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Jim McClain

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Everything posted by Jim McClain

  1. Can more than one forum use the Q&A feature? I have a consumer/DIY category of forums for different types of flooring - one for carpet, one for hardwood, etc. This feature might be good used in each of those forums, leaving the other categories and forums as regular forums.
  2. I'm worried that the ease of use from anywhere on the site will have a negative impact on content indexed by search engines. If it's too easy for a member to reply in private to another about a forum discussion or blog/article/gallery comments, they may do that rather than add their content to the the public discussion.
  3. I don't believe anyone has suggested we allow members to have an option to hide their avatar. You can control that by not having one or having one everyone can see. The admin might be able to control what user groups can see an avatar. If I could, I would hide it from all unregistered visitors to save bandwidth and improve page load speed. It's not important to SEO in my field. I might promote my site to visitors by offering avatars as one of the inducements (among other options). Says who? I agree that every profile should include a link to find that user's posts and threads - public content and even private content for those other users who have permission to view those content areas. But galleries aren't always public content on some sites. There might be a reason to have private pictures, as I described in a previous post, that you only want to share with certain other user groups. I'd like to see that option given to the member. Maybe a member doesn't want everyone to know who their friends are. Maybe they don't want everyone to know what files they have. Maybe, as in my niche, a member has a blog that he/she only wants to show to a specific user group and not to just anyone - an online "seminar" on pricing strategy, customer relations, how to beat the prices of the big box store. Other members might have a blog they specifically want consumers/DIYers to have access to - how to flatten your floor before installing the vinyl, 10 best vacuums, what to know before you ask the sales person how much. Privacy controls can help here. And on my site, if a consumer wants to have a blog, they might get redirected to WordPress.org. That would be an admin control. I agree that this is another area that should only be controlled by the member by either creating content viewable by all, or not. But I would prefer to have admin control to exclude or include visitors and search spiders from that content, based on the user group the content belongs to because of its SEO value. My pro members can supply that section with valuable keyword rich content. Consumers telling about their families and kids or their favorite hobbies, not so much. Registered members would enjoy it, but I don't want Google indexing it unless it's content from a pro. I agree with you here. It baffles me why IPS4 wouldn't have this basic privacy. I don't know what content that involves, so I can't speak to it. Another basic privacy option, in my opinion. I don't understand why it won't be in IPS4. Jim
  4. You complained about a bad analogy? THIS is bad. Maybe we shouldn't lock our doors because someone else will break in anyway. Why put up security lights if someone will just throw a rock at it? Why put a leash on my dog when he can chew through it and run away anyway? Please. We, as admins, do our best to protect the privacy of our members. That doesn't mean we tell everyone we lock it behind an impenetrable fortress. It just means we offer them controls to manage the levels of privacy they desire and we do our best to protect them from being violated. I have done that on my flooring forum for nearly 8 years without a breach. Pretty good record. I don't have a girlfriend right now. That means that every girlfriend I ever had has broken my heart. But that will not deter me from falling in love again. Lots of bad stuff happens every day on the net. We fix it as best we can and try to keep moving forward. I am not an advocate of no progress just to protect myself from disappointment. Jim
  5. I have not seen anyone here - at least no one hoping for more profile privacy control - ask for this feature for members. Admins, of course, can privatize certain forums, which would prevent anyone who doesn't have access to those forums from searching for that content and prevent it from being shown in the search results. The only people I have seen argue about blocking forum topics and posts by members is IPS staff. Those of us asking for privacy controls have not asked for it and (I can only speak for myself) I see no need to bring it into this discussion. Threads and posts is not something I want my members to block anyone from seeing. So, I wish we could stop even discussing that issue in this topic. It seems that most people appreciate that consideration. Many of us are asking for even more controls. I listed my wish list. It had nothing at all to do with members hiding their own threads and posts though. The more I learn about your software, the more that is revealed by the blogs featuring the upcoming IPS4, the more I like what I see. However, I do NOT want you or anyone else judging what content and features are attractive to MY visitors. I don't see where that is your business. My business is much different than your business. On the one hand, I have the majority of my unregistered visitors visitors coming to learn about flooring - how and where to buy, what types and styles to choose, how to find the best installers, an inspector or a cleaner, or