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Matt

IPS Management
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Matt last won the day on November 23

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About Matt

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    Chief Software Architect

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  1. Did you know that the most magical community in the world runs on Invision Community? For close to 12 years, Invision client @Michael R has been spreading joy through the Santa Claus Network (ClausNet.com), the world’s largest community for Santa and his followers. He started building the site in November 2006 and went live in the beginning of 2007, using Invision Community as his platform of choice since the beginning. Michael also founded the James D. Rielly Foundation in honor of his grandfather – a non-profit organization that provides charitable and emotional support to military and first responder families. As a tribute to the holidays, Mike was gracious enough to be interviewed by Joel on behalf of Invision Community on how he uses Invision Community and engages with his unique community. J: This is such a wonderful community of passion. How did you get started? Back in October 2005, I attended the world-famous Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School. It was a Christmas present I received from my wife. At that time, I had already been portraying Santa for 34 years but was a bit skeptical of what I would get out of attending a “Santa School.” He’s already nailed the Santa look. At the school I got to meet Santas from all over the World! It was a wonderful experience and I am still friends with many of the folks, but what I enjoyed most of all was the camaraderie I felt with my fellow brothers and sisters in red. This was the catalyst in creating ClausNet – to recreate the same feeling of fellowship I felt at the school. J: Your membership must be very unique. ClausNet is the world's largest online community dedicated to the faithful portrayal of Santa Claus. Our membership also includes Mrs. Claus, Elves, Reindeer Handlers, and all others who devote their time to bringing the magic of Christmas to children and adults throughout the world! In comparison to other sites, 2,900 isn’t a lot of members. But based on some estimates it’s about two thirds of all the Santas and Mrs. Clauses on the planet! We are very selective who of we approve for membership. In addition to Invision’s validation process, I personally email each person who registers for an account. I do this to help eliminate trolls and other Grinchy people, but mostly to keep out the prying eyes of children to preserve the Secret of Santa and keep the magic alive for children of all ages! J: What Invision apps do you use, and how do you use them? We have all the Invision Community apps and rely upon them for many purposes. We don’t sell products on the site but we do use Commerce for donations. Members can purchase Supporter Level Memberships at varying prices. We use Pages and Blogs for posting short stories, opinion pieces, and even business advice. We use Downloads for sharing files such as example contracts and business card templates. The Calendar app is a great resource in notifying and scheduling regional get-togethers, workshops, schools, and training sessions. Articles and short stories written in Pages. J: What are some of the most innovative features of Invision Community that your members have embraced? I believe Invision Community is the most robust platform for building online communities. Our members really like the new Clubs feature. We use Clubs for regional and local groups as well as specific topics such as prop making and costuming. From the Long Leaf Pines to the Northern Pacific, ClausNet uses regional clubs all over the world to foster closer relationship. J: There must be seasonality with your niche. How do you keep your members engaged throughout the year and what are some special events that you host? Throughout the year we run several activities designed to keep up engagement. Member of the Month - Each month, I select a different member of our community to featured. We interview the candidate and post the interview on the site. ClausNet Gazette Monthly Newsletter - We send out a monthly newsletter of content from the website. Surprisingly, it’s the first time many of the members see the content. It is a great way to keep members coming back to the site. Christmas Card and Ornament Exchange – These are two of the most anticipated events we hold. Members sign up and are randomly paired with another, so they can exchange cards or ornaments. It’s very exciting to receive Christmas ornaments from another part of the world! We also run several other programs such as an Annual Raffle, Countdown to Christmas, Picture Contests, and Latest News. J: As a longtime Invision client whose passion is the holidays, what are your holiday wishes to other Invision clients and clients-to-be? As many of you know, Christmas is my favorite holiday – a holiday that lives in my heart year-round! May this holiday season be one of health and happiness for you and your loved ones. Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Festive Festivas, Fröhliche Weihnachten, Nollaig Shona, Boas Festas, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas! J: Thank you Mike for graciously spending your time with me and other Invision clients to learn how you engage with members using Invision Community. Hopefully this interview has helped inspire and motivate other clients with some extra cheer during the holiday season!
