amount of work will increase substantially. Theirs a new forum post for each morning and evening, for every weekday.

Right now, everyone is access the exact same content, but in the future, they'll be on different content pages. So, the forum postings become a juggling act. I'm trying to think through the best long-term solution for this.

Anyone have any thoughts for bringing in some automation to this process? Posting to multiple forums, but perhaps also a way to automate the process.

@businessdad created a scheduling plugin which has allowed me to experiment with posting all the forum posts at the beginning of the week. Just curious as to the best way to approach this problem.


  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    Leaving aside the technicalities, what are you trying to achieve, exactly? Could you please make an example?

  • GaryFunkGaryFunk Senior Application Developer ✭✭

    @peripatew said:
    Each group accesses the same page of content on our site, but then dives into their own private, small group forum.

    Right now, everyone is access the exact same content, but in the future, they'll be on different content pages.

    Is it always going to be the same content that they access?

  • @businessdad Sorry if that was cryptic.

    I'm currently trial running an idea within our organization, and I'm at the point where I need to scale it to the next level, which is multiple groups in house, but after that, I'll need to scale it to multiple organizations with multiple groups.

    It's a content deliver system. Each individual personal within a group comes to the site in the morning and in the evening to interact with the content, Monday through Friday. So, twice a day, they are going to a unique post for their group, that's curricularly tied to the content that they interacted with. Now I just link to the forum itself from the content, and the logged in user, gets directed to their private forum where they see the posts for the day.

    Right now I'm using a custom Wordpress site to manage this, with each weeks worth of curricular content on a separate page. Right now, all the groups are accessing the same page of content each week, but as new groups come along, they'll be assigned different pages. I'll be assigning the pages to the particular groups in the backend of Wordpress, and they'll get redirected to the page of the week.

    So once Friday night's discussion is done, I archive everyone's posts, so that it's a fresh forum when they come back on Monday.

    So, they have different things to do in each forum post in the morning and the evening, and they are specific to the lesson for that day, as well as the weekly theme. I have all of the content of those posts organized (in Evernote along with the scripts for the lesson videos). So I've been creating the posts for each group "by hand". I'd love to have some way of automating this.

    I only want them accessing the posts as they happen. So if they visit on Monday, they don't see the whole weeks worth of posts. The nature of the posts and responses don't warrant any planning or the ability to work ahead.

    For the pre-existing portfolios, I just have a custom template that displays one additional post per day. So, on Monday, it shows 1 published post, Wed = 3, and Fri = 5. This lets me not have to schedule the posts for each content page.

    Hopefully that makes sense, let me know if I need to clarify it some more.

  • peripatewperipatew New
    edited January 2013

    @GaryFunk Right now, everyone is accessing one "stream" of content. And all of their forum posts are the same. Though as we launch more groups, they'll soon all be accessing a different page of content each week. The associate forum posts right now are also all the same, though in the future I will likely need to adjust some of the posts to be developmentally appropriate. (I'm dealing with 6th-12th graders, and depending on the content, the type of questions will change, but the content itself will stay the same. The forum posts are reflective/personal, and so for the most part the questions work across a wide range of audiences.

    Make sense?

  • GaryFunkGaryFunk Senior Application Developer ✭✭

    Part of what you want can be done as-is in Vanilla with Categories and Roles.

    Look at setting up a Role for "Grade 5" and one for "Grade 6" then set a user for view permission for each grade. Now set up a Category for "Grade 5" and one for "Grade 6" and give each special permissions for that grade.

    You will notice that each can only read theirs. You can even nest these and add classes for each grade and carry it forward.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    I think I understand it better now. You basically need to post a new discussion to one or more target categories. Each Category will get a separate and independent discussion, but they will all contain the same text. Is that correct?

  • @businessdad Yes, but the text will change at some point. So, if Groups a,b,c,d,e are assigned to Topic#1, then they'll need to get the same text for that week (so 10 total posts, one for each morning and evening, Mon-Fri), but Groups 1,2,3,4,5 are assigned to Topic#2, also needing 10 total posts, but different posts than those for Topic#1.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @peripatew That's what I meant. You would post a discussion "ABC" in categories 1, 2 and 3 and a discussion "XYZ" in categories 4, 5 and 6. Tomorrow you may post "AAA" in 1, 2 and 5 and "BBB" in 4 and 6. In short, one message would go to a set of categories, which can be selected by hand.

  • @businessdad Yes. That would enable it to function right now. I don't know the best method for approaching the management of those discussions though. If I should store them within my content folders outside of the forum and website, and then manually retrieve them to post them.

    Actually, if there was a way to tie the discussion post content to the Wordpress content pages, and then to have the automatic postings pull from there. That would be idea.

    I use a lot of custom fields within Wordpress. So I could have the morning and evening post data stored there, and then "aim" something within Vanilla Forums at that custom field info, that would be perfect. I could store different developmental versions within the custom fields if necessary too.

    OR, would it be better to have that post discussion content separate from Wordpress? I don't know much about the database side of things?

  • @businessdad Thanks for helping me think through this. Part of my query is to see if Vanilla Forums will work long-term. I've been experimenting with BuddyPress, but much prefer the simplicity of Vanilla Forums.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @peripatew You're welcome and, after all, I haven't helped much, apart from clarifying the requirements.

    At the end of the day, whether you would like to post discussions manually, or to fetch data from WP, you will certainly need to develop of a custom solution, as I'm not aware of anything like this existing, at the moment.

    As a reference, I would say that a Vanilla-only solution would require a UI and a (relatively) simpler posting mechanism, whereas a WordPress integration would mean additional development (the UI would go in WordPress, then there would be the retrieval of the data, its scheduling, and so on).

  • @businessdad Sometimes clarity is the most important part. :D The conversation helps me distill my mind-swamp into something that's more approachable.

    I'm not at the point where I'd be able to have this developed yet. But how big of a project would you anticipate this to be?

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @peripatew said:

    I'm not at the point where I'd be able to have this developed yet. But how big of a project would you anticipate this to be?

    With the exact specifications described in this thread, and not a single feature more, I would estimate a minimum of two days for the simple (i.e. Vanilla only) solution. I can't give an estimate about the one with WordPress, as I haven't worked on WP integration in a while.

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