how to do all of that themselves. We also get a lot of floorcovering industry visitors who see opportunity - not only to make a sale, but where they can learn new business information, training, the promise of access to private information they don't want consumers to be privy to. On the other hand, I have registered members. The majority are consumers and DIYers. They pop in, ask their questions, find solutions and usually leave a short time later. But while they are there, there is some information that pros might need to know in order to offer the best help. That information might best be provided in their profiles, which as an admin, I will prevent other visitors and non-pros from seeing. Some of that info is volunteered and isn't related to the flooring industry, so it doesn't do me any good SEO-wise anyway. Then there's the pro members. I would like everyone in my industry to work together, but the fact is, some pros, like the CEO of a major manufacturer, or a professional expert witness, do not want their presence known on the site, except in those private forums. Pros can find their information and they can discuss policy, ad campaigns, debate inspection findings, etc. without worry that consumers will become privy to that info or will try to contact them privately or even as participants in topics to "get a good deal" or a favorable inspection result. For those who demand the utmost privacy possible, I would offer them the ability to hide contact info, personal galleries of pictures (maybe of a not yet publicly introduced product or of inspection reports), limit who their feeds can be sent to and more. You don't understand that what makes MY site attractive is the level of professional courtesy and privacy I can offer them. If I treat them right, then they might also decide to share publicly to help that consumer or DIYer - and that is exactly what we promise those consumers and DIYers: the best information and guidance from the best of the best flooring professionals. So you see, I don't believe you know what's best for my community. I have worked 40 years in it and even I am still learning. What I am pretty sure about is that IPS could be the best software I can offer my members and visitors. YOU just don't know it yet. Jim
  6. If you want this to be constructive, then I won't bother to point out how you have seemed negative and resistant to the ideas presented here. But I wouldn't have posted that if I hadn't felt it. You ignored the premise of my statement. It can and is being done, just maybe not by this product. But you do offer other profile options available to the member and I assume to the administrator as well. So, my point is, if you can do it with some, you might consider doing it with more. That wasn't clearly pointed out. But forum posts/topics is what I consider not part of this discussion. Yes, I see that it is a feature available in the profile, but I don't see that as anything more than a convenience. I don't see a need to privatize forum posts or topics except those that are in forums and other areas kept private according to the member group. You shouldn't be able to search and read in the results any posts made by staff in a staff forum, or by contributors in their private forum, but you should be able to find their posts in open forums. Will that same forum search engine find information that might only be in a member's about page or album? Is there a sitemap sent out to the major Internet search engines that lets them know about new profile pages? All the more worrisome to me. I am the founder of my company too. It hurts sometimes, by my members and my staff tell me what I could do better, what I do wrong and occasionally what I do right. It's important for me to listen and sometimes do things I didn't think were all that important. I find out later they were. Maybe this will be the case for you. Or not. And sometimes you or other staff (and other member participants) forget that some of us have no clue what the software does because we don't use it yet. I am looking forward to that day and I am not one that is rushing you. It's unfortunate that more privacy options will not be available in 4 than are currently available in 3 though. I hoped that the importance of profiles to a community and its growth over the last several years would have prompted you to add a few profile privacy related items to the to-do list. Maybe our hashing these things out here will make you think more about it when it's time to plan for 4.1. And I am very grateful that some of the plugin/addon contributors are seeing the need. I'd like to see 2 different sets of privacy controls; one in admin and the other in member settings. Without any understanding of what is already available in admin, this is a bit of what I'd like to see: Select available contact methods based on member groups Visibility of contact info to selected member groups Select member group permissions to comment on profiles Select permissions to access profiles based on member group (keep visitors/search engines out of some, allow in others) Select member group permissions to access gallery (their own or others) Select member group permissions to access files(their own or others) Select member group permissions to access blogs(their own or others) Select member group permissions to customize profiles Select member group permissions to have signatures and restrict various options Visibility of "About Me" section to select member groups and visitors (unregistered) Restrict visibility of gallery, files and blogs to selected member groups All permissions and privacy options would be honored in the flyout when hovering over a member name anywhere on site Members should also