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Managing successful online communities

Rikki
 

New: Clubs

This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.

We are happy to introduce the next major feature that will be available in IPS Community Suite 4.2 - Clubs.

Clubs are a brand new way of supporting sub-communities within your site. Many people have requested social group functionality in the past and Clubs are our implementation of this concept. Let's take a look at a few screenshots, and then go over what they are capable of doing.

homepage.jpg

The Club directory

club-home.jpg

A Club homepage

club-members.jpg

Club member listing

club-content.jpg

Example of content within a club (topics, in this case)

There's a lot to digest there! Let's go over the basic functionality.

 

Club Types

Four types of club are available:

  • Public clubs
    Clubs that anyone can see and participate in without joining.
  • Open club
    Clubs that anyone can see and join.
  • Closed club
    Clubs that anyone can see in the directory, but joining must be approved by a Club Leader or Club Moderator. Non-club-members who view the club will only see the member list - not the recent activity or content areas.
  • Private club
    Clubs that do not show in public, and users must be invited by a Club Leader or Club Moderator

As the site admin, you can of course configure which club types can be created and by whom. You could, for example, allow members to create public and open clubs, but allow a "VIP" group to also create Closed and Private clubs.

Members 2017-03-29 15-31-37.png

Admin configuration option for Club creations

 

Club Users

Each club has three levels of user:

  • Leader
    A leader has all of the permissions of a moderator, and can add other moderators. They can also add content areas (see below). The club owner is automatically a leader.
  • Moderators
    Moderators, as the name implies, have the ability to moderate content posted within the club. As the site administrator, you can define which moderator tools can be used. You could, for example, prevent any content being deleted from clubs, but allow it to be hidden. Moderators can also remove members from a club.
  • Users
    Anyone else that joins the club.

club_acp.png

Defining the moderator permissions available to club moderators

Your site administrator and moderators, with the appropriate permissions, are able to moderator content in any Club regardless of whether they are a member of it. 

Clubs can be created by any user who has permission. As you would expect, this is controlled by our regular permission settings.

For closed clubs, there's an approval process. Users can request to join and the request must be approved by a leader. Leaders get a notification when a user requests to join; the user gets a notification when their request is approved or denied.

approve.gif

Approving and declining join requests

 

Club Content

Club Leaders can add a variety of content areas to their club - forums, calendars, blogs and so on. It's important to note that these content areas are fully functional just as if they existed as a top-level admin created area. They will appear in search results, activity streams, users can follow them, embed links to them, and so on. If a user has permission to see a forum (for example) within a club it will behave exactly like other forums they see - and the same for all other kinds of content.

Each content area a leader adds can have a custom title, and will appear in the club navigation. This means, for example, that you can have multiple forums within a club, and give each a different name.

club_areas.png

Adding content areas to a club

 

Club Custom Fields

Clubs also support custom fields. Custom fields are defined by the site administrator and can be filled in by Club Owners. The values they enter are shown (along with the club description) on the club homepage.

club_custom_field.png

Custom fields in a club

On the Club Directory page, users can filter by the custom club fields.

club_filter.png

Filtering clubs

 

Club Locations

Clubs have built-in support for Google Maps, allowing users to specify a physical location for their club. Let's say you run a community for car enthusiasts; each club might be tied to a particular region's meetup. The Club Owner specifies the location when setting up the club, and clubs are then shown on map on the directory page:

club-location.jpg

Club locations

And within a club, the location is shown too:

club_location.png

 

Club Display

We offer two ways to display club headers within the club - the standard way, shown in the screenshots you've seen up to this point, but we also have a sidebar option. This is something the admin sets globally for the site, rather than per-club. This is useful where your site design doesn't facilitate another horizontal banner taking up valuable screen real-estate; moving the club banner to the sidebar alleviates this pressure on vertical space.

club_sidebar.png

Sidebar club style

Using Clubs in Other Ways

There's a lot of scope for using clubs beyond allowing users to create their own groups. You do not even have to call them "clubs" if that does not suit your use case. For example, on a company intranet you could rename Clubs to "Departments", and create a private group for each of your main roles. This would allow each department to have its own community, with its own forums, gallery, file sharing and so on, private and separate from other departments.