  2. Outside your window, the leaves have burst into fiery reds and oranges. A crisp breeze floats in the air. The birds have long chirped their good-byes. And you’re sipping a hot cup of apple cider, contemplating the change in season. The holidays are almost here. The end of the year is one of the best chances to take stock your community and provide an emotive experience for your members. It’s a chance to reflect upon what you learned, what new initiatives you started, and what you still have ahead of you. It’s a chance to provide a sense of closure to the year and to ignite one more burst of community-wide goodwill. In short, the holiday season is an amazing opportunity to bring your community together one last time in 2018. Here are 16 ideas for the holidays in four categories. Try to select at least one idea from each category for a holiday plan that runs the gamut of the community experience. Choose the ones that you especially like; gather your staff members to brainstorm; and put together a plan that’ll navigate you better than Santa’s reindeer through the holidays! Design One of the easiest and simplest things you can do is to update your community’s design for the holiday to provide an immediate visual impact. Users love to see fun twists on your theme. 1. Tweak your logo with falling snow or twinkling lights. 2. Replace your forum icons with holiday ones. 3. Go bold and install a whole new holiday theme from the Marketplace. 4. Coordinate the holiday design across all of your social media and web properties. Remembrance Your 2018 was filled with emotional triumphs and tribulations. Did your community accomplish something great? How many new members did you welcome? Did you lose any members? Create a shared experience that binds and connects your community closer together. 1. Craft a year-end mailer that chronicles your community’s victories and struggles. 2. Post a “Did You Remember This?” topic that reconnects with all the funniest, informative, and most poignant topics. 3. Edit a “Top Moments of 2018” montage that highlights the biggest events that transformed your community in the past year. 4. Memorialize members who have moved on or departed your community. Appreciation Holidays are all about demonstrating appreciation for your loved ones, and your community is no different. Take the time to demonstrate an authentic and warm appreciation for all members who have shared the past year with you. 1. Promote new users who have done a superb job of supporting the community over the year. 2. Send out physical or digital gifts as a token of your appreciation to key members. 3. Write individualized messages for every staff member that highlights their wonderful contributions. 4. Send a thank-you note to Invision Community in the comments below on how using Invision Community has helped propel your community’s growth in 2018. Celebration Finally, the holidays are a season of celebration. Spread tidings of joy and merriment to all members in your community, social media, and offline for all-around cheer. 1. Count down to the holidays with different daily announcement using the Announcements feature. 2. Write a year-end “2018 Celebration Message” mailer to applaud all the great events from 2018 3. Host a winter giveaway with special holiday packages or gifts. 4. Throw a holiday party as a meet-up, using Calendar and Venues, to mingle with your members in person. Reconnect your members one more time in 2018 with a rich and shared story of the past year. The holidays are an intensely emotional time that can provide an occasion for remembrance, an occasion for appreciation, and most of all, an occasion of celebration of all great things that have happened and are yet to come. Let your community be the gift that keeps on giving. Happy holidays to all Invision Community clients, and may your winter holidays be filled with joyous cheer and community friendship! Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part).
