Ocean West reacted to Jordan Miller for an entry, Proud to Present: An interview with Invision Community President Charles Warner
Nearly two decades ago, Invision Community President, @Charles , set out to make a leading online community platform.
Around that time, Charles also met his now-husband of 18-years and hasn't looked back since. Until now.
Behind the code, product updates and newsletters are a group of people who share a passion for community building. Considering how volatile and toxic the Internet can be, we want to become more visible, transparent and vulnerable. To help you familiarize yourself with the masterminds behind Invision Community, starting with Charles, we're kicking off a new series that'll highlight our team.
I interviewed Charles for the first installment. In it, he commented on the state of the Internet: "I do think some times, for or better or for worse, people forget there are real people on the other end," he said.
Mr. Warner also touched on Invision Community's evolution over the years.
"People don't like change. No one likes change," Charles said, adding "sometimes you say, 'we really need to change something' either in the software, or how you do things, and people push back. It might be we change a feature or maybe internally we change the way we do something. Sometimes you have to move forward. Sometimes it's irritating at first. 'Why did you change that?!' And also you have to recognize that sometimes you're wrong. Sometimes you might change something [and think], 'no, it's not better...' I really find that that's a big thing – to constantly be looking at all those other options and try stuff out. It doesn't harm [anything] to try things."
And in the spirit of Pride Month, Charles opened up about being part of the LGBTQ community and also President of a successful company. He hopes it'll inspire others.
The full interview is available to watch up top.
After watching, please drop us a line in the comments and let us know your thoughts! 🌈
Ocean West reacted to Jordan Miller for an entry, Drum roll please… announcing Achievements!
One of the overarching goals for any community leader is to shine a bright light on your members. Their contributions should be publicly recognized. Now with Invision Community’s new Achievements system... you can!
Achievements is Invision Community’s native gamification system baked into our latest update, 4.6.
We’ve dreamed up innovative actions for community leaders to publicly recognize members who show up and participate in meaningful ways.
Award Points and badges based on conditional Rules!
Here’s what you need to know...
Our Achievements Points system keeps a running tally of Points. Members may earn Points in a multitude of ways. Essentially, it’s achieved by participating in the community.
Create a topic? Points! Post a reply? Points! Follow another member? Nothing. Just kidding… Points!!!
This is done through creating Rules.
Rules are actionable processes set up in the admin panel.
Here are what members can earn Points for:
Member joins a club Reaction is given New poll is created User follows a content item Review is posted Member logs in for the first time that day New club is created Content item/comment is promoted or featured Comment/reply is posted User follows a forum, blog, gallery, category etc User votes on a poll User is followed New content item is posted Post is marked as best answer There are also corresponding When/Then Rules for each item listed above.
When this action happens, then this subsequent action happens.
Example: when a member posts 10 times, then this Badge is awarded.
Community leaders can also create specific Rules when deciding what actions earn Badges.
For example, reward your members with a Badge for visiting your community for 20 days.
Once a member reaches 20 visits or more over 20 days, the Achievements system will automatically award them a ‘20 Visits’ Badge you’ve previously created.
In 4.6, we’ve completely revamped our Ranks system to communicate with Achievements.
Achievements’ Ranks system will replace our previous Ranks system*
Set up different Ranks based on how many Points a member earns. Ranks display a members’ perceived value to the community. The higher a members’ Rank, the greater their influence because the more they’ve participated.
Ranks are currently for prestige at the moment.
Here's our example for a pretend Coconut community:
There’s a lot of information to absorb here, but if there’s anything to take away from this blog post it’s this: empower your contributing members with Achievements and watch your community grow. It creates an immersive and elevated experience for your die-hards. And hey, who doesn’t love to earn?
When 4.6 and Achievements is officially released for all, we’ll hold a live Q&A event for you to join and ask any questions you may have.
Props? Concerns? Comments? Questions? We’d love for you to sound off in the comments! Not only because we want to hear from you, but because it’ll earn you some sweet, sweet Points, too!
Ocean West reacted to Jordan Miller for an entry, The Importance of Moderation, err... Community Guidance (New Video!)
Moderation feels a bit like an outdated term created pre-social media, but it stuck. We’d like to re-frame your thinking in terms of guiding your community versus moderating it.
Guidance is an essential component to any thriving community because it creates structure and boundaries for the community.
