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Ioannis D

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  1. 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.
  2. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, How to use Invision Community content in Wordpress in under 5 minutes   
    If you've already got a Wordpress website, and have recently added an Invision Community, you might want to show recent posts or topics right on your Wordpress site.
    You might think this involves complex programming and custom themes, but thanks to some Pages magic, it's a very simple task that you can do in under 5 minutes.
    This very short video walks you through the process.
    If you'd prefer a written step by step, then head over to our help guides.
    As you can see, the whole process is very quick and very easy. Adding the latest topics on your site is a great way to drive discussion into your Invision Community.
    Let us know if you have any questions!
  3. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to bfarber for an entry, 5 ways to monetize your community   
    To monetize, or not to monetize, that is the question that preoccopies our administrators!
    Ok, I'm no Shakespeare, but a vital question community owners are faced with at some point is: can we and should we make some money from our community?
    Let's first look at the "should we?"
    Absolutely! You don't need to frustrate your users or risk goodwill by starting monetization. Running a community comes with tangible costs in terms of paying for the monthly cloud plans or license and hosting costs.
    Not to mention your own time which must be factored into this decision. If the community sustained all or part of your income, could you commit more time to help it grow?
    Now lets look at the "can we?"
    Absolutely! You made a great choice by building your platform with Invision Community. We have built in monetization tools that allow you to collect micro-payments from third party systems; and we have tools for selling products and services.
    Advertisements
    An obvious choice, many sites will turn to advertisements through Google Adsense or a similar service to generate income from their community. Whether this approach will work for your community or not is dependent upon many factors.
    Do you generate enough traffic that you will actually earn an income from advertisements?
    Do enough of your audience browse your site without tools such as Adblock installed?
    Is your site compatible with any of the many advertisement services out there? This is worth checking to make sure.
    Advertisement services are a relatively easy solution for generating micro-payments. It's unlikely you'll be able to retire any time soon on advertising payments alone though.
    An alternative approach to using advertisements is to sell advertisement space on your own site through Commerce.
    This can be an especially attractive option if your site holds a captive audience in a specific niche, as advertisers will be certain their ads are targetting the niche they are aiming to target effectively.
    Viglink
    Viglink is a service that looks for commercial product references in user-generated content, and links to those products using referral links that can generate revenue. Generally speaking, there is no real harm in using such a service as the functionality is transparent for most users.

     
    Invision Community features integration with Viglink out of the box. You simply need to enter certain account information into the AdminCPand the software will handle the rest.
    Charging for products
    If you sell digital or physical products, you can leverage Invision Community to help facilitate the sale of such products through your community site.
    If you are an expert or leader in your field, then why not write a short e-book on your subject and put it up for sale? Low cost e-books under $10 tend to sell really well and it's a great way to generate some passive trickle income.
    Sale, renewals, invoicing, shipping, customer support and more are all possible through our Commerce product with powerful features that allow you to easily sell products locally and around the world.
    Charging for additional access
    The simplest way to monetize your community is to charge for VIP access.
    This may be for elevated permissions, such as being able to upload larger files, post more content per day and access specific features like user signatures, special badges and so on.

     
    You can also set up VIP forums that regular members do not have access to. 
    In fact, Invision Community can be tailored towards being an e-learning platform simply by setting up a subscription in Commerce and creating a private forum only the VIP group can access.
    Simply post a new topic with each learning module. Topics can contain embeds from YouTube and Vimeo if you prefer to deliver training over video.
    Be sure to give previews of such areas if you do sell access to additional areas of the community.
    For example, you can allow all users to "see" that a forum exists, but show an error message to regular members who attempt to read topics in the forum, while allowing subscribers full access to those topics. This helps naturally entice users into subscribing to gain additional access by allowing them to see what they will gain access to.
    Charging a fee for facilitation
    Another possible avenue to monetize your community is by charging a fee for facilitating file sharing between your members. The Downloads application allows users to upload and even sell their files to other users on the community, while also allowing the administrator of the community to retain a percentage of all sales. 
    If your community serves a niche that may see online sales of files in a marketplace-type setting, you can earn some money by administering such a marketplace.
    As you can see, there are several opportunities available with Invision Community to monetize your community.
    Do you use any other methods of monetizing your community?
  4. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, Why owning your own community is better than using a Facebook Group   
    Are you a member of a busy Facebook Group? Do you find it overwhelming trying to sort through all the posts to find something posted the day before? Are you now missing new posts and only seeing them a few days later?
    Facebook Groups are tempting to use as they are free to set up but is this the best decision for the future of your business?
    At the beginning with just a handful of members, things may fun fine. But fast forward to where your group becomes busy with thousands of members posting and reading.
    Your group becomes overwhelming. You find it hard to locate posts made on previous days and search is of no use. It is getting harder to keep on top of troublesome and spamming members.
    Worse still, Facebook's changing algorithms mean that your members are not seeing every post you make. You do as Facebook asks and link your page to your group to find that you must now boost posts to reach your members.
    This is getting to be a very common scenario.
    Even more worrying are rumours that Facebook is bringing advertising to groups. Will this allow your competitors to target your hard won membership?
    Will Facebook roll out the "Discover" tab across all continents? This alone has destroyed organic reach for many brands.
    What would you do if Facebook blocked your account for a week? Would your sales suffer?
    There is a way to take back control of your membership and secure your business' future. Building your business on your own land is a powerful way of retaining complete control over your community regardless of what happens to Facebook longer term.
    Created in 2002,  Invision Community has always adapted to the changing habits of the internet. Our latest product is clean, modern, mobile ready and equipped to integrate with social media. It can power your conversations, website and shopping cart. It features single click Facebook sign in and tools to promote scheduled content to your Facebook page.
    We recently wrote why you shouldn't settle for a Facebook Group when building a community.
    The benefits of an owned Invision Community are:
    You own your own data. Your data is not mined for Facebook's benefit. Make it yours by branding it your way You're no longer boxed in by the Facebook format Seamless integration to your shopping cart for more monetization opportunities Set up permission levels to better control what your members can see Lets dig in a look at some of the tools you can leverage to make the migration easier.
    Mobile Ready
    Invision Community works great on your mobile. It resizes the page perfectly to match whichever device you are using. You don't need to install special apps or mess with themes. It just works out of the box.

     
    Facebook Sign In
    The first thing you'll want to do is turn on Facebook Sign In. This adds the familiar Facebook button right on the sign in page and register form. Clicking this logs them into your new community with their Facebook account. It even imports their profile photo so they are familiar with other members.

     
    Make use of embeds
    A great way to keep incorporating content from your Facebook Group or Page is to use embeds. Post a link to your content on Facebook and it transforms into a rich media snippet.

     
    Social Promotions
    Share your community content with your Facebook Page. Click the "Promote" button on any content item and you can customize the text and images shared. The promotion system offers a full scheduling system much like Buffer or Hootsuite. This is all built in at no extra cost.

     
    Find Your Content
    Unlike a Facebook Group, your Invision Community makes it easy to find older content. A powerful feature is activity streams. These are customizable "feeds" much like the Facebook News Feed but completely editable to you and your members needs. You can even make this the first page your members see for easy content discovery.

