Have you ever found yourself muttering "there has to be an easier way" when managing your community?
If you have, it's likely that you are not the first person to think that. Invision Community has been refined over nearly two decades, and in that time we've received a lot of feedback from clients running very large and busy sites.
We love a short cut, especially when it makes our clients lives easier.
There's plenty of time-saving features throughout Invision Community, and here are five of the best.
If you routinely perform the same actions to a topic, such as replying before closing it or moving the topic to a different forum, then saved actions will save you a lot of time.
Let's look at a practical example. You have a forum where your members can suggest new features for your product. You might choose to move some of these suggestions to another forum to shortlist them for inclusion in a future version, or to discuss further. You also may like to reply thanking the member for their idea, but it's not feasible at this time.
Here you would set up two saved actions, one that replies and moves the topic to a specific forum, and one that replies to the topic and closes it for further commenting.
Your saved actions are accessible via the moderation menu
You and your moderating team can select these saved actions quickly when reading a topic to perform multiple moderation steps in one go.
If your community regularly discusses topics that feature in the latest news, then you can quickly seed these discussions using the RSS feed import tool.
Not only can you import almost any public RSS feed into your community, but you also have control over how these topics are displayed, to whom they are attributed to and how the link back to the source article looks.
RSS feed import is an often overlooked but handy tool at starting productive discussions without the need to source and post them manually.
The iCal feed can be considered as the sister feature to the RSS Feed Import tool. It works in a very similar way in that it can accept almost any public iCal feed and import events into your community's calendar.
This is especially useful if you maintain an event stream outside of the community, but wish to share those events with your members in a native way, or perhaps you already have a calendar product used by your organisation.
Using the iCal feed tool to populate your community calendar with key dates relevant to your community can be achieved very quickly.
Moderating a busy community can be a time-consuming task. Trying to review new posts and topics to ensure they meet your community standards as they come in can be daunting.
Fortunately, Invision Community has an ace up its sleeve.
Auto-moderation allows you to use the power of your community to identify and remove content that does not meet your community standards. The administrator sets up a threshold so that when a specific number of reports for that content item is crossed, the content is hidden.
Auto-moderation has a lot of options to configure which we covered in this blog article recently.
Ensuring your members feel valued and rewarded for their contributions is key to member retention and keeping engagement high.
A simple way to reward long term regular contributors is to elevate their permissions. This can mean that they have access to otherwise hidden areas, or they get more allowances in terms of upload space and fewer restrictions.
To do this manually would take a significant amount of time. Thankfully, Invision Community has a feature called Group Promotion.
This tool allows the administrator to set up specific thresholds such as post count, or time since joining which then move the member into a new group when triggered.
This all happens automatically. Just set it up and let it run!
We spoke about Group Promotion recently, take a look here to learn more about this feature.
How many of you are already using these features, and which ones did we miss off our list? I'd love to know.
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.
The right to be informed
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Unless you've been living under a rock, or forgot to opt-in to the memo, GDPR is just around the corner.
Last week we wrote a blog answering your questions on becoming GDPR compliant with Invision Community.
We took away a few good points from that discussion and have the following updates coming up for Invision Community 4.3.3 due early next week.
Downloading Personal Data
Invision Community already has a method of downloading member data via the member export feature that produces a CSV.
However, we wanted Invision Community to be more helpful, so we've added a feature that downloads personal data (such as name, email address, known IP addresses, known devices, opt in details and customer data from Nexus if you're using that) in a handy XML format which is very portable and machine readable.
You can access this feature via the ACP member view
The download itself is in a standard XML format.
A sample export
Pruning IP Addresses
While there is much debate about whether IP addresses are personal information or not, a good number of our customers requested a way to remove IP addresses from older content.
There are legitimate reasons to store IP addresses for purchase transactions (so fraud can be detected), for security logs (to prevent hackers gaining access) and to prevent spammers registering. However, under the bullet point of not storing information for longer than is required, we have added this feature to remove IP addresses from posted content (reviews, comments, posts, personal messages, etc) after a threshold.
The default is 'Never', so don't worry. Post upgrade you won't see IP addresses removed unless you enter a value.
This new setting is under Posting
Invision Community has always had a way to delete a member and retain their content under a "Guest" name.
We've cleaned this up in 4.3.3. When you delete a member, but want to retain their content, you are offered an option to anonymise this. Choosing this option attributes all posted content to 'Guest' and removes any stored IP addresses.
Deleting a member
The new setting
Finding Settings Easily
To make life a little easier, we've added "GDPR" as a live search keyword for the ACP. Simply tap that into the large search bar and Invision Community will list the relevant settings you may want to change.
These changes show our ongoing commitment to helping you with your GDPR compliance. We'll be watching how GDPR in practise unfolds next month and will continue to adapt where required.
Invision Community 4.3.3 is due out early next week.