A tool for putting community members on a map


(Anton) #1

Hey community managers

I’m thinking about a service which would “connect” to your platform and create a beautiful interactive map with all members.

Would you use such a service?
Would you pay for it?
Any specific feature requests?
Would you embed or use it on a subdomain of your community?
What values it should have to be useful for your community members?

(remah) #2

It is definitely useful.

I’ve followed your mapping at meta.discourse.org so I’m familiar with what you’ve started.

I would use it and pay for it depending upon the price-performance. In other words, the benefits would have to be much more than a pretty picture.

I’m still designing the site which would benefit from it. The following notes are first thoughts on possible features that I’d probably want to use:

  • Help users to meet each other by a search/query for users in an area:
    • in a specific locale by place name - may require a hierarchy of places such as country, state/province, metropolitan area, city, suburb, street address
    • within a specified distance or travel time - by road would be better than as the crow flies because New Zealand, where I am, has a lot of North-South mountain ranges where road distances can be ten times the straight-edge distance.
  • Ability to focus on one user and show known relationships and potential or prospective relationships
  • Allow users to specify if and how they preferred to be contacted or involved. This could be done in many ways but I’ve focussed on one. From one extreme to the other:
    • user only appears anonymously on maps and cannot be messaged
    • anonymous and can be messaged anonymously - only revealing user name if reply
    • anonymous on map but username revealed if messaged
    • anonymous on map but visible everywhere else
    • username visible on map
  • Showing Groups on maps
    • using icons and colours to differentiate each user’s Group membership
    • Showing one group versus other groups and no group
  • Showing concentration and density e.g. users per square kilometer
  • Ability for group admits and members to invite other users would be needed if not in the base forum software
  • Show users by:
    • membership time
    • involvement level e.g. likes, posts, topics, etc.
    • membership type e.g. paid or unpaid
  • Show members or visitors/non-members by IP geography

Hopefully this gives you some useful ideas and gives other users some points to like or hate. :grin:

(Anton) #3

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

The list is comprehensive and there are definitely some cool ideas here.

The reason why I would like to implement such a service is that I have a
formal GIS higher education and I always loved maps, cartography and
everything in between. So, this actually is a potential “hobby” project,
but wanted to see if there is any demand for commercial application, and if
so, find which features I should focus on and implement first.

Would you be able to list one or two most required features that would make
a map good enough to be useful for real world usage?

Also, how can the map be useful to community managers as well?

(remah) #4

The specific features could be quite varied but I only have three goals:

  1. As a user, I want to find other users or groups near me.

As a community manager I want to:

  1. initiate/invite/encourage communication between users who could benefit from closer relationships.
  2. see what relationships have formed or failed to form as expected.

(Mark Williams) #5

I like the idea of it, I’m not sure the actual daily utility but I agree with remah’s comments if it were to be implemented.

Let me put something else in your brain/ear. What I’ve wanted in the past is a way to visualize the community as a community manager. Like a virtual/pretend GIS of activity. This could be especially useful in larger communities. Subcommunities map to virtual cities based on traffic/size and overlay ‘issues’ like heat maps of spam or sentiment. I’ve not worked through all of the needs assessment, but have always thought it would be a cool visual to show to management. Anyway, since you are a GIS person, I thought this might be an interesting challenge. Edit to say: I suspect there is little money in this so ideal as a side-project (but maybe I’m wrong and there’s huge money).

(Robert McIntosh) #6

I think you need to meet our local resident Ukrainian goat farmer (or the person who runs that community). Not in a position to recall his name, but he’ll have thoughts on this and @hawk can probably circle him in :slight_smile:

(Robert McIntosh) #7

ha ha ha

sorry, now that I am back on my desktop and with a bit of time … I realise that YOU (@meglio) are our resident Ukrainian goat farmer … so, probably not much point bringing you into the conversation :slight_smile:

just shows I have been reading though, right?


(Finman) #8

Such a tool would be useful if you were trying to show where development projects are located and linking people or community members in distributed geographies.

(Anton) #9

Update: I’m now using a Locations plugin recently developed by one of the known Discourse plugin authors:

It does not do everything, but a nice option to have maps out of the box.