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newage

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  1. We are currently living through one of the most turbulent times in history. A once-in-a-century pandemic has a grip on all of us. Whatever the outcome, come the end of the year, few of us are going to be the same again. We will have to sacrifice our personal freedoms, and some of us much more. Like you, I'm worried about my family, my friends and neighbours. I'm watching the news, scrolling through social media and consuming articles from scientists, scholars and doctors. The news coming out of Italy is truly heartbreaking. Doctors and nurses have to make life and death decisions daily as they wage war with the virus. Those of us in the UK and the USA are nervously watching the graphs climb in lockstep of Italy from just a few weeks ago. It would be easy to succumb to fear and withdraw completely. But as community leaders, we cannot. Let us take some inspiration from the brave people of Italy who have suffered much with an overstretched health care system and enforced quarantine yet still sing from their apartments in a display of resolve. In a time where we have to remain apart, we must come together. We have to keep showing up and leading. We must focus on what we still have and not what is being taken away. Now more than ever, we are needed to keep the world connected. To bring comfort; to support and to love each other. This year is going to test every one of us. But whatever comes our way, I know that we are stronger together. "Their faithful and zealous comradeship would almost between night and morning clear the path of progress and banish from all our lives the fear which already darkens the sunlight to hundreds of millions of men." Winston Churchill
  2. A short while ago we revealed the new look Admin CP for Invision Community 4.5. The focus was on increasing the workspace, brightening and modernising the look. However, for some this new look was perhaps a little too bright, especially when setting your OS to use dark mode. Rather than cause an increase in sales for sunglasses, we went ahead and implemented a dark mode for the Admin CP. You can set it to work inline with your OS preference, or you can choose to enforce light or dark mode. I'm sure the next question you're about to ask is "Hey Ehren that looks amazing and now working at 3 am won't wake up the neighbours when I log into the AdminCP but can you do the same for the front-end?" The short answer to that is "no". The theme system isn't currently designed to support both light and dark colour schemes, however our marketplace has a great selection of dark themes to enhance your community. I hope that you like this new feature and I just wanted to say thanks for your feedback; we do listen!
  3. A short while ago we revealed the new look Admin CP for Invision Community 4.5. The focus was on increasing the workspace, brightening and modernising the look. However, for some this new look was perhaps a little too bright, especially when setting your OS to use dark mode. Rather than cause an increase in sales for sunglasses, I went ahead and implemented a dark mode for the Admin CP. You can set it to work inline with your OS preference, or you can choose to enforce light or dark mode. I'm sure the next question you're about to ask is "Hey Ehren that looks amazing and now working at 3 am won't wake up the neighbours when I log into the AdminCP but can you do the same for the front-end?" The answer to that is "no". Front-end themes are more complicated, so creating a light and dark mode would be largely ignored by most third-party theme authors. Our marketplace has a great selection of dark mode themes already. I hope that you like this little feature addition and I just wanted to say thanks for all your feedback; we do listen!
  4. The news is currently filled with anxiety over coronavirus and workers are being encouraged to work from home where possible to limit or delay its spread. For many people used to commuting daily and working in shared offices, this is a huge upheaval which will take a while to adjust. How do you stay motivated and productive when you're not at your desk and held accountable by your colleagues next to you? Remote working has become popular over the last few years. The internet has transformed how we work, and improvements to connection speeds, authentication systems and cloud architecture make working home a viable alternative for many office workers. Working from home certainly doesn't suffer the same stigma it did years ago when it was synonymous with sleeping in late, daytime TV binges and excessive time in pyjamas. A good number of years ago, I was getting my hair cut. It was about 11 am on a weekday, and we had the usual small talk as she attempted to tame my unruly mop. The question I was waiting for dropped a moment later "so, is this your day off?" My reply was that I work from home so have some flexibility in my day. Usually, this gets a nod, and we move onto the weather. I'd not met this hairdresser before. She processed my reply, stopped snipping and locked eyes with me via the mirror. "Do you really work from home, or is that you don't have a job?" Fears over reduced productivity from remote workers have proved to be unfounded. A large-scale experiment was conducted with 16,000 employees of a Chinese call centre. Workers were randomly assigned to either work from home or at the office for nine months. The home workers enjoyed a 13% performance increase due to fewer breaks and sick days. At Invision Community we not only make a product designed to bring people together online, but a good number of us also work remotely. Our HQ is in Virginia, USA but we have team members in the UK, Europe and Australia. Remote working allows us to hire the best people we can find, and not just those who are within a few miles of our HQ. I spoke with our team to get their tips and strategies for working from home and still getting work done. Rikki, lead UI designer Get out of the house every day It's easy to fall into the trap of being a hermit for days on end. Particularly in the summer, I like to take a walk to get lunch every single day. It gives me a chance to get some fresh air, a little exercise and most importantly get away from my office properly (instead of just being in the next room, which doesn't feel like it's really taking a break). Don't take your work home downstairs with you Another easy trap to fall into is working every waking hour because you're always 'at work'. Set fixed work start/end times and stick to them. Leave your office at the end of the day and consider the work finished. If you do need to hop back to work later because something cropped up, go back to your desk to put yourself in work mode - don't be tempted to start working from the sofa. Olivia, Customer Success Manager Organize your workspace You may not be lucky enough to be able to repurpose a dedicated room in the house, but that doesn't mean you can't find a good spot to work from. Choose a place that is free of clutter and well lit. Organize your work I'm a big fan of to-do lists. Keeping my lists organized helps me stay on track and prevents me from drifting too far from what's important. I like the "To Do versus To Get Done concept." Organize yourself Plan in breaks away from your screen. There's always one more email to write, but setting times to take a break is vital to keeping your energy and focus. Working from home means that you cannot rely on others to remind you! Check-in often with teammates At Invision Community, we use Slack to keep in touch and recreate the 'water cooler' moments where we discuss our favourite TV shows, movies and more. Reframe "my office is always open" to "I'm always available for a call". Remind your colleagues often that they can start a voice call if they need to talk. Stuart, developer and migration specialist Minimize human distractions When you're working from home, it's easy to get distracted, especially by other people! Remind your family and friends that during your work hours you're working. As much as you'd love to spend the day drinking tea (or beverage of your choice) and chatting, you do have a job. Stuart's work area How we do it There's no doubt that we're fortunate to have a