GP-MI Web Application - Discussion Forums
The GP-MI web application has been developed1 to support the processes defined in the
Manual for Operation of the GPMI
State Central Committee
(SCC Manual), which, along with the
is a part of
We now have everything you would expect from
an online discussion board and more. It is a two-way communication channel for
our members and officers, and it interfaces with other components of the GP-MI
web application. For example, files uploaded to the SCC forum are automatically
categorized and archived. This and future enhancements are possible because the
software is our own custom product.
Currently, GP-MI forums can be moderated or
unmoderated. Participants may subscribe to forums or individual threads in
order to receive email when new posts are submitted. Likes and dislikes are
counted and displayed. The system functions much like the
(Bb) system that is
familiar to teachers and students. Ownership, and content management
responsibility belong to the GP-MI members rather than some high-muck-a-muck.
To get to the forums, click the sidebar
button on the splash page, as seen below.
The list of forums will load, showing only
the forums in which the logged in user is qualified to participate. For
example, all Handbook Committee members will see the Handbook Committee Forum
in the list. All GP-MI members have access to the General Forum. The ‘Instructions’
button links to this document.
The Web Steward has access to all the forums,
can create and delete forums, and can set properties such as moderator, and
number of complaints required to automatically remove a forum thread. The SCC
Chairperson has complete authority over the SCC Forum2.
Since this user is recognized as an SCC member in good standing3,
the SCC Forum is present on the list. Clicking the 'SCC Forum' button loads the
user interface, (UI) below.
We currently see three Individual posts to the forum, a.k.a.
'threads', below the forum header. The bottom thread has a 'Reply' with an
Clicking on the '+/-' button next to that thread and its
reply shows their details:
We also see buttons related to the thread and the reply.
Here is the list of buttons from top to bottom:
Returns to the 'Discussion Forums' list seen previously
Loads the data entry page for a new thread.
Presents the list of files uploaded to this forum. It does not appear if there are no files associated with this forum.
SCC Forum only - Navigates away from the SCC Forum and loads the Proposals page.
Specialized forums only - Shows the list of SCC Members with email addresses. (Moderator can launch email to selected members
from the member list page.)
Subscribes for email notice of all posts and uploads to the SCC Forum. Subscribed members see a
button to ‘Unsubscribe’ from the automatic forum email.
Expands/hides the post details.
The ‘Subject’ line for any post that the logged in member has authored will appear as a hyperlink to the
post’s details page, for further update or uploads.
The ‘Author’ name is a link to a modal with the author’s profile image and information.
Subscribes for email notices of all updates, uploads, and replies to the thread. Subscribed members see a button to
‘Unsubscribe’. Members who subscribe to the Forum will not see buttons to also
subscribe to threads.
Link to post
will open the thread/reply in a new tab. The URL can be copied and shared.
Opens the page to submit a ‘Report’, which is a complaint about the thread or reply. This button is
disabled for posts that the logged in member has authored.
Registers quick positive or negative feedback about the post, without details. These buttons are
disabled for posts that the logged in member has authored.
Loads the data entry page for a new reply to the related thread.
Note that there is no file upload button. Buttons for file upload/removal are only
found on the Thread and Reply data entry pages.
Specialized forums, that is all forums other than the General Forum, have a button that links to
that forum’s member list. Clicking the ‘Member List’ button loads the screen below.
We see the members along with their contact information. The
moderator will also see checkboxes and a button to facilitate email to selected
members. That will be shown later.
We click the ‘New Thread’ button to get the data entry page
below. Notice that file upload is available only after saving the thread.
For this example, we enter some formatted text and click
'Save'. That loads the thread details page seen below. (Formatting capabilities
are pretty spartan on the web app. The user may prefer formatting in a word
editor and then copy/pasting into the ‘Description’ box.
We can click now to return to the forum, the list of forums,
or to 'Edit' our thread. We may also click to upload a file. We decide to
return to the forum.
We find our new thread on top of the others, because it is
That the thread subject is a hyperlink. Any thread or reply
that we author will appear as a hyperlink and will take us to its details page
for possible edit or file upload.
We click '+/-' to expand our thread.
Note that buttons are disabled so that we cannot 'Report',
'Like', or 'Dislike' our own thread, but we can 'Subscribe' or 'Reply' to it.
We decide to click the hyperlink to return to our new thread. That loads the
'Thread Details' page already seen. From there, we click the top-right button
to 'Edit' our thread. That loads the data entry page seen earlier and shown
The edit screen now contains a 'Delete' button.
