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Found 30 results

  1. Search. Let's be honest, it's not the most exciting feature in the world. You ask to find things, and it shows you what it found. Simple, right? It's a lot more complex than that. After numerous tests, a few surveys and many discussions with customers, we've decided that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to search. Invision Community is used on many diverse communities and each has its own needs. The bigger the community, the more of a headache search can be when you start hitting frustrating technical limitations of the database. Happily, we've addressed all of these issues with Invision Community 4.3 and added a few extra treats. Searchable Products and Pages Products in the Store and custom Pages will now show in search results. Store product in search results More Customisable Search Experience One of the most difficult challenges with search is anticipating the scope of the search. If, for example, you're looking for something you know you've seen before, you want the search to be narrow - matching only the exact terms you provide, probably only matching against the title, in the specific area you know where the content is located. If however, you're just doing a general search about a particular subject, you want the search to be wide - matching any of the terms you enter, anywhere in the community, in both titles and content. For a while, Invision Community has had the option to choose which areas to search, defaulting to the area of the community you're in (for example, if you're in a forum, only that forum will be searched by default). We also provide a number of suggestions on the search result form (in the form of "Didn't find what you were looking for? Try searching for..." followed by a number of options) which adjust the scope of the search. In Invision Community 4.3, we have a new interface for the quick search feature which makes some of these options more visible so you're more likely to find what you're looking for on the first search. New Search UI Along these lines we have also: Changed the default "Search In" selection to "Everywhere", regardless of where the user is. Added a new setting which controls whether the "Any words" or "All words" option is checked by default. Added a new setting which allows you to adjust how much of a boost results receive for a match in the title, versus the content body, when searching both content titles and body. You can set default and/or operator. New Search Settings Elasticsearch In Invision Community 4.3 we are adding native support for Elasticsearch, a third party search engine which offers a number of benefits over searching your MySQL database: Elasticsearch, being designed and indexing data in a way optimised for search rather than data storage, is generally able to match and sort by relevancy with better accuracy than MySQL. Elasticsearch is generally faster. One user performing a search doesn't slow down other users trying to read and make posts at the same time (when searching MySQL, the data has to be "locked" from changes when the search is being performed). It scales very well with very large datasets, and runs very easily on multiple servers. Elasticsearch understands language. If for example, you search for "community", it will also return results which contain the word "communities", understanding that these are the same. Supported languages are Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Brazilian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Dinnish, Drench, Galician, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Sorani, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Thai. Elasticsearch supports custom functions on the scoring algorithm. In our initial implementation this has allowed us to add settings to allow you to control the time decay (allowing newer results to show higher) and author boost (allowing content posted by the user to optionally show higher in results). Unlike with MySQL, there is no minimum query length and a very small list of stop words. Elasticsearch Settings When enabled, both searches and activity streams will be retrieved from Elasticsearch. The core_search_index database table in MySQL will no longer be populated, so you will not have to store the data twice. To use Elasticsearch, you can either install it yourself on your own server, or use any of the many excellent hosted Elasticsearch options. The minimum required Elasticsearch version is 5.5. REST API Developers and those looking to integrate Invision Community features into their own sites will be pleased to learn that we've extended the REST API to accommodate searching.
  2. Good news! We've taken Invision Community's Blog app by the scruff of the neck and dragged it into 2018! There has been a growing trend for imagery to play a very important part of a blog entry. This update reflects that. Introducing Grid View We have added a new view that shows your blog entries as cards with space for a cover photo. We've very visual creatures, and a good photograph can entice readers into your blogs to read more. As you would expect, you can disable this mode from the Admin CP for purists that prefer the traditional list format. For those who's sense of adventure runs deep, the new grid mode allows you to show a list of latest blog entries as the blog home page. This puts valuable and engaging content right in front of your audience. This list view persists when you view a blog's entries giving a consistent feel. Viewing an entry We've given the blog entry page a little make-over by featuring the cover photo above the content. The slimmed down blog details bar allows your audience to focus on the content. Default Cover Photos You may have spotted that entries without a cover photo have a rather fetching geometric pattern in different colors. This is a new micro-feature of Invision Community 4.3. Currently, if you do not have a cover photo on a blog, profile or event, the bar is a rather sad shade of black. The new default cover photo feature makes it much more cheerful. Here's what a profile looks like. Much better. Here's a few technical details for those that love to know all the things. The grid view feature can be turned off in the ACP (but doing so will make me very sad) You can choose the default home page view: Latest Entries or List of Blogs. You can still view a list of blogs when you're on the latest entries page. This choice is stored in a little cookie (GDPR friendly, it doesn't contain any identifying data) so navigating back gets you the last view you chose. Let us know what you think! We love it, and hope you do too.
