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Online Discussions- Modes and Use Cases

Updated: Feb 18

Written by Marcia DaCosta


Using an online discussion platform is an effective and user-friendly method of gathering qualitative data. Hosting online discussions in an online community takes a large portion of the work associated with participating and managing such discussions out of the process. Users can participate from the convenience of their own home, or on the go. Likewise, moderators and admins of the online community can conduct research with many people at one time, and manage numerous conversations and numerous discussion types, all from one platform.


Insightrix Communities online community software offers two different online discussion types with different use cases and suitability.


Bulletin Board discussions are suited for research cases where it is necessary for participants to interact with each other and share thoughts among the group. These discussions are designed to replicate an in-person focus group. Online bulletin boards are created when a moderator poses a topic of conversation or question and all invited participants have an opportunity to see the moderator’s post, reply to the moderator, and reply to each other.


Bulletin board discussions have two options for comment display.


The default setting for bulletin board discussions displays user posts chronologically. This means that as each new post is added to a discussion it appears at the bottom of the log of posts. If a comment is a reply to another member’s comment, it will indicate which post it is replying to. Examples of this type of display style are demonstrated on platforms such as Reddit. This method of displaying comments is most suited for discussions where participants aren’t anticipated to have much interaction between themselves. Although this seems counter-intuitive, the ability to see others’ posts encourages members to post their opinion or story as well, even if they do not interact with each other.


Nested discussions allow users to post replies to other members’ comments and display these replies directly below the comment that they are replying to. This is most commonly used on platforms such as Facebook. Nested comments encourage more interaction between participants and encourage tangent conversations between participants. This style of comment display, when used in a discussion with a lot of interaction between participants, is typically viewed as more organized than the default bulletin board style.


Diary mode discussions are one-to-many conversations. These discussions are private conversations between the moderator and individual community members. Comments added by community members can only be seen by the moderator. The moderator can manage and reply to all community members participating in the discussion from one place. These types of online discussions are most suited to topics or subjects that are sensitive, or when a moderator feels that participants would feel more comfortable sharing their opinions in a private conversation, rather than in a group.


Using an online discussion allows flexibility, convenience, and options for moderators and participants. If you would like to learn more about the online discussion options with Insightrix Communities, please contact us.


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