A group for the MLA Commons beta testers. Introduce yourself, ask us questions, make suggestions, and leave us feedback!
Welcome, beta testers!
11 December 2012 at 9:46 am #396
As the forums are now up and working, I thought I’d take a moment to welcome all of you who’ve joined us in the last couple of days. We’re thrilled to have moved into beta, and to have welcomed over 100 new members to MLA Commons. Please feel free to use this forum to ask questions, to make suggestions, and to leave us feedback. You can start a new topic by clicking the “New Topic” button on the Beta Testers forum page, or you can comment in an existing thread.
Let us know how we can be of help; we look forward to working more with all of you.11 December 2012 at 1:03 pm #406
It’s very interesting to see disciplinary divisions—different communities and scholarly interests—translated into this “social network” sort of format. At a really basic level, I think it gives me (as a graduate student) a sense of what’s out there and how the discipline might work. Perhaps somehow buttons, profiles, links, and avatars make more sense to a so-called “digital native” than lists of committee members?
At any rate, the interface for MLA Commons seems very smooth, with that strange mixture of “seamless” and “transparent” that people look for in a user experience—so far, at least. Very nice!11 December 2012 at 4:23 pm #412
Lee Skallerup BessetteParticipant@readywriting
I’m wondering…Will people “move” their already existing blogs over here and will this encourage academics who have been largely resistant to blogging/other forms of social media/electronic “publishing” to come here.
I wonder if this won’t become another space like profology or academia.edu (with a specific focus on language/lit, but still) where people will sign up, there will be some power-users, but then most people will sign-up and then check in occasionally if at all.
Now, having said that, if there were clear “how-to” guides focused on “So you want to…start a blog/start a journal/do peer-review/have a discussion group/etc” then it might be easier for those who have long been resistant to tech to see the potential. Now maybe this already exists somewhere and I just haven’t found it yet, but it should be on the front page for those who are curious to immediately see what they can do and how easy it is to do it.
I am optimistic about this. I think that approaching the individual MLA discussion groups, etc, is a good place to start. But I also think it’s interesting that anyone can start a group outside of the already established group structure of the MLA. I think transparency is key here, too, where we can (largely) see what everyone else is doing.
Having said that, it would be nice if we could connect our already existing blogs to here. Is there the possibility to migrate? I would migrate my research blog over here, I think, if I could. Is that a possibility? I am also interested in starting something for #FYCchat (First-Year Composition Chat) here where we can share resources, etc, but many FYC people aren’t MLA members and won’t necessarily want to pay (since they are already NCTE or other organization members).
These are my initial reactions after playing for a few hours. I think it’s great. I think that it’s geared (right now) towards people who are already using social media and blogging, where they might now want ANOTHER forum/blog/community to tend to. Meanwhile, I worry that those who have not yet embraced this will not be as open because it remains really unfamiliar.
Let me know if you have any other questions for me!11 December 2012 at 5:22 pm #421
I was wondering why all the blogs were empty of content, but when I created my own, I quickly found out why. We can create them, but then don’t have access to the dashboard to be administrators of the sites. Hence the generic wordpress stuff up on all of them…11 December 2012 at 5:40 pm #422
If, like Lee said above, MLA Commons is geared toward scholars who are already using social media and are active bloggers (I’m not sure that’s true, but the beta testing group certainly is), then this site seems like it could play the role of excellent megaphone–at least at first.
Bloggers who already have a sizable audience aren’t likely to abandon their own domains, but may cross-post here in order to gain a broader (or more disciplinary specific) audience for their academic interests. I don’t imagine that’s the intent, but it may work nicely.11 December 2012 at 8:36 pm #434
One thing that occurs to me so far is that profiles are kind of unsatisfying to fill out, especially compared to the way profiles work on Academia.edu. One way in which academics are different from other social media users is that we are often affiliated with multiple institutions, and the profiles in the Commons allow you to have a single identity. The information you write in various fields becomes a link to nowhere, and there’s no way to indicate you attended a different university from the one you’re now working at, so there’s currently only one way to find people you might want to connect with–scroll through 8+ pages of users.