  3. The best way to convert guests into members is to make the onboarding process as simple as possible. Over the years, we've added special log in methods for Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Microsoft. We've carefully hand coded these integrations to allow guests to sign up with just a few clicks using services they're already a member of. These services used to use proprietary methods to link with other websites, but a new standard has emerged. oAuth You may not know it, but you're probably familiar with OAuth already. If you have enabled the ability for users of your community to sign in with their Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn or Microsoft account, you may have noticed that the process for setting up each of these is quite similar. This is because they all use the OAuth protocol. In Invision Community 4.3, we are introducing several exciting new features: In addition to all of the existing social networks above, which retain their "easy setup" status, we have also added Instagram and Wordpress. Users on your community can now sign in with their Instagram account, and any Wordpress site you control (for Wordpress you will need to install a Wordpress plugin to enable OAuth capabilities). As well as those "easy setup" options, we have also added the ability for you to allow users on your site to sign in with any OAuth 2.0 based provider. This means, for example, if your community is based in a location where other social networks are popular, if they use OAuth, you can set those up too. While the setup is a little bit more complicated, this doesn't require any custom programming - you'll just need to find out a few more pieces of information from the provider (an example is provided below). Invision Community itself can now also serve as an OAuth 2.0 server so you can set up other sites to be able to facilitate logins using credentials from your community. This works in conjunction with our REST API, allowing you to make API calls as an authenticated member, which will return just the information that user has access to. With the ability for Invision Community to serve as both an OAuth server and client, this now provides standard integration for multiple Invision Communities together, which will now replace the old IPS Connect feature. We have also taken this opportunity to make a few other minor tweaks to login, registration and account management features, especially for communities which rely heavily on non-standard login methods (more details below). Setting Up a Custom OAuth Provider For this example, I'm going to use vk.com, which is a popular social network in Europe. While Invision Community doesn't provide this as one of the "easy setup" options, it is based on OAuth 2.0 so we can use the new functionality in Invision Community 4.3 to set it up. In older versions, the list of login handlers in the AdminCP had all of the providers listed with enable/disable toggles - because now you can add as many custom handlers as you like in 4.3, it's now a list where you can add/delete options: Login Handlers List When clicking the "Create New" button, you'll see all of the different handlers Invision Community supports. Since vk.com isn't in the list, but is still OAuth 2.0-based, I'll choose the "Other OAuth 2.0" option: Choosing a Login Handler You'll now need to use the documentation provided by the site you want to integrate with to fill out this form. While no custom programming is required, the documentation is usually quite technical in nature - but you only need a few key pieces of information. We anticipate that for some of the more popular options, guides will be provided to help you find the information you need. I have created an application in vk.com's developer center and so I will copy and paste my credentials into the form: Inputting vk.com credentials I then need to find the endpoints from vk.com's documentation and input those too. Inputting vk.com endpoints Next I need to find the endpoint where I can access the user's information within their API and the parameters they are returned by. The only required piece of information is an ID, but you can also provide the parameters for accessing the display name, email address and profile photo. If display name/email address isn't available/provided, the user will be asked for this the first time they sign in. vk.com's API doesn't provide access to the email, but I can use the screen name as the display name, and they do provide access to the photo: Inputting vk.com User Information Endpoint and response parameters Finally, provide a logo and a color for the sign in button and some final settings: Inputting vk.com Logo and Button Color And now vk.com login is set up. A button will now show up on the front end which I can use to sign in. I didn't provide a way to access the email address, so on the first sign in, the user will be prompted to provide that, but the screen name and profile photo from vk.com will be used: Signing in with vk.com Using Invision Community as an OAuth Server You can also set up Invision Community itself to be an OAuth Server. This may be useful for two main reasons: If you want to integrate two communities together, or integrate with something else which supports adding custom OAuth clients. If you are a developer and want to use the REST API