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Abies

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  1. Thanks
    Abies reacted to Matt for an entry, 3 Improvements to Spam Management in 4.6   
    Spam is as much a part of life on the internet as emoji overuse, serial GIF abuse and regretful tweeting.
    But I'm not here to talk about how I conduct myself online; I wanted to talk about three spam improvements coming to Invision Community 4.6.
    As you may be aware, Invision Community has its own Spam Defense functionality, which uses a mixture of crowdsourced data, publicly available data and our own special sauce to help reduce the number of spam accounts that get through the registration system. Invision Community also has several other tools to mitigate spam post-registration.
    These tools have served us well, but as spammers evolve, so must our systems. Here's what's coming to our next release.
    Spam Defense Scoring
    I can't divulge too much on our Spam Defense system lest we give spammers targeting Invision Community information that can assist them. Still, we have made several changes to our Spam Defense system.  These include rebalancing the score thresholds, checking against known TOR networks and proxies and using other data in the public domain to inform our scoring decisions.
    Spam Defense Blocking
    The current implementation of our Spam Defense only allows options to either prevent registration entirely or put the registration in an approval queue. However, the days when Spam Bots stood out from normal registrations are long gone, and it's hard to know if an account in an approval queue is legitimate or not.
    In 4.6, we've added a new Spam Defense option that you can choose to allow the registration but put the new members into the posting approval queue, meaning their posts will need moderator approval before being published.

    This reduces the decision burden and makes it easier to take a chance on a low score from the Spam Defense system and review their posts before they are made public.
    Word Filters
    We have added a new option to the Word Filters to allow content containing specific words or phrases to be held for moderator approval where the author has less than a set threshold of posts.
    For example, you may notice an increase in spam targeting "CBD Oil" and add it to the word filter list to hold the content for moderator approval. This works great and captures a good number of spam posts; however, your regular members get frustrated when they want to talk about CDB Oil in their posts.
    This new option allows you to set a trust level for allowing these words to be used without capturing them for approval.

    We hope these three changes to our spam controls will reduce the level of spam you get in your community!
    I'd love to know what's the weirdest spam (that is safe for work!) you've seen in your community.
  2. Agree
    Abies reacted to Jordan Invision for an entry, Drum roll please… announcing Achievements!   
    One of the overarching goals for any community leader is to shine a bright light on your members. Their contributions should be publicly recognized. Now with Invision Community’s new Achievements system... you can!
    Achievements is Invision Community’s native gamification system baked into our latest update, 4.6. 
    We’ve dreamed up innovative actions for community leaders to publicly recognize members who show up and participate in meaningful ways.
    Award Points and badges based on conditional Rules!
    Here’s what you need to know...

     

    Points
    Our Achievements Points system keeps a running tally of Points. Members may earn Points in a multitude of ways. Essentially, it’s achieved by participating in the community. 
    Create a topic? Points! Post a reply? Points! Follow another member? Nothing. Just kidding… Points!!!
    This is done through creating Rules.

     

    Rules
    Rules are actionable processes set up in the admin panel. 
    Here are what members can earn Points for:
    When a...
    Member joins a club Reaction is given New poll is created User follows a content item Review is posted Member logs in for the first time that day New club is created Content item/comment is promoted or featured Comment/reply is posted User follows a forum, blog, gallery, category etc User votes on a poll User is followed New content item is posted Post is marked as best answer There are also corresponding When/Then Rules for each item listed above. 
    When this action happens, then this subsequent action happens.
    Example: when a member posts 10 times, then this Badge is awarded.
     

     
     

    Badges
    Community leaders can also create specific Rules when deciding what actions earn Badges. 
    For example, reward your members with a Badge for visiting your community for 20 days.
    Once a member reaches 20 visits or more over 20 days, the Achievements system will automatically award them a ‘20 Visits’ Badge you’ve previously created.
     