     
    Use Clubs
    Clubs allow sub-communities to run inside your main community. Let's look at a real world example.
    A FitPro has several different fitness products for sale. Each product is a Facebook Group. She posts daily workouts and answers member's questions.
    Using many groups can be very time consuming to manage.
    Clubs puts these sub-communities right on the page making it easy to drop in and update.
    These Clubs can be private and members invited to join allowing full privacy. This is like a closed Facebook group.

     
    We're only scratching the surface of what Invision Community can offer you. You can take back control of your membership and be free from the fear that Facebook will change something that will impact your sales.
    We're experts in this field with 16 years of experience. We've helped grow thousands of communities from the very biggest brands to the smallest of niches.
    We'd love to talk to you about your needs.
  5. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, We're now using Invision Community 4.3!   
    Cue the music; switch on the dramatic lighting, we've got fantastic news!
    We're now running Invision Community 4.3 on here for some advanced testing before we unleash the first beta release.

    There's a subtle hint above
    If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights.
    As this is a pre-beta release, expect some funkiness as we scurry around and tidy up our custom theme wrapper and other areas as we spot them.
    If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area.
    We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
  6. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.3: Engagement Improvements   
    As we come close to wrapping up development of Invision Community 4.3, we wanted to let you know of a few smaller improvements we've made to increase engagement to your community.
    Email
    Despite fancy new things like social media and push notifications, trusty old email has been proven to be highly effective at getting repeat visitors to your website.
    It's one of the reasons Invision Community has built in email support for notifications that can be sent instantly, or via daily or weekly digests.
    Email should form a part of every community marketing strategy but curating content and building newsletters can often be a labor intensive task.
    With Invision Community 4.3 we have added some additional automated email tools to help your users discover more of your carefully crafted content.
    Highlight the best content from throughout your community
    In 4.2 we introduced the concept of curated content with promotions and “Our Picks”. With 4.3 we’ve taken this a step further and these promoted items will now appear directly in your content related emails. 
    This allows for your audience to be enticed back to your community with items that they may not have read but holds interest.

    Capture return visits with interesting content
    Social media links in email footers
    If you look closely in the image above you will also see that you can now optionally include links to all of your social media sites within the footer of all of your outgoing emails.
    Both of these new features are enabled by default but can be disabled in the email settings section of your admin control panel.
    Email may be as old as the web itself, but it is a very powerful medium to get your audience coming back for more.
    Respond to Reviews
    We added the ability to leave a review to Pages articles, download files, calendar events and in other areas early on in Invision Community 4. The concept was to allow your members to engage in new ways with your content. Reviews on Commerce store items and purchasable downloadable goods is a great way to inspire others to purchase.
    New to Invision Community 4.3 is the ability for the content creator (be that a download file, store owner, etc) to respond to a review. This is a great way to address reviews that may be considered unfair or extreme.

    Matt is talking to himself again
    One more thing...
    Not content with resurrecting the Subscriptions manager from 2009, we've brought back a small detail from previous versions of Invision Community. The famous "this person is typing a reply" indicator in the online list.

     
    We can't wait to release this latest update. With new ways to monetise your community, new ways to engage your audience and better promotion tools, we're excited to see how it's going to benefit your community.
     
  7. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.3: Commerce Subscription Manager   
    We've recently spoken about how we've brought our Gallery and Blog apps up to date with interface overhauls to bring them inline with the high standards our customers expect.
    Keeping this in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we've taken Commerce right back to 2009.
    This needs an explanation.
    Way back in 2009, Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President. Minecraft was put into beta, Slumdog Millionaire was released to critical praise and we had a product called IP.Subscriptions.
    IP.Subscriptions was a lightweight member subscriptions manager that allowed members to purchase elevated permissions via a user group upgrade.
    It was a fine little app. However, on the horizon we had a brand new eCommerce app in development. Then called Nexus, now called Commerce (we took months to come up with that).
    It made sense for us to merge the products into one app given they both had overlapping functionality. They both could create packages to promote members to a new user group. Commerce was much more developed as an invoicing and billing system.
    Everyone was happy.
    Almost.
    Commerce has grown to be an incredibly powerful app. It can sell anything from physical products like t-shirts, to digital products such as license keys and it can even manage your hosting set-up.
    We use it for our support and billing systems, so we know how robust it is.
    While it's an incredibly powerful commerce system, setting up basic subscriptions packages became a little more complex.
    Over the past few years we've received a lot of feedback on this.
    We've listened.
    Commerce Member Subscriptions
    We've built a brand new section into Commerce specifically for membership subscriptions.
    Let's take a look at this in more detail.
    On the front end, there's a very clear and easy to understand page for membership subscriptions.

    The main subscriptions interface
    Here you can see all the available packages, which one you're currently subscribed to and the upgrade and downgrade options.

    A simple way to upgrade
    There's several choices for costing upgrades in the Admin CP, here we have chosen to charge the difference between packages.

    Get to your subscriptions easily
    Your subscriptions are easily found in the user menu.
    If the Admin allows, the package you're subscribed to appears as a badge on your profile.

     
    There's also a little widget showing the packages which you can drag and drop to the sidebar for an additional prompt for non-subscribers.

     
    This gives Invision Community a very clear and easy to understand interface for subscriptions which lives outside of the Commerce store and its packages.
    Now, let's dive into the Admin CP
    The main engine for this feature is the package list. This is in a separate area within Commerce.

     
    The list also shows the number of currently active and inactive subscribers. This links to the list of subscribers.

     
    Other than Bob having a total nightmare, you can easily view which members are currently active. The buttons link you to the Commerce invoice and purchase.
    If you wish to add a member to a subscription without charging them (you generous soul, you), then that is easily possible.

     
    Creating a new subscription package is very straight forward. We've built a new form which is stripped down to the fundamental items you'll need for a subscription.

     
    As you would expect, there are several settings to control the system.

     
    A few things worth mentioning here:
    You can force new members to purchase a subscription on sign-up You can show or hide the profile badge indicating which package they purchased. You can choose to allow upgrades or downgrades. You can choose how you'd like to charge for upgrades or downgrades Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback over the years. We're really pleased to present this new feature and hope that it'll make your daily lives just a little easier.
    Let us know what you think!
     
  8. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, Happy 16th Birthday To Us!   
    This month, we turn sweet sixteen!

    We made our own card this year.
    I know, it's hard to believe with our youthful looks and energetic personalities, but it's true. Charles and I have known each other longer than I've known my own children and we still make each other laugh on a daily basis.
    Over the past 16 years we've seen a lot of trends come and go.
    When we started, AOL dial-up was the preferred method of choice (and probably the only method of choice). Compuserve were flying high and I think I'll stop this walk down memory lane before I turn into my own grandfather and start talking about how things were better in my day.
    A lot has changed. We've seen the rise of social media and how it disrupted habits. We've seen MP3 players become iPods, and iPods become iPhones and iPhones become iPads (other digital devices are also available).
    It's crazy to think that our company pre-dates Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

    Click on this image to see it unless you have excellent eyesight
    We're still here because we are always innovating and adapting. The software we're working on right now is vastly different from the one we started out with. And that is how it should be. We listen to our customers and we implement the great ideas.
    Of course, we'd not have lasted a year without our customers. We're genuinely thrilled to still be doing a job we love and serving customers who have trusted their community with us.
    Thank you all for choosing us and we're looking forward to the next 16 years.
  9. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: Paid club memberships, and other club improvements   
    We released news of Clubs just under a year ago for Invision Community 4.2 and it has been the best received feature to date.
    Clubs opens up new ways to run your community by allowing members to create sub-communities away from the central forum area.
    Since the feature was released, we've collated an immense amount of feedback on the feature. Here's what we're improving for Invision Community 4.3.
    Paid Club Memberships
    If you have Commerce installed on your community, 4.3 adds the ability for members to create paid clubs. Users wishing to join the club will be required to pay a membership fee (which can be one off or recurring) which will be paid to the club owner, minus any commission you want to keep for the site. You can choose which groups can create paid clubs.