using OAuth for authentication rather than an API Key. You can either make requests as an authenticated user (by obtaining an access token) or using Client Credentials. The screenshots below show the full capabilities which are quite technical and mostly aimed at developers. If you will just use this feature to link two communities, don't be concerned if it looks too complicated, an easy-to-follow guide will be available to achieve that. You will set up the clients from the AdminCP: Setting up an OAuth Client When creating the OAuth Client, you can control which scopes are available, and which endpoints of the REST API they provide access to: Defining OAuth Client Scopes The login process is then the standard OAuth flow, and users have the ability to view authorisations in the account settings: Authenticating an OAuth Client The REST API has new and updated endpoints to be aware of the authenticated user: A new REST API endpoint which returns details of the currently authenticated user An updated REST API endpoint which, when called using OAuth authentication, will only return data the authenticated user has access to Other Login System Tweaks Users can now choose if they want to change their local display name or email address if it is changed by an external login method (or the administrator can choose this behaviour). If there is an issue with this (for example, it wants to change the email to one that is already taken), or profile photo syncing, this is now better communicated to the user. You can now control per-login-handler if new registrations are allowed using it. This addresses some confusion from previous versions as to if the "Allow New Registrations" setting applies to accounts being created by social network logins. The Standard login handler can be disabled if you rely totally on an alternate login method. To allow this to happen: All areas where a user is prompted to re-enter their password (some areas of the account settings) now allow reauthentication using any login handler. You can disable local registration but still allow accounts to be created by other login handlers, or redirect users to an external URL to register an account. You can also disable or redirect to an external URL for changing email address / password or the Forgot Password tool. You can now create multiple instances of the external MySQL database and LDAP login methods which have also had some other minor tweaks: The external MySQL database handler now has PHP's password_hash() function as an available option for password encryption type, and defining a custom encryption method is now much easier, done entirely in the AdminCP without needing to modify PHP files. You can now choose if changes to the local display name / email address / password is synced back to the external database / LDAP database. You can optionally show these handlers in the Account Settings pages like other login handlers to allow users with an existing account to link their accounts. You can define a Forgot Password URL for the external database which the user will be redirected to if they try to use the Forgot Password tool and that is how their account is authenticated.
  4. Emoji: built in to Invision Community 4.3! 🎉 Invision Community has a long history. We remember the early days of forums, back when graphical "emoticons" or "smilies" were added. We have always shipped our products with a basic set of emoticons with the ability to add your own images and has supported emoji from mobile devices. Emoji has become a standard across mobile and desktop devices so it made sense to bring them to Invision Community fully. You can choose from 3 different styles of Emoji: The native style provided by the user's operating system (if you choose this option, users on different platforms will see different styles) Twitter style EmojiOne style Emoji Settings Once you have chosen one of these options, all of the available Emoji will show in the emoticons selector when making a post. Unlike in older versions, the entire list is scrollable (the categories drop down will jump you to the category rather than filter), you can search, and standard Emoji features like skin tone modifiers are fully supported, and of course, you can make them as big as you like. Navigating Emoji Skin Tone Modifier Make Emoji any size Autocompleting Short Codes In addition to using the selector, you can also use optionally enable standard :short_codes:. These will be autocompleted as you type. Autocompleting Short Codes You can also enable more conventional ASCII emoticons to be automatically replaced too: ASCII Short Codes Don't Worry: Custom Emoticons Aren't Going Anywhere! You can use custom emoticons either instead of, or even alongside Emoji. If you give your custom emoticons a text replacement starting and ending with : they will even show in the autocompletion alongside Emoji. Custom Emoticons Technical Details Whichever style you choose, Emoji is stored in the database as the actual Unicode characters, so you can even change the setting and all Emoji, even those in existing posts, will immediately change. If you choose to use the native style (so the Emoji will match the style provided by the operating system), the system will automatically detect which Emojis are supported and the selector will only try to show the ones the platform can render.
