Introducing User Groups
We are pleased to announce the addition of user groups to our community platform! This feature will allow members to instantly create their own communities within Diagnostic Network, with varying levels of visibility, and even invite colleagues to help them manage their groups.
Open user groups provide the widest visibility. Like our core discussion topics, open user groups can be read and posted to by any member. These are perfect for niche topics. For now, we are asking anyone interested in creating open groups to focus on automotive service industry topics.
Closed user groups are partially visible, allowing group managers to control access, while still allowing non-subscribed members to see what kinds of discussions are happening within, to help them decide whether to subscribe. Those that haven't subscribed to a closed group will see the (anonymized) parent message of any discussion, but no replies or author details until and unless they're subscribed to the group.
Private user groups are also available, which are invisible to members unless they've been invited to subscribe. We anticipate private user groups to be used for more advanced use cases, and at this time you must contact us directly if interested in creating a private group, so that we can discuss your plans.
Once you've created a user group, you can visit a member's profile and click the new Invite button to invite them to your group. Group managers will be able to manage subscription requests, and turn any current group subscriber into a manager, directly on their group's details page. We have many plans for increased customization for groups as time goes on and we see how groups are being used in practice.
So keep an eye on the new User Groups subscriptions page to discover new groups going forward:
Allow me to quote Scott Brown from our press release:
“We envision User Groups being leveraged by Diagnostic Network members interested in driving discussion among their peers on a variety of auto service industry topics that they are passionate about,” said Scott Brown, Diagnostic Network President. “We’re fascinated to see what they create. With the vehicle service industry rapidly changing, there’s never been a more important time to provide better ways to communicate within a professional environment. We have a tremendous opportunity to open up the lines of communication among those facing challenges daily within the vehicle service ecosystem: service technicians, managers, owners, OEMs, tool vendors, industry associations — everyone,” said Mr. Brown.
“We now offer something for everyone: our existing core discussion topics, which drive our community; open user groups, for members to spearhead discussion on more specific topics they’re interested in; closed and private user groups, which empower our members and partners to effortlessly create their own communities,” said Mr. Brown.
Other Features & Improvements
With this release of Diagnostic Network (version 2.2), the primary new feature is user groups, but there are many more behind-the-scenes improvements, and several user-facing improvements:
- Subscriptions. What we previously referred to as "Watched Topics" are now simply called Subscriptions. These cover both your subscriptions to our core discussion topics, as well as user groups. We anticipate the primary discussion stream on our homepage to become busier as time goes on, and recommend configuring your topic and group discussions to your liking, and then simply switching to the Subscriptions view to tailor your view of DN.
- Bookmarking. As with the above change to Subscriptions, we're moving away from the "Watch" terminology for discussions as well. Now you select the new "Bookmark" button on a discussion to receive activity notifications. Very shortly we'll be releasing an easy way for you to scroll through all of your bookmarked discussions, which will also include any discussions you previously selected to "Watch."
- Numerous enhancements and bug fixes, like fixing the bug that prevented VINs from being decoded when pasted into the Vehicle tag field on certain devices.
We hope you enjoy this release, and we'd love to hear your feedback. If you're interested, here are our previous release notes (v2.1).
A little confused (no surprise, I know) Is this for adding a team member to have access? what is the pint of all the data here:
That is the form to create your user group. The name of the group, a shorter version of the name for places where we have to abbreviate it (common when showing the group tags on the site), the address for your group on DN, a description of it that users will see before joining, and the group type.
Thanks for the feedback, let me know if you need any more clarification. We'll introduce some more guidance on that form to clarify things based on feedback like this.
Can you elaborate more on your comment?
I would have one suggestion for a future update. Various times as I am posting a message I have come across times when it would be so nice to attach a picture directly to the message by taking a screen clipping. Such as a portion of an oscilloscope waveform. Just to be able to take a quick screen clipping of either the whole screen or a selection with a marquee type selector. I am used to using screen clippings such as in Microsoft Outlook and Windows snipping tool. Something like this would eliminate the need to save the picture and then upload it.
Hi David, I'm trying to make sure I understand. Are you saying you want to be able to attach an image you have saved to your Windows clipboard, e.g. by pasting it into the message editing window?