Similarly, they'd also work well in situations where you as the site admin want to create entire micro-communities. Take for example a video game publisher. Using Clubs, they could create a micro-community for each of their games, complete with forums, galleries and so forth, and then set the Clubs directory as their overall community homepage. Immediately, they have a setup that hasn't until now been possible out-of-the-box with IPS Community Suite.

 

We expect our clients will come up with some really innovative uses for the new Club functionality, and we can't wait to see what you do. We'd love to hear your feedback - let us know what you think in the comments.


Comments



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1 hour ago, Rikki said:

I've some good news for you! Since forums within clubs are real forums, you can move topics between regular forums and club forums just like in any other case. You just need to be a member of the club, and you'll see your club forums in all the select boxes:

Test_-_First_forum_-_IPS_Community_Suite

Presumably the member would need permission to move their own thread to begin with, or will this work on a granular level so they could have limited (or no) ability to move threads within regular forums, but could move threads they created to a club they are a member of? Just thinking through how permissions would work.

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Just now, Morgin said:

Presumably the member would need permission to move their own thread to begin with, or will this work on a granular level so they could have limited (or no) ability to move threads within regular forums, but could move threads they created to a club they are a member of? Just thinking through how permissions would work.

It's all moderator-permission based. So in my screenshot, I have permission to move the topic currently in a regular forum and permission to moderate the clubs I see. A regular member would be able to move topics between any clubs they moderate/lead, but not elsewhere.

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13 minutes ago, Rikki said:

It's all moderator-permission based. So in my screenshot, I have permission to move the topic currently in a regular forum and permission to moderate the clubs I see. A regular member would be able to move topics between any clubs they moderate/lead, but not elsewhere.

Right, so there would be forum level moderators, and club level moderators. All forum level moderators are by default able to moderate any club, but club level moderators can only moderate within clubs they are moderators of, and admins can determine separate permission sets for forum level moderators and club level moderators, such that forum level moderators might be able to delete posts, but club level moderators can only hide posts, etc.

Edited by Morgin

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8 minutes ago, Morgin said:

Right, so there would be forum level moderators, and club level moderators. All forum level moderators are by default able to moderate any club, but club level moderators can only moderate within clubs they are moderators of, and admins can determine separate permission sets for forum level moderators and club level moderators, such that forum level moderators might be able to delete posts, but club level moderators can only hide posts, etc.

Yep, precisely.

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Also, any chance you might implement a list view for clubs, or purely textual, vs more of the "card" format? I can think of certain implementations that could benefit from different ways of organizing the main club screen - being able to have club directories for example, based on a common denominator (educations forums may have clubs under each school, etc) - it might be easier to navigate the main club screen in those scenarios if each club group had a card or some primary header, and clubs under each grouping could be listed as links under that. Perhaps a template issue and could be done as a 3rd party skin, but alternate presentation styles out of the box might be a nice way to immediately extend implementation options.


Edit: This is realistically a game changer for my site - I can pretty much replace all of my forum categorization with clubs. However, it does seem that if you have lots and lots and lots of club (20-30+) it would be nice to have a way to group them together or otherwise organize such that the main club overview page doesn't get too unwieldy. Sorry if this sounds like a downer feature request vs excitement btw - it is very exciting!

Edited by Morgin

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Assorted questions:

1.  Sidebar Blocks - For the sidebar, are those mandatory blocks on all clubs (eg. "My Clubs" and "Recent Activity in My Clubs") or admin-defined or club leader-defined blocks?  

2.  Club homepage - Do club leaders have option to custom define the Activity Stream?   (eg. exclude gallery images, include gallery comments)

3.  Club member listing - IPS will create FURL for each club's memberlist like mywebsite.com/club/mostspecial/members?

4.  Language string - changes to language string in ACP will be done universally for all blocks?  Ability for custom leader titles like "Club Captain" for one club and "Most Special Manager" in Charles' club?  

5.  Allowed content in clubs - Why do you list 'Gallery Categories' and 'Downloads Categories' but only 'Forums'?  I think it would be more streamlined and consistent to list all of the apps' names.    