  5. One huge benefit of running your own Invision Community is the moderation tools. Out of the box, Invision Community allows you to turn members into moderators. Better still, you can define what these moderators have permission to do. Part of this moderation suite is the report system. The report system allows your members to flag posts that need a moderator's attention. There comes a time when your community is so successful that it can be a little tough to keep up with all the content and reports. Community Moderation This new feature leverages your member reports to automatically remove objectionable content from public view. You as the admin will define thresholds for the content. For example, you may say that to hide content, a post needs 5 reports. This reduces the workload for your moderators and enables you to crowd source moderation. Let's take a look at this feature in a little more detail. Reporting Content When a member reports a piece of content, they now have the option to set a type, such as "Spam" or "Offensive". These options can count towards the threshold. Once the threshold has been passed the item is hidden. The threshold can be set up by creating rules in the Admin CP. Admin Set Up At its heart of the system are the rules. You can create custom rules in the Admin CP to determine the thresholds. For example, you may decide that: A member with less than 10 posts only needs 5 reports to hide the content. But you may want to give more experienced members a higher threshold as there is more trust. You simply add a new rule: A member who joined over a year ago with over 500 posts needs 10 reports to hide content. You can do that easily with the rules system as it will scan them all and pick the one most suitable for this member. It's as simple as that. Notifications Once an item has received enough reports to match the threshold, it is automatically hidden from view. A notification is sent to all moderators who opt in for notifications. This notification shows inline in the notifications center. It can also optionally be sent via email for those who want to know without checking the site. Restoring the content Of course, a moderator may decide that the content is fine and un-hide it. Once a piece of content has been un-hidden, automatic moderation will not hide it again. Report Types Depending on your community, the default types may not be suitable or relevant. You may also want to set up other report types. You can do this via the Admin CP. Preventing Abuse Your first thought may be that a single member can report a single item multiple times to force content to be hidden. The system will only count a unique member as one point towards the threshold. This means a single member can report an item 5 times, but they are only counted once towards the threshold. You can also set a time limit between reporting the same item. This will prevent a member reporting a single item multiple times in succession. Of course, the member can delete their report if it was in error. Report Center The Report Center is the hub for all reported content. Invision Community 4.3 adds a filter to view a specific report type. The reports themselves also show the type of report. We hope that this new feature will be a huge help and time saver for you and your moderators. We'd love to hear your thoughts, please let us know what you think and if you have any questions.
  6. When I started creating communities close to two decades ago, getting new members was easy. All you had to do was put up a script, create some "Chat here" forums and email your friends. It didn't take long for word to spread and you had a healthy forum buzzing with conversation. Now, it's different. The internet is a crowded space. No matter what your niche, you will be competing with other businesses for visitors. You need a solid strategy to succeed, and I want to help you. Before you open the doors to your new community, consider the following questions. What is your vision? Your community must have a strong reason to attract visitors. Write down your community's purpose and bullet point how you will achieve it. When you configure and set up your community, keep asking yourself "does this fit my vision". For example. Consider a fitness professional who is launching a community. The vision is to educate your audience on good nutrition and exercise. You then have subscription based packages for one-to-one coaching. This is a very focused vision. You will create one or two forums for the public areas. You will leverage clubs for the paid memberships. You wouldn't create forums for non-fitness areas such as technology or movies. You will strip the complexity back to encourage interaction as your target market may not be very technical. What is your voice? You will lead your community and set the tone. If you are handling investment portfolios then you will want the tone to be friendly, but professional. If you are creating a forum for marathon runners, you'd want to use a lot of running "lingo" and be informal and fun. Consider your target audience. Think about how they would like to be treated. How would they like your interactions to be? Once you have found your voice, keep it consistent. Your members will follow your lead and keep your community positive. How are you going to onboard new members? If you want people to join in with your new community, you need to hold their hand and show them why they are important to you. They will want to feel comfortable and valued in your community. When you are starting out, take the time to welcome each new member and point them to any welcome guides you may have. You can create and pin a topic that explains how to get started. When a new member joins, link them to that topic. You should also use profile completion to politely enforce the use of a user photo. A photo personalises a user's profile and reminds that you are speaking to a human! Remind them to set up email notifications so they won't miss any exciting updates or new topics. What is your promotion strategy? No matter how great your content is, it needs promoting. There are several great ways to do this. You can create a monthly email sent to all members. You can outline any important topics or articles. You can list upcoming events. You can promote your articles to Facebook and Twitter. Make the headlines interesting to encourage clicks into your content. By driving traffic back to your site, you will increase your membership. How often are you going to contribute to your own community? In the early days of your new community, you will have to be very active. You will want to welcome new members and keep conversations alive. You will be creating new conversations for others to contribute in. You must budget time for this and be consistent. Show up every day. I recommend setting aside two blocks of 30 minutes each day. Use that time to reply to any new topics and to kick off a few of your own. Visit early in the morning, and again in the evening. How are you going to reward active members? Once you community gets going, some individuals will stand out as leaders. These leaders are well respected and encourage others to take part. Create a special member group with better privileges such as increased storage space, or the ability to create post signatures. Give them a special badge and member title. It will show that you respect and appreciate their contributions. Having a small number of community leaders will save you time. They will always have their fingers on the pulse and can feedback any issues before they develop into something serious. Are you going to funnel discussion into your community? Your community is one part of your site. If you have pages and articles up elsewhere, I recommend you encourage posting in the forums. At the end of each article, link to a related forum and ask for their thoughts. People love sharing their thoughts and opinions. Summary Taking the time to create a strategy will pay dividends later. Getting into a professional and focused mindset will make you stand out from the crowd. Knowing the exact purpose of your community and how to execute it is key for success. Thinking about the questions posed above is a great start. It should make you think about your target audience and how to serve them. It may even create more questions. I'd love to help you answer them. Let me know what your plans are for your community.
