Valid concern Setu and it's one I share. In all likelihood, we're going to move forward with many of these changes, but we're going to keep a really close eye on the participation to ensure we're seeing more engagement/activity and not less.
While we're on the subject, it might make sense to make it a bit more clear/differentiate who represents Upwork, and the rest of us. I think many, especially newcomers, are very confused about this.
Frankly all those different tags we have seem silly. There are the mods, who need a bigger font and Upwork logo next to their names, and then there's the rest of us.
Why not just call us all what we are ... Upwork freelancers (or clients, or both)? No gurus, no whatever all those other tags are (I don't feel like looking for them, I just know there are a lot). And do any of us really care to have our kudos or contributions acknowledged? I don't. We all know who the most helpful folks are, and if we don't, we learn soon enough.
Well ... just a thought. That menu on the left could be made a lot more useful and effecient.
ETA: I'm not a "community guru" ... I'm a freelancer.
Virginia, I'm with you on that! Seeing top kudoed members is fine, though, I'm not sure how beneficial it is. Certainly they should be of a different visual priority than the categories.
These are great changes all around - and I agree with many of my colleagues that Regional groups could easily be phased out.
I also agree with the formatting on the side menu - the "Top Kudoed Members" bit really doesn't do anything for me as a user but it's so visually prominent that it takes away from the menu options above it.
Having the menus default to closed, where we have to click to see the subcategories instead of hovering or just having them visible, is also something to reconsider. I've never bothered to look under "Job Skill Discussions."
Good suggestions, these ones.
1) For the "Community Basics” forum, I believe it will help new members feel at home faster. And I'm certain there are some basics I personally will want to refer quickly sometimes - I don't have everything at my fingertips.
2) "New to Upwork" is more than welcome. Newbies who'd otherwise feel intimidated stating their case in a forum with more experienced participants are bound to feel free just by virtue of that forum heading. They will be confident that anyone responding to their posts has their best interest at heart. And as you aptly stated, repeat questions will clear from the other forums. As for visiting the forum myself, yes, I would. I got assistance when I first came in, I'd love to give it to the extent I can irrespective of the forum.
3) Thank you on the Writers & Translators area! The first time I've clicked beyond the surface (Job Skills) was today. The only time I popped in before and saw IT, Admin & Design, I must have said, none of my business - never looked back! And having this area accommodated, definitely, would not take me from the freelancer area, which is broader anyway.
4) Having my location in mind, it makes a lot of sense to consolidate the countries into a region.
So, on the overall, well thought out amendments/updates.
Any chance of an ETA for these updates?
Ideas for the sticky area for newbies - Based on a document I wrote for a forum post a year ago, and still very relevent.
Stickies Suggestions for the New To Upwork area
1. Tips for getting Started on Upwork
Post should contain:
Links to videos - general
Forum links to good threads
List of requirements to complete to submit proposal
Member Photo guidelines and requirements
List of requirements to complete Profile
Do's and Don'ts for Profile and Cover letters (links, contact data, etc, video links)
2. Payments and withdrawal's
Post should contain
Setting up withdrawal methods and summary of the current ones
Completing Tax forms
Payment Times - Summary of fixed-price and hourly first payment times
General FAQ maybe
3. Contacting Support
Post Should Contain
Screenshots of how to get to the support page
Summary of Support Options
When to contact CS
4. Using the Forums
Post Should Contain
Guidelines and Forum TOS
Explanation of the Areas
Post Guidelines - Avoid Banning
Important Forum Settings (1. should be turning on email notifications)
5. Fraud and Scam Jobs
Post Should Contain
Don'ts - List of jobs that are not legal
6. Banning, Suspension
Post Should Contain
Reasons for getting banned or suspended
Do's and Don'ts list
Can anyone add to this? Get your thinking caps on!
I think those are very good ideas. #1 & #2 are in a way what every forum needs for its organisation. I personally look for something like that when I am new somewhere and I think that there would be so much less frustration with repeated questions and answers (instead of "good question - that's why we collected all the important answers here")
Personally I would be affected by #3 & #4 and would appreciate them a lot. I would feel much better posting questions there that are only relevant to a certain part of the community.
