Praja Help

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Welcome to the help section of Praja.in!

On these pages you should be able to find answers to most of the questions you have.

There are many ways to obtain help.

You can follow the links below to browse to the particular category of interest.

What is Praja.in
What can I do at Praja.in


What is a


How do I

Troubleshoot


You might even do a serach on this site and might get a page that is helpful to you. Then of course, there is Google!

Alternatively, you can reach your Praja Techs via the contact form to report your problem or suggestions.

About Praja.in

What is Praja.in?

Yathaa Raja Tathaa Praja, so we read in certain ancient texts. Times have changed. In these modern democratic days, Yathaa Praja Tatha Rajaa is more like it. Today, Raja only reflects Praja. The so called politicians and everyone else we blame no end only mirror our society and us.

Do you think we know and care enough about developments taking place in all our localities? Do you think the Praja truly participates in the way she is governed? We think not. What if we - the Praja - made efforts to know, care and participate? And it is not that our democratic leaders and appointed administrators don’t care at all. Many do, and they try, but lack of interest and participation from us makes their job a lot harder.

Praja.in aims to be a bridge between those who serve us and those amongst us who care and want to participate. Towards that, it aims to establish an Internet driven community to help make the connection at local levels. It wants to be a networking platform for active and concerned citizens.

Long term goals will always sound lofty and dreamy. But as a start, Praja.in aims to capture voices and opinions from the ground via web based tools of blogs and discussion forums. Once the community expands and builds credibility, we will take the next step of participation via RTI queries, town hall meetings, suggestions, complaints or PILs. Some examples of what we can do in future:

Please come join us, and help build an active networking-platform for responsible and caring yet concerned citizens.

About us

We really wish there was a way to put up a mirror here. Praja is all about "us", and in the true spirit of "us", there are going to be no credit rolls here.

To sound Utopian is not the idea. But to be able to convince folks to move up from their individual efforts and join in, we think it is best not to mention names here. Or else this citizen-networking platform would be seen as X, Y and Z's site and not a community.

However, the site has four sets of people working behind the scenes.
  1. Caring Citizens - These budding activists and enthusiasts keep the community buzzing by posting their analysis, complaints and experiences. If you'd like to join in, just register and get started. Or, use the contact form with the option 'Join as a content creator' and mention your relevant credentials.
  2. Moderators - These are active members of the site who have volunteered to help moderate content posted on this site.
  3. Activists - These folks take discussions a bit further by taking them on-ground. We promote on-ground projects that involve civic participation and tracking of public organizations as well as projects.
  4. Tech-heads - These folks keep the site running and focus on making it easy to view and use. If you'd like to join and help, please use the contact form with the option 'Join the technical team' and your interests and abilities on that front.

About the banner

Praja members Narayan82 and Santsub offered to help with the banner and logo. After looking at a few suggestions from them, Narayan's creation won the nod for banner as well as logo images. Narayan's banner creatively captures some of Bangalore landmarks, and the logo (holding hands) symbolizes networking.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Praja.in

What exactly is Praja.in, alternate media or an NGO?

A> We are neither trying to be alternate media, nor yet another NGO. There is some wide and serious space between journalism and activism that we are trying to fill and bridge. Our dream is to create a platform where citizens highlight their local issues, then network with like minded people to evolve possible solutions, and find ways of engaging with local government bodies to get things fixed. How does this system work with media or NGOs?

  • From Media - Highlighted issues could be triggered by newspaper reports. Also, Media reports, at times, don't present the full picture.
  • To Media - Members could bring media's attention to some local issues.
  • From NGOs - Existing NGOs could bring events, projects and proposals to attract or recruit like minded members, or simply promote their cause.
  • To NGOs - Members interested in doing more than just highlighting the issues could be directed to relevant NGOs

What exactly does Praja.in do?

A> Praja.in is gearing to be the networking place for active and caring citizens. We are building a platform with Internet based tools to be the breeding ground for modern day and constructive activism. Constructive activism involves knowing, caring and participating, and can be a mix of online and on-ground activities.

I am only interested in discussions, and not on-ground projects. Am I still welcome on Praja.in?

A> Yes, because willingness to highlight and discuss your local issues is the first sure sign that you have the interest. We encourage discussions, provided they are local, fact based and constructively engaging. There will never be any pressure or moral extortion to push you towards volunteering for on-ground projects.

How do you plan to mix the online and on-ground activities?

A> One reality is that to get good participation in on-ground activities, you need a bigger pool of citizens to draw from. Further, many don't realize that sharing and discussing full context is the only way to get more friends and volunteers for your on-ground projects. We have seen many NGOs and individuals who expects volunteers just like that.

From our experience, 2-5% tends to be the conversion rate - if 100 folks say "I will help", 2-5 will end up coming to the event or campaign.

Now, most self-help groups today will work primarily with this on-ground activist set (maximum 5% of the "interested" pool), and not have much for other 95% who have the interest, but couldn't show up often enough. But here, we won't belittle those who prefer discussions. That is because we know and recognize that not everyone is open to sacrificing weekends and evenings on a regular basis to do things on-ground. But, if we have a bigger pool of, say 5000 members, then, any call for "lets do this" should attract 40-50 folks. Every next event might see a different set 40-50 people - but is that a problem? Its not, provided we do these things:

  • Be transparent in all activities. Dump all context on the website, so that the next set of people can just pick up from where the last set of people left.
  • However, there should be a group of at least 3-4 people who'd be willing to 'lead', which means that they be present at most events for their pet cause.
  • There may be virtual ways of helping as well - filing online complaints, doing background research work, sharing past experiences are some examples.

Hope this explains what we are chasing here at praja.in.

But there are so many other self-help groups ...

A> Must clarify once again that we are not trying to be yet another NGO. There are plenty of NGOs and activist groups around, we are not trying to re-create or eclipse any of them or be the umbrella of any sort. We are only trying to provide a transparent, and Internet based platform for existing, or new self help groups. Here is how this platform is different:

  • Use Internet to the hilt - share your knowledge, log all your activities, (some day soon) extend all your meetings online etc etc as well.
  • No disrespect for those who prefer to discuss but may not be ready (no time, family situation, etc) for on-ground action. Hopefully, with time, the circumstances, or peer pressure from the rest of us will make many convert into "activists"
  • Democratic nature - Admins don't push their pet causes. Come find friends for your favourite cause, and if it sticks, and more members join in, we will set you up with the tools on the website. For example, it might be that while a group of people runs the campaign to privatize BMTC (via PIL), another group seeks to keep it public but make it more responsible.
  • However, we will do a little moderation for things like foul language, uncivil behavior, and strong arguments backed neither by facts nor by positive or constructive intent.

I am a policy maker / journalist / business, how can I help, or do you have anything for me?

A> Here are some messages for members with special profiles:

  • Policy makers - Please get in touch if you want to connect with any of us, or soon-to-be formed "engagement groups" here on praja.in.
  • Journalists - We are not here to compete with the newspapers. We feed on you, and direct people to you for more. If you can help drive some publicity for us, that will be great. If you want tighter associations, do contact us.
  • Members of existing activist or self-help groups - Praja.in is not trying to eclipse or represent you. We only want to bring all like minded folks in one big virtual hall. Consider making Praja.in your "online" home, that's all.
  • Businesses wanting to help (ex: with CSR funds) - We are still working on 'financial' structure for our operations. If you want to help, please contact us, and we will queue you up for later interaction when we finalize our workings.
  • Businesses willing to run ads - Same as above. However, do stay in touch.
  • All of above - we promise confidentiality of all contact communications.

Hope this explains and answers the most common questions that are asked about praja.in. Comments are most welcome, do help shape and refine this community's thoughts.

How does this platform work? How do I get started?

A> Read this help topic to know more, and to get started on Praja.in

How do you operate, who funds all this?

A> We are in the process of registering as a Society. More details will be published soon, but here is a quick overview. The Society will consist of some donor members who pool in funds to pay for technology and day to day operations of this website. An executive committee of this Society will be governing non-technical behavior (as in, the use) of Praja.in platform.

Are there any vested interests, any big name donors? I want to support this platform, what do I do?

A> There are no dominating big names, no media houses, neither any established NGOs as donors. Donors are all ordinary citizens who see the need for such localized modern day Internet driven citizen networking platform. Donors are currently a closed group, and we add more only by invitation. But we will soon set ourselves to open up to receive support from any registered member.