  7. We are happy to announce the new Invision Community 4.3 is nearly available! Here is the list of what's new and we will follow up with individual blog entries going into detail about each new feature every couple days over the next few weeks. There will be a public preview in late January and we should go to public beta soon after that. Keep an eye on our blog for updates! Some highlights in Invision Community 4.3 include... Improved Search We now support Elasticsearch for scalable and accurate searching that MySQL alone cannot provided. There are also enhancements to the overall search interfaces based on your feedback. Emoji Express yourself with native emoji support in all editors. You can also keep your custom emoticons as you have now. Member Management The AdminCP interface to manage your members is all new allowing you easier control and management of your membership. Automatic Community Moderation You as the administrator set up rules to define how many unique member reports a piece of content needs to receive before it's automatically hidden from view and moderators notified. Clubs The new Clubs feature has been a huge hit with Invision Community users and we are expanding it to include invite-only options, notifications, exposure on the main community pages, paid memberships, and more. Custom Email Footers Your community generates a lot of email and you can now include dynamic content in the footer to help drive engagement and content discovery. New Gallery Interface We have reworked our Gallery system with a simplified upload process and more streamlined image viewing. The full list follows. Enjoy! Content Discovery We now support Elasticsearch which is a search utility that allows for much faster and more reliable searching. The REST API now supports search functions. Both MySQL and Elasticsearch have new settings for the admin to use to set search-defaults and default content weighting to better customize search logic to your community. Visitors can now search for Content Pages and Commerce Products. When entering a search term, members now see a more clear interface so they know what areas they are searching in and the method of search. Member Engagement Commerce can now send a customizable account welcome email after checkout. You can whitelist emails in the spam service to stop false-positives. REST API has many enhancements to mange members. Ability to join any OAuth service for login management. Invision Community can now be an OAuth endpoint. Wordpress OAuth login method built in. Support for Google's Invisible ReCaptcha. Groups can be excluded from Leaderboard (such as admins or bot groups). All emails generated by Invision Community can now contain admin-defined extra promotional text in the footer such as recent topics, Our Picks, and more. Admins can now define the order of Complete Your Profile to better control user experience. Clubs Option to make a Club visible but invite-only Admins can set an option so any Club a member is part of will also show in the parent application. So if you are in a Club that has a Gallery tab then those image will show both in the Club and in the main Gallery section of the community. Club members can now follow an entire Club rather than just each content section. There is a new option on the Club directory page for a list view which is useful for communities with many Clubs. If you have Commerce you can now enable paid memberships to Clubs. Admins can set limits on number of Clubs per group. If a group has delete permission in their Club, they can now delete empty containers as well. Members can ignore invitations. Moderation and Administration Unrestricted moderator or administrator permission sets in the AdminCP are visually flagged. This prevents administrator confusion when they cannot do something as they will be able to quickly see if their account has restrictions. You can choose to be notified with a new Club is created. Moderators can now reply to any content item with a hidden reply. Download screenshot/watermarks can now be rebuilt if you change settings. Support for Facebook Pixel to easily track visitors. Moderators can now delete Gallery albums. Automatic moderation tools with rules to define when content should auto-hide based on user reports. Totally new member management view in AdminCP. More areas are mass-selectable like comments and AdminCP functions for easier management. New Features Commerce now has full Stripe support including fraud tools, Apple Pay, and other Stripe features. Commerce packages can now have various custom email events configured (expiring soon, purchased, expired). Full Emojii support in the editor. Setting so when someone is typing in an editor, other members will see a "Member X is typing..." status in the editor view. Complete overhaul of the Gallery upload and image views. Announcements system overhaul. Now global on all pages (not via widget) and new modes including dismissible announcements and top-header floating bar option. Many new reports on traffic and engagement in the AdminCP. Blog has new view modes to offer options for a traditional site blog or a community multi-member blog platform. The content-starter can now leave one reply to Reviews on their item. Commerce now makes it much easier to do basic account-subscriptions when there is no product attached. Useful Improvements Forums has a new widget where you can filter by tags. If tags are not required, the tag input box now indicates this so the member knows they do not have to put in tags. Member cover photos can now be clicked to see the full image. Any item with a poll now has a symbol on the list view. Twitch.tv embed support. You can now update/overwrite media in the Pages Media Manager. Mapbox as an additional map provider to Google Maps. Technical Changes Direct support for Sparkpost has been removed. Anyone currently using Sparkpost will automatically have their settings converted to the Sparkpost SMTP mode so your email will still work. Your cache engines (like Redis) will be checked on upgrade and in the support tool to ensure they are reachable. Third-party applications will now be visually labeled to distinguish them from Invision Community official applications. The queued tasks list in the AdminCP is now collapsed by default as queued tasks are not something people need to pay much attention to during normal operations. When upgrading from version 3 series you must convert your database to UTF8 and the system saves your original data in tables prefixed with orig. The AdminCP now alerts you these are still present and allows you to remove them to reclaim storage space. On new installs there are now reasonable defaults for upload limits to keep people from eating up storage space. Categories in all apps (forums, gallery albums, databases, etc.) no longer allow HTML in their titles. This has been a concern both in terms of security and usability so we were forced to restrict it. Large improvements to the Redis cache engine including use for sessions. The login with HTTPS option has been removed and those who were using it will be given instructions to convert their entire community to HTTPS. Images loaded through the proxy system now honor image limits for normal uploads. There's a lot to talk about here so we are going to lock this entry to comments so things do not get confusing. Feel free to comment on upcoming feature-specific entries or start a topic in our Feedback forum.
