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Ioannis D

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  1. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, What's new in 4.6.0?   
    Well, friends, what a journey we've been on since we started work on Invision Community 4.6.0.
    With 11 developers accumulating 934 commits over 3,157 files changing 120,281 lines of code, we're ready to show it to the world.
    Along with over 260 bug fixes, this new release contains some great new functionality. Let's take a look at what's new.
    Achievements
    Achievements, badges, ranks, rules, gamification, whatever you want to call it, this is the most significant feature for Invision Community 4.6.0. This brings a whole new level of earning and showing trust to other members while gently nudging more quality contributions to your community.
     
    Zapier integration
    Do you want new member registrations to magically appear in a Google spreadsheet? Perhaps you want members who opt-in for newsletters to be added to Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign. Cloud and Enterprise customers can do all this and more without writing a single line of code, thanks to Zapier.
     
    Web app and push notifications
    We took the time to round out our PWA (progressive web application) framework for 4.6.0 to include service workers, push notifications and more. I barely understand it, but Rikki takes you through the changes in our blog entry.
     
    Anonymous posting
    For some types of community, where discussion topics are particularly sensitive, community owners want to make sure that members register with their real details but are given the option to post anonymously where appropriate. For example, organisations dealing with abuse or sensitive topics might want the member to feel safe and disinhibited to post info without fear of being identified by the rest of the community.
     
    Solved content
    In Invision Community 4.6.0, we have rounded out our "solved" feature by allowing the feature to be enabled on a regular forum, along with notifications, statistics and more.
     
    Show when a team member has replied
    When you're scanning a list of topics, it's helpful to know when a community team member has replied, as these replies tend to have more authority and are more likely to resolve an issue. 4.6.0 adds a feature to show when a member of the team has replied.
     
    Health dashboard
    As Invision Community is a top of the line community platform with excellent developers and an amazing QA team, it's unlikely ever to go wrong. On the infrequent occasions that you need to identify potential issues within your community, the new health dashboard makes it easier to diagnose problems and request support.
     
    Spam improvements
    Our Enterprise customers run very visible and very busy communities. One of the pain points they had was identifying and limiting the annoyance of spam within the community. We created a new round of improvements based on that feedback to mitigate spam, and these changes are available to all Invision Community owners with 4.6.0.
    Cloud and Enterprise customers will also benefit from multiple under-the-hood optimisations for our cloud platform, including better caching of resources for faster response times.
    Let me know in the comments which feature you're looking forward to the most!
  2. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, Welcome to Invision Community 4.5   
    We've been on a little journey together since we announced the first Invision Community 4.5 feature way back in November 2019.
    The first feature we announced was a revamped Admin Control Panel interface which created more visual space and brightened it up. Actually, we made it so bright that the first feature request was to add a dark mode (which we did).
    In the space of three short months, we had spoken about Club improvements, invites and referrals, RSS feed improvements, blog categories, the simple stock photo picker, search insights, security enhancements, user interface updates, new statistic views, and notification improvements.
    Most will agree that March and April seemed to last months, thanks to a global pandemic. We used these extra days to talk about marking posts as a solution, topic view summary, Zapier integration, forum view updates, post-installation onboarding, private staff notes, page builder widgets, theme designer improvements, a new default theme, language system updates and everything else we missed.
    We have also revamped the front end user interface to modernise the look and feel but also to introduce new CSS frameworks, variables and other time-saving features our design team have been eager to implement.

    On the subject of modernisation, we've deprecated some legacy functionality. We've given up trying to make anything look good with IE11 which last saw an update in 2013. We've also deprecated older caching engines like Memcache, APC and Wincache and recommend using Redis instead. The web hosting and domain management features of Commerce are also deprecated as is BBCode. BBCode has its roots in the earliest bulletin-board systems long before rich text editors were common use. It's 2020; we should no longer be asked to type in special codes in square brackets to format text. BBCode is still functional in Invision Community 4.5, but it is likely to be removed in a future version.
    Now that primary development has finished, we move onto the beta testing stage. This is where you get to try it out and evaluate the new features before scheduling your own upgrades.
    As always, we do recommend that you only test early betas on staging sites or simple test sites. Many a weekend has been ruined by over-enthusiastic upgrading of live sites; so we don't recommend that.
    You'll also notice that we're running Invision Community 4.5 on our own site. If you do spot an issue, please let us know in the bug tracker.
    I've been creating and releasing products for close to twenty years now, and I still get a real buzz out of hitting the release button. It's always a pleasure to see the result of hundreds of hours of coding, dozens of meetings and numerous passionate exchanges among the team.

    You can access the beta in your client area.
    We hope you enjoy Invision Community 4.5!
  3. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Stuart Silvester for an entry, 4.5: One More Thing...   
    Almost ten years ago we launched the Marketplace; a place to connect Invision Community owners with talented developers creating new functionality.
    Over the decade, the Marketplace has grown to hold thousands of applications, large and small. For many Invision Community owners, the Marketplace has become an essential resource.
    Our aim was always to have the Marketplace available inside your Admin Control Panel to make it even easier to purchase and install extra functionality.

    I'm pleased to say that as of Invision Community 4.5, this is now a reality. You can browse the Marketplace and install new add-ons without leaving the Admin Control Panel.

    Obtaining Resources
    Paid resources can be purchased directly from the Marketplace and are available to install immediately after the payment is complete. You no longer need to download and install the files yourself.
    You may also notice some additional information with the resource listing, we'll be introducing a new 'tab' to marketplace resources to allow the authors to provide more useful information such as answers to frequently asked questions, or configuration instructions etc.

    The video below takes you through the purchase and installation of a Marketplace application.
    marketplace-install.mp4
    Installing an Application
    Updates
    Some of the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed in the first screenshot that there are more 'bubbles' showing in the menu on the left. These are supported for Applications, Plugins, Themes and Languages.
    In Invision Community 4.5 every resource available via the AdminCP is automatically versioned, you will see update notifications for everything you have installed (previously, you would only see update notices if the resource author supports them).
    Installing an update is as simple as clicking on the update notice, then clicking 'update' on the Marketplace listing.

    Installing Updates
    Downloads Changes
    Our Marketplace is built on our Downloads application, during development of this feature we needed to add new functionality. We have included as many of these improvements as possible in our software for the benefit of our customers, some of these are:
    Custom Fields can now be set to only show to members that have purchased a file. Files can now be set to accept a single file upload instead of multiple. New file versions can now be moderated without hiding the current version from view. Downloads REST API Performance Improvements New /download endpoint that counts the download Added more data to the /downloads/file/{id} response Ability to sort file results by last updated date We hope you're as excited about this feature as we are.
  4. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.5: Commerce Trials   
    One of the most popular requests we get for Commerce is for a free trial period for subscriptions. We've heard from many clients that wish to allow their members a free, or reduced cost trial period before auto-renewing the full price.
    I'm pleased to say that we've now added this functionality into Invision Community 4.5. Let us take a look at how it works.
    Initial Terms
    In 4.5 you can now specify an initial term that is different to the normal renewal term for any subscription plan or product. For example, you could make the initial term $0 for 1 week and the normal renewal term $10 per month which will allow you to create 1 week free trial. The initial term doesn't have to be $0, you can use any special price for the initial term you like.

    Subscription Plans showing Free Trials
    For developers creating their own applications with Commerce integration, this functionality is also available to you simply by passing a DateInterval object representing the initial term when creating the invoice.
    Collecting Payment Details for Free Trials
    Previously, if you were buying something that is free, the entire of the last step of the checkout would just be skipped and the invoice marked as paid.
    In 4.5, if:
    The user is purchasing something which has a free initial period, but also has a renewal term (i.e. is a free trial), and You have a payment method which can collect card details (Stripe, Braintree, etc) The user will be prompted to provide payment details that will not be charged until after the free trial. If the user already has a card on file they will not be prompted to provide the details again but will see a confirmation screen rather than the order just being marked paid immediately.

    Checkout Process for a Free Trial
    As you can see, allowing a free or reduced cost trial period has never been easier. We hope that you enjoy using this new feature of Invision Community 4.5.
     
  5. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Ehren for an entry, 4.5: ACP Dark Mode   
    A short while ago we revealed the new look Admin CP for Invision Community 4.5. The focus was on increasing the workspace, brightening and modernising the look.
    However, for some this new look was perhaps a little too bright, especially when setting your OS to use dark mode.
    Rather than cause an increase in sales for sunglasses, we went ahead and implemented a dark mode for the Admin CP.
    You can set it to work inline with your OS preference, or you can choose to enforce light or dark mode.
    I'm sure the next question you're about to ask is "Hey Ehren that looks amazing and now working at 3 am won't wake up the neighbours when I log into the AdminCP but can you do the same for the front-end?"
    The short answer to that is "no". The theme system isn't currently designed to support both light and dark colour schemes, however our marketplace has a great selection of dark themes to enhance your community.
    I hope that you like this new feature and I just wanted to say thanks for your feedback; we do listen!
  6. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: User Interface Improvements   
    Invision Community has certainly changed a lot over the years as we've moved through major updates and large user interface changes. 
    While large scale changes offer a dramatic difference, it is sometimes the smaller changes that bring the most satisfaction when using your community daily.
    This blog entry rounds up some of the UI improvements Invision Community 4.5 brings.
    Content View Behavior
    What do you want to happen when you click a topic link? Are you taken to the first comment, the last comment or the first comment you've not read? If you speak to 100 people, I'm pretty sure you'll get a good spread of votes for each.
    Invision Community has always offered subtle ways to get right to the first unread comment. Our infamous dot or star allows you to do this, but it is so subtle almost no one knows this.
    Invision Community 4.5 now allows each member to choose (with the AdminCP offering a default).

