Morgin reacted to Matt for an entry, Community is your competitive advantage
Moats have been used for centuries as a way to defend a building from potential attack.
A flooded ditch around a castle is a great way to make it harder to be taken. You can't push battering rams against walls, and neither can you dig under the castle. Quite frankly, a moat is a pretty decent deterrent when there are plenty of other castles to pillage.
What does this mean for your business?
A community can be an economic moat, or in more simple terms, your competitive advantage.
When your product or service is surrounded by an engaged community that feels invested in your brand, you'll be able to resist challenges from competitors looking to tempt your customers away.
Humans are social creatures, and we love seeking out and joining a tribe that aligns with our values. The intangible value of belonging creates a sense of momentum for your brand and helps champion it to others.
The statistics back this strategy; 88% of community professionals said in a recent survey that community is critical to their company's mission and 85% said that their community has had a positive impact to their business.
Your competitive advantage
One of the cheapest ways to create momentum for your product is to build a community around your startup. A community is much more than a one-time marketing campaign and can help you throughout your company's life cycle if you take the time to grow it right. 
Creating a buzz around a product can take a lot of time, effort and money.
Traditionally, this buzz would be created with a mixture of videos, websites, influencer reviews, and heavy advertisement spends across multiple channels, including social media.
Your community can create a shortcut and reach an audience without those costs and increase the chance of your product being shared virally.
Your community creates a bond over a shared interest that continually re-enforces loyalty to your brand. This creates a personal investment which makes it less likely your customers will try a competitor.
Put simply, if a company can move from just shipping a product to building a community, it can benefit from several competitive advantages such as:
Engaged members help acquire new members, lowering the cost for customer acquisition. Increased customer retention through community loyalty. Members won't want to abandon the community they enjoy. Reduced support costs as members support each other. This benefit forms a loop that generates more value as the community grows.
Another area of opportunity for social marketing is "brand building" - connecting enthusiastic online brand advocates with the company's product development cycle. Here, research becomes marketing; product developers are now using social forums to spot reactions after they modify an offer, a price, or a feature in a product or service. Such brand-managed communities can have real success. One well-documented example is IdeaStorm, Dell's community discussion and "brainstorming" website, which saw a measurable increase in sales following its launch, by providing a forum for meaningful dialogue and "to gauge which ideas are most important and most relevant to" the public. 
By creating a community around your product or service, not only do you create brand advocates, but you also gain powerful insights into what your customers want through research which drives marketing.
Consumers today crave a stronger bond with brands. It's no longer enough to give them a customer support email address and a monthly newsletter. They want a much more in-depth interaction with the company and other users of the product or service.
One tactic for success is for brands to move away from the hard-sell to instead embrace the notion of "co-creation". This means moving beyond "old-school" approaches to website advertising to embrace the principles of relationship marketing - building virtual environments in which customers can connect with each other to share insights and relevant information.
To capitalise on currently available opportunities, marketers need to find or establish real brand communities, listen to them, and then create special programs and tools that will empower potential and existing community members, rewarding existing consumers and eliciting behavioural change from potential consumers. 
Evernote, the note-taking app, is a great example. Their lively community encourages customers to interact directly with staff, post their wish-lists for future versions and learn more about what happens behind the scenes.
The community creates evangelists for Evernote and makes it harder for competitors to gain a foothold with a potent mix of dialogue, access to other customers, transparency from the brand and many opportunities for co-creation of content.
Co-creation fundamentally challenges the traditional roles of the firm and the consumer. The tension manifests itself at points of interaction between the consumer and the company where the co-creation experience occurs, where individuals exercise choice, and where value is co-created. Points of interaction provide opportunities for collaboration and negotiation, explicit or implicit, between the consumer and the company.
In the emergent economy, competition will center on personalized co-creation experiences, resulting in value that is truly unique to each individual. 
In simple terms, a community allows your customers to feel closer to your brand and the products you sell.
What are you waiting for?
Nearly 80% of founders reported building a community of users as important to their business, with 28% describing their moat as critical to their success.
Our team at Invision Community has over two decades of community building experience and are trusted by brands of all sizes.
Whether you have an existing community, or you're taking your first steps to create your own, our experience and expertise will guide your success.
 https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~jhm/Readings/Co-creating unique value with customers.pdf
Morgin reacted to Matt for an entry, 3 lessons content creators can learn from conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theories have roots in the 19th century and have been popular for decades. Until recently, conspiracy theorists have lived in the margins. They are often convinced the earth is flat, Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone, and the moon landings were faked in a Hollywood sound stage.