Oftentimes, people think community guidance is about restriction, but in reality it allows your community to express itself in a healthy way.
All communities run into issues unless there are clear guidelines laid out for all members. It only takes a couple of toxic trolls to bring down an entire community of thousands of members.
As a community leader, it's important to find the balance between allowing freedom of speech and restricting what people can and can't say.
An Internet troll tends to want to see what they can get away with and push the boundaries to the brink. They’ll claim that they are not allowed to speak their mind, but I want to stress the importance this:
Freedom of speech has some limitations.
For instance, you can't just shout ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded room because you believe you have the right to freedom of speech (though some would argue you can, which is why guidance is imperative). There are certain rules that everyone needs to follow in order for an online community to function.
The first thing you'll want to do when guiding your community is... to create community guidelines.
These guidelines must be visible and easy to access. There, you can lay out all the nitty-gritty rules you want, but essentially it should boil down to this:
Treat people with respect when posting and remember that there’s a person behind the user name. It's important not to hide behind anonymity just because you can.
Being a part of the community means that all members must abide by these guidelines.
Now what happens if someone "breaks the rules” or ignores these guidelines? As your community’s leader how do you proceed?
You do so by creating actionable rules that can adversely affect a member’s standing in your community if they break them.
I know that sounds kind of threatening, but it's important to establish to your community that you're there for them and that your priority is to hear them out, but at the same time you must take action to keep the peace.
Invision Community has automatic moderation tools and a warning system section baked into the software. Below is a snapshot of Invision Community's administration panel where community leaders may set up custom automatic moderation rules:
Tap here for more specific information on how to implement community guidance/moderation to your community.
One important component to these rules is that you enforce them across-the-board to all members and do so consistently.
If you leave the door open for one member and not another, it's going to create an unwanted hierarchy and instigate chaos.
One of the best ways to be consistent is by walking the walk.
Show your community how you want them to post by posting and contributing that way yourself. What that does is it sets a visible precedent.
From there, you'll begin to notice other community members contributing in a way that is similar to you (lead by example).
This is a great opportunity to consider them to join a new moderators team. Whether they are paid moderators or are volunteering their time, you still want them to be mini leaders inside your community. It's important that you are a positive role model for them.
Watch the video up top, then drop us a line in the comments! And hey, while I've got you... check out what our own community has to say about moderation (aka community guidance 😉).
Remember, guiding your community starts from the top (a.k.a. you!). Now get out there and moder-... guide!
Stay tuned for more Invision Community video content coming soon!
Ocean West reacted to Matt for an entry, Updates to our community
You’ve probably already noticed that something looks a little different in our community today.
As part of our ongoing community improvements, we’ve performed some housekeeping to streamline the forum structure, make more distinction between areas and open up a few areas to guests and friends.
The big visual change is that we now have four separate areas: support, community, marketplace and developers. It should hopefully be clear what each section does, but let's go through a few examples.
This area is where you can leave feedback on existing features, help shape Invision Community’s future by suggesting new functionality and also where you can get quick support from fellow Invision Community owners and our team.
Starting today, you can post in the Help & Support forum to get help from our team. If you’re unsure what a feature does, or think you’ve spotted an issue that needs our help, then you’re welcome to start a topic. Of course, if you want private support, then you are welcome to create a ticket in the client area as normal.
Even the most seasoned community manager needs a little help from time to time. This section is the place to ask about strategy, to blow off steam in the lounge or to ask for fellow owners to help with support requirements outside of official support, such as configuring servers, databases and so on.
Our Marketplace brings hundreds of new features, themes, language translations and plug-ins to your Invision Community. If you need support or have a request for something you’ve purchased from the Marketplace, drop into the forums here.
Invision Community is blessed with a strong developer community extending the rich functionality of Invision Community. If you’re looking to develop an idea for Invision Community, these forums will let you connect with our development team to answer questions as well as get help from other marketplace authors.
There are a few other changes of note that I’d like to go through. Firstly, ‘Visitors’ (that is a registered member without an active license) are now ‘Friends’. Who doesn’t need new friends? Guests and Friends can now view the official support forums, but cannot post a new support request or reply to existing ones.
We’ve merged ‘General Chat’ in with the Client Lounge to form ‘The Community Managers’ Lounge’. This is still a perk for active customers and the topics are not viewable unless you have an active license.