    Now everyone wins!
    Who Reacted?
    Invision Community has had reactions for a long while now. Although finding out who exactly reacted without clicking the counts has proved irksome.
    We've fixed that in Invision Community so simply mousing over the reaction icon reveals who reacted.

    Sign In Anonymously
    For as long as I can remember, Invision Community has offered an option to sign in anonymously via a checkbox on the login form.
    However, as we've added faster ways to log in via Facebook, Twitter, Google and more it's become less straight forward to ensure your anonymity.
    Invision Community 4.5 removes this login preference and moves it to your members' settings.

    Now your members can resume hiding as they move around your community across multiple logins.
    Resize Before Uploading
    One of the most popular requests we've had in recent times is to resize large images before uploading. It's quite likely that your giant full resolution image will be denied when attempting to upload, and it's a bit of a faff to resize it in a photo editor.
    Invision Community leverages the uploader's ability to resize before uploading, which makes it a much happier experience.
    Switch Off Automatic Language Detection
    Invision Community attempts to map your browser's user-agent to a specific language pack.
    When you visit a site, your browser lets the site know which language our browser is set to (often dictated by your operating system) and we use that to show you the correct language if the community you're visiting has multiple languages installed.
    However, it might be that you don't want this to happen because although your computer's OS is set to a specific language, it doesn't always follow that is the one you wish to use on a website.
    Invision Community 4.5 allows this automatic detection to be switched off.

    Quote Collapse
    We will finish with another popular feature request; the ability for long quotes to be collapsed, reducing the amount of scrolling one has to do.
    Quite simply, Invision Community collapses long quotes with an option to expand them to read the entire quote.

    Thank you to all our customers who have taken the time to leave feedback. As you can see, we do listen and action your feedback.
    Which change are you looking forward to the most? Let us know below!
  7. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Simple Stock Photo Picker   
    We have come a long way since the late 90s when someone had the genius idea of using a small yellow smiling face image instead of the more common colon-bracket representation of a smiling face.
    In Invision Community, there are various places that photography can be used to create visual interest. From uploads in topics, to cover photos for blogs and members.
    The humble upload field has served these areas well, but sourcing images to use can be a pain; especially when you have to walk the minefield that is copyright and attribution.
    Fortunately, there are a few "CC0" online stock photo libraries that offer quality photography that requires no attribution and are not hampered by copyrights.
    One such library is the ever-popular Pixabay, which was established in 2012 and features a very powerful API. Pixabay has over a million images ready to use from llamas to sausages and everything in-between.
    Invision Community 4.5 now includes support for Pixabay which brings those images to your fingertips (or mouse pointer if you're on a desktop.)

    This video shows the feature in use.
    As you can see, not only can you upload into posts from the stock photo library, but you can also use it to add a cover image to your profile and blog entries.
    Finding quality photography has never been so easy!
    For those that love technical details, the stock photo picker is a programmatic option on the upload form field type making it very easy to add to your own code and apps.
    How will you use this new feature? Let me know!
  8. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Joel R for an entry, Happy New Year to the IPS Community   
    On behalf of the Invision Community staff and company, I'd like to wish our clients and community warm blessings and gratitude for the New Year.  
    We're proud to be the community platform of choice for you and your organization over the past year (or decade!), empowering you and your users with the space to debate, discuss, investigate, solve, innovate and celebrate a shared sense of purpose.  The ability to positively touch and connect with the lives of others regardless of location is one of the most transformative benefits of the modern web -- and there's never been a greater demand or need for online communities to connect members in an authentic, branded experience.  
    Your community is the gift that keeps on giving, and we're delighted to be a part of it. 
    Here's a round-up of the 2019's most visited, most commented, and most clicked-on articles from the Invision Community Blog:
    Invision Community managers use tools like Saved Actions and Auto Moderation to work smarter with 5 of the best time saving features Avoid the Engagement Trap, a never-ending race that measures all the wrong metrics in a community The crowd goes wild in the teaser announcement of the forthcoming mobile apps for iOS and Android Go back in a time machine with a Decade in Review - a celebration and testament to the enduring power of community.   Once again, may the magic and wonder of the holiday season stay with you throughout the year!
  9. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, Invision Community: A decade in review   
    When the clocks strike midnight on New Year's Eve, we will enter the third decade of producing Invision Community.
    A lot has changed since we set up in 2002. Our team has grown and our product matured. In a world where online startups explode and die within a few years, we're something of an anomaly.
    We still have the same love and passion for creating the very best tools to build a community, and we have always ensured that Invision Community is in touch with modern demands.
    This decade has seen Invision Community go from strength to strength. In 2010 we were one of many forum systems catering to smaller niche audiences. In 2019 we're powering discussion for many international and well-known brands.
    Online habits may have changed in this time, and social media may have swallowed up smaller informal communities, but the need for independent community platforms remains strong.
    2020 will see us release 4.5 which will bring another round of essential updates to existing features and a fresh batch of new features.
    But first, let us climb inside our Delorean, rewind the clock to 2010 and start from the beginning.
    As the sun rose on 2010, Bruno Mars was singing about parts of the human face in "Just the way you are", Katy Perry irritated Microsoft Word's spellchecker with "California Gurls", and CeeLo Green was trying to "Forget you" (at least in the radio edit).
    Christopher Nolan's boggled all our minds with Inception, James Franco lost the ability to clap in 127 Hours, and Colin Firth stammered his way through The Kings Speech.
    Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad to a collective snort, moderate derision and questions over just how useful a giant iPhone will be.
    President Obama, just a year into office warns of "Snowmageddon" that eventually dumps up to 40 inches of snow on the east coast of the United States.
    We lost comedy legend Leslie Nielsen (we'd never dream of calling him Shirley), and we gained a small child named Ryan who in just nine years would be earning $29,000,000 by opening boxes of toys on YouTube.
    62% of us were using Internet Explorer to the chagrin of most web developers who wished that Chrome's 5% market share was more significant.
    Facebook celebrated its sixth year by reaching 400 million users (a far cry from the 2.5 billion it currently has). Twitter, just four years old hits 30 million monthly active users (and none of them talked about fake news).
    And how about Invision Community?
    2010
    We hit 2010 running by releasing numerous updates on IP.Board v3.1, including finally using long-established web standards, and share features now that "social networking is all the craze these days" noting that "friends and colleagues often share similar interests, after all."
    How innocent we all were in 2010.

    IP.Board 3.0
    Back then, each product had its own name and release cycle. IP.Gallery's new features included being able to rotate images by 90 degrees. Honestly, people used to go crazy for this stuff.
    In May, we released a brand new application called "IP.Commerce". A few months later we renamed it "IP.Nexus" and years later, it was changed back to "Commerce". Naming things is hard.
    The announcement contained exquisite details such as "It's hard to say when it'll be available" and "we don't know how much it will cost". We were so sure that it would be accepted positively, we removed the ability to post comments to the blog entry.
    As summer turned to autumn and the end of the year loomed large, we released news about a significant update to Gallery called "IP.Gallery 4.0" which pre-dates Invision Community 4 and confused customers for years (so IP.Board 3 works with IP.Gallery 4, but IP.Board 4 works with Gallery 4?). Numbering things is hard too.
    The last blog entry was about an app called 'IP.SEO' that I had utterly forgotten existed. It was written by Dan who once locked Lindy out of his own datacenter, but we don't talk about that.

    I don't even remember this website
    2011
    Charles opens the year by managing expectations for IP.Board 3.2 by outlining our three key goals (promotion, usability and modernization). The last one was us removing the "back to top" button and then spending the next eight years explaining why we removed it.
    Our spam monitoring service processed 300,000 requests in the first two weeks of 2011. 30% of these requests were deemed to be spam and blocked (0.1% was probably an administrator registering 50 fake accounts before being banned from their own site).
    I posted about "exciting new technology" in our new "WYSIWYG" editor (although what you see is sometimes close to what you get) would be more appropriate but slightly less catchy. We spent the next eight years explaining why no one uses BBCode anymore to almost everybody.
    Brandon closed out the year with a blog promising "new toys" for IP.Content 2.3 (now called Pages, keep up!) which promises a "who's online" widget and a "shared media field" that was not only complicated to explain, but also use.

