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sabrond

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  1. Like
    sabrond reacted to Matt for an entry, Team Talk: How did you first come across Invision Community?   
    Invision Community has been going strong for over sixteen years now. Many of those who work for us were customers first before they signed away their souls and became staff. This month, we part the mists of time and ask:
    How did you first come across Invision Community?
    Andy (Developer and man of mystery)
    Way back in 1998 I was involved with an online investment club in the UK (of course you were - Editor) and we set up a directory of national share clubs with a threaded “bulletin board”. This was based on a freely available perl script (as everything was back then (did they claim it would always be free? - Editor)) but it just wasn’t up to the job. This was my first exposure to writing web based software as I started customising it for our needs. Soon after, we switched to UBB which moved away from messy layouts and to a more structured forum, topic, post experience. With the release in 2004 of Invision Community 1.3 we switched again and I’ve been working with Invision Community software ever since (and you had such a promising life planned out - Editor).
    Around the same time the investment club moved to Invision Community, I also started up two other sites, one for modified cars which was an extremely popular niche at the time and one for my home town of Bedlington which is still running to this date. When developing for Invision Community I find it very useful to have that historical experience and real world insight. A lot of my input when we discuss new features as a team comes as a direct result of this first hand experience.

    I was part of this Investment Club when I was younger
    Marc (Support and fan of bouncy castles)
    My first real experience trying to set up forums/communities for myself was somewhere around 2000 (lol slow down grandpa - Editor). Me and a few friends used to host gaming servers for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and wanted something for storing stats on, so I set up UBB which I remember thinking was really cool at the time. I never really did much with it other than setting it up for people to use, and remember at the time backing things up on a 1mb hard drive (can't even fit a picture on that these days (need a push on that rocking chair? - Editor)).

    Over the years, I ran a few more sites and the software at some point became vBulletin (cant recall when, but just seemed to happen) which I ran through version 2 and late into version 3. At that point I was starting to add things for myself, usually learning from other peoples "FIND abc, AFTER ADD, xyz" which is how we all used to add our own modifications at the time. The thought of an upgrade at the time, I know used to make me cringe.
    At some point during vBulletin 4 release, I was becoming a little disillusioned with the whole community software scene in general (other disappointing platforms are available - Editor), and hadn't really used Invision Community before, but ended up using that for a site for my wife.
    I was using Invision Community more and more. Purely because it was the site that was most active at the time. This led me to becoming very interested in the new Invision Community 4 release, and was becoming a bit of an social addict on the alpha forum that was released, helping out people who weren't sure of things, and generally asking questions. It was around this point I was asked to join the team here at Invision. And you guys have had to put up with me ever since! My sincere apologies for that. (apology accepted - Editor)

    This has nothing to do with Castle Wolfenstein but it's late and I need this blog entry done
    Mark H (Support and keeper of Dropbox)
    The internet was in its infancy in 1985 (and there goes 80% of our readers - Editor), and I was using BBS's on a dial-up 1200 baud modem. In 1986 I took over a BBS from a friend, running it on a 2400 baud modem and single phone line. It was just a few years later that I got my first look at the real "Internet", using Netscape and now a 9600 baud modem (we just lost another 10% - Editor). At some point I discovered online communities, then only "Forums" with perhaps photo gallery software similar to Coppermine.
    My focus was gaming at the time, so I gravitated to forums for such things as (like Marc) Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, and the first RPG-type text-based games.  I also joined a number of MUD's (multiplayer real time worlds - Editor), and am a (now retired) staff member of the MUD, Ancient Anguish.
    I've seen the progression of technology and software which, today, we take for granted. But back then if someone had told me where we would be today, (oh boy, here we go - Editor) I'd have been...... skeptical. Over the years, I've used a verity of "forum software" but well over a decade ago started using Invision Community version 1.3a. Today I am a partner with another person running a site using Invision Community software, and it's the highest-ranking result at Google for its (admittedly niche) speciality.
    Since I was using Invision Community, having purchased it at version 2.3, and given that background, it seemed a natural progression to join Invision Community as an employee when the opportunity arose, and I have never looked back! (must be dangerous when reversing - Editor)

    Actual footage of Mark listening to an internet podcast back in 1985
    Jennifer (Designer and sock fanatic)
    Communities, for me, started on AOL. The chat rooms was where I started. I evolved to javascript chat rooms later and eventually into Neopets clubs followed by a community software called Avidgamers and eventually stumbled across InvisionFree forums. It was while I was adventuring through Avidgamers that I discovered an art type called "pixel" art which truly explains my passion.
    I was personally never good at it but I found a community called "Eden Enchanted" where all these really awesome pixel artists were. So I started to develop my own Pixel art community (because back then I thought I might eventually get good at it so I should admin). I started on the free community software of "SMF" but envied the ease of use and the beauty of Invision Community (which this awesome pixel community used (they have outstanding taste - Editor)).
    After what felt like forever, which mind you was really only like 2-3 months, I bit the bullet and purchased an Invision Community license. I wanted this gorgeous piece of software and I couldn't live with the second rate free stuff anymore (there's our new advert slogan - Editor). So I bought Invision Community 2.3 and delved in (this was back in 2007). I really haven't looked back since. I've been developing skins since I got it and I've made a few mods/applications on it back in the 3.0 days.
    I've owned and ran many communities, and roleplays, on Invision Community since. My current community, which has officially been running on Invision Community since December 2013, was transferred from InvisionFree (not my choice but god were we happy when we left).