  3. Yes Scunny! Now we're talking lad!
  4. Sun kissed beaches or snowscapes? Bustling cities or quiet villages? The question we posted this month was: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? In theory we could work from anywhere in the world that has a decent internet connection, but where would we choose to live? Mark Wade It was only a few months ago that I was asking myself this exact question! I've always enjoyed telling people that of the great things about working on the Internet is that I can work anywhere in the world, all I have to do is bring a laptop - and yet, despite saying that, I was still living in the little English town that I was born in. At the end of last year I decided it was time to actually take advantage of that so I moved Sydney, Australia. Sydney has everything you could ever want. First, obviously it's a major city with all the conveniences and excitement of that, and even moreso than a lot of places it always has stuff going on (the first time I was strolling past Darling Harbour on a Saturday evening and had this conversation: "oh wow a fireworks display, what's the occasion?" / "...it's saturday?" - I knew I was in a good place). But for when you want some quiet time, there's some of the world's most gorgeous beaches on one side of the city, and mountain forests on the other. It's perfect. Australian ambassadors in the late 1980s Jim Morrissey So recently (last 2 years) have been doing some traveling during winter months and I've seriously underestimated previously how much living in Florida for the past 20 years has ruined me. This has led me to where I can't live anywhere else but a tropical climate with 100% humidity now. As well, the thought of driving my cars in the snow/salt is even more unappealing than the cold/dryness. In short, I've come to realize, I'm quite happy in Florida. Florida is nice, but it's no Skegness Brandon I would move to Costa Rica. Not because it's exotic, and beautiful, and has tons of fun things to do and see. But because I could have health care without having to pull out a second mortgage. Forget Costa Rica, the UK has Costa Coffee Matt I'm rather fond of the UK but I do love America, so I think I'd split my time three ways. Spend the UK in the summer (that may be about 3 weeks based on an average year), spend the winter somewhere warm, perhaps on the south coast of America with the exception of a few weeks around Christmas where I'd take the kids somewhere filled with snow. Mark H If I could live anywhere I wanted to (and financing was not an obstacle), that would be Hawaii. First because its average temperature doesn’t change much over the year and is nearly tropical year-round, but also because it’s the only State in the U.S. that I have not yet visited. Having lived in Minnesota nearly all my life, as I get older the less I can tolerate Winter each year. Jennifer So I love where I live currently. Arizona (particularly in the valley) is amazing. It's mostly hot but absolutely no snow (albeit sometimes it gets cold enough that there is frost on cars). I think out of the 20 years I've lived here I've only truly seen snow in the valley 1 time and it didn't last long. My secondary location would be Australia. It has a similar climate, some really awesome people and Amanda Palmer visits their regularly so I'd finally be able to see one of her shows. Overall, as long as it doesn't snow you can basically consider it an ideal location for me. That awkward moment when Arizona buys the wrong bridge Andy I’ve always had a strong attraction to Scandinavia and particularly Norway. There’s something quite appealing about the remoteness, nature and freedom to make your own life choices. Unfortunately I’m not at all tolerant of the cold so I don’t think I could live there permanently. Am I allowed to split my time between Norway and Italy? Remoteness? Can I interest you in Wales? Marc S I think if I could live anywhere in the world, I would probably live in Australia. Simply because I hate winter. I don't like the cold, and prefer 30c+ every day if I had the option. In fact if I went back in time, I would certainly have done that knowing what I know now. Having children and family around, it's not something I would likely do at this stage in my life. Where would you like to live? Let us know in the comments below.
  5. Matt

    4.4: Turbo charging loading speeds

    We are knocking around ideas for 5.0 thanks to PHP's improvements in this area. It's too large a change for 4.4.