    IP.Board 3.2 in all its glory
    2012
    We start the year with news on IP.Board 3.3. This release was to feature essential updates such as the "Remember me?" checkbox on the login form and emoticons in signatures.
    Despite being constantly told that we don't take SEO seriously, we round up the latest serious SEO changes including tags, soft 404s and micro schema.
    We also celebrated our tenth year in business.
    Something terrible must have happened to one of our competitors because we asked if you'd like to switch to IPS.
    The year ends with IP.Board 3.4 being released for beta testing. This being a rare year where we release two major versions in less than 12 months.
    2013
    Brandon has eight coffees and tries to explain what it's like to be a developer: "us developers are a strange bunch. We have a lot of crazy thoughts that just don't make sense to anyone else. Our brains are wired differently. We get from point A to point B by going around point Z and bouncing off point M first.", he closes the blog entry by urging you to ignore us.
    The big news is that work on 4.0 is officially underway! Don't get too excited, releasing two major versions in 2012 clearly fatigued us as "IPS Community Suite 4.0" is not released until June 2015, over two years later.
    4.0 was our first complete rewrite in years. We threw out all our stable and tested code and started over with an empty editor. It was a vast undertaking that consumed us completely. The result was worth it as we had a new modern framework that still serves us today. But we're getting ahead of ourselves a little.
    Back in 2013, Mark talks about trees. Not the kind you find laying around in forests, but rather the programmatic type. It's just a way for Mark to show off how beautiful his code is.
    IP.Board 3.4 still gets many updates (along with IP.Gallery, IP.Blog, IP.Content, IP.Downloads and IP.Address (ok that last one was made up)).
    We spend the year talking about various new things in 4.0, including a new-new editor and various special features (and no one noticed we started calling it "IPS Social Suite 4.0" - it just rolls off the tongue!)
    I introduce the new theme engine for 4.0, and this time, my code is not deleted by Mark (true story).
    2014
    We didn't know it at the time, but 2014 was not the year that IPS Social Community Suite 4.0 (naming things is hard) will be released. Still, Rikki talks enthusiastically about "extending JS controllers and mixins"  a way of coding so complex, to this day you can count the number of people who truly understand it on one of Rikki's fingers because it's only Rikki that understands it.
    Determined not to be outdone in the confusing customers' stakes, I go on about how important it is to convert your database to UTF-8 when upgrading from 3.0.
    As 2014 neared its inevitable end, we did manage to put up a pre-release testing site and release Beta 1 a release so unstable; it makes the current political climate look absolutely peachy.

     IPS Community Suite 4.0 (Preview)
    2015
    Finally, the year that 4.0 is to be released! We released six betas and a few release candidates before nervously hovering over the 'release' button (actually it's a collection of git commands and 'to the letter' instructions I ignore).
    After a  year of training customers to call our forthcoming release "IPS Social Suite 4.0," we release it as "IPS Community Suite 4.0". Lindy writes a lengthy blog article that sounds like a cross between a technical discussion of the Brother 8987-A printer and an award acceptance speech.
    Quite frankly, after nearly two years of development, we're just relieved to have finally released it.
    The year is spent refining and fixing 4.0 and culminates in the news of 4.1, where we add activity streams and a menu manager. We also talk about the new-new-new editor.
    December 16th marks the time that IP.Board 3.4 officially dies as we declare it "end of life" and no longer support it. That shiny new release we were excited to talk about in 2012 is finally put out to pasture. The last we heard, IP.Board 3.4 moved to a farm and is doing well.
    2016
    Now that IP.Board 3.4 is end of life; we do the sensible thing and make a few minor IP.Board 3.4 releases to improve security.
    IPS Social.. sorry, Community Suite hits version 4.1.17 (confusing Lindy) before the year is done with many new improvements, including embeds, warning notes and the new leaderboard.
    We're still mostly undecided what to call the product, so we avoid trying in all our blog entries.
    In fact, looking back, it's quite remarkable how often we changed the name of our product. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a robust and well-considered attempt to prevent Google from serving up relevant search results and to confuse potential customers.
    We find time to update our own website and introduce a new developer's area.
    2017
    Barely 16 days into the new year, and we release news of the two-factor authentication feature added to IPS Community Social Invision IP.Board Suite 4.1.18.
    When spring has sprung, Charles drops the news that we're working on 4.2, the main feature being a screenshot of the Admin CP log in. We promise that you will love it and that it will be released mid-2017.
    Updates come thick and fast. Calendar event reminders, content messages, recommended replies, letter profile photos device management and delayed deletes all make the blog.
    Still not convinced that people take us seriously when we say we're committed to SEO, we post about more SEO improvements.
    This time, we talk about implementing JSON-LD, rich snippets, pagination tags and more.
    We also squeeze another one in about the new-new-new-new editor.
    We overhaul our own blog (using Pages because that's how we roll) and I start a hilarious series of blog entries where I troll our own team. Everyone including me loses interest early on in 2019.
    During April, we do the sensible thing and change the name of our product once more. IPS Community/Social Suite 4.1 is out, and Invision Community 4.2 is in.
    Just to recap: IBForums > IPB > IP.Board > IPS Social Suite > IPS Community Suite > Invision Community.
    You're welcome search engines!
    As promised, we release Invision Community 4.2 around the middle of the year. Well done, everyone! We finally hit a release date!
    As is now tradition, we end the year with news of our next big release Invision Community 4.3 (and tease the new emoji feature). We also calm nerves about Europe's endless fascination with regulation (it's this kind of joke that caused Brexit you know) and wrote up a guide on GDPR.
    2018
    Phew. We're almost there, dear reader. If you skimmed through most of the blog to this point and expected me to finish with a bang, you'll be disappointed.
    We start 2018 at full speed releasing feature news on Invision Community 4.3 including emoji, OAuth, community moderation, REST API, subscription manager, announcements and more.
    Oh and we hit our sweet sixteenth birthday in February!
    We release Invision Community 4.3 in April to rapturous applause after a short beta testing period. We all agree that 4.3 was a great stable release which instantly makes the developers nervous.
    Towards the end of the year, we announce that work has begun on Invision Community 4.4. We talk about new features such as GIPHY integration, AdminCP notifications, Post Before Registering, Commerce Updates and more.
    Still not sure if we care about SEO? Well, how about another blog entry on SEO?
    The only thing missing this year is a new update on our editor.
    2019
    And we arrive back home in 2019. A week into January and I pull the massive twist that we're using Invision Community 4.4 on our own community. It's not quite up there with "Bruce Willis is a ghost" though.
    In March we write up a case study on The Trevor Space, an LGBTQ charity set up to prevent suicide and to provide crisis intervention. TrevorSpace commends Invision Community for allowing anonymity online which isn't possible with social media.
    Rikki drops a bombshell in September when he announces that we're actively working on native iOS and Android apps for Invision Community. Apparently mobile is a thing now.
    November starts a series of blog entries talking about our new upcoming release, Invision Community 4.5. We talk about the Admin CP overhaul, Club Pages, RSS Feed Improvements and Club improvements.
    And here we are. Right up to date. This decade may have only taken us from IP.Board 3.1 to Invision Community 4.5, but it really has seen a massive change in the company we are, and the industry we are in.
    We have seen the inception, rise and stumble of social media. While it's true that forums are no longer the preserve of Star Trek fans obsessing over continuity errors and informal communities have been absorbed by Facebook and friends, spaces that you completely own to host discussions are still very much in demand.

    Invision "Chameleon" Community in 2019
    Over the past year or so we've seen a sustained rise in the demand for independent communities. Brands especially like that you own your data and can use it to gain insights into customer habits. Just this year, we've launched communities for LEGO, HTC, Sage, Mattel, Gibson Guitars, Squarespace, and many more.
    We are constantly evolving Invision Community (assuming we stick with that name) to be at the very centre of your online presence. We have tools to add discussion comments to any page of your site, to embed widgets with a few lines of code. We want to showcase your community throughout your site by adding multiple touchpoints to take your customers on a journey with you. Our native apps will offer new and exciting ways to interact with a community via new interfaces.
    As we move into our third decade, I can only see a resurgence for independent communities as we tire of the crushing intrusion of social media. We give away so much of our attention, time and information for very little reward.
    We have never been more divisive and fiercely tribal.
    It's time to come back together to discuss a topic with care and thoughtfulness. It's time to allow our personalities to take a back seat and let considered discussion live again.
    And we'll be here doing what we have always done; creating the very best community platform possible.

    I'd love to know when you joined us on this crazy ride. Was it before or after 2010?
  10. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.5: Invites and Referrals   
    Invision Community has supported member referrals via the Commerce app since Commerce was called Nexus all those years ago.
    Community owners have been able to see at a glance who is spreading the word and members have received the kudos associated with a growing referral count in return. 
    When planning Invision Community 4.5 we saw that this feature had the potential to be so much more… So what have we done to improve it?
    See Who Was Referred
    In addition to seeing a count of referrals, it’s now possible for both admins and members to see who they referred. If Commerce is enabled admins can also see how much commission (if any) was earned. 

    The new referral settings page shows links, code snippets and who you've referred
    Member Promotion
    Seeing a rising count of who has been referred gives members a great feeling of community involvement but wouldn’t it be great if you could reward your members in other ways too? 
    Referral counts now work as a member filter when using the group promotion feature.
    You can now automatically promote members that have referred more than a specific number of members to another user group and give them access to exclusive content. This still works alongside paid subscriptions so be another method for members not willing or able to pay for subscriptions to get access.
    Integration With Sharing
    If the feature is enabled, any time a link is shared via the built-in share links, referrals will be tracked. This occurs automatically without the member needing to think about it. It’s now easier than ever to see who your superfans are and who is bringing new people to the community.
    Blocks
    As well as the default share links we have added a new sidebar block that can be added anywhere across your community. This prominent call to action can be added on pages you think are most likely to result in recommendations.