It would be great if we could indicate more institutional affiliations that would function like a hashtag or group link, so current university faculty could connect with former students and former students might also check in with current students, etc. I attended 2 very large graduate programs and so even though my “IRL” social circles are large, it seems very hard to imagine right now that my MLACommons social circles will grow–or if they do, it will take more effort to seek out folks that I might want to know for reasons other than fields of research. I can find Shakespeareans through the Group, but not UT-Austin alums, or anybody else I might want to meet or reconnect with.11 December 2012 at 8:47 pm #435
Hi, all. Thanks for the comments! We’ve of course just gone into beta in the last couple of days, so we’re waiting to develop things like help files based on what our testers say that they need. So let us know — we can certainly create “so you want to start a blog” documents, but we have a limited amount of time right now, and so are trying to hit the most important stuff first.
@vcpasupathi, can you tell me a bit more about the administrator issue? If you start a blog, you absolutely should be administrator of that site, and if that’s not happening, that’s a bug, not a feature. (Access to the dashboard, if it’s not apparent, is under “My Sites” in the red nav bar.) It’s true that we currently have a limited number of themes installed, but we are hoping to have a broader range before launch, and are also planning to implement a means for members to let us know what themes/plugins they would like to have installed. We’ll have to be sure that everything we install is compatible with the core system, but we want to support as much of what you need as we can.
On the general who-will-blog-here question: I’m really hoping for the kinds of cross-posting/mirroring that you gesture toward, @ianthomas — not least because I’m hoping that divisions and discussion groups will create larger publications that will highlight the most exciting things going on amongst their members, in a DHNow sort of way. If you have other thoughts about what might make mirroring or migration appealing, do let us know.
(By the by, I’m testing out the @mention function in this comment to see how it functions, not being willfully cute. Let’s see how it works!)12 December 2012 at 1:17 pm #444
Lee Skallerup BessetteParticipant@readywriting
So, I have another question: I have apparently created a Postcolonial Literature site. Now, is this because I am a part of the Postcolonial Literature group? Because I really don’t remember creating a blog or anything. It’s a bit confusing that all of a sudden, I have admin privileges on site.
Just wondering…12 December 2012 at 3:14 pm #445
This is confusing, Lee! The Postcolonial Literature “site” refers to the group blog associated with the group Postcolonial Literature. By joining the group, you became an author on the blog; this is why it appears in your My Sites list, and why you can access its dashboard. (You should only have author-level access, though, not admin access; I’ll have to look at that.)
However, we’re finding that if you visit some other blogs, even just to read them, you automatically become a subscriber on that blog, and those blogs also appear under “My Sites.” This is not desirable behavior, but we’re likely to have to get some help from the Commons in a Box team in order to fix that.
And just a note: it would be a good idea to start a new topic here in the forum any time you’re changing subjects, so that issues will be a little easier for other users to find as well. You can do this by clicking “new topic” on the Beta Testers forum page.13 December 2012 at 2:03 am #465
I had mentioned a couple of items as “Updates” rather than here in this forum, so I thought I’d also paste them below.
1. Creating a new site doesn’t lead to a login page, or at least not obviously. Trying to access the Dashboard through the menu responds ”You do not have sufficient permissions to access this page”—I had to type in the URL myself to access the login page. (Edit: I see above thatVimala C. Pasupathi also had some issues with login and access.)
2. Wondering how it will work to search or browse Members at a large scale; any chance of filters or tags for interests, institutions, etc., perhaps incorporated into profile pages?13 December 2012 at 9:01 am #466
(UPDATE: I wrote the response below before I saw what Ryan said above [hi Ryan!]; we’re having the same problem. Creating a blog doesn’t make one the admin for that blog.)
So I tried to create a Blog within the site, clicked create, and it gave me a couple fields to fill out, including the domain name and whether it should be available for public searching. I checked no for the time being, and the blog got created (Exhaust Fumes). It comes up under My Sites, but when I click on it, I get an error message that says “You do not have sufficient permissions to access this page.” If I go to the blog itself and click on Site Admin, I get the same message. Basically, from what I can tell, the site allows you to set up a Blog, but doesn’t associate it with your username and therefore, although you can set it up, you can not do anything to the content. If you look at the Blogs on the site currently, of the 15 blogs that come up (and mine might not since I checked the no box about availability?), none of them have posts/pages/comments other than the wordpress dummy posts/pages/comments, so I think others haven’t been able to access the ones they created either.13 December 2012 at 9:03 am #467
Yes! Seconding Ryan on all of the above, including the q. about filters.18 December 2012 at 12:36 am #702
As a late update (we’ve been in contact with many of you about it): the new site administrator issue described above has been resolved. If the issue reoccurs, get in touch with us!
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