Reaching more key ODK people with announcements

One key item that came up during the summit this week is the need to effectively reach people with important announcements.

Currently ODK has an #announcements category here in the forums. In another project I worked on, we had a Discourse group like this with restricted post access. We also set up every Discourse user to "Watch" the category automatically, so they'd receive email notifications for every new topic.

This could also be combined with the WordPress Discourse plugin, if the site continued to run WP, which could "echo" selected blog posts as new topics. The plugin also optionally allows the blog post's comments displayed on the WordPress page to be replaced by replies to that associated Discourse topic.

This could allow a few ways for people to track "announcements". Do others have alternative ideas or experience?



  1. I only learned ODK Build Offline Windows (June 15th), ODK Briefcase (June 28th), ODK Apk 1.8.1 (June 29th) only because I'm doing training and I'm obliged to do a systematic tour on the download of the site OpenDatakit.
    Can not we be notified by email of an update of this page?

  2. I appreciate the possibility to read the online documentation of the site OpenDataKit in my language (sorry it's French!)
    The old forum allowed to translate subjects. Could not we find an equivalent system (but I would rather do without going back to google)


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I'm OK with using Announcements as the primary mechanism of community-wide announcements. We can also then push them out to Twitter/Facebook/Blog.

I worry that people who get the forum summaries might get annoyed and unsubscribe from all forum email and not get it, but I guess that's a risk we have to take.

I want to make sure it's very low traffic so no one unsubscribes. Here's what I think might go in announcements.

  • Releases of each tool (this might be a bit much with so many tools)
  • Gathering of very important feedback (e.g., concept note feedback)
  • Changes in governance and direction (e.g., next steps from convening)
  • Security advisories
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I've turned on announcement tracking for new users. I've also retroactively enabled it for existing users.

This should give us a way to reach everyone we need to reach.

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FWIW, the "unsubscribe" via email mechanism via Discourse is pretty powerful so hopefully they wouldn't unsubscribe to everything. I think you will also mitigate that through conservative use of the Announcements category. It may not be appropriate to announce each and every release as it happens in #announcements, but might be better to roll them up into "here's what is new this month" type of announcements.

Of course, urgent (time-sensitive) announcements shouldn't ever need to wait.



Good feedback! I'm thinking we should have a Releases category where all the releases go (including betas). Then maybe a monthly announcement with a pointer to that month's releases. That seems like a no-brainer, so I've implemented it at

We will need to draft up a message that goes out to announcements in a few days announcing our announcement strategy. And then probably the second announcement will be a convening wrap up. How does that sound to folks?


At the risk of drifting too far off-topic, just wanted to point folks to what Discourse is doing with their release announcements. It is something to maintain, but personally I like how it's a "one stop shop" for the overall "roadmap" and the progress on each release (the green check marks). Food for thought.

@yanokwa I agree with the approach to #announcements and #releases categories.

@downey I really like the Discourse Releases page as a reference.

To complement this, it could be helpful to have an approach that went by channel, like:

Twitter: echo announcements, all releases, and any other communications
All the things, basically. Twitter is a high-volume channel for many people

Facebook: per Twitter?
I'm not a Fb user, so don't have a strong view here.

Blog: will this still be actively maintained, or does the Forum replace it?

And I'm not sure whether 1.0 & 2.0 comms will be handled through the same channels? This would be good for awareness, but could add to the noise.


+1 to @bengreen comments above!

I probably agree with this -- but the Facebook algorithms seem pretty good at de-prioritizing posts by pages, so they may not always get out in a timely manner.

I hope some form of a blog stays around with the new to-launch web site. It's a good way for outsiders to easily find curated high-level info without asking them to wade through the forum. That said, a big +1 for exploring the Discourse WordPress integration plugin which does a decent drop at cross-posting blog posts back to the forum for comments/discussion -- and feeding the best comments back to the web site -- without duplicating canonical sources of content.

I'd be somewhat worried about confusion if these are both posted side by side before "the naming issue" is worked through. e.g., "ODK Collect 1.8.2 is the newest release, but so is ODK 2.0.1."

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