    The new "Invite a friend" widget
    Given that referral capabilities have been expanded into many more areas outside of Commerce we decided that this should now be available as a core feature. Earning commission on sales as a result of referrals will still, of course, require Commerce to be installed.
    We hope that these are welcome improvements and they help you encourage more members to participate in your community.
  11. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Ryan Ashbrook for an entry, 4.5: Club Pages   
    Without a doubt, clubs is one of the most popular features added to Invision Community in recent times.
    Invision Community clubs allows you to run sub-communities on your site. We've seen clubs used in many ways, including managing geographically local groups and clan groups for large gaming sites.
    This popularity drives us to keep incrementally improving the feature set for clubs, and Invision Community 4.5 is no different.
    One thing that was raised many times was a way for club owners and leaders to create simple pages with general information members need.
    Happily, in Invision Community 4.5, this feature now exists (and more!)

    In addition to the title and visual editor that allows full formatting of the page content, there is an additional visibility setting which allows owners and leaders to define which types of members can view the page.
    This is perfect for showing a page that is only visible to non-members which informs them how to join the club.
    Likewise, it is a great way to display moderation guidelines to the club moderators only.
    Of course, owners and leaders will always be able to see all pages added to a club.

    Additionally, once a page is added to a club, a tab will be added alongside others, and the page can be re-arranged just like the rest. 
    Using this, owners and leaders can create an alternative unique index page for the club.
    default-view.mp4
    This is just one of many club improvements finished for Invision Community 4.5. We'll be talking about these in a future blog!
  12. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Ehren for an entry, 4.5: Your new admin control panel   
    Invision Community has come a long way over the past five years.
    We've added many new features and invigorated the front-end user experience to keep it current and in-line with modern interfaces.
    One area that has remained largely the same is the Admin Control Panel.
    When we released Invision Community 4.0 back in 2014, the Admin Control Panel was updated but has stayed relatively dormant since.
    But that's all about to change with the upcoming release of Invision Community 4.5!

    The Admin Control Panel in 4.5 has received a substantial update, resulting in a modern color scheme and a clean, minimalistic design.
    We felt that a lighter, more open design allowed the content more space and to feel less crowded. 
    The dark grays have been replaced with shades of blue and aqua which closely reflects Invision Community's new branding, while other colors have been lightened and saturated.
    Along with the new color scheme, the overall layout of the ACP has intentionally been kept similar to the existing version, resulting in a design that feels surprisingly familiar yet refreshingly new at the same time.

    We hope you've enjoyed this small sneak peek into Invision Community 4.5 and we look forward to introducing you to some more new features in the upcoming weeks!
  13. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, Podcast with Matt: Facebook or Forums?   
    I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak on the Expert Focus podcast,  hosted by experienced community manager and public speaker, Claire Dowdall.
    Claire has significant experience in managing and developing strategies for increasing Facebook Group engagement for high profile speakers and entrepreneurs, while my background is with independent communities.

    This set us up nicely for a lively conversation to really pull apart what makes for a successful community, and what platforms to consider when starting out.
    From Expert Focus:

    I really enjoyed speaking with Claire, and I hope you find a little time to tune in.

    Listen now:
    iTunes link for Apple devices On Spotify On all other devices
  14. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Joel R for an entry, 10 Tips For Converting from vBulletin to Invision Community   
    Are you a vBulletin admin looking to stay on the leading edge of online communities? 
    As an IPS client who frequents the Invision Community support forums on a daily basis, I often run across existing or former vBulletin admins looking to migrate to IPS.  In fact, based on my not-so-scientific survey, vBulletin is one of the most popular platforms from where admins migrate. Many of the vBulletin users are professional administrators looking for a stable company, rapid development, and a trusted platform to power their communities into the future. 
    I interviewed 6 former vBulletin admins who are now Invision Community clients.  Most of these vBulletin admins have 10+ years of experience running successful forums, so their input was especially insightful.   
    “I love the design of the admin and moderation back-end, a real treat after living with the antiquated and confusing vBulletin back-end.” -- @cfish
    “I like the well-thought concept, the details, and abundance of features and functions.” --@Ramsesx
    I’ve compiled the top 10 questions and answers from their interviews and the forums specifically for vBulletin admins for an insider’s perspective on how to convert from vBulletin to Invision Community.  You can also read their full interviews in my Community Guide attached at the bottom.
    10. What is the typical lifecycle of Invision Community and what new features come out?
    Invision Community is currently on 4.4.  It’s a great time to be migrating as both the software and converter are very mature.  You’ll be able to take advantage of all the new features from Invision Community 4.x such as Social Clubs, Subscriptions, SEO updates, and GDPR updates. 
    In general, IPS publishes one major update like 4.4 once a year, with several bug fixes, security updates, and enhancements throughout the year.  The best place to read about Product Updates is the official IPS Blog in Product Updates.
    9. What are the pricing options and how do they compare to vBulletin?
    IPS is comparable in pricing when compared to vBulletin depending on your choice of apps.  The self-hosted option is cheaper when considering support and upgrades.    
    The pricing for an active license is simple, easy, and comprehensive.  A new license includes professional ticket support, forum support, access to new upgrades, and managed spam service for 6 months.  Renew again in six months to continue those benefits.  If you choose not to renew, your software will continue to work.
    8.  Is the software mobile ready like vBulletin?
    Yes, the software is responsive by design.  This means the community naturally fits and beautifully displays in any device size, giving you a consistent look-and-feel across all devices.  Try it now by resizing your window! 
    It also means you don’t need to pay for any extra “mobile bundles.”  This approach to mobile design was one of the reasons why @cfish chose IPS: “I didn’t like vBulletin’s approach to mobile. The IPS approach to responsive web design was inline with my own thinking.”
    7.  What are the official Invision Community apps and how do they compare to vBulletin? 
    @Steve Bullman converted to IPS because “IPS seemed to offer a better all-round package for what I needed.”  One of the biggest reasons for considering IPS is a broader approach to community.  Whereas vBulletin focuses only on Forums and Blogs, IPS empowers you to build a suite of applications customized to your needs.  Mix and match apps like Gallery, Blogs, Downloads, Pages, and Commerce to build a modern community with resource directories, databases, paid subscriptions, albums and more that go beyond forums.   
    You can read more about the apps in Features. Calendar and Clubs are included for free! 
    6.  What will be migrated from vBulletin? 
    The free converter app will migrate all of your member and content items from vBulletin 3.8.x, 4.x, and 5.x.  This includes members, private messages, member groups, ranks, forums, topics, posts, and attachments.  You can view the full list on Migrate and choose your vBulletin version from the list of choices.
    Obviously, you will not be able to migrate any custom themes or custom modifications.  @ChristForums adds, “I wish I had known that the converter was so easy to use and migrate from Vbulletin 5.”
    5.  What are the channels for support? 
    Every active license comes with professional ticket support, which should always be your first source of contact.  @Markus Jung highlights “fast support” as the item he appreciates the most about his license.  You can also obtain help from the community forums, help guides, release notes, and other public resources. 
    If you’re not an IPS client yet, you can post in Pre-Sales forum or email sales@invisionpower.com. 
    4.  How do I prepare my community?
    The six admins that I interviewed offered several tips for new Invision Community owners.  Prior to the conversion, you should read through the converter package to see what will convert and redirect.  You should purchase other Invision Community apps in advance to fully convert vBulletin items as needed; not delete any old content since Invision Community includes an archive function; and not make drastic changes to allow members a chance to become accustomed to the new forum. 
    3.  What will happen to my traffic and URL redirects? 
    The free converter app will redirect your existing URLs.  This includes forums, topics, posts, member profiles, print view pages, archived content, attachments, and tags.  You need to leave your converter installed after migration to ensure the redirects will work.   
    AlexWebsites wrote, “the converter came with built-in redirects and I was able to redirect most of my traffic. Traffic recovered within a few months.”
    2. What are the server configuration and database requirements?    
    If you choose cloud, then Invision Community will manage the hosting. 
    If you choose on-premise, you can use the free ‘Get Ready’ compatibility file to check your server.  The latest version of Invision Community 4.4 requires:
    PHP 7.1.0 or higher (7.3.x is supported) MySQL 5.5.3 or higher (5.6.2 recommended).  1. How stable is the company? 
    Other companies lost their development talent. Other companies were bought and sold by multi-media conglomerates. Other companies have a history of lawsuits.
    Through it all, Charles, Lindy and Matt have been here since the beginning providing steady leadership to Invision Communities everywhere.  If you’re looking for stability, it’s nice to know you can rely on the same people who started the company.  For serious and professional vBulletin admins looking to transition, you know you’re not just buying into the software, but investing in the development team, staff, and platform for years to come. Ramsesx shared his personal story: “I always prefer the best for my community from where I earn my income.  An important aspect was the longtime outlook.  Invision Community gave me the feeling of being trustworthy, they are more than 17 years in the forum software market.” 
    It’s no wonder that so many successful vBulletin admins feel the same after moving to Invision Community.  You get stability, years of experience, a deep understanding of online communities, and a dedication to development that continues to innovate.  It’s time to bring your vBulletin community over to Invision Community! 
    Bookmark this page for future reference and download the Community Guide for experiences from real clients who converted from vBulletin.  Much appreciation to @AlexWebsites @cfish @Christforums @Markus Jung @Ramsesx @Steve Bullman for participating in the interviews.  
    - Joel R
    Community Guide vBulletin Migration to Invision Community.pdf
  15. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, The hidden cost of doing nothing   
    I'm sure that most reading this blog are running an up-to-date Invision Community and enjoying all the benefits of a modern community platform.
    Little things that get taken for granted now, like being able to view your community on a mobile phone without pinching and zooming just to read a few posts and having multiple automated tools to deal with community toxicity and spam.
    However, a little wander around the web soon uncovers some really old forum systems still somehow creaking along.
    Amazingly, most of these communities are still used daily, often with millions of posts in the archives.
    It might be tempting to ask why keep upgrading and investing in new versions of the software?
    After all, if the community is still running just fine and getting daily visitors, then it's ok to do nothing, right?
    But there is a hidden cost in doing nothing.
    Security
    This is the main one for me. Old platforms often have several published security vulnerabilities. Often these vulnerabilities are exploited by scripts that are shared around hacker communities. This means exploiting a website running an old version of a forum system is as simple as running a script and pointing it at your site.
    Older forums are also less sophisticated. They rely on unsafe hashing methods to store passwords and lack vital features like two-factor authentication.
    Also, consider that the server environment has to be maintained with out of date PHP and MySQL versions. It's a recipe for disaster.
    Could your community survive a major exploit where data is downloaded into the hands of a hacker?
    The cost could be fatal to your community.
    Declining engagement
    Even the most ardent of fans on your community will eventually tire of struggling to access your site on mobile devices.
    I think back to 2002 when we created the first version of our software. We only had to focus on how it looked on a computer, so naturally, that influenced the design of the forum.
    It's not so simple now. More and more of us are using mobile phones to access the internet. A recent statistic showed that mobile internet access outstrips desktop use 2 to 1; and for some countries, mobile internet access is almost the only way people get online.
    It's just a matter of time before new members stop registering and engagement tails off.
    Competition
    At the end of 2018, there were 1.8 billion websites (I Googled it). The competition for attention has never been as fierce.
    Your community may be the go-to place for your niche, but what if another community popped up running the latest version of a platform with all the features your members have been desperately asking for?
    It may not take long until there is a massive drain from your community.
    I'm sure there's a dozen reasons to make sure you're always re-investing in your community by upgrading to a modern platform. This blog merely scratches the surface.
    For those of you that do invest and upgrade? You reap the benefits daily by ensuring you are doing the very best for your community by keeping it secure and accessible for most.
    If you are on an older platform, now is the time to put some serious thought into making the move to something better.
    I put together a little downloadable guide that might help too.
    What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.
  16. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: Recurring PayPal Payments and more with Braintree and Commerce   
    Braintree is a payment gateway provided by PayPal which provides some great additional features for PayPal transactions including a significantly improved recurring payments model. We are delighted to be bringing full support for Braintree for Commerce in Invision Community 4.4.
    What is Braintree?
    Braintree is a payment gateway provided by PayPal which supports taking payments by credit cards (including Apple Pay and Google Pay) and Venmo as well as PayPal, providing a good option for communities wanting to use a single payment gateway, and also brings improved functionality for recurring PayPal transactions.
    For PayPal transactions, there are no additional fees and the checkout experience uses the normal PayPal experience your customers are used to.
    Recurring PayPal Improvements
    Recurring payments / Billing Agreements in PayPal have up until now been initiated by PayPal. Invision Community tells PayPal what the renewal terms of a purchase are, but then it's up to PayPal to take that payment and notify your community when it succeeds (or fails).
    This comes with a number of limitations and problems. It makes it difficult for you as an admin to modify an existing purchase or for the customer to upgrade/downgrade. It also means the customer has to create separate Billing Agreements for each purchase. Most significantly though, it means if there is a delay in receiving the payment (such as an expired card) it is sometimes unclear what should happen on your community's end, and how it can be resolved if/when the payment is received.
    Other payment gateways work the other way around. When a customer pays by card, for example, they have the option of storing their card details. Later, if they make another purchase or a renewal invoice is generated, Invision Community can tell the gateway to recharge the same card - and if it fails, allow the customer to provide an alternative payment method. This allow both you and your customers to have much greater control, and is much more reliable.
    Braintree resolves this by allowing customers when paying with PayPal to save their PayPal account in the same way they would save a credit card on file. When paying with PayPal, users will see a simple checkbox which, if checked, will allow future payments to be taken with PayPal automatically.