    Ah the memories. Terrible, terrible memories
    Brandon (Developer and XP log in screen enthusiast)
    Back in roughly 2004-ish I got into customizing Windows XP (specifically I created custom login screens (this was actually a thing? - Editor) but knew a lot of people who did the full alternative to Windows Blinds by hacking dlls) and eventually opened a site to host my work and to allow others to share theirs: bfarber.com.
    I used Invision Community v1.3 which was free at the time (2.0 was just getting into beta testing as I recall) and needed a file manager to share my work and to allow others to do the same. I downloaded a free file manager by a modder named 'parkeet' and after installing it on my site (which required those good ole "find X and replace with Y" PHP file modifications) I found that it was lacking in a few areas, so I set out to customize it.
    From this desire I taught myself PHP (I was already familiar with HTML, CSS and javascript) and learned how to modify the modification. Eventually, the original author left the mod scene (this was back in the ibmods days for those of you who have been here a while (I have - Editor)) and turned the work over to me. I was hired by IPS back around 2006 and shortly after I came on board I built a new Downloads manager from the ground up as a core offering for the company (Now I know who to assign all Download tickets to - Editor). While I don't run my own site anymore (especially a third party hack site for Windows XP), I do have fond memories of my roots. This was both my start with web development (beyond building a few static HTML pages in the early days of the web) as well as my start with forums specifically.

    Never used this, apparently it was OK
    Stuart (Developer and owner of large computers)
    My story is rather similar to the other ones here (selling this story from the off - Editor). My story starts around 2000 when I started a car club with my brother, being the technical one, one of the first things to do was to set up a forum. We started with Ikonboard (imagine Perl & flat-file databases etc), we swiftly followed Matt over to his new PHP-based project "Invision Power Board" (pretty sure the restraining order prohibited that - Editor). With the introduction of the new licensing structure unfortunately with being very low budget we had to then move over to WBB (er... - Editor). Soon after we moved back to Invision Community (It was the best and totally worth it! (I made him say that - Editor)) and I started to get interested with PHP (up to this point, I had only really used HTML/CSS) and learning how to make some changes that we needed for working with 'members' and tying our website in with our community. -- A really simple SSO type approach where the main website would show the user that's logged in and save data they submit, such as a tech spec and images of their vehicles.
    That community is still using Invision Community and in the meantime I've also converted (and run) some other car club communities that I've been involved in over the years. From there, I was asked to start writing SSO (single sign on, you're welcome- Editor) integrations in early 2014 for Invision Community and soon after became a full member of staff.
    I still run a number of communities to this day which gives great insight into how end users interact with the software and generally what their feelings of the platform is. Quite often, I'll deploy Alphas to these communities to gather feedback. 

    Oh, he said Car Club...
     
    Jim (Support and his name is a bit like the lead singer from The Doors)
    The first community I really heavily participated in was around 2003. Being a nerd and liking wrestling at the time (Ultimate Warrior FTW- Editor), I joined a wrestling forum that ran a very beginning version of IPB. A lot of time was spent on this website and after becoming a moderator, I really feel in love with IPB.
    A sub-forum on this community that was pretty active was around graphic design. Feedback/showcases and competitions with the main point of focus around the wrestling world. This really took my interest and while my interest in wrestling kind of faded, graphic design led to the next step in my life and naturally joining graphic design communities.
    After being a part of quite a few graphic design forums (that were ran quite badly (honesty is always good - Editor)) came time for me to try my hand at this. Being technically inclined, I thought I could run a better show. We started out on PHPBB due to cost but after some frustrating moments, I persuaded the move to Invision Community.
    Come sometime around 2008 or 2009 and my new passion around cars had reached its peak, I came back onto the forum scene. In 2010, my favorite brand had become defunct so I decided to open a community dedicated to keeping its memory alive. First and only choice was to come back to Invision Community! (Believe early version 3 at the time) This community is still alive and I still have a lot of fun with it!

    I've been waiting months to post this GIF
    Rhett (Hosting and boasting)
    My time on forums started in the late 90's, with a few motorcycle and photography forums I visited often. During the years as time progressed some of these went astray from what the core members wanted, so I started a few of my own Motorcycle forums with the core members following, that lead to other online communities such as Android (is that the cheap iOS knockoff? - Editor) in the late 2000's, and a few other communities. In about 08-09 I had enough of the main platform we were using and made the move to Invision Community (a man of fine taste - Editor). I started digging in, converting all the sites to Invision and haven't looked back (seriously, how do you guys get out of parking spots? - Editor). It's a great product, a great team, that I'm proud to be a small part of.

    Instagram in the 80s
    Daniel (Developer and owner of a shop and spa in Arendelle)
    My Journey started 2003 at an Austrian electronical music forum which was also written in perl.
    After years where I was only a member, the owner lost interest and a handful of people(incl. myself) took it over (hopefully you asked nicely first - Editor), but we realized that perl was such a pain to work with (I could have told you that - Editor), so we restarted the whole project with phpBB.
    This was also the time, where I got really interested into coding and customizing stuff.
    After a long journey from phpBB, to vBulletin(2006), and others, I landed finally here (the best one of course (someone's getting a bonus - Editor))
    The forum doesn't exist anymore , I blame facebook and all the european laws, but TBH, I'm just too busy to run one ?

    Probably not Daniel
    Those are our stories, but we'd love to hear about your first experiences with Invision Community. Let us know below!
     
  2. Haha
    sabrond 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.
  3. Like
    sabrond reacted to Matt for an entry, We're now using Invision Community 4.3!   
    Cue the music; switch on the dramatic lighting, we've got fantastic news!
    We're now running Invision Community 4.3 on here for some advanced testing before we unleash the first beta release.

