Designing MGMTPhDJobs.com – Part 2: The Forum
Check out Part 1 in the series of how MGMTPhDJobs.com was developed.
Creating a Community Forum Around the Job Market
One of the cool by products of the old Google Sheet system was the community discussions that emerged. People seeking jobs could ask questions about the process and get answers from others in the same position, or people who had already been through it. Occasionally, you would hear from search committee members too, and that was super helpful. However, it quickly became apparent that there were numerous issues with using a Google Sheet as a forum:
- Messy – keeping track of who said what and which topic had gone where was tough.
- Limited – functionality was slim in terms of posting things like web links, pictures, or attachments.
- Abused/messed up – people often complained that their comments were deleted (whether that be on purpose or mistakenly).
That didn’t mean it was all bad, there were good things about the system as well:
- Anonymous – anyone could post without having to worry about embarrassment or improper sharing of info.
- Easy – all you had to do was login and type in a comment.
- Fast – people were active on the sheets all the time, so asking a question normally led to a good answer pretty fast.
- Fun – talking to people going through the same stressful stuff as yourself was very cathartic.
Keeping the Good while Ditching the Bad
So my goal from the start with the forums was to keep all of the good aspects about the discussions on the old Google Sheet while fixing the big problems. And, to my pleasure, I think I have been able to accomplish that! Things will be much easier to track in terms of topics, threads, and participants. Things are dated and timestamped to know who posted what when. There are cool functions in terms of being able to easily post links, attachments, or pictures. And, most importantly, no ones post can be deleted – either on purpose or accidentally by other users.
While I think all of those main issues were fixed, the new solution still allows people to be anonymous (if they want), and can be an easy, fast, and fun experience. When you post in the forum, it will ask if you want to register, but it won’t force you too. If you choose not to, your post will be attributed to “anonymous”. If you do choose to register, you can still keep your identity secure by using a username and never having your real name or email address disclosed.
On Going Improvements to the Site and Forum
Given the initial design, I am still open to suggestions! A special section of the forum has been set up for people to flag bugs or make new suggestions for the site. Or, people can reach out directly via email.