- Structured discussion: Participants are expected to contribute either completions to a question (i.e. information that can answer the question) or follow up questions (i.e. questions that break up the complexity of a field into manageable parts). Thus, the discussion within a discussion group evolves into a tree of follow up questions. The forum design assists the participants to contribute the expected way.
- 'Democratic' review of contributions: Group administrators can enable automatic reviewing of contributions. If this feature is enabled, the application choses a reviewer from the participants in the discussion group each time a contribution is scheduled for publication. With reviewing enabled, no contribution is published immediately. Instead, a publication workflow is started. However, reviewing is not moderated by the group administration, on the contrary, responsibility (for the correctness of the contributions and, thus, the quality of the discussion) is spread equally over the participants of the discussion group.
- Modifiable openness: Participation in a discussion is possible only for participants, i.e. authenticated forum members. However, the administration of a discussion group can provide read access for the public (i.e. guests) up to a specified level within the tree structure of the discussion group.
- Private discussion groups: Discussion groups can made private, meaning that only invited members can participate. Thus, private discussion groups are excellent means for strategic discussions within an organisation.
- Easy to use: The VIF application is very responsive and easy to install.
- Bookmarks: Every discussion node can be bookmarked. Thus, regular users can easily come back to their hot spots in a discussion thread and work on their contributions over multiple sessions.
- Subscription: Users can subscribe to every discussion node. Thus, users are informed in a concise way how the discussion at a distinct part of the discussion thread evolves but are not diverted by other threads in the same discussion group.
- Export of content: Group administrators can export the content of their discussion groups into an OpenOffice.org document.
- Rating: After the publication of a contribution, the involved participants can rate the interaction partner's discussion behaviour. These ratings build up the participants' discussion reputation.
- Clean component architecture: The VIF application uses the OSGi component framework (for techies: VIF uses Equinox as OSGi implementation). The whole application is assembled of different components (i.e. OSGi bundles). Thus, the VIF application is easily extensible and adaptable: Bundles and the functionality provided therein can be added or replaced. The application provides various extension points which developers can implement and thus provide their own skins or tasks.
And last but not least it's Open Source (GPL).
For installation instructions, go to Installation.
The following documents show you how to manage the Next Generation Discussion Forum.