The Forum Users Group

What is the Forum Users Group (FUG) and what does it plan to do?

We are still in the process of figuring that out, but the general idea is that we are a group of people hoping to improve the user experience of the Informatics Forum. The initial impetus for forming the group was the security/swipe card issue, and we have several members who are particularly interested in working on that. However, our goals are more broadly to do what we can to make this as pleasant a working environment as possible for as many people as possible. See below for more specifics.


We are in the process of assessing the current security situation (determining what the original plan was, what its implementation status is, whether it needs to be revised, etc.). We plan to get feedback from users, determine what the constraints on the system are, and try to come up with a solution that is amenable to all parties.


We feel that one of the main problems with the move into the new building and the subsequent transition has been a lack of transparency about what is being done to deal with the various problems that have arisen (just to name a few: furniture, ventilation/heating, acoustics, office allocations, etc.), as well as plans for future improvements. Many people have similar complaints, yet there is no way to find out how common one's complaints are or what their priority is. Unfortunately, Migration's list of tickets cannot be made public since some of them contain information of a personal/ private nature.

One of our immediate goals is to meet with Marije to find out what the most common issues on her list are, and to try to compile this into a more publicly available format, ideally one that can be further edited by users of the Forum (for example, to indicate that a problem is particularly important to you, or to suggest a solution). We also intend to find out what solutions are currently being planned or are under way, and what their status is. [See notes of meeting on 2009-02-16 for results of this meeting.]

Marije Ross-Vugts has now posted the complete list of reported issues and their status online: look for "snagging list". Please check this list and report anything important that is not on the list to forum-issues@inf

Future improvements

While we're not a substitute for forum-issues et al. as we cannot directly implement changes ourselves, we do hope to have a positive effect on communication and prioritization of problems/solutions and improvements to the building.

Notes of meetings

  • 3rd November 2008, with Mike Fourman, addressing Forum access and security
  • 18th November 2008, addressing a number of issues, including security, kitchens and transparency.
  • 16th February 2009, with Marije Ross-Vugts and David Wyse, addressing status of high-priority issues, who is responsible for fixing them, and what (if anything) we can do to help speed things along.
  • 27th February 2009, with Gordon Duckett, focusing primarily on high-priority issues that are the responsibility of Informatics rather than contractors or E&B, as well as usage issues.

Suggestions and issues for discussion

Please add your suggestions to the appropriate section below, or start a new one


  • Being handled by a subcommittee which is currently gathering information.

Meeting rooms

  • The use of meeting rooms, default layout, and guidelines are being collected and presented to PRC by MeetingRoomsCommittee (These do not include the miniforums)
  • Mini-Forum 1:
    • would really benefit from some cafe-style tables (like those on the ground floor) for meetings of 2-4 people who need to look together at papers e.g. code listings. The coffee tables are too low.
  • Mini-Forum 2:
    • the open areas on the north side of L4 and L5 could also use some cafe-style tables/chairs in addition to the couch/coffee table combinations.
    • Needs a whiteboard and projector on the East wall (the same wall that has the door leading outside). The only place this could really go is in the northeast corner. With regards to the projector, something akin to the 'smartboard' which was in the room in AT used for the CISA talks would probably be easier to install than mounting a projector on the ceiling. Not sure how cheap those things are though...! Similar devices are used in the tutorial rooms on AT's mezzanine floor. Just to be crystal clear, the 'smart' bit is not necessary, just that the projector is attached to the board itself, and does not need to be mounted separately.
    • According to the Head of School, whiteboards/blackboards for MF2 were discussed extensively and it was ultimately decided to keep MF2 pristine. There is also a "mobi-go" (lectern with built-in projector) that can be used in MF2. (Communicated to jcheney on 2009-06-03)
    • At a straw poll of around 30 LFCS members, there was widespread support (>90%) for having a board of some kind available in MF2, with less clarity over what kind. It appears that either dry-erase or chalk would be OK with most polled, and there was a slight preference for a mobile board if we can get one. (jcheney on 2009-10-03)
    • At least one member of FUG believes adding a whiteboard would have a negative effect on the atmosphere of MF2, and there is some evidence that this feeling would be shared by other regular users of the space. A portable whiteboard seems preferable (or at least tolerable). (jcheney on 2009-16-4)


  • Big meta-question: how does forum-issues work? (sub-questions: What is the prioritization scheme? What issues are on top? How does one know if one's issue is being addressed or whether to bug again?)
    • According to Marije, the lack of response to many problems sent to forum-issues is primarily due to sluggishness on the part of the contractors or other third parties, despite repeated complaints. Although Marije cannot acknowledge all tickets by email due to the large volume, she says that having multiple tickets or tickets stressing the urgency of the issue has (in some cases) been useful in motivating third parties. So please keep sending issues to


  • Room-to-room transmission is being addressed over the next few weekends [as of 16/2/09].
    • Room-to-room transmission now seems to have been addressed by adding sealant to the tops of the interior walls (at least in my office) (jcheney 2009-16-04)
  • Room-to-corridor transmission is still an issue.
  • See notes of meeting on 2009-02-16 for more details.