have privacy controls available to them. Some of these might include the following. Limit access to entire profile to friends only, staff only, member group only or combinations Limit access to contact info to friends only, staff only, member group only or combinations Allow profile, gallery, files and blog comments from selected options (as above) Allow access to feed from selected options All permissions and privacy options would be honored in the flyout when hovering over a member name anywhere on site Others may want even more extensive options, but these are most of what I would like to have. I DO understand the nature of interaction on a public forum. I have been a member of hundreds of different types of forums since 1992. I got my first staff position in late 1993 and by the end of '94, I was staff on half a dozen various Compuserve boards (Time Warner, WUGNET, Quarterdeck, Playboy, McAfee and Cerious). After AOL ruined Compuserve, I worked on a variety of forums on the real Internet (it looked so different through Netscape then) and I concentrated on interior design, flooring and remodeling DIY forums. I've worked in administrative duties for 12 years, most of that in commercial oriented businesses for my industry, computer gear, hunting and adult entertainment. Each have their own needs and some require various levels and varieties of privacy options. No forum software to date has satisfied all of those needs. Partly because the developers do not fully understand or appreciate the power of the profile section. IPS has the ability. Many of us are hoping they will utilize it before some other community developer does. Thanks, Jim
  7. I am a little surprised at your take on this discussion and some of the negative remarks. Am I wrong in assuming that if you know how to make an email address field private, you prob'ly know how to make other fields private? If I remember right, this forum software allows me to decide whether my email is available to all or none (maybe it's another software, but it's done). What I see being discussed in this "Profile Privacy in IPB4" is privacy options. Apparently it has been discussed before, maybe more than once. It's an important issue to me and others. I've been told that what appears in that profile flyout when you hover over a member name is configurable. I don't know how you can say that all information in the profile is available elsewhere. We all know this can be changed. It is possible to block search spiders from certain areas and not block them from others. You can do that for certain member groups too. I am confident that if it is written in the code that I can block spiders from one group and allow them access to another group, then I should be able to block spiders from crawling useless, non-niche specific profiles and allow them to crawl keyword rich content in niche-specific profiles, as long as I put each in their own user group. Likewise, if simple permissions options were coded into some profile fields, then a member might be able to share their albums with friends or a specific user group and not others. If that is possible, how could search spiders gain access and index that content when they are being blocked? How is that content freely available to anyone who searches the forum for it? Most of the participants in this discussion that are interested in levels of profile privacy aren't really talking about moving blocks or customizing the profile. I agree that belongs in another topic and maybe should have been moved or asked to bring those issues up in a different topic. The rest of us are asking, hoping about some changes in the profile part of IPS4. I would like the ability, as an admin, to decide what user groups can see the profiles of certain other user groups. I would also like to offer some privacy options to my members, so, for instance, if they want to share albums or certain about-me info with one group or friends, they can and bar anyone else from seeing that info. Maybe we are not speaking with the right person in the development chain of command. Maybe you have a much different idea of what a profile is all about and we should be talking to someone who understands some of our hopes for this overlooked feature of a community package. Or maybe it's just that you are letting those few off-topic issues prevent you from seeing this topic really is about privacy options in IPS4 and their importance to the future of community development. Member profiles don't have to be what they have always been. They can be something great. I think IPS has the most potential and the best people to make it happen. Jim
  8. Because those who would join a support forum might not be as apt to join a social network for the same kind of support. I use another forum software and some major plugins and add-ons to make it a complete site and have been pretty happy with it up to now. But it's old and I don't like the upgrade path and it doesn't offer the modernization and features I believe my members would like going forward. IPS3.x is in that same category, but IPS4 is a whole new game. It has great potential. I may convert to it regardless of the lack of profile privacy, but I would be a LOT happier if it had more profile privacy and other options. Now, show us this social network software that will beat any of the top ranked forum software as a community/support based platform. I belong to a number of webmaster related websites and haven't heard much mention of any. Facebook, LinkedIn? Please.
  9. I don't agree. If something is private in the profile, it should be visible only to those who have permission to see it, whether that's on the profile page, or in the "hover card" (is that the official name?).
