Forums, Wiki and Blog: The Essentials

Some of you may be wondering why we are introducing all of these new technologies. I can guarantee its not just to stir up some PR. They are all very similar: They are there to help our pilots and foster community. Each are also very different with a distinct purpose. Hopefully this post will help to shed some light on their differences and maybe get you as jazzed about them as the rest of the MetroAir management team.

The Forums
The Forums are a mainstay at every virtual airline. They help to create dialogue. In a hobby such as our own where we communicate online all the time, it is sometimes hard to feel a part of the community. Virtual airlines should not just be a glorified virtual pilot log; They should be a place where you feel welcomed and motivated to be an active member. Forums are one such way to do this. We (both as pilots and as management) use the forums to get feedback, brag about our latest accomplishments and “talk” with our friends and colleagues.

The forums are strong for communications at the moment. The forums are also effective at making announcements. The forums are weak for archiving and keeping a final copy/answer.

The Wiki
The MetroAir Wiki is still in its infancy but is already growing by leaps and bounds. The Wiki is a great way to manage our documents and information. With aviation, things can change quickly and its often hard to have 1 or 2 people maintain those pages, respond to the changes along with their regular MetroAir duties. By putting a lot of this information into the wiki we allow our entire pilot base to help and keep these pages up to date.

Right now you’ll see policies, airport information, IFR routes and more in the wiki. We hope that you will help us to expand on the content. If you have a resource that everyone should know about (great scenery, a panel, training materials, etc.) consider posting it on the forums AND the wiki. The biggest thing to remember about the wiki is that its open to you. Don’t say “I wish the wiki had something about ….”. If it doesn’t have it, then make it happen – or at least make the “stub” for it so someone else can expand upon it.

If you don’t already have a wiki account and you do want to publish in the wiki, please contact James or Del. They can get you squared away and have you logging in to the wiki and writing in no time. If you think you may want to write in the wiki, but are unsure of what is involved, feel free to contact any staff member.

The Wiki is great for keeping a final document. The wiki is also great for collaborative writing. The wiki is weak in making announcement and real-time communication.

The Blog
The MetroAir Blog is brand new. Management will use the tool to make announcements (events, promotions, policy changes). The blog will also serve as a newsletter. The last thing we wanted to do at MetroAir was start a new project that wouldn’t be successful due to staff constraints. Publishing a monthly newsletter takes time and energy. Franky, with so many other projects on the horizon, we didn’t see a newsletter being feasible or surviving more than a few issues. The blog allows us to write on a smaller scale. We don’t have to worry about content for the next issue. We can just write… about whatever.

Blogs are also great for syndication. Most blogs, if not all, utilize RSS feeds. This helps so instead of having one more place to check everyday, you can just subscribe to the feed. It also doesn’t clog up you email inbox. When we post something new, you’ll get it.

Blogs are great for instantaneous publishing. Though they allow comments, they are often weak in terms of communication. They are more of a platform to speak than a round-robin discussion medium. Like forums, the blog can answer questions and keep documents but does not effectively keep track of the final version of those documents. With RSS feeds being integral to Blogs, it also allows us the opportunity to explore podcasting in the future.

I hope you all found this to be insightful and understand why we utilizing 3 similar but different communication mediums.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to hear from the other staff members. You may see some hints dropped about some future route and fleet expansion ideas.