New Direct Communication Tools for Citizen Science Apps: User Message Boards

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User-to-user communication and project-to-user communication are essential parts of modern interactive Citizen Science. In the new platform update, we extend the already present features in all Apps on the SPOTTERON platform with another significant upgrade: User Message Boards.

Exchanging messages, enabling discussion

Being able to contact each other in a more meaningful way is a long-requested feature by users on SPOTTERON. The new panel offers this possibility now for every Citizen Science App on the platform. Situated right in the user profile, the Message Wall allows others to post comments as messages for a user. 

When a new message is posted, the profile owner gets a push notification on their smartphone that a new comment is waiting. A reply button makes it easy to post an answer, which further fosters exchange and interaction in the Citizen Science App. Replies are threaded, meaning that responses are visually linked to the original message, and the Message Wall is sorted by recent comment threads first.

A door-opener for direct communication in your App

This new feature opens up many possibilities within your Citizen Science App. Message Boards enable users to interact on data contributions in a Citizen Science App and communicate in a threaded comment section at every user profile. Participants can now interact not only via comments on data spots, which fade in importance over time, but they have a fixed place for direct communication with each other and the project itself. A Message Wall acts like a permanent guestbook with threaded communication.

The first App Updates with the new Message Boards included are already rolled out. Users in the feature-funding projects "Crowdwater" and "Nature's Calender" have already started to use this new integrated platform community tool, and we see the first Citizens and Scientists getting together, posting messages, and interacting in the digital toolkits of their project. It is great to see users' adopting the feature already and that the first exchanges are happening.

During the process, we also improved the user profile layout for better device compatibility and visual quality for all Citizen Science Apps on the SPOTTERON platform.

Community comments overhaul for all projects

The task of designing and developing the new Message Wall feature included an overhaul of the underlying system for comments. We have included advanced functionalities like the reply mechanics and regular comments on observations and Spots to improve further the usability and quality of all Citizen Science Apps on SPOTTERON and integrated the push notification system for the new Message Walls.

Strengthening communication and interaction among users and the project is an essential aspect of Citizen Science in general. With SPOTTERON's extended options to create communities and enable both user-to-user and project-to-user communication, a next step has been achieved to make Citizen Science extend from data collection to play a significant part in the lives of a broad range of people. Where we talk to each other, we feel at home.

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Monday, 30 January 2023

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