team that is self-motivated and responsible. Remote working can allow individuals to drift, and productivity suffers. We use a combination of software platforms and a few simple strategies to keep us all informed, organized and feeling part of a greater team. We use Slack to not only onboard new clients, but also to organize product development, feedback and support. These channels are well used, but without a doubt, our 'general' channel is used the most. This is where we hang out socially and chat during our breaks. It's easy to see this as unproductive or distracting, but I feel that it helps build us as a team and helps forge relationships with each other. We use a private Invision Community as an intranet hub which does the heavy lifting for organizing releases. It also acts as a repository for feedback, new feature ideas and development discussions. We encourage breakout groups to voice call to resolve hot topics and pressing issues. It's amazing what you can get done in a few minutes by voice. We hold a stand up voice meeting weekly where we organize the week, discuss anything pressing and run through development tasks. This call is developer-focused, but it's held company-wide, so it is inclusive. We try and avoid human information silos where possible. Daniel's workstation Above all, just keep talking It's just as important to share your personality as it is your work. Make sure you check in on quiet colleagues to make sure they're OK. Not everyone is super-chatty, and some prefer to switch off and focus. However, it's easy to feel a real sense of loneliness and isolation if you don't have a partner or family living with you. It's essential to put effort into maintaining relationships online. Working remotely means less interaction with your colleagues, and it's easy for multifaceted personalities to become a flattened disembodied persona online. Without the office 'vibe' and body language cues we often take for granted, it's easy to lose that personal connection. Build depth by asking how your colleagues weekends were. Ask about their hobbies and pets. Work at keeping a connection with the person behind the computer. In our team we have little sub-groups that focus on our hobbies. There's the running/workout club where we share our training plans and give each other virtual high-fives. I've actually found it easier to stick to a running plan knowing that my colleague is running too (and beating my times!). If you only take one thing away from this, maintaining strong relationships with your team is key! If your team isn't keen on video calling, then make sure you voice call regularly. I can't stress how important it is to verbally talk to your colleagues. We start each call off with some light hearted chat and listening to the inflections in other's voices and have them laugh at your silly jokes recharges your soul. Take advantage of technology Apart from using Invision Community as a hub and company-wide information repository, there's a lot of apps you can use to make your work time more productive and avoid the constant distractions partners and children rattling about the house can cause. I work from home and have two young children. School holidays can be challenging when the house comes alive during the day, and there's a constant stream of potential distractions. I use "focus music" with noise-cancelling headphones when I want to knuckle down and write code or blog articles. Right now, my kids are at school, and I'm listening to Metallica at an unreasonable volume through my Homepod speaker. For some reason, loud metal music helps me concentrate. There are only so many power chords you can take, and I've found Brain.fm to be very useful. Brain.fm uses "neural phase-locking" via music to help you focus. I have no idea what that means, but it does help me get into the zone on days where I struggle with productivity. I have the attention span of an anxious squirrel. It can take me a long while to get into the zone and mere seconds to pop back out. When I'm writing code, it's less of a problem. I just put on Brain.fm or some music, and I get lost in time and space as I build complex constructs in my mind before bringing it together in my code editor. However, when I'm writing articles, helping support, hopping between tasks, or doing general administration work, I rely on a Pomodoro timer. The idea is that you work in sprints of 25 minutes, followed by a short break, usually 5 minutes. You repeat this cycle four times and take a longer break. Many apps can track your time in this way, including web-based tools such as the amusingly named Tomato Timer. Using this technique helps me get into the flow by giving me "permission" to take breaks but only once the work block has finished. I might pop out of focus and think about checking up on our community or Facebook and get back to work when I realize I've still got 12 minutes of work left. Where I work. Can you guess my favourite TV show? Work/life balance doesn't exist You'll often hear people talk about their work/life balance. You are better off thinking in terms of work/life integration. Now, I'm not suggesting that you work all day and night. I'm not one of those "sleep when you're dead" people. I like to sleep. I have a partner and two kids I want to enjoy and passions outside of my computer (although my guitars are gathering dust again). The reality is that when your workstation is just a door away from the rest of your life, you're going to work outside of the traditional 9-5 routine despite how rigorous you may want to define a working day. This might be because you took the morning off to watch your kid's school play or you may have booked a haircut during the day as it's much quieter. My advice would be to look for pockets of time that won't impact the rest of your family or free time. I tend to earmark an hour once the kids have gone to bed as potential "work overflow" time. This allows me to integrate my work schedule with my home schedule without it taking over my life. Avoid Coffeeshops Working with your laptop in a coffeeshop is a massive cliché. Every single time I've walked into Starbucks, there have been dozens of people at tables squinting at laptop screens. It's an attractive idea. You get to mingle with fellow humans. You get a change of scenery and a decent cup of coffee. You also get a constant source of distractions, poor quality and insecure Wi-Fi and sideways glances from staff who'd love to free up your table. Also, what do you do with your laptop when you need a restroom break? Do you take it with you? What if someone sits at your table while you're gone? It's just not for me. Jim's work area Exercise and movement I won't lecture you about health and fitness, but I do want to highlight one downside of having no commute and office building to move through: being super-sedentary. If you used to clock up 10,000 steps walking to the train station, walking to your office and then clocking up steps as you moved between meeting rooms and social areas, then expect that number to drop sharply. There are days where my Apple Watch tells me I've done less than 1500 steps during the day. To combat this, I make time during the day to go for a walk or to exercise. I'm fortunate that I have a treadmill in the garage along with some weight lifting equipment. If you don't have any equipment, then a short walk is better than nothing. As a bonus, you'll get some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. I also have a standing desk so that I can get on my feet during the day and an exercise bike I can use while working with the desk at its highest position. Find ways to incorporate movement into your day for your own mental and physical health. Conclusion Despite the many challenges working remotely can cause and the learning curve of taking your work home, the vast majority prefer to work from home. In a study of 100 remote workers, only six said they'd return to the office if given a chance. If you're new to working remotely, then there will be mistakes. There will be days when you feel that you've achieved very little and probably yearn for some human interaction and be told what to do next. It's all part of the process. Keep lines of communication open, check in on your colleagues and embrace the freedom working remotely gives.