More recently, with 9/11 and the coronavirus pandemic, these conspiracy theories have become more mainstream, with celebrities and politicians sharing them over their official social media channels. From the evil machinations of Bill Gates, the rise of QAnon, to the conflation that 5G is responsible for spreading coronavirus, it's hard to ignore the impact they have in creating misinformation which undermines attempts at effective communication from governments and public health bodies.
Despite reams of facts, logic and critical thinking, those that follow conspiracy theories will not be budged from their positions. They trust their sources implicitly, and a mountain of research disproving the argument does not interest them.
The number of people that succumbs to these narratives grows every day. When you consume the content shared by the primary sources of this misinformation, it's easy to see why.
Conspiracy theories are created and shared in a way that is engaging and irresistible to many seeking stability in a confusing world. Whatever your position is on these conspiracy theorists, you can leverage these tactics to make your own content more engaging and shareable.
Lesson 1: Make it emotive
Human beings have two distinct and independent thinking centres in the brain. One works on emotion (the limbic system) and the other on logic (the neocortex).
The emotional brain works much faster than the logical brain. It is what has kept us alive as a species. If you hear a loud bang, your emotional brain processes this first and triggers the urge to move before your logical brain kicks in and deduces the bang was from a book expertly pawed from its shelf by your cat.
The emotional brain is continually processing the world, and even though it's part of you, you do not have much control over it. Your logic brain, however, works on facts, truths and analysis.
When you watch harrowing whistleblower testimony telling of their suffering in a conspiracy theory video, your emotional brain is powerfully stirred.
It's why challenging conspiracy theorists who are emotionally committed to the point of view with just logic often fails. The emotional commitment is incredibly powerful, and when you challenge them, the logic brain is short-circuited, and the emotional brain becomes defensive. In fact, the more logic and evidence you provide, the more the emotional brain digs in and refuses the new evidence.
How can you use this to your advantage?
Work on creating an emotional response with your content. Don't purely rely on facts and logic to persuade your audience. Try and evoke an emotional reaction through imagery, metaphors and similes.
President Obama was a powerful orator and used emotion often to create a strong message. When he spoke of investing in education, he invokes emotion by saying "We believe that when she goes to school for the first time, it should be in a place where the rats don't outnumber the computer."
Lesson 2: Tell a story
Conspiracy theory videos don't just reel off a list of events and facts, they tell a story. Some of the more complex theories are akin to a sprawling TV series with several characters linked by circumstance.
Humans have always been curators of stories. From religious texts to morality fables, we learn and process the world through stories. Stories are memorable. Most adults can recite fairytales read to us when we were children.
Use a story to link together critical points within your content.
Consider how "Gamification has been proven to make communities more sticky and encourage more engagement" reads compared to "It was 3am, the flicker of the TV set was the only light in the room. My palms, slick with sweat, fought to keep the controller sticks moving. Even though I had a 6am start, I couldn't put the controller down. I had to finish the quest and collect the reward. Your community is no different."
Take your reader on a journey, and they're more likely to finish your content. Try and make it personal. When we read, we always try and put ourselves in the shoes of the author or the protagonist.
Stories and emotion go hand in hand. Recently, the Huffington Post ran a story with the headline "One death a minute" which is a very emotive and powerful alternative to the raw fact that 1,461 Americans lost their lives to COVID-19 on the 29th July.
Lesson 3: Make it easy to consume
A key strength for any content creator is to know when to create long-form content and snackable content.
A single meme is more potent than 300 links to PubMed. A single YouTube video can be more persuasive than an expert in her field.
Conspiracy theory creators use over-simplification to reduce a complex issue into an easily digestible entertaining snack. A meme generally contains a single idea that is easy to grasp and engaging. You don't have to work very hard to understand it, your visual brain processes it in 1/10th of a second, and it triggers a moment of delight.
Infographics and memes are often smart ways to create an entrance to your content. If an image containing a straightforward idea from a more complex piece of content is digested quickly, it can leave your audience wanting more, and therefore more likely to involve themselves in your more complex work.
When creating long-form content, consider the use of iconography, infographics and photography. Visuals help us remember and understand content quickly. I could say that 63% of this blog was written on an iPad, but a piechart would make this easier to process and more memorable.
No tin foil hats required
Creating compelling content is key to building your community. Your content sets the tone, helps drive re-engagement and positions you as a key expert in your field. Using the techniques many conspiracy theory creators use to spread their narratives will help your content be more memorable and shareable
A well-created story with emotional cornerstones made more accessible by key points simplified into snackable quotes or images will help your content find a wider audience, whether you believe Neil Armstrong landed on the moon or not.