    There's a subtle hint above
    If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights.
    As this is a pre-beta release, expect some funkiness as we scurry around and tidy up our custom theme wrapper and other areas as we spot them.
    If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area.
    We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
  4. Thanks
    sabrond reacted to Matt for an entry, Team Talk: What is the geekiest thing you do in your spare time?   
    We, at Invision Community, love nothing more after a relaxing day writing PHP code, making commits in git and fighting with jQuery to indulge in a little therapeutic "me time".
    Given that we've all chosen to work in a nerdy industry (nerds are cool now, we checked) it's no surprise that our down time is spent on nerdy pursuits.
    Here's how our team spent their allotted and begrudgingly given free time.
    Ryan (Developer who loves of loud noises)
    I'm an audio nerd. I go out of my way to hand pick each individual component whenever I'm building a an audio system. My computer, for example, currently has 4 satellite speakers (two Bose, two DCM models which are no longer in production - what is a shame, they are better than any I've ever had), and a sub-woofer (Bose). My living room system is my pride and joy - everything currently runs through a Sony 7.1 channel surround sound system, with a Polk Audio center channel, two Kenwood JL series tower speakers (before JL Audio was it's own thing - each contain a 1.5" tweeter, 5" Midrange, and 12" Subwoofer), two side-surround satellites that need replacing, and will soon have two rear-surround Bose satellites. Each system has specifically been fine-tuned and equalized to my specification.
    (Editor: I'd be happy with a HomePod)
    The same applies to my guitar amps - I've spent years fine-tuning my amps to perfection, and constantly adjust and tweak various settings to get different sounds.

    Still not loud enough, we checked
    Jennifer (Designer who loves board games)
    As everyone likely knows I do a lot of pretty nerdy things, from cosplaying to video games to play by post roleplaying (collaborative writing) to collecting nerdy-shirts and playing board games but I think one of my more nerdy things would be that I collect socks and intentionally mismatch them (aka I'm Bi-sockual). I collect socks of all shapes and sizes to have for any occasion including socks with capes, leg warmers and more. I have a pretty nerdy collection including a ton of super hero socks, some Power Puff girls and more.
    (Editor: Socks with capes. What a time to be alive)

    These are clean, we checked
    Daniel (Developer who loves amusing English words)
    It all started several years ago as a present.. I fall in love with this hobby and got some nice trees from my ex-wife. The collection grew and grew.
    That's my "poor mans" bonsai collection.. I once trashed a 1000€ plant, then I sold all other which were worth more then 500€ except one and now I just have these left, but it's enought to keep me busy... and to not cause any sadness if something happens to them...Now i really enjoy trying to create my own stuff instead of taking care of bought stuff.
    (Editor: Daniel is hands down the most interesting person I've ever met)

    These are legal, we checked.
    Brandon (Developer who loves movies)
    I haven't done one in a while, but I like to have movie marathons sometimes. For instance, I'll plan to sit down one day and do nothing but watch Star Wars movies (or Harry Potter, or LOTR or whatever) all day in order. You then have to make the ever important decision of putting the prequels first, or after the originals, but otherwise it tends to be a fun experience watching the continuity from one distinct movie to the next (or, alternatively, looking for broken continuity). When I do this, we tend to eat popcorn, milkshakes and candy for lunch and dinner. Most of my family cannot sit still that long and will just bounce in and out during the marathon.
    (Editor: I'm in, when do you want me to pop over?)

    Spongebob lives under the sea, we checked
    Marc S (Tech who loves things that crash)
    I guess other than coding, the nerdiest thing I do is watch Formula 1 racing. Whilst this doesn't seem that nerdy, I do go a little overboard with it (as my wife reminds me regularly). This should give you a bit of an idea.
    At present we are approaching pre season testing. For those not familiar with formula 1, this is a testing phase before the new season, for teams to test their new cars. This means that the new cars are just being shown to the world for the first time. I will watch for these to see them as soon as they come out, then will take a look at what new parts I can see on the car in comparison to last year. Today for example saw the first glimpse of Mercedes, and at 3pm Ferrari will show off their new car online.
    In addition to that, I've been looking at the stats from last year, along with the know changes this year in engines. I have my own analysis of who I think will be the winners and losers, through the changes from last season in drivers, engine suppliers, and even paddock staff. 
    Testing starts on the cars on Monday in barcelona. Whilst this is not on TV, I will be keeping myself updated with the latest events on there. My daily routine whilst testing is on consists of.
    Testing live stream running throughout the day during testing
    Teds notebook in the evening - An show which analyses the days testing
    F1 show - Another show which analyses each days testing
    Autosport review - Article online with analysis
    Sky news site - Usually some good analysis on there
    BBC Sport - Again, some good analysis and different points of view
    Motorsport.com - Pretty good website for analysis
    And of course the formula 1 website itself.
    Boring to many (Editor: yep), but I guess everyone has to have a hobby. For me its formula 1 analysis. Would love to have a go in one, but to do so it hugely expensive! (Editor: given your history with crashing things, you'd never get insurance)

    John Woo directed this clip, we checked
    Andy (Developer who loves to follow instructions)
    Following a recent project we worked on for LEGO, I rediscovered a love for the brick with the Saturn V. Since then I’ve also started a nice little collection of cars including the incredibly geeky 2704 piece Porsche 911 GT3 RS with functional PDK gearbox and the VW campervan. My family bought me a few more sets for Christmas and I’m toying (no pun intended (Editor: Puns are my thing, it's the only job I have left)) with building a city with the larger modular sets. I’d say that was fairly geeky but I really enjoy the downtime of sitting down and building. I’m not terribly creative so following a set of instructions and seeing things come together appeals to me more than free building.