     
     
    Ranks
    In 4.6, we’ve completely revamped our Ranks system to communicate with Achievements. 
    Achievements’ Ranks system will replace our previous Ranks system*
    Set up different Ranks based on how many Points a member earns. Ranks display a members’ perceived value to the community. The higher a members’ Rank, the greater their influence because the more they’ve participated. 
    Ranks are currently for prestige at the moment. 
    Here's our example for a pretend Coconut community:
     
     

     

    There’s a lot of information to absorb here, but if there’s anything to take away from this blog post it’s this: empower your contributing members with Achievements and watch your community grow. It creates an immersive and elevated experience for your die-hards. And hey, who doesn’t love to earn? 
    When 4.6 and Achievements is officially released for all, we’ll hold a live Q&A event for you to join and ask any questions you may have.
    Props? Concerns? Comments? Questions? We’d love for you to sound off in the comments! Not only because we want to hear from you, but because it’ll earn you some sweet, sweet Points, too!
  3. Like
    Abies reacted to Matt for an entry, Welcome to the team, Jordan!   
    I'm thrilled to introduce the newest member of team Invision Community.
    You may recognise Jordan from his photo as he's been an active member of our community as BreatheHeavy. Jordan has been running his site BreatheHeavy.com using Invision Community for nearly a decade.
    Jordan's official title is "Community Advocate" which means that he will be working very closely with our community to guide and curate feedback, assist with support questions, to help educate and inform and to bring you news of the latest developments being cooked up by our development team.
    Jordan says:
    Your feedback, ideas and questions matter.
    I've spent the last decade discovering what it means to be a community leader in my own Invision Powered community, BreatheHeavy. Community building is an ongoing journey that's taught me invaluable lessons, namely the importance of absorbing feedback from the community then taking decisive action. I'm excited and honored to share that insight with the Invision Community. My new role is designed to shed light on what Invision Community members (that's you!) want and share it with the team.
    I'm looking forward to getting to know you! 
    We're very excited to start a new chapter within Invision Community to improve communication, engage more Invision Community owners and make the most of the excellent feedback we receive.
    You'll be seeing more of Jordan on the forums in the coming days.
  4. Thanks
    Abies reacted to Matt for an entry, Highlight Topics With Replies From Groups   
    Wouldn't it be great to know if a staff member had replied to a topic before you clicked to open it?
    When you're scanning a list of topics, knowing which have had a reply by a member of the community team can help decide which to read. Currently, you need to open the topic and scan the posts to see if there's a reply from the team.
    Happily, in our next release, we've made it clear which have had a reply by a member of a specific group.
    You can specify which groups to show as having replied via the Groups form in the Admin CP.

    The per-group setting in the Admin CP
    You can select to detect the group based on the member's primary group, secondary group or both.
    When viewing a list of topics, you will see a badge showing that a member of that group has replied.

    This simple feature will make it easier to highlight when important replies have been made to topics, which is a great addition for forums using the new 'solved' feature.

    Let me know below if you'll use this new feature and what you'd like to see in the future.
  5. Thanks
    Abies reacted to bfarber for an entry, Solved Content Improvements   
    For a long time, Invision Community has supported a Question and Answer mode within the Forums application which allows a reply to be flagged as the "best answer" to the question posed. With the release of 4.5, we also introduced a way to allow topics to be marked as "solved" which introduces similar functionality without transforming the look and feel or other behavior of the forum itself.
    Based on the popularity of this new addition in 4.5, we have made some further improvements to solved topics and answered questions in our next release.
    Notification to topic/question starter
    While notifications were available to the poster who answered a question or solved a topic with the release of 4.5, this release also adds notifications for the topic or question starter so that they can be made aware that an answer is available to their question.

    Topic and question starters now get notifications for solutions
    AdminCP Statistics
    Solved topics and answered questions provide for measurable statistics that can help you determine the health and direction of your community, particularly for support communities. To that end, we have introduced two new content statistic blocks that can help you measure how well areas of the community that support answers and solutions are faring.

    New AdminCP statistics
    You can now quickly see the percentage of topics/questions that have been solved (relative to the total number posted in areas that support solutions), as well as the average time it has taken for a solution to be marked on a topic or question (relative to the time the topic or question was initially posted). These statistic blocks support time period filter, time period comparisons, and node filtering to narrow down the statistical data for your specific needs.
    User profile enhancements
    User profiles now show the number of solutions the user has posted, and also allows you to view all of those solutions, in a manner very similar to reputation.

    Prolific problem solvers will now be called out boldly

    Answers can be quickly found on user profiles
    These improvements should help reward the most helpful users on your community by giving them more prestige and helping other users find their answers quicker.
    Collectively, we hope that these changes make the question and answer and topic solution features in the Forums application more useful for your community members, and the administrators behind the community.
  6. Thanks
    Abies reacted to Rikki for an entry, 4.5: Introducing our updated default theme   
    If you've been around Invision Community for a while, you'll know our frontend default theme hasn't significantly evolved since the early days of 4.0. Indeed, the last significant refresh came with 4.2.
    With the upcoming release of 4.5, we wanted to revisit the default theme and give it a facelift for 2020, as well as make incremental improvements to the underlying codebase as a stepping stone to a bigger re-engineering in a future version.
    In this entry, I want to talk a little about some of the design decisions that went into building the new theme.
    Goals
    Redesigning for the sake of it is never a good idea, so we first laid out what we wanted to achieve:
    A brighter UI with more saturation & contrast and simpler overall color scheme Improved typography Better, more consistent, spacing around and between elements, especially on mobile Better logical grouping of sections of each page Reducing underutilized links/buttons on the page and finding alternative ways of making them available Improving how post states are displayed Modernizing and enhancing the underlying code that powers the default theme Let's talk a little about each of these.
     
