Who really uses them anyway?

In the ever changing world of the web is the trendy blog replacing the ‘that’s so last year’ discussion forum? The blog is certainly the younger ‘hipper’ of the two but does that mean it should replace its ‘predecessor’? It is, after all, the possible introduction of a PAS blog that prompted an analysis of the activity on the PAS discussion forums.

The findings from this analysis of PAS discussions revealed a disappointingly low response rate. An average of one response a day per month over 12 months is not good news for those of us who would like to see it stay. 

To contribute to the discussion forum you need to register as a PAS website user. Registration also means you can receive the PAS monthly newsletter. We currently have 3000 registered users to the site. Of these registered users an average of 600 a month viewed the discussion forums via the newsletter.

The findings also revealed: 

  • 279 people contributed to the discussion forum in the last 12 months
  • 149 of those contributions were from different people
  • 7% of the 2200 that visited the PAS website over the last 12 months contributed to the discussion forum

Could it be that people view the web as a reference tool only? A virtual library where you locate the information you need then take it away. It can and should also be used as an interactive tool where ideas and problems can be shared amongst peers. We have the technology at our fingertips, we should be using it.

Are people afraid to speak their mind for fear of misrepresentation or being exposed? No one likes to sound silly but then no one likes to feel that their opinions/questions are falling on deaf ears either.

The forum provides a Q&A style environment whilst the blog is more commentary. Whether you feel more comfortable contributing to a discussion forum or commenting on a blog is irrelevant, what is important is communicating. Communication is key to development.

PAS encourages continuous improvement and promotes a culture of self-sustaining change and learning. The discussion forums and the blog both encourage and promote learning and development.

Four PAS team members have contributed to the discussion forum in the last 12 months. We are here to provide guidance and support to councils and planners. If PAS is seen to be contributing more to discussions then councillors and planners may follow.

The forum doesn’t only serve as guidance and support to our audience it’s also a way for PAS to learn more about the needs of its audience.




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