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FAQ and overview for new and intending forum users
Who is this forum service for?
This forum is intended for the private use of approved New Zealand Institute of Architecture members. This group includes registered architects, employees of architects, graduates, students, retired and academic members, as well as employees of the NZIA. All members are welcome to apply (click the ‘Sign Up’ link on this page). While we believe the potential and value to members is high, there is no cost for this service.
What is this service for?
This is designed as a safe ‘in house’ space for fostering an online collegial culture that supports the practice of architecture and registered architects across New Zealand. For many years, members from all types, modes, and sizes of practice nationwide have been using this forum to share insights, commiserate, post questions and propose and discuss possible answers on a wide range of architectural topics. With ‘social distancing’ and remote working now a day to day reality for many practitioners, this is a medium whose time has come.
Is this just another messaging or social media service?
No. Frankly, this service is to Facebook and Twitter what a fine wine is to mouthwash. It utilises the next-generation, industry leading ‘Discourse’ forum technology; and is ergonomically designed to facilitate meaningful, civilised, fluid and yet highly structured and searchable discussion, within a straightforward, unobtrusive and very easy to learn environment for users. More information here https://www.discourse.org/features
Logged in users can also initiate or participate in impromptu or prearranged online video conferencing events, SPG or working group meetings and the like with peers anywhere around the country, without the time limits, subscription costs or software impediments of other platforms. New functionality is explored regularly.
Does the NZIA own or control this forum service?
No. This forum is the successor to the ‘Yahoo Chatlist’; a very basic Email based format that was originally set up and run by the NZIA, but that proved problematic in administration and disruptive for many in operation, and that was ultimately discontinued on general legal advice.
The forum is now hosted, run and funded privately on a volunteer basis by NZIA member and architect Paul King (who, incidentally, is not worth suing!). The forum has also migrated to industry leading web based forum technology which has significantly improved management of privacy, as well as providing many other up to date features and requested improvements for users and administrators.
While the forum still shares an exclusive focus on supporting New Zealand architects with its predecessor, and still treats NZIA membership as a qualifying characteristic for users, it is no longer in any way affiliated with or controlled by the NZIA, and NZIA are in no way responsible for the forum content, or its management.
What topics are discussed?
Topics range from mundane day to day queries, technical, local authority and consenting issues, technology, business, practice administration and contractual issues, client-architect relationship challenges, legislative and regulatory issues, environmental and sustainability issues, invited design critiques, urban planning and landscaping issues as well as broad philosophical discussions and debate, with a bit of light relief thrown in from time to time. The tone is informal.
Thoughts and ideas can be floated, tested and collaborated on here - before they are necessarily ‘polished’ or complete, in an environment that is supportive, and where respondents are straight-talking, and constructive.
What topics are not discussed?
No topic is ‘off limits’ so long as it has some bearing on architecture, however all the norms of civilized discourse apply; no personal or ad hominem attacks, no unsubstantiated allegations whether involving individuals or organisations, no deliberate attempts to mislead, and no language or imagery that is hurtful or derogatory towards others based on cultural, ethnic, gender, religious, political or other demographic affiliations should be posted.
While challenging situations can be discussed in general terms, private or potentially sensitive details around specific projects, clients or situations should not be shared at any time.
Users almost always exercise good judgement in these matters as a matter of course, but in the event of a slip-up, any reader can refer a post they encounter that might be questionable for moderation, and possible editing or deletion.
What if I posted in haste?
Any forum user can log in and subsequently edit or delete their own posts and content, at any time, whether days or years later. In fact, updates are encouraged if mistakes are found, or a situation changes.
How can I ask questions, or make suggestions if I don’t want to appear foolish or ignorant in the eyes of my peers?
In a field as vast, complex and rapidly-changing as architecture, and where constant learning and adaptation are essential life-long processes for everyone involved, no practitioner, no matter how able or experienced, can be strong and up to date in every facet of practice, nor avoid harbouring a share of ‘dumb’ questions and questionable assumptions. Frank interaction with peers is one of the best ways to identify and rectify your weaknesses and to improve in practice as a result.
There is probably no place more appropriate to ask those questions and test out those ideas than in a supportive ’in house’ environment designed specifically for the purpose, and where your colleagues may well have encountered very similar situations to yours before. This forum is a place where things can be ‘thrown out there’ before they are necessarily fully formulated or polished, where all who participate can learn something, and is another way in which approaches and ideas can be explored, and improvements suggested or shortcomings potentially identified before they are unleashed on the unsuspecting public, or your clients.
Dumb questions are encouraged.
How private and secure is the forum?
The forum has been provisioned with industry best practice security features, including password protection, spam control, HTTPS security certification and so on, and the software platform receives regular feature and security updates.
Who is responsible for forum content?
Every person contributing to a forum discussion must accept sole responsibility for that contribution. This is a condition of use.
That said, readers of the forum must also accept as a further term of use, that the content here is of a fundamentally informal, impromptu and exploratory nature, and nothing posted should be relied upon as being accurate or taken as professional advice without independent verification.
What if I can’t log in?
Simply click the ‘I forgot my password’ link in the login dialog to make a new one. You can contact the administrator if you get stuck.
What if I prefer to read or post by live Email rather than logging in each time?
This is now possible. Users who opt for this will be automatically Emailed each new post and can reply from their preferred Email application. To start a new topic, you just send a fresh message to firstname.lastname@example.org with a descriptive subject line. Please don’t reply to an existing topic if you intend to change the subject (this makes life harder for others) – just post a fresh message, with its own subject line to email@example.com instead.
What if I don’t want to be bombarded with email?
Live message exchanges can generate a lot of email, so users who don’t want this can easily switch it off (untick ‘Mailing list mode’ in your user email preferences menu).
Users can separately choose whether to receive periodic summaries or digests of topics discussed, or to be notified if someone mentions them by name, or if there is a reply to any message they have posted. Users can in fact switch off Emailed notifications entirely and log in to browse or contribute to forum activity only as or when required.