6.  Content - Do the content containers (forum boards, gallery categories) appear in both the original app AND the clubs, only the clubs, or we have a choice?  This is probably the most important question, since it reorganizes / hides / displays how content is used in the top-level community versus in these micro-communities.    

6.  Approval Process - Ability for admins to define an approval question / answer process? (eg. "Why do you want to join?")

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2 minutes ago, Joel R said:

Assorted questions:

1.  Sidebar Blocks - For the sidebar, are those mandatory blocks on all clubs (eg. "My Clubs" and "Recent Activity in My Clubs") or admin-defined or club leader-defined blocks?  

2.  Club homepage - Do club leaders have option to custom define the Activity Stream?   (eg. exclude gallery images, include gallery comments)

3.  Club member listing - IPS will create FURL for each club's memberlist like mywebsite.com/club/mostspecial/members?

4.  Language string - changes to language string in ACP will be done universally for all blocks?  Ability for custom leader titles like "Club Captain" for one club and "Most Special Manager" in Charles' club?  

5.  Allowed content in clubs - Why do you list 'Gallery Categories' and 'Downloads Categories' but only 'Forums'?  I think it would be more streamlined and consistent to list all of the apps' names.    

6.  Content - Do the content containers (forum boards, gallery categories) appear in both the original app AND the clubs, only the clubs, or we have a choice?  This is probably the most important question, since it reorganizes / hides / displays how content is used in the top-level community versus in these micro-communities.    

6.  Approval Process - Ability for admins to define an approval question / answer process? (eg. "Why do you want to join?")

1) They apply to all blocks; club leaders cannot control the blocks shown.

2) No, it's a club-wide activity stream

3) Clubs have a FURL based on their name (e.g. /clubs/1-myclub/ etc.)

4) All clubs use the same verbiage

6) They appear in the club view and not in the applications themselves, but do appear in areas like activity streams, search, feed blocks etc. where content is collated.

7) No, not right now.

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Of all the recent updates posted (as well as ones over the past couple of years, with me doing other things), this is the one that has me logging in to say YAY!

 

29 minutes ago, Joel R said:

6.  Approval Process - Ability for admins to define an approval question / answer process? (eg. "Why do you want to join?")

23 minutes ago, Rikki said:

7) No, not right now.

Could something simple be added, like a comment box that the user could fill out (optionally) when requesting to join a group?  Nothing fancy, just have some text with it that mentions some clubs may require it to be filled out when requesting membership.


Also, any option for preventing a user from constantly requesting to join a club when they keep getting denied, like maybe a 'cool down' period?

Edited by Wolfie

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Just now, Wolfie said:

Also, any option for preventing a user from constantly requesting to join a club when they keep getting denied, like maybe a 'cool down' period?

When a user is denied, they can't rejoin - they would have to be invited by a leader or moderator :) 

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1 minute ago, Rikki said:

When a user is denied, they can't rejoin - they would have to be invited by a leader or moderator :) 

But a user is applying ... based on what?  

There's no approval question or comment box for them to explain why they want to join.  I don't see how leaders can justify approvals in Clubs.

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12 minutes ago, Rikki said:

When a user is denied, they can't rejoin - they would have to be invited by a leader or moderator :) 

As an idea for a future implementation, have three options...  Approve (of course), deny (must be invited), deny (may re-apply).  That would be the best of both options, where a user could be denied but told why/what they need to be able to get approved, so the user could try again, but also prevent abuse by stopping someone from constantly requesting to join.

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3 hours ago, Kevin Carwile said:

So whats going to be new in 4.2 that hasnt been around for 2 years already?

Sometimes development isn't about creating something nobody has ever seen, but rather improving on existing concepts and providing a robust, built-in solution.

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Is there a possibility..... Based on profile questions , members auto Join clubs?

Inviting members.... outside the site ..........and withing site.....may be we can have third party plugin intigration.... importing gmail, yahoo  contacts or importing CSV

SEO has to be right.... when we share on facebook -  Club logo should go..with name of club and community name ... however when we share the topic of a club .. topic image + club name should go......

 

 

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