  5. Invision Community has had a question and answer mode for a good few years now. This mode transforms a forum into a formalized way to handle your member's questions. Members can upvote answers, and the topic starter and your community management team can mark a reply as the "best answer". This is great when you want to add rigour to specific forums which encourage your members to find solutions. The existing "QA" mode But how about a way to mark a topic as solved without transforming the look and feel of the forum? We get asked this a lot. Happily, it's now a feature just added to Invision Community 4.5! Those with a long memory will recall we had something very similar way back in Invision Community 3. The new "mark as solved" feature This new feature allows the topic starter or your community management team to mark a post as the solution. This highlights the post within the topic as well as adding an icon to the listing views. The green tick notes that the topic has a solution In addition, it also increases the member's solved count, which is displayed under their name in the post and even in a draggable widget that shows members with the most solutions. We have also added a new filter to the existing post and topic feed widgets to allow only items with a solution to be shown, so you can create a "Recently solved" feed. The new widget Finally, a notification is sent to the author of the post that is selected as the best answer, so they're made aware that their helpful content has been spotted. Let your members know their content was useful We hope you enjoy these changes and look forward to allowing your community to find answers quickly, and to reward the members that provide them.
  6. Notifications are a crucial feature in enticing members back to your community to read updates and post their replies. It makes sense that there should be as little friction as possible when setting up notifications. We want to encourage members to enable notifications relevant to them. The current notifications form in Invision Community is functional but overwhelming and confusing for new members. Thankfully, we have simplified it to make it clear what notifications are available and which you have enabled currently. This new settings page also includes support for our new mobile app and links to remove all email notifications. Notification Emails Notification emails are essential to re-engage a member. However, we found that when the email contained all of the post content return visits were not as frequent because the email provided all the information the member needed. In Invision Community 4.5, we've added an option to truncate the content of the email to encourage curious return visits and to reduce the chance that a confused member will attempt to post a reply via the email! What does the rest say?! Download's Notifications To receive notifications of new file updates it was previously necessary to follow files. This meant that you would also be notified of reviews and comments even if they were of no interest to you. From 4.5 we have added a separate button (send me version updates) so you have more control over the notifications you receive. Send me version updates We've plenty of new features yet to announce for Invision Community 4.5, but improvements to common features make our lives a little easier and are just as welcome! Are you looking forward to finally making sense of notification choices? Let us know below!
  7. CEO Mark Triggon, previously the chief merchandising officer at Target, laid out his plans to turn around the beleaguered American retailer Bed Bath & Beyond. Part of that plan was reducing the number of can openers from 12 to 3. Sales rose. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Tritton explained how tests conducted in his first few months at the company showed that less is more when it comes to product assortment. “The big takeaway: Selling too many items in stores that are overcrowded leads to ‘purchase paralysis,” Mr. Tritton said. Bed Bath & Beyond exploded across the American landscape in the 1990s and 2000’s with its focus on opening new “big box” stores for home merchandise where it was meant to be a category killer – consumers would shop in stores that offered them anything and everything. It was famous for its floor-to-ceiling options, and a simple trip for a new shower curtain turned into a shopping spree for every room in the home. In recent years though, that approach has soured on consumers. A Business Insider reporter commented on her latest trip, “From our first steps in, the store was overwhelming. There was merchandise packed top to bottom on shelves that lined every wall.” The tides have changed. Consumers are being offered – and overwhelmed – with more choices than ever before. PARADOX OF CHOICE One of the great benefits of the modern web is a proliferation of choice: choice in sprawling ideologies, choice in niche interests, and choice in shopping for thousands of products at a click of a button. All of this, every day. Unfortunately, that abundance of choice can stress and even paralyze our ability to make decisions. Psychologist Barry Schwartz coined the term Paradox of Choice in a 2004 book by the same name, where he advanced the idea that eliminating consumer choices can reduce anxiety for shoppers. In other words, instead of offering 12 options for can openers, offer 3 options. What does this mean for online communities? LESS IS MORE Across the spectrum of communities and forums, some of the biggest critical mistakes are forum creep and feature bloat. New features are mindlessly added thinking it will lead to higher engagement, new forums are added for every conceivable discussion, and design choices are automatically enabled at the default without aligning to your strategy. Your initial goal is to sweep through your entire community and identify the areas that align with your community strategy. For categories and boards that are low-value, low traffic, or not aligned with any strategic objectives, you should aggressively consolidate or eliminate. There’s no hard rule when it comes to design choices, although 7 has been touted as a magic number for short-term human memory. You can use this magic number across a range of design decisions. For example: At most 7 Reactions At most 7 Primary Menu options At most 7 major sections or content hubs THE JAM EXPERIMENT Choice overload can actually lead to less sales. In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark Lepper of Stanford University led a much-recited study where they presented passerbys at a food market with two tables: one with 24 fruit jams, the other with 6 jams. The one with 24 different jams generated more traffic to sample and taste. But guess which table generated more sales? The other table with fewer jams, which had ten times more purchases! The moral of the story? At junctures of your member journey where you ask users to make a critical decision such as user information when registering, subscriptions, or selling products, don’t