  10. Can a sidebar block be modified per content of the block? If I have a tower ad, can I put it in a block without having the block header, borders, etc. show? Can I change the color of the block header and background per block? Jim
  11. Am I wrong in thinking that flyout contains less information that what is available on the profile page? And can it be configured (I'm only concerned about IPS4) to show only specific portions of the profile information? Jim
  12. This can be done for calendar events?
  13. I do like that calendar items can be commented on, but I have noticed that the blog has some kind of synchronization going with forum posts. Every time there is a new blog entry, it seems like a new forum topic is started with the same content. That was my original hope for the calendar events and I wonder how difficult it would be to implement that kind of synch feature between calendar and forum? Jim
  14. Q2 is April, May & June. March is still in Q1. :smile:
  15. I appreciate you were trying to help. But providing help that is either a violation of search engine rules or unethical is not. :)
  16. Thanks CallieJo, you said it with much more aplomb and composure than I was going to say. All I was gonna say was, " Rimi, you need to chill out with the telling people to chill out. I'm not 15 anymore and I hope you aren't either." I should prob'ly preface all my comments with "I am not an IPS owner yet and have next to zero experience with 3.x, so..." :hmm: Thank you to all who have to suffer through my questions and concerns. Jim
  17. Wouldn't that be considered blackhat SEO and highly frowned upon? You shouldn't give spiders access to content real people can't see.
  18. Really? That isn't an option? I sure hope that isn't true of IPS4. That's a serious issue for me. Not allowing unregistered users to view profiles means search engine spiders also can't view the content. In my case, that means my pro members couldn't leverage the power of my site for business advantage; potential pro members looking for a site that they might find people and industry representatives that they want to network with (unless they post in public forums, which some of my pro members do not do) may pass us by in favor of another forum they can find those users at; consumers looking for product support possibilities and the pros with the knowledge and experience; and search engines will not find one of my sources of relevant content on my website. That's just unacceptable. I realize not all has been revealed about IPS4, including all of the features and options available for member profiles, but I hope these will be revealed soon. I was unaware of this serious limitation. It would force me to re-evaluate my decision to convert my site to IPS4. IPS3 is the only current major product that I am aware of that hides this important resource. Maybe there's a plugin for that? I am really taken aback by this revelation. Jim
  19. Plenty for some is not enough for others. It's a world wide web out there and no forum software can meet the needs of all. But if we tell them what we would like to have, maybe it will become so. :)
  20. I think it's safe to say the majority of forum members and administrators disagree with that philosophy. It's an unfortunate fact that some manufacturers, workroom managers and retailers in my industry will not allow their employees to participate on industry related forums for fear the opinions and information they disseminate will be seen as "official." They don't want the liability or the internal politics - I've been told in person that they don't want their employees consorting with the competition. It seems like their only official spokesperson can be someone in marketing. And we all know how truthful marketing geniuses are. ;) I have members of my forum that need more privacy than others and I am happy to provide that for them so that I can also provide my other members and visitors with the best minds and resultant information that can be found on the interweb. The pro members of my site help each other to be better at what they do, even though some compete for the same market and the same customers. If I didn't allow them some anonymity, didn't provide them with a group of forums that had pros-only access and allow them some profile privacy, then I would not have the quality of content I get in the public forums and other content areas. I've struggled with my site for nearly 8 years to get where we are (not to mention a previous failed attempt in the same niche) and it is nowhere near what I think the potential is, especially with the promise of a product like IPS4. Profile privacy is an important component of that. I doubt seriously that I am alone as a forum owner/administrator in that regard. As an aside, I think a member's email address should never be public and I would never enable that option, if available in the ACP. Jim
  21. I can only guess, but yes, that could work very well. As I've mentioned before, I don't currently have an IPS installation and the only IPS forum I use regularly, as a member, is this one. At least for several months before and after this one, this site only has birthdays on its calendar, so I didn't know about a comment feature. So, I don't know its capabilities, but now that you mentioned it (and from the clue I got in the latest blog post), I'm looking forward to learning more about all the IP.Calendar 4 features in future blog posts. My hopes for that include the calendar being developed with SEO in mind, that upcoming events can be listed, for instance, in a sidebar module (not a tiny calendar, but a configurable list of event titles) and that, when a member or visitor clicks that View New Content button at the top of a page, new calendar events (and old events with new comments) are included on the page with all other new content. So yes, I could be satisfied with calendar event commenting. That's more than what I have now and I wouldn't necessarily stop my members from creating forum topics about calendar events, as they always have. I imagine they would gradually get used to commenting directly in the calendar event. And having events and comments added to any sitemap capability would be great, especially for those sites that would use the calendar for highly relevant content and not just birthdays, etc. Thanks, Jim
