Jody, Alicia and I would like to thank all who participated in our recent survey. As promised, we have reviewed the responses and all of the comments. While we cannot be all things to everyone, we are trying our best to address the needs of the community.
First, some information about this amazing community. The US was heavily represented, but we have participants from at least 18 countries. 70% have been treated for breast cancer. 45% have been participating in the chats for >12 months, and approximately 45% of the respondents identified themselves as lurkers (watch the conversation but do not tweet) – we see you! 77% of the respondents engage with other members of the community outside of scheduled chat times via twitter, facebook, email, and blog posts. As a result of chat participation, an overwhelming majority noted that they plan to do one or more of the following: volunteer at a local, regional or national level, attend a scientific meeting, or expand online or “in person” advocacy efforts.
Many positive comments were posted, but I would like to focus on the areas where we can improve. We received a lot of comments regarding the format of the tweetchats including that the chats move at a rapid pace and can sometimes be difficult to follow. Other comments were about reducing the meet-and-greet portion of the chat and eliminating retweets.
As much as we try to moderate the chats, there are invariably side conversations. We try to keep the introductions and chit-chat to the first 5-7 minutes, but there are always participants who pop in later. While that can be disruptive, we’re trying to welcome all. In addition, some commented that they do not get a personal welcome and feel left out. This is completely unintentional! Jody, Alicia and I try to say hello to all who join, especially newbies, but we’re usually each watching 2-3 screens during the chats – we sometimes miss seeing you! It can be intimidating, especially if everyone else seems to know each other. Don’t be shy – we really want to hear anyone who wants to be heard. Please don’t assume that if you don’t get a personal “hello” that you are not welcome. And remember some want to do away with the meet and greet altogether; we’re trying our best to make this work for everyone.
Platforms such as tchat.io have an icon to “hide RTs” which might make the chats easier to follow – it will reduce some of the “noise”. We’ve also tried to discourage people from RTing during a chat as it does make it hard to follow the conversation. For those prone to RTing, a suggestion would be to favorite the tweet (use the star icon). You can then go back, review your favorites, and RT later. It will help keep the chat flowing. Jody, Alicia and I will often RT the questions, especially if we have a guest, to ensure that everyone sees them. In addition, we will also RT key points, especially those made by guests. We always post a transcript after the chats. The newly re-written #BCSM Chat post should help those new to the chats understand the format and the etiquette; it’s also a good refresher even for those who have participated for some time.
We are exploring options such as Google hangouts and video panel discussions – especially for the more complex or sensitive topics – where the community could send in questions and comments via twitter. Please let us know if this is something you would be interested in. Another frequent request was that the topics be posted in advance – we try to plan the chats several weeks or even months in advance, but it’s not always possible. However, we recognize that not every topic is of interest to all of the participants, and we’ll work to get this information out in a more timely fashion. In addition, when there are chats regarding medical topics (such as meeting summaries), we will also try as much as possible to put up blog posts and/or links before the chats for review.
Polling the group for desired topics was also suggested. Anyone can leave a comment on the #BCSM Community website contact page – that’s the easiest way to make a suggestion for a topic or a guest.
Finally, we received comments about the day and time of the chat. We are a diverse international community, and it would be impossible to find a day and time that works for everyone. Jody and Alicia started the chats on Monday July 4th 2011 – they picked a holiday so that if no one showed up, no one would notice. Well – people showed up! And the timeslot of Monday at 9pm ET time has stuck. One of the reasons that the chat has been so successful is consistency – it is held almost every Monday evening at the same time. And because it is just the 3 of us moderating and planning the chats, we simply do not have the woman power to host more than one chat a week.
Overall, we’re very proud of what this community has become, and you all have made it that way. We have grown larger and faster than we ever anticipated, and some of the issues we are facing right now are simply related to growing pains. Please be assured that we hear all your comments, and will continue working to serve your needs.