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  3. Saturday, 15 July 2006
POST 00953E : USE OF THE FORUM 15 July 2006 _____________________________________ Ticky Raubenheimer ( from South Africa submits comments on the use of the forum. This is the second part of his contribution, split into two as addressing different topics. I will provide below some information and make brief comments that could prove useful to an eventual discussion. _____________________________________ The use of the Technet Forum: After 10 years of involvement in the dissemination of information using the Internet as a vehicle, please consider the following; 1. Global use of electronic forums serves three major purposes, i.e. (1) to offer the global select community a chance to interact with each other and (2) to broadcast new developments to a select audience and (3) to maintain interest in a specific topic. Interaction should be supported and stimulated through positive dialogue and participation and in the case of a scientific forum such as this, by providing scientific support - non-scientific statements without explanations, negative statements and personal attacks will surely destroy any interest and participation. The moderator should refuse any such negative contributions, even if it comes from the controlling body. The moderator and the controlling body should have very clear objectives and standard operating procedures in place to ensure consistency of policy and quality of the electronic forum. The controlling body is also rarely aware of the electronic forum difficulties of spam, abusive contributions, search engine and server crawling and harvesting and ignorant requests and participation - clear SOP's should be in place for these. In answer to your question, "Can we close this discussion with respect to stock management" - yes, please because it will destroy your audience and participation - but the subject is not resolved. New developments must be broadcast in a manner which will support the objectives and policies and should preferably be referenced with scientific evidence. It is also preferable to pre-amble new developments with background information - you are communicating with a mature and knowledgeable audience. Maintaining interest in a specific topic is very dependent upon the readership and support of their own interests and self esteem. This is much like a conversation or a training session and the difference between juvenile teaching and adult learning. You will loose interest if the subject is not relevant or the objectives are not clearly stated, or the statements are not substantiated, or the reader feels threatened. 2. Global use of electronic forums must be evaluated against the realities of global electronic access and reader behaviour. Subscription statistics and participation statistics are only a small part of the total picture and can be very misleading. The statistics quoted certainly do not represent the reality of the Technet Forum. Most global vaccine management activities are funded by USA based organisations and therefore will have the highest interest and the highest number of participants, and also their high individual participation in global immunization initiatives. For them and other first world participants, they may want to participate with sound scientific debates to further their own knowledge and understanding or they may want to hear first hand from third world experience. This is a most valuable service and cannot be quantified easily. The distinction between subscribers according to e-mail address can also be very subjective and often be totally incorrect, especially where individuals have limited access to e-mail services in their offices. Many of us around the world make use of web based services such as yahoo, msn, gmail, etc - how can you say that I am not from the third world? Many of us and certainly myself, will watch an electronic forum debate or message and not respond for various reasons, such as I cannot contribute further, I do not understand the subject, I do not want to be seen to differ from other, I do not have time to participate (this contribution has already taken up 2 hours of my time), I am scared of/do not trust electronic communications, MORE IMPORTANTLY, I do not have reliable and private access to the forum (because of my own technology or employer), I am mostly in the field where access is difficult or absent, and/or my salary is not determined by my level of participation. Often, I have heard mention and discussions about the content of the Technet Forum in meetings or gatherings where members see each other and not as electronic participation. How do we measure this impact? Dear Moderator, you have done a very good job of the forum, congratulations. Ticky Raubenheimer Course Director, Vaccine Management and Effective Vaccine Store Management Training Courses, Collaborative Centre for Cold Chain Management, South Africa ---------------------------- I quite welcome a discussion on the use of the forum and hope many will share ideas to improve it. I will offer insight as needed but for now let me share only some information regarding some points raised by Ticky. I quite agree with his comments on use statistics. One third of actual contributors on average are coming from developing countries. And this is established by analyzing each individual contribution, as contributors whether are known to the moderator or they have identified themselves in their messages. I had quoted these other statistics in Post 00944E only to show a certain degree of consistency. As Ticky says, it can be misleading and it is true for example that a Hotmail or Yahoo address registered in the United States may be from someone from the third world. A more refined analysis of membership would be possible only if we asked a number of questions upon subscription. However, I believe that the proportion of members from industrialized countries is probably around two-thirds. As a consequence, there will inevitably always be an apparent dominance of participation from these members. This being said, nothing is completely white or completely black and there are many shades of grey. Senior experts from developing countries, with massive field experience, may be based in Europe, or a young staff member starting his/her career with almost no field experience may be newly posted in a small African country. Where do we assign them? Ticky suggests that I refuse certain contributions. Until now, as a principle, I do not reject any contribution. From the moment I became moderator, I was told that my role is not one of censorship. However, I have indeed intervened in some instances fortunately not too often. The main reasons I did so is when I felt that something written was technically wrong, or that the tone is not really appropriate to the forum. In doing so, my goal has been to protect the credibility of the contributor. And I usually do so by pointing something specific, asking the member if he/she really wishes or not this be posted. The moderator ______________________________________________________________________________ Visit the TECHNET21 Website at You will find instructions to subscribe, a direct access to archives, links to reference documents and other features. ______________________________________________________________________________ To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to : Leave the subject area BLANK In the message body, write unsubscribe TECHNET21E ______________________________________________________________________________ The World Health Organization and UNICEF support TechNet21. The TechNet21 e-Forum is a communication/information tool for generation of ideas on how to improve immunization services. It is moderated by Claude Letarte and is hosted in cooperation with the Centre de coopération internationale en santé et développement, Québec, Canada ( ______________________________________________________________________________

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