If that's what you're asking, you can do that now. Click the Attach Files button, and hit CTRL+V to paste any image on your clipboard. (We will be making it easier to attach files in general to posts, by just dragging-and-dropping them onto the composing window, but for now, this would be the fastest way.)
Tom, that's not really what I was thinking. Are you familiar with Windows Snipping Tool? If you have a windows computer open up the snipping tool and it will give you a few modes for taking a screen clipping. You can either take a free form snip or a window snip of anywhere on your computer screen. Once it is clipped you can then save that as a picture anywhere on your computer. I thought this function could possibly be added to your "Attach Files" window where you could take a free form screen clipping of something else on your screen and have it directly be placed into DN as an attachment. Instead of doing it with Windows Snipping tool, saving it, and then uploading it to DN attachments window.
Another useful thing would be to add some notation/marker/arrow tools into the edit are to edit uploaded pictures. Such as an arrow to point to a specific area on a picture.
I know this does take a lot of engineering but these are things I have wished for.
I will look into whether it's feasible, but where things seem to be going is operating systems providing the tools to take screenshots and annotate them (both Microsoft's Snipping tool and Apple's screenshot tools do this), and then you'd paste from the clipboard directly into the Attach Files window (or drag and drop the file from the Desktop on macOS).
Jing From Techsmith is a pretty powerful tool and I have that installed on multiple machines. It allows one to configure a couple of hot keys that will allow you to gather and mark up screenshots in very short order.
Jing is free and can be downloaded here: techsmith.com/jing-tool.html
Cliques? That seems pretty counter productive.
Only if you don't get invited! ;-)
I'm not following the reasoning here but it's not my site.
What’s there not to get, can I try and answer a specific question you have on this subject?
I'll back up. I agree with Justin and Eric. Don't see a need for it.
We’re not trying to create anything that would be counter productive. On the contrary, if there was a particular widget manufacturer that you knew about but weren’t interested in what they were talking about, would you like the ability to remove that activity from your feed? What we envision is user groups used to focus more on say specific tools and equipment, or perhaps a way for a training organization to provide continuing support on a particular subject a student may have just attended. There are many ways this new feature can be leveraged to support our overall mission which is connect professional technicians to enable successful repair of complex vehicles through peer discussion, partner collaboration, and education.
I disagree. When you asked me to share my resources with your cause, I asked only one thing from you. This runs counter to that. So let me see if I understand, we pay to be part of your network. Now inside of that we have cliques that provide space for some to share where others can not see that. Seems like it isn’t meeting the goal. I think you are looking to the wrong people for your feedback on these ideas. Too many “yes sir’s” and “your the boss guys.“
The core feature of DN is and will remain our discussion topics and open groups, as these have the widest audience.
Open user groups are a way for members to create/highlight other topics they are passionate about, but which may be too niche to warrant us creating a core discussion topic for the item. This capability does not exist on any other professional automotive community, to my knowledge.
Closed and private groups are a solution to a separate issue: if someone wants to run a forum in the auto industry, how can they best do it?
Before we released user groups, they had two primary methods:
- Start a user group on Facebook. Most of the user groups aimed at professionals on Facebook offer poor search capabilities, (in my opinion) a terrible experience trying to follow along with a discussion, distractions (from the usual activity on Facebook), questionable privacy practices, and most importantly, no tools aimed at our industry, such as the ability to tag vehicles, DTCs (and even more in the future).
- Create their own website, and run off-the-shelf forum software. Similar to Facebook groups, they offer no automotive-specific capabilities, and require a certain level of technical expertise, and commitment (time and money) to operate.
Our thinking is it's better for our members and the industry to offer a better solution here on DN. After all, if we didn't release user groups, it's not going to stop someone from starting their own automotive forum or user group, they're just going to do it elsewhere, and you're going to decide whether you want to follow along, create a new account with them, and so on.
Closed and private user groups are not intended to — and simply will not — replace the discussions taking place here in the open. They will augment them, and give more people outside of DN a good reason to move their discussions here.
Unlike Facebook's closed groups, the ones on DN will offer a view into the discussions taking place within those groups, while still retaining privacy of the subscribers of those groups. And private groups are designed to offer a solution for companies that would like to have a communication system within their organizations, but don't want to build and maintain one themselves.