    Paid Club Settings
    If enabled, the club directory will show the price for membership in each club.

    Club directory with paid clubs
    The process for joining works a little differently depending on the type of club...
    For open clubs, the user will immediately be prompted to pay the joining fee. Once they have paid, they are added to the club as normal. For closed clubs, the user will need to request to join as normal. Once they have been accepted to join the club, they will then be able to pay the membership fee, after which they'll be added to the club. For private and read-only (a new type in 4.3, which we'll talk about below) users have to be invited to join the club Public clubs have no membership, and so cannot be paid.
    Joining a paid club (a closed club in this screenshot)

    Paid club after request to join has been accepted

    Paying for club membership
    Club leaders can also waive the membership fee, allowing certain users to join the club for free.

    Waiving fee when approving request to join

    Waiving fee when inviting members

    Waiving renewal fees on an existing member
    If a member fails to pay their renewal charge, they are moved into an "expired" state. The club leaders can see the status and renewal date for all members, and use the filter tools to just see active or expired members.

    Club members management
    Paying out membership fees works just as it does with paid files in Downloads. Users receive the amount as account credit. If enabled, they can then request a payout of this via PayPal or a manual payout method you want to use.

    Viewing an invoice in the AdminCP where some payment has been given to a member

    Viewing account credit with options to withdraw funds
     
     
    Club content throughout the community
    Currently content in clubs is only visible within the club itself. In 4.3 a new setting allows you to show the content from clubs throughout the community - for example, if a club contains a forum, that forum can show in the main forum list.
     
    Club forums showing on main forum list
    This is a single toggle: if enabled, all content from clubs that each user has joined will show throughout the community, appearing below the normal categories/etc in that application.
     
     
    New Club Type: Read Only
    In addition to Open, Closed, Private and Public, we have added a new club type in 4.3: read only. In a read only club, everyone can (without joining) view everything in the club, but cannot participate unless they are invited by a club leader.
     
    Following
    Users can now follow a club, and will then receive notifications about all new content in the club - the same as if they followed every content area in the club.
     
    List View
    In addition to the current grid layout of clubs, there is a new list-style.

    Clubs List View
    The admin can choose which views are available and what the default should be.
     
    AdminCP Approval
    You can now filter the list of clubs in the AdminCP to clubs requiring approval and approve clubs from within the AdminCP.

    Approving clubs in AdminCP
     
    Deleting Content Areas
    Club leaders can now delete content areas within their clubs. This can be useful if, for example, the leader added a club feature by mistake.
    Content areas can only be removed if there is no content within it, or if you have granted club leaders the ability to delete content in their clubs (since they would be able to empty it).

    Ability to remove features from clubs
     
    Other Minor Tweaks
    You can now set per-group the maximum number of clubs a member in that group can create. A member invited to join a club can now delete the invitation if they do not want to accept it (rather than just ignoring it).
  10. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: Take payments with Apple Pay and more with Stripe and Commerce   
    Stripe is the most popular payment method in Commerce, allowing communities to take payments by card securely with easy setup.
    While there's no doubt that credit cards are still the most popular methods of making a payment, digital innovations such as Apple Pay are increasing in popularity.
    For 4.3 we've deepened our integration to support some of their latest features.
    Apple Pay & Google Pay
    Apple Pay allows users to pay quickly with their iPhone, iPad or Mac (with Safari and either a paired iPhone or using the MacBook Pro with Touch ID) using the card details stored on the device, authenticated with Touch ID or Face ID.
    Apple Pay
    Google Chrome (on desktop or Android devices) supports a similar feature allowing users to pay with card details stored in their Google account with Google Pay, or stored in Chrome itself.
    Paying with card details stored in Google Chrome
     
    Both of these features are now supported through Stripe in Invision Community 4.3. Setup is simple - for Apple Pay you simply need to verify that you own your domain by uploading a file you obtain from the Stripe dashboard, and nothing special is needed for Google Pay - and then create the payment method in the AdminCP. Stripe does not charge any additional fees for either option.
    Commerce will automatically hide the option if the user's device does not support either method.
    3D Secure
    Also known as Verified by Visa, Mastercard SecureCode, and other brand names, 3D Secure is a system that is used to verify a customer's identity before purchase is completed and transfers the fraud loss liability from the merchant to the cardholder bank in case of fraudulent disputes.
    After the user has entered their card details, they are redirected to their bank's website and asked to provide additional verification.
    Our integration with Stripe in 4.3 now supports this process. A new setting allows you to choose if you want to use 3D Secure just for cards which require it (i.e. cards which would decline the payment if 3D Secure is not completed) or for all cards which optionally support it as well.
     
    Amex Express Checkout
    American Express cardholders can use Amex Express checkout to pay by using their American Express login rather than providing their card information.  This is also now supported through Stripe in 4.3.
    Amex Express Checkout
     
    Alipay, Bancontact, Giropay, iDEAL, SOFORT
    These are popular payment processors internationally (Alipay is popular in China, Bancontact in Belgium, Giropay in Germany, iDEAL in the Netherlands, and SOFORT in several European countries).
    The checkout experience is similar to PayPal with the user being redirected to the appropriate site, authenticating the payment, and then being redirected back.
    All of these are also now supported through Stripe in 4.3.
     
    Dispute/Chargeback Handling
    A dispute (also known as a chargeback) occurs when one a cardholder questions your payment with their card issuer, which causes the funds, plus a fee, to immediately be taken from your account until evidence is provided that the transaction was legitimate.
    Anyone operating an online store knows how frustrating this experience can be. In 4.3, we've made dealing with this situation a little easier. When a dispute is created, Commerce will now mark the transaction as disputed, which will immediately revoke any benefits from the purchase (for example, if it's for a subscription that moves them into a different group, they will be placed back into their original group; if it's a Downloads file, they won't be able to download it any more; if it's for a physical item that hasn't been shipped yet, the shipping order will be placed on hold).

    Disputed Transaction
    All transactions with currently open disputes can be accessed quickly from the transaction list. The transaction page will show you the status and reason for the dispute, and links to your Stripe dashboard where you can respond.
    When the dispute is resolved, the transaction screen will be updated, with either the transaction being marked as refunded if the dispute is lost, or going back to paid if the dispute is won and the funds returned to you.

