Deconstructing ITSM

3 February 2009

ITSM discussion boards

Filed under: ITSM — Joe Pearson @ 21:12

What discussion boards on IT Service Management do you find useful?

  • I have not been active very much on LinkedIn until recently, so I can’t judge the discussion groups there. But there are a great many ITSM or ITIL groups, some with willing experts. Some, admittedly, are dominated by job ads or requests. I’ve yet to find one that shows a good level of activity and content, but the groups are evolving.My impression of the software capability is not good though: yes, it lists recent discussions, but it doesn’t provide a way to jump to the most recent post in a discussion; it doesn’t flag which discussions you’ve participated in, and doesn’t provide any way to subscribe to a discussion or flag it as interesting – all of which are standard features of discussion board software like phpBB, vBulletin (which is not free), or SMF.
  • I like the ITIL Community forum: it has plenty of willing experts, and the software base is OK. It suffers from a large number of beginner’s ITIL exam-related questions (which are in scope; there’s a big need) and very basic questions from people who show no signs of having done any research and don’t give details of what they really need. I don’t think that’s a bad reflection on the board, just a bad reflection on humanity. (Look at Java and other programming boards for exactly the same problem.) Note – when I say “willing experts” I don’t mean people willing to answer basic questions. In fact, the ITIL Community has “grumpy experts” and when I grow up I’d like to be one.I do take issue with some of the ITIL Community’s admin policies, e.g. requiring you to post a verification code with every new thread or reply you preview or submit, and disallowing any links posted in messages (see this post, for example). Even for long-term registered users. There are better ways of dealing with off-topic and commercial spam than treating everyone as a bot.There are some excellent discussions and insights, and that’s ultimately what matters most.

  • The itSMF international has a discussion forum. Like most, you have to register to post (a very good practice); it looks like you even have to register to read posts (I don’t see the need for that).I’m new to this group so I can’t judge it, but naturally it has many of the principal figures there, and carries authority in the publications and qualifications areas. The best practices area is moderately active and the quality of discussions is good, but I think the board could grow a bit.
  • Addition: I forgot to mention Yahoo Groups. As with LinkedIn, there are a large number of groups related to ITSM here, but the largest and most active is ITIL Service. Good discussions here. I don’t care much for Yahoo Groups’ web interface, but you can participate via email, which is effective.
  • The enticingly named ITIL Forum: this has been pretty active in the past, but seems to be overrun with spam in the past month or so. I’ve sent a message to the administrators to see if it’s still actively managed.
  • The ITSM Portal forum: about 5 threads a year, many not answered. ITSM Portal also has a number of groups at LinkedIn.
  • Datamation‘s boards have an IT Service Management forum, but it’s really not very active – a couple of threads a month

A year or so ago, the Skeptic posted a list of forums. I have nothing to add about the ones I haven’t mentioned above.

Are there any other good ones?

What I look for in a board is:

A good community, with experts and experienced people (which isn’t quite the same thing!) willing to contribute, and getting something out of it; and a minimum of commercial promotion and of noise-level questions … and an absolute minimum of off-topic “longest thread on the internet” trivia!

This is not directly controllable by the hosts or sponsors.

Good discussion board software, with good controls for identifying read and unread threads and posts, and for subscription and email notifications, and a search facility. There’s no excuse for not having this in place. And there should be a clear way to get help or ask questions about the board itself. I think it’s funny that people can set up boards discussing Service Desks without offering one.


  1. Hi Joe. I read ITIL Community and the ITIL-Service Yahoo! Group. The Y!G is definitely not dynamic; the moderator approves each and every post. It might be 24 hours before you see any responses to your post and then another day before your clarification shows up. The good thing is that silliness and heated exchanges are non-existent (and grumpiness doesn’t get past the moderator – I’ve tried).

    Comment by rpmason — 5 February 2009 @ 20:27 | Reply

  2. I’m all for moderation! (In fact I just approved your comment. 🙂 ) And I received a post from myself at ITIL-Service after only a couple of hours.

    But it just takes a huge amount of effort on busy boards, and yes, slows things down.

    Silliness? Grumpiness? Can’t imagine what you’re referring to. 😉

    Comment by Joe Pearson — 5 February 2009 @ 21:09 | Reply

  3. A brief mention of a new board set up by Mike Tarrani:

    It’s not busy yet … just him really! But I like the coverage.

    Comment by Joe Pearson — 19 February 2009 @ 10:41 | Reply

  4. Hi Joe,

    I discovered your blog when you commented on mine, and I love reading it! You have some great insight on many facets of service management. I wanted to comment that I too take issue with some of the ITIL Community forum’s admin rules as well. While they implement policies to cut back on the spamming and improper advertising of services, they also hinder ease of use and quality of information contained in the forum. I believe forums should make it easy to both find information from your peers and to post information. There is a balance that needs to be maintained by both enabling ease of use, while at the same time ensuring that the forum does not become overrun by spam. Despite their quirks, I think that the ITIL Community forum is the best of the bunch out there, and I get a lot of my ideas from it.

    As a side note, the forum post that had you mentioned as an example of helpful urls being edited out was actually mine! I was trying to give, in my mind, a robust set of examples of ITIL processes through free ITIL process charts that Pepperweed Consulting did, which I myself use for guidance from time to time.
    So since you were unable to get the URL on my post in the forum because it was edited out, here it is:

    Comment by Jeremiah — 23 February 2009 @ 23:14 | Reply

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