Online social media surgery

I love the social media surgery concept, which was pioneered by Pete Ashton in Birmingham, used by me at UK Youth Online and then turned into something amazing by Pete, Nick and others in Birmingham.

I think there is a lot of value in having an online equivalent, just a place where people can ask questions about this stuff and hopefully get some answers from anyone who is browsing at the time. So I have started to build something.

It’s is very much early days, but the prototype site is at It’s (obviously) built in Drupal, and as far as I have got so far is repurposing the blog function to act as questions, and comments as answers. Sophisticated it ain’t.

You can add a profile with some details of who you are in it, which might help you get the answers you need, or decide whether you trust the people providing them. There is also a simple rating system in place for answers, so if a response has one star it might well be worth taking with a pinch of social media salt.

Beyond changing a few colours, I haven’t got near to theming the site, I thought it far better to get the features in first. So if it looks like the default Drupal theme, it is. I will get round to changing it at some point.

Other stuff I want to get in:

  • Make the voting system more sophisticated for answers, so the top rated ones float to the top, say, or at least are displayed in a sidebar somewhere
  • Have some kind of karma system, so people who provide well rated answers get some kind of authority rating
  • Ability for users to mark a question as something they are also having problems with

…and probably loads of other stuff too.

So that’s it really. Please let me have any feedback or suggestions, but otherwise, let people who might benefit from the site know about it, and of course do register yourselves in case you can help someone, or get some help yourself…

Social media surgeries

I’ve spent my last two Saturdays at events running social media surgeries. I nicked the idea from Birmingham Blogger extraordinaire Pete Ashton, who has a regular afternoon spot in a cafe, where folk can come and ask quick questions about blogging and whatnot.

I think these work particularly well at events, where hopefully people get suitably enthused by some of the sessions they attend, and have ideas that they want to put into practice, but maybe aren’t sure how. This certainly happened at both UKYouthOnline and the Low Carbon Communities Network event.

Some of the stuff I was asked about included:

  • How to set up a simple website to provide information and also recieve feedback (answer – start a blog!)
  • How to create inline links in blog posts
  • How to insert Flickr images into blog posts
  • How to create a community site which people can use for discussions as well as providing information about events and sharing knowledge and content (answer – try using Ning!)

If you are planning an event about this stuff, could you do with having a social media surgeon on board? If so, let me know!