8 Tips to Get the Most Out of the CommCare Users Google Group

We’re excited to announce that our CommCare Users group recently reached a huge milestone by exceeding 1,000 members!

The CommCare Users group is the main community forum and mailing list for people who are using or want to learn about CommCare. The forum is a Google Group used to address questions around implementation, application design, data analysis, recommended hardware, and the use of complex features. Completely free, this forum enables members to learn from the experience of other users who come from all backgrounds, from project managers to developers. In addition, Dimagi staff members actively respond to many questions.

We love hearing questions from our users and often use the questions that come up repeatedly on the group as a way to identify and fix pain points in use of the CommCare platform. Just in the last month members have asked questions ranging from how to write a complex calculation, to how to restrict users’ access to data, to linking different datasets in exports.

How can you get the most out of the CommCare Users group? Check out our eight tips below!

  1. Did you check the Help Site? The main knowledge base for CommCare is the CommCare Help Site. On the Help Site you can find lots of useful information and examples. Whenever you have a question, that should be your first stop. Try searching both on the Help Site and on Google, which tends to have a more powerful search function (e.g.search for “commcare calculations age”). In fact, when people ask a question on the CommCare Users group that isn’t on the Help Site, we usually try to add it after it is answered.
  1. Did you check the Users Group History? In addition to being a dynamic community, the CommCare Users group has a fully searchable history since 2011. If you can’t find something on the help site, there is a good bet you can find a similar question in the archives. If you have a question about an old thread, you can reply to it and pick things back up right where they left off.
  1. Provide details. When you’re asking a question to the group please try to include any detail that would help someone try to replicate or understand the problem. For example, instead of saying “I get an error,” tell the group “I am getting an error message when I open my form which says “xpath error” and then the form closes.” Be sure to mention any advanced workflows or customizations that might be relevant.
  1. But not TOO much detail! Rememberwhen you send an email, it will be visible to all 1,000+ members. Don’t be nervous, but remember not to include any personally identifiable information or passwords.
  1. Be patient… The group is all volunteer, so you won’t always get an immediate response. However, most messages get a response within a couple days. If you encounter a real, urgent bug feel free to reach out directly to report an issue to the CommCare support team as described on the Help Site. If you need ongoing assistance building an app or managing a deployment and aren’t able to receive sufficient support from the volunteers on the CommCare Users group, consider our CommCare Implementation Services.
  1. Think you know the answer? Respond! The CommCare Users group is a two-way street. The community works because members both ask and answer questions. If you think you know the answer to a question or have relevant experience, please share your knowledge!
  1. Feeling technical? Take it to the next level. If you are asking detailed technical questions about the CommCare APIs, setting up your own CommCare instance, or modifying/contributing code then you should check out the CommCare Developers group. This group is more actively monitored by Dimagi’s software engineers and other technical users of CommCare.
  1. Manage your email preferences. No one likes to be overwhelmed by emails. You can set up the group to send you a daily digest, one email for every 25 messages, or choose to only interact with the group via the Google Groups website. Though if you love CommCare as much as we do, you’ll want to make sure to get every message!

If you have not joined our CommCare Users community, sign-up now. Or, if you’d rather receive less-techy updates, you can sign-up for our monthly Dimagi Newsletter below. See you online!

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