Online Community Evaluation 2019 - Results — Scope | Disability forum
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Online Community Evaluation 2019 - Results

Jess_Alumni Member Posts: 5 Courageous

Hi everyone, I’m Jess and I’m Evaluation Officer at Scope. 

Between January and April 2019 my colleague Giles and I did some research on Scope’s online community. We wanted to know more about community members and what they think about the community. The goal was to understand if and how the community helps people and how we can improve it. 

For the research we sent a survey out to all members of the community. We also arranged some telephone interviews with a range of different members.  

We received 1004 responses to the survey. This is more than last year, when we received 794 responses. We conducted 9 telephone interviews with individual members. 

In this post we’d like to share some of the main findings of the research with you. 

The community is a space that people use in lots of different ways. As a result, the impact it has on people is very personal. However, we found that people generally use the online community to: 

- find advice and support about a challenge they are experiencing 

- hear directly from other people in similar situations to themselves

- connect with others socially. 

This year’s results created a lot of evidence – some positive, some negative.  

? The online community has grown a lot in the past year. It remains a very useful resource for people wanting to solve a specific problem or issue. On average, members said it was more useful compared to other sources of information and advice than in 2018. Members of the online community who use it for benefits advice are especially likely to recommend the online community.  

? At the same time, the survey told us that people are making less of an emotional connection with other members than before. The online community is not as effective at improving people’s sense of isolation and loneliness as it was in 2018. Interviews with customers also told us that the community can sometimes feel like a bleak place because of the number of posts about health or benefits issues.  

? The results also show that regular users of the community value it more. Regular users get more out of the community and feel more connected to their peers. People who look for friendship through the community generally find it. Members told us that they really value the ability to talk with and learn from people who are peers. But a higher proportion of people are now using the online community passively than before, reading posts rather than interacting with other members. 


So what does this mean for the online community? 

The research has brought up some important questions about what Scope and members of the online community think the community is for. One of the main questions prompted by the research is how Scope can support the community to be both a ‘one-stop shop’ for disabled people to solve problems, as well as a place for emotional support and social connection. 

We developed some recommendations for staff at Scope to help answer some of the questions and concerns thrown up by the research. The main ones are: 

  • To develop a Theory of Change for the online community: A theory of change is a visual map that shows what activities we do and what things we expect to happen as a result of those activities. Creating one for the online community will help us work out its goals and help us focus on outcomes for disabled people who use it. Outcomes are what we call the real changes that happen in people’s lives because of our work. 

  • To develop a new community homepage when people are logged in: People told us they find it distressing to see negative discussions at the top of the page as soon as they log in. 

  • To find ways to place more emphasis on the positive parts of the community: This could help people feel less anxious or negative when browsing the community. 

  • To bring back the web links to the community from other Scope webpages: Different advice pages on the Scope website used to link to relevant discussions on the online community. These links disappeared when we moved to our new website. Putting the links back onto the site will increase the number of visitors to the community. 

  • To test and improve the experience of using the community with a mobile phone: Most members access the online community using their mobile phone. However, people told us that this is difficult, so we need to look at how to improve this. 

  • To consider bringing in a moderated chat function: This is something requested by community members and could improve emotional connections. 

  • To test splitting the community into two areas, with one focused on problem-solving and the other on social connections: This could be away of better managing the tension between the goals of problem-solving and emotional connection. 

  • To review the role of the community champions: Community champions we spoke to had slightly different ideas about the role and its purpose. 

  • To explore alternative accessible ways of accessing the community: This might include easy read, audio or chat areas. 

  • To test organising face to face meet ups for community members: This is something that a lot of community members are interested in. 

  • To interview more members: We'll do this to understand how the community does or doesn’t help with loneliness and isolation. 

What happens next? 

We’ve shared our findings and recommendations with the Scope staff involved with the online community. We’ll now work together to prioritise these recommendations and work out which ones we can act on first. As changes are made, we’ll let you know. Watch this space! 

Thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s evaluation – we really appreciate it.

Evaluation Officer at Scope


  • wilko
    wilko Member Posts: 2,457 Disability Gamechanger
    My thoughts exactly, we see a lot of new first time posters who get what they want and we never or seldom hear from them again. Questions are asked that are misleading or poorly written, or information constructive to be able to give any help or advice. There is lots of information on this site and on the net in general so those coming to scope could and should maybe do about of research about the subjects they wish to be helped with before asking or seeking advice, it could save a lot of stress. I have noticed Monday’s and Tuesdays are quite then people have had the brown envelopes and start to stress, worry and Wednesday onwards the questions come thick and fast . A big thank you Poppy123456 for your replies always a informative read and to the point and CR.
  • Ails
    Ails Member Posts: 2,256 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks for the above feedback, @Jess_Scope.  Interesting reading.  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • MKMale
    MKMale Member Posts: 24 Courageous
    Thank you for the update @Jess_Scope
    I want to say a BIG Thank You to you and everyone at Scope for all The Hard Work you All do for us. It's very much appreciated. 
    So to everyone that is working on our behalf to help us all