  8. The Christmas lights are twinkling, the mince pies baked and the egg nog has been poured. With Christmas just around the corner, we turn our thoughts to what 2018 may bring. Marc Stridgen (Tech support and kettlebell enthusiast) I'm just looking forward to 2018 being less of a mixed year, as 2017 has been a bit of a bad one on the side of family, yet good with regards work and personal achievements. So here goes for my 2018: Looking forward to 4.3 and beyond. 4.2 I feel has been a great release for people, and will be nice to expand on the 4.x platform over the next year. Getting my wife and daughter to a happier place in life. Various things this year have meant they really haven't been. I have 3 events so far this year that I'm attending. 1 x 5k obstacle course, 1 x 10k obstacle course, and a 60 mile ride from Manchester to Blackpool. I always look forward to these, as its always a good sense of achievement when they are done, and a good excuse to get that little more in shape. Dev, dev, dev!! Whilst I am currently tier 1 support here at IPS, I'm actually a developer by trade. Currently I write .NET windows applications/services, and vast experience with TSQL. My aim this year is to update my own skillsets to web based development, and mysql. Something I have already started to do, but I'm going to be pushing myself more on over the coming year. It's fun to learn new things! (Editor: Marc is a highly skilled SQL specialist. Even Wade has been known to ask Marc for advice) Ryan Ashbrook (Developer, T3 specialist and guitar collector) My life is actually pretty boring (Editor: nope, it's not) - I don't have a whole lot planned going into 2018, though I am looking forward to my 30th birthday in March. People think I'm weird for that. I plan on getting back into music, though, as I've actually stopped playing throughout all of 2017 (aside from a few rare instances here and there), so it'll be nice to pick that up again as a healthy hobby. I also wouldn't mind traveling more, and make a return trip to New Hampshire with my friends, which I haven't done in four-ish years now. For IPS, I'm looking forward to seeing how 4.3 evolves and matures, as well as the new Community in the Cloud infrastructure. Mark Wade (Senior Developer and praise withholder) Obviously 4.3 and onwards 😜 I have some cool stuff (at least by my standards) planned, including weekends in Edinburgh and Berlin at the beginning of the year, and Country To Country Festival at the O2 in March 🤠 and, best of all... Shania Twain at the O2 in October 😂 Prides! 🏳️‍🌈 This year I only did Manchester... a terrible effort. I need to get at least 2 in in 2018 New TV seasons, especially Black Mirror and GBBO. (Editor: That's Great British Bake Off, the most British television show on the planet. People make cakes and then discuss cakes while drinking tea) Brandon Farber (Developer) For 2018 I'm most looking forward to: Watching my beautiful baby daughter grow. Even with 6 kids, the baby phase is always such a special and enjoyable time. Wrapping up some various challenges in real life that are finally coming to an end. Watching my eldest son start college in the fall (UNC most likely) Taking one big family vacation. We're hoping Disney World but we'll wait and see what's in store as the year gets going. Probably the cutest pictures you'll see today. Stuart Silvester (Developer and property mogul) I'm looking forward to 2018 being a better all around year for my close family, 2017 wasn't the best. I'm definitely looking forward to taking some more trips abroad, most like back to Italy and Madeira (Where my Wife and I spent Christmas 2016). I'm also looking forward to hopefully finding some spare time to work on other things such as renovating my home and putting my classic car back on the road. Learning new things is always useful, I've been wanting to start working on something such as an App or Node.JS (I've used it