 

My Interests User Manual:

 

1.       My Posts/My Comments: Automatically come

2.       Friends Posts: Go to the Post you like. Click on Flag User link to check your friend posts.

3.       My Interests Posts: To add, go to the post you are interested and click Add favorite content link  to add to your interest posts.

4.       My Terms: Go to My Praja à My Account & Choose àAll Categories Tab

·         All terms of the category vocabulary will be displayed with a corresponding flag. Click on Add Favorite Term and all articles tagged with this term will come under My Terms.

·         One can also add to favorite term under the term node display

Ex: To add bus as your favorite term, type http://praja.in/en/tags/bus

& then on top, click Add Favorite Term

Discussions about Praja.in itself

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Placeholder book to group together some past discussions that have happened about Praja.in itself. These discussions are initiated once in a while to hear back from members. Responses to such discussions initiated by site admin generate more private messages and emails than comments.

Do read: An FAQ about Praja.in

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[Please Note: Contents of this post have been moved to a page under "About" section of the website. The FAQ will be maintained there]

Let us be clear here. We are building Praja.in to be the breeding ground for citizen activism. Activism involves knowing, caring and particpating, and can be a mix of online and on-ground activities. One reality is that to get good participation in on-ground activities, you need a bigger pool of citizens to draw from. From our experience, 2-5% tends to be the conversion rate - if 100 folks say "I will help", 2-5 will end up coming to the event.

Now, most self-help groups today will work primarily with this on-ground activist set (5% of the pool), and not have much for other 95% who have the interest, but couldn't show up often enough. But here, we won't belittle those who prefer discussions. Because, we know and recognize that not everyone is open to sacrificing weekends and evenings on a regular basis to do things on-ground. But, if we have a bigger pool of, say 5000 members, then, any call for "lets do this" should attract 40-50 folks. Every next event may see a different set 40-50 people - but is that a problem? Its not, provided we do these things:

  • Be transparent in our activities. Dump all context on the website, so that the next set of people can just pick up from where the last set of people left.
  • However, there should be a group of at least 3-4 people who'd be willing to 'lead', which means that they be present at most events for their pet cause.
  • There may be virtual ways of helping as well - filing online complaints, doing background research work, sharing past experiences are some examples.

Hope this explains what we are chasing here at praja.in. There are plenty of activist groups around, we are not trying to eclipse any. But, we are trying to provide a transparent, and Internet rooted platform for existing, or new activist groups. Our strength will be:

  • Use Internet to the hilt - knowledge sharing, transparent log of activities, (some day) online meetings as well.
  • No disrespect for those who prefer to discuss but may not be ready (no time, family situation, etc) for on-ground action. Hopefully, with time, the circumstances, or peer pressure from the rest of us will make many convert into "activists"
  • Democratic nature- Admins dont push their pet causes. Come find your friends for your cause, and if it sticks, and more members join in, we will set you up with the tools on the website. For example, it might be that a group of people run the campaign to privatize BMTC (via PIL), while at the same time, another group seeks to keep it public but make it more responsible.
  • However, we will do a little moderation for things like foul language, uncivil behavior, and strong arguments backed neither by facts nor by positive or constructive intent.

Before we close this post, here are some messages to members with special profiles:

  • Policy makers - Please get in touch if you want to connect with any of us, or soon-to-be formed "engagement groups" here on praja.in.
  • Journalists - We are not here to compete with the newspapers. We feed on you, and direct people to you for more. If you can help drive some publicity for us, that will be great. If you want tighter associations, do contact us.
  • Members of existing activist or self-help groups - Praja.in is not trying to eclipse you. We only want to bring all like minded folks in one big virtual hall. Please consider making Praja.in your "online" home, thats all.
  • Businesses wanting to help (ex: with CSR funds) - We are still working on 'financial' structure for our operations. If you want to help, please contact us, and we will queue you up for later interaction when we finalize our workings.
  • Businesses willing to run ads - Same as above. However, do stay in touch.
  • All of above - we promise confidentiality of contact communications.

Hope this explains and answers common questions we may have about praja.in. Comments are most welcome, do help shape and refine this community's thoughts.

Praja.in - whats ahead?

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A "whats next" type discussion has been pending for sometime now, how about we start one. To kick it off, here are the two broad thoughts what got us started in the first place:

=> Need for a platform to enable citizens to be activists in their areas of concern and interest. Platform as in enable and equip, with information, pointers, complaint numbers, contacts of relevant people, success/failure stories and alike.
=> Try to utilize the power of Internet to build a big and strong community. We realize that if easy and online ways of activism are made available, there will be better participation because the reality of present times is - most of us are not willing to give these things serious personal effort and time.

So we took off, with this website Praja.in, and the first goal is to build a sizable community of like minded urban residents. Like minded as in concerned, knowledgeable, aware, and at times willing to indulge in activism.

But, with time if we could supplement the discussions with some field-work, that should bring us visible results and satisfaction. Towards that, we could:
- organize events, like meet with BBMP/BDA officers to ask or to tell.
- File RTI applications on behalf of community
- Few of us participate in town-hall/RWA type meetings and communicate thoughts and ideas on behalf of all of us
- and more (PILs?)

Frankly, converting an active online community to be more meaningful is an area of challenge, and the ideas should come from the community itself.

So let us know what your thoughts are, and help us define goals that fit the broad theme of community driven activism leveraging Internet as the networking and enabling platform.

One more thing. We want to keep and grow Praja.in as a faceless and champion-less group as much as possible. We are not a bunch of publicity seekers or glory hunters. A big and active online-citizen's community is our goal, and we are all stakeholders in building and maintaining it. So while we, the admins run the site and watch after technicalities and moderations on as-needed basis, please contribute, via content now and some field-work later.

- {Praja.in admin team}

Praja: what next and do more - your thoughts?

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Praja related

Recent comments and messages from a few members indicate that it may be time for us to take some next steps to "do more". We are trying to see if there are good and practical ideas on "what next" and "do more", this is the place-holder posts to capture your input.

Doing things in consultation with members fits in our culture as we wish to be open and transparent community limited only by practical constraints of time, money and the initial thoughts that started it all. So here is some context before we kick this off.

First, a quick list of the thoughts that bind the set of about a dozen people who joined hands to build what we have today.

  • Praja is neither an NGO, nor a journalistic venture. There is space between polarized NGOs, and pure media. NGOs consist of "converted" people (already know a lot), and media prefers to share information and versions that sell. We don't know enough, and can understand stuff a lot better by sharing our observations.
  • This is primarily a place for aware citizens to "network" and "talk sense". We don't belittle discussions. Talking sense as in showing willingness to understand as opposed to mere cribbing is the critical first step towards becoming active and aware citizen.
  • Going beyond discussions is left to the members. There is no pressure - talk as much sense as you want. On the other hand, you can't come talk, and then demand or expect someone else to do the walking.
  • Talking sense, and creating useful content in terms of requirements or factually bright suggestions can lead to indirect influence. More sense we talk, more chances that we will be heard by those in a position to do something with it. We truly believe that positive and constructive talk tends to find its way.
  • Beyond this, we do our best to make it possible for members to group together and connect with local bodies. These connects are expected to be carried forward by enthusiastic members themselves. Our long term goal is to build creative, loosely structured, transparent and collaborative ways of facilitating these connects. Remember, there is a fine line between "my suggestion" and "our suggestion". Sending links to consolidated quality discussions (representing a group) would work better than each of us sending our personal ideas to govt email addresses.
  • Ideally, with time, we would connect with NGOs, or "do-ers" to direct (or funnel) those who want to go beyond discussions (numbers are usually thin here)
  • For those members who will like to collaborate on projects here itself, we are building project management type systems, with time, we will invite NGOs to make use of our tools to run (and publicize) their projects.

Next, and pretty important, a quick note on how it all works today:

  • An early set of people built the website. They continue to maintain it, on volunteering basis.
  • There is now a Society consisting of donors who pool in money to support 1 full time engineer to help run this Internet based community.
  • Praja "donors" is a closed group right now, but we will soon open it up to all registered users so that Praja lovers can donate to support and keep this community running.

Bottom-line - be aware of the thoughts behind building this place, and think practical aspects of implementing what you would suggest.