  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,545 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for your kind words @MKMale! I'm glad we are able to help :)

  • zakblood
    zakblood Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    i myself take a different view, when i see negative posts or someone who is struggling with something, it puts it all in to perspective to me, as no matter how bad a day i'm having, it's always seems quite minor or normal compared to others and no i'm not happy that others are having it much worse, it's just that i know it's not just me either, if someone posts 1000 topic and replies or just the one asking for help means nothing to me, as everyone is equal when in need, if others see that differently, then that's there problem and not the one who has posted, open the mail or switch on the TV and most of the time it's bad news, either deal with it or not, living a life in a bubble where only wonderful things happen is a fairy tale, life's not like this, life's hard and getting somewhat harder, without others being there to help, some fail, that's life, to alter the fact and discourage others from posting making out in a around about way it's not such a happy place than it was in the past, doesn't show progress, it shows a mentality of living in the past and not seeing what is happening to everyone around you, the systems in place atm are in meltdown, and with it, more come for help, me included, so saying this is now a bleak place is imo rather disrespectful to those in need who come and post once or ask when everyone else shuts the door in your face and makes you struggle on your own, either you are what you have become, or your not, as the results also show those who use it the most, value it more, so in the input of the few, hasn't altered the overall fact your hear to help, not judge.

    a community moves with the times, and atm the time is rather hard on most who come here, so pretending life's not real and being upset with change or the fact that some only come for help then doesn't stay or input much after being helped, isn't how life works either, rose tinted glasses only show what you wish it to show, isolation and loneliness imo improves when you know your not alone in a boat drifting in the DWP sea of despair, if others see change, but aren't living in the real world and in a bubble of there own making, then sorry one day it will burst and then you will see the world is changing, either move with the tide, or swim harder, as change is coming whether the community as a whole likes it or not, as austerity is here for a lot longer yet.
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,872 Connected
    I love the community. I would not have survived the past year without it. 

    Where else can I find support to advocate for my son? 
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,545 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for your insight @zakblood, that's a really interesting way to see it all.

    I'm so glad you love the community @April2018mom! Where have you currently tried for this?

  • zakblood
    zakblood Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    been a forum mod for 20 odd years on more than a few sites, so yes i see things differently than most or some anyway, and your welcome :wink:
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,872 Connected
    Thank you for your insight @zakblood, that's a really interesting way to see it all.

    I'm so glad you love the community @April2018mom! Where have you currently tried for this?
    What do you mean?
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,545 Disability Gamechanger
    Morning @April2018mom :)

    You asked about finding support to advocate for my son. I was wondering what support (if any) you had looked into. 

  • Jess_Alumni
    Jess_Alumni Member Posts: 5 Courageous
    I think perhaps @April2018mom 's question might have been rhetorical? :smile:

    Thanks everyone for sharing their thoughts on our findings. Please do continue to share and discuss! Perhaps next year we can use a community discussion itself as part of our evaluation too.
    Evaluation Officer at Scope
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,872 Connected
    Morning @April2018mom :)

    You asked about finding support to advocate for my son. I was wondering what support (if any) you had looked into. 
    Oh right. I was referring to support here mainly. 
  • buzzer
    buzzer Member Posts: 106 Pioneering
    mossycow said:
    Appreciate that our veiws have been considered. Nice one Scope!

    But I have to disagree with some of the comments on this thread. This is exactly the place to come to if you get a benefit letter on a Monday or Tuesday.

    Questioning the ability of forum users to construct a "well written question" is not appropriate. This is an inclusive space for all and they certainly should not be feeling like their writing style is under question. I personally post when I'm in pain, in the middle of the night, with brain fog and this is a safe place where I can ask a question, perhaps not framed brilliantly, and get support without someone correcting my spelling etc.

    Often people need help and do not know the question they need to ask. They need to feel welcome to reach out in what ever way they can. Not to mention that any forum where disabled people are encouraged to join in, there will be those with learning disibilities or those using talk to text software. 

    As for those who ask one question, get their help and then never need it again... That's a success story surely! 

    I personally do find it difficult reading about folks having similar problems to me... (Do Americans call it a trigger? ). I try, and I try to be supportive... But, I sometimes have to take a break. I think being able to access a seperate social and helping site.... Though there needs to be easy paths from one to the other too.

    I DO do do! Think we need more of LIFE! like... Sports for disabled people.... Hobbies for disabled people.... E. G... How to refill an aquarium when you can't lift a bucket.... Tech stuff... Where we can go on holidays... Just hints, tips and ways of doing FUN stuff.. To make all this awful benefits, pains, hekarh stuff with living through ? 

    Thanks Scope and fellow forum users
    @mossycow Well said. Exceptional and well considered response. x It's a forum for everyone, it belongs to us all, a community space. 

    Try & be kind to one another even if we may have different views. 


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