    Storing PayPal Accounts for Recurring Payments
    Other Features
    In addition to an improved checkout experience, our integration with Braintree supports:
    Taking payments by Credit Card, including 3DSecure checking and the ability for customer to store card details on file. Braintree uses a fully PCI-compliant method of taking card details in a way that ensures the card information never reaches your server. Apple Pay and Google Pay Venmo, which also allows storing accounts in the same way as PayPal accounts. Offering PayPal Credit Handling chargebacks/disputes Support for Braintree's Advanced Fraud Tools
    A Disputed PayPal Transaction
    Existing Setups and Upgrading
    The existing PayPal gateway will continue to be available for basic PayPal integration, and your existing set up will continue to work exactly as it does now after upgrading.
    If you are using PayPal, especially if you are using Billing Agreements, we strongly recommend switching to Braintree after upgrading. While it isn't possible to convert existing Billing Agreements, you can allow existing ones to continue to work and use Braintree for new purchases.
    Please note that while existing setups will work fine, from 4.4 it will no longer be possible to set up a new PayPal method with either Billing Agreements, or to take payments by card, as PayPal has deprecated the API this was using in favour of Braintree and it can no longer be enabled on new accounts.
    As mentioned though, this does not affect any existing setups, which, if you do not switch to Braintree, will continue to work as they do now.
    This blog is about our upcoming release Invision Community 4.4.
  17. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: 6 New Micro Features   
    I really enjoy writing about the new features the development team have been slaving over for weeks (and sometimes months.)
    It's a real joy to be able to share the finished product after we've seen it through inception, discussion, planning, assigning to a developer, coding, peer reviewing and final group testing.
    Although sometimes, the features can be explained in a few screenshots, which makes for a pretty thin blog entry.
    With that in mind, I've grouped together 6 of the best new micro-features for Invision Community 4.4.
    Browser notifications
    We introduced browser notifications in a previous version of Invision Community.
    Once you've opted in to receive them, you'll get a fancy browser notification when new content is posted while you're off browsing other sites.
    However, the browser prompt to ask for permission to push notifications isn't subtle, and it attacks you the second you log in for the first time.
    In Invision Community 4.4, we've made it, so you're only asked to opt-in once you open the notification drop down.

    No more being attacked by a permission dialog
    Widget display settings
    One of the most popular features we've added to the front end in recent times is the drag and drop widgets.
    We see these used on almost every site we visit.
    A popular request, though, was to be able to hide them from specific devices. By default, the sidebars appear under the main content when viewed on a smaller device such as a phone.
    There may be times where you wish to show a block for those on tablets and desktops, but remove it for phones, so it doesn't take up precious retail space.
    Happily, you can now do this on each block with 4.4.

    Desktop only?
    Club Navigation
    Clubs are relatively new to Invision Community but they incredibly popular as they allow you to run micro-communities within your main community.
    You're not limited to just forums either; you can add gallery albums and more to each club.
    We've added the ability to re-arrange the club tabs allowing you to prioritise what you members see first.

    Rearranging club tabs
    Announcement URLS
    Announcements have been a core feature for a long time now. We use them whenever we have a holiday so we can notify our customers about reduced support on those days.
    We've made it so you can now link to an item, rather than have to provide new copy for each announcement.

    We may have overdone it a bit
    Time Frame selector
    We noticed that in numerous areas around the Admin CP we had time input boxes. These would sometimes be used for seconds, minutes, hours and even days.
    We've seen customers forced to enter things like 86400 seconds when they want the time frame to last a day. The lack of consistency wasn't great either.
    In Invision Community 4.4, we've added a new Time Frame selector which is used as standard on all areas we ask for a time frame to be entered.
    No more taking your socks off to work out how many seconds in a month.

    Time is no longer relative
    Group Name Styling
    For about as long as I can remember (and as I get older, this is not an impressive amount of time), we've allowed group names to be stylized when shown in the online user list.
    A very popular request is to extend that same group highlighting throughout the suite.
    Finally, Invision Community 4.4 brings this to the suite.

