Monday, January 9, 2006

EGRIN consultative committee

A friend informed me about the discussions in the last EGRIN consultative committee meeting held in November. It is important that this modern communication platform be given due attention. Online interactive communication is growing so fast that new approaches are coming up every month. EOs are ahead of many other grades in having such a modern platform for grade members since several years ago. However, being an official site, there is very little interactive discussion there, making the site a notice board rather than a cyber meeting place. It is essential that the situation should be regularly reviewed and improved.

I was told that the meeting focused on three themes: increasing the flow of traffic, finding a niche for the website, and promoting the website and making it more appealing.

There are many ways to increase the traffic, and I have made some suggestions before but to no avail. The topics covered in the meeting included allowing non-work related soft subjects, allowing anonymous posting of messages and encouraging the forming of interest groups. Allowing soft subjects seems to have a negative tone. I wonder what would happen when someone posted such subjects before. There is no policing so far, and what good would it do by allowing such subjects now. This, and the allowing of anonymous entries were implemented some time ago, but there was no improvement in the traffic of the discussion forum whatsoever. The last one depends on the traffic. If no one writes, how could interest groups be set up?

The next big idea was finding a niche, i.e. carry something others do not have. I think EGRIN is a niche in itself. Grade members can only find documents concerning the grade in EGRIN. But it is nice to keep improving the content. One suggestion is interesting: posting a list of EOs by work stream for searching; such as "per" or "fin". I think colleagues are better off just looking up the government telephone directory.

There was a suggestion on redesigning the front page. I think it is important to always give the site a fresh look. For many popular websites, the layout is redesigned regularly. For my own website, I even use 10 different layouts of the front page and rotate them randomly so that visitors always see a different look each time they log in.

The many wonderful suggestions make me think how enthusiastic were the committee members in loading the cart. It would be decorated beautifully and loaded with valuable stuff. However, where is the horse that pulls the cart. It is left behind the cart without much attention paid. I mean the horse is the driving force of pulling the cart out of the ivory tower. The problem with EGRIN is not that it lacks valuable information, nor the website is not attractive. The problem is that grade members do not communicate interactively there. A friend told me that there are very little messages in the interest corner, except some announcements. The discussion forum only contains IHRM daily digests, which should actually be posted in the bulletin board. The DS corner is struggling with a little contribution, and so is the anonymous writer arrangement. This is the issue which the EGRIN consultative committee should try to solve.

One last joke about the suggestions: it was decided that retirees could be provided with the newsletter Keep In Touch on request. Retirees are considered members of the public instead of retired colleagues. But mind you, Keep In Touch has been publicly available for a long time in the CSB website.

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