    Andy did build this, we checked
    Right, that's enough of that, everyone back to work!
    How do you spend your spare time? Let us know below!
  5. Haha
    sabrond reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.3: Engagement Improvements   
    As we come close to wrapping up development of Invision Community 4.3, we wanted to let you know of a few smaller improvements we've made to increase engagement to your community.
    Email
    Despite fancy new things like social media and push notifications, trusty old email has been proven to be highly effective at getting repeat visitors to your website.
    It's one of the reasons Invision Community has built in email support for notifications that can be sent instantly, or via daily or weekly digests.
    Email should form a part of every community marketing strategy but curating content and building newsletters can often be a labor intensive task.
    With Invision Community 4.3 we have added some additional automated email tools to help your users discover more of your carefully crafted content.
    Highlight the best content from throughout your community
    In 4.2 we introduced the concept of curated content with promotions and “Our Picks”. With 4.3 we’ve taken this a step further and these promoted items will now appear directly in your content related emails. 
    This allows for your audience to be enticed back to your community with items that they may not have read but holds interest.

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

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

     
    We can't wait to release this latest update. With new ways to monetise your community, new ways to engage your audience and better promotion tools, we're excited to see how it's going to benefit your community.
     
  6. Like
    sabrond reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: REST API Enhancements   
    "No man is an island" wrote John Donne. He wrote that a good 200 years before computers were invented, but it rings true for any well written framework like Invision Community.
    The included REST API allows developers to fetch data from Invision Community and also allows data to be added.
    This data can be used to power widgets on your website, or to be used within other applications you  are already using in a very simple way.

     
    Several enhancements have been made to the REST API for Invision Community 4.3 that we wanted to let you know about.
    These changes are developer-oriented, so if you do not use the REST API with your community please feel free to skip this update.
    If you would like to learn more about the REST API available with Invision Community, please see our REST documentation.
    Search capabilities
    As previously noted, you can now perform searches through the REST API. You can perform searches based on keywords, tags, or both, and you can limit and filter results with parameters similar to when you perform a regular search on the site (e.g. to specific containers, returning only results over a set number of comments, or searching within clubs).
    Permission awareness
    Several REST API endpoints are now permission-aware when combined with Oauth functionality built into Invision Community 4.3. This means that many REST API endpoints can be called using a specific user's access token, and only results that the specific user would normally be able to see will be returned (and/or they will only be able to submit to areas they normally have permission to). 
    Ability to search members
    While an endpoint has always been available to retrieve (and add/edit/delete) members, the ability to search for members has now been implemented. You can search by name, email address, and (one or more) group(s), and a paginated response will be returned.
    Private conversations
    You can now start a new private conversation, reply to an existing private conversation, and delete a private conversation through the REST API.
    Other REST API changes
    You can now specify member's secondary groups when adding or updating a member through the REST API. You can specify the member's registration IP address through the REST API when adding or updating a member. You can now specify other member properties not directly exposed through the REST API when adding or updating a member by setting the rawProperties input field. You can now specify other member properties to retrieve through the REST API through the otherFields request parameter. The REST API now better logs changes to member accounts (so you will be able to more easily identify how a user's name, email address, password, etc. has changed when looking at the member history). You can now retrieve all content a member is following through the REST API, as well as follow a new container/content item, and delete an existing follow. You can now validate an account through the REST API You can now specify a 'perPage' parameter for paginated responses to control how many items are returned per page.  
    Most of these changes were directly culled from client feedback and implemented per specific requests. If there are other REST API changes you would like to see implemented please don't hesitate to leave your feedback!
  7. Like
    sabrond reacted to Charles for an entry, 4.3: Usability improvements to make your day better   
    Often it's the smaller changes that can make a big improvement in the day to day use of your community. We have made quite a few updates that will make your community flow better for you and your members.
    Update files in Pages Media Manager
    Previously when you wanted to update a file in the Pages Media Manager you actually had to upload a new file and then change the references to that file to the new one. This was obviously not so great.
    When you select a file there is now a replace option. We're not sure why we didn't do this earlier but as they say: better late than never!
    Tag Input when Optional
    On communities with tagging enabled, we have often noticed that people tend to feel the need to tag everything even when it's not really necessary. If your site is about cars you don't really need everything people post to be tagged "car" as that's sort of obvious.

     
    So to make it a bit clearer that tags are not required we have hidden the input field behind a Choose link so people have to actively choose to tag if they really think it's necessary. We hope this cuts down on tag noise. If tagging is required then the normal input box will always show.
    Google Invisible reCAPTCHA
    The new Google Invisible reCAPTCHA allows you to prevent bot registrations without the need for all users to fill out the normal captcha process. As often as possible your members will never notice there is even a captcha happening on the page. It's another way to make the flow from guest to member easier.
    Whitelist for Spam Service
    The spam defense service Invision Community provides works very well at combatting spam signups automatically. The issue is sometimes it works too well!
    Let's say you are at work and all your colleagues share the same public IP. You are excited about your new community (of course you are) and your whole office tries to register at once. Our spam service would probably see your office IP as suspicious with that sudden influx of traffic and may even block it.
    The new whitelist tool allows you to specify IPs and email addresses to always allow on your community regardless of what score our spam defense gives it.
    Reply as Hidden
    Sometimes it would be nice if your moderators could reply to an item with a hidden reply. You might want to leave a note for other moderators or perhaps you have a database and want some replies public and some private.