In terms of "cliques," people will always gravitate towards groups of people they are interested in communicating with. In that sense, DN itself is a clique, as is every forum and user group on the internet. I think we can all agree that there are benefits to organizing discussions and giving people more control over their information and how they participate. After all, I don't imagine many of us would want to hang out on a single forum, where every single discussion on the planet is taking place.
I'm no industry giant, nor do my words carry much weight. I'm just a technician with an opinion. For what it's worth, this seems to add to the already busy social media interactions we have each day. Likely most of us are part of multiple Facebook automotive groups, this feature, here, seems to be redundant, and only add more items to our daily "feed."
A group here, a group there, bits of information here, bits over there. We're slowly compartmentalizing each facet of the way we interact and share information.
Not trying to criticize Scott, just sharing my limited opinion on the matter. Let's leave the groups and sections to Facebook. The whole automotive network can stay thriving in diag.net imo.
Every topic/group you subscribe to on DN is available for quick viewing in one place: your subscriptions stream. So this new feature should not add any overhead to your day, as you still have just one place to check on DN to catch up with the things you're interested in.
Thanks for sharing your perspective on this. I know that you're aware, but not every service industry professional has a Facebook account or will ever have one for many reasons. If the group option is attractive to those individuals, then this is a positive in my book. If a group option is attractive to a professional product or service supplier, and they want to leverage the power of a group, then so be it.
Although FB provides a lot of options, it brings about a lot of issues which are simply not cool. We're building professional resources which will bring highly-effective, accretive value to the service industry for years to come. A place that allows one to retrieve reference information tied to vehicle attributes in intelligent ways. A place that promotes knowledge growth through new avenues and leverages technology in order to support our mission.
Thank you for your input.
Does sound interesting.
How will you prevent the same issues that Facebook is susceptible to from repeating itself here?
FB behavior such as outlined in this story (or anything unethical) will never happen here as we have high ethics to abide by and would never resort to such tactics. We are focused on what we know and that's to provide an environment that is conducive to making the service professional successful.
Additionally, according to this letter FB has big plans for the future in communications.
This still seems counter productive to the overall dynamic of this site.
Trained by Techs has already started their own closed group. The information they shared has been a boon to the site,but now it is going private and only the "invited" can partake in their information? If not, then why go private? Any discussion they have is likely of interest to every one here.
Im along for the ride here Scott, and Im not immediately against new ideas,but much like the bounties,this doesn't seem to benefit the group as whole....
When we opened the closed group our intention was to house an area in this social platform to discuss possible inaccuracies to our videos, ask for feedback, and introduce ideas for possible new videos or methods.
All those things we think should not be clogging the open DN stream of content.
Our understanding was by making it closed we would be able to contain this normally "useless to the masses" content.
We appreciate your description of what we contribute!
Fyi Keith, even with an Open UG you can limit the content to that group exclusively if no other topics are selected. If you want the post to flow to the other topics, then tag them appropriately.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns. We have decided that our user group will be used for feedback to our contributions. A few examples might be video topic ideas, questions that arise after watching a video or making us aware of any mistakes that we are more than capable of making. It is certainly not our intention to host valuable conversations behind closed doors on this site and as long as DN uses this format, we will encourage our members and this sites contributors to keep this in mind.
I believe that the intent of the TbT group was to discuss things that they are focused on, training, meet-ups, goals, etc. The technical content they produce would flow as usual.
Closed groups are designed to focus more towards brand specific support, tooling, education, etc. If one is interested in that group, they can click the join button.
Regarding the bounties, I still am not clear on how they don’t benefit the group? Since we introduced bounties, 112 questions have been posted (no bounty attached), and have received 1,172 replies, so it doesn’t seem like bounties have had a negative impact on people asking questions for free, if that’s your concern. Those that have posted bounties wanted to attach an incentive to encourage more participation, and that means anyone on DN has an opportunity to earn a bonus.
Fair enough, As I said,Im not against this, it just bothers me from my limited perspective.
However Ive been a vociferous supporter here since day 1. Ill keep an open mind.....