    If the group name is visible, that gets the styling, otherwise the name does
    These features may be micro in nature, but we hope they make a significant improvement to your community.
    Which are you most looking forward to? Drop a comment below and let us know.
  18. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: SEO Improvements   
    It's been said that the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google.
    While we can't promise to get you to page 1 for a generic search term, we have taken some time for Invision Community 4.4 to do an SEO sweep.
    Moz.com defines SEO as "a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines."
    We have the technical skills and were fortunate enough to have Jono Alderson of Yoast lend his time, knowledge and vast experience to improve our SEO.
    This blog article gets a little technical. It's completely fine to leave at this point with the comfort of knowing that Google will be a little happier on your site with Invision Community 4.4.
    The majority of the changes are designed to send stronger signals to Google and friends over which content to slurp and which to look at a bit later.
    Still here? Good. Let us roll up our sleeves and open the hood.

     
    Pagination
    The most visible change is that we've taken pagination out of query strings and placed it in the path.
    For example, the current pagination system looks a little like:
    yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?page=3
    Which is fine but it gets a little confusing when you add in a bunch of sort filters like so:
    yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?sort=asc&field=topic&page=3
    A better approach would be to make a clear signal to both Google and humans that pagination is a separate thing.
    Invision Community 4.4 does this:
    yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/page/3/?sort=asc&field=topic
    Not only is this good for search engines, but it's also good for the humans too as it is more readable and no longer confused with filter parameters.

    Of course, we ensure that the old style pagination is redirected (via a 301 header) to the new pagination URL automatically so nothing breaks.
    Canonical Tags
    These tags are a way of telling search engines that a specific URL is the 'master copy' of a page. This helps prevent duplicate content from being indexed.
    Without it, you are leaving it up to the search engine to choose which is the master copy of the page.
    For example:
    yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ and yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?sort=desc&field=time may show the same content but have different URLs.
    By setting the canonical tag to point to yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ regardless of filters sends a strong signal to the search engines that this is the page you want to be spidered.
    Invision Community sets these tags in many places, but we audited these in 4.4 and found a few areas where they were missing.
    For example, viewing a member's profile doesn't always set a canonical tag which may confuse search engines when you click on "View Activity" and get a list of content items.
    Soft 404s
    When an application or website wants to tell the visitor that the page they are looking for doesn't exist, it sends a 404 header code along with a page that says something "We could not find that item" or "No rows available".
    If a search engine spiders a page that looks like a 404 page, but it doesn't have the 404 header code, it logs it as a "soft 404".
    Given the short amount of time Google has on your site to discover new content, you don't want it to hit many soft 404s.
    Invision Community 4.4 omits containers (such as forums, blogs, etc.) that have no content (such as a new forum without any topics yet) from the sitemap, and also adds a 'noindex, follow' meta tag into the HTML source.
    Google will periodically check to see if the status of the page has changed and happily slurp away when content has been added.
    Other changes
    Although the changes listed here don't deserve their own section in this article, they are no less important.
    We have audited the new JSON-LD markup added to Invision Community 4.3 to help search engines better understand the relationship between pages.
    The "truncate" method that is used to display a snippet of text in areas such as the activity stream now only sends the first 500 characters to the javascript method to reduce page loads and page 'noise'.
    The profile view in Invision Community contains a mix of information pertinent to the member and content they've authored.
    We've ensured that the content areas are using a specific URL, with appropriate canonical tags. This will help reduce confusion for search engines.
    If you made it this far, then well done. It's time to slam the hood closed and mop our collective brows.
    These changes will certainly help Google and friends spider your site a little more efficiently and have a clearer idea about what pages and data you want to be indexed which can only improve your ranking.
  19. Like
    Ioannis D 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!
  20. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: AdminCP Notifications   
    Do you recall that scene in Harry Potter where young Harry is sitting in his Uncle’s living room when hundreds of letters from Hogwarts burst through the fireplace, filling the room?
    Sometimes, when you log into the administrator’s control panel, it can feel a bit like that.
    As the administration control panel has evolved, there has been more of a need to display notifications, alerts and warnings to the administrators.
    There are several things which may require an administrator's attention which may show a notice on the AdminCP dashboard, a banner on the community, or send an email. For example:
    When a new version of Invision Community is released. A new member registers and requires administrator validation. A configuration issue is detected, for example if dangerous PHP functions are enabled on the server. There are items Commerce which require manual action, such as transactions pending manual approval or items to be shipped. Up until now, each such area would manage how these notifications show and are sent independently. In 4.4 we have introduced a new section of the AdminCP which shows all things which require administrator attention in one place, easily accessible from any AdminCP page.

    AdminCP Notification Menu
    Clicking on any of these notifications will take you to the relevant area of the AdminCP, or there is also a full-screen Notification Center which allows you to quickly take common actions such as approving members.

    AdminCP Notification Center
    While the best approach is to take the appropriate action (which will automatically dismiss the notification) so you always have an empty Notification Center, most notification types can be hidden, either temporarily on a per-notification basis by clicking the cross in the top-right, or administrators can hide all notifications of a certain type from their individual settings. Administrators can also choose which type of notifications to receive an email notification about.

    Notification Settings
    Each notification has a severity indicated by the coloured bar on the side and certain notifications can also show banners either across the AdminCP, or also on the front-end (to administrators).
    Notifications group automatically (so for example, if there are 5 members pending approval, you will see 1 notification rather than 5 separate ones) and where appropriate each administrator can choose if they want to receive a single email, or a separate email with each occurrence.
    Now you won't miss an invitation to Hogwarts, or anything important again.
    This is a blog about our upcoming Invision Community 4.4 release, due later this year.
  21. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, Guest Blog: How to incorporate new features into your community   
    Today, we're handing over our blog to long time client and friend to Invision Community, Joel R.
    @Joel R is often found hanging out in our community offering his insight and wisdom when he's not harassing the team in Slack.
    Over to Joel.
    Invision Community releases a variety of blockbuster features in every major update, which usually hits once a year.  You may think those updates are not enough (it’s never enough!), but I wanted to spend some time talking about how to survey and incorporate those features into your community systematically. 
    This blog post is not about any specific feature, but more a general and philosophical approach in integrating the newest features.  My goal is to help you get the most out of every new IPS update!      
    You may think that many of the features in the updates are easy to assess.  You either want them or don’t.  But it’s not that easy. 


     
    I was inspired by some recent personal experiences when I found myself revisiting features from 4.2 and earlier.  I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I still had so much to experience and learn from those features, all of which I had previously reviewed when they were initially released.  Invision Community comes packed with rich features, and no community manager is expected to be a master at everything.  But a systematic approach is your best chance at making sure you get the most out of every feature.
    To give a personal example, I jumped into Social Media Promotion when it first came out in 4.2.  The new Social Media Promotion offers several powerful tools for social media cross-posting, and I immediately wanted to learn how I could use it to cross-post content to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  It’s an easy drop-in replacement for services like Hootsuite or Windscribe and allows community managers to drip interesting content to their social media pages for constant advertising and social engagement.
    Well, it turns out my Facebook and Twitter reach is nil because I have no followers (wish I was more Internet famous!), so I soon lost interest and dropped Social Media Promotion as a tool.
    A couple of months ago, I was assessing my homepage versus other popular websites when I came across a startling realization: I could make a gorgeously visual homepage on par with Instagram using Our Picks – a feature of Social Media Promotion.

     
    I would intentionally ignore the social media component, but use the other component of Our Picks for a beautiful new homepage.  The context of using Our Picks for a homepage opened my eyes to a whole new way to evaluate Social Media Promotion, and what was once a feature on the back burner is now – literally - the front page of my Invision community.  I love it!   
    To help you incorporate new Invision features, I’ve brainstormed 5 strategies on how to make the most out of Invision feature updates.  Each strategy comes with a mini-lesson for an action plan. 
    1.    Learn the knowledge, not the feature.
    This is my personal motto when Invision Community releases a new feature.  I’m more concerned about the knowledge and broader usage of the feature than implementing the feature itself: What’s the potential scope of the feature?  In what context could the feature be used?  How did Invision Community intend for the future to be used, and what are other ways it can be used?  
    I’ve never worried about the technical configuration of the feature.  You enable or disable some settings, and that’s it.  But what’s more important is how the functionality can best be integrated and in what context.  You never know when you might come back to the feature for the next great idea, and you can only do that if you possess the knowledge and application behind the feature.  
    Lesson: Try every feature at least once, even if you don’t need it.
        
    2.    When at first you don’t succeed, take a nap.
    Some things take a while to think about.  Don’t try to cram through all new Invision Community features.  There’s too many to digest in one pass.
    Assess the features you’re most interested in one by one, play with each feature until you’re satisfied, test them, find out how they work, and when you get frustrated, take a nap.  Eat some ice cream.  Go jogging.  And revisit in a month.  The bigger the feature, the longer you should think about it.
      
