I am excited to officially announce the first release of Live Topics coming in our April release of Invision Community for selected cloud plans!
Live Topics is a hosted live chat and question-and-answer event that is converted into a forum topic upon completion. It combines the fun and togetherness of a live event with the permanence of a forum topic allowing you to continue the conversation long after the event has ended.
Recap: The first look at Live Topics including a video showing the main features.
I know many of you on our community have already had sneak peeks and have been patiently waiting, so without further ado, let's get into it.
Who is Live Topics for?
Live Topics is a great way to bring people together for a live chat event. We have been using Live Topics for our monthly release chat webinars. In the past we have used Zoom to host the live stream and take some questions. This approach is fine, however once the Zoom finishes, the chat history isn't available on our community. We upload a video for those who missed the event, but it doesn't feel interactive.
Live Topics automatically converts the questions and answers to a regular forum topic which allows the discussion to continue. Furthermore, the questions are separated from the general chat during the event making it easier for hosts to find and answer questions raised during the event.
Live Topics is perfect for anything from product release events to monthly bookclub discussions and everything in between.
How does it work?
Live Topics are live virtual events within a community. The process to creating a live topic is simple:
- Schedule your Live Topic from the ModeratorCP.
- When it's time to start, a host starts the live session. This is the bread and butter of the system; attendees can answer your questions and post chat messages all in realtime.
- All done? End the topic. It will be converted to a regular forum topic for further discussion and reference.
Scheduling and Managing Live Topics
Live topics are managed from the ModeratorCP.
When scheduling a live topic, you can configure the following options:
- Duration - This is the scheduled duration that attendees will see before the event. This sets expectations of time for your community.
- Add To Events - This option creates a new Calendar Event in your Community. This allows the live topic to be searched, viewed, and promoted like other event within your community.
- Live Video URL - This is the url of a YouTube embed. You can also add this after starting the live session. (Support for platforms other than YouTube coming soon 🙂). We stream Zoom straight to a live Youtube video currently.
- Attendees - This option specifies who can attend the live topic. Leaving as "Recommended" allows any registered member to join.
- Staff - The staff are responsible for moderating user generated content as it comes in. The default setting will add all groups that are allowed to moderate live topics. You can adjust this default in the AdminCP.
- Additional Hosts - The hosts have the highest level of permission in the live topic. They create questions, update the video url, and guide the discussion. By scheduling the Live Topic, you are automatically a host but you can add more hands to help. All hosts get a reminder notification close to when the event is due to start.
- Require Approval for question replies/chat messages - During the live session, you will likely want to control the rate of incoming content (especially questions). Chat Message creation can be locked during the live session.
Hosting the Live Topic
To start a live topic, you need to click into it from the ModeratorCP. Alternatively, if it was added to an Event you can click into it from there. Then just click start, it's as simple as that. Your attendees will see a waiting page with a count down.
It is worth mentioning that the live topic cannot
- Run without any hosts in attendance. When hosts abandon a live session, it will automatically end within a few minutes
- Run longer than 6 hours. The aim of Live Topics is to accompany a live event and to be short term compared to regular forum topics. The live session will also end automatically in this case
Once it's started, the UI is divided into have 2 main areas: One for Main Questions and another for Chat. Any video streams you embed are show in the top right and automatically started.
Main Questions (and Replies)
- Main Questions and their replies are what will be preserved when the topic is converted into a forum topic. Only staff can create main questions in order to ensure smooth topic flow.
- For each question, you can also configure if the replies are "locked". A main question can be unlocked, locked to all members, or locked to non-staff. When a question is locked, new replies cannot be created.
- For each Live Topic, there is a General Chat and a Staff Chat Channel. If a member is non-staff, instead of the Channel selector tabs, they will see only "Chat".
- When a non-staff attendee creates a chat message, it can be marked as a "question". This lets the host know that the question was intended for others to respond to. Optionally, the host can even convert the message into a question so it's integrated into the standard topic post-conversion
Live Stream Tools
- Hosts can select a time in the live feed a main question was answered.
- The video embed can also optionally be changed mid session. This is useful if you don't know the live stream URL before hand.
- Staff can hide or delete questions, chat messages and replies. The reply and chat feeds can also be set to automatically hide new items on creation.
- Non-staff attendees can report content. Reports show in the staff chat channel.
- Last but not least, staff members can silence attendees. This takes away their privileges to reply and create chat messages.
The Converted Topic
When the live session completes, our Cloud platform gets to work converting all that data into a regular forum topic. Converted Live Topics feature a questions box which allows you to drill down to specific questions within the topic.
The questions can be browsed individually, or even split into separate topics!
Lastly, new replies come with the option to select an originating question.
That's a wrap (for now)
We look forward to seeing all of you use live topics on your communities. As we've hinted elsewhere there are many more features coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
The features discussed in this announcement are not available for Invision Community Classic. Click here to learn more about switching to our platform to get this and other benefits.
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