A short Introduction

The VIF discussion model focuses on structured discussions. Structure in this context means that all contributions relate to questions. Questions in the VIF discussion model are contributions that consists of two parts: the proper question itself (no rhetorical questions allowed) and the substantiation which tells the participants why the questions is important for the discussion, why the answer to this question will bring the discussion to a solution.

Discussion participants, then, have two possibilities to respond:

  1. Either a forum participant knows to answer the question or, at least, has a hint how to answer the question: the participant writes a completion.
  2. None of the participants knows to answer the question, however, they know to break down the question into relevant sub-questions: the participant writes one or more follow-up question, which again consists of a proper question and the substantiation.

Each contribution (i.e. question or completion) has a publication workflow. At the beginning, every input is purely private. Only the author is able to read the entry. In this state, the entry can freely be edited, even days or weeks after it has been initially saved to the system. If the author decides to go further, she publishes her contribution or requests a review for her contribution (depending on the setup of the discussion group). Only at this moment the contribution gets visible for other forum participants.

The VIF application is divided into two parts: the proper forum part where the discussions take place and the forum administration part. In the forum administration part, the discussion group can be set up. The designed discussion group administration (see Forum Roles about the different roles) creates at least one starting question (including the substantiation). As soon as the group administration is satisfied with the initial state, she can open the discussion group. Only at this moment the discussion group becomes visible in the application's forum part. Now, the members can register to the discussion group and participate in the discussion, i.e. contribute completions or follow-up questions or act as reviewer for other participants' contributions.