Look forward to a healthy discussion, this time about Praja itself.

[Announcement] Working Groups - our first one

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Public Transport

Okay then. Time now to test ourselves, and the theory, that with a bigger pool (1000+ now) of members, we will have correspondingly bigger numbers for on-ground activities. Let us start our first "working group" (or WG) on Praja. Taking the window of opportunity offered by Mr Tripathy, and well aware that the subject is most popular thus far, the first WG will be on Public Transport. Before forming this group, let us figure out this generic concept of WG:

  • WG's objective - Connect Praja members with happenings on public transport front. Take suggestions or reviews to 'them', get 'their' messages and communications to Praja.
  • Essentially, each WG will be the face of Praja in interactions with organizations relevant to WG's theme.
  • In return for the "privilege" of representing Praja members, WG members will have following responsibilities
    • Transparency - log all work and talking you do. Praja.in website will provide tools so that WG's actions can easily be logged (by WG) and tracked (by rest of the members).
    • Absolutely no ranting or personal attacks. Be either constructive or informative, or keep out.
    • Democratic workings - do what majority wants. First, pick action items popular amongst on the website. Next, from this list, pick majority opinion within WG.
    • No permanent members - Once you stop attending meetings or participating, you should vacate your spot.
    • Last, track related news and developments (keep posting here). But this aspect will need help from all.
  • Size: 10 (just a number to start with, lets see the interest first)
  • How does the WG get formed?
    • Right now: Nominate members based on their level of enthusiasm on the site so far. Long time members, who have been posting constructively on the subject, and have shown inclination for on-ground action, they get the first shot.
    • Later: Some established "experts" via nomination, but rest are picked via an online "election" on the site. Basically, it should be like this - do the opinion building o the site, build your credibility on the site, and then you get nominated or elected to a WG in line with your passion.

We will perfect this WG concept as we go along. But post your comments and feedback to this proposal. Once the members are okay with the proposal on structure and workings of Praja WG, we will get going with organized action on the ground.

And BTW, if there isn't enough interest and commitment, no sweat, and no worries :) We will try this again a bit later once we get bigger and broader. Remember, our motto is "Collaborative Activism", and our strength comes from transparent and democratic setup wherever and as much as possible.

How to use the site

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Praja has a wide array of features to let the users make the best out of the data and discussions on this site. In this section, you will learn about these features and how best to use them.

Getting started on Praja.in

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R/ Sir ,

  I have requested for introduction of permanent new volvo bus route from Kumaraswamy Layout 1st stage to ITPL, as the existing bus route is temporary which runs from ISRO Layout to ITPL, this route is 500w, this route runs as 500w only till Banashankari and changes its display to 500c while going to ITPL, while going to ITPL we may get the bus, but this bus route is very infrequent, there are no frequent buses in this route. And another thing this bus route while running from ITPL to ISRO Layout, It runs as 500c from ITPL till a specified place and then changes its display to 500w. So, its very difficult for commuters traveling from ITPL to get this bus, actually its impossible. Hence I also have observed that there are plenty of 500NA, 500NB which runs from Silkboard to ITPL, so mty request is then why not introduce one frequent permanent bus route to ITPL from Kumaraswamy Layout 1st stage along with the existing temporary bus route 500w. But my request is not yet been considered by the BMTC authorities.

  So my request is to kindly grant a permanent route, volvo bus from Kumaraswamy Layout 1st stage to ITPL . It will be really helpfull for commuters travelling to ITPL on weekdays as well as weekends, as on weekends the frequency of volvo buses is less.

  Thanking You,

 

Customize your experience

We have several tools to help you customize your praja.in experience.

  • Account settings - Click on "My Accounts" under "My Praja" menu to edit your Praja.in account settings. In here, you can change your profile description that is shown to others, your email address on our file, your location details if you are game sharing that, your group memberships, and some more.
  • Private Messages - click on "My Messages" under "My Praja" menu to send "Private essages" to other Praja members. A private message can only be seen by the registered Praja member who you address. Recepient member will only get to see your Praja.in id, and the message, and nothing else. So use this method to contact other members if you don't want to reveal your email id to them.
  • Post Drafts - If you ended up saving your unfinished post as a draft, find it by going to "My Drafts". If you want to enable "autosave feature" to have your blog posts automatically saved as you are typing it, find and turn on the setting available under "My Accounts".
  • Posts rated by you - If youwould like to quickly check on the posts you have rated on Praja, go to "My Praja" menu, and click on "My rated posts".
  • Praja Points - Most activities on this website site earn your Praja points. Those points help you earn more rights on Praja.in. You can grow on to get blogging rights, moderation rights, and get preference for attending Praja style meetings whenever there is more demand than attendance possible. Track your Praja points here.

Additionaly, beyond what is available in "My Praja" menu, here are some more ways for  you to customize your Praja.in experience.

  • RSS Feeds - If you'd like to track website activity from your favorite RSS reader, find some information on Praja.in feeds here.
  • Subscriptions - Keep in touch with activity on the website via your email. Read this 'how to' for more details.

RSS Feeds and Subscriptions

You can subscribe to content from praja in two ways
  1. By receiving e-mail alerts and digests
  2. Through RSS feeds
  3. Podcasts (Please see this page for details on subscribing to Praja Podcasts)

Email alerts and digests

To receive content through e-mails once you register, click on 'My account' and click 'Subscriptions'. Then click on the type of content you want to subscribe to (for example, to subscribe to a blog by a particular user, click on Blogs and to get all content from a particular city, click on Groups).

Select the frequency of updates and also whether you want to be notified on new content and/or new comments. Click Save.

You would start receiving e-mail notifications whenever there is new content of your choice.

You can also activate e-mail subscriptions by clicking on Subscribe link at the end of any article. This would open a small menu with various relevant options.

RSS feeds

Feeds are becoming the preferred way of subscribing to content on the internet. Praja provides feeds for various pages that you can subscribe to using your favourite feed reader (like Google reader).

Click on the 'Google' buttons below to directly add the feeds to your Google Reader. You can also click on the small orange button to get the address of the feed to include in other readers. If you are not sure how to subscribe to feeds or facing difficulties, please see this page for help.

  • All front page posts: : All Frontpage articles All posts (blogs, forums, events, etc) that appear on the home page. 
  • All comments: All blogs Comments on any post on any city at Praja.in
  • All blogs : All blogsBlogs posts from all members of Praja
  • Individual user's blog: Click on the feed icon () at the bottom of each user's blog to subscribe to posts from that user.
  • Individual topics: Click on the topic (tag) of your interest and click on the feed icon () at the bottom of the page to subscribe.

You can also subscribe to various other pages in a similar way by clicking on the feed icon at the bottom of the respective page.

 

How to record podcasts

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This is a brief step-by-step tutorial on how to record your voice and compress it into an MP3 file. This assumes no prior experience in using audio software. However, some basic familiarity with using a computer is assumed.

What you will need:

  1. A computer running Microsoft Windows (or Linux or Mac OSX).
  2. A built in or an external microphone. If you have used your computer before for voice-chat, you already should have this working.
  3. Enough hard disk space (about 1 GB should be usually good) to store audio files before compression.
  4. A bit of patience to get it all working!

Once you ensure you have the above, follow these steps to record your voice.

  1. Download and install Audacity from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ It is a free and open source software available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
  2. Open audacity
  3. Go to Edit -> Preferences menu and in the Audio I/O section make sure that your recording device is set to the appropriate device you wish to set.
  4. Select menu Tracks -> Add new -> Audio track
  5. Click on the big record button at the top and start recording your voice.
  6. Click stop button at the top to stop recording and rewind a playback to make sure your audio is recorded correctly.
    1. It might be a good idea to try to record for a few seconds and make sure everything works fine before you proceed to recording the complete podcast.
    2. If this does not work, experiment by choosing different input devices till you find the one that works.
  7. Once you are happy with the recording, save the project at a convenient place.
  8. Select the menu File -> Export. Select the output file format as MP3. Give the file a suitable name and click OK.
  9. You should now have an MP3 file that contains your podcast. Double click the file to make sure that it has been recorded properly.
  10. Contact the admins of praja through the contact form and let them know that you have the podcast ready. Admins will get in touch with you to arrange the transfer of file. Do not attach the files through email since they tend to be very large.