    The biggest “aha” moments didn’t come to me right away.  When you try to rush through a feature, you can get rushed results.  Take your time to bounce ideas around your head and try to think through the context of how to best utilize the feature.   
    Lesson: For features that you like, set a calendar to revisit after a month.  Then take a nap.  
    3.    You’re running the marathon, not a sprint.  
    Successful community managers have evolved with the changing needs of our audiences.  While our mission remains the same, the backdrop of user expectations and digital trends has dramatically changed.  
    When you implement a feature, you should be evaluating it for both sustainability and longevity.
    Is this a sustainable mechanism to keep up with? 
    Is this something that I want to continue for the foreseeable future?  
    It’s nice to play with new features; every major update is like a Christmas unwrapping of new features.  But you need to prudently pick-and-choose which feature is most appropriate and how it can give you an impact for the long-term.  Sometimes it’s better to do a few things very well than many things not well at all.
    Lesson: Ask yourself if you see yourself using the feature 3 years later?
    4.    Make it uniquely yours
    Invision Community ships with default features ready to use out of the box, but those features are just that: default.  We like to dress up our theme with custom colors, designs, and logos.  You should apply the same flair for customization with your features.
    Some features are ready to be customized: reactions, ranks, and group promotion.  Others, however, might take more thinking.  Here are some examples to spark your creativity:
    •    Social Sign-in Streamline – are you using the default message, or did you customize it with a unique and clever introduction?  
    •    Fluid Forum – did you activate fluid forum and hope it went well?  Or did you use it as an opportunity to re-analyze your entire forum structure for the modern web?  
    •    Leaderboard – did you leave it as a Leaderboard, or could it be Genius board for a technology company, or Joyboard for a nonprofit, or Loyaltyboard for a consumer brand?
    Lesson: Make the feature uniquely yours.
    5.    Talk through your scenario
    Every battle-tested community manager knows that the only thing constant is change – whether it’s our forum software, ACP settings, user expectations, and broader digital trends.  It’s important to find a trusted circle of friends and users who can help you steer and implement features.  It may sound great in your head, but other users may look at it very differently. 
    On my site, I have a trusted group of users called “Champions.”  In my pre-planning stage, I float my ideas by them as early in the process as possible.  They’ve provided valuable feedback of user expectations with differing perspectives.  I’ve nixed certain features based on their veto, and I’ve tweaked continuously based upon their continuous input.  Talk through your scenario with your trusted friends, and not just with the voices in your own head!    
    Community management is such a uniquely rewarding and challenging role because every community demands and needs a different set of features.   Invision makes it easy with regular releases of exciting features, but you also need to make the most out of those features on your own.  Don’t just turn on the next feature: turn on excitement, joy, and community.  
    If you notice, I didn’t include a lesson yet in my last strategy when you’re ready to talk about your scenario.  And that’s because it’s the ultimate lesson:
    Write the next guest post in the Invision Community Blog and share your own success story in how you adopted a new Invision feature.  We’d love to hear about it.
    Thanks Joel!
    We love this angle on how to best evaluate the myriad of opportunities the Invision Community software allows.
    What is your biggest take-away from Joel's advice?
     
  22. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, Video Tip: ACP Tips and Tricks   
    Work smarter, not harder is a motto we hear a lot of in our modern age.
    This is of course great advice. Invision Community's Admin CP is packed full of tools and settings to help you configure your community to your needs.
    In this short video I show you how you can work smarter in the Admin CP.
    Dashboard Blocks
    I show you how create a dashboard perfect for your needs. The dashboard is perfect to show a snapshot of what is happening with your community.
    Search Bar
    The search bar is the most powerful tool in the Admin CP. From finding members, settings and Commerce tickets, it's something I reach for every day.
    Re-order the Menu
    Prioritise the menu to put often used sections of the Admin CP within easy reach.
    Copy Settings
    With a few clicks, you can copy a single setting from a forum across multiple. This saves a lot of time moving between the forum list and forum settings. This of course works across the suite including downloads, blogs and more.
    Copy Nodes
    Got a forum or blog category set up perfectly and want to add one more like it? Just hit the copy button and save the hassle of filling in the form again.
    These are our tips for using the Admin CP as effectively as possible. Do you have any tips? Let us know below!
  23. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, How to successfully convert your platform and breathe new life into your community   
    Do you have a community but are looking to move to a more modern and feature rich platform?
    There's a lot of ways Invision Community can breathe new life into your community. With our engagement features, advanced promotion features and mobile ready responsive themes, your members are going to love the changes.
    Invision Community can power your entire site, from the content management front end right through to your download areas and shopping carts.
    Imagine not having to juggle a dozen plug-ins and make several different applications talk to each other.
    We offer a range of migration tools for vBulletin, xenForo, phpBB, Vanilla, bbPress and more. These tools convert your data such as members, passwords, forums, topics, posts and more across to Invision Community.
    But first, let's look at how to make your migration a success.
    Take our demo for a spin
    Hands down the best way to get a feel for Invision Community is to take out a free demo. Once you are comfortable with the suite and know what it can do, the more confident you will be in discussing it with your members.
    There's a lot of functionality to discover. Keep in touch with our sales team to get the most from the demo.  We recommend that you consider three uses.
    Your community. Look at how they will settle in with the new interface and how they will use the new features on offer.
    Your moderators. Take a moment to look in the Moderator Control Panel. Run through all the tools that are available, such as the warning system and content review system.

    Moderator Tools
    Your administrators. Probably the largest change between platforms will be in the Admin Control Panel. It's worth spending a little time getting familiar with it and looking at what's new, and where common tools are such as forum and member management.

    Tip: Invision Community's Admin Control Panel has a global search bar to look for settings, members, invoices and more. If you ever feel a little lost, enter in what you're looking for.
    Make your plan
    Using the demo and speaking to our sales team will help you draw up a migration plan. You'll know which apps you'll need, and what data can be migrated over.
    You may want to browse the marketplace to look for apps, plugins and themes to extend the functionality even further.

    Tip: We offer a VIP migration service where we work closely with you to draw up your plan and take care of the conversion for you.
    Educate your community
    Keep your community up to date with your migration plan. Show them the platform they'll be using. Take videos and screenshots showing them the exciting new features coming soon. Make it a positive and fun experience.
    Post something new every few days to get your community used to the idea and get them involved by asking them if they have any questions. Our sales and support teams are here to help you if you have any further questions at this point.
    Getting the majority of your community excited about the change is the best way to make the transition a smooth one.
    Make sure you explain the benefits of the switch too. If there's a good reason for it, your community will get behind it quickly.
    Some benefits may be:
    It works better on your mobile device and tablets, so you don't need to struggle with pinch and zoom to get around.

    Mobile ready out of the box
    The built in embed system allows you to post images, YouTube videos more easily and you can preview it instantly as you type.
    The crowd sourced moderation makes reporting bad content more beneficial. It'll help to keep the community clean from undesirable comments and moving a positive direction.
    More features on the way. Invision Community is always adding new functionality based on our customers' wishes. These releases happen often so there's always something to be excited about.
    Pick a day
    The best migrations are planned down to the date and time when the data conversion will occur. Our team can give you a rough idea of how long the data conversion will take. It will vary but we can give you a ballpark. 
    Your members will feel happy knowing what is going to happen and when. There will be some downtime while the data is converted, so it's always best to announce this well ahead of time.
    Set up a test site
    Once you are committed to switching, set up a test site. A single Invision Community license can be used for a development installation as well as a live installation.
    This is the perfect time to work on your theme and look at any tweaks you'd like to make.
    Invite in your team and a trusted few from your community to offer feedback and advice. It's worth taking the time here to make sure everything is perfect for when you do the final conversion.
    Make it comfortable
    Take some time to theme your new Invision Community so it has a similar look and feel to your existing community. Change resistant members will feel more comfortable if there are areas that are familiar to them.
    Ensuring your branding is up, and the colours match what you had before is a good start.
    The easy mode theme editor is a great place to start.
    Mind your language!
    There are always little differences in the interface language that may throw some of your older members off. For example, some systems use "threads" instead of topics and "messages" instead of posts.

    The easy language editor
    Invision Community has a built in translation system so you can change our interface language to match your existing site.
    Help your members
    Set up a temporary questions and answer forum where your members can ask how the new system works and give you feedback.
    Pin a handful of topics explaining where common items are now, such as how to edit your profile, how to send personal messages, how to mark the site as read and so on. Think about the daily activities your members make and explain how to do them with Invision Community.
    You can use the pre-move time to ask your community what actions they do daily and may need assistance with on the new platform.
    Be patient
    Some of us dislike change. We are creatures of habit. You may find some members are very resistant. That's OK, they'll come around in time as long as you continue to make them feel valued and understood. Take the time to explain how the new system works and what the benefits of Invision Community are.
    In our experience, members love the following Invision Community features:
    Notifications
    Invision Community has a variety of granular notification options, from browser to email so you're sure to not miss a thing.
    Mobile Friendly
    We're mobile friendly right out of the box. Our theme has a responsive framework, which means that it resizes perfectly to any device you're using. No need for extra themes or styles, it's all baked in.
    Gamification
    We all love a little friendly competition don't we? Invision Community has features like the leaderboard and member titles to reward activity. Who doesn't want to win the day?