    Brighter UI
    The most obvious change will be that our default colors are brighter and more saturated than before. Before making any changes, we first created a color scale for both neutrals and the brand color (blue, of course). This gave us a flexible but consistent palette of colors to choose from, with appropriate contrast built in. Neutrals have a touch of blue too to avoid seeming washed out.
    We've simplified the style, in particular reducing reliance on background colors to differentiate sections within cards (a card essentially being an ipsBox, for those who are familiar with our framework). Instead, we use spacing, borders and appropriate typography to achieve visual separation.

    Brighter default colors
     

    Simplifying the UI by removing block backgrounds
     
    Improving typography
    We've felt our typography has been somewhat muddled for some time - with a mixture of sizes, weights and colors used depending on the particular context.
    The first step to improving it was to create a typography scale that we could refer to and implement, to ensure we remained consistent throughout the product.

    Our typography scale
    (The keen-eyed amongst you may also notice we've switched our default font to Inter. Inter is a fantastic open source font that is ideal for text on the web, and was recently added to the Google Web Fonts project making it super simple for us to incorporate it into our default theme.)
    We've been much more deliberate about applying type styles, especially for titles, ensuring that they are always visually distinct from surrounding text. We've done this through both color and weight. As a result, pages should instinctively feel more organized and logical than before.

    An example of improved typography, from the Downloads app
     
    Improved spacing (especially on mobile)
    We identified that spacing (padding and margins) needed some improvement. A lot of spacing values were arbitrary and inconsistent, leading to poor visual harmony across any given page.
    Most troubling of all, on mobile sizes we simply halved desktop padding values. While this was a reasonable approach in the days of phones with small screens, it has felt decidedly dated for some time. Phone screens are now typically larger and able to accommodate roomier UIs without appearing comical.
    In 4.5, we have done away with that approach, and the impact was immediate. Mobile sizes now get a much more pleasant interface, with elements having room to breathe. In addition, we've also made most cards full-width to provide additional breathing space for content.

    Posts can finally breathe on mobile
     
    There are numerous other tweaks across the product too: default spacing has been increased a little, data tables (e.g. topic listing) get extra vertical spacing, and spacing between elements has become more consistent.
     
    Improved grouping of related elements
    Prior to 4.5, most content areas existed inside cards. However, one notable exception to this was page headers and as a result, they could feel particularly disorganized, especially for users who had many controls in this part of the page (such as staff).
    To solve this problem, we've developed a new, standardized design for content item page headers, giving them their own cards and consistent button placement.

    Topic view header
     
    Some areas don't necessarily fit into the same design pattern above. In those areas, we've tweaked styling to suit the context, while still adhering to our overall aesthetic.

    Calendar header

    Messenger conversation header
     
    Reducing underutilized links/buttons
    Finally, another area we identified as needing improvement is the abundance of tools, made up of links and buttons, across pages. Many of these are only used occasionally and so would be better moved out of the main view to simplify the page.
    Two particular areas we focused on were share links and postbits (both forum posts and comments in other apps).
    Research shows social share links are used by a vanishingly small percentage of users, so even though they were at the bottom of the page, it was unnecessary to make them so prominent (given their eye-catching colors). To solve this, we've added a share link to the page header, with the social network links themselves in a popup menu. The result is ideal: sharing functionality is unobtrusive but obvious.

    Share links in content items
    Comment areas have also suffered from 'button creep' over the years. A typical comment will contain a report link, a share link, a quote link and multiquote button, reactions, plus IP address, checkbox, edit and options links for certain users. That is a lot of visual noise around the important part: the content.
    We've therefore simplified comment boxes as much as is reasonable. Reporting and sharing comments/posts is now available in the post options menu, as are any tools for the author/staff. Quoting and reacting are two primary interactions for users, so they of course retain their position in the control bar.