be the table with 24 jams to sample, but never able to sell. BIG BOX & SMALL BOX Invision Community offers an interesting approach where you can act like both a “big box” community for your general audience and still offer “small box” cohesiveness for more intimate groups. The feature is called Clubs, which empowers smaller groups to form and split off from the main audience. This is an especially consequential feature for mature and large communities looking to organically cultivate their next generation of engagement. Indeed, this is a trend happening in a large way among next-gen consumers, who are realizing the perils of broadcasting and oversharing. In a 2019 white paper “The New Rules of Social” led by youth creative agency ZAK, nearly two-thirds of the under-30 respondents said they prefer to talk in private message rather than open forums and feeds. Facebook themselves launched head-first towards social groups back in 2016 after the US Presidential election. In a 6,000 word essay called "Building Global Community," Zuckerberg sermonized on the importance of building connections in meaningful groups: Forum administrators on Invision Community have been building meaningful communities since day one. When properly deployed, Clubs will allow you to cultivate – and retain – users in a more focused environment without the distractions of your larger community. CONCLUSION For community managers and forum administrators who have run their Invision Communities for many years, you know first-hand that the power of community doesn’t come from adding another feature, another board, or another category. Happiness and fulfillment come from actually connecting with members, through education, enlightenment, problem solving, and teamwork. Overloading your community with theme options, excess reactions, and overbuilt boards get in the way of your true goal. Become the CEO to reduce the overwhelming options of can openers. Sell more jam by offering less of it. And unfetter yourself from unnecessary choices to discover a clearer connection to your members. Executive Summary Bed Bath & Beyond CEO declutters stores, sales rise Concept of paradox of choice: users can become overwhelmed and stressed when presented with too many options Jam experiment: table with more jams gets more traffic, but table of less jams gets more sales For large and established communities, use Clubs to offer intimate and uncluttered experiences.
  8. One of the benefits of using Invision Community as your community platform is that you control and own your data. There are several ways to review this data. One of which is via the Admin Control Panel which offers a suite of statistic views which helps to convert the raw data into something easily understood. However, it's not always easy to determine trends and community sentiment from these singular views. Invision Community 4.5 adds two new interactive views for user and activity statistics. This new 'overview' view not only shows you a snapshot of your community but also allows you to compare time periods. In the video, you can see that I select different date ranges, such as "three months". This shows you the data of that time period, and also compares it against the previous three months. In this example, you can clearly see that we have 50% more registrations and 33% more contributors compared to the previous three month period. Likewise, in this example, you can clearly see that we have a 1200% increase in reactions given with a clear breakdown of the type of reaction given to help understand community sentiment. These interactive displays automatically update, so if you are so inclined, you could leave the statistic pages open and watch as the data changes live. We hope that you find these new views useful in identifying trends and help to inform strategic decisions within your community.
  9. Invision Community has certainly changed a lot over the years as we've moved through major updates and large user interface changes. While large scale changes offer a dramatic difference, it is sometimes the smaller changes that bring the most satisfaction when using your community daily. This blog entry rounds up some of the UI improvements Invision Community 4.5 brings. Content View Behavior What do you want to happen when you click a topic link? Are you taken to the first comment, the last comment or the first comment you've not read? If you speak to 100 people, I'm pretty sure you'll get a good spread of votes for each. Invision Community has always offered subtle ways to get right to the first unread comment. Our infamous dot or star allows you to do this, but it is so subtle almost no one knows this. Invision Community 4.5 now allows each member to choose (with the AdminCP offering a default). Now everyone wins! Who Reacted? Invision Community has had reactions for a long while now. Although finding out who exactly reacted without clicking the counts has proved irksome. We've fixed that in Invision Community so simply mousing over the reaction icon reveals who reacted. Sign In Anonymously For as long as I can remember, Invision Community has offered an option to sign in anonymously via a checkbox on the login form. However, as we've added faster ways to log in via Facebook, Twitter, Google and more it's become less straight forward to ensure your anonymity. Invision Community 4.5 removes this login preference and moves it to your members' settings. Now your members can resume hiding as they move around your community across multiple logins. Resize Before Uploading One of the most popular requests we've had in recent times is to resize large images before uploading. It's quite likely that your giant full resolution image will be denied when attempting to upload, and it's a bit of a faff to resize it in a photo editor. Invision Community leverages the uploader's ability to resize before uploading, which makes it a much happier experience. Switch Off Automatic Language Detection Invision Community attempts to map your browser's user-agent to a specific language pack. When you visit a site, your browser lets the site know which language our browser is set to (often dictated by your operating system) and we use that to show you the correct language if the community you're visiting has multiple languages installed. However, it might be that you don't want this to happen because although your computer's OS is set to a specific language, it doesn't always follow that is the one you wish to use on a website. Invision Community 4.5 allows this automatic detection to be switched off. Quote Collapse We will finish with another popular feature request; the ability for long quotes to be collapsed, reducing the amount of scrolling one has to do. Quite simply, Invision Community collapses long quotes with an option to expand them to read the entire quote. Thank you to all our customers who have taken the time to leave feedback. As you can see, we do listen and action your feedback. Which change are you looking forward to the most? Let us know below!