Note that deleting a thread also deletes any related replies
and files that were uploaded to the thread or its replies.
We click the 'File Upload' button. That loads the screen below.
We are required to select at least one 'Category' and to
enter values for 'Author' and 'Description'. These values are useful for
filtering when searching the saved files. The user is encouraged to create a
new 'Category' if that would make searching easier for the file that is to be
Note that different web browsers display the controls
differently. In Chrome, for example, the date box presents a calendar when
clicked whereas Microsoft Edge displays drop-down lists for month, day, and
year. Safari is the only modern browser that does not support the HTML5 date
box. In that case, the user is left to guess at what a valid date format looks
like. (Since 2012, Safari has not allowed emulation or even application install
on systems other than Apple.)
Hovering over the controls will show 'tool-tip' messages
with more information about their purposes. We entered values and uploaded a
file. That loads the screen below.
We can click on the 'File Link' to download the file. We can
return to the Forum or visit the forum's 'File List', something we will do
later from the Forum page.
We can click to 'Edit' the file's Date, Author, Description,
and Category selection. We can also delete the file.
Only the member who uploaded the file can make these
changes. (The moderator can remove the file, as we will see later.)
Clicking back to the forum, we see that there is '1' file
attached to the new thread.
Expanding the thread reveals a link to download the file.
We click on the header button called 'Forum Files' to see
the list of all files uploaded to this particular Forum:
This looks and behaves much like the GP-MI Archive File
list, (accessible from the splash page side bar by any logged in GP-MI member).
Searching can be done over any or all of the three filters and date range.
Clicking a row expands to show the details, as seen below.
Clicking the description box will expand it too. The pointer
button will download the file. If the logged in user was the member who
uploaded the file, the pointer button will lead to the file details page.
Reporting Bad Content.
To demonstrate how content is ‘Reported’, or referred to the
moderator for a disciplinary response, we will assume a different member has
logged in and expanded the new thread, as shown below.
Unlike the ‘Like’ and ‘Dislike’ buttons, which simply register
the details of the button click, the ‘Report’ button loads a data entry screen.
But first this information screen is presented.
Closing the information modal reveals the ‘Forum Report’
We have entered some text and selected a ‘Reason’ for our
complaint, as seen below.
Note that there are currently no reports from other members
about this thread. If there were, we would see the number of reports, with no
Also note that the SCC Forum moderator has sole discretion
over its removal2. (If authorized through a change to our bylaws, the
Web Steward can reconfigure this to automatically remove posts after a
prescribed number of reports, while also allowing the moderator to remove posts
that have no reports.) Other forums may or may not be moderated and may or may
not assign this authority to individuals.
Clicking ‘Save’ returns us to the Forum. We briefly see an
alert that our report was saved and that emails were launched, but there is no
other indication that the thread was reported.
If we expand the thread, we see the Report button, enabled
as before. But clicking on it reloads the report we just submitted. We can edit
it, but we cannot create another report for the same thread. We are not able to
delete the report either.
Automatic emails generated from a complaint like this are
sent only to the moderator and thread author; not to the forum subscribers.
The benefits of that the hosted web application offers, over
free email list serv or web services include:
Customization - this is a dynamic solution based on changing GP-MI
Security - secure email and SSL certificate, (totally lacking with
free online services).
Persistence - data is saved where it can be reused, (outside
services own our data).
Transparency - SCC members can easily view the activity/status of
other members and proposals.
Sharing - discussion posts, files, and proposals can be shared
with links. Links to authorized content require that the user logs in to the
Data Integration with other application components, such as with
the general file archive, (free services own the data that we give them).
Accountability - members and the moderator provide rationale for
actions that involve other members.
Consistency of policy enforcement actions. The GP-MI rules are
Convenience - Clear and easy navigation for discussion or
proposals insert, update, and search.
document implements the current rules and guidelines, but flexibility is built
in for possible modifications to business rules, such as automatic rules enforcement
in lieu of manual action by the moderator, changes to who can participate in
the SCC, and the definition of a valid poll.
ambiguity over the type and duration of penalty assignments will likely create
debate of its own. So should the idea of an individual as moderator being able
to selectively prevent members from accessing a platform that is meant to
enable democratic processes like voting.
accordance with the GP-MI bylaws, GP-MI members may be automatically or
manually restricted or suspended from the forums. Restriction prevents the
member from posting or uploading files for a defined period of time. Suspension
prevents the member from seeing the forums at all for a specific period of