  6. It might seem a little odd starting a blog on increasing Invision Community's speed with the word "lazy", but I'll explain why this is a good word for performance shortly. Earlier this year, Google announced that page speed is a ranking factor. Simply put, if your site is slow, it will be ranked lower in Google's search results. It is always a challenge making a large application like Invision Community as efficient as possible per page load. A single Invision Community page can pull in widgets from multiple applications as well as a lot of user-generated content with attachments, movies and images used heavily. This is where being lazy helps. Lazy loading is a method by which attachments, embeds and images are not loaded by default. They are only loaded when the viewer scrolls down enough to make them visible. This allows the page to load a good deal faster now it doesn't have to load megabytes of images before the page is shown as completely rendered. I was going to take a fancy video showing it in action, but it's hard to capture as the system loads the media just before you get to it, so it looks fairly seamless, even with sluggish connections. Not the most dynamic image, but this shows the placeholder retains the size of the image In addition to image attachments, we have also added this lazy loading to maps and Twitter emoji images. Improving non-image attachments Once we had implemented the lazy loading framework, an area we wanted to improve was non-image attachments. We have listened to a lot of the feedback we had on this area, and have now made it very clear when you add an attachment into a post. We've even returned the download count now it's being loaded on demand. Using attachments when posting All the letters When we first implemented the letter avatars in 4.3, we discussed whether to use CSS styling or use an image. We decided to go with an image as it was more stable over lots of different devices, including email. We've revisited this in 4.4, and switched the letter avatars to SVG, which are much faster to render now that the browser doesn't have to load the image files. Other performance improvements We've taken a pass at most areas with an eye for performance, here is a list of the most significant items we've improved. Several converter background tasks have been improved, so they work on less data Duplicate query for fetching clubs was removed in streams Notifications / follower management has been improved Member searches have been sped up (API, ACP live search, member list in ACP, mentions, etc.). Stream performance has been improved UTF8 conversions have been sped up Elasticsearch has been sped up by using pre-compiled queries and parameterisation, as well as the removal of view filtering (and tracking) HTTP/2 support with prefetch/preload has been added Several PHP-level performance improvements have been made Implemented rel=noopener when links open a new window (which improves browser memory management) Several other performance improvements for conversions were implemented that drastically reduce conversion time IP address lookups now fetch IP address details from us en-masse instead of one request per address Cache/data store management has been streamlined and centralised for efficiency Many background tasks and the profile sync functionality have all been improved for performance Brotli compression is now supported automatically if the server supports it Redis encryption can now be disabled if desired, which improves performance Phew, as you can see, we've spent a while tinkering under the hood too. We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know below! This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
  7. Matt

    Subscription signup block disappears

    We can add an option "Hide if subscribed [x]"
  8. Matt

    Team Talk: What's your favourite movie?

    I finally got around to watching all of "It's a Wonderful Life" at the weekend, and I really recommend it.
  9. This month, I thought I'd ask a trick question. "What is your favourite movie?" I fully expected to be told "but Matt, we work so hard on Invision Community, we don't have time to watch movies." just so I didn't have to complete this month's entry. But no. Apparently, most of our team have MULTIPLE favourites. Hmmm. And here they are. Jennifer Favorite movies are a pain to choose because there are so many great (and greatly terrible) movies out there. So I'm going to choose a few that I just really adore and explain why. So the first one is "Halo: Forward Unto Dawn". I have never played a Halo game in my entire life. I just find the movie intriguing and smooth. It has an amazing pace and of course there are aliens. It's also one of those movies that I can just put on when I don't feel like watching anything else but I want to watch something. The replay value for me is amazing. The Next one is a psychological thriller called "Pandorum" this movie is a thriller about a man that wakes up in a broken space ship that was on its way to another world. The way it's put together is amazing, the story is twisted and it's just an amazing watch. It's something that I can easily say was a quick favorite from the first time I saw it. I can never forget the lovely "Dredd" in this list of my favorite movies. Muricer for the win! It has all the elements of a great Sci-Fi plus Karl Urban and Lena Headey. I win all around on this movie. Plus, it's even better in 3D with the Slo-mo drug. While I can list more I'm going to round off my answer with 2 Series movies. "Tremors" and "Sharknado". What most of you don't know about me is that I'm a sucker for horribly trashy horror movies ("Zombeavers" is another favorite with the same reason as these two series). Scantly clad women, screaming, monsters, corrupt people and lots of blood. There is no better thing to watch. I love a good day of Monster Movies and beer. The trashier the better. When Mark Wade is challenged in a git review Marc I think I will go for 3 different points in time for favourite movies. One from growing up, one which is a classic IMO, and one more recent that I've enjoyed. Growing up, it has to be 'Labyrinth' staring David Bowie. It's the first movie I ever watched at the cinema with my parents, and one I can still watch to this day. I'm very much guilty of singing along to every song, and I'm actually banned from watching it anywhere near my wife as I say every single word in the script a split second before they say it. I think its safe to say I have seen it a few times. A classic for me would be 'Schindlers list'. To me this is one of the best movies ever made, and while I'm sure it will have been greatly adapted for a movie audience, it also shows what many went through during WW2 which are not so common knowledge. A great movie for children to sit there and watch who don't know about it, as it gets them asking questions that all children should ask and learn from. For a more recent movie, I quite enjoyed 'Sully: Micracle on the Hudson'. I generally like movies by Tom Hanks anyway, but I did particularly enjoy this one. Bonus recent movie - Baby Driver I really enjoyed. Great movie, and the star somehow looks familiar I'm sure 'ed' will find a suitable image to illustrate. Disapproving Wade Mark W Airplane. I must have seen it dozens of times, it never gets old, I quote it constantly... I just love it. When Wade is reviewing your branch Andy Zathura - Jumanji in space, no more words are required. When you're late reviewing Wade's branch Brandon This is a fairly challenging question to answer, as someone who watches a lot of movies. I own somewhere around 1500 DVDs/BluRays, though in recent years I've been buying fewer and renting more. A few of my top movies would include (in no particular order)... 1. The Matrix Series - while I've overplayed the series at this point, the story was amazing at the time and it had so many allegories to real life that were fun to think about even when you were done watching. 2. Doom - it was campy and silly overall, but a lot of fun. Karl Urban and The Rock together was a cool mix. 3. The One - I have always been a fan of Jet Li, but when this came out I thought the cinematography was awesome. The way they did the slow-mo movements was neat, and the story was quite unique. Plus, Jason Statham is awesome, and he was a supporting role instead of a lead. When you challenge Wade in a review Jim Morrissey The Beatles’ “Help!” has got to be my favorite movie due to the special place it holds with my family. My sister growing up was a huge Beatles fan and being the younger sibling, it kind of got forced on me but grew to be a fan as well. This movie, in my opinion, was my great due to the music (great album) and very dry comedy that is hilarious. Think I can recite each line of the movie as I’ve seen it too many times. It definitely isn't a movie set out to win any acting awards but if you haven’t seen it and like the Beatles, I would recommend it. When you get a list of 'recommendations' on your branch Daniel As Daniel Son I have to say Karate Kid 🥋 Nah, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is just to sick and amazing and gets never boring! Daniel likes to commit on, then commit off Mark H Like the others, I can’t pick just one movie. For documentaries, that would be “The Longest Day”, the story of the Jun 6, 1944, allied invasion of Normandy, with perspectives from all sides of the conflict. The book by Cornelius Ryan on which it’s based is a very long read, but gripping and factual, and this movie is one of the few that actually did justice to the book from which it was derived. Anyone with a passion for history should both see the movie and read the book. The runner-up in this category would be “Saving Private Ryan”, although it did take liberties with historical fact. In the Sci-Fi category, the original “Blade Runner”. The city in which it is set was once described as “a cross between Hell and Hong Kong on a bad day”, and that’s disturbingly accurate. It’s a warning about the future of humanity if we do not curb our use of the planet’s natural resources, and do not carefully overwatch technology in the hands of corporations driven only by profit and without any societal morals. Two close runner-ups in this category would be the film “Soylent Green”, another cautionary tale that is similar to Blade Runner in its warning about the future of humanity, and “2001: A Space Odyssey”, a speculative tale about our own evolution and our future. For other general fiction it would be “The Silence Of The Lambs”. Few movies have creeped me out like this one did. Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter was truly chilling, Two runner-ups would be the mini-series “Lonesome Dove”, based on the books by Larry McMurtry, a fictional work about the frontier Wild West, but could easily be true, and “The Thorn Birds”, a similar genre set in Australia and based on the book by Colleen McCullough. When you run out of logical facts during a developer's meeting We'd love to hear which movies you love, or that have inspired you in some way. Let us know below!