     
    If you have permission you will now see a hide toggle when replying. This works in all apps anywhere you can reply to a content item and have hide permission.
    Exclude Groups in Leaderboard
    You can now exclude certain groups from being ranked in the Leaderboard. This is very useful if your staff or RSS bot tend to get all the reputation points. By excluding those groups you can focus on your actual member participation which is a better reward to encourage engagement.
    On a personal note this will make me very sad as I usually win reputation counts on our site. But, being such a great person, I am willing to make this sacrifice for you.  
    Complete Your Profile Order
    The Complete Your Profile feature introduced in version 4.2 has been a great success for clients. We have heard many reports of increased engagement as the system can walk people through the sign up process. Not having a big, scary registration form is always a huge plus.
    For 4.3 we added the new ability to change the order of completion for your members. This will allow you to stress the items you really want them to complete first and move your less important profile options later in the steps.
    Mapbox Support
    Mapping has been a feature of Invision Community for quite some time but up until now has been limited to Google Maps integration. For 4.3 we have added support for Mapbox which is based on OpenStreetMap data. The maps are beautifully designed and bring greater flexibility with an alternative look. The groundwork is now laid for some exciting new features still to come!
    Some of our existing customers also found Google policies and pricing structure incompatible with their own internal policies which this addition addresses.
  8. Thanks
    sabrond reacted to Matt for an entry, How Invision Community's tools can help with GDPR compliance   
    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation (EU 2016/679) that is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for EU residents from 25th May 2018.
    How can Invision Community help?
    While Invision Community enables you to collect and store information, it's important to note that you as the site owner are the data controller. If your site can collect data from EU citizens, then we recommend that you research your responsibilities.
    We have introduced several new tools in Invision Community 4.2.7 to help you with compliance, and we'll run through them and the relevant sections of the regulation in this blog.
    Individual Rights (More information)
    Right to be informed
    Invision Community has an area for you to edit your own privacy policy. This is found in the Admin CP > Settings > Terms & Privacy Policy.

     
    Guidance on what the policy should contain can be found here.
    Right to erasure (More information)
    Invision Community allows you to delete a member from the Admin CP. If the member has left posts or comments on your community, you can elect to delete the content, or keep it but remove the author's details thereby making the content anonymous.
    Lawful bases for processing (More information)
    Consent (More information)
    Invision Community now features a setting to not automatically opt in to administrator emails such as those sent by the bulk email system often used for newsletters when registering a new account on your community.
    This feature is found in the ACP > Members > Registration Settings

     
    Part of the consent regulation is to record when consent was given. The consent to opt-in for administrator emails such as bulk emails sent via the Admin CP is recorded at registration, and each time they change the setting. This record can be found in the member history log when viewing a member in the Admin CP.

    If you change the Terms & Conditions, or the Privacy Policy, you can request that members accept these changes when they next log in thus giving their consent for those changes.

    Cookies (More information)
    Invision Community stores a small amount of data in cookies. These are used to authorize you when you re-visit a community. Other cookies are used to provide a service at the user's request, such as changing a theme or using Commerce's cart.
    We have added additional features for Invision Community 4.2.7 to permit acknolwedgement that cookies will be set, and a brief page outlining the types of cookies that are set.
    Invision Community has a feature that shows a small message to new visitors to the community. This is found in the Admin CP > Terms & Privacy Policy page.

     
    We have pre-configured a cookie acknowledgement message using the short-tags {cookies}.
    This will display as follows:

     
    This links to a new page showing brief information about the types of cookies that Invision Community stores.

     
    Although at the time of writing this blog entry, the regulation states that there is no exact information that you need to show on the cookie page, you can edit it to add more detail if you wish.
    Summary
    We hope these new tools available with Invision Community 4.2.7 make it easier for you to seek compliance with GDPR if you choose to do so.
    It's worth pointing out that we are awesome at making community software and know a huge amount about making communities successful, but we are not experts in EU regulation. We offer this blog entry as a way to assist you in seeking compliance but you must do your own research and are responsible for your own community.
    Invision Community 4.2.7 is currently in beta testing. We're aiming to release it early next week.
    We hope this is a good starting point for you!
  9. Thanks
    sabrond reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.3   
    We are happy to announce the new Invision Community 4.3 is available!
    Some highlights in Invision Community 4.3 include...
    Improved Search
    We now support Elasticsearch for scalable and accurate searching that MySQL alone cannot provided. There are also enhancements to the overall search interfaces based on your feedback.

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

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

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

     
    Clubs
    The new Clubs feature has been a huge hit with Invision Community users and we are expanding it to include invite-only options, notifications, exposure on the main community pages, paid memberships, and more.
    Custom Email Footers
    Your community generates a lot of email and you can now include dynamic content in the footer to help drive engagement and content discovery. 
    New Gallery Interface
    We have reworked our Gallery system with a simplified upload process and more streamlined image viewing.
     
