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Intro to the Participate Tab

What can I do in the Participate Tab?

  • Read forum discussions.
  • Respond with comments or attach plan ideas in forums.
  • Take surveys.

How to access and read posts in forums:

NOTE: Forum posts can be as simple as a text response, or complex with attached plans, drawings, a map bookmark, etc.  This 'How To'  will walk you through accessing all of that information associated with a post, as well as analyzing and exporting attached plans.

Access a forum by clicking on the Participate Tab, then click the blue title of the forum you wish to access.  You may need to scroll down to find the forum you are looking for.

Topics are the discussion threads within a forum.  Each forum may contain many topics.  Select the discussion topic you would like to read or respond to by clicking on the blue bolded name.  You may also create your own topic.


Return to the list of topics or forums by clicking on the list titles at the top of the Participate Tab.

Forum posts may contain text comments or instructions, photos, links, drawings (map annotations), a map bookmark, attached sketches (plan ideas), and other attached files.

The above screenshot shows drawings, map bookmark, and attached plans selected.

Drawings are map annotations, that help clarify comments and ideas posted in forums.  They are displayed on the map in red.

  • Show drawings related to a post by clicking on the drawings bar below the text of the post (boxed in red above).
  • Zoom to the extent of the drawings by clicking the small arrow to the right of the drawings bar, and selected ‘zoom to drawings’ below.
  • Toggle all drawings in a discussion thread to show or hide by clicking on the gear in the top tight hand corner, and selecting respectively.

A Map Bookmark allows you to view exactly what the author was viewing when writing the post.  By clicking the ‘show map bookmark’ bar, your map viewer will automatically shift to the extent viewed when the bookmark was saved, and open the appropriate data layers.

Attached plans are sketches that the author of the post has attached.  View or hide them by clicking the check box to the left of the sketch name.  There may be multiple plans attached, in which case you can select all of them, or view and hide them individually.  These plans are displayed on the map as sketches, with the symbology associated with their sketch class (cross-hashed with blue outline in screenshot above).   Right click to:       


View reports associated with a plan shared in a forum by right-clicking on the name of the plan in the list of ‘Attached Plans’ beneath the text of the post, and selecting View Reports.  There may be multiple reports to view, and you can switch between them with the tabs in the report window, centered beneath the plan name. 

The above screenshot shows the reports associated with the plan in the forum, shifted to the left by the slide icon at the top of the report window, as well as the plan and drawings on the map.

Copy plans to your own My Plans tab by right clicking on the plan name under ‘Attached Plans’ and selecting ‘Copy’.  This will automatically open your ‘My Plans’ tab.

Zoom to the extent of the plan shared.

Export to Shapefile is useful if you would like to manipulate, analyze, or otherwise interact with a posted plan in another GIS application.

Print Reports allows you to save or print a copy of the reports associated with a posted plan.

How to respond in a forum:

Access a forum thread by clicking on the Participate Tab, then click the blue title of the forum you wish to access.  You may need to scroll down to find the forum you are looking for.  Select the topic of the discussion thread you would like to contribute to by clicking on the blue bolded name.  You may also create your own topic with the '+ Topic' button in the top right corner of the topics list.

Your post will be added at the bottom of the thread.  Scroll through the discussion to find the submission window (screenshot below).  When you are satisfied with your post, click Reply at the bottom right corner of the submission window.  Your post may include:

  • Simple or formatted text comments,
  • Links, images, & custom html,
  • Drawings (map annotations),
  • A Map Bookmark,
  • Attached plans (your sketches),
  • and Attached files.

Respond with text by clicking in the text box, and beginning to type over where the words 'Your reply...' appear in grey.  You can format your response with lists, or use text editor tools to bold, italic, or underline text.

Text Editor tools also include (from right to left) the ability to add custom html features, insert image, and insert hyperlink.  

Drawing Tools allow you to annotate the map with points, lines, or polygons.  Select the desired drawing tool by clicking on one of the three icons, and clicking on the map at left to annotate the map.  This allows you to more clearly point out how the ideas you express in text affect the spatial plans.

Include a Map Bookmark so that others can see your map state, by selecting the check box to the left, directly below the text box.  This will allow others reading your response to view the exact map extent and data layers that you are viewing when you responded.  [If you have annotated the map with drawings, this is important to include!]

Attach Plans that you have sketched in the My Plans tab. 

  • Click the link to ‘Attach plans…’ to open the ‘Select plans to share’ window. 
  • Select plans from the list of your sketches to share.  To select multiple plans to attach, hold down the control key )on a PC) or the command key (on a Mac). 
  • Click ‘Select’ in the bottom right of the window when you are done. 
  • Notice the new list of ‘Attached Plans’ in the response submission window.
  • To remove an attached plan, unselect the check box to the left of the sketch name.

Attach Files like pdf’s, images and other documents.  Click the link to ‘Attach files…’ to search your computer for the file you wish to attach.  [Note: you are limited to 25 files posted per day.]

How to access and take a survey:

Access a survey by clicking on the Participate Tab.  Surveys are listed below Forums, so you may need to scroll down to the survey list.  Click the blue title of the survey you wish to take.

Take the survey by clicking the green 'Take the Survey' button below the survey description.  Be sure to read this introduction, as the project organizers may provide important information.
  • Non-spatial questions: You may be asked to respond to questions with text, numbers, a slider bar, or by choosing one or more options from a drop down list.
  • Spatial questions: You may be asked to respond to a question with one or more spatial features.  These may be points, lines, or polygons.  Click the 'Add a <name of feature>' button to open the spatial submission window.  Follow the instructions carefully to sketch, edit, and give attributes to your response.  Then click 'Save and Continue Survey'.
You may 'Save Draft' to finish the survey later, or 'Submit Response' when you are satisfied.  Some surveys may limit you to one submission.

Share the survey using the Facebook and Twitter social media buttons to the right, below the survey description.  Not all projects will have this capability.

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