CYP RCA/Contributors Guide

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Contributors' Guide


  • Respect the group's ground rules, etiquette, posting guidelines (see below) and group norms. (Group norms are developed by the group, and as you become more involved, you will gain a greater understanding of what they are.)
  • Are patient with themselves, and the pace of the group's development. Over time the group will mature; you and others will feel more comfortable about sharing your opinions and knowledge in an (online) group environment;
  • Demonstrate solidarity -- by letting your peers know that you are available and willing to help;
  • Avoid polarising debates and taking sides, that detract from group development and cohesion. (Basically, it's painful to be part of a flame war.)
  • Are gracious to their peers, regardless of the circumstance.
  • Are careful NOT to dominate the group with their personal agenda (i.e., advancing one issue or approach over another OR not acknowledging a person's perspective or viewpoint). When that happens, everyone else tends to go silent and not participate, and the group has a higher likelihood of dying);
  • Actively contribute to the discussion in a focused and respectful manner;
  • May contact the Facilitator directly to discuss issues of concern (i.e., email, phone, Skype, IM). This is OK, however these side conversations should diminish over time. The purpose of the group, is to share ideas, knowledge and opportunities -- and when members share openly and frequently, the group will develop a strong, palpable and cohesive identity and trust between the group members.

Posting Guidelines

  • Start with shorter and lively posts (about 150-200 words). They can get longer over time. The reason: People feel intimidated if you cover everything in your post - they don't know where to start, and besides, you've already said it all. (The result? They won't participate or share their opinions and knowledge.)
  • Make sure to use a lot of paragraph breaks. It's alot easier on the eyes (i.e., 3-4 sentences per paragraph)
  • Participation is the goal, not perfection. You don't have to be perfect -- posting to a discussion group, blog or a wiki is NOT the same as an academic paper or organizational brief. People participate when they see an opening in your content for their ideas.

Getting Started

Introduce Yourself & Build New Relationships

  • Introduce yourself, your organization, role and interests in being part of this Community
  • Respond to at least one (1) question / issue posed in the Facilitator's post. (We know it can scary to publicly comment on someone else's posting, but just try.... You don't have to answer everything in the post, but just comment on one thing that stimulates your thinking or experience...and then share that observation or reflection with the person nd the group. Be sure to included a followup question or two...)
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Tip: Ask specific questions of others, and share details from your experience

Asking Questions of Others

Focusing on Positive Areas
  • Can you please explain in more depth what you mean by this, and give some examples, where youth were NOT involved in decision-making, and what happened as a result?
Focusing on Areas for Improvement
  • Please share an example of where youth WERE involved in decision-making, that would also be excellent too! What resources did they use, or not use...? What happened....and how did youth, and the other folks involved act and react?

Sharing Details from Your Experience

  • End your note with a question, to further the dialogue. It's OK to ask others for their constructive feedback and their their examples)
    • Wait for a response - for at least 2 days. (If you don't hear from the person or the group immediately, don't worry. Try to remember that everyone gets a lot of email, so if you want them to be aware of your post, when you write to the group, be sure to CC them personally - so that will be aware that you want them to respond directly to your post.

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Tip: Contributors can facilitate dialogue and creative thinking too!

  • Contributors can facilitate dialogue and information exchange, by offering short and specific examples with hyperlinks embedded in their post, and ask 1 or 2 questions. (Do not overwhelm them with too much information (i.e., long posts) or too many questions (i.e, more than 3 questions).
  • You DO NOT have to answer all of the points raised in a post; rather, simply identify 1 or 2 areas of key interest to you; share an explanation and/or examples why; and ask for further clarification.
  • Details are important. Often, new group members will cover only the summary aspects of a topic -- while one or two people will go much more in depth, expounding on a specific example, relating to their experience and knowledge. (This info, and even the volume of info can also be intimidating to the rest of the group.)

Other Ideas

  • Make your post visually appealing -- Use short paragraphs with breaks in between.
  • Create a climate of safety in your group -- Recognize that people will be cautious, and reluctant to post their thoughts publicly (preferring to write you directly); concerned about criticising others; and fearful about being criticised -- until they develop greater confidence and understanding in the process.
  • Recognize that people are coming from different cultures and language -- they are trying their best to communicate, but it may not be very clear from your perspective. Please give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Create space for Emergence -- When people get together and start talking, an interesting dynamic of emergence occurs: Ideas start to emerge, that were not previously top-of-mind, allowing new relationships, themes, topics and opportunities to develop.

An initiative of the Commonwealth Youth Programme and the Commonwealth of Learning - Col-crest-blue-web.jpg