It is OK if you make mistakes. Just re-read that part correctly and we will edit the audio to remove those parts. If you are proficient at further editing of audio, feel free to experiment.

If you have further doubts, please post it as a comment below and the answers can benefit everyone in future.

How to subscribe to Praja Podcasts

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Subscribing to Praja podcasts will enable you to keep upto date with Praja news and discussions through your mobile phone or music player.

Subscribing to podcasts on Praja is easy. Just follow these steps.

  1. If you use iTunes, just click on this link. It will launch iTunes and you will get subscribed to Praja podcasts. The link should also work with a few other software tools. You can click and try it. You can download iTunes freely from here.
  2. If you use other music software (Nokia PC Suite, Windows media player etc) , find out the menu item to add (or subscribe) to a new podcast. Copy and paste http://praja.in/podcasts/feed as podcast feed URL. You should now be subscribed to Praja podcasts.

Your software will now download the files and you can choose to sync them with your music player or mobile phone to listen to the podcasts on the move.

How to use subscriptions

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Subscriptions refer to the e-mail notifications that you can choose to receive based on your preferences. These notifications will be sent to your registered e-mail address at a frequency chosen by you. Subscriptions can be used to effectively track issues of interest to you, posts by your favourite author or follow on a discussion you participated in.

You automatically get 'subscribed' to a discussion (a blog or a forum topic) whenever you post a comment on the discussion. This feature will help users who want to follow up on the replies to their comments. If you do not wish to automatically subscribe to the discussions, you can change your preferences for 'Auto subscribe' (See below).

You can also subscribe manually to any discussion, author, issue, group or a 'tag'. At the end of each post (blog, forum etc), you will see a 'Subscribe' link just before the comments section. Clicking on this link will open up various options for you to subscribe for that particular discussion, or the particular issue etc. Just tick the appropriate boxes and click 'Save'. You would now be subscribed to receive notifications.

For any reason if you want to stop following a discussion, you can go the the discussion page and click on 'Subscribe' as above. Just tick the boxes off and click 'Save'. You should now stop receiving the notification e-mails. You can also manage your subscriptions by going to 'My Account' and then clicking 'Subscriptions'. Choose an appropriate category like 'Pages','Blog' etc. to manage your subscriptions.

On the same page, you will see more options for your subscriptions when you click 'Settings'. In Settings, you can choose whether you want to be 'Auto subscribed' to pages that you add a comment on. We recommend that you keep this option on so that you get notified of new comments on these discussions.

If you are receiving too many notification mails, you can choose 'Digest mode' and choose to receive a single e-mail containing all the notifications that are relevant to your subscriptions. You can also choose how often you want to receive the e-mail notifications (in digest mode or otherwise).

Click 'Save' and all your settings will be in effect immediately.

Praja in my town

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Praja is a platform that spans several cities and towns. If you do not find your city among the ones where praja has a presence, this page is for you!

If there is not a page for your city already, it is as easy as sending a message to the administrators of Praja requesting one. It does not take much time for us to create a sub-site for your city/town.

Just use the contact form to tell us about your city/town and why you think it would be a good idea to have a dedicated praja site for it. It would also be of great help if you tell a bit about yourself and your interests in blogging or civic issues. 

We will get in touch with you once we create the page and then you can go around inviting all the like minded folks from your town to praja.

Site usage guidelines

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We are an open Internet based community, but subject ourselves to some usage guidelines that apply to all members of this website. When you are writing comments or posts on this website, you must follow the guidelines listed below.

Further, we have also listed moderation guidelines for reference by the moderators of this website.

Remember, not everything is black and white. But when commenting, posting or moderating, it is better to err on the side of caution. We need everyone's help and support to make this community the most sane, smart and intellectual hang out on Internet in India.

Comment Guidelines

You must follow these simple guidelines when writing comments on Praja posts

  • No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks.
  • If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words.
  • Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is.

Please note that moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Praja Moderators some time by editing and fixing things yourself.

Moderator Guidelines

Moderation is critical in ensuring that the content on the site remains organised and relevant to the discussions. Hence praja has moderators who have the right to edit, move or delete comments suitably. As we allow these rights to various users, it also become important that there is as little subjectivity in the decision to edit/delete/move and comment as possible.

This page gives a set of guidelines to ensure objective comment moderation and uniformity in the moderation decision. As a moderator, you are required to adhere to these guidelines.

Who is a moderator?

If you have 200+ Praja points, (you can see your tally on your profile page), you can contact admins (via contact page) and request to be a moderator. Moderators of community have these extra rights on the website:

  • Edit/delete a comment
  • Move the comments across threads
  • Move the posts to front page of a city
  • And few more, this list could change as we add more features


Moderating comments

  • 'I Do not agree with you' is not a reason to moderate a comment.
  • Essentially, moderate a comment if it violates comment guidelines.
  • Edit a comment if you find non-parliamentary language and leave a note below as a moderator (on the same comment)
  • Delete a comment only if it is a 'spam', or has nothing else but a personal attack and extreme offensive language or pure promotion from a business. Otherwise, only editing is good. We dont want to shut people's mouth forcefully, just make them aware of allowed etiquette on praja.
  • If someone has linked a flickr image, edit the comment to make the image embedded.

Moving comments:

  • If a comment is posted on a wrong thread and you think it belongs elsewhere, move it to the relevant post (see help below)
  • If a comment is substantially interesting, promote it as an independent blog or a forum post
  • If a forum post (or a comment you just promoted) is 'frontpage worthy', leave a PM to 'admin' indicating so. We would like the moderators to be able to promote posts to the front page but there are some technical problems with that. We have to live with this for now.

Help on moving comments:

Below every comment you should see a link named 'Prune'. (You won't see it if you are not a moderator). Click the Prune link if you want to move or promote a comment. After the comment has been pruned, you will be see a new 'block' on your left sidebar asking what do you want to do with that comment.

  • To move a comment to different thread, go to the target thread and below the main post and each comment you will see a 'Graft' link. Clicking the link will 'graft' the 'pruned' comment to the new place.
  • To promote a comment as a forum/blog, select appropriate option from the comment mover block on the left sidebar.
  • Moving a comment also moves all the comments that were posted as 'replies' to the originial comment. You may need to carefully pick these comments again and move them back to original post.

And finally

Moderation is a privilege you have earned by being an active member of the community. As they say, with power comes responsibility. We hope you will use this power judiciously and ethically.

We understand that you are spending your valuable time to make praja.in a better place and we would like to thank you for that on behalf of all members. Happy moderating!

 

Posting guidelines

Praja.in is there with a specific purpose in mind, that is to make citizens know, care and participate. In order to keep the focus and sanity, we have some guidelines on how and what to blog about on Praja.

Content, Style etc:

  • Content: Write on matters that need public attention or are of relevance to citizens of an area. No personal propaganda, promoting businesses, movie reviews, pop culture or general sermons. There are tons of people writing on those.
  • Be Local: Don't always write on larger issues and projects (BMIC, Metro etc). Every 2nd or 3rd post or image should be ultra-local, about the area you live or work in.
  • Style: Don't sound very geeky. Use a few acronyms (FAR, JNNURM) and new readers may lose interest. Idea here is to write in such a way that you generate public interest. So explain things well, split your post into two if explanations make it lengthy, but dont assume all readers will have all the background information.
  • Credits: Don't steal from other websites, just quote them. Don't just copy newspaper articles, either add your spin to it, or explain something the newspapers may not have described well. If some stats and opinions are your own creation, say so.
  • PrajaByte (aka microblog): Use this feature to speak your mind, for one liners or quick takes. Opinions, hints rumours, reactions or whatever, but remember to be local, and stay civil!

Other guidelines:

  • Images/Video: Try posting large files on flickr or youtube. Here are how-tos: image, video (TBD).
  • Cross posting: Not recommended, but if you want to post on your personal blog as well, you must put "cross posted on Praja" right on top with links to the Praja post.

Some more general pointers on content and style:

Your opinions, but with credits to the source of inspiration: Don't just repeat what someone else is saying. Your opinions matter. Write something only if you have something to say about it. Always link to the original article. If you are quoting numbers, they better be backed up with references. Similarly, all pictures from elsewhere need to be credited too. Never ever rip another article from elsewhere. Its OK to quote a few lines (with due credits of course).