Finally, we’ve gone through and spruced up some of the forum rules, descriptions and custom error messages.
I hope these changes make it easier to find what you need and get a little help when you need it.
Ocean West reacted to Matt for an entry, Welcome to the team, Jordan!
I'm thrilled to introduce the newest member of team Invision Community.
You may recognise Jordan from his photo as he's been an active member of our community as BreatheHeavy. Jordan has been running his site BreatheHeavy.com using Invision Community for nearly a decade.
Jordan's official title is "Community Advocate" which means that he will be working very closely with our community to guide and curate feedback, assist with support questions, to help educate and inform and to bring you news of the latest developments being cooked up by our development team.
Your feedback, ideas and questions matter.
I've spent the last decade discovering what it means to be a community leader in my own Invision Powered community, BreatheHeavy. Community building is an ongoing journey that's taught me invaluable lessons, namely the importance of absorbing feedback from the community then taking decisive action. I'm excited and honored to share that insight with the Invision Community. My new role is designed to shed light on what Invision Community members (that's you!) want and share it with the team.
I'm looking forward to getting to know you!
We're very excited to start a new chapter within Invision Community to improve communication, engage more Invision Community owners and make the most of the excellent feedback we receive.
You'll be seeing more of Jordan on the forums in the coming days.
Ocean West reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.4: Application manifest and icon management
Who remembers the earlier days of the internet? Back when you popped your logo at the top left of your site and you were largely done?
Invision Community has continually developed to account for all the new services that have been built during our 16 years.
We now have social media sharing images, favicons and more to consider.
Invision Community 4.4 also adds mobile application icons, Safari mask icons and data for an application manifest. Handling of these logos and icons was a prime candidate for improvement in 4.4.
Moving our current options
Step one for improving our handling of these images was to move our current options out of themes and to allow them to be managed suite-wide from a single area. You can still upload a logo image per-theme (which shows in the header area), but the rest of the options have now been relocated to a new area: Customization > Appearance > Icons & Logos.
Adding new options
After giving favicon and share logo management its own dedicated area, we took a look at enhancing the configuration options made available through the interface without requiring theme template edits.
Multiple share logos
You can now upload multiple share logos. If you elect to upload more than one share logo, Facebook and similar sites will generally either show a carousel to allow you to choose which logo to use when sharing, or simply use the first image referenced.
You can now upload an image to represent your website which will be used to generate the "home screen" icons for iPhones and Androids automatically. Uploading a single image will result in several different copies of the image (in different dimensions) being generated, and mobile devices will automatically choose the best option from the list as needed.
Safari mask icon
You can also now upload a Safari Mask icon, which is used to represent your website in certain areas on Apple computers (such as on the "touchbar" of certain keyboards). This image must be an SVG image with a transparent background, and all vectors must be 100% black.
Additionally, you can specify the mask color which is used to offset your image when necessary (e.g. to represent it as "selected" or "active").
In order for devices to support the application icons that you upload, a file known as a web manifest must be generated and delivered to the browser. This now happens automatically, using details and icons specified in the AdminCP. Certain details, however, can be configured explicitly from the Icons & Logos page:
This is a short name to represent your site in areas with limited screen space, such as below your application icon on a mobile phone home screen. Site name
This is the name of the site. The "Website name" setting is automatically used if you do not explicitly override it when configuring the manifest. Description
A short description of your site Theme color
You can choose a (single) color to represent the general theme of the site. This color may be used by devices in areas such as the address bar background. Background color
You can also choose a (single) color to use as the background color for your site when the application is launched from a shortcut saved to the user's device home screen. Display mode
Finally, you can specify the display mode your site should launch in. For our more astute designers and developers, you may have already realized that generating the manifest file lays the groundwork for future PWA (Progressive Web App) development and support. Additionally, some Android devices will automatically prompt users to add your website to their home screen now that a manifest file is generated by the site.
Oh, and for the sake of completeness, we also generate the special browserconfig.xml file that Microsoft products (including Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, X-Box, and Microsoft-based mobile devices) look for when pinning sites and generating live tiles. There are no additional configuration options for this file - everything is automatically generated from the aforementioned options.
The end result?