    A dispute that was lost

    A dispute that was won
     
     
    Radar
    Radar is Stripe's suite of fraud detection tools using machine learning and customisable rules to help detect fraudulent transactions.
    Stripe will automatically blocks transactions is considers highest risk already. However, for "elevated" risk transactions, while Stripe would alert you of them so you could review them, Commerce would process the transaction normally.
    In 4.3, Commerce will place any transactions which Radar reports as having an "elevated" risk level on hold for manual review, so you can decide whether to approve or not before the funds have been captured.
    In addition, the transaction details screen for Stripe transactions now provides some additional information about Stripe's checks on the transaction, including the Radar risk level, if the CVC check passed, and if the billing address provided matches the card's billing address.
    If a fraudulent transaction does make it through, you will now have the option to indicate this when refunding the transaction to help Stripe's anti-fraud systems learn.
  11. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: Sign in from other sites using OAuth   
    The best way to convert guests into members is to make the onboarding process as simple as possible.
    Over the years, we've added special log in methods for Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Microsoft. We've carefully hand coded these integrations to allow guests to sign up with just a few clicks using services they're already a member of.
    These services used to use proprietary methods to link with other websites, but a new standard has emerged.
    OAuth
    You may not know it, but you're probably familiar with OAuth already. If you have enabled the ability for users of your community to sign in with their Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn or Microsoft account, you may have noticed that the process for setting up each of these is quite similar. This is because they all use the OAuth protocol.
    In Invision Community 4.3, we are introducing several exciting new features:
    In addition to all of the existing social networks above, which retain their "easy setup" status, we have also added Wordpress. Users on your community can now sign in with any Wordpress site you control (you will need to install a Wordpress plugin to enable OAuth capabilities). As well as those "easy setup" options, we have also added the ability for you to allow users on your site to sign in with any OAuth 2.0 based provider. This means, for example, if your community is based in a location where other social networks are popular, if they use OAuth, you can set those up too. While the setup is a little bit more complicated, this doesn't require any custom programming - you'll just need to find out a few more pieces of information from the provider (an example is provided below). Invision Community itself can now also serve as an OAuth 2.0 server so you can set up other sites to be able to facilitate logins using credentials from your community. This works in conjunction with our REST API, allowing you to make API calls as an authenticated member, which will return just the information that user has access to. With the ability for Invision Community to serve as both an OAuth server and client, this now provides standard integration for multiple Invision Communities together, which will now replace the old IPS Connect feature. We have also taken this opportunity to make a few other minor tweaks to login, registration and account management features, especially for communities which rely heavily on non-standard login methods (more details below).  
    Setting Up a Custom OAuth Provider
    For this example, I'm going to use vk.com, which is a popular social network in Europe. While Invision Community doesn't provide this as one of the "easy setup" options, it is based on OAuth 2.0 so we can use the new functionality in Invision Community 4.3 to set it up.
    In older versions, the list of login handlers in the AdminCP had all of the providers listed with enable/disable toggles - because now you can add as many custom handlers as you like in 4.3, it's now a list where you can add/delete options:

    Login Handlers List
    When clicking the "Create New" button, you'll see all of the different handlers Invision Community supports. Since vk.com isn't in the list, but is still OAuth 2.0-based, I'll choose the "Other OAuth 2.0" option:
     
    Choosing a Login Handler
    You'll now need to use the documentation provided by the site you want to integrate with to fill out this form. While no custom programming is required, the documentation is usually quite technical in nature - but you only need a few key pieces of information. We anticipate that for some of the more popular options, guides will be provided to help you find the information you need.
    I have created an application in vk.com's developer center and so I will copy and paste my credentials into the form:

    Inputting vk.com credentials
    I then need to find the endpoints from vk.com's documentation and input those too.

    Inputting vk.com endpoints
    Next I need to find the endpoint where I can access the user's information within their API and the parameters they are returned by. The only required piece of information is an ID, but you can also provide the parameters for accessing the display name, email address and profile photo. If display name/email address isn't available/provided, the user will be asked for this the first time they sign in. vk.com's API doesn't provide access to the email, but I can use the screen name as the display name, and they do provide access to the photo:


    Inputting vk.com User Information Endpoint and response parameters
    Finally, provide a logo and a color for the sign in button and some final settings:

    Inputting vk.com Logo and Button Color
    And now vk.com login is set up. A button will now show up on the front end which I can use to sign in. I didn't provide a way to access the email address, so on the first sign in, the user will be prompted to provide that, but the screen name and profile photo from vk.com will be used:

    Signing in with vk.com
     
    Using Invision Community as an OAuth Server
    You can also set up Invision Community itself to be an OAuth Server. This may be useful for two main reasons:
    If you want to integrate two communities together, or integrate with something else which supports adding custom OAuth clients. If you are a developer and want to use the REST API using OAuth for authentication rather than an API Key. You can either make requests as an authenticated user (by obtaining an access token) or using Client Credentials. The screenshots below show the full capabilities which are quite technical and mostly aimed at developers. If you will just use this feature to link two communities, don't be concerned if it looks too complicated, an easy-to-follow guide will be available to achieve that.
    You will set up the clients from the AdminCP:


    Setting up an OAuth Client
    When creating the OAuth Client, you can control which scopes are available, and which endpoints of the REST API they provide access to:

    Defining OAuth Client Scopes
    The login process is then the standard OAuth flow, and users have the ability to view authorisations in the account settings:

    Authenticating an OAuth Client
    The REST API has new and updated endpoints to be aware of the authenticated user:

    A new REST API endpoint which returns details of the currently authenticated user

    An updated REST API endpoint which, when called using OAuth authentication, will only return data the authenticated user has access to
     
    Other Login System Tweaks
    Users can now choose if they want to change their local display name or email address if it is changed by an external login method (or the administrator can choose this behaviour). If there is an issue with this (for example, it wants to change the email to one that is already taken), or profile photo syncing, this is now better communicated to the user. You can now control per-login-handler if new registrations are allowed using it. This addresses some confusion from previous versions as to if the "Allow New Registrations" setting applies to accounts being created by social network logins. The Standard login handler can be disabled if you rely totally on an alternate login method. To allow this to happen:  All areas where a user is prompted to re-enter their password (some areas of the account settings) now allow reauthentication using any login handler. You can disable local registration but still allow accounts to be created by other login handlers, or redirect users to an external URL to register an account. You can also disable or redirect to an external URL for changing email address / password or the Forgot Password tool. You can now create multiple instances of the external MySQL database and LDAP login methods which have also had some other minor tweaks: The external MySQL database handler now has PHP's password_hash() function as an available option for password encryption type, and defining a custom encryption method is now much easier, done entirely in the AdminCP without needing to modify PHP files. You can now choose if changes to the local display name / email address / password is synced back to the external database / LDAP database. You can optionally show these handlers in the Account Settings pages like other login handlers to allow users with an existing account to link their accounts. You can define a Forgot Password URL for the external database which the user will be redirected to if they try to use the Forgot Password tool and that is how their account is authenticated. 
  12. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.3   
    We are happy to announce the new Invision Community 4.3 is available!
    Some highlights in Invision Community 4.3 include...
    Improved Search
    We now support Elasticsearch for scalable and accurate searching that MySQL alone cannot provided. There are also enhancements to the overall search interfaces based on your feedback.

     
    Emoji
    Express yourself with native emoji support in all editors. You can also keep your custom emoticons as you have now.

     
    Member Management
    The AdminCP interface to manage your members is all new allowing you easier control and management of your membership.

     
    Automatic Community Moderation
    You as the administrator set up rules to define how many unique member reports a piece of content needs to receive before it's automatically hidden from view and moderators notified.

     
    Clubs
    The new Clubs feature has been a huge hit with Invision Community users and we are expanding it to include invite-only options, notifications, exposure on the main community pages, paid memberships, and more.
    Custom Email Footers
    Your community generates a lot of email and you can now include dynamic content in the footer to help drive engagement and content discovery. 
    New Gallery Interface
    We have reworked our Gallery system with a simplified upload process and more streamlined image viewing.
     
