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Our take on managing successful online communities

Matt
 

Team Talk: What's your favourite feature?

It's not often that we get to blow our own trumpets. That's not just because we don't own trumpets, but also because we like to keep our heads down and focused on producing fantastic software [Ironic trumpet blowing - Editor].

Many of our team also run their own Invision Communities.

So this month, we asked:

What is your favourite Invision Community feature?

Here's what we said.

Brandon
My favorite feature would be Pages 'databases' feature. You can quickly and easily create databases of content, and then you can adjust the templates to make those databases display in a more relevant manner for the type of content you are working with, all without having to modify any code. On my wife's real estate website, I have used Pages to create databases for hosting leads, property listings, closings, and realtor contacts. Being a developer I've further enhanced some of those areas with plugins, but even right out of the box the system is powerful enough to do quite a lot with just a little bit of configuring and templating.

giphy.gif

Trying to remember the block names when creating Pages templates

Jennifer
So, I love Invision Community. I've loved it for ages and it's hard to pick just one favorite feature. I'm going to say that Clubs and Pages are probably my top two favorite things in the whole wide world on Invision Community.

For clubs, it allows your members to create special interest groups/forums/galleries/etc without having to do all of that yourself. It makes pulling together people of similar interests really easy and it makes it to where you don't have to manage "as much" of the responsibility for having a billion forums or groups. I also find it's a great way to get people excited and talking about things that they love which spreads positivity and happiness, which I love as an administrator.

For Pages! There is so much! From Databases that you can super customize to blocks! There is so little I can't do with Pages!! I've made a super custom link directory (https://rpginitiative.com/directory/), a directory of searchable people (https://rpginitiative.com/pb-directory/) and one of my favorites a copy and paste code directory (https://rpginitiative.com/codex/). They all are unique in look and feel and all have different purposes but they fill them so well. I of course have a basic Guides listing (https://rpginitiative.com/guides/) but I don't think it's nearly as cool. Pages gives me a sense of empowerment on my community. It gives me the ability to create content that is special to my site and doesn't have to be cookie cutter in any way.

Honestly, the whole suite always makes me happy because I get the community I want out of it and to me that is always the best and most special thing about Invision Community. [This is the best answer - Editor]

giphy.gif

Mark H
Given my forum’s niche, amateur pyrotechnics [Must be nicer to Mark - Editor], my favorite feature would be the Gallery. You can describe a pyrotechnic shell, effect, build process, etc, with as many pages of text as you wish, but photographs or videos are truly worth 1000 words. While our Gallery isn’t the largest one around, it does contains a large number of items that our members have contributed to showcase their work, some of which are quite impressive.

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Mark's last day at Invision Community

Matt
I've given this a lot of thought [Makes a change - Editor]. There are several contenders, Pages (because I wrote it), Social Promotion (because I wrote that too), Commerce (I did not write this) and Gallery. All deserve to be picked on their own merits.

I decided to go with the profile completion system. It's not a massive feature, and it's not the most exciting feature but it does its one job very well.

It helps reduce overwhelm when registering. It's critical to make the transition from guest to member as frictionless as possible, and having a dozen custom profile fields to complete is a good way to put people off.

The profile completion system allows you defer data collection after registering, which reduces the barrier.

Mark W
The auto-upgrader. When I first started at Invision Community one of my responsibilities was doing upgrades - often from 2.x to 3.x at the time - hours and hours of uploading files by FTP (sometimes painfully slowly) and clicking the upgrader, over and over again. I'm glad those days are behind us!
I think it was quite a good technical achievement too. The system knows what version you're coming from, what apps you have installed and only downloads the files you need. It knows if it needs to ask you for FTP access or if it can just write the files. Recently we made it so it knows if your themes are going to be compatible with the new version and warns you before you upgrade if they might not be.
Perhaps most significantly for me though is the backend behind it. Releasing an update used to be a bit of a nightmare (we had to build zip files ourselves!) - now I just tag the release in our git repo and everything magically figures itself out [Only if following instructions to the letter - Editor]. It still delights me every time I do it.

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Mark (not) doing upgrades now

Marc S
For me it has to be the block manager. The block manager makes it was so easy to set up the basic structure of your site. And it's hard to believe we used to disable hooks to remove an item, or even comment them out in some cases. Adding something like a list of new posts was something you would need a 3rd party plugin to achieve, and adding a simple bit of text is something you would have likely done in your theme. This brought a large amount of flexibility for users that wouldn't have previous had the capability to make some of these changes, and generally just made life easier for others.

Daniel
Pages App because of blocks and databases.
I have all kind of custom databases which I use daily to organise my work (Linklists, Knowledge Bases, Documentation) It saves one a lot of time and makes coding own apps quite unnecessary in most cases.

Ryan
Okay, I think I've finally decided that Reactions is my favorite feature. It's really cool to see how clients implement the feature on their own sites with different reaction types. Also, I wrote the backend and it was probably one of my favorite things I've done in the software.

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Indeed

Stuart
I like OAuth and RestAPI, I wanted us to do those since 4.0 and they work really well. [That's it? Can I make up the rest of the answer? - Editor]

Those are our favourite features - but what are yours?

