Report on the Assembl test by the Edgeryders community

Edgeryders won a small bid to test two tools developed in a bigger European funded project called CATALYST: Edgesense and Assembl. Here is a report regarding the tests that have taken place for the Assembl tool:

At what point of the test we are:

  • in March we have explored the Assembl tool in order to make a plan on how to test it with real topics. The decision has been taken to test it with the ongoing discussion on the stewardship topic of the Edgeryders community that took place during the LOTE 4 event
  • in order to avoid to ask from the Edgeryders community to register on another platform, the decision has been made to import the discussion from Edgeryders platform directly to Assembl. There have been some development requirements in order to achieve this and the discussions where imported the 20th of mai
  • as discussed with the team from Imagination for people, we planned to make 3 synthesis of the LOTE discussion through the Assembl tool. The first synthesis was published the 6th of June, the second was published the 13th of June and the last one is planned this week on the 20th of June
  • we will continue to spread the syntheses over the next weeks, and also offer to ask people who registered on Assembl from the Edgeryders community to give their impression of the tool. Any new feedback and reaction to the summaries will be incorporated in the ideas table until June 30th.


  • bringing a community from one platform to another is a true challenge. Cohesion and dynamics are not kept, and people are reluctant to register on a new platform. This is why integration from the Assembl tool into other systems is a true requirement. For the current test, the discussion of the Edgeryders community has been imported into Assembl. But then, Assembl requested the access to the users file, in order to add to the users export the usernames or names of the users to be able to show this information in Assembl ( they considered that would be more useful than labeling the user "User 2526"). Our current recommendation is that Assembl approach in case of data import needs to be re-thought to be ethically acceptable to the communities supposed to use the tool . For communities like Edgeryders, there can be objections to the request to have all the user data on the server of Assembl.
  • harvesting is not as easy as it seems to be:
    • as a harvester you can not delete sections of the table of content, you can just rename them
    • In case of imported content, most of the data goes into uncategorized posts, but there is no possibility to make search among the uncategorized posts. Thus it makes it hard for a harvester to harvest by theme, he needs to go through all the material in order to find which are the interesting topics to be harvested. 

Lessons learned:

  • the Assembl synthesis was indeed useful, it is allowing to have a very good overview over a discussion with multiple users in a structured matter. However, in the case of the stewardship discussion, it has not been mobilizing, it has not rekindled the conversation. This might be, because the discussion the conversation peaked over six months ago and we have since moved on as a community. We continue spreading the word to unfold and revive the conversation. 

Additional feedback to the developers:

  • The platform is extremely slow: when scrolling through the messages for harvesting sometimes it takes up to 1 minute until the software is responsive again
  • It would be good to add a button to delete comments at least your own comments as a participant, if not as a harvester/admin as well
  • There are often error messages. For example when trying to create a new message, I got an error: "Assembl has encountered a problem and needs to be refreshed. Do not worry, any messages that are in the process of being composed will not be lost. See you in a minute on Assembl! If you are in contact with the technical team, please let them know about the following message
  • For some reason, just after I published the synthesis, all entries seemed to be doubled (double introduction, double synthesis per thread, double comments, etc.). I tried to delete one of them, but then it deleted everything. I then realized that actually the double entries appear only at the beginning, and then if I wait they appear afterwards as just once. I do not know where this is coming from, but it is very frustrating. I would suggest to add a message letting people know that it is not doubled


  • As a general feedback I believe Assembl needs to re-position itself. What is their objective? They are a collective intelligence tool to be used to discuss on topics among many people. You reach many people when you already have a lively community. In this case, you are probably already using an online platform. In this case, they need to work hard on integration of their tool with other platforms, and offer it rather as an API, than as a parallel platform. 
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Thanks for this, @Ruxandra. This is useful feedback. smiley