FAQ and guidelines for new and intending forum users

admin
26 April 2020

Who is this forum service for?

This is a private collegial forum for New Zealand registered architects and affiliated professionals.

A forum account is required to participate in discussions or view content.

We have a growing membership with over 700 users to date, and warmly welcome new applications from registered architects, employees of architects, architecture graduates and students, retired architects and architectural academics, members and employees of the NZIA and NZRAB, and any other organisations working to advance architecture and its practice by architects across New Zealand.

What is this service for?

This is designed as a safe ‘in house’ space for fostering an online collegial culture that supports architects. For many years, members from all types, modes, and sizes of practice nationwide have been using the forum to share insights, commiserate, post questions and propose and discuss possible answers on architectural and practice related topics ranging from practical to philosophical. With remote working now a day to day reality for many practitioners, and facing the ever increasing regulatory, market, environmental, technical and social demands made of the profession, maintaining supportive collegial contact online has become more important than ever.

Is this just another messaging or social media service?

No. Frankly, we believe 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. All within a straightforward, unobtrusive and very easy to learn environment for users. More information here Discourse features | Discourse - Civilized Discussion

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. Now hosted independently and administered on a volunteer basis by architect Paul King (who, incidentally, is not worth suing!), this forum is the privately run successor to the old NZIA ‘Yahoo Chatlist’ service that was discontinued.

While the forum still shares a focus on supporting New Zealand architects with its predecessor, and still treats NZIA membership as a qualifying characteristic for intending 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 seem foolish or ignorant to 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 area. 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 ‘dumb’ questions and test out those crazy 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 fully formulated or polished, where all who participate can learn something, where 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.

Since migrating to the current platform, there have been no known security or privacy breaches. However no form of communication security can overcome deliberate or careless acts by its own users that subvert it, which is why the sharing of your login details or any forum content (that is not your own) with people who are not approved forum members is expressly prohibited by the forum terms of use, and why any damages resulting from a deliberate breach by a forum user may be the subject of legal action by other forum members or the forum owner.

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 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, although browser based interaction offers significant advantages and is no less convenient. Users who opt in are automatically Emailed each new post and can reply either directly from their preferred Email application, or via browser by clicking the included topic link button in the notification Email. To start a new topic by email, you need to send a fresh message to architecture@nzarchitecture.net.nz with a descriptive subject line. Please don’t reply to an existing topic with your message if you intend to change the subject (this makes life harder for others) – just post as a fresh message, with its own subject line, to architecture@nzarchitecture.net.nz 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 them 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 just log in to website when they wish to catch up with discussions or search for anything on a topic.

How can I support the forum?

For those who see value in the forum and are in a position to help out financially - whether as a one off, or (much better!) a small monthly automatic payment, anything you can contribute would help a lot.

Any donations can be sent to:
Account: 11-7860-0041189-00
Payee: NZ Architecture - P M King

Anything and everything received will go towards the operating costs, and ongoing maintenance and development of the forum.

You can also help by encouraging others to join, and by contributing to discussions yourself.