We'd love to hear, let us know below!

Edited by Matt


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Pages for me too. Very easy and cool to use pages in my community. I have do a Movies & Tv Shows database :

Listing tv show (with 2 blocks "top 3" and "just add") :

112686435_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_12_14.thumb.png.be192f485482fffcc48a1e42c76bad65.png

 

record display :

1273980355_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_13_51.thumb.png.3b36f22439e92afd045cf0a3eb725947.png

 

And block forum (carousel with 10 items)

1117295815_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_11_46.png.1fafbd355712f67a38e338e688d74fce.png

 

Pages is very powerful with infinite possibility, the only limit is your imagination. 

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28 minutes ago, scaz said:

Pages for me too. Very easy and cool to use pages in my community. I have do a Movies & Tv Shows database :

Listing tv show (with 2 blocks "top 3" and "just add") :

112686435_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_12_14.thumb.png.be192f485482fffcc48a1e42c76bad65.png

 

record display :

1273980355_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_13_51.thumb.png.3b36f22439e92afd045cf0a3eb725947.png

 

And block forum (carousel with 10 items)

1117295815_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_11_46.png.1fafbd355712f67a38e338e688d74fce.png

 

Pages is very powerful with infinite possibility, the only limit is your imagination. 

Wow, thats a nice idea and it looks amazing. Thanks for sharing the screenshots

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58 minutes ago, scaz said:

Pages for me too. Very easy and cool to use pages in my community. I have do a Movies & Tv Shows database :

Listing tv show (with 2 blocks "top 3" and "just add") :

112686435_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_12_14.thumb.png.be192f485482fffcc48a1e42c76bad65.png

 

record display :

1273980355_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_13_51.thumb.png.3b36f22439e92afd045cf0a3eb725947.png

 

And block forum (carousel with 10 items)

1117295815_Capturedcran2018-09-2815_11_46.png.1fafbd355712f67a38e338e688d74fce.png

 

Pages is very powerful with infinite possibility, the only limit is your imagination. 

This is really nice - what's the URL to this database?

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34 minutes ago, Matt said:

This is really nice - what's the URL to this database?

Thank you @Matt and @Daniel F

For tv show here : https://blusteel.fr/tv-show/

Movie : https://blusteel.fr/movie/

I use Pages too for 2 others database ("contest" & "deals" with different design). I think your Pages is very extraordinary and members need it for more. That's why I'm happy to use your ips package on my site and if I say that it's because before I'm newbie  with  Pages but you can do many without to be a professional in coding html (I just learn many messages on your community, your help guides, download package on marketplace just for understand how work something and after I just try, try, try, try and again try different thing for to do it). 😉 

(sorry for my bad english).

Edited by scaz

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9 minutes ago, Joel R said:

>> Next Unread Topic

This little button at the bottom of the topic has totally changed how I browse IPS forums, especially on mobile.  I click, click, click to the next Unread and it's made it super fast for me to browse through boards.  

I agree on this one too.

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Pages by far. Activity streams is in a very distant second.

2 hours ago, Joel R said:

>> Next Unread Topic

This little button at the bottom of the topic has totally changed how I browse IPS forums, especially on mobile.  I click, click, click to the next Unread and it's made it super fast for me to browse through boards.  

Maybe it is an interesting side discussion about how 'we', the admins, use the software compared to the users. I, for example, never use the "next unread topic" link. I check my unread activity streams and open all unread topics in new tabs.

I also avoid checking my community logged in from mobile - chances are I will just read a topic that I will have to attend to (moderate, reply, split, move, etc) and I hate doing that from mobile. The problem is, once I open it, it is already marked as read, so if I don't manipulate it immediately I won't do it ever. 

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On 9/28/2018 at 5:45 PM, jair101 said:

I also avoid checking my community logged in from mobile - chances are I will just read a topic that I will have to attend to (moderate, reply, split, move, etc) and I hate doing that from mobile. The problem is, once I open it, it is already marked as read, so if I don't manipulate it immediately I won't do it ever. 

I'm the opposite, actually - I frequently visit this site on mobile, and have no trouble moderating when needed from my phone.

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On 9/28/2018 at 4:45 PM, jair101 said:

Maybe it is an interesting side discussion about how 'we', the admins, use the software compared to the users. I, for example, never use the "next unread topic" link. I check my unread activity streams and open all unread topics in new tabs.

That's how I start.  

I start with my Unread Activity Stream, and then once I open an unread topic, I zip through the rest of the unreads in that particular board.  Once you start using the "next unread topic," you get hooked.    

53 minutes ago, Ryan Ashbrook said:

I'm the opposite, actually - I frequently visit this site on mobile, and have no trouble moderating when needed from my phone.

I've done everything on mobile ... updated to a new version, troubleshooted my IPS support tickets, approved content, and adjusted settings on mobile.  It's not the easiest thing to do and the ACP is not intuitively designed for mobile.  You really have to know where things are located in advance.   But it does allow me to manage everything even while traveling, so I'm thankful for the ability.  It's allowed me to be 'untethered' from my home workstation and to be a certified digital nomad.  

digital-nomad-meme.png

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