Temperature control (heating and ventilation)

  • Problems with entire system shutting down appear to have been fixed.
  • Problems with trench heating and floor vents are being actively investigated by the contractors over the next few weeks [as of 16/2/09].
  • Problems with windows (which offices?) remain. Status unknown.


  • Most problems have been addressed, some remaining. See notes of meeting on 2009-02-16 for more details.

Use of public areas

  • Always seem to be in use by outside groups, often noisy as well. Are we being compensated for this? What are the policies regarding outside group use?
    • Outside use will be reduced in future and limited to groups with direct ties to Informatics. See notes of meeting on 2009-02-27 for more details.
  • The LFCS lab lunch has been mentioned in particular. See ForumUsersGroupLFCSLabLunchDiscussion.


  • Need
    • regular tables and chairs in addition to sofas in MF1/2 (see #MeetingRooms)
    • whiteboards in MF1/2 (see #MeetingRooms)
    • notice boards. Possible locations: above MFDs or across from coffee points next to stairs.
    • coat stands or hooks in offices. (SG: personally, I don't want a coat stand taking up space in my office. I want a hook on the door. This seems by far the more economical and long-lasting solution besides.)
      • Coat hooks now appear to have been installed in most offices and toilets. [2009-16-04]
  • All being held up by lack of budget. We plan to meet w/ Gordon Duckett to see what can be done.
    • See notes of meetings on 2009-02-16 and 2009-02-27 for more details.
  • Furniture can be requested from the Estates and Buildings Furniture Office


  • We really need shelves and hooks in the toilets. There is nowhere clean and dry to put items we might be holding.
    • Partly fixed; coat hooks are now installed [2009-16-04]
  • The paper towel dispensers are unacceptable, especially with the current paper towels that don't separate properly. However, even with the previous paper towels, the bins are too small, so fill up and overflow on weekends (sometimes even during the week). Also the bins are too close to the dispensers, so often the fresh paper towels are hanging in the used paper towels -- a hygiene problem.
    • This has now been fixed by reverting to the previous paper towels (as of 2009-06-03)

Photocopiers & Printer rooms

  • The poor photocopier provision is seriously hindering work in the Forum. There appears to be no higher throughput photocopier with collation and stapling, which is really pretty much standard in any office nowadays. We only need one, somewhere in the forum.
  • Instructions for MFDs should be posted (at eye-level, since bending over is difficult for some people). Since we also need notice boards (see provisioning of public spaces, below), perhaps we can combine solutions by placing notice boards above the MFDs, and having the instructions pinned to them. Meanwhile, instructions are available at the ForumCopiers page.
  • On at least one floor there is an issue with large number of documents by the printer awaiting collection. Perhaps we could institute a rule that printouts not collected by Friday are recycled?

Miscellaneous small fixes


  • install shelves in toilets
  • install some kind of limiter on after-hours door to prevent it from dangerously swinging open on windy days and hitting passing pedestrians.
  • install coathooks on back of office doors
  • dishwasher in 3.40 which has been broken for over a month
  • cracked sink in ground floor male toilets
  • holes in worksurface in pantries on 1st and 3rd floors
  • 3rd floor service lift down button not working
  • North elevator in fire-safe area has up/down buttons wired up the wrong way around
  • hot water comes out of the kitchen taps scaldingly hot, so that one wouldn't ordinarily want them more than half way to hot - can we turn this down to save energy and make the taps more pleasant to use? NB: anyone who wants seriously hot water can use the next tap over, so this one should be set reasonable for washing hands.


  • install handle on inside of after-hours door to help close it on windy days
  • install coathooks in toilets

Building features planned but not yet implemented

There are a number of building features that were part of the original plan, but have not yet been implemented. We'll fill in this section as we learn more.


  • storage units under the benches in public spaces (for board games etc.)
  • information screens near scenic lifts

In progress:

  • whiteboards in public spaces


  • secure bicycle facility

House rules

Certain policies have already been put in place regarding decoration and furnishing of offices and use of public spaces. We feel (and Mike agrees) that these kinds of policies should ideally be agreed upon in a more democratic fashion. We hope to solicit feedback on the current policies or suggestions for changes.