    Simpler postbits, even for staff
     
    Improving post states
    Posts/comments in Invision Community can have many states - sometimes more than one. Posts can be hidden/unapproved, popular, recommended, solved (new in 4.5!) or highlighted because of the author's group. It's always been a challenge to indicate these statuses well.
    In previous versions, we added a border but the most prominent indicator was a flag in the top-right corner of the post. This had three problems:
    Due to the lack of space (thanks to report/share links), showing more than one flag was difficult. Showing any flags on mobile was messy because of the space constraints. The meaning of the flags was not obvious, especially to new users. Group-highlighted posts had no flag, just a border, which made them even more difficult to understand. With the top-right corner of posts now tidied up and free from fluff, we were able to much more effectively use this space to indicate post statuses.
    In 4.5, posts and comments will show badges when they have a particular status, as well as a more attractive semi-transparent border. For group-highlighted posts, we show the group name instead (the colors of this highlight are still controllable via theme settings).

    A post with two states: group highlighted and popular
    This works much better on mobile too, where the status badges get the prominence they deserve:

    Mobile post statuses
     
    Modernizing the underlying code
    I wrote about the technical improvements behind the theme in a previous entry. If you're a theme designer or edit the theme for your own community, go and check it out now!
     
    Wrapping up
    As well as these large-scale concepts, you'll notice many other smaller enhancements as you start using the new theme.
    I've shown some snippets of pages in the screenshots above, but I've included some full-page views below so you can see the overall aesthetic and how these pieces fit together.
    Modernizing and refreshing our default theme has been needed for some time, but we view this as just a stepping stone to future work that will be reserved for a major version bump, and we're excited to figure out where we go next.
     
    Screenshots
      
    Desktop forum views (click to expand)
     
        
    Mobile forum views (click to expand)
     
     
    Activity streams & messenger (click to expand)
     
  7. Thanks
    Abies reacted to Rikki for an entry, 4.5: Improvements for theme designers   
    If you've been around Invision Community for a while, you'll know our frontend default theme hasn't significantly evolved since the early days of 4.0. Indeed, the last significant refresh came with 4.2.
    With the upcoming release of 4.5, we wanted to revisit the default theme and give it a facelift for 2020, as well as make incremental improvements to the underlying codebase as a stepping stone to a bigger re-engineering in a future version. Keep an eye out for our next blog for more on the facelift.
    In this entry, I want to go over some of the design and code-level changes we've implemented that will be of particular interest to third-party theme designers, or those building a custom theme for their community.
    IE11 Support
    Until now, we've supported IE11 as a 'B' browser - meaning we didn't aim for perfect support (especially visually), but did aim to make all functionality work, and we fixed IE11-specific issues if possible.
    As of 4.5, we no longer support IE11 in any way and Invision Community will not work well in that browser. By removing support for IE11, we are able to make use of newer CSS technologies which significantly eases development for us and third-party designers. I'll discuss some of those below.
    Combined theme settings
    We've combined a number of existing theme settings into one new setting. We've found that settings like poll_bar, step_background, rating_hover and so on are nearly always set to the same color - typically the site's main brand color. These settings have therefore been replaced with one new brand_color setting, which is used throughout the CSS in places where this primary color would be needed. This will simplify the early stages of theme development and make it easier to match branding in Invision Community.

    Front end colors
    Removing hardcoded colors
    While our theme settings have allowed community owners to change most colors, there were still many hardcoded in our CSS framework. These were typically neutral colors used for things like 'close' links, semi-transparent backgrounds and so on, but it was enough to make creating a dark theme an unrealistic prospect without an awful lot of effort (and kudos to those designers who have offered dark themes up until now!).
    In 4.5, we've removed hardcoded colors from our framework, and instead rely on colors already defined by theme settings. You can now, finally, create a dark theme just by editing the built-in theme settings.
    Type scale & {fontsize} tag
    While we've had fixed type-size classes (e.g. ipsType_normal) for a long time, in practice many elements had their own font sizes set. This leads to inconsistency and poor visual rhythm too. Another side effect is it was also tough to globally change the font size (such as for branding purposes, or to create a theme for visually-impaired users).
    To solve these problems, we first created a type scale; that is, a fixed number of sizes to choose from. A product the size of Invision Community does have need for a flexibility, so we settled on the following scale:
    x_small: 12; small: 13; medium: 14; base: 16; large: 18; x_large: 20; 2x_large: 24; 3x_large: 30; 4x_large: 36.
    All of these values are editable as theme settings, so each theme can adjust the type scale used. Our default CSS in 4.5 has been fully updated to put all type on this scale.
    To actually make use of these settings, we have added a new {fontsize} tag which accepts either a scale key, or a specific pixel size (for those occasional situations where a specific size is absolutely needed, e.g. icons).
    Why couldn't we just use {theme="x_small"}, or even CSS variables? To solve the problem of globally scaling text, we have also added a percentage-based scale setting that will save you from having to create your own type scale. The {fontsize} tag automatically applies the global scale to any values passed into it. Want text in your theme to be twice as big as default? Simply set the global type scale to 200% and the entire theme will reflect the change immediately. 