a little in the past, but not a lot), the issue however is the lack of spare time this year. Mark Higgins (Tech Support and part-time Phil) For 2018, I am hoping for an early warm Spring, then a mild Summer. Also hopeful that I can get my pop-up camper fixed so I can have a relaxing vacation in the Fall somewhere "up north" in one of our fantastic State Parks. That, and good health for me and my relatives. (Editor's Tip: if you hear banjo music, get in your car and get out of there) Jennifer Merriman (Designer and owner of the only pink avatar in chat) What do I have to look forward to in 2018? Well this one was difficult because I prefer to live pretty spontaneously. However, I thought about the things in my life that I know will transpire this year. My youngest child will turn 10 and my eldest 13... I'm terrified but excited to see them as they grow more independent. Loosening up the mom reigns by letting my kids start to do things a little more out of my control more regularly. A few million new movies like Aquaman, Jurassic World, Deadpool 2 and Incredibles 2. Otherwise just improved situations for myself and those around me. Both health and whatever else needs improved upon. Daniel Fatkic (Developer and owner of a store with sauna) 2018 is going to be a very busy year with my 3 jobs ( IPS, Dad and Handyman renovating a lot in the house) where I look forward in getting better in all 3 of them. Right now I'm working on my new home-office which will hopefully be finished soon, in spring I want to start the work on the outdoor area and create a patio and a rooftop terrace and the next winter project is the gym/spa area which won't leave much spare time or money for anything else. So what I really really look forward to is 2019 where I can then finally relax and enjoy the stuff which was built in 2018. (Editor: If you're wondering where your spare money went, look at your two LG 27" 5K monitors) Rhett Buck (Hosting expert who needs a ladder to get into his car) I'm looking forward to some time off and a trip to Texas with just the wife and I, top down, no phones, and a few days on the road to get there via Las Vegas, Arizona and a few other stops along the way. Spending a few days with friends relaxing watching MotoGP in Austin Texas, then a few days of relaxing on the open road on the way home. We had planned to go last year, but due to nasty weather, torrential rains, and flooding locally, we were displaced for a couple weeks which ruined our plans. Andy Millne (Developer and international man of mystery) Continued learning mostly. I’m looking forward to further improving my basic Italian language knowledge that I started taking a lot more seriously (It’s not just about waving your arms around). I would also like to fit in some more travel and to visit some old friends I haven’t seen in a while. There’s still so much of the world left to see though! Where to start? On an IPS related theme, I’m of course looking forward to 4.3 and seeing new features we’ve been working on released into the wild, and the stuff that hasn’t even been dreamt of yet. Matt Mecham (Senior Developer, social media stuff and object of ridicule) I'm really looking forward to 2018, personally and professionally. I'm really excited about launching Invision Community 4.3 which is shaping up to build on the great foundation that 4.2 built and add some cool functionality. (Editor: yes, that's enough of the sales pitch, people want to read about the team). As a dad of two, I enjoy watching my kids grow. My nine year old is becoming more independent and my two year old is getting more confident with speech. I love watching them grow up. We've also booked to take them to Disneyland in Paris in April which we're all looking forward to. Disneyland Paris. Like the ones in America but colder and nearer to the UK. We would love to hear what you're looking forward to in 2018. Let us know in the comments below!
