My Home Owners Association is evaluating Discourse for use as a community communications platform. We are hoping to get feedback from other HOAs that use Discourse for the same.
I"m not part of an HOA management board or anything, but my guess is that it would work pretty well, insofar as any online group solution would. I’ve seen HOAs use Facebook groups and other forum type platforms, so Discourse should work well.
Are you guys considering paying Discourse for managed hosting, or hosting it yourself?
I ran one for my apartment development which began as a Yahoo group and ended up on Discourse.
the ability to search prior conversations and post media. Many appreciated the relative independence from big tech and some said they were not on Facebook and would never want to use it had it been hosted there
having homeowner meeting minutes and decisions posted online.
having material available for new residents so they can find their feet in their new location.
There are many upsides to not being on Facebook but at least a couple downsides:
Even neighbours may not wish to sign up for an additional independent website they don’t know (“Why can’t we use WhatsApp/Facebook?” )
Even more tricky if it is one of the executive team who are wary of systems they don’t use.
If you move who takes over running it and will they have the skills and time to do it?
Definitely plan someone to be your successor. But if it’s a small community it may be hard to find the right person who has enough skill and someone you trust sufficiently.
Another issue for any type of online neighbour community is:
- Some people just don’t get on and the forum can become a facilitator of escalating conflict which can be challenging to moderate as these people are also your neighbours. Arguments between neighbours can get quite nasty and having this in black and white on websites is not pleasant. Silencing bad behaviour will also create tensions between you and those neighbours involved. Eventually several people stopped using the site as much so as not to court controversy and others whose nose was out of joint simply left. You ended up with only a subset of the community through no fault of your own.
On a more positive note, you could say that Discourse’s excellent moderation tools come in very handy!
I do not regret running it though. A great way to learn Discourses ins and outs and the community in general really loved it.
I’m a member of a home owners association (it’s called a strata in Canada.) I was on my building’s strata council for a few years. I’ve wondered for a while now about using Discourse, or Discourse for Teams, for strata council meetings. Where I live, strata council meetings can be conducted over the internet as long as all members are able to access the meeting. There is a formality to the meetings that I think would reduce the likelihood of conflict caused by poor communication skills. From my point of view, written communication would be preferable to attending strata council meetings in person.
I like the idea of using Discourse for general communication among strata members, but I’d have the same concerns as @merefield noted above. For example, if I’m playing my music too loud and someone wants to complain, there’s currently a formal process in place for the complainant to follow. They are expected to contact the strata’s manager who will then contact me about the issue. This is designed to reduce conflict. Dealing with these types of issues in forum topics that were accessible to all strata members would require careful moderation. Either relying on PMs for this type of issue, or requiring moderator approval for new posts in some of the forum’s categories could help with this.