Be nice: Be gentle and use responsible language. If you have to criticise something, dont get personal. You have right to criticise the ideas, not the person behind them. Also, it is easy to pick a fight behind the anonymity of web. Never pick a fight. As they say, dont argue with a fool. People wont know the difference.

Think: Before you commit anything in writing, be sure you have evidence to back up what you are saying. Your personal reputation is at stake as well as the site's. Its not nice to delete blogs after they are published and they will always be available on google cache and haunt you for ever.

Tagging guidelines

To help members share knowledge and plan projects, Praja needs to have a super good discussion platform. Besides posting good content (posts, comments), its also very important that we tag posts right. Good tags would lead to better recommendations under "If you read this, you may want to read these too". Besides, tags help in searching content on website.

Members must follow following guidelines to tag their posts.

Free form tags

You must supply at least one free form tag when you write a post on Praja. We say "free form" because you can type anything here, we don't restrict you to a selected set of tags.

  • Describe your post in fewer tags, don't cause a "tag flood".
  • Check if the tag exists (a box will pop up in a bit once you type first few letters of your tag). If the tag you are typing doesn't exist, it may be that you are using an exotic tag of your own.
  • Tags must be comma separated. If you don't out the comma, the whole thing becomes a single tag.
  • Use single words as much as possible. "Traffic, Police" - these two tags are better than just one tag "Traffic Police". "Governance Reforms" in't okay, use two tags - "Governance, Reforms". You may ask why? That is because granular tags provide wider perspectives. If I see all posts for tag "Reforms", I would expect to see posts that talk of governance reforms, police reforms, education reforms etc. with time, the website will have features where people can search posts by tags - like, show me posts tagged "Reforms" and "Police".

Praja tones

Pick the "Praja tone" very carefuly. Tones are meant to be a quick guide on what type of content your post contains. Some members on Praja like reading only "Analysis". Some members prefer reading "Complaints". You will be disappointing them if you don't select the right tone.

  • Use "Complaint" for general rants and cribs against government bodies or service providers.
  • Select "Action" only if you are reporting about a Praja on-ground event or project you organized or participated in. If you have planned a Praja-style event, or are writing about an ongoing Project you are hosting on Praja, you can use "Action".
  • But, if your post is a call to action (an open ended - "come on guys, lets do this" type post), then it is either a "Suggestion", or a "Need Help".
  • Use "Analysis" if you have done some analytical thinking, number crunching to come up with some conclusions you want to share with us
  • If the end result of your analysis is a concrete suggestion, use "Suggestion".
  • Use "Media Reports" if you are sharing a news story from local newspaper. Do not mark such posts as "Analysis". A newspaper story is not your analysis, even though it may be something that supports your analysis. Only in cases where you are using several newspaper stories to build a case for some analysis, mark such posts as "Analysis".
  • Use "Review" if you are writing about service quality of local civic utility, or a website.
  • Use "Citizen reports" if you are writing an original post based on your personal experiences, or observations.
  • Use "Need Help" if you are calling for volunteers for your NGO, or a project hosted on Praja, or for some event you want to organize.

 

Whistleblowers on Praja

Given the magnitude and nature of issues that are being discussed on praja, it is only inevitable that sometimes there are situations where a member has a privileged information on an issue but would not want to disclose it for the fear of being held responsible for it. Then there are situations where the members have an opinion that is not congruent to their or their employer's official stand. We recognize that in such cases several members still prefer to share the information with other keeping in mind the general good of the public.

We are hence happy to announce a 'whistleblower' feature on the site. Please read further for the details on how this works. It is absolutely essential you understand all the implications of this. This page has been written in a FAQ format for easy understanding.

What can be submitted and what not?

Any information that you think is necessary for the public to know can be posted. This can be an 'off the record' comment, some evidence of an illegal activity, some sensitive documents anything. But be aware not to use this for targeting an individual or showing an organization in unduly bad light. Anything that is being posted will have to have verifiable evidence or other means to verify the authenticity of information being submitted. 

How to submit the information?

You can submit the message by going to the Contact page and selecting 'I am a whistleblower'. Then write your message. If you want to send any documents/images, you can mail them to 'acoward at praja dot in'. (Please see below on precautions to take)

How to ensure my privacy?

If you have logged in  as an user, the admins will know who sent the message. This helps admins to revert to you for some more feedback. However, this also implies that you trust admins to know who you are. You can use this option to send information of low sensitivity that you would not have any legal trouble with if the message were to be traced to you. This implies we know your e-mail address and other information you provided on this site.

If you have an information that is very sensitive and might pose a legal/physical threat to you if it were traced back to you, you can submit the message as an anonymous user. Log out if you are logged in and use contact page with the choice 'I am a whistleblower'. You can leave your true e-mail address if you want to be reached back by admin. Otherwise, fill in a dummy address. However, your writing might not be posted immediately if you post anonymously. This is to discourage the use of this feature for trivial issues. Expect a week's delay on an average.

If you want to send documents or images, open a new e-mail address with online mail services (Gmail, Yahoo etc) and use that mail id to send the attachments to 'admin at praja dot in'. Word and excel files have user information stored in them so you might want to send PDFs.

For additional security, use a computer at an internet cafe.

How much information is stored about me?

If you had logged in, the admins will know your user id and other information you submitted. If you have chosen to logout and submit information, admins can know your IP address. The site stores the IP address for two weeks (currently). This IP address can be used by law enforcement agencies in coordination with your Internet service provider to trace you. If you do not wish to be traced, use a public computer at an internet cafe. More technically adept users can use anonymous proxy servers.

Who will have access to my information?

Your details as above will be accessible only to the administrators of the site. While we will not reveal your details (IP address etc) to anyone via the website or otherwise, We will have oblige to any legal request by a law enforcement agency to provide any information that we have. In such situations, we will notify you before sharing the details with the law enforcement agencies.

What will happen to the material I send?

Your message with go to the administrators who take a decision on its suitability to be published based on following criteria.

  • Relevance to praja's focus areas (urban civic issues)
  • Authenticity and verifiability of the information
  • Legal and social risks involved by publishing such information.
  • Other relevant criteria based on the matter in hand
  • The admin's decision will be final. 

If the admins deem it necessary, they might also share only the content (and not your details) with few long term trusted members to ensure the suitability of the material for publishing. The material will then be posted as a blog or a comment from acoward.

What action will praja take based on the information I submitted?

NONE. Yes, Praja is a platform for people to find other like minded people. Praja admins (in their capacity as admins) will not involve in any action based on the information you provided. The admins' responsibility ends at posting your message anonymously on the site. It is then upto other members who identify with the particular cause to take it further.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments.

Summary: You are responsible for your privacy. Praja admins will only help you remain anonymous. We do not guarantee your anonymity beyond what has explicitly been stated above.

What is a...

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In this help section you will learn about different ways you can see the content in and how best to use them.

There are different types of content you see on this site. Some examples are Blogs, Books, Forums etc. Each content type has its own charactersistics and will allow you to do certain special things.

You must note that to maintain clarity on this site and to get the maximum relevant exposure to their writing, our content creators choose different types.

You can click on the content names below to know more about them.

Blog

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Blog

On this site, Blog is a chronological sequence of articles written by a single user. Each user has one blog and every article or 'blog post' he/she writes is stored in his/her blog.

Blogs are usually used to express an idea to an audience and to initiate a discussion through comments to the blog. Each blog post has its own set of comments where other users can write about what they think of the idea.

In order to maintain the quality of content on this site, only certain users called 'content creators' are allowed to create blogs. If you are interested in becoming a content creator, use the contact form and select 'join us as a content creator' on that page. Links to samples of your work would help.

Book

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Book

A book is basically a collection of articles (pages or chapters) that are bound together as a group. Another significant aspect of a book is that it has its own navigation. Each page contains links to pages Previous to, after and above itself.

A book is a handy tool to use when you want to create a huge set of information individually or collaboratively. A book might hence be throught of as a collection of wikipedia articles that are liked through navigation. For example, the help topic you are reading is a part of 'What is a..' book.

Forum

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Forum

Forum is an online meeting place where several people interact with each other. This is different from a chat because on a forum although you dont see the updates in real time, they are stored on the site so that users can respond to each other's comments irrespective of whther they were online or not when the original message was posted..
Forums on this site are classified into several caterories. Each caterory is a place for a different kind of topic. Under each topic, there are several 'threads' that hold individual discussions.