  10. @Mark will clarify but I would image that the system will account for this. Nope, all the usual anti-spam settings apply. Thanks!
  11. Yet again, Joel hijacks our company blog for another generous slice of knowledge from the front-lines of administrating a successful community. Inspired by Invision Community client @Joey_M who discovered the emoji of serendipity and chief architect @Matt who literally knows everything about Invision Community in ACP Tips and Tricks, they both made me realize there’s always something to learn no matter your level of experience. You know how to post. You know how to react. You sometimes spice it up and make a poll. And for the most part, you and your users go about your forum lives with a secure sense of certainty and satisfaction that you know how to interact with your community. But what if I told you there’s a whole world of wonder at your fingertips, young grasshopper? Your Invision Community includes stars to navigate by; magical pictures that appear and disappear; and little yellow men who giggle, laugh, and sometimes roll over in delight. Here are 5 hidden tips to help you discover a little more of the IPS magic for you and your users. How do you know what you don’t know? 1. Click-and-hold Be sure to dazzle your users with this secret way of changing your content title. Change titles of your content items such as topic titles, album titles, and download files by using the click-and-hold strategy. Go to your forums and click-and-hold down the mouse over any topic title until you see that you’re able to edit the title. Surprise! Use this secret strategy as the perfect way to quickly mass edit titles. Click-and-impress your users with the click-and-hold strategy 2. Stars and Dots Active forum users jump around dozens of boards every day to stay involved. And within a loooong topic with many pages, you need a fast way to jump to the most recent unread topic. Before each topic is an icon: either a dot or a star. Clicking these icons will always jump you to the latest unread post, so you can quickly dive back into the conversation. Dot means unread; Star means you participated in the topic. My forum icon constellation tells me that I’m most compatible with a Capricorn. 3. Emoji Short-codes One of the newest features to be included in Invision Community is emojis. While there are ways to insert emojis from both mobile keyboards and the editor, you can also start typing “:thumbs up:” to reveal the secret emoji menu. Try it now in the comments of this article. Last person to give me an emoji thumbs up wins! Be a 💯 with 🙂 4. Image Attachments Forum posts come alive with image attachments that add color and vibrancy. But adding thumbnails to the bottom of your posts is a missed opportunity to enrich your post at the appropriate spots within the post. After you upload an image attachment to a forum post, double-click on the image attachment. You’ll be presented with a secret menu with options to align and resize, so you can create stunning forum posts with images. Much color. Much alignment. So much wow. 5. Profile Banners Banners play a prominent part in multiple parts of the community, such as the Calendar, Profile, Clubs, and Blogs. But usually the page only displays a portion of the banner, and most of the banner is hidden. If you ever want to see the full banner in all of its glory, click near the top of the banner to auto-magically reveal everything! Now you see, now you don’t. The iceberg is a metaphor How many of these five secret tips did you know? If you knew all five, give yourself a round of applause! It’s rare for even the most seasoned Invision Community administrator to know all five, and you’ve mastered them all. Did you know four? Congrats, you’ve done a great job of exploring your community suite and you should keep it up. Did you know three or less? You should do some serious soul searching. Kidding. But it’s a definite sign that your soul would benefit from reading Invision Community News for more useful tips. Becoming a great community manager is a combination of community strategy and product knowledge. By empowering yourself with more functional knowledge and tools, you’re giving yourself the ability to leverage a bigger toolkit. Whether you’re typing emoji short-codes to laugh with your members or inserting attachments into a tutorial on hidden tips for your community, I hope you learned something new, something surprising, and something perhaps even a little wonderful. Let us know in the comments below what hidden tip surprised you the most.
  12. I feel a blog coming on.
  13. Wow, thanks all - specially Andy (as always!). This really does bring back some amazing memories. @Lindy I wonder if I have my "Spell Well" image still. IP.Dynamic even had a task manager. This is from 2006 and I do not recall coding this at all. ipd-task-manager (Converted).mov
  14. I think this topic has genuinely useful feedback in it, which we've actioned.
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