  10. Statistics can help you manage and monitor the direction of your community, giving you valuable insight into how your visitors are interacting with your site and what areas of your community deserve the most of your attention. With the popularity of Clubs in Invision Community, we determined that some statistics aimed at helping administrators review how this feature is being received by their end users was warranted. Club activity statistics overview When accessing the "Club Activity" statistics page in the AdminCP, you will be able to quickly see at a glance which club types are the most popular, see which clubs are gaining the most traction with new signups, and see trends in club creations over time. With the signups chart, you can further filter by one or more specific clubs, and save these filter preferences as new tabs on the chart. See activity across all clubs The "All Club Activity" tab on this page shows you which types of content (topics, images, files, etc.) are most popular across all clubs as an aggregate. If you find that Calendar or Downloads is especially popular throughout clubs then you may wish to promote these features further. Conversely if you find that a certain type of content is not being leveraged, you may wish to promote it, or retire its functionality on your community. Activity by club shows you which clubs are most active You can also view activity per-club, allowing you to identify which of your clubs are the most popular and have the most activity. As with the "Club signups" chart, you can use filters to view just the clubs you are interested in comparing, and save these filters for easy review later on. We hope you find value in these new statistics pages, and that they help you manage the Clubs feature on your site more effectively.
  11. Since we announced native Invision Community apps for iOS and Android, the response has been incredible. Hundreds of customers registered interest in joining the testing process, and for the initial round we selected around thirty users, roughly split between iOS and Android. Thank you to those testers for their work in reporting issues and providing feedback over the past couple of months. Open Beta I'm pleased to report that we are now ready to begin an open beta of the app, allowing everyone to install it and test it. See below for information on installing the apps. As this is still a testing process, we'd welcome any bug reports or feedback you have. Instructions on doing that can also be found below. The app going into open beta today is essentially a 'white label' version for our own community here. This enables us to test the basic community functionality more widely before we release the free 'multi-community' app that customers will be able to use with their own communities. Already signed up for beta testing via our survey? Thank you! Once we begin testing the multi-community app we will select a new group of testers from those that signed up, and invite them to offer the app to their own users on their own communities. This stage will come once Invision Community 4.5 is released later this year. Installing the app iOS iOS users will need to install TestFlight from the App Store. This is an app provided by Apple that allows developers (such as ourselves) to issue test versions of applications. Once installed, sign up for the beta test by going HERE on your iPhone. Android Android users should go HERE on their device to sign up for the beta. Reporting issues/providing feedback If you would like to report an issue with the app, we are managing issues via a special GitHub repository. You will need a free GitHub account to report new issues, if you don't already have one. Click the Issues tab, then the New Issue button and follow the steps. Please provide as much information as you can. If you'd like to provide feedback via a private channel, or if you have a sensitive bug to report, please email us at a dedicated email address: [email protected] Disclaimers The app you will be installing is a beta version and we offer no guarantees with it. If you are not comfortable using beta software and the inherent risks in doing so, please don't install the app yet. We reserve the right to suspend testing or exclude individual testers at any time if necessary.
  12. Although we continuously review security within Invision Community, a major release such as 4.5 allows us to be especially proactive when it comes to keeping your community safe. This blog entry outlines several enhancements to improve security in Invision Community 4.5. Password Handling Keeping your member's passwords secure is the simplest way to keep accounts safe and out of the wrong hands, so it makes sense to look at ways to ensure this doesn't happen. Invision Community already uses strong one-way hashing when storing passwords, which means that once the password is stored in the database, there is no way to know the plain text version. However, when creating a new member account via the AdminCP, a random password was created, and this was sent in the welcome email to the new member's email address. As of Invision Community 4.5, this no longer happens, and the new member is invited to create a new password when visiting the community for the first time. Part of your internal security procedures might be to force a reset of all passwords periodically. Invision Community 4.5 allows this on a per-member basis, or via a selection of filters to enforce a reset for many members at once. This clears out any stored password hashes and emails the affected members to remind them to set up a new password. AdminCP Security The Admin Control Panel contains the most powerful tools available to Invision Community. This is already a very secure area with a separate login with an option to add two-factor authentication to the login flow. Part of the session authentication has been a special key in the URL. While we have protection in place to prevent this special key being discoverable by a malicious user, there remains an incredibly remote theoretical chance that this could happen with a series of complicated steps. There was an additional annoyance that you are unable to share links within the AdminCP to members of your team due to the increased protection to keep URLs safe. As of Invision Community 4.5, we have removed the special key from the URL and moved it elsewhere in the session authentication flow. This means that it's impossible to fetch the special key via the URL and links can now be shared and will survive a login action. Text Encryption There are a few areas within Invision Community that we use text encryption to allow us to save data in the database in a format that is encrypted when saved and decrypted when read. This protects you in the incredibly remote event of your own hosting being compromised and your database downloaded (of course, our Community in the Cloud customers do not need to worry about this!) Invision Community 4.5 improves on this encryption by using PHP's built-in methods which give "bank-level" security to our encryption. Security is critical to the success of your community, and we are always proactive in improving security throughout Invision Community. Do you have any comments on this entry? Let us know below!