    The full list follows. Enjoy!
    Content Discovery
    We now support Elasticsearch which is a search utility that allows for much faster and more reliable searching. The REST API now supports search functions. Both MySQL and Elasticsearch have new settings for the admin to use to set search-defaults and default content weighting to better customize search logic to your community. Visitors can now search for Content Pages and Commerce Products. When entering a search term, members now see a more clear interface so they know what areas they are searching in and the method of search. Member Engagement
    Commerce can now send a customizable account welcome email after checkout. You can whitelist emails in the spam service to stop false-positives. REST API has many enhancements to mange members. Ability to join any OAuth service for login management. Invision Community can now be an OAuth endpoint. Wordpress OAuth login method built in. Support for Google's Invisible ReCaptcha. Groups can be excluded from Leaderboard (such as admins or bot groups). All emails generated by Invision Community can now contain admin-defined extra promotional text in the footer such as Our Picks, and Social Links. Admins can now define the order of Complete Your Profile to better control user experience. Clubs
    Option to make a Club visible but invite-only Admins can set an option so any Club a member is part of will also show in the parent application. So if you are in a Club that has a Gallery tab then those image will show both in the Club and in the main Gallery section of the community. Club members can now follow an entire Club rather than just each content section. There is a new option on the Club directory page for a list view which is useful for communities with many Clubs. If you have Commerce you can now enable paid memberships to Clubs. Admins can set limits on number of Clubs per group. If a group has delete permission in their Club, they can now delete empty containers as well. Members can ignore invitations. Moderation and Administration
    Unrestricted moderator or administrator permission sets in the AdminCP are visually flagged. This prevents administrator confusion when they cannot do something as they will be able to quickly see if their account has restrictions. You can choose to be notified with a new Club is created. Moderators can now reply to any content item with a hidden reply. Download screenshot/watermarks can now be rebuilt if you change settings. Support for Facebook Pixel to easily track visitors. Moderators can now delete Gallery albums. Automatic moderation tools with rules to define when content should auto-hide based on user reports. Totally new member management view in AdminCP. More areas are mass-selectable like comments and AdminCP functions for easier management. New Features
    Commerce now has full Stripe support including fraud tools, Apple Pay, and other Stripe features. Commerce packages can now have various custom email events configured (expiring soon, purchased, expired). Full Emojii support in the editor. Complete overhaul of the Gallery upload and image views. Announcements system overhaul. Now global on all pages (not via widget) and new modes including dismissible announcements and top-header floating bar option. Many new reports on traffic and engagement in the AdminCP. Blog has new view modes to offer options for a traditional site blog or a community multi-member blog platform. The content-starter can now leave one reply to Reviews on their item. Commerce now makes it much easier to do basic account-subscriptions when there is no product attached. Useful Improvements
    Forums has a new widget where you can filter by tags. If tags are not required, the tag input box now indicates this so the member knows they do not have to put in tags. Member cover photos can now be clicked to see the full image. Any item with a poll now has a symbol on the list view. Twitch.tv embed support. You can now update/overwrite media in the Pages Media Manager. Mapbox as an additional map provider to Google Maps. Technical Changes
    Direct support for Sparkpost has been removed. Anyone currently using Sparkpost will automatically have their settings converted to the Sparkpost SMTP mode so your email will still work. Your cache engines (like Redis) will be checked on upgrade and in the support tool to ensure they are reachable. Third-party applications will now be visually labeled to distinguish them from Invision Community official applications. The queued tasks list in the AdminCP is now collapsed by default as queued tasks are not something people need to pay much attention to during normal operations. When upgrading from version 3 series you must convert your database to UTF8 and the system saves your original data in tables prefixed with orig. The AdminCP now alerts you these are still present and allows you to remove them to reclaim storage space. On new installs there are now reasonable defaults for upload limits to keep people from eating up storage space. Categories in all apps (forums, gallery albums, databases, etc.) no longer allow HTML in their titles. This has been a concern both in terms of security and usability so we were forced to restrict it. Large improvements to the Redis cache engine including use for sessions. The login with HTTPS option has been removed and those who were using it will be given instructions to convert their entire community to HTTPS. Images loaded through the proxy system now honor image limits for normal uploads. We now consider BBCode deprecated. We are not removing support but will not fix any future issues that may come up.
     
    There's a lot to talk about here so we are going to lock this entry to comments so things do not get confusing. Feel free to comment on upcoming feature-specific entries or start a topic in our Feedback forum.
     
  13. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, So long 2017!   
    As we make our final commits, merge in the last of our branches and wait for Charles to move more tasks to the development list, we pause to reflect on our year together as a company.
    Pour some egg nog, grab some snacks and lets take a look at our journey this year.
    Our year in numbers
    In 2017 we made 72 Invision Community releases, 6584 code commits, read 157,203 customer replies and made an average of 177 staff replies to tickets per day.
    Our year in dates
    We were certainly busy this year. We launched Invision Community 4.2, started work on Invision Community 4.3, started two new blog series and a newsletter. Lets take a look at the key dates.
    March 10th
    We started talking about our upcoming release, Invision Community 4.2 which saw us drop "Invision Power Services" in favour of the sleeker and less awkward "Invision Community".
    March 28 - 30th
    During our series of blogs on 4.2, we launch a triple whammy of blog entries outlining reactions, clubs and social media promotions. Three new tent-pole features that drove 4.2 to be our most successful release.
    July 19th
    We release Invision Community 4.2 to deafening applause (most of it was our own, but it still counts). We give the development team a 15 minute break and then drop the 4.3 task list internally.
    September 15th
    We start a new blog series "Team Talk". The idea is to show that we're not a bunch of code writing robots, but we're real people with personalities, hopes and dreams. So far, it's proved that we're mostly a bunch of code writing robots without personalities. The irony.
    October 18th
    Not content to just talk about silly things in Team Talk, we launched our new long form blog series "Community Management". Here we give our many years of community building insight to help you become successful in running your communities. We've tackled a number of subjects from SEO to security so far with many more planned for 2018.
    October 30th
    Our development team have been busy working on Invision Community 4.3 and we announce it to the world. And being the huge tease we are, we've said nothing since. Rest assured, we've got a lot done and its shaping up to be another great release. We'll be talking about it in more detail next year.
    It's all about you
    Of course, we couldn't finish without saying a massive THANK YOU to all our customers. We are so lucky to do something we love for a living and that is only possible because you choose to use us to build your community.
    We are committed to keep moving forward to ensure that we serve you in the best way possible. We'll keep innovating to give you the tools you need to succeed and we'll keep posting blogs packed full of tips and advice.
    Here's to 2018 and all the adventures it brings.

     
     
  14. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, How to lock down and keep your community secure   
    Making security considerations a key part of your community setup and maintenance can save you from many future headaches.
    You've worked hard to get your community moving. Don't make yourself an easy target and undo that work.
    Here’s our current advice to our customers.
     