    The new font size options
    Spacing scale
    The lack of a consistent spacing scale has led to some arbitrary values being used in any given situation, which again has had a negative impact on the visual harmony of our design. We've therefore implemented a 4px spacing scale (using CSS variables rather than theme settings this time) and applied across almost all padding/margin values. In time, we anticipate fully switching all measurement values to the scale.
    New CSS class families
    We have added a range of new spacing classes for padding and margins, allowing far more control over how these are applied, especially on different device sizes. Previously, ipsPad (15px) was simply halved on small screens - with no 'opt-out' short of adding specific CSS. We've felt this has been imprecise for some time, especially since mobile devices typically have larger screens in 2020 and don't need to be so tightly-spaced.
    ipsPad_all now replaces the existing ipsPad, and does not halve itself on small screens. Instead, there's a new responsive naming convention that allows you to apply specific padding on specific device sizes:
    ipsPad_all:double md:ipsPad_all sm:ipsPad_all:half
    In this arbitrary example, desktop size (the default) get double padding, medium (tablets) get regular padding and small (phones) get half padding.
    We've added similar classes for top, bottom, left and right padding, as well as horizontal, vertical and none (to removing all padding) shortcuts.
    For margins, the old ipsSpacer_* classes have been replaced with a new ipsMargin family that work exactly the same as the padding classes above, with the same range of flexibility.
    The old ipsPad/ipsSpacer classes will continue working as they did before for backwards compatibility, but should be considered deprecated from 4.5 onwards.
    We've also added a whole range of new ipsFlex classes, also with responsive controls (making it easy to have horizontal layouts on desktop and vertical layouts on mobile, for example), as well as a new ipsGap utility that automatically adds spacing between elements, without requiring manual :first-child/:last-child exclusions.
    CSS variables & calc()
    In 4.5, thanks to IE11 support ending, we're finally making use of CSS variables and calc() to make CSS more maintainable and easier to customize. A lot of repeating or often-customized styles - such as form field styles, message colors, card styles, border radii etc. - are now created as CSS variables, allowing theme designers to easily change styling in one place. Instead of magic numbers, we either stick to our spacing scale, or use calc() to avoid hardcoded numbers.
    The future
    The work we've done so far is just a 'first-pass'. We'll be pressing forward with modernization throughout the 4.5.* series and beyond with a view to reducing our footprint, improving our ability to maintain our CSS and, of course, making theming easier for our customers.
  8. Thanks
    Abies reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Topic view summary and more   
    A topic is more than a collection of posts; it's a living entity that ebbs and flows over time.
    Evergreen topics can see month-long gaps between posts and longer topics spanning numerous pages can end up hard to navigate through to find useful content.
    With this in mind, we've added numerous improvements to the topic view to bring context and summaries key areas within the topic.

    Topic view updates
    Topic Activity
    The first thing you likely spotted in the above screenshot is the new sidebar. This acts much like a summary of activity within the topic. It very quickly lets you know how old the topic is and how long it has been since the last reply. This context is essential if you are unwittingly replying to an older topic.
    Most topics are driven by a handful of key members. The topic activity section shows you who have been most active, which may influence which posters you give greater authority to.
    Likewise, popular days lets you dig into the 'meat' of the topic which may have evolved quickly over several days.
    More often than not, a single post attracts more reactions if it is particularly helpful or insightful, and this is shown too.
    Finally, a mini gallery of all upload images allows you to review media that has been attached to posts.

    The topic activity summary under the first post
    This activity bar can be shown either as a sidebar or underneath the first post in a topic. If you enable it for mobile devices, then it will show under the first post automatically.

    The topic activity summary on mobile
    As with many new features in Invision Community, you have several controls in the Admin CP to fine-tune this to your communities needs.

    AdminCP settings
    Other improvements
    The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a few other changes to the topic view.
    The first is the badge underneath the user's photo. The shield icon notes that this poster is part of the moderation team. Of course, this badge can be hidden for communities that do not like to draw attention to all their moderators.