  13. The goal of every client here in the Invision peer community, myself included, is to launch and run successful communities. Whether I’m going to be able to achieve that success in the new year depends entirely on trying these 10 steps. I know if that if I stick to these steps, then my community will grow – and I know if you follow along, your community will too. 10. Ignore Google Google makes me laugh; Google makes me cry; Google makes me want to pitch myself into the freezing icy waters of the San Francisco bay. But focusing on Google’s up-and-down volatility isn’t what is going to make my community successful. It’s a distraction, and at worst, a wrong commitment of attention. 9. Remember My Past Sins I’ve made every mistake imaginable – including over-the-top themes, too many customizations, and chasing after dream goals. The very worst is not making a database backup, then losing everything. Most of us came up through the School of Hard Knocks, and we should learn from those experiences. 8. Treat Every Person as Gold Members are the beating heart of your community, and are truly what makes your community special. I’m committed to taking time out every day to message, comment, or reply to 3 new people to cultivate new relationships. 7. Practice x3 Nobody is perfect the first time they try something. Thomas Edison famously stated that he found 10,000 ways for a lightbulb to not work, and 1 way that it did. Whether you’re publishing new content or designing a template, refine it multiple times. 6. Start as a Guest I don’t do this enough and I always find something surprising when I do. Either something is missing, something can be improved, or something is wrong. The guest experience is the very first impression a visitor will have, and it can shape all of his future expectations. 5. Less is More It’s easy to get sidetracked and to let your community get bloated with content and features. It’s better to be amazing in one domain expertise: you offer the most authority, the most trusted content, the latest news, or the most comprehensive overview. Excite members by being the best at what you do. De-emphasize, consolidate, or archive everything else as needed. 4. It’s Not the Feature; Its What the Feature Does It’s easy to think that because Invision Community ships with a new feature, then you should use it. You don’t. You should always pre-qualify the feature by asking how the feature can help you better engage with your community, how does it engage, and how can you customize the feature even better for your members? 3. Bring Your Superusers Along Even though I invite my superusers into a special private feedback group, I don’t leverage their knowledge, experience, or perspective enough. I recently asked for feedback about a particular feature, and it turns out none of them use it! 2. Experiment & Learn There’s always something new to learn, explore, and implement. It's my personal goal to enrich my personal skillsets in areas like leadership, team building, mentoring, emotional intelligence, organizational behavior, and psychology for more effective community management. On the promotion side, you can learn about email marketing, digital marketing, social media, creating rich media, and more. On the content side, you can always improve your content writing skills, emotive writing, keyword research, and the conversion of one content piece into multiple media and formats. 1. Enjoy the Journey For any community admin who sticks with his community for several years, you can get burned out. I know the feeling, and I like to periodically remind myself about what I enjoy running the community. There’s so much to learn and do that it can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to take every day in 2020 one day at a time.
  14. Every single day, your members are searching your community for answers or interesting conversations to join. Wouldn't it be great if you could learn what is being searched for to identify hot issues, commonly asked questions and discover trends? We thought so too, which is why Invision Community 4.5 comes with search statistics. For the first time, Invision Community gathers anonymized information on what your members are searching for so you can use this to highlight more relevant content and shape strategic decisions with your community's structure. Search statistics help you track searches performed on your community When a member searches, their identity is converted into a unique key that cannot be reversed to identify the member. This allows us to track a single member's search usage over many search sessions without being able to link it to a specific member account. The AdminCP now features a dashboard to review the most popular search terms as well as a raw log of recent searches along with the results they returned. We have a lot of ideas in mind for additional changes down the road with the tracking of popular search terms, but for now, we hope you like the new statistics page and find the information presented useful for your future site plans.
  15. We have come a long way since the late 90s when someone had the genius idea of using a small yellow smiling face image instead of the more common colon-bracket representation of a smiling face. In Invision Community, there are various places that photography can be used to create visual interest. From uploads in topics, to cover photos for blogs and members. The humble upload field has served these areas well, but sourcing images to use can be a pain; especially when you have to walk the minefield that is copyright and attribution. Fortunately, there are a few "CC0" online stock photo libraries that offer quality photography that requires no attribution and are not hampered by copyrights. One such library is the ever-popular Pixabay, which was established in 2012 and features a very powerful API. Pixabay has over a million images ready to use from llamas to sausages and everything in-between. Invision Community 4.5 now includes support for Pixabay which brings those images to your fingertips (or mouse pointer if you're on a desktop.) This video shows the feature in use. As you can see, not only can you upload into posts from the stock photo library, but you can also use it to add a cover image to your profile and blog entries. Finding quality photography has never been so easy! For those that love technical details, the stock photo picker is a programmatic option on the upload form field type making it very easy to add to your own code and apps. How will you use this new feature? Let me know!
  16. Ever since Invision Community 4.x was launched you have been asking for the ability to categorize blogs in your community. We heard you loud and clear, but sometimes when a feature sounds straightforward, it requires some re-engineering of the framework. Because users in your community can create both blog entries and their own blogs to hold these entries, this was one of those areas. Starting with Invision Community 4.5 I’m pleased to announce that it is now possible for blog authors to categorize their blog entries and it's now possible for administrators to categorize blogs. Blog Entry Categories When creating a new blog entry, your members will now be able to create a new category for the entry or choose an existing one that had been created previously. Choosing your category when creating a new blog entry When a reader then visits the blog they can choose to display only those categories that interest them. Filtering by category Blog Categories Running a community where users can create their own blogs, you don’t only need to make sure individual pieces of content are categorized correctly, you also need to make sure the blogs themselves have a logical place. Well guess what? Now you can! As an admin you can now set up predefined categories in the control panel and Blog authors can then choose which one to create their new blog in. Managing blog categories We realize some of you have been waiting a long time to see these changes so we hope you enjoy this and everything else to come in Invision Community 4.5!
  17. On behalf of the Invision Community staff and company, I'd like to wish our clients and community warm blessings and gratitude for the New Year. We're proud to be the community platform of choice for you and your organization over the past year (or decade!), empowering you and your users with the space to debate, discuss, investigate, solve, innovate and celebrate a shared sense of purpose. The ability to positively touch and connect with the lives of others regardless of location is one of the most transformative benefits of the modern web -- and there's never been a greater demand or need for online communities to connect members in an authentic, branded experience. Your community is the gift that keeps on giving, and we're delighted to be a part of it. Here's a round-up of the 2019's most visited, most commented, and most clicked-on articles from the Invision Community Blog: Invision Community managers use tools like Saved Actions and Auto Moderation to work smarter with 5 of the best time saving features Avoid the Engagement Trap, a never-ending race that measures all the wrong metrics in a community The crowd goes wild in the teaser announcement of the forthcoming mobile apps for iOS and Android Go back in a time machine with a Decade in Review - a celebration and testament to the enduring power of community. Once again, may the magic and wonder of the holiday season stay with you throughout the year!
  18. 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?