    1. Enable HTTPS
    HTTPS is fast becoming the standard way to serve websites. In 2016, more than 50% of web requests were served under HTTPS for the first time. Chrome and Firefox now explicitly warn users on login forms that aren’t sending data over HTTPS, and it’s not hard to imagine that in the near future all insecure pages will receive the warning.
    HTTPS simply means that website data is served over a secure connection and can’t be read or tampered with by a ‘middle man’ hacker. You can identify a site using HTTPS because the address in your browser will show ‘https://’ (instead of http://), and normally a lock icon or the word ‘secure’.
    Invision Community supports HTTPS by default simply by changing your base URL configuration to include HTTPS. Of course your web host will need to support it as well and our Invision Community Cloud services support it by default. Contact support if you have any questions.
    Recommendation: Set up HTTPS for your entire community to prevent ‘man in the middle’ attacks.

    2. Set up Two Factor Authentication
    Invision Community supports Two Factor Authentication (2FA for short), and we highly recommend making use of this feature for your users, but especially for your administrator staff.
    2FA is a system that requires both a user’s password and a special code (displayed by a phone app) that changes every few seconds. The idea is simple: if a user’s password is somehow compromised, a hacker still wouldn’t be able to log in to the account because they would not have the current code number.
    You may already be familiar with 2FA from other services you use. Apple’s iCloud, Facebook and Google all offer it, as do thousands of banks and other security-conscious businesses.
    Invision Community supports 2FA via the Google Authenticator app (available for iOS and Android) or the Authy service, which is able to send codes to users via text message or phone call. You can also fall back to security questions instead of codes.
    You can configure which members groups can use 2FA, as well as requiring certain groups to use it. 
    Recommendation: Require any staff with access to the Admin Control Panel or moderation functions to use 2FA, to ensure that no damage can be done should their account passwords be discovered. Allow members to use 2FA at their discretion.
     
    3. Configure password requirements
    The password strength feature displays a strength meter to users as they type a new password, showing them approximately how secure it is, as well as some tips for choosing a good password.
    While you can leave this feature as a simple recommendation for users, it’s also possible to require them to choose a password that reaches to a certain strength on the meter. 
    Recommendation: Require users to choose at least a ‘Strong’ password.
     
    4. Use Admin restrictions
    It’s very common that many different staff members need access to the Admin Control Panel depending on the role. You may have design staff, billing staff, community managers, and so on, all with particular tasks they would like to achieve.
    Invision Community can help improve the security of your Admin Control Panel by allowing you to restrict the functions available to each administrator, granting them access to only the tools needed to do their job. 
    Recommendation: Audit your community’s administrator accounts and applying restrictions where it makes sense to do so.
     
    5. Stay up to date
    It’s important to ensure you’re always running the latest release of Invision Community. With each release, we add new security features, audit code and fix any issues reported through responsible disclosure. Falling behind can therefore make your community a tempting target for potential hackers.
    Your Invision Community Admin Control Panel will let you know when a new release is available, and you can also check out our Release page to track releases.
    For our Enterprise customers, we’ll automatically apply updates for you shortly after release as part of your plan. For our self-hosted and Cloud customers, you can easily apply new updates via the Admin Control Panel with a couple of clicks.
    Our Invision Community Cloud contains all best practices for security. However, if you are self-hosted, be sure to work with your web host to ensure your server is setup properly. Ensuring that server software, firewalls, and access controls are in place is very important as an insecure server can be your worst enemy.
    Recommendation: Aim to install latest updates as soon as feasible.
     
    6. IP address restrictions
    For organizations where staff are centrally-based in one location, or are required to use a VPN, you can improve your community security by restricting access to the Admin Control Panel to the IP addresses your staff will be using. This is a server-level feature, so contact your IT team to have this facility set up your installation. Enterprise customers who wish to utilize IP restrictions should contact our Managed Support team, while Cloud customers can submit a support ticket to have this set up.
    Recommendation: Where staff all access the community from a small number of IP addresses, restrict Admin Control Panel access to those IPs. 

    Summary
    Don’t leave security as an afterthought. Invision Community includes a range of tools to help you ensure your data and members protected, as well as industry-standard protections ‘under the hood’. Make use of these features, and they’ll help ensure the wellbeing of your site.
    As always, if you have any questions or need advice, our support team are on hand to assist you.
  15. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, Top tips for optimizing your community's SEO   
    Unlike a regular website, where you write content for each page, target keywords and optimize text, a forum community's content is predominantly written by users. They don't know or care about your site's SEO and just want to interact with other users or find answers to their questions.
    To keep your community moving forward, Invision Community implements many best-practice SEO techniques and approaches for you automatically, without you needing to lift a finger.
    Even still, there are a few additional steps you can take to potentially help your site rank better.
     
    How Invision Community helps you automatically
    Invision Community does a lot of automatic SEO for you behind the scenes to help your site rank better or to help search engines understand your content. Some of those include:
    Sitemap generation
    A sitemap file helps search engines to locate pages within your site. This helps search engines find pages so they will be crawled quicker. Invision Community automatically generates a sitemap for you that points to all of your content URLs, and submits it to Google. JSON-LD
    Another way a site can help search engines is by providing metadata about a page. For example, if the page contains a review, additional data can be supplied to the search engine with rating count, average, and so on. There are dozens of items that can be described in this way, and doing so can mean your results in search engines display this additional data. This makes results more useful to users, potentially leading them to click on your result versus another. It can also help search engines understand your content better. Canonical URLs
    Search engines can penalize your site in situations where the same content can have multiple URLs. With software that generates pages dynamically, such as a community, this can happen frequently because there are URLs to get the last read post, the latest post, the first post and so on, all ultimately pointing to the same topic page. Invision Community takes care of this for you by setting a canonical URL for every page, telling the search engine which is the definitive URL it should use. Semantic markup
    The HTML markup used to generate a page is possibly the most important factor impacting SEO. Each HTML tag has a specific meaning (e.g. H1 is an important title) and allows search engines to determine the structure of the page. It's therefore important that tags are used correctly and in the appropriate context - known as semantic markup. Invision Community has been built with semantic markup principles in mind right from the start. Responsive theme
    Google has been transitioning to a mobile-first approach when crawling sites and it's likely this does or will factor into its PageRank system. Now more than ever it is important that your community offers a genuine mobile experience. Invision Community achieves this by supporting responsiveness - where the theme adapts depending on size of the screen being used - by default.  
    What you can do to improve ranking
    Let search engines see your content
    One of the most important things you can do to help with SEO might seem obvious, but we've seen many people unwittingly neglect it: ensure that search engines can see your content!
    It's tempting to lock down your community so that users have to log in before being able to see your content, and for some communities this might be necessary. However, a search engine can only see content accessible to guests, and so by locking your community down a search engine won't be able to see very much at all, and your pages won't show in search results.
    Wherever possible, we suggest allowing guests to read your content, though you can require registration to reply.
    Enable HTTPS
    Even ignoring SEO this is a good idea, because it's more secure for your users and browsers are increasingly alerting users about sites that don't use HTTPS, showing them as insecure.
    In terms of SEO, research has shown a correlation between between sites using HTTPS and their ranking position, and in 2014 Google indicated that HTTPS would be a “ranking signal” going forward. Given the other benefits of HTTPS, it would therefore be wise to enable it across your community.
    Ensure your site loads fast
    A fast-loading site is very important for rankings, and so you should do what you can to keep your community running quickly. This includes:
    Enable guest caching
    Invision Community includes a built-in caching system for pages viewed by guests, ensuring they don't have to be re-generated for every page view. This can greatly speed up your site for guest users and therefore search engines. This is automatically configured on our Cloud services. Don't go overboard with plugins
    A few good plugins can set your community apart from others, but going overboard can significantly slow down your load times or clutter your interface. Be wary of image-heavy themes
    As with plugins, a great theme is a good thing to have, but try to avoid one with extensive use of very large images. Choose a good host
    Some website hosts are slower than others, so ensuring your host is up to scratch is important. Of course our Cloud services are a great solution here!  
    Use 301 Redirects if migrating
    If you're migrating from another community platform, your page URLs will change to reflect Invision Community's architecture. You can greatly improve SEO retention by using special redirects (known as 301 Redirects) to send users from your old URLs to the new. Search engines understand this method and will update their records.
    We include redirects in our free migration packages to help you retain your SEO standings after migrating to Invision Community.
    Write relevant content
    If your site targets a particular niche, you may see benefit in writing longer-form content as articles on a site blog. This kind of content ranks well and allows you to ensure keywords are used (versus content posted by members, which can be anything). You can also encourage further discussion of the article in the wider community, amplifying its benefit.
    For a site news page/blog, our Pages app can be used to build an articles section for this purpose.
    Use social media profiles to your benefit
    You should register social media profiles for your site on the popular platforms and make them a part of your presence. These sites rank very highly of course, and so if your social profiles can also rank highly for your name, they can be a good way of directing traffic to your site.
    Use the ‘About' section of the profile to write an interesting blurb about what your site offers. Create eye-catching header images and profile photos to use on the profiles too. Cross-link each social profile to the others (and back to your site, of course). Finally, link to your social profiles from your site too. Invision Community allows you to easily do this and insert icons in your header or footer.
    Beyond that, you can also use social media to your advantage by cross-linking some of your best content to it. We'll go into more detail on how best to leverage social media in a future article, but the new Promote functionality in Invision Community is a great way of achieving this.
     