Forums provide a way to discuss a lot of topics simultanously in an organised way. In contrast Blogs provide a focused way to discuss a single topic. Depending on your need, you might choose a Forum or a Blog to initiate a discussion.

All users can initiate a forum thread and can respond to existing threads. But only admins have the ability to created new categories or topics (sub-forums).

Gallery

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Gallery

Gallery is a set of online album.
Content creators can upload a photo to a gallery.
Each gallery shows thumbnails of images which when clicked show the full image.
If you want to insert an image to your blog, story or comment, you can do it in other ways. Click here to find out how.

Group

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On Praja, a group is a collection of users who are passionate about a particular cause.

On Praja, there are two kinds of groups. One is for cities which can be joined by people who care about a particular city. These groups are visible when a user registers on Praja. Alternatively, users can also join a group at a later date.

The other kindof group is based on an issue or a cause. These groups can also be the online avatars of existing offline groups like citizen associations, NGOs etc. Each group is managed by its own admin who choses whether the group is open to everyone or an approval is needed to join. These groups do not appear on the registration page of praja. You can find out which groups are under praja by going to the groups directory here. If you want to join a particular group, just click on 'Join' the group and your request will be sent to the group admin.

Story

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Story

A story is an one-off article that is typically used by users to share news, events and other 'for information only' articles.
If you want to announce an event, publish an interview then choose a story.

What is a Feed

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A feed is a subscription that you can read in a convenient way on your reader. Feeds just make it easier for you to track all the web sites of your interest without you having to visit them to see the updates.

The video below should help you understand what is subscription.

How do I...

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In this book, you will find answers to several of your 'How do I ..' questions.

How do I Format text

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How do I format text

You can format your text using the built in TinyMCE text editor. Below every text editing box you will see a link 'enable rich text' that when clicked should make your text window look like a word editor. You can use this like your word editor (MS-Word etc) to format text the way you want. Remember to change the Input Method to 'Rich Text' so that the format is preserved in your post.

Note that inserting a map or a Flickr photo wont work with Rich text mode. If you want to insert them, stick to Filtered HTML input mode with Rich text disabled.

How do I create a Blog

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How do I create a blog

In order to maintain the qulity of content at a consistent level, praja.in currently does not allow all the users to have their own blogs. You can still comment on the blogs and create new topics on the forums. However, if you want to join us as a blogger, we always welcome you. See here for details.

How do I insert a Picture

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How do I insert a picture

There are several ways to insert a picture into your post.  First two methods mentioned below require you to upload pictures on other sites, and then embed them in your post/comment on Praja. Third method can be used to upload pictures directly on Praja.

1. Through Flickr

Probably the easiest is to put your picture on Flickr and then link it here.

  • Go to the place where you want to insert the picture (Blog, comment forum etc)
  • Insert the photo id in the format [flickr-photo:id=4591347446,size=s] or [flickr-photoset:id=72157613788778620,size=m]
  • Use the first one ("photo:id") if you want to insert a single photo or the second one ("photoset:id") for the whole photo set.
  • You can see the photo or photoset id on your flickr webpage at the URL box.
  • Write the remainder of your text as usual
  • Press "Preview" to check if the flickr picture is showing up in your comment/post, and then submit.

2. Through other sites

The other way to insert images is to upload them to a place that provides links to individual photo files and then insert them. Typically you can get links to your photos if you have your own website. Shared webspace like geocities also enable users to link photos directly. Once you have an URL of the photo you want to insert,

  • Enable "rich text editor" on the post/comment box (if it isn't already)
  • In the editor toolbar, find a button titled "insert/edit Image". Its a small yellow colored button, with a mountain/sun graphic on it
  • Once you click on this button, a dialog box will pop up
  • In here, enter the URL of your photo, and then set its properties etc. Remember to reduce to width to 500px or less
  • Continue typing as usual
  • Preview, and then submit your post/comment

3. Through Praja.in - upload your pictures here

This one works similar to option 2 above but with the extra step to upload the photo to Praja.in website itself. All images uploaded using this method are automatically resized to width of 540px to make them fit in praja posts and comments, and also to reduce the size of image files. Each Praja user has a storage limit of 5 MB (all pictures combined). Here are the instructions:

  • Enable "rich text editor" on the post/comment box
  • In the editor toolbar, find a button titled "insert/edit Image". Its a small yellow colored button, with a mountain/sun graphic on it
  • Once you click on this button, a dialog box will pop up
  • In this dialog box, find a button called "Browse Server", and click on it
  • You will now be shown a list of all images that you have uploaded so far on Praja
  • On the top left corner of this image listing, find an "Upload" button
  • Click on the upload button to upload an image file from your PC. Remember that if the file is large, it will be resized to 540px width
  • Once you upload the image, select it, and click on "Insert File" button on top to place the image in the post/comment that you are editing.

Yep, uploading a picture is not the most intuitive or user-friendly thing right now, we are working on an easier solution for uploading images on Praja.

How do I insert a link

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How do I link a webpage
If you want to insert a link to an external webpage or another page in Praja.in, you can just paste it in the text window. If you want to link to appear as something else other than the whole link (for example 'see here' instead of 'see http://google.com') you can use the 'Rich text' mode to enter the link by clicking the 'link' button in the toolbar.

Unfortunately Rich text mode conflicts with insertion of Google Maps and Flickr Images so you might want to insert a link the hard way (i.e. <a href="http://google.com">here</a>)

How do I subscribe to a feed

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How do I subscribe to a feed

You can subscribe to a feed from Praja using what is called a Feedreader. Our favourite feedreader is google reader. If you are using a browser like Safari, Firefox or Opera which have a built in feedreader, you should automatically be subscribed to the feed when you click on any feed icon [  ] on our Subscriptions page.

To subscribe to the feed in your google reader, you can just click on  icon next to the feed. Follow steps from google from there.

If you are really a nerd  and fond of  ways based on 'first principles', then follow the steps below.

A. Right-click on the link of content you want to subscribe to on the subscription page. Select 'copy link' or 'copy link location' or similar option (depending on your browser). You would have now copied the address of the feed you want to subscribe to.

B. Now go to your google reader (or your favorite reader). You can log in with your google/gmail id or create one if you dont have one. On the left side menu click on 'Add subscription' and in the text box that appears paste the link address you copied in the previous step.

C. Click 'Add'

After you click 'Add' you should see recent posts of your interest appearing on the main area.  As easy as that. Now on you will see all the new content added on Praja whenever you log into your google reader.

The video on this page shows how to subscribe to any feed using google reader after explaining what is a feed. After you are at Praja's subscriptions page, just follow the instructions in the video.

How to I create a Map

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How do I create a Map

The best way to create a map is by going to Create->Map [Take me there] menu item on the right hand side. You should see an interactive map which you can pan, zoom etc. Every time you click on a location on the map, the site will insert a marker for you. Once you are happy with your map and markers, copy the code that appears near the bottom of the page. It should look something like

Javascript is required to view this map.


Now proceed to the place you want to have this map on. It can be a blog post, comment, forum entry, story etc. Just paste this code you just copied into the text area. Make sure that you are not using rich text editor and are using 'Filtered HTML' as input format. You should be able to see these options below the text box where you are typing. Write the remainder of your text as usual keeping the Input format as Filtered HTML and press Preview and submit. You are done! Its as easy as that.

Note that currently the functionality for Lines and Circles is limited due to the development state of software we use to run this site. We are working on getting them right, but the solution depends on factors beyond our direct control.

Website Update Announcements

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Book to hold important technical announcements about Praja website itself. These announcements could be about new feature releases, retiring some features, or to announcements to gather user feedback on technical aspects of the website.

Users should leave comments on relevant posts in this book to interact with technical team. "Contact" feature is another tool available to users for providing technical feedback.

Calling all - website upgrade coming, need your help

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Praja related

This website is our primary tool for interaction, coordination, and attracting new members. We have been lucky enough to get attention and grow, however the site may not have kept pace. Based on your feedback, we are on to a revamp. The things we have heard fall in these main categories

  1. Lots of content, hard to find and track them
  2. Site is getting slower
  3. Unfriendly for new visitors - they don't know how to signup,  find posts, problems logging in etc
  4. Need more tools for member-member interaction. Private Messages are not enough.

