It's been a week since the relaunch of MT Chat and I have to say – it's been interesting.
One thing I've found as I've taken over ownership of the two sites is that very few people differentiate between MT Desk and MT Chat. When MTs talk about MT Desk, they are usually referring to the discussion forums that are at MT Chat. When MT Desk was first launched in 1997, the discussion forums were part of the site; they weren't moved to their own site until some time in 1999. In looking at the content of MT Desk, I began to get an inkling as to why MTs were completely ignoring it: apparently, the content hasn't changed in years.
I've participated at MT Desk since it was first launched in 1997. The content was always reliable – well researched and very current. In the early days of the internet, MTs who were online could rely on the information at MT Desk. That all changed after the ownership changed, and the site content became stagnant.
My hope for the new MT Desk is to revive it as the best reference site for medical transcription. The MT Reference Style Guide, which is a project I've been working on for the past year (and then some), has been moved to MT Desk and renamed the MT Desk Reference and Style Guide. The goal for the style guide is that it will be compatible with the AHDI Book of Style for Medical Transcription, but it will be more dynamic. Using the wiki format allows me to respond to users, to include more of the resources from around the internet, as well as illustrations, graphs and pictures. I'm excited with what's been done with it so far, and I'm looking forward to completing the project with the help of input from the medical transcription community.
In addition to the ongoing style guide, I plan on using MT Desk to give a permanent, more searchable home, to some of the more pertinent discussions that have taken place, continue to take place and will take place in the future at MT Chat. It's very resource-intensive to maintain conversations going back years and the harsh reality is that at some point, discussion forums have to get trimmed. Many discussions simply aren't worth maintaining into pepetuity. However, the best information can be moved to the MT Desk wiki, where it won't be lost. I found that, unfortunately, some of the pertinent discussions, which had been “pinned” to the top of the forums because they were pertinent to MTs, were lost in the Great Crash of 2009, when almost 3 years of posts were lost.
In spite of the fact that moving all the old discussions to the archives would leave many of the forums with very few posts, I decided to do just that. It was confusing to people when they went to forums and found posts from 2006. It made the discussion forums appear stagnant.
Another interesting thing about MT Chat is the number of lurkers in the forum. Lurkers are visitors who read but don't post. MT Chat gets over 500 unique visitors a day and over 40,000 page views, but only a handful of regulars post to the forums. I'm not sure what would be interesting enough to people to get them to participate in the discussions.
I'm looking forward to getting feedback about both sites and continuing to work on building these sites back up to being the #1 resources for medical transcriptionists on the internet.