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4.0 - Follow System

Following content is an important aspect of interacting with your community. It allows you to be notified when there are updates to the content or when other users comment on the content, and it allows you to find content you are interested in at a later date. We have taken the opportunity with 4.0 to enhance the system where-by users can follow content in the IPS Community Suite to simplify and clarify certain processes, make it easier to follow content you submit, and to be sure you are receiving the notifications you wish to receive.


Following your own content

One area of improvement that was identified during planning meetings for 4.0 was the process of following your own content. While the forums have a method in place already to follow new topics you create (or to automatically follow topics you reply to), the rest of the suite has no such similar capability in place. We wanted to make it easier for users to follow the content they are submitting to make it more likely they will be aware of comments posted to their submissions, in turn making it more likely they will return and continue to interact with the community.

In all applications in 4.0, when submitting new content you will have the ability to follow that content right away.



When replying, similarly there is an option to automatically follow the content you are replying to.



In your Notification preferences panel, you can choose to automatically follow new content submissions by default and you can choose to automatically follow content you reply to by default (in which case the appropriate checkboxes would be checked by default during submissions and commenting). These options affect your content submissions and comments across the entire suite in 4.0.


Following other content

You can follow other content submitted to the community by clicking on the "Follow" button available in the appropriate area. As with 3.x, you can follow containers (e.g. follow a forum or an IP.Downloads category), and you can follow content items (e.g. a topic or an IP.Downloads file).



You can follow content items and containers both publicly, which means others will be able to tell you are following that item, and anonymously, where you will receive notifications of updates to the item but others will not be able to see you are following it. You can choose to receive an email notification immediately when there is a reply to the content, or you can choose to receive a daily or weekly digest. Digest notifications have been expanded suite-wide and are now supported in all applications automatically. As with 3.x, you can choose to receive an email notification or an inline notification on the site (or you can choose to receive neither or both if you prefer).

One common issue encountered in IP.Board 3.x was that users would follow something, however their notification preferences were configured in a manner which meant they would never subsequently be notified of updates to the item they are following (because they have chosen not to receive neither email nor inline notifications for that follow method). The 4.0 suite recognizes this scenario and warns the user in this event.




Summary

We have worked to improve and clarify the follow system where possible in the 4.0 suite, while still retaining the same level of functionality and flexibility you have available in 3.x. The ability to automatically follow new submissions should help users remain engaged on your site when other users comment on their contributions, bringing them back and enticing them to continue contributing to your site. The improved clarification when users will not receive notifications due to their preference configuration will help reduce staff overhead in answering questions, as well as visitor confusion and frustration.

We will talk about notifications themselves in a future blog entry, however we hope these changes help improve usability and interaction with your site by your visitors.

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I agree: Following content is a very important thing to most communities. It keeps users active and makes it easy to get notifications about things you are interested in.

 

Those 4.0 improvements/changes look great. Simple to use, with some neat options implemented at the right place.

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Yup.

Question about following...
Has it been improved when you follow a thread instead of getting multiple notifications for the same thread that it'll only give one notification of new replies(Similar to FB where if you reply to a post, it doesn't notify you with multiple notifications, so much as it just updates you and says Charles and 4 others replied to your status update).

I use the follow feature on another IPboard(big board) and i can't tell you how many times i get notifications for the same thread lol.....
 

EDIT: I didn't see the last part, where you said notifications would be addressed. So perhaps my question will be answered then :P

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Great improvements!!!!  I can't wait to take advantage of the new features.

 

Will there be any way to follow a container and get notified of both new submissions and new replies/comments?  This isn't possible now, unless I've missed something.  I'd really love to see this feature added.

 

Related to that, in the image above, it says "Send me: An email when new content is posted".  I think of replies/comments as content too.  If the answer to my first question is no, maybe it would be better to have the text in the follow pop-up use the word that matches the type of content being followed.  E.g. "when new articles are posted" or "when new topics are posted".

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curious if this will provide browser based notifications when your vexing a site and something you follow has activity?

 

We decided against using browser notifications due to lack of support.  Every supported browser would have to support this (otherwise we still need to handle it internally) and some browsers supported by the 4.0 suite do not, so we can't rely on browser notifications.  Besides - browser notifications require the site to be open in the browser, which isn't always the case when a notification is sent obviously.

 

Looking at the image for the "when submitting new content" will it get the nice looking toggle switch that the reply has?

 

Maybe, maybe not - it's a minor design decision that will be onced over a little later.  Please keep in mind these screenshots are still early and not "finished" necessarily.

 

 

 

When you do follow them does that go for blogs, posts and gallery posting?

 

All applications are treated the same in 4.0.  If we do something, it applies suite wide (assuming it makes sense to of course).

 

Can I follow just for inline notifications and no emails? Like topic A i would get mail notifications and topic B i would like to only get inline notifications? Is that possible? 

 

You cannot follow one topic as email and another topic as inline.  You still, as you do in 3.x, specify the follow preference for all new content (you don't specify it on a per-content-item basis).

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You cannot follow one topic as email and another topic as inline.  You still, as you do in 3.x, specify the follow preference for all new content (you don't specify it on a per-content-item basis).

 

That kinda sucks. I wish we could do both same together. This way i can have inline notifications for less imp topics and emails for interesting/imp topics. I wish you guys could add that option like Xenforo. It also lowers the amount of email sent since users get 2 options and it doesn't fill up their mailbox. But one email notification per day is added bonus :smile:

 

Looking forward for it!! Thanks!

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Not sure if this is inherent to the Follow system, but *could* a site administer force follow members to a given object. Like if the site's Terms of Service change - a way to inform everyone of their change - or Force follow a particular group, to follow something with an addition "comment" that would show  - or is there another mechanism for such a feature?

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The bulk mail feature is probably more suited to this.

Not sure that I agree with that?  Bulk-email is an increasingly less effective way to reach someone, esp with an ongoing message/focus.
Admins being able to auto-subscribe certain groups (associated in some interest based fashion) to specific content or categories/types of content could be a very effective tool for the intelligent admin to customize the presentation of the site to the individual member based on interest patterns.  

Imagine a system built on top of the notifications that does the equivalent to Amazon's "Things you might like" system that uses things that are liked/subscribed to by people that the member likes/follows.  It would start letting the member know what people like them find worth following.  It would take careful balancing and user experience focus, but it could be very VERY effective if done right.  Email is very clunky and hit/miss by comparison.  I'd rather have it all happening on the site where I can build funnels A/B testing etc and watch the member interaction and responses to make it most useful. 

 

Perhaps a bit over the top for the current conversation, but the point in my mind is that the Notifications system has a great deal more capability and potentially far reaching implications that email will never be able to touch, and that's completely leaving aside the spam list, bulk email management infrastructure (aka MailChimp etc) costs and complexity.

 

I thought Ocean West's example of a Terms of Service change notification was very well aimed too.  Ideally that's something that I'd want to use BOTH email and on-site notifications for.  :smile:

 

James

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While what you are discussing may not be possible today, I can't say one way or another what changes might be coming for notifications in the future.  Notifications are, of course, an important part of the community suite and will subsequently receive appropriate attention and discussion during update planning, now and in the future.

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While what you are discussing may not be possible today, I can't say one way or another what changes might be coming for notifications in the future.  Notifications are, of course, an important part of the community suite and will subsequently receive appropriate attention and discussion during update planning, now and in the future.

And who could ask more than that? 

 

Personally I think notifications are a huge factor that drives member's sense of validation and awareness of the peer approbation that members of a niche community so desperately crave.  Love the way the IPS platform is moving to empower that now and into the future. :)

James 

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