So we are starting on a project to address these issues over next few weeks. Towards that, we will appreciate some help from members. No, no, we aren't asking folks to come and code, not yet :) As of now, we need help in following forms:

  • Report problems you know (in categories mentioned above)
  • Help out with testing the new website (we have a separate testng-only website)
  • Suggest how you want the pages (frontpage, post pages) to be structured or layed out.

You can leave comments here, or simply send private message or email to "admin".

 

Moderation launched on Praja

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Praja related

We had recently solicited ideas for introducing moderation on Praja for Posts and Comments. We thought it was essential to have a moderation system to retain the no-nonsense flavour of Praja as we grow. We are thankful to all those who responded and are happy to announce the launch of moderation system on Praja.

There are four facets to moderation on Praja.

  1. To remove content that is deemed to be unfit for publishing on Praja by its members. This include posts that contain spam, hate speech, rumours etc.
  2. To 'review' posts for their links, tagging, formatting and other cosmetic/functional aspects.
  3. To make top quality content more easily accessible to users
  4. To provide a way for all users to bring objectionably content to admins' notice


Principles of moderation on Praja
Keeping with the democratic principle of Praja, the moderation is also democratic
and as transparent and objective as it could be. In summary, to meet the above objectives we have worked with following principles

  1. Most active Praja members become 'moderators' who can 'flag' content for unpublishing. If enough moderators flag a post or comment for unpublishing, it will be automatically unpublished.
  2. All posts published will be reviewed by one of the administrators 'only' for their technical consistency (formatting, tagging, links etc). Admins will NOT unpublish the posts during this review.
  3. All users can vote posts up or down and the posts with highest votes will be predominantly displayed on the front page.
  4. All users should have a facility to bring objectionable content to admins' notice

 

Of these, we are launching all but the third feature today. We hope to launch the third feature soon.


Details of unpublishing posts and comments

  • Users who earn a certain number of Praja points (currently 300) get the right to become a moderator. The eligibility criteria will be continuously adjusted in future as to have approximately top 10% of active users as moderators.
  • Once a users earn moderator role, they see a link below each post/comment which says 'Vote to unpublish this post/comment'. If the moderators think that a post/comment is inappropriate for posting on Praja, they click the link.
  • If more than a pre-set number of moderators vote to unpublish the post (currently set to 25% of moderators ), the post is automatically unpublished.
  • An email is sent to the author and site admins indicating that the post/comment has been unpublished.
  • If a post in unpublished, the author loses 15 Praja points as a penalty. (This is not currently turned on)
  • Administrators have the right to 'veto' this decision. This power is given more for correcting accidental errors rather than to provide for an appeal process. No appeal process is available for unpublished nodes. All unpublished nodes will also be reviewed by admins to ensure that the removal was not accidental.

Details of review by admins for technical aspects

  • Once a post is published by a user, it is added to a special queue 'needs review'. The post remains published when it is on the queue
  • All admins can see the queue and they can review each node.
  • During the review admins make sure all the links in the post are working, the formatting is appropriate and files and images uploaded are relevant. The tags on the post will also be edited suitably. [This review exists to help our technically challenged members and should not be taken as an excuse to post ill-formatted posts].
  • Once a node is reviewed by one of the admins, it is removed from the queue.


Details of highlighing good posts

  • All users can vote a post or comment up
  • Once a certain number of users (a percentage of all users) vote a post up, it will appear on the front page
  • Author will receive an email and gain 5 bonus praja points.

[Note: This feature is yet to be implemented]

Details of reporting abuse by a user

  • All the registered users will see a link below each post/comment which says "Report Abuse". If any user thinks that the post/comment is inappropriate for posting on Praja,they click the link.
  • After a pre-set number of users report this (currently 2), an email is sent to the admins to further look into it.
  • However, the post/comment is NOT unpublished automatically.


As you would expect, all the numbers (Praja points, number of moderators, number of votes to unpublish a post etc.) are tentative and will be fine tuned in future.

We would be eager to know your views on the moderation approach. Criticisms, praise, suggestions and request for clarification are all welcome. We will be happy to include any suggestions conditional upon the technical feasibility of those suggestions.

Can we ask all moderators to confirm that they are seeing the appropriate links please?

-Tech team

New feature - search Bengaluru related sarkaari websites

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281 users have liked.
Praja related

No big deal this, but we have put up a new feature wherein you can search through all well known Bengaluru related public websites. Its essentially a list of all sarkaari websites pointed out by the geeks of Praja.in put inside a "custom search" widget that will search only this universe of 25-30 websites.

Find it on the main page, top right corner, you just have to select "Bangalore public sites" before you hit search. For example, type "TTMC", search bangalore public sites, and find about more TTMCs in the making.

If you know some odd and not so well known sarkaari sites (Bangalore or state govt level) that we may have missed, leave a comment here, and we will add them.

One thing which is on our wishlist is this. We are not sure if google searches through the tenders on Karnataka govt's eprocurement websites. Would be cool if we could look through all tenders on eprocurement sites as well.

Anyway. Enjoy. And thank Google for their custom search feature.

New features at Praja!

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229 users have liked.
Praja related

We at the Tech team are happy to announce another set of new features on Praja. Starting today, all registered users will have access to these new features.

 

1. The Stream Microblog with Twitter Integration

For those of us who are familiar with Twitter, we now have an analogous feature built within Praja. How is PrajaBytes to name it? Suggest better if you have one. The idea is for you to share your status or broadcast those pithy one liners to all Praja users (and especially those who follow you, see below).

  • To start posting, just head to 'My account' and type in the 'Stream' box.
  • What more, you can link one or more of your Twitter accounts to your praja accounts. If you link your Twitter account, a tweet will be posted to your Twitter account when you make a post on Praja.

To link your Twitter account:

  • go to 'My account',
  • choose 'edit' and click on 'Twitter Accounts' tab.
  • Fill in your Twitter id and Twitter password. We need your Twitter password to make posts on your behalf.
  • Rest assured that the passwords will be stored securely and are not accessible to any users, including the admins.

 

2. Ability to follow other Praja users

You can now choose to 'follow' any other user of Praja. Following other Praja user's is a two step process

Step 1 - Choose who you want to follow

Just click on the user's name to go to their page and click the link to become there follower. When you follow a user, whenever they make a new post or a comment, they will appear in your 'activity' view (see below). This is a good way to avoid the posts and authors you are not interested in and read only the ones you want to.

Step 2 - Use your personalized activity view

Activities of all those you follow appear on your Home page. In addition to this, you can click on any user's name and see their page with all their activities, irrespective of whether you follow that user or not.

 

3. An improved navigation menu

For new and old users alike, we have tried to make navigation within the site easier with the 'Topics' menu at the top. The menu presents the contents of the whole website in a easy-to-navigate way. Hope this makes it easier to find posts on topics that interest individual users.

We hope that these features will make it easy to find content on Praja that suits your individual needs and follow the writings of users who you think are insightful. We believe that this is a step in the right direction to create a collaborative online platform for civic issues. Hope you do too!

Do get in touch with us through the contact form with your Bouquets and Brickbats

New navigation on Praja

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226 users have liked.
Praja related

We at the tech team are happy to announce new and improved navigation features on Praja.in. These will be launched today. We hope that the changes make it easier for our users to find, read and create relevant content on the site. Read on to know more about the new navigation.

Changed front page

The homepage of Praja (http://praja.in) now has a simplified look when you are not logged in. It has a small slideshow to tell what Praja is about and leads to creating or finding discussions. (We are currently working on improving the looks of the graphics and buttons on this page). This design is done keeping in mind the new users to the Praja community who want to understand what Praja is about.

When the users login, the front page will automatically change to a more personal version. This page is the centre of all the action on Praja for all the users.

PrajaBytes

At the top of this page you will find 'PrajaBytes' box which you can use to share brief updates. Use this feature to tell others what you are currently doing (Praja related, or otherwise) in a maximum of 140 characters. Below the Chikka Chokka updates you will find updates about other users who you chose to follow. Their recent posts, comments and other actions appear for you to click and know more about. If you want a particular user's updates to appear here, just follow them by going to their profile page.

On the sides of the new front page are the links for your account settings, creating new posts, event calendar and other related links. We will add more content to this page as we go along.