Your community can now better convey, automatically, certain details to the myriad of devices out there that may be accessing your site, and you now have much better control over those details. You can more easily fine-tune the "little things" that help paint a complete picture of your web presence, and the groundwork has been laid for bigger and better things in the future as standardization and adoption of PWA functionality improves.
This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
Ocean West reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.3: Commerce Subscription Manager
We've recently spoken about how we've brought our Gallery and Blog apps up to date with interface overhauls to bring them inline with the high standards our customers expect.
Keeping this in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we've taken Commerce right back to 2009.
This needs an explanation.
Way back in 2009, Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President. Minecraft was put into beta, Slumdog Millionaire was released to critical praise and we had a product called IP.Subscriptions.
IP.Subscriptions was a lightweight member subscriptions manager that allowed members to purchase elevated permissions via a user group upgrade.
It was a fine little app. However, on the horizon we had a brand new eCommerce app in development. Then called Nexus, now called Commerce (we took months to come up with that).
It made sense for us to merge the products into one app given they both had overlapping functionality. They both could create packages to promote members to a new user group. Commerce was much more developed as an invoicing and billing system.
Everyone was happy.
Commerce has grown to be an incredibly powerful app. It can sell anything from physical products like t-shirts, to digital products such as license keys and it can even manage your hosting set-up.
We use it for our support and billing systems, so we know how robust it is.
While it's an incredibly powerful commerce system, setting up basic subscriptions packages became a little more complex.
Over the past few years we've received a lot of feedback on this.
Commerce Member Subscriptions
We've built a brand new section into Commerce specifically for membership subscriptions.
Let's take a look at this in more detail.
On the front end, there's a very clear and easy to understand page for membership subscriptions.
The main subscriptions interface
Here you can see all the available packages, which one you're currently subscribed to and the upgrade and downgrade options.
A simple way to upgrade
There's several choices for costing upgrades in the Admin CP, here we have chosen to charge the difference between packages.
Get to your subscriptions easily
Your subscriptions are easily found in the user menu.
If the Admin allows, the package you're subscribed to appears as a badge on your profile.
There's also a little widget showing the packages which you can drag and drop to the sidebar for an additional prompt for non-subscribers.
This gives Invision Community a very clear and easy to understand interface for subscriptions which lives outside of the Commerce store and its packages.
Now, let's dive into the Admin CP
The main engine for this feature is the package list. This is in a separate area within Commerce.
The list also shows the number of currently active and inactive subscribers. This links to the list of subscribers.
Other than Bob having a total nightmare, you can easily view which members are currently active. The buttons link you to the Commerce invoice and purchase.
If you wish to add a member to a subscription without charging them (you generous soul, you), then that is easily possible.
Creating a new subscription package is very straight forward. We've built a new form which is stripped down to the fundamental items you'll need for a subscription.
As you would expect, there are several settings to control the system.
A few things worth mentioning here:
You can force new members to purchase a subscription on sign-up You can show or hide the profile badge indicating which package they purchased. You can choose to allow upgrades or downgrades. You can choose how you'd like to charge for upgrades or downgrades Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback over the years. We're really pleased to present this new feature and hope that it'll make your daily lives just a little easier.
Let us know what you think!
Ocean West reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: REST API Enhancements
"No man is an island" wrote John Donne. He wrote that a good 200 years before computers were invented, but it rings true for any well written framework like Invision Community.
The included REST API allows developers to fetch data from Invision Community and also allows data to be added.
This data can be used to power widgets on your website, or to be used within other applications you are already using in a very simple way.
Several enhancements have been made to the REST API for Invision Community 4.3 that we wanted to let you know about.
These changes are developer-oriented, so if you do not use the REST API with your community please feel free to skip this update.
If you would like to learn more about the REST API available with Invision Community, please see our REST documentation.
As previously noted, you can now perform searches through the REST API. You can perform searches based on keywords, tags, or both, and you can limit and filter results with parameters similar to when you perform a regular search on the site (e.g. to specific containers, returning only results over a set number of comments, or searching within clubs).
Several REST API endpoints are now permission-aware when combined with Oauth functionality built into Invision Community 4.3. This means that many REST API endpoints can be called using a specific user's access token, and only results that the specific user would normally be able to see will be returned (and/or they will only be able to submit to areas they normally have permission to).
Ability to search members
While an endpoint has always been available to retrieve (and add/edit/delete) members, the ability to search for members has now been implemented. You can search by name, email address, and (one or more) group(s), and a paginated response will be returned.
