What Online Tool Should I Use?
The chief consideration in using online tools is to think first about what you want to do with others, and only then think about tools. It is easy to be attracted to new tools, but our prime attraction should be to how we connect and share knowledge.
(Could do a more complicated diagnostic)
For example:
  • If you want to have ongoing online conversations, consider email lists and discussion forums. Context matters. For example, if your constituency has infrequent or poor quality internet access, an email list might be a better tool than a discussion forum. Examples: a structured, time-delimited discussion to plan an event, informal ongoing conversations for relationship building.
  • If you want to share news, consider blogs and email lists. They broadcast out your information to people's blog readers or email inboxes. Examples: project blogs, blogs from leaders and blogs that aggregate relevant news.
  • If you want to create documents and resources together, consider a wiki or other shared web based editing tools such as GoogleDocs. If your group is mostly offline, use a word processor with "track changes" features. Or share your documents using a website that helps track versions or checks in and out documents.
  • If you want to bring people together to actively brainstorm, critique or share stories, consider a telephone meeting or a Voice over IP tool (VOIP) like Skype.
  • If you want to stay in touch informally with others who are frequently online, consider instant messenging (IM).
  • If you want to manage a project, first think about how many people and what level of complexity is involved. A simple wiki may be enough or complex projects justify a dedicated project management tool.

Ready for more? Here are some e ideas about how to use some of the tools you might have on your community platform or intranet. (Note - I'm envisioning the following content to be delivered in a mind map or other visual vehicle with links taking you deeper into the material. A full text would be available for download/offline access.

Wikis (See also Wiki Basics - a more generic resource/different format)

Blog Basics

Microblogging - Twitter

Discussion Forum Basics

Document/File Libraries Basics

Other Related Resources

Images from Chris Lott http://www.flickr.com/photos/fncll/
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