    You will also notice that when the topic starter makes a reply to a topic, they get an "author" badge as their reply may carry more authority.
    When you scroll down a topic, it's not often apparent that there has been a significant time gap between replies. For some topical topics (see what I did there) this may alter the context of the conversation.
    We have added a little identifier between posts when a period of time has passed between posts.

    These changes add a little context to the topic to give you more insight into how the replies direct the conversation.
    The new topic activity summary gives you an at-a-glance overview of key moments and posters to help you navigate longer topics.
    We hope that you and your members enjoy these new features coming to Invision Community 4.5!
  9. Thanks
    Abies reacted to Matt for an entry, Invision Community: A decade in review   
    When the clocks strike midnight on New Year's Eve, we will enter the third decade of producing Invision Community.
    A lot has changed since we set up in 2002. Our team has grown and our product matured. In a world where online startups explode and die within a few years, we're something of an anomaly.
    We still have the same love and passion for creating the very best tools to build a community, and we have always ensured that Invision Community is in touch with modern demands.
    This decade has seen Invision Community go from strength to strength. In 2010 we were one of many forum systems catering to smaller niche audiences. In 2019 we're powering discussion for many international and well-known brands.
    Online habits may have changed in this time, and social media may have swallowed up smaller informal communities, but the need for independent community platforms remains strong.
    2020 will see us release 4.5 which will bring another round of essential updates to existing features and a fresh batch of new features.
    But first, let us climb inside our Delorean, rewind the clock to 2010 and start from the beginning.
    As the sun rose on 2010, Bruno Mars was singing about parts of the human face in "Just the way you are", Katy Perry irritated Microsoft Word's spellchecker with "California Gurls", and CeeLo Green was trying to "Forget you" (at least in the radio edit).
    Christopher Nolan's boggled all our minds with Inception, James Franco lost the ability to clap in 127 Hours, and Colin Firth stammered his way through The Kings Speech.
    Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad to a collective snort, moderate derision and questions over just how useful a giant iPhone will be.
    President Obama, just a year into office warns of "Snowmageddon" that eventually dumps up to 40 inches of snow on the east coast of the United States.
    We lost comedy legend Leslie Nielsen (we'd never dream of calling him Shirley), and we gained a small child named Ryan who in just nine years would be earning $29,000,000 by opening boxes of toys on YouTube.
    62% of us were using Internet Explorer to the chagrin of most web developers who wished that Chrome's 5% market share was more significant.
    Facebook celebrated its sixth year by reaching 400 million users (a far cry from the 2.5 billion it currently has). Twitter, just four years old hits 30 million monthly active users (and none of them talked about fake news).
    And how about Invision Community?
    2010
    We hit 2010 running by releasing numerous updates on IP.Board v3.1, including finally using long-established web standards, and share features now that "social networking is all the craze these days" noting that "friends and colleagues often share similar interests, after all."
    How innocent we all were in 2010.

    IP.Board 3.0
    Back then, each product had its own name and release cycle. IP.Gallery's new features included being able to rotate images by 90 degrees. Honestly, people used to go crazy for this stuff.
    In May, we released a brand new application called "IP.Commerce". A few months later we renamed it "IP.Nexus" and years later, it was changed back to "Commerce". Naming things is hard.
    The announcement contained exquisite details such as "It's hard to say when it'll be available" and "we don't know how much it will cost". We were so sure that it would be accepted positively, we removed the ability to post comments to the blog entry.
    As summer turned to autumn and the end of the year loomed large, we released news about a significant update to Gallery called "IP.Gallery 4.0" which pre-dates Invision Community 4 and confused customers for years (so IP.Board 3 works with IP.Gallery 4, but IP.Board 4 works with Gallery 4?). Numbering things is hard too.
    The last blog entry was about an app called 'IP.SEO' that I had utterly forgotten existed. It was written by Dan who once locked Lindy out of his own datacenter, but we don't talk about that.

    I don't even remember this website
    2011
    Charles opens the year by managing expectations for IP.Board 3.2 by outlining our three key goals (promotion, usability and modernization). The last one was us removing the "back to top" button and then spending the next eight years explaining why we removed it.
    Our spam monitoring service processed 300,000 requests in the first two weeks of 2011. 30% of these requests were deemed to be spam and blocked (0.1% was probably an administrator registering 50 fake accounts before being banned from their own site).
    I posted about "exciting new technology" in our new "WYSIWYG" editor (although what you see is sometimes close to what you get) would be more appropriate but slightly less catchy. We spent the next eight years explaining why no one uses BBCode anymore to almost everybody.
    Brandon closed out the year with a blog promising "new toys" for IP.Content 2.3 (now called Pages, keep up!) which promises a "who's online" widget and a "shared media field" that was not only complicated to explain, but also use.