     
    Reactions
    Liking content is fun, but being able to express thanks, laughter and more is even better. It's all baked into the system ready to use.
    Educate your team
    Invision Community has a whole host of moderation tools that your team will love as it makes their daily routines much easier.
    From the comprehensive warning system, to the crowd sourced moderation feature, which can automatically hide content and notify moderators once it has been reported multiple times, Invision Community makes your moderators lives easier.
    The best approach is to pin topics in a team area that explains how to use these new features and where to find them.
    Summary
    Investing in a new community platform and migrating your community across is a big decision. With the right planning and forethought, it will be a smooth and positive migration with lots to look forward to once complete.
    We offer free conversion tools for you to use, or we offer a VIP conversion service where we take care of it for you and you get one-to-one help and support throughout the process.
    We'd love to hear from those who have successfully migrated across from other platforms and how they made it a positive experience for their members.

     
  24. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, GDPR updates for Invision Community 4.3.3   
    Unless you've been living under a rock, or forgot to opt-in to the memo, GDPR is just around the corner.
    Last week we wrote a blog answering your questions on becoming GDPR compliant with Invision Community.
    We took away a few good points from that discussion and have the following updates coming up for Invision Community 4.3.3 due early next week.
    Downloading Personal Data
    Invision Community already has a method of downloading member data via the member export feature that produces a CSV.
    However, we wanted Invision Community to be more helpful, so we've added a feature that downloads personal data (such as name, email address, known IP addresses, known devices, opt in details and customer data from Nexus if you're using that) in a handy XML format which is very portable and machine readable.
     

    You can access this feature via the ACP member view
    The download itself is in a standard XML format.

    A sample export
    Pruning IP Addresses
    While there is much debate about whether IP addresses are personal information or not, a good number of our customers requested a way to remove IP addresses from older content.
    There are legitimate reasons to store IP addresses for purchase transactions (so fraud can be detected), for security logs (to prevent hackers gaining access) and to prevent spammers registering. However, under the bullet point of not storing information for longer than is required, we have added this feature to remove IP addresses from posted content (reviews, comments, posts, personal messages, etc) after a threshold.

    The default is 'Never', so don't worry. Post upgrade you won't see IP addresses removed unless you enter a value.

    This new setting is under Posting
    Deleting Members
    Invision Community has always had a way to delete a member and retain their content under a "Guest" name.
    We've cleaned this up in 4.3.3. When you delete a member, but want to retain their content, you are offered an option to anonymise this. Choosing this option attributes all posted content to 'Guest' and removes any stored IP addresses.

    Deleting a member
    Privacy Policy
    We've added a neat little feature to automatically list third parties you use on your privacy policy. If you enable Google Analytics, or Facebook Pixel, etc, these are added for you.

    The new setting

     
    Finding Settings Easily
    To make life a little easier, we've added "GDPR" as a live search keyword for the ACP. Simply tap that into the large search bar and Invision Community will list the relevant settings you may want to change.

     
    These changes show our ongoing commitment to helping you with your GDPR compliance. We'll be watching how GDPR in practise unfolds next month and will continue to adapt where required.

    Invision Community 4.3.3 is due out early next week.
  25. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, Your GDPR questions answered   
    You've no doubt heard about GDPR by now. It's a very hot topic in many circles. Lots of experts are weighing in on the best approach to take before the May 25th deadline.
    Which reminds me of my favorite joke:
    "Do you know a great GDPR expert?”
    Yes, I do!
    “Could you send me his email address”
    No, I'm afraid not.
    I wrote about how Invision Community can help with your GDPR compliance back in December. I've seen a lot of posts and topics on GDPR in our community since then.
    First, let's get the disclaimer out of the way. I'm a humble programmer and not a GDPR expert or a lawyer. The information here is presented to assist you in making decisions. As always, we recommend you do your own research and if you're in any doubt, book an appointment with a lawyer.
    It is also worth mentioning that GDPR is very much a living document with phrases like "legitimate interest" and "reasonable measures". None of these phrases have any real legal definition and are open to interpretation. Some have interpreted them severely, and others more liberally.
    GDRP is about being a good steward of the data you store on a user. It's not designed to stop you from operating an engaging web site. There's no need to create stress about users linking to other sites, embedding images, anonymizing IP addresses, and such on your site. These don't impact any data you are storing and are part of the normal operation of how the web works. Be responsible and respectful of your users' data but keep enjoying your community.
    Let's have a quick recap on the points we raised in our original blog entry.
    Individual Rights
    The right to be informed
    Invision Community has a built in privacy policy system that is presented to a new user, and existing users when it has been updated.

     
    What should your privacy policy contain? I personally like the look of SEQ Legal's framework which is available for free.
    This policy covers the important points such as which cookies are collected, how personal information is used and so on.
    There may be other services out there offering similar templates.
    Right to erasure
    I personally feel that everyone should listen to "A Little Respect" as it's not only a cracking tune, but also carries a wonderful message.
    The GDPR document however relates to the individuals right to be forgotten.
    Invision Community allows you to delete members. When deleting members, you can elect to remove their content too. There is an option to keep it as Guest content, thus removing the author as identifiable.
    It's worth using the 'keep' option after researching the user's posts to make sure they haven't posted personal information such as where they live, etc.
    Emailing and Consent
    Invision Community has the correct opt-in for bulk emails on registration that is not pre-checked. If the user checks this option, this is recorded with the member's history. Likewise, if they retract this permission, that action is also recorded.

     
    When you edit the terms and conditions or privacy policy, all users are required to read it again and opt-in again.
    Cookies
    A lot of GDPR anxiety seems to revolve around these tiny little text files your browser stores. If you read the GDPR document (and who doesn't love a little light reading) then you'll see that very little has actually changed with cookies. It extends current data protection guidance a little to ensure that you are transparent about which cookies you store.
    Invision Community has tools to create a floating cookie opt-in bar, and also a page showing which cookies are stored and why.
    This is the page that you'd edit to add any cookies your installation sets (if you have enabled Facebook's Pixel, or Google Analytics for example).
    Your GDPR Questions
    Now let's look at some questions that have been asked on our community and I'll do my best to provide some guidance that should help you make decisions on how to configure your Invision Community to suit your needs.

    Alan!!
    Is the soft opt-in cookie policy enough? What about the IP address stored in the session cookie?
    Great question. There's conflicting advise out there about this. The GDPR document states:
    The ICO states that session cookies stored for that session only (so they are deleted when the tab / window is closed) are OK as long as they are not used to profile users.
    This is re-enforced by EUROPA:

    My feeling is that GDPR isn't really out to stop you creating a functioning website, they are more interested in how you store and use this information.
    Thus, I feel that storing a session cookie with an IP address is OK. The user is told what is being stored and instructions are given if they want to delete them.
    Given the internet is very much driven by IP addresses, I fail to see how you can not collect an IP address in some form or another. They are collected in access logs deep in the server OS.
    Finally, there is a strong legitimate interest in creating a session cookie. It's part and parcel of the website's function and the cookie is not used in any 'bad' way. It just allows guests and members to retain preferences and update "last seen" times to help deliver content.
    Do I need to delete all the posts by a member if they ask me to?
    We have many large clients in the EU with really impressive and expensive legal teams and they are all unanimous in telling us that there is no requirement to delete content when deleting a user's personal information. The analogy often given is with email: once someone sends you an email you are not obligated to delete that. The same is true with content posted by a user: once they post that content it's no longer "owned" by them and is now out in public.

    Ultimately, the decision is yours but do not feel that you have to delete their content. This is not a GDPR requirement.
    What about members who haven't validated? They're technically not members but we're still holding their data!
    No problem. The system does delete un-validated users and incomplete users automatically for you. You can even set the time delay for deletion in the ACP.

     
    What about RECAPTCHA? I use this, and it technically collects some data!
    Just add that you use this service to your privacy policy, like so:
    I see many companies emailing out asking for members to opt back in for bulk mail, do I need to do this?
    Short answer: No.
    Since Invision Community 4.0, you can only ever bulk email users that have opted in for bulk emails. There's no way around it, so there's nothing to ask them to opt-in for. They've already done it.
    There is a tiny wrinkle in that pre 4.2.7, the opt-in was pre-checked as was the norm for most websites. Moving forward, GDPR asks for explicit consent, so this checkbox cannot be pre-ticked (and isn't in Invision Community 4.2.7 and later). However, the ICO is clear that if the email list has a legitimate interest, and was obtained with soft opt-in, then you don't need to ask again for permission.
    What about notifications? They send emails!
    Yes they do, but that's OK.
    A notification is only ever sent after a user chooses to follow an item. This falls under legitimate interest.
    There is also a clear way to stop receiving emails. The user can opt-in and opt-out of email as a notification device at their leisure.

     
    Do I need to stop blocking embeds and external images?
    No. The internet is based on cross-linking of things and sharing information. At a very fundamental level, it's going to be incredibly hard to prevent it from happening. Removing these engaging and enriching tools are only going to make your community suffer.

    There's no harm in adding a few lines in your privacy policy explaining that the site may feature videos from Vimeo and Youtube as part of user contributions but you do not need to be worried. As stated earlier, GDPR isn't about sucking the fun out of the internet, it's about being responsible and transparent.
    Phew.
    Hopefully you've got a better understanding about how Invision Community can assist your GDPR compliance efforts.
    The best bit of advice is to not panic. If you have any questions, we'd love to hear them. Drop us a line below.
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