    Summing Up
    As always, content is king when it comes to ranking, and that should be your most important focus. Fostering a vibrant community that creates and shares interesting content is key. You can then use SEO methods boosted by Invision Community features to expand your community's reach in search engines.
    If you have any SEO tips that have helped your site, we'd love to hear them. Share them in the comments below!
  16. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.3 Coming Soon   
    Our recent release of Invision Community 4.2 was the most well-received version ever! The feedback we received on new features like Clubs, Reactions, and Promotes was better than we could have hoped and we really enjoyed seeing all the creative uses as people implemented them on their own communities.
    We have been hard at work on version 4.3 with a goal of improving on all the great new features. It is well under way and we are happy to able to start announcing what's new over the next few weeks.
    Invision Community 4.3 will not only contain new features but also have a core focus on refinement from 4.2's new features. You will see many improvements to Clubs, new integration options, large application improvements, new promotional features, and more changes large and small.

     
    You can expect to see news posts about new features and changes very soon with a release date in early 2018. Follow our news section or subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates.
  17. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.2   
    Here is the roundup of what's new in Invision Community 4.2!
    Highlights
    There's a lot of new feature in 4.2 but here are a few of the highlights:
    Promoting Content - A new way to promote content in your Community internally, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

     
    Clubs - Clubs are a brand new way of supporting sub-communities within your site. Many people have requested social group functionality in the past and Clubs are our implementation of this concept.

     
    Reactions - Offer more fine-grained sentiments towards content than a simple up/down or 'like'. They are now in common usage on social networks, and so users expect to be able to be more nuanced in their response to something they see.

     
    Complete Your Profile - Encourage or require members to fill out the details on their profile. Also now allows for quick registration to encourage joining.

     
    And a whole lot more..
    It goes on... here is the full list!
    Leaderboard Enhancements Richer Embeds Group Promotion Improvement Fluid Forum View Member History Editor Uploading Improvements Authy Integration Commerce Improvements New REST API Endpoints Gallery Improvements Statistic Reporting Copy Topic to Database Downloads Index Page Blog Sidebar Promoting Content Clubs Reactions Calendar Venues Social Sign In Streamlining Calendar Add Similar Event Gallery Lightbox Navigation Letter Profile Photos SEO Improvements Device Management Delayed Deletes Calendar Event Reminders Content Messages Recommended Replies Complete Your Profile Be sure to visit each entry above for more information and screenshots. We hope you enjoy Invision Community 4.2!
     
  18. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Rikki for an entry, New: Reactions   
    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
    IPS Community Suite has long had a reputation system; first we had a simple up/down system, later updated to introduce a Likes system as an alternative. Whichever system you chose to use, it tied in with our reputation system.
    We're pleased to introduce the latest updates to the reputation system, and it's something that has been requested for quite some time: Reactions.
    Quite simply, reactions allow users to offer more fine-grained sentiments towards content than a simple up/down or 'like'. They are now in common usage on social networks, and so users expect to be able to be more nuanced in their response to something they see.
    Let's see how they work in a post, and then cover the options you'll have available.

    What you see above is the default setup for a site that has used the Like system in version 4.1. We include 5 reactions by default:
    Like Thanks Confused Sad Haha If you currently use the older style up/down reputation system, don't fret - you'll still get the new reactions on upgrade, but they'll be disabled by default and instead the new reaction UI will show up/down reactions. This gives you the flexibility to decide which of the new reactions, if any, you want to allow.
    So, those are the basics - but what configuration options can you expect to see? First, you can of course add your own reactions! We expect that beyond the default reactions you'd expect to find, some sites will want reaction types specific to their use-case. On an intranet, you might want to have 'agree' and 'disagree' reactions for staff to use when responding to discussions. On a gaming community, you might replace the icons to be some graphic from a video game that means something to your particular userbase. There's a wealth of possibilities.
    Each reaction you set up can be configured to adjust the original author's reputation count - a reaction can be positive (i.e. award a reputation point), negative (i.e. subtract a reputation point), or neutral (i.e. leave the reputation count unchanged). Our default set won't include any negative reactions, but you are free to configure these and new reactions to suit your own use-case. A user's total reputation count is still shown alongside their content and in their profile, of course.
    If you don't want to use the new reactions for whatever reason, you can disable all of them except Like, and it'll behave just the like 4.1-and-earlier system:

     
    Sites that currently use the up/down system don't show a list of names of users, and instead show an overall reputation score for the content. With the new reaction system, you can enable this even if you don't use up/down reactions. This is great if you plan to use reactions as, for example, an agree/disagree system, or where the content score is more important to your site than the individual reaction types.

    How the reaction UI looks with the 'count only' setting enabled
    As you'd expect, you can click individual reaction counts (or the overall reputation score, if you enable that setting) to view who reacted to the content. This remains a permission setting that you can apply per-group.

    On touch devices, on-hover functionality is not suitable, and so for these devices the reactions UI looks like this:

    Reactions play well with all areas of the suite, including Recommended Replies:

    ...and activity streams...

    ...and a couple of places we aren't quite ready to reveal yet  
     
    We hope you're looking forward to this new feature as much as we are. It's already been a hit on our internal testing site, and we're looking forward to seeing how clients customize it for use on their own community.
    Developer note: Reactions are one of two new features (the other currently unannounced) so far that make use of PHP Traits.
  19. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Matt for an entry, IPS Community Suite 4.1.19 Available   
    Version 4.1.19 is now available in the client area!
    This release focuses on bug fixes and performance along with some new key features.
    Ability for members to lock and unlock their own content
    We've added a new group level option to allow members to lock and unlock their own content. This is disabled by default.