    IP.Board 3.2 in all its glory
    2012
    We start the year with news on IP.Board 3.3. This release was to feature essential updates such as the "Remember me?" checkbox on the login form and emoticons in signatures.
    Despite being constantly told that we don't take SEO seriously, we round up the latest serious SEO changes including tags, soft 404s and micro schema.
    We also celebrated our tenth year in business.
    Something terrible must have happened to one of our competitors because we asked if you'd like to switch to IPS.
    The year ends with IP.Board 3.4 being released for beta testing. This being a rare year where we release two major versions in less than 12 months.
    2013
    Brandon has eight coffees and tries to explain what it's like to be a developer: "us developers are a strange bunch. We have a lot of crazy thoughts that just don't make sense to anyone else. Our brains are wired differently. We get from point A to point B by going around point Z and bouncing off point M first.", he closes the blog entry by urging you to ignore us.
    The big news is that work on 4.0 is officially underway! Don't get too excited, releasing two major versions in 2012 clearly fatigued us as "IPS Community Suite 4.0" is not released until June 2015, over two years later.
    4.0 was our first complete rewrite in years. We threw out all our stable and tested code and started over with an empty editor. It was a vast undertaking that consumed us completely. The result was worth it as we had a new modern framework that still serves us today. But we're getting ahead of ourselves a little.
    Back in 2013, Mark talks about trees. Not the kind you find laying around in forests, but rather the programmatic type. It's just a way for Mark to show off how beautiful his code is.
    IP.Board 3.4 still gets many updates (along with IP.Gallery, IP.Blog, IP.Content, IP.Downloads and IP.Address (ok that last one was made up)).
    We spend the year talking about various new things in 4.0, including a new-new editor and various special features (and no one noticed we started calling it "IPS Social Suite 4.0" - it just rolls off the tongue!)
    I introduce the new theme engine for 4.0, and this time, my code is not deleted by Mark (true story).
    2014
    We didn't know it at the time, but 2014 was not the year that IPS Social Community Suite 4.0 (naming things is hard) will be released. Still, Rikki talks enthusiastically about "extending JS controllers and mixins"  a way of coding so complex, to this day you can count the number of people who truly understand it on one of Rikki's fingers because it's only Rikki that understands it.
    Determined not to be outdone in the confusing customers' stakes, I go on about how important it is to convert your database to UTF-8 when upgrading from 3.0.
    As 2014 neared its inevitable end, we did manage to put up a pre-release testing site and release Beta 1 a release so unstable; it makes the current political climate look absolutely peachy.