  9. Ips News 4.x

    As we make our final commits, merge in the last of our branches and wait for Charles to move more tasks to the development list, we pause to reflect on our year together as a company. Pour some egg nog, grab some snacks and lets take a look at our journey this year. Our year in numbers In 2017 we made 72 Invision Community releases, 6584 code commits, read 157,203 customer replies and made an average of 177 staff replies to tickets per day. Our year in dates We were certainly busy this year. We launched Invision Community 4.2, started work on Invision Community 4.3, started two new blog series and a newsletter. Lets take a look at the key dates. March 10th We started talking about our upcoming release, Invision Community 4.2 which saw us drop "Invision Power Services" in favour of the sleeker and less awkward "Invision Community". March 28 - 30th During our series of blogs on 4.2, we launch a triple whammy of blog entries outlining reactions, clubs and social media promotions. Three new tent-pole features that drove 4.2 to be our most successful release. July 19th We release Invision Community 4.2 to deafening applause (most of it was our own, but it still counts). We give the development team a 15 minute break and then drop the 4.3 task list internally. September 15th We start a new blog series "Team Talk". The idea is to show that we're not a bunch of code writing robots, but we're real people with personalities, hopes and dreams. So far, it's proved that we're mostly a bunch of code writing robots without personalities. The irony. October 18th Not content to just talk about silly things in Team Talk, we launched our new long form blog series "Community Management". Here we give our many years of community building insight to help you become successful in running your communities. We've tackled a number of subjects from SEO to security so far with many more planned for 2018. October 30th Our development team have been busy working on Invision Community 4.3 and we announce it to the world. And being the huge tease we are, we've said nothing since. Rest assured, we've got a lot done and its shaping up to be another great release. We'll be talking about it in more detail next year. It's all about you Of course, we couldn't finish without saying a massive THANK YOU to all our customers. We are so lucky to do something we love for a living and that is only possible because you choose to use us to build your community. We are committed to keep moving forward to ensure that we serve you in the best way possible. We'll keep innovating to give you the tools you need to succeed and we'll keep posting blogs packed full of tips and advice. Here's to 2018 and all the adventures it brings.
  10. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation (EU 2016/679) that is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for EU residents from 25th May 2018. How can Invision Community help? While Invision Community enables you to collect and store information, it's important to note that you as the site owner are the data controller. If your site is hosted in the EU, then we recommend that you research your responsibilities. We have introduced several new tools in Invision Community 4.2.7 to help you with compliance, and we'll run through them and the relevant sections of the regulation in this blog. Individual Rights (More information) Right to be informed Invision Community has an area for you to edit your own privacy policy. This is found in the Admin CP > Settings > Terms & Privacy Policy. Guidance on what the policy should contain can be found here. Right to erasure (More information) Invision Community allows you to delete a member from the Admin CP. If the member has left posts or comments on your community, you can elect to delete the content, or keep it but remove the author's details thereby making the content anonymous. Lawful bases for processing (More information) Consent (More information) Invision Community now features a setting to not automatically opt in to administrator emails such as those sent by the bulk email system often used for newsletters when registering a new account on your community. This feature is found in the ACP > Members > Registration Settings Part of the consent regulation is to record when consent was given. The consent to opt-in for administrator emails such as bulk emails sent via the Admin CP is recorded at registration, and each time they change the setting. This record can be found in the member history log when viewing a member in the Admin CP. If you change the Terms & Conditions, or the Privacy Policy, you can request that members accept these changes when they next log in thus giving their consent for those changes. Cookies (More information) Invision Community stores a small amount of data in cookies. These are used to authorize you when you re-visit a community. Other cookies are used to provide a service at the user's request, such as changing a theme or using Commerce's cart. We have added additional features for Invision Community 4.2.7 to permit acknolwedgement that cookies will be set, and a brief page outlining the types of cookies that are set. Invision Community has a feature that shows a small message to new visitors to the community. This is found in the Admin CP > Terms & Privacy Policy page. We have pre-configured a cookie acknowledgement message using the short-tags {cookies}. This will display as follows: This links to a new page showing brief information about the types of cookies that Invision Community stores. Although at the time of writing this blog entry, the regulation states that there is no exact information that you need to show on the cookie page, you can edit it to add more detail if you wish. Summary We hope these new tools available with Invision Community 4.2.7 make it easier for you to seek compliance with GDPR if you choose to do so. It's worth pointing out that we are awesome at making community software and know a huge amount about making communities successful, but we are not experts in EU regulation. We offer this blog entry as a way to assist you in seeking compliance but you must do your own research and are responsible for your own community. Invision Community 4.2.7 is currently in beta testing. We're aiming to release it early next week. We hope this is a good starting point for you!
  11. Matt was recently invited onto the Community Signal Podcast, where he spoke with host Patrick O'Keefe. Everything from how Matt got started with online communities right up to the possibility of a post Facebook era was covered in their 45 minute chat. Matt also gives a little insight into how Invision Community works behind the scenes. From Community Signal: Check out the podcast now!
  12. Despite your best efforts, is engagement a problem for your community? You have your site promotion running well and you are seeing plenty of traffic but it doesn't convert into comments, posts or reactions? Invision Community is a powerful platform that offers layers of complexity for the many sites it powers. When you are struggling to convert page views into comments, it's worth taking a step back and evaluating your site from a new user's point of view. We'll take you through our 6 best tips to simplify your site and increase engagement using built in tools. #1 Use Social Sign In with at least Facebