Michael.J reacted to Matt for an entry, Interview with Michael Rielly of ClausNet.com
Did you know that the most magical community in the world runs on Invision Community?
For close to 12 years, Invision client @Michael R has been spreading joy through the Santa Claus Network (ClausNet.com), the world’s largest community for Santa and his followers.
He started building the site in November 2006 and went live in the beginning of 2007, using Invision Community as his platform of choice since the beginning. Michael also founded the James D. Rielly Foundation in honor of his grandfather – a non-profit organization that provides charitable and emotional support to military and first responder families.
As a tribute to the holidays, Mike was gracious enough to be interviewed by Joel on behalf of Invision Community on how he uses Invision Community and engages with his unique community.
J: This is such a wonderful community of passion. How did you get started?
Back in October 2005, I attended the world-famous Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School. It was a Christmas present I received from my wife. At that time, I had already been portraying Santa for 34 years but was a bit skeptical of what I would get out of attending a “Santa School.”
He’s already nailed the Santa look.
At the school I got to meet Santas from all over the World!
It was a wonderful experience and I am still friends with many of the folks, but what I enjoyed most of all was the camaraderie I felt with my fellow brothers and sisters in red. This was the catalyst in creating ClausNet – to recreate the same feeling of fellowship I felt at the school.
J: Your membership must be very unique.
ClausNet is the world's largest online community dedicated to the faithful portrayal of Santa Claus. Our membership also includes Mrs. Claus, Elves, Reindeer Handlers, and all others who devote their time to bringing the magic of Christmas to children and adults throughout the world!
In comparison to other sites, 2,900 isn’t a lot of members. But based on some estimates it’s about two thirds of all the Santas and Mrs. Clauses on the planet!
We are very selective who of we approve for membership. In addition to Invision’s validation process, I personally email each person who registers for an account. I do this to help eliminate trolls and other Grinchy people, but mostly to keep out the prying eyes of children to preserve the Secret of Santa and keep the magic alive for children of all ages!
J: What Invision apps do you use, and how do you use them?
We have all the Invision Community apps and rely upon them for many purposes.
We don’t sell products on the site but we do use Commerce for donations. Members can purchase Supporter Level Memberships at varying prices. We use Pages and Blogs for posting short stories, opinion pieces, and even business advice. We use Downloads for sharing files such as example contracts and business card templates. The Calendar app is a great resource in notifying and scheduling regional get-togethers, workshops, schools, and training sessions.
Articles and short stories written in Pages.
J: What are some of the most innovative features of Invision Community that your members have embraced?
I believe Invision Community is the most robust platform for building online communities. Our members really like the new Clubs feature. We use Clubs for regional and local groups as well as specific topics such as prop making and costuming.
From the Long Leaf Pines to the Northern Pacific, ClausNet uses regional clubs all over the world to foster closer relationship.
J: There must be seasonality with your niche. How do you keep your members engaged throughout the year and what are some special events that you host?
Throughout the year we run several activities designed to keep up engagement.
Member of the Month - Each month, I select a different member of our community to featured. We interview the candidate and post the interview on the site. ClausNet Gazette Monthly Newsletter - We send out a monthly newsletter of content from the website. Surprisingly, it’s the first time many of the members see the content. It is a great way to keep members coming back to the site. Christmas Card and Ornament Exchange – These are two of the most anticipated events we hold. Members sign up and are randomly paired with another, so they can exchange cards or ornaments. It’s very exciting to receive Christmas ornaments from another part of the world! We also run several other programs such as an Annual Raffle, Countdown to Christmas, Picture Contests, and Latest News.
J: As a longtime Invision client whose passion is the holidays, what are your holiday wishes to other Invision clients and clients-to-be?
As many of you know, Christmas is my favorite holiday – a holiday that lives in my heart year-round! May this holiday season be one of health and happiness for you and your loved ones. Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Festive Festivas, Fröhliche Weihnachten, Nollaig Shona, Boas Festas, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas!
J: Thank you Mike for graciously spending your time with me and other Invision clients to learn how you engage with members using Invision Community. Hopefully this interview has helped inspire and motivate other clients with some extra cheer during the holiday season!
Michael.J reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Word and Link Filters
We are changing the existing Profanity Filters feature to become the new Word Filters feature. This change will allow you to define words that will initiate a moderator review before content is posted. With creative use of this new feature you can actually have the Suite self-moderate certain posts.
Right now the Profanity Filters are pretty basic. If you enter "stopword" you can have it change to *****. That's fine for basic profanity but sometimes you want to do other actions with a word. Perhaps someone might mention a competitor, you see common spam words, or you run a site targeted to children and want fine control over what is posted. There are a lot of reasons a simple replace word with *** might not be what you want.
Word Filters introduce an option to let you say "stopword" places a post in moderation queue.
So now you can define a list of words that are not necessarily profanity but are words you want to review if they are posted.
We have also extended this logic to the URL Filters which are now just called Links in the AdminCP configuration. You can now disallow all links and have a post go to approval if someone does post a link. This is also useful for sites where you need really tight control on content either for security or privacy reasons.
With the new Links feature you can also set allow/disallow list of allows links and if someone posts a link outside those lists (depending on your mode) the post will go into review.
We hope these features allow you to introduce a bit of automatic moderation to your community and you can come up with creative ways to capture posts that need review either for security, privacy, or just keeping things in order.
This change will be in version 4.1.17 which is scheduled to be released in early December 2016.
Michael.J reacted to bfarber for an entry, IP.Board 3.4.x and IP.Nexus 1.5.x Security Update
We are releasing a patch for IP.Board 3.4.x and IP.Nexus 1.5.x to address two potential security issues brought to our attention.
It has been brought to our attention that an open redirect exists within IP.Nexus which might allow a user to redirect other users to a remote site of their choosing through IP.Nexus. Additionally, an issue has been brought to our attention where-by sensitive user data may be exposed in certain circumstances.
To apply the patch
Simply download the attached zip and upload the files to your server. This single zip file includes the patch files for both IP.Board as well as IP.Nexus.
If you are an IPS Community in the Cloud client running IP.Board 3.4 or above, no further action is necessary as we have already automatically patched your account. If you are using a version older than IP.Board 3.4, you should contact support to upgrade.
If you install or upgrade to IP.Board 3.4.9 after the date and time of this post, no further action is necessary as we have already updated the main download zips.
Michael.J reacted to Rikki for an entry, Streamlining our website and community
Many of the regular visitors to our community won't have failed to notice the new look we launched last week. Now that the dust has settled, I thought it was a good time to explain why we've made the change.
Streamlined access to everything we offer
Ever since IPS was founded in 2002, our community has been distinct from our website. The community is also where we kept all kinds of resources, from guides to the Marketplace. For those customers who know us well and enjoy hanging out in our community (and we have many who have been with us since that day in 2002!), this is no problem. Unfortunately, the downside is many new and potential customers didn't see everything we have to offer: all the wonderful addons our contributors offer, additional support resources, plentiful advice from other community administrators, and more.
In addition, we've always used the default theme that our software ships with, but with our self-service demo system now being the primary way new customers get to try out our software, this has become less important.
So, we took the decision to move some parts of the community to the website for more exposure and easier discovery by new visitors. We made some tweaks to our navigation so that finding these areas is easier than before. And, of course, we've brought the website header over to the community, giving it a fresher look and more consistent navigation, wherever you happen to be on our website.
Of course, all of our website is built in IPS4, as you would expect. Whereas before our website existed on a separate installation, as part of the update we merged our community and website together. This means you can sign in from anywhere, see your notifications and so on.
This is just the first step we've taken on improving what we offer and how we offer it. We have many plans in progress. You may have seen the theme tip we posted this week, which is the first in a series of regular tips we'll be sharing to help you get the most out of the IPS Community Suite. We'll also be highlighting some of the incredible work our customers do, whether it's a unique use of our software, or something in our Marketplace that adds a great feature.