    The full list follows. Enjoy!
    Content Discovery
    We now support Elasticsearch which is a search utility that allows for much faster and more reliable searching. The REST API now supports search functions. Both MySQL and Elasticsearch have new settings for the admin to use to set search-defaults and default content weighting to better customize search logic to your community. Visitors can now search for Content Pages and Commerce Products. When entering a search term, members now see a more clear interface so they know what areas they are searching in and the method of search. Member Engagement
    Commerce can now send a customizable account welcome email after checkout. You can whitelist emails in the spam service to stop false-positives. REST API has many enhancements to mange members. Ability to join any OAuth service for login management. Invision Community can now be an OAuth endpoint. Wordpress OAuth login method built in. Support for Google's Invisible ReCaptcha. Groups can be excluded from Leaderboard (such as admins or bot groups). All emails generated by Invision Community can now contain admin-defined extra promotional text in the footer such as Our Picks, and Social Links. Admins can now define the order of Complete Your Profile to better control user experience. Clubs
    Option to make a Club visible but invite-only Admins can set an option so any Club a member is part of will also show in the parent application. So if you are in a Club that has a Gallery tab then those image will show both in the Club and in the main Gallery section of the community. Club members can now follow an entire Club rather than just each content section. There is a new option on the Club directory page for a list view which is useful for communities with many Clubs. If you have Commerce you can now enable paid memberships to Clubs. Admins can set limits on number of Clubs per group. If a group has delete permission in their Club, they can now delete empty containers as well. Members can ignore invitations. Moderation and Administration
    Unrestricted moderator or administrator permission sets in the AdminCP are visually flagged. This prevents administrator confusion when they cannot do something as they will be able to quickly see if their account has restrictions. You can choose to be notified with a new Club is created. Moderators can now reply to any content item with a hidden reply. Download screenshot/watermarks can now be rebuilt if you change settings. Support for Facebook Pixel to easily track visitors. Moderators can now delete Gallery albums. Automatic moderation tools with rules to define when content should auto-hide based on user reports. Totally new member management view in AdminCP. More areas are mass-selectable like comments and AdminCP functions for easier management. New Features
    Commerce now has full Stripe support including fraud tools, Apple Pay, and other Stripe features. Commerce packages can now have various custom email events configured (expiring soon, purchased, expired). Full Emojii support in the editor. Complete overhaul of the Gallery upload and image views. Announcements system overhaul. Now global on all pages (not via widget) and new modes including dismissible announcements and top-header floating bar option. Many new reports on traffic and engagement in the AdminCP. Blog has new view modes to offer options for a traditional site blog or a community multi-member blog platform. The content-starter can now leave one reply to Reviews on their item. Commerce now makes it much easier to do basic account-subscriptions when there is no product attached. Useful Improvements
    Forums has a new widget where you can filter by tags. If tags are not required, the tag input box now indicates this so the member knows they do not have to put in tags. Member cover photos can now be clicked to see the full image. Any item with a poll now has a symbol on the list view. Twitch.tv embed support. You can now update/overwrite media in the Pages Media Manager. Mapbox as an additional map provider to Google Maps. Technical Changes
    Direct support for Sparkpost has been removed. Anyone currently using Sparkpost will automatically have their settings converted to the Sparkpost SMTP mode so your email will still work. Your cache engines (like Redis) will be checked on upgrade and in the support tool to ensure they are reachable. Third-party applications will now be visually labeled to distinguish them from Invision Community official applications. The queued tasks list in the AdminCP is now collapsed by default as queued tasks are not something people need to pay much attention to during normal operations. When upgrading from version 3 series you must convert your database to UTF8 and the system saves your original data in tables prefixed with orig. The AdminCP now alerts you these are still present and allows you to remove them to reclaim storage space. On new installs there are now reasonable defaults for upload limits to keep people from eating up storage space. Categories in all apps (forums, gallery albums, databases, etc.) no longer allow HTML in their titles. This has been a concern both in terms of security and usability so we were forced to restrict it. Large improvements to the Redis cache engine including use for sessions. The login with HTTPS option has been removed and those who were using it will be given instructions to convert their entire community to HTTPS. Images loaded through the proxy system now honor image limits for normal uploads. We now consider BBCode deprecated. We are not removing support but will not fix any future issues that may come up.
     
    There's a lot to talk about here so we are going to lock this entry to comments so things do not get confusing. Feel free to comment on upcoming feature-specific entries or start a topic in our Feedback forum.
     
  10. Thanks
    sabrond reacted to Rikki for an entry, Top tips for optimizing your community's SEO   
    Unlike a regular website, where you write content for each page, target keywords and optimize text, a forum community's content is predominantly written by users. They don't know or care about your site's SEO and just want to interact with other users or find answers to their questions.
    To keep your community moving forward, Invision Community implements many best-practice SEO techniques and approaches for you automatically, without you needing to lift a finger.
    Even still, there are a few additional steps you can take to potentially help your site rank better.
     
    How Invision Community helps you automatically
    Invision Community does a lot of automatic SEO for you behind the scenes to help your site rank better or to help search engines understand your content. Some of those include:
    Sitemap generation
    A sitemap file helps search engines to locate pages within your site. This helps search engines find pages so they will be crawled quicker. Invision Community automatically generates a sitemap for you that points to all of your content URLs, and submits it to Google. JSON-LD
    Another way a site can help search engines is by providing metadata about a page. For example, if the page contains a review, additional data can be supplied to the search engine with rating count, average, and so on. There are dozens of items that can be described in this way, and doing so can mean your results in search engines display this additional data. This makes results more useful to users, potentially leading them to click on your result versus another. It can also help search engines understand your content better. Canonical URLs
    Search engines can penalize your site in situations where the same content can have multiple URLs. With software that generates pages dynamically, such as a community, this can happen frequently because there are URLs to get the last read post, the latest post, the first post and so on, all ultimately pointing to the same topic page. Invision Community takes care of this for you by setting a canonical URL for every page, telling the search engine which is the definitive URL it should use. Semantic markup
    The HTML markup used to generate a page is possibly the most important factor impacting SEO. Each HTML tag has a specific meaning (e.g. H1 is an important title) and allows search engines to determine the structure of the page. It's therefore important that tags are used correctly and in the appropriate context - known as semantic markup. Invision Community has been built with semantic markup principles in mind right from the start. Responsive theme
    Google has been transitioning to a mobile-first approach when crawling sites and it's likely this does or will factor into its PageRank system. Now more than ever it is important that your community offers a genuine mobile experience. Invision Community achieves this by supporting responsiveness - where the theme adapts depending on size of the screen being used - by default.  
    What you can do to improve ranking
    Let search engines see your content
    One of the most important things you can do to help with SEO might seem obvious, but we've seen many people unwittingly neglect it: ensure that search engines can see your content!
    It's tempting to lock down your community so that users have to log in before being able to see your content, and for some communities this might be necessary. However, a search engine can only see content accessible to guests, and so by locking your community down a search engine won't be able to see very much at all, and your pages won't show in search results.
    Wherever possible, we suggest allowing guests to read your content, though you can require registration to reply.
    Enable HTTPS
    Even ignoring SEO this is a good idea, because it's more secure for your users and browsers are increasingly alerting users about sites that don't use HTTPS, showing them as insecure.
    In terms of SEO, research has shown a correlation between between sites using HTTPS and their ranking position, and in 2014 Google indicated that HTTPS would be a “ranking signal” going forward. Given the other benefits of HTTPS, it would therefore be wise to enable it across your community.
    Ensure your site loads fast
    A fast-loading site is very important for rankings, and so you should do what you can to keep your community running quickly. This includes:
    Enable guest caching
    Invision Community includes a built-in caching system for pages viewed by guests, ensuring they don't have to be re-generated for every page view. This can greatly speed up your site for guest users and therefore search engines. This is automatically configured on our Cloud services. Don't go overboard with plugins
    A few good plugins can set your community apart from others, but going overboard can significantly slow down your load times or clutter your interface. Be wary of image-heavy themes
    As with plugins, a great theme is a good thing to have, but try to avoid one with extensive use of very large images. Choose a good host
    Some website hosts are slower than others, so ensuring your host is up to scratch is important. Of course our Cloud services are a great solution here!  
    Use 301 Redirects if migrating
    If you're migrating from another community platform, your page URLs will change to reflect Invision Community's architecture. You can greatly improve SEO retention by using special redirects (known as 301 Redirects) to send users from your old URLs to the new. Search engines understand this method and will update their records.
    We include redirects in our free migration packages to help you retain your SEO standings after migrating to Invision Community.
    Write relevant content
    If your site targets a particular niche, you may see benefit in writing longer-form content as articles on a site blog. This kind of content ranks well and allows you to ensure keywords are used (versus content posted by members, which can be anything). You can also encourage further discussion of the article in the wider community, amplifying its benefit.
    For a site news page/blog, our Pages app can be used to build an articles section for this purpose.
    Use social media profiles to your benefit
    You should register social media profiles for your site on the popular platforms and make them a part of your presence. These sites rank very highly of course, and so if your social profiles can also rank highly for your name, they can be a good way of directing traffic to your site.
    Use the ‘About' section of the profile to write an interesting blurb about what your site offers. Create eye-catching header images and profile photos to use on the profiles too. Cross-link each social profile to the others (and back to your site, of course). Finally, link to your social profiles from your site too. Invision Community allows you to easily do this and insert icons in your header or footer.
    Beyond that, you can also use social media to your advantage by cross-linking some of your best content to it. We'll go into more detail on how best to leverage social media in a future article, but the new Promote functionality in Invision Community is a great way of achieving this.
     