You can now start a new private conversation, reply to an existing private conversation, and delete a private conversation through the REST API.
Other REST API changes
You can now specify member's secondary groups when adding or updating a member through the REST API. You can specify the member's registration IP address through the REST API when adding or updating a member. You can now specify other member properties not directly exposed through the REST API when adding or updating a member by setting the rawProperties input field. You can now specify other member properties to retrieve through the REST API through the otherFields request parameter. The REST API now better logs changes to member accounts (so you will be able to more easily identify how a user's name, email address, password, etc. has changed when looking at the member history). You can now retrieve all content a member is following through the REST API, as well as follow a new container/content item, and delete an existing follow. You can now validate an account through the REST API You can now specify a 'perPage' parameter for paginated responses to control how many items are returned per page.
Most of these changes were directly culled from client feedback and implemented per specific requests. If there are other REST API changes you would like to see implemented please don't hesitate to leave your feedback!
Ocean West reacted to Charles for an entry, IPS Community Suite 4.1.9 Available
We have released version 4.1.9 with many bug fixes, performance improvements, and feature enhancements. Our thanks to the QA team and all our clients who participated in the beta release.
This is also a security release so please upgrade as soon as possible. All Suites will see the red alert banner show.
To be notified of updates as soon as they are available you can add an email address in your AdminCP under General Configuration.
New or Changed Features
When your link auto-embeds in a post such as with an image, YouTube video, Twitter link, etc. an option will now display to revert the embed back to a plain text link if you do not want the embed. New setting to disable embedding. Facebook/Twitter integration improvements If you are an administrator and encounter a system error, additional debug output will now display. Regular members will see the normal error message. Custom Fields for Support Requests in Commerce now show on the front-end. If an advertisement is set up with a main image, but not smaller images for tablets/mobiles, the ad would not show at all on tablets/mobiles. This has changed so the main image will display on all devices unless smaller images are provided. Topics scheduled to automatically lock or unlock will now reflect this in the topic listing and when viewing the topic. Placing a link to a Facebook status will embed when possible. When viewing a report, the container (for example, the forum) the content is from is displayed. Three character searches are now allowed in the Admin CP Live Search. The Account Settings page now uses vertical rather than horizontal tabs to prevent overflow. If Gravatar is enabled, and a user has not defined an profile photo, then their email address will be used to fetch from Gravatar unless explicitly set not to. Gfycat embeds now use their oEmbed endpoint rather than their JS API. Using Amazon CloudFront as https provider will now be recognized as valid secure connection. The member REST API endpoint will now return custom fields. The Developer Center for Plugins now shows the filename in the list of hooks, and when editing a hook, a breadcrumb includes a link back to the list. Inline notifications can now be dismissed Efficiency improvements to the search index You can now close a poll independently of the topic You may want to read a bit more on our embed improvements:
And Activity Stream improvements:
We are well into development on version 4.1.10 which will follow along soon. Keep an eye on our Release Notes for updates on what will be coming in that release.
If you have any issues please open a support ticket. You can also submit reports to our bug tracker. Thank you!
Ocean West reacted to Charles for an entry, Activity Stream Interface Improvements
Activity Streams were first introduced in version 4.1 and have been very well received by people who enjoy all the flexibility they create in filtering and sorting content in a community for easy discovery of what is being posted.
As with any new feature, we received a lot of feedback and have had time to take that in and make improvements to mature the Activity Streams with key changes in 4.1.9 being interface, performance, and bug fixes in the system.
One recurring theme we heard were people saying "the new Activity Streams cannot do..." when actually they could do it but the options were not obvious. We used to have the options in a large drop down box that users could edit and then save to update their Stream. This meant that options were not clearly visible and therefore people did not even know all the powerful settings available to them. So in 4.1.9 we have moved those options into a new dynamic filter bar.
With the new filter bar you see all your options available right there. We also changed the interface so Streams instantly update when you make a change. You no longer have to click save and update, wait for interface to collapse, and so on. Now your changes instantly update your Stream.
When you do change your Stream settings a save button appears prompting you to save your new selection. You can choose to save if you like the new options or not if it is just a temporary change you made. If you edit filters on a stream you do not own then it will prompt you to save your options as a new stream.
We hope you enjoy this more dynamic approach to Activity Streams.