Morgin reacted to Joel R for an entry, Lessons from the Virus: Community Engagement from WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the world's most trusted source of information on international health, and a foremost partner to public health agencies combating the coronavirus. They also understand the critical need for risk communication and community engagement to respond to the coronavirus pandemic -- a valuable strategy that any online community can adopt in these volatile times.
In March of this year as the coronavirus was already rampaging across nations, WHO published a series of guidance for risk communication and community engagement. One of the major lessons they learned during some of the most perilous outbreaks including SARS, Ebola, and MERS was that community engagement was a critical factor in the success of containing any pandemic.
Here are 3 best practices from the World Health Organization that can help online communities navigate any crisis.
One of the biggest problems hampering the effective treatment of coronavirus, or any major disruptive event in a community, is the excessive abundance of information - an "infodemic" from multiple and untrustworthy sources that reduces trust in any advice. The flood of information can quickly overwhelm any at-risk population.
Community leaders need to proactively communicate. As WHO recommends, "One of the most important and effective interventions to any event is to proactively communicate what is known, what is unknown, and what is being done to get more information." Communication from community leaders establishes the chain of communication and establishes themselves as a source of credible information. By getting out in front of disruptive events and staying in regular communication with your members, you build trust and ensure that proper advice will be followed.
PERCEPTIONS OF RISK
Different groups of people perceive the same problem differently. In the case of coronavirus, WHO discovered that certain segments of the population didn't understand the risk of the virus as much as they should have - a gap of knowledge that effective communication would have addressed for different populations. Part of the goal of WHO's risk communication and community engagement is to "help transform and deliver complex scientific knowledge so that it is understood by and trusted by populations and communities."
Community leaders need to tailor their communication to sub-groups. While regular announcements and general updates are important for the community at-large, it leaves knowledge gaps for different sub-groups of your community membership: clients need to be informed of service interruptions; vendors need to be informed of supply chain disruptions; superusers need to know how to direct users for help. Different stakeholders have differing needs, and each group requires customized and tailored communication to best navigate through the crisis.
ADDRESSING THE UNKNOWN & MISINFORMATION
One of WHO's recommended actions for leaders was to be prepared to communicate about the first coronavirus case, even before the full picture was known. Even today, much is unknown and data is still being compiled about coronavirus. But in a digital world where misinformation gets mixed in with the ease of a tweet or share, it's more important than ever to communicate factually while acknowledging uncertainty.
Address uncertainty by systematically collecting questions and providing answers to all questions. In the beginning of any crisis, you won't have all the answers and events will still be unfolding. It's critical to establish an early dialogue with your community to gather concerns from members, to monitor for misinformation, and to systematically compile questions into a FAQ.
Source: Risk communication and community engagement readiness and response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Interim guidance 19 March 2020. World Health Organization.
On behalf of the entire IPS team, we wish our clients well wishes during these difficult times!
Problems of crisis: infodemics with excess information, different perceptions of risk among sub-groups, and uncertainty with misinformation. Solutions for community leaders: proactive communication, customized communication, and addressing uncertainty.
Morgin 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.
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.
Morgin 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?
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.
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
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
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.
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).
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Morgin reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: Turbo charging loading speeds
It might seem a little odd starting a blog on increasing Invision Community's speed with the word "lazy", but I'll explain why this is a good word for performance shortly.
Earlier this year, Google announced that page speed is a ranking factor.
Simply put, if your site is slow, it will be ranked lower in Google's search results.
It is always a challenge making a large application like Invision Community as efficient as possible per page load. A single Invision Community page can pull in widgets from multiple applications as well as a lot of user-generated content with attachments, movies and images used heavily.
This is where being lazy helps.
Lazy loading is a method by which attachments, embeds and images are not loaded by default. They are only loaded when the viewer scrolls down enough to make them visible.
This allows the page to load a good deal faster now it doesn't have to load megabytes of images before the page is shown as completely rendered.
I was going to take a fancy video showing it in action, but it's hard to capture as the system loads the media just before you get to it, so it looks fairly seamless, even with sluggish connections.
Not the most dynamic image, but this shows the placeholder retains the size of the image
In addition to image attachments, we have also added this lazy loading to maps and Twitter emoji images.
Improving non-image attachments
Once we had implemented the lazy loading framework, an area we wanted to improve was non-image attachments.
We have listened to a lot of the feedback we had on this area, and have now made it very clear when you add an attachment into a post. We've even returned the download count now it's being loaded on demand.
Using attachments when posting
All the letters
When we first implemented the letter avatars in 4.3, we discussed whether to use CSS styling or use an image.
We decided to go with an image as it was more stable over lots of different devices, including email.