    Summing Up
    As always, content is king when it comes to ranking, and that should be your most important focus. Fostering a vibrant community that creates and shares interesting content is key. You can then use SEO methods boosted by Invision Community features to expand your community's reach in search engines.
    If you have any SEO tips that have helped your site, we'd love to hear them. Share them in the comments below!
  11. Thanks
    sabrond reacted to Charles for an entry, Invision Community 4.3 Coming Soon   
    Our recent release of Invision Community 4.2 was the most well-received version ever! The feedback we received on new features like Clubs, Reactions, and Promotes was better than we could have hoped and we really enjoyed seeing all the creative uses as people implemented them on their own communities.
    We have been hard at work on version 4.3 with a goal of improving on all the great new features. It is well under way and we are happy to able to start announcing what's new over the next few weeks.
    Invision Community 4.3 will not only contain new features but also have a core focus on refinement from 4.2's new features. You will see many improvements to Clubs, new integration options, large application improvements, new promotional features, and more changes large and small.

     
    You can expect to see news posts about new features and changes very soon with a release date in early 2018. Follow our news section or subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates.
  12. Thanks
    sabrond reacted to Rikki for an entry, Highlighting staff posts to improve communication   
    Whatever the purpose of a community - be it customer support, fan engagement, interest-based groups and so on - there's usually a need for site staff to communicate important information to users.
    Of course, in some cases this information is best suited to a site announcement, which by design has a lot of visibility and authority. But it's important that day to day staff posts stand out too. As we'll discuss in future articles, a key part of engagement is that users see your organization's team interacting with the community. In many cases, users will expect and appreciate acknowledgement from your community team, and by highlighting those responses you can add a visible stamp of authority.
    Invision Community has a few different tools to help you highlight staff posts, so let's take a look at them in more detail. 

    Group badges
    With group badges you can upload a small image that is shown beside a user's posts. It's shown alongside the user's group name, so you don't need to repeat that text.
    Each group can have a different badge, perfect for communities that structure their staff groups based on role type. It's common to color-code group badges for easier identification - support as green, product development as blue, and so on (and you may want to coordinate these colors with the prefix and suffix you use, which we cover later in this article).

     
    It's not just staff groups that can have badges, either; your regular member groups can too. However, a word of caution! If every group has a badge, they may lose their distinctiveness. We recommend reserving group badges for those groups you specifically want to draw attention to.

    Post highlights
    Second is a feature more explicitly designed to highlight a post rather than simply draw attention to the author. Group settings in Invision Community enable you to choose to have posts by users in each group show with a distinctive background color and border. The color is defined by your theme and so is easily configurable, too.

     
    As with group badges, it may be tempting to highlight every group's content, but we recommend not doing so as that reduces the overall impact of the feature. Keep it reserved for your key staff groups, and especially those that regularly interact with the community.

    Group prefix/suffix
    Invision Community allows you to define a custom prefix and suffix for each group. This is used in key locations, including to highlight usernames in the Active User block and to style member group names alongside content.
    An important part of this feature is that it accepts HTML tags, which gives you a lot of scope for customizing the display by adding an opening and closing HTML tag to the prefix and suffix settings, respectively. For example, let's say we want to add a shield icon before the name, and make the text purple.
    Prefix: <span style='color: #9013FE'><i class='fa fa-shield'></i>
    Suffix: </span>
    Simple! Now our staff members will display in the Active User block and elsewhere like this:

     

    Bonus feature: Staff activity streams
    I wanted to also mention a feature that achieves a slightly different goal to those we covered above, but nonetheless is an important way to bring additional visibility to staff content: activity streams.
    As well as an overall “All Activity” stream that shows everything happening in the community, Invision Community allows you to define pre-made streams that are available to all users. You can use this to build streams of content with particular tags, certain types of content - or, as in this case, content by users in specific groups.