I am a writer and translator and I would really like to discuss certain topics with other freelancers who work in the same area. (For example: Do you consider improving google translate as "proof reading" or translation, do you change your rates for large projects...) These are very specific and I would feel more comfortable sending them in a "writer/translator"area.
Also: Sometimes the tips given here by experts of other areas just don't apply to writers or translators because it's a very different area. Since I double as a computer scientist and teacher outside of upwork I often experience the different ways of talking/negotiating/working/... in different fields. Not knowing that the person giving you a tip does not work in your field sometimes makes the tip seems agressive or stupid.
As an European I would also appreciate this one.
With VAT and (at least) three different possibilities to calculate it depending on the client's origin there is one large topic people would probably like to talk about.
There are a lot of things that differ from America culturally and legally and I would love to share tips with other Europeans.
[Also as a side note: When I first came here and noticed that the list of countries is so limited and there are none even close to mine, I doubted that I should be here]
Upwork Community Forum Member Signup Process and Management
I've been the admin (or one of several admins) for a bunch of social public forums. None as large as Upwork, but some were 3,00+ users and growing all the time. The larger the user base, the more content and processes us Admins created to manage the new members.
Most of these forum sites had a very well outlined process for introducing new members to the rules, community, and forum software. I'm really not seeing that Upwork has done this, or at least not as much as the Forums need.
Below are some comments about using the new (currently not released areas) to better handle new member management, as well as other aspects of the initial process new Members should be put through, so the big problems we have today are handled more efficiently.
- Main Problems as they are today
- Ideas for improvements
- Common Forum Pinned Posts
- New Member Process
Primarily I see the following main problems most often on the forums:
- Users falling for scams because they are also new to Upwork, because they have not been yet forced to read anything specific about scams.
- Users failing to use Forum Search to look up a problem already discussed 100+ times.
- Users failing to have even basic forum usage skills, and hence do not have any idea how to use the Forum.
- Users failing to read the intro posts for new Upwork members (this is obviously a problem right now, with the pinned posts in the Freelancer Forum).
- Users failing to understand the guidelines regarding post content and behavior.
Member Management Ideas
New Member Forum Lock - When the new "New to Upwork" area of the forums is built, can we "lock" new members into only THAT forum, and not allow them to other forum areas until they have loaded certain posts, and posted at least 5 times. Does Lithium
have these sort of control options?
New Forum Member Direct Email & a PM Intro Message - Especially if the above idea is implemented. New Members, upon first signing into the Forums, would get a PM, and an email with the most important data they need to use the Forums correctly, as well as initial instructions.
Videos - Let's see some videos that address the top 5 problems outlined above. Some people HATE to read.
Forum Common Pinned Posts - Every big forum I have ever managed or used had a set of specific, common posts pinned at the top of each forum area. These included:
Forum Intro - Sometimes the guidelines (if different forums had different guidelines), sometimes a forum overview, sometimes both, and sometimes a "how to get access to the rest of the forums" guide. In some cases, this is broken down into 2-3 individual posts, which all had to be read before new members had access to other areas. (If it was the newbie Forum).
Introduce Yourself - A specific thread for users to say "hello", and is often required if the new members were locked into a specific forum. (In the case of Upwork, a Hello is less important their question, so this would need tweaking).
Signatures, Images and Videos - A help post regarding what is allowed, how to include this content, etc.
Note: Other specific pinned posts related to the topic of the forum, as needed.
Suggestion for New Member Process
- New Member signs into the Forums for the first time.
- They have access to one Forum, the newbie area.
- The Forum sends the new Member a PM, and inserts a reminder to read it on every forum page they are on until they read it.
- The same message is sent to the new Member via direct email.
- The data in these 2 messages should tell the new Member what they have to do to get access to the rest of the forums, among other things.
- The new Member is forced to read certain pinned posts
- The new Member can then post, and is required to post at least 5 messages
- Once the new Member has posted 5 messages, the other forum areas unlock
I know how much work all the above would require. It's a lot of content., but I do believe the Upwork Community Forums could be better with just a little more TLC.
Maybe you all should hire a project manager for the Forums. Sorry, could not resist, heh.
Thanks everyone for your insight and feedback on our new forum areas. You may have noticed that today we have added the new boards to the forums and will continue to develop content for these new areas.