  19. Almost every single day, we receive feedback on our popular clubs feature. Some of the requests are big in scope, and some a little smaller. Following on from our previous blog entry for Club Pages, we’re pleased to announce a collection of smaller, but no less useful improvements. Improved Map Display The Clubs location map better shows where local clubs are A small but useful change to the clubs map means the view is now centered and zoomed around available clubs. Previously the map would show a world view even if all of the clubs were located in a concentrated geographical area. Member Tab A commitment to privacy always influences our development decisions, and this is true in clubs as well as other areas. It is now possible to set who can view the club member list on a per club basis. Clubs can be set to show the member list to everyone, only to club members or only to club leaders and moderators. You can now decide who can see your club Club Widgets A common request for clubs is that widgets should be able to display content from within clubs. With 4.5, this is now possible and allows you to better bring attention to your club content from anywhere in your community. Content widgets can now show club specific content Some people wanted to control where widgets would show more finely. This wasn’t previously possible, but now it is. When adding widgets to a page, you can now set whether you want it to appear everywhere, everywhere except clubs, or only in clubs. Join Requests Club leaders can invite members who they believe will enjoy their content to join. Likewise, members can request to join a club that is not open for all to join instantly. For a site with a lot of clubs, this could mean that you are invited to many clubs or find that your pending request goes unnoticed. Your member can quickly manage their pending invites Members can now cancel pending requests themselves quickly and easily from the Club homepage. Clubs are becoming an increasingly popular part of Invision Community and really helps foster a sense of involvement. We are always interested and surprised by the variety of ways this feature is being used. Let us know how you’re using clubs in the comments and keep the great suggestions coming!
  20. Invision Community has supported member referrals via the Commerce app since Commerce was called Nexus all those years ago. Community owners have been able to see at a glance who is spreading the word and members have received the kudos associated with a growing referral count in return. When planning Invision Community 4.5 we saw that this feature had the potential to be so much more… So what have we done to improve it? See Who Was Referred In addition to seeing a count of referrals, it’s now possible for both admins and members to see who they referred. If Commerce is enabled admins can also see how much commission (if any) was earned. The new referral settings page shows links, code snippets and who you've referred Member Promotion Seeing a rising count of who has been referred gives members a great feeling of community involvement but wouldn’t it be great if you could reward your members in other ways too? Referral counts now work as a member filter when using the group promotion feature. You can now automatically promote members that have referred more than a specific number of members to another user group and give them access to exclusive content. This still works alongside paid subscriptions so be another method for members not willing or able to pay for subscriptions to get access. Integration With Sharing If the feature is enabled, any time a link is shared via the built-in share links, referrals will be tracked. This occurs automatically without the member needing to think about it. It’s now easier than ever to see who your superfans are and who is bringing new people to the community. Blocks As well as the default share links we have added a new sidebar block that can be added anywhere across your community. This prominent call to action can be added on pages you think are most likely to result in recommendations. The new "Invite a friend" widget Given that referral capabilities have been expanded into many more areas outside of Commerce we decided that this should now be available as a core feature. Earning commission on sales as a result of referrals will still, of course, require Commerce to be installed. We hope that these are welcome improvements and they help you encourage more members to participate in your community.
  21. You'd be forgiven for thinking that RSS feeds belong in some bygone era of the web where Netscape was king and getting online meant listening to your modem scream at your phone line. There's certainly a lot of newer web technologies to share data, but the venerable RSS feed still has a place. Invision Community has supported RSS feed importing and exporting for a very long time now; however, it has been restricted to just Forums and Blogs. Importing an RSS feed is a simple way to populate content on your community. It's even a great way to share content to and from your site without creating blocks or writing custom code. Invision Community 4.5 now centralizes RSS feed importing, so it is available for Forums, Blogs and Pages. You can now choose to import an RSS feed to any Pages database. Better yet, there is now full support for image enclosures. RSS feeds have a special tag to note that the feed entry has an attached image. Lots of RSS feeds use this, such as the NASA Image Of The Day feed. Until now, this image has just been silently discarded. Now, it is imported as an attachment (so it can be moved around in the post or Pages entry). If the Pages database you are importing to has record images enabled, you can optionally import the enclosure as a record image which some template sets can use as a header image, just as our blog here does. But what about exporting enclosures? Happily, Invision Community 4.5 can now export the main content image of an item as an enclosure. This certainly makes the Gallery RSS feed export a lot more useful! While these updates are not revolutionary, they certainly make RSS feed importing and exporting much more useful. We've been asked to support RSS feed importing into Pages for quite a while now. What do you think of these changes? What will you import into your Pages databases?
  22. Without a doubt, clubs is one of the most popular features added to Invision Community in recent times. Invision Community clubs allows you to run sub-communities on your site. We've seen clubs used in many ways, including managing geographically local groups and clan groups for large gaming sites. This popularity drives us to keep incrementally improving the feature set for clubs, and Invision Community 4.5 is no different. One thing that was raised many times was a way for club owners and leaders to create simple pages with general information members need. Happily, in Invision Community 4.5, this feature now exists (and more!) In addition to the title and visual editor that allows full formatting of the page content, there is an additional visibility setting which allows owners and leaders to define which types of members can view the page. This is perfect for showing a page that is only visible to non-members which informs them how to join the club. Likewise, it is a great way to display moderation guidelines to the club moderators only. Of course, owners and leaders will always be able to see all pages added to a club. Additionally, once a page is added to a club, a tab will be added alongside others, and the page can be re-arranged just like the rest. Using this, owners and leaders can create an alternative unique index page for the club. default-view.mp4 This is just one of many club improvements finished for Invision Community 4.5. We'll be talking about these in a future blog!
