Best Community Platform for Breastcancer.org

Hi Everyone, Breastcancer.org (http://Breastcancer.org) is finally working to find a new, much needed platform for our large discussion forums. We are 20 years old, with an old platform custom built on Ruby on Rails done about 15 years ago. We have a huge amount of editorial content on our CMS (Contentful) and then the separate ‘silo’ of the community. Vaguely speaking, the new platform will need to provide advanced community features for members and admin alike, allow real-time options, and provide easy ways to integrate the editorial content. If you have any suggestions, please share!

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Hi Melissa,

I think asking what the best platform is is a little like asking what the best car is. It really depends on your needs.

I’d suggest if you haven’t already to get a detailed list of specifications about what the platform needs to do. What are the use cases, what are the best in class examples of how, how important are each of them etc? Then you can use that to make a pretty informed judgement.

At the moment it’s a little tricky to help because this sounds a bit vague “integrate with content”, “advanced features” etc… Are you able to be more specific?

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Well said, Richard. You are so correct. I’ve written some things out below. Hopefully this is more clear. I appreciate anyone’s feedback!

→ Our Profile is now in AWS Amazon Cognito.
→ Our CMS is now on Contentful.
→ Our current community platform is built on Ruby on Rails. This needs to change.

Very simplified, our NEW community platform should be able to “talk with” our CMS (Contentful) as well as our profile on AWS Cognito, and vice versa.

As a community member it would be helpful to have…
• forums/Topics that offer public and private group segmentation
• robust notification system
• nesting/threading conversations
• tagging
@mentions
• ability to quote a post you are replying to
• an area for blogging and sharing stories
• a “Chat” (real-time/huddle) functionality
• private messaging to individuals and possibly groups
• a calendar with events/meetups
• embedded polls, and/or surveys
• ability for media uploads (videos, photos, audio, SM links), and PDFs
• a robust search
• ability for private messaging between individuals AND groups
• ability to search/find members via public profile fields (eg. birthday) and diagnostic/treatment info (eg. stage II IDC treated with chemotherapy and radiation and arimidex)
• a language set for translation

As an administrator/moderator it would be helpful to have (in addition to above)…
• “Widgets” or flexible means to embed (and refresh) editorial content
• advanced community feeds and reports
• automated admin emails to assist onboarding/retention
• robust notification systems
• advanced moderation Tools
• ability to search/find members via information profile information.

As a BCO staff member it would be helpful to also have, if possible…
• weighted search results in favor of specific types of activity and popularity
• forums offering private group segmentation to run special interest groups (e.g. support, creative writing, etc).
• access to curated member stories, photos, videos, quotes

Thanks, how many visitors are you anticipating and what kind of budget range do you have?

That will narrow down the options automatically to a core handful to look through.

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Thank you, Richard!!!
As for the budget, I’m not certain, but I do think it’s substantial. Would be willing to hear most to less expensive, but must be robust. Below are some community stats for our English-speaking community.
NOTE: currently we do NOT have in-house tech team. They may reconsider, but for now, we contract our tech.
We have 5 paid moderators, in different time zones checking in 7 days a week.

The Breastcancer.org Site (including our editorial side of the house on Contentful) has to date received 21M OVERALL site visitors, and has had a total of around 240,000 people register for the community.
This does not include our Spanish site or community. The Spanish community is not very active. We hope to change that.

There are currently 83 forums discussing around 164,325 topics. - over time.

In 2021 there were:

  • 714,332 Users (visitors) to the community, and of that, 6,350 registered to become members.
    Down 32% compared to 2020, down 84% compared to 2018

  • 1,684,924 Sessions, down 27% compared to 2020, down 81% compared to 2018.

  • 10,721,773 Pageviews, down 14% compared to 2020, and down 62% compared to 2018.

  • 99,583 Posts, down compared to 127, 008 in 2020 and 214,297 in 2018

  • 26,196 Private messages, up compared to 24,464 in 2020, but down since 2018 (41,688)

In 2020 there were:

  • 1,055,486 Users (visitors) to the community, and of that, 7,362 registered to become members.
  • 2,299,914 Sessions
  • 12,447,907 Pageviews
  • 127,008 Posts
  • 24,464 Private messages

Although traffic, registrations and posts continue to decline monthly/yearly :

  • average daily posts remain rather steady between months (though there has been a decline each month in 2020 and 2021)
  • engagement remains rather steady monthly and yearly (e.g. 6 visits/month from registered members at a steady 29%)
  • posts per author remains steady each year (around 25/author)
  • bounce-rate is lower overall.
  • session duration is longer

PROFILE COMPLETION:
In 2021 there were 6,548 personal histories created and 2,516 diagnoses added.
In 2020 there were 7,669 personal histories created and 2,841 diagnoses added.

VIRTUAL MEETUPS:
Breastcancer.org started virtual (Zoom),moderated meetups (support groups) in March, 2021.
• Currently, we offer six 90-minute, moderated weekly meet-ups, serving a total of about 85 people/week. We’d like to expand this program, also in Spanish.

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@richard_millington does Feverbee have plans to expand and update the Community Platform comparison tool? Online Community Software and Platforms | FeverBee

I have found it useful in the past and have used the same indicators to compare additional tools like Disciple Media, Carehubs, Hivebrite and others.

@Breastcancer_org I’m reviewing platforms for YACC (Young Adults Cancer Canada). Disciple is getting a deeper dive at the moment.

@colleenyoung That is exciting. I greatly appreciate any insights. And agree, that community platform comparison tool is super helpful!

Do either of you know what platform MacMillan Cancer Support uses?

I don’t, but I’d like to!

They use telligent.

A sneaky trick - go to builtwith.com and enter the community url for any platform to find what they use.

Doesn’t aways work - but typically does :slight_smile:

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It’s on the list of things to do.

Unfortunately it’s rather a long list of things to do right now :slight_smile:

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@richard_millington Are you a fan of Telligent?

p.s. I did try builtwith.com but didn’t get the info. May have done it incorrectly. I’ll try it again.

I had the wrong URL! Thank you, Richard!

I’m not really a fan or detractor of Telligent. Haven’t had a super amount of experience with them.

I think like all platforms - they’re great for some use cases.

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Any idea who https://connect.mayoclinic.org/ is with? Again, tried builtwith.com but not clear to me.

Hey @Breastcancer_org Mayo Clinic Connect is me!! It is built on Carehubs.

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I thought so! Thank you @colleenyoung !!

@Here, happy to learn from your learnings!

We host a number of cancer related communities at Discourse. I don’t want to cross any self-promo lines so I won’t respond in detail here but feel free to reach out to me privately if you’d like to chat about it.