     IPS Community Suite 4.0 (Preview)
    2015
    Finally, the year that 4.0 is to be released! We released six betas and a few release candidates before nervously hovering over the 'release' button (actually it's a collection of git commands and 'to the letter' instructions I ignore).
    After a  year of training customers to call our forthcoming release "IPS Social Suite 4.0," we release it as "IPS Community Suite 4.0". Lindy writes a lengthy blog article that sounds like a cross between a technical discussion of the Brother 8987-A printer and an award acceptance speech.
    Quite frankly, after nearly two years of development, we're just relieved to have finally released it.
    The year is spent refining and fixing 4.0 and culminates in the news of 4.1, where we add activity streams and a menu manager. We also talk about the new-new-new editor.
    December 16th marks the time that IP.Board 3.4 officially dies as we declare it "end of life" and no longer support it. That shiny new release we were excited to talk about in 2012 is finally put out to pasture. The last we heard, IP.Board 3.4 moved to a farm and is doing well.
    2016
    Now that IP.Board 3.4 is end of life; we do the sensible thing and make a few minor IP.Board 3.4 releases to improve security.
    IPS Social.. sorry, Community Suite hits version 4.1.17 (confusing Lindy) before the year is done with many new improvements, including embeds, warning notes and the new leaderboard.
    We're still mostly undecided what to call the product, so we avoid trying in all our blog entries.
    In fact, looking back, it's quite remarkable how often we changed the name of our product. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a robust and well-considered attempt to prevent Google from serving up relevant search results and to confuse potential customers.
    We find time to update our own website and introduce a new developer's area.
    2017
    Barely 16 days into the new year, and we release news of the two-factor authentication feature added to IPS Community Social Invision IP.Board Suite 4.1.18.
    When spring has sprung, Charles drops the news that we're working on 4.2, the main feature being a screenshot of the Admin CP log in. We promise that you will love it and that it will be released mid-2017.
    Updates come thick and fast. Calendar event reminders, content messages, recommended replies, letter profile photos device management and delayed deletes all make the blog.
    Still not convinced that people take us seriously when we say we're committed to SEO, we post about more SEO improvements.
    This time, we talk about implementing JSON-LD, rich snippets, pagination tags and more.
    We also squeeze another one in about the new-new-new-new editor.
    We overhaul our own blog (using Pages because that's how we roll) and I start a hilarious series of blog entries where I troll our own team. Everyone including me loses interest early on in 2019.
    During April, we do the sensible thing and change the name of our product once more. IPS Community/Social Suite 4.1 is out, and Invision Community 4.2 is in.
    Just to recap: IBForums > IPB > IP.Board > IPS Social Suite > IPS Community Suite > Invision Community.
    You're welcome search engines!
    As promised, we release Invision Community 4.2 around the middle of the year. Well done, everyone! We finally hit a release date!
    As is now tradition, we end the year with news of our next big release Invision Community 4.3 (and tease the new emoji feature). We also calm nerves about Europe's endless fascination with regulation (it's this kind of joke that caused Brexit you know) and wrote up a guide on GDPR.
    2018
    Phew. We're almost there, dear reader. If you skimmed through most of the blog to this point and expected me to finish with a bang, you'll be disappointed.
    We start 2018 at full speed releasing feature news on Invision Community 4.3 including emoji, OAuth, community moderation, REST API, subscription manager, announcements and more.
    Oh and we hit our sweet sixteenth birthday in February!
    We release Invision Community 4.3 in April to rapturous applause after a short beta testing period. We all agree that 4.3 was a great stable release which instantly makes the developers nervous.
    Towards the end of the year, we announce that work has begun on Invision Community 4.4. We talk about new features such as GIPHY integration, AdminCP notifications, Post Before Registering, Commerce Updates and more.
    Still not sure if we care about SEO? Well, how about another blog entry on SEO?
    The only thing missing this year is a new update on our editor.
    2019
    And we arrive back home in 2019. A week into January and I pull the massive twist that we're using Invision Community 4.4 on our own community. It's not quite up there with "Bruce Willis is a ghost" though.
    In March we write up a case study on The Trevor Space, an LGBTQ charity set up to prevent suicide and to provide crisis intervention. TrevorSpace commends Invision Community for allowing anonymity online which isn't possible with social media.
    Rikki drops a bombshell in September when he announces that we're actively working on native iOS and Android apps for Invision Community. Apparently mobile is a thing now.
    November starts a series of blog entries talking about our new upcoming release, Invision Community 4.5. We talk about the Admin CP overhaul, Club Pages, RSS Feed Improvements and Club improvements.
    And here we are. Right up to date. This decade may have only taken us from IP.Board 3.1 to Invision Community 4.5, but it really has seen a massive change in the company we are, and the industry we are in.
    We have seen the inception, rise and stumble of social media. While it's true that forums are no longer the preserve of Star Trek fans obsessing over continuity errors and informal communities have been absorbed by Facebook and friends, spaces that you completely own to host discussions are still very much in demand.

    Invision "Chameleon" Community in 2019
    Over the past year or so we've seen a sustained rise in the demand for independent communities. Brands especially like that you own your data and can use it to gain insights into customer habits. Just this year, we've launched communities for LEGO, HTC, Sage, Mattel, Gibson Guitars, Squarespace, and many more.
    We are constantly evolving Invision Community (assuming we stick with that name) to be at the very centre of your online presence. We have tools to add discussion comments to any page of your site, to embed widgets with a few lines of code. We want to showcase your community throughout your site by adding multiple touchpoints to take your customers on a journey with you. Our native apps will offer new and exciting ways to interact with a community via new interfaces.
    As we move into our third decade, I can only see a resurgence for independent communities as we tire of the crushing intrusion of social media. We give away so much of our attention, time and information for very little reward.
    We have never been more divisive and fiercely tribal.
    It's time to come back together to discuss a topic with care and thoughtfulness. It's time to allow our personalities to take a back seat and let considered discussion live again.
    And we'll be here doing what we have always done; creating the very best community platform possible.

    I'd love to know when you joined us on this crazy ride. Was it before or after 2010?
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