  23. Invision Community has come a long way over the past five years. We've added many new features and invigorated the front-end user experience to keep it current and in-line with modern interfaces. One area that has remained largely the same is the Admin Control Panel. When we released Invision Community 4.0 back in 2014, the Admin Control Panel was updated but has stayed relatively dormant since. But that's all about to change with the upcoming release of Invision Community 4.5! The Admin Control Panel in 4.5 has received a substantial update, resulting in a modern color scheme and a clean, minimalistic design. We felt that a lighter, more open design allowed the content more space and to feel less crowded. The dark grays have been replaced with shades of blue and aqua which closely reflects Invision Community's new branding, while other colors have been lightened and saturated. Along with the new color scheme, the overall layout of the ACP has intentionally been kept similar to the existing version, resulting in a design that feels surprisingly familiar yet refreshingly new at the same time. We hope you've enjoyed this small sneak peek into Invision Community 4.5 and we look forward to introducing you to some more new features in the upcoming weeks!
  24. The engagement trap is a race to community activity for the sake of activity. It's usually measured by simple aggregate numbers like the total number of posts, topics, likes, or members. Many community managers and webmasters enjoy spouting engagement numbers. It's an easy number to brag about. It's an easy number to find. It's also, unfortunately, a terrible metric to measure. Engagement metrics are exhausting since you're aiming for higher-and-higher goals, which grow into unreasonable levels over time. It's misleading, because it's not indicative of information exchanges or quality resources. And it's ultimately harmful, because it encourages participation in socially-charged conversation that are ever more entertaining, more controversial, and more extreme. You don't want members to chat. You want members to learn, to advocate, to innovate, to educate, to support, to problem solve, and to enlighten. Engagement metrics are marketing numbers used to measure audience size and a currency of the attention economy where you're the product. It's an entirely wrong metric for online communities where the goal is not how big you can get, but on how you can help your members. Your Metrics & Your Strategy There's a famous management quote from Peter Drucker that says, "what gets measured gets managed." What you want to measure, and therefore manage and improve, is a reflection of your community strategy and your objectives. Here are some ideas of what you could measure: The number of questions or feedback requests that were answered in high-value boards of functional content The number of educational resources that were added to a certain category The number of new topics that were posted in a growing section The selection of special keywords or tags that you want to track The number of informative reactions that were given out in a certain period The participation of high-value experts in your community Segment Your Community Not all parts of your community should be treated equally, especially if you have a large and dynamic community with several apps and categories. Your community may have a mix of one or more of the following: Educational and functional-value boards Social and member-based forums and boards New sections that are growing Mature sections that have leveled off Different content types and reactions Different groups of members Instead of evaluating your community as one entity, segment your community. This allows you to hyper-focus your attention and grow specific areas that match with specific objectives. For example, I always measure the number of new topics in boards that are educational and informative, since they're high-value functional content. I don't pay attention to mature sections that have reached saturation, but I aggressively track new sections. Measurement & Analysis Invision Community ships with a powerful set of Statistics in the ACP that cover every application. I personally spend more time in Statistics than any other part of the ACP, because it gives me the data and research to inform my decision making. It helps me focus my attention on the sections that matter the most to my community strategy and reveals unexpected insights. The ACP won't have all of the fine-grained filtering or data reporting that you may need. Maintain your own recording, even if it needs to be manual. Conclusion Trying to boost engagement is a race that you'll never win. It has nothing to do with your community strategy; it doesn't measure the value you give and receive from your audience; and it can push you to drive empty traffic with unintended consequences. Independent communities that focus on the hard, difficult work of offering communities of indispensable value will always find growth. It will be the right kind of growth, in the right areas of your community, with the right audience. That's a race that will meaningfully empower your members and your community to the finish line. What are the most important metrics that you measure? Or are you in the engagement trap? Share in the comments below and see how other IPS clients can help. Are you looking to start a successful community powered by the statistics and content management of a modern community platform? Get in touch with IPS, Inc. for a discussion and product demo.
  25. If you're reading this blog, then it's likely you already have a community and have been running it for some time. I'm going to go further and say that you've done all the right things; you've set it up correctly and themed it, so it matches your site. Once you have built your community and watched it spring into life, it's easy to think that you have done all you need to do. However, there are three simple things that you're probably not doing that is curbing your potential growth. Promote your community No matter how well you have set up your community, if you're not regularly promoting it, then you are limiting your potential audience. Look for ways to promote your community to a new audience. If you regularly write blog posts or a newsletter for your existing customers, then make sure you write about your community and encourage people to join. If you have a presence on social media, then share links regularly. Even adding a link to your community in your existing email signature will catch a few more clicks. Get creative! One community owner I know went through Apple's rigorous verification process to post quality articles from their site to Apple's News app. Why not sign up to HARO (Help A Reporter Out). This is a free email sent daily that contains requests from reporters looking for sources to quote in articles. The email is broken up into sections so that you can find relevant stories for your niche. It's a very simple way to get quoted in other publications with a link back to your site. Think about how you can promote your community to a wider audience. Post great content Do you take the time to create great content and post it to your community regularly? By great content, I mean a piece that encourages in-depth discussion, shows that you are a leader in your niche and sets the tone for the rest of your community. With the rise of social media, we're often fed a diet of disposable content such as "Motivation Monday" which may generate likes, but it does nothing to connect with your audience. You could use the Blog app, the Pages app or post in the relevant forums within your community. Try and encourage discussion and ask them to share their thoughts and experiences too. People love to share what they do and talk about their experiences, so it shouldn't be hard to get people active on your topic. Reward contributors Way back in the dark ages, a high post count was the only badge you needed to show others that you were to be feared and respected. I still remember joining some communities in the early 2000s and was in awe of members with 10,000+ posts. In today's more sophisticated times, we need a little more to keep us involved. There are a lot of tools you can use to reward your members. The simplest is the group promotion tool which automatically moves members based on specific thresholds. You can give your members elevated permissions or special badges to show to others that they are more experienced. If you have a more active community, you could consider rewarding your most engaged users with a prize. This prize could be a free subscription, a discount code for your products or even a small Amazon gift voucher. These are just a few things that you can incorporate into your workflow to help further build your community. I'd love to hear your tips too, please share them below!
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