Changed navigation menu

The menu at the top of the site now has changed to make it more relevant and easy to use for both new and old users. You can use this menu to create various types of posts. The latest posts, comments and top rated posts are also accessible from this menu.

In addition, you can use 'topics' menu to navigate quickly to the topic of your interest.

We have removed other un-used menu items and have consolidated the help menu.

We hope these changes make the site easier to understand, reduce confusion and allow users to interact with the community better. As usual, we would love to hear about your feedback on this new interfaces, especially on things that you think are not working on need to be improved.

-Tech team

Now everyone can Blog! and other site changes

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247 users have liked.
Praja related

Effective today, we are introducing some changes to the way users write posts on Praja. Starting today, all users will be able to post blogs on Praja.

Moreover, we will also stop new forum topics from being added. The old forum posts will remain accessible.We have introduced these changes to reduce the confusion between Forums and Blogs.

We have also introduced 'Categories' for the posts. The current categories are tentative and we can change them based on your feedback. We will appreciate your help in drawing up a exhaustive 'category tree'. Please leave a comment below. We have also made it easier to choose 'Where' and Categories while writing the post.

All users can now also upload files with their posts directly from their desktops. These can be images or documents. Please note that there is a limit of 1MB for file each file and a total of 5MB of total space for each user. For users who have a high number of Praja points, the 5MB limit is extended to 20MB. [We will post a comment below explaining how to upload images and files].

We hope you like these changes. Please let us know what you think either through comments or by mailing "tech at praja.in"

Privacy policy at Praja.in

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258 users have liked.

Dear Members,

We are in the process of drafting a privacy policy for Praja website, and need your input. Our objective is to have a clear and published privacy policy (see Google for an example).

Note that we do not expose your email address, or physical address (that some of you do fill when registering) to other members. We will NEVER EVER do that. The only instance where your email address is 'exposed' is in cases where the Admins reach out to members to seek specific help or seek some input.

Besides this, when you contact another member via "contact form", you expose your email. But we now have private message feature where you can reach another member without letting him/her know your email.

Next, we email subscription alerts, and each email contains clear links on how to manage your subscriptions (and how to unsubscribe). You can also change your user settings (via "My account") to turn off subscriptions by default.

Also, we expose a "tracking" feature on website, where another user can go to your profile page and see what you have been writing on the website. We want to introduce more features on the "profile" pages, and one of them may let other users see an estimate of what posts (last 10) or "tags" you have 'read' recently. Will that be a breach of your privacy?

Last, sometimes, when a member (say your friend, who is also on Praja) may know you by name or anything else about you (your residence location for example), he/she may inadvertently 'expose' your details. Such cases are beyond our control.

These are a few things relevant to privacy on the website as of today, but there would be some more. We look forward to hearing from you on similar lines - concerns for today, or in future. Instead of drafting something purely on our own, we thought it best to hear from all.

Really appreciate your cooperation, and look forward to the feedback (either via comments or private messages).

cheers,

Praja Admin Team

Project feature is almost here

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217 users have liked.

We are doing some live testing for an often requested feature - "project". See this KSRTC project to get a feel for what we are upto. Idea is to create a basic structure to group people and posts together.

We will not be providing too many elaborate project management features. Will wait and watch the usage before adding on more. A Praja "project":

  • is a simple tool that clubs together people, and posts associated with a project
  • will be given increased visibility on the main page and city front pages
  • would ideally result from a usual discussion on the website
  • will provide lots of authentic and useful content to drive meaningful discussions on the website.

Lets see how this goes.

We will try move all past projects (BIAL RTI, BMTC interaction etc) into this new feature.

And yeah, the feature is still in development - so do report things that are broken.

Spam Control Feature

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333 users have liked.
Praja related

Lately Praja has been flooded with spam posts from people promoting irrelevant products and services. There have been times when the admins/moderators have had to clean up as many as 10 posts in a day. In view of this we have put together a filtration feature.

From now on any post from a new user will have to be approved by the admins before it gets posted. As for the comments by these new users, they can be approved by the admins as well as moderators.

These road blocks have been put in place for new users ONLY. Experienced Praja users will not see any changes. We regret the inconvenience caused to the genuine new users. We request new users to expect a delay in their posts/comments appearing on the site.

Any feedback on this feature as well as a better way of tackling this problem is welcome. Kindly make a comment below this post.

-Tech Team.  

Website updates and restructure

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190 users have liked.

First of all, thanks all for being patient as we worked through a major website update during last week. While there would still be issues and niggles, we are told that most major issues have been dealt with, and site is back in usable state.

Some features have been dropped or changed either due to technical limitations, or due to low usage. Here is a list:

  • City as group - no longer the case. Till last month, each city was a "group" that members could subscribe to. Most members on this site were subscribed to "Bangalore". In the new site design, we don't treat city as a "group". As a result, if you were banking on "bangalore" group subscriptions to keep in touch, you will have to either visit the site, or use RSS feeds (See below)
  • "My Praja" (aka "My Site") feature was not being used that much. We have dropped support for it. Instead, we will provide a well organized set of RSS feeds, so that you can create customized Praja pages in your favorite portal/RSS reader (my yahoo, igoogle etc)

Some important features, that will take a bit longer to restore are:

  • All RSS feeds have not yet been restored. One main feed for all cities, and one feed per city would be available real soon, hopeful in a week.
  • "Praja points" system is still being upgraded, and reworked a bit. Members will not lose on any points during this time though as the points system is perfectly capable of doing retroactive calculations.
  • "If you liked this, you may also like" feature is not ready yet. We have a replacement ("Similar Items") which is not as good as the previous system which recommended really similar posts. But do note the new "Similar Items"  feature relies heavily on the tags you use for your posts. So if you try to use uncommon and new words as tags, you post is very unlikely to show up as "Similar Item" on some other member's post.

Important new upcoming features that will be rolled out during July/august

  • Image upload support. Members with certain minimum praja points will be able to upload images directly on the site, no need to use flickr unless your image is really huge, or if you prefer storing images there. We are providing this feature for better usability - putting images in flickr and linking them here is a tedious operation for most members.
  • Better support for "projects". Each project will get a page of its own, members would be able to "join" projects, there will be a clear and automated lsit of "members" for every project, and more. So far, project posts have been getting mixed up, lost and not getting their due attention on the website.
  • New sub-sites for National and state level posts. Notice that when you make a post (blog, forum etc), in the "Where" box, you now get to choose India, Karnataka/more states, or the precise cities. So, if you really have a geeky thing or analysis to share, but its not really local, post it under the state (as in Karnataka, or India). Moderation standards still apply - so pre rants and pure opinionated ideological posts may be subject to moderation.

Some features under consideration, but without concrete plans or dates as of now

  • Praja "light" and Praja "heavy" kind of separation to create space for stuff that gets moderated. There have been suggestions that instead of removing ideological rants etc, they could be placed in a "light" section.
  • Mobile version of the site. Many readers want a mobile phone friendly version of the site. This is certainly on the road map.

cheers,

Praja Techs

Your personal profiles on praja

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236 users have liked.

Starting today, you can tell a bit more about yourself on your profile page. We hope that this gives a 'face' to each one of the users and tells everyone better about what you are.

You can click 'My account' on the top menu or the side menu and then click 'Edit' to get started. You can click on various links near the top of the page to access various categories.

You can start by uploading a picture (or avatar if you are not comfortable uploading your real photo) and every comment you make would now have your picture along with it.

Under 'Personal Information' you can tell us briefly about yourself. You can say if you have been working with a relevant agency or industry so that your opinions get the due weightage. Or you can just tell us whatever you want us to know about you. In 'My Vision', you can tell us about the change you want to see. Your vision for your city and its future. What you think is wrong and how you think it can be set right. This is your stage, the spotlight is on you!

If you run another blog or a website, you can provide the links to those under 'My Online Presence' section. This would not only help other users to visit your site, but will also improve your site/blog's search engine ranking.

You can also tell us where you stay. An approximate location is good enough. Just locate your place on the google map and click. As simple as that. As we grow as a community, it might be useful for finding out members who live close and coordinate with them to address issues of your locality.

Please note that all these information will be open for all other members to see (it will not be open to unregistered members and search engines). If you are not comfortable with other users seeing your information, you are free not to put in any information at all. You can give as much information as you are comfortable with.