We've revisited this in 4.4, and switched the letter avatars to SVG, which are much faster to render now that the browser doesn't have to load the image files.
Other performance improvements
We've taken a pass at most areas with an eye for performance, here is a list of the most significant items we've improved.
Several converter background tasks have been improved, so they work on less data Duplicate query for fetching clubs was removed in streams Notifications / follower management has been improved Member searches have been sped up (API, ACP live search, member list in ACP, mentions, etc.). Stream performance has been improved UTF8 conversions have been sped up Elasticsearch has been sped up by using pre-compiled queries and parameterisation, as well as the removal of view filtering (and tracking) HTTP/2 support with prefetch/preload has been added Several PHP-level performance improvements have been made Implemented rel=noopener when links open a new window (which improves browser memory management) Several other performance improvements for conversions were implemented that drastically reduce conversion time IP address lookups now fetch IP address details from us en-masse instead of one request per address Cache/data store management has been streamlined and centralised for efficiency Many background tasks and the profile sync functionality have all been improved for performance Brotli compression is now supported automatically if the server supports it Redis encryption can now be disabled if desired, which improves performance Phew, as you can see, we've spent a while tinkering under the hood too.
We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know below!
This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
Morgin reacted to Matt for an entry, Invision Community 4.3 Beta Released!
We're thrilled to announce that Invision Community 4.3 Beta is available to download now.
After months of development, over 2500 separate code commits and quite a few mugs of coffee you can now get your hands on the beta release.
You can download the beta from your client area.
Be sure to read the full information on support and service limits that go along with beta releases. You will see this in client area prior to downloading.
If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights.
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.
Morgin reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: Leverage your data with our statistic improvements
"The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data", the Economist wrote recently.
Invision Community software stores a lot of important data that can be leveraged to analyze and improve upon the traffic and interactions with your site.
While there are some various statistics tools in the AdminCP already, we spent some time with 4.3 enhancing and improving upon our existing reporting tools, as well as adding some new analytics tools you may find useful.
Beginning with 4.3, any dynamically-generated charts in the AdminCP that support filtering will allow you to save those filter combinations for easier access in the future. When you open the Filters menu and toggle any individual filters, the chart will no longer immediately reload until you click out of the menu, and 'All' and 'None' quick links have been added to the filters menu to allow you to quickly toggle all filters on or off.
Here is the 'Sales' chart for Commerce, for example. You will see that the interface is now tabbed.
Commerce's Sales chart
After opening the 'Filters' menu, selecting all of my products named 'test', and saving this filter combination as a new chart, I can quickly come back to this chart in the future.
Specific filter configurations allow you to run reports easily
Note that each user can save their own chart filter configurations independent of other users.
Top income by customer
Speaking of Commerce, we have also added a new chart to the 'Income' page, allowing you to view reports of your top customers. As with other dynamic charts, you can save filter configurations here for easy future access, and you can view the results as a table to get a raw list of your top customers' purchases. Further, we have tidied up the table views for the other existing tabs on this page.
Looks like brandon is my top customer
We have introduced several statistic pages to expose information about the Reactions/Reputation system and how your users are interacting with it. For instance, you can now view information about usage of each of the reactions set up on your site.
Yes, I'm definitely confused a lot
You can also see which users give and receive the most reputation (which is the sum of their reaction points, keeping in mind that negative reactions can reduce a user's total reputation score), you can see which content on your community has the most reputation (which might prompt you to promote it to the 'Our Picks' page, promote it to social media, or otherwise continue to encourage interaction with the content), and you can see which applications reactions are given in the most. This could allow you, for instance, to focus more efforts in areas of your site to drive more activity, or to foster activity in areas you did not realize were as active as they are.
Some areas of the community aren't as active as they could be
Additionally, when viewing user profiles on the front end you can now see a breakdown of which reactions each user has given and received when you click the "See reputation activity" link in the left hand column.
Apparently I'm not so much confused, as I am confusing
Another useful statistic introduced with 4.3 is the ability to review tag usage on your community. As with other dynamic charts, you can filter however you like and save those filter configurations for easy future access.
Not all tags are equal
Trend charts for topics and posts
When viewing the New Topics and New Posts charts, there are now tabs for "New Topics by Forum" and "New Posts by Forum", allowing you to see which of your forums are the most active. Additionally, you will see a trend line drawn on the chart to show you the trend (e.g. whether activity is increasing or decreasing). You can also filter which forums you wish to review, so you can compare your most active forums, the forums that are most important to your site, or the forums that need the most attention/may not be relevant, for instance.