     
    Simply create a new activity stream in the Admin Control Panel, set the configuration so that it only pulls content from members in your staff groups, and you're done. Users will now be able to visit the stream page to get a handy overview of everything staff members are doing in your community.

     
    I recommend checking out the other filter options available for streams while you're setting this up - there's a huge amount of power available!

    Summing up
    I hope this quick overview of content highlighting features has been useful. When users visit your community, they're usually looking for authoritative information and that often comes right from your own team. By utilizing the features we've discussed here, you can make that information stand out more against the other content in your community.
  13. Thanks
    sabrond reacted to Rikki for an entry, Proactive and reactive moderation - which is right for your online community?   
    One of the bigger decisions a community manager has to make as a community grows is whether to employ proactive or reactive moderation (or a combination of both). This isn’t always a conscious decision; sometimes forum moderation features are toggled without giving much explicit thought to the style of moderation desired and the pros and cons of doing so. It’s worth taking a moment to consider the reasons behind each type, and come to a justification for one or the other.
    Firstly, let’s discuss what we mean by proactive and reactive moderation.
     
    Proactive Moderation
    With a proactive approach to moderation, the goal is to prevent bad content from ever appearing in public. The primary way that this is achieved is by having moderation staff review all content posted, and manually approving it after deciding whether it is acceptable.
    Another feature that could be classed as proactive moderation is administrator screening of new registrations. When a new user registers in the community, their account can be placed in a ‘validating’ state, requiring an administrator to review the information submitted and deciding whether to approve the account.
    As you might expect, proactive moderation is the safest way to ensure bad content doesn’t make it to public view. However, the significant drawback is that users won’t see their content immediately, which can be frustrating and severely stifle productive discussion. At worst, it can push users away from your community altogether. Heavy-handed moderation is often viewed negatively by members who are trying to participate, and can ultimately backfire. 
    With a proactive moderation approach, it’s important that you communicate with members one-to-one if they post content with good intentions but which doesn’t meet your criteria. This can reduce resentment over wasted effort, and gives them the opportunity to adjust their approach for future content.
     
    Reactive Moderation
    In contrast, a reactive approach to moderation allows user to post freely, without explicit pre-screening of content, with moderators reacting to issues as and when they arise. Reactive moderation is, generally speaking, a more pleasant experience for users because it allows them to engage fully with the community. However, there is of course the risk that unsuitable content is seen in public, at least temporarily.
    Choosing a reactive approach doesn’t have to mean a free-for-all. There are many features you can use to make identifying and dealing with bad content a quick and painless process, while still allowing users to contribute freely to the community:
    Report center
    Allows users to identify bad content and submit notifications to moderation staff for prompt action. Badword filter, URL filtering and keyword triggers
    Prevent common swear words and other divisive terms from being used by censoring them or replacing them with ***. You can also blacklist undesirable URLs from being used within posts. Plus, automatically watch and moderate posts that contain terms you specify. Warning system
    Where a user has proven to be problematic, the warning system in Invision Community allows you to track infractions and apply punishments to the account. These can range from a simple warning message, to suspension, to complete ban. Users can be required to acknowledge the warning before being able to see the community again. Moderation queue
    Individual users can be placed into the moderation queue, requiring all content they post to be screened by a moderator before being visible - a good compromise that means you don’t need to screen all content, just that from troublemakers. Spam service
    The IPS Spam Defense Service is a free service that automatically reviews new registrations to your community to determine whether they match any known spammers, using data crowdsourced from other Invision Community sites. The service can virtually eliminate known spammers from your community, preventing them from ever causing a problem. One-click spam cleanup
    If a spammer does make it into your community, removing their posts and banning them is a one-click action for moderators. Saved actions
    Saved actions make it quick to apply multiple moderation actions in one go. For example, if members often post support topics in a non-support forum, a saved action would allow moderators to move the topic and reply to let the member know what happened - all with a single click.  
    Which is the right approach for your community?
    Every community is different, so there’s no one answer here - that’s why Invision Community includes features that enable both approaches, to allow you to determine which to use.
    In general, we suggest thinking of reactive moderation as the default stance, and increasing the amount of oversight you make depending on the circumstances. There are exceptions of course. For example, in a situation where a user posting personally-identifying information in a public forum could have a profound implication for personal safety, a proactive moderation approach might be more desirable. Similarly, if it’s essential that users receive correct information that has been vetted by your staff, you may want to review content before it appears (though in this case, other techniques might be considered, such as staff labelling content once it is ‘approved’ by them).
    Your choice need not be entirely one or the other, either. While Invision Community has moderation settings that apply to the entire community, it’s also possible to apply different settings on a per-forum or per-member group basis.
    Communities often make use of per-group moderation as a way of screening new members. This is achieved by putting new members into a ‘limited’ group that requires content to be reviewed by a moderator. Then, using Invision Community’s group promotion tools, the member is automatically moved to a regular member group once they have a specified number of approved posts (usually a low number; one to five works well). This approach reduces the danger of a rogue member signing up and creating a problem, without requiring the resources to screen every new post to the community.
    Finally, whichever approach to moderation your team ultimately finds work best, we recommend creating a clear, detailed set of community guidelines that outlines the boundaries of the community, and what you consider acceptable and unacceptable from members. Most users don’t set out to create problems for you, and referring to your guidelines can often put the lid on any trouble before it starts.
    We hope this overview proves helpful to both new and established communities. If you have any approaches to moderation that you think others might be able to learn from, please go ahead and share them in the comments below!
     
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