    Messenger Quota Display
    To help diagnose issues your members may find, we now display their personal message quota in the ACP.

    Default view for Activity Stream
    When creating a new activity stream, you can specify either expanded or condensed as the default view. This is especially handy for streams you wish to share with other members.

    Other key changes include:
    Performance and speed improvements. A new moderator setting to restrict users from ignoring moderators. A new group setting to hide a group from filters in search. When moving content moderators are now prompted for where you want to be redirected after the action. An email is now sent when an account is locked for too many bad login attempts. Check out the Release Notes for a full list of changes.
  20. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Recommended Replies   
    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
    Sometimes you may find situations where you want to highlight one or more replies to a content item to bring attention to a really great response. This is especially true on busy communities where you might have dozens or even hundreds of replies in a single discussion.
    There is now an ability for a moderator to Recommend a reply (or multiple replies) and even leave an optional note explaining why they think you should view that post.

    Moderator Permission

    Optional note for recommended reply
    When a reply is Recommended you will see a snippet at the top of the content item along with the optional moderator note and a link to jump right to that reply.

    A topic with a recommended reply.
    You can Recommend more than one reply and this feature works through IPS Community Suite in forum topic, blog entries, gallery images, and so on. You can set this permission along with other moderator permissions in the AdminCP.
    We really think this will allow moderators to bring attention to some of the best replies and guide users to the best content your community has to offer.
  21. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, IPS Community Suite 4.2 Coming Soon   
    We are well into development on IPS Community Suite 4.2 and are excited to start announcing all the new features and improvements.
    Our next big release is focused on engagement with your members. You will see enhancements to our Reputation system, new ways to encourage people to register on your community, and enhancements to existing features to make them more interactive. There are also entirely new capabilities we cannot wait to show you ranging from new ways to organize content to tools to help promote your community.
    Version 4.2 also features a refreshed AdminCP and default front-end design. Theme changes in 4.2 are mostly in the CSS framework so your existing themes will either work without issue or require minor changes to work in the new version.
    Over the next several weeks we will be posting news entries with previews of upcoming features fairly often. Be sure to follow our News section, our Facebook, or Twitter to stay up to date.
    We expect IPS Community Suite 4.2 to be out in mid-2017 with a public preview available sooner.
    Everyone at IPS has worked very hard on this update and we think you will love it!
  22. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, Cloud and Self-Hosted License Sale   
    Next week, IPS will be implementing the pricing changes to our product lineup that we published in 2015. In the spirit of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we are extending an opportunity to purchase a new license or add new applications to your existing suite at 15% off our current pricing.
    To take advantage of this offer, please use coupon code IPSPROMO16 at checkout. This promotion is active starting now and valid until 1 December 2016 (EST) and applies to new purchases only. We are unable to retroactively apply the discount.
    This promotion also applies to Community in the Cloud for your first month of service!
    If you’ve been waiting to purchase a new license or add products to your suite, this is the last opportunity to obtain this level of pricing! Happy shopping!
  23. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, Coming Soon in 4.1.17   
    Version 4.1.17 is in the final stages of development and will be released soon!
    Check out the release notes for the full list of what's new and our preview articles for details on some of the most interesting changes:
    Better Analytics Integration Tag Quick Edit Default Warning Notes Custom RSS Feeds Word and Link Filters Leaderboard Moderation Improvements Security and Privacy Embeds and Integration We hope you enjoy all these new additions coming in 4.1.17 and be sure to read the release notes for many smaller changes. The big feature in 4.1.17 is the new Leaderboard which we really think will enhance your community.
    If you like using pre-release beta versions, the public beta of 4.1.17 will be available in the client area on 28 November. We support betas on live installs with some exceptions so give it a try if you like to be first to try the new features!
  24. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Embeds and Integrations   
    IPS Community Suite allows for integrations with quite a few third party systems and also can embed content from external sites. We have added a whole new list of embed providers where you can just paste in a link to that site and a nice box will show up. For example, if I paste this link in normally:
    https://twitter.com/invisionps/status/799269691579449344 I get:
    You can do that will many popular sites already and we are adding a lot more:
    codepen.io coub.com deviantart.com docs.com funnyordie.com gettyimages.com iFixit.com kickstarter.com meetup.com mixcloud.com mix.office.com on.aol.com reddit.com reverbnation.com screencast.com screenr.com slideshare.net smugmug.com ustream.tv Google Maps Once you enable Google Maps under Community Enhancements by entering your Google API key you can them just paste in a link to a Google Map location. So when you paste a link to a Google Map in an editor it shows like this:

    Google Maps in Editor
    The maps are also interactive on the screen.
    REST API
    We have also added quite a few more endpoints, particularly in member management, to our REST API. If you are not already familiar with the REST API it is a great way to integrate external systems with IPS Community Suite. You can both fetch and modify data in the Suite via the API. REST API documentation...
    Third Party Diagnostics
    This is a bit more of a technical feature so feel free to skip if it does not interest you. If you use third party plugins or applications from our Marketplace or from other sites you may occasionally encounter issues in the Suite caused by those items but it is often hard to know the root issue. There are now tools in the AdminCP to show all places in the code that third party items are modifying to help with diagnosing issues. The Suite will now also try to detect if an error it encounters is referencing a third party plugin and suggest you disable it to see if the issue is resolved.
    New Support Tool

    Simplified Support Tool
    Though not specifically about embeds or integrations, the new Support Tool does better help diagnose issues so I thought I would give it a nice shout out. It really does help to find server problems, database issues, or outdated files that might interfere with your site. It also makes support so much easier if you submit your ticket to us via the Support Tool as it sends along a temporary login (if you allow it) for us to use. The new design simplifies the tool down to just one step and it gives you a report and suggested actions.
     
    This change will be in version 4.1.17 which is scheduled to be released in early December 2016.
  25. Like
    Ioannis D reacted to Charles for an entry, New: Security and Privacy   
    IPS is always auditing our software to improve security at the code-level but these improvements are not really visible to you even though they protect your site all the time. We are implementing some new features that you can use to enhance the security and privacy of your site. Many of these features depend on your personal preferences, local laws, or the policies of your own organization. Here is a list of what's new:
    Birthday Control

    You may wish to make birthday viewing only show to admins or you can completely disable prompting for a birthday if you consider that information sensitive.
    Member Delete Name Retention
    When deleting a member in the AdminCP, if you choose to keep their posts the system currently names the posts with a display name of "Guest user" where user is the previous display name of the member you deleted. You can how choose to retain their name in posts or not so you can either have it as it is now or simple "Guest" on member delete.
    Password Strength

    Password Strength
    You now have two new options for password: show a strength meter and require strong passwords. You can choose to either just show the meter as a suggestion or you can also choose to enforce a password strength. You can choose between three levels of password enforcement parameters depending on how strict you choose to be.
    Guest Terms Banner

    Guest Terms Banner
    There is a new option to show a guest terms of service banner when a new visitor first visits your site. You can set the text shown in the display and you can also put in two special tags to automatically link to your Terms of Service or Privacy Policy page.
    Age Restrictions

    Age Prompt
    We have always had COPPA support in the Suite but we have extended this to be a more generic age restriction feature. You can now set your site to reject registrations from anyone under a certain age you specify. For privacy, the birthday entered on registration is only used to calculate permission and is never stored.
     
    This change will be in version 4.1.17 which is scheduled to be released in early December 2016.
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