Why is there no support forum for Omeka.net?

This forum provides useful and publicly searchable information about the standalone (Omeka,org) version of Omeka, but not for the hosted Omeka.net version. This forum states: “If your question or issue relates to Omeka.net (if your site is located at yoursitename.omeka.net), please use the Omeka.net contact form instead.” This Omeka.net contact form does not provide access to a public discussion forum, but instead opens a private email message conversation.

My question is why users of Omeka.net are prevented from contributing to an online searchable forum of questions and answers, similar to this one. What is the purpose of preventing questions and answers about Omeka.net from being open and available to all?

While both the server-hosted .org and the .net versions of Omeka change over time and answers can become outdated, I am sure that a publicly searchable set of questions and discussions about Omeka.net would be useful and valued by Omeka.net users.

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Following the lead of other CMSs that offer both hosting and a self-hosted versions of their platforms such as WordPress (.org and .com) and Drupal (.org and Drupal Gardens), we have tried to keep the user documentation and support for Omeka.net as separate as possible from the downloadable version to avoid confusion for the hosted system users.

In our experience, Omeka.net users tend to be less technically inclined and we’ve had no suggestion thus far that they would be active contributors to a support forum. Since we maintain and control the system, the kinds of questions we field are overwhelmingly similar and we try to port those commonly asked questions into the user documentation. So, in the end, it’s not that the help form on Omeka.net is keeping a level of support concealed; it just guarantees that users get direct answers when they need them.

You’ll notice that an overwhelming amount of the support that is offered here does come from the Omeka Team. That is true of the Omeka.net support form as well.

If we get significant requests from Omeka.net users for an open forum, we will take the feature under advisement.

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Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my question. However, and I’m not sure that I can entirely agree that not having a open searchable Forum for Omeka.net users is really as open as having one.

For one thing, as a new Omeka.net user, I am just as interested in the questions of new and prospective users as I am in the answers of support staff. An open forum would make it possible for prospective Omeka users to see the difficulties and frustrations registered by users of Omeka.net, as well as to find more information about solutions and work-arounds. What are some of the uses to which users of Omeka.net have been able to put the custom .css module? It would be interesting to read a forum thread on this; however today Omeka.net users (and developers) are, unfortunately, left guessing about questions such as this, and other features of Omeka.net, which are not documented in great detail.

it seems probable that the lack of an open forum deters some potential users from trying Omeka, since the support process is unnecessarily hidden from public view. For every user willing to begin an email support conversation that may eventually help them to figure out whether Omeka.net will suit their particular needs, there are probably several who will give up. I would suggest that having a larger searchable archive of forum questions and answers available online would work to increase the number of new users trying Omeka.net, by giving more users more information quickly about what Omeka.net can and cannot do, and about the nature of the support that is available.

In any case, thanks to everyone who contributes to building and supporting this helpful tool.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Ted.

I agree that the current system is not as open as having a fully open forum. As I suggested, this was a cost-benefit analysis issue with staffing for us. But, since you’ve raised it, if we get significant additional request for a user forum, we will seriously consider doing so.