  22. I'm sorry you two think my posts were off-topic. I'm a bit offended that it has been dismissed with a "snip." I assumed because the topic title was "profile privacy" that it wouldn't matter if it was member-based or admin-based privacy - and in fact, it's both. Unfortunately for me, you didn't see that, even though I thought I made that apparent in my first reply to this topic. Well, that and more. If we are only allowed to address the issue of member-based profile privacy, then I hope that what IPS might take away from my posts is this: Members should be able to make those individual options visible to all members, only friends/contacts or only members of defined user groups (or whatever it's called in IPS). If the discussion of admin-based privacy options for profiles belongs in a different topic, then someone please point me the way? Thanks, Jim
  23. I think your opinion of forum profiles is dated. It might apply to quite a few forums, but you claim to be an enterprise solution, so that is what I am addressing this as. My site might be small potatoes, but it is becoming one of the most popular in its niche. Profiles on my site have a lot of potential. But because my members are a mixture of professionals within my industry niche and consumers/DIYers who aren't, the power of my member profiles as a whole can be seriously diluted with miscellaneous information that has nothing at all to do with my industry. Take, for instance, the 2 members whose profile pages I use to illustrate my point. This user, MarmoMan, is a pro in his field. The information he provides is relevant to the industry and can be used as a kind of business listing. Anyone who visits the site can view his profile and see his industry status, work history and accomplishments and contact him in various manners that can be very beneficial to him. This kind of profile is an asset to my site. This user, arrowpawn, is a consumer who came to us about flooring issues he/she was having, got answers and hasn't returned since. But the member made sure to leave a lasting impression I only discovered tonight. In addition to all the non-industry related information on the About Me tab, there is contact information, including a link to a website, on the Contact Info tab. This is not good for my site and is considered spam - even though they are a legitimate company. They have taken advantage of the inability I have to make certain profile information and certain user groups hidden from search spiders and non-members. IPS4.x has great potential to turn profile pages into an asset for many forums. It could have the ability to add fields relevant to the site's focus, turn privacy on and off for certain of those fields, make some/all fields admin controllable and add SEO to the profile, among other options. The user popup in other areas of the site should include only information the admin deems important on a user category basis and also allow some user configuration. The point I want to make to you is that everything put in a profile does NOT have to be public, especially if you want to have more control over the relevant content of your website. And I am not one that will compare this feature to facebook. My hope is that it will be incomparable to any other forum product available. You have the resources, the skill and the potential to develop IPS profiles into more than just a miscellaneous forum feature. Thanks for listening, Jim
  24. I could see this being used on my site to start a discussion about the event or training. Members that might have attended a previous one could answer questions about it or share their experiences and media relating to the event, which would encourage others to attend. It could be an option available to create a new topic with the calendar event and include an additional text block for the user to add "notes" below the event info that would show in that first post, but not on the calendar event. For instance, the flooring industry has a big convention in Vegas every year (my members sent me there last Jan). So, the calendar entry could be detailed information about the event, including graphics, links to register, hotel info, etc. Then the option box is checked to create a topic, using the calendar item title as the title of the topic, maybe a "more..." feature that allows the user or moderator to have the topic only include an excerpted portion of the calendar item in the topic and a text box below the calendar item that, if anything was typed in it, could be included in the first post that would allow the calendar item creator to ask if anyone is going, has gone before, etc. The calendar item would include only the calendar info, the topic's first post would be an excerpted version of the calendar item and the notes, if any. Although I don't currently use IPS software on my site, we do have a calendar feature. I have it set up so that it is only used for industry related events. It is never used for birthdays or any other personal milestone. However, I could see a benefit for giving members the ability to create their own calendar items that only they (and maybe their friends) could see. Jim
  25. I'd like to add my hope for developing this feature too. I have a forum membership that consists of professionals and consumers/DIYers. I'd like to be able to have various levels of privacy, if only to enhance SEO. My pro members have a number of custom fields where they can add information that is all industry related. It's highly crawlable and relevant to my site content. However, the consumer/DIY members will often add content in those profile fields that have nothing at all to do with my niche. I would like all members of my site to be able to view member profiles and for my members to be able to hide their profile, or portions of it, if they want. But the only profiles I want unregistered visitors (which include search engine spiders) to be able to see are those of my pro members (if they choose to be visible). Best R'gards, Jim
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