Current policies:

  • No posters facing into the atrium
  • Plants are good!

Suggested policies:


Here is a draft set of KitchenRules.

At present, the cleaners are responsible for:

  • emptying bins
  • cleaning surfaces once a day
  • laundering tea towels.

As of March 2009, the cleaners will also clean the fridges and microwaves on a monthly basis.

The rest is up to users of the forum.

Some comments on solutions to the kitchen issue are discussed at FilthyFridges. Comments welcome.

Here are some issues that it might be useful to have clarity on:

How often should they be cleared out and cleaned, and whose job is it to do so? According the cleaner DCS asked about this, no-one has been given the responsibility officially. In some buildings, people are paid to clean the fridges. Apparently, this is being looked into in the Dugald Stewart building. DCS suggests that we ask Gordon/Marije to look into this. Why do the fridges seem to give a static shock to many users?
What are the norms for cleaning these? E.g. in Forrest Hill the onus was on each user to keep the Microwave clean. 1 microwave per floor doesn't seem to be enough to cope with peak demand. Can we have more? [Someone from the Admin office on the third floor told me we aren't allowed two microwaves in one pantry - too high an electricity draw.] The fourth floor microwave has been broken since early October - how do we get it taken away, and how do we get a replacement?
What is the norm on how much can be used? E.g. is it just expected to cover teas and coffees, or are bowls of cereal OK too? Where do we collect more milk from if all kitchens have run out?
The kitchen cupboards have spaces in them for recycling, but there is no system of collecting cans, packaging &c. What happened to the arrangement that we had with the Energy & Sustainability Office to have bins for both food waste and normal waste in each of the kitchen areas to assist with recycling? See ForumUsersGroupRecyclingDiscussion.
Would it be possible to provide more until the boiling water taps are back in order?
'Magic' taps
Do we need to report the flashing "filter change" lights on the taps? Who is responsible for changing the filters?
Coffee flasks and dishes
Where can they be borrowed from for meetings? Or what are the rules about borrowing them from coffee points? Some of the service managers are frustrated by these items disappearing from cupboards and have requested a locked cupboard in each kitchen for their use when setting up meetings. However it would be nice if others could also use these things for meetings. Can we devise a policy that will be acceptable to all without involving locks?
Coffee/Tea Supplies
What happened to getting the type of coffee that was voted for in the coffee & tea tastings that took place back when we first moved into the building, which is different from what we are currently getting? Can we also have a supply of espresso coffee and fruit teas?
How can we promote considerate behaviour to make sure people clean up after themselves? I think people need to be reminded that they are responsible and that no-one else will magically clean up after them. Currently there are a (probably quite small) number of people regularly leaving dirty dishes in the sink, etc.

Who are the members of FUG?

Room Name Position
2.48 Jim Bednar Lecturer
3.32 Peter Bell Research Postgraduate Student
5.12 James Cheney Research Fellow
2.10 Lucas Dixon Research Associate
3.37 David Dougal Secretary
3.50 Adam Duguid Research Postgraduate Student
4.38 Jochen Ehnes Research Associate
3.24 Elaine Farrow Research Programmer
2.44 Pat Ferguson Administrative Officer
3.27 Sharon Goldwater Lecturer
3.46 Conrad Hughes Research Fellow
4.36 Monika-Jeannette Lekuse Service Manager
4.14 Oliver Lemon Senior Research Fellow
1.33 Martin Ling Research Associate
2.54 David Sterratt Research Associate
2.28 Amos Storkey Lecturer
1.28 Sethu Vijayakumar Reader

Please contact us at forum-users@inf if you are interested in joining.

How can I contact/ join FUG?

We have set up an email group, forum-users@inf, which will contact all members of FUG. Current members of FUG can access the mailing list archives at If you are interested in joining or have questions or suggestions for the group, please let us know.

Understand that our first priority at this point is collection of information from Marije and Mike, so we may not immediately respond to suggestions regarding the building, but we will try to take them into account as we are preparing information for dissemination as described above.

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
txttxt 2008-11-03.txt manage 5.0 K 24 Feb 2009 - 15:24 DavidSterratt Minutes of a meeting of FUG and Mike Fourman held on 3rd November 2008
txttxt 2008-11-18.txt manage 3.9 K 24 Feb 2009 - 15:30 DavidSterratt Minutes of a meeting of FUG held on 18th November 2008
pdfpdf 2009-02-16-fug.pdf manage 98.0 K 02 Apr 2009 - 08:49 DavidSterratt Notes of a meeting of FUG and Marije Ross-Vugts and David Wyse held on 16th February 2009
Topic revision: r38 - 08 Apr 2010 - 11:28:12 - JeanCarletta
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