Viewing new topics by forum
New posts by forum, but viewing only a subset of my most important forums
Some other miscellaneous improvements have been introduced as well, which you may be interested in:
When viewing Member Activity reports, you can now filter by group. We have also added the content count column to the table so you can quickly sort by top posters if this is relevant to the report you are running. Device usage is now also tracked (mobile, desktop, etc.) and can be viewed on a new Device Usage page. Developers: Dynamic charts now support database joins
Morgin reacted to Rikki for an entry, New: Clubs
This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release.
We are happy to introduce the next major feature that will be available in IPS Community Suite 4.2 - Clubs.
Clubs are a brand new way of supporting sub-communities within your site. Many people have requested social group functionality in the past and Clubs are our implementation of this concept. Let's take a look at a few screenshots, and then go over what they are capable of doing.
The Club directory
A Club homepage
Club member listing
Example of content within a club (topics, in this case)
There's a lot to digest there! Let's go over the basic functionality.
Four types of club are available:
Clubs that anyone can see and participate in without joining. Open club
Clubs that anyone can see and join. Closed club
Clubs that anyone can see in the directory, but joining must be approved by a Club Leader or Club Moderator. Non-club-members who view the club will only see the member list - not the recent activity or content areas. Private club
Clubs that do not show in public, and users must be invited by a Club Leader or Club Moderator As the site admin, you can of course configure which club types can be created and by whom. You could, for example, allow members to create public and open clubs, but allow a "VIP" group to also create Closed and Private clubs.
Admin configuration option for Club creations
Each club has three levels of user:
A leader has all of the permissions of a moderator, and can add other moderators. They can also add content areas (see below). The club owner is automatically a leader. Moderators
Moderators, as the name implies, have the ability to moderate content posted within the club. As the site administrator, you can define which moderator tools can be used. You could, for example, prevent any content being deleted from clubs, but allow it to be hidden. Moderators can also remove members from a club. Users
Anyone else that joins the club.
Defining the moderator permissions available to club moderators
Your site administrator and moderators, with the appropriate permissions, are able to moderator content in any Club regardless of whether they are a member of it.
Clubs can be created by any user who has permission. As you would expect, this is controlled by our regular permission settings.
For closed clubs, there's an approval process. Users can request to join and the request must be approved by a leader. Leaders get a notification when a user requests to join; the user gets a notification when their request is approved or denied.
Approving and declining join requests
Club Leaders can add a variety of content areas to their club - forums, calendars, blogs and so on. It's important to note that these content areas are fully functional just as if they existed as a top-level admin created area. They will appear in search results, activity streams, users can follow them, embed links to them, and so on. If a user has permission to see a forum (for example) within a club it will behave exactly like other forums they see - and the same for all other kinds of content.
Each content area a leader adds can have a custom title, and will appear in the club navigation. This means, for example, that you can have multiple forums within a club, and give each a different name.
Adding content areas to a club
Club Custom Fields
Clubs also support custom fields. Custom fields are defined by the site administrator and can be filled in by Club Owners. The values they enter are shown (along with the club description) on the club homepage.
Custom fields in a club
On the Club Directory page, users can filter by the custom club fields.
Clubs have built-in support for Google Maps, allowing users to specify a physical location for their club. Let's say you run a community for car enthusiasts; each club might be tied to a particular region's meetup. The Club Owner specifies the location when setting up the club, and clubs are then shown on map on the directory page:
And within a club, the location is shown too:
We offer two ways to display club headers within the club - the standard way, shown in the screenshots you've seen up to this point, but we also have a sidebar option. This is something the admin sets globally for the site, rather than per-club. This is useful where your site design doesn't facilitate another horizontal banner taking up valuable screen real-estate; moving the club banner to the sidebar alleviates this pressure on vertical space.
Sidebar club style
Using Clubs in Other Ways
There's a lot of scope for using clubs beyond allowing users to create their own groups. You do not even have to call them "clubs" if that does not suit your use case. For example, on a company intranet you could rename Clubs to "Departments", and create a private group for each of your main roles. This would allow each department to have its own community, with its own forums, gallery, file sharing and so on, private and separate from other departments.
Similarly, they'd also work well in situations where you as the site admin want to create entire micro-communities. Take for example a video game publisher. Using Clubs, they could create a micro-community for each of their games, complete with forums, galleries and so forth, and then set the Clubs directory as their overall community homepage. Immediately, they have a setup that hasn't until now been possible out-of-the-box with IPS Community Suite.
We expect our clients will come up with some really innovative uses for the new Club functionality, and we can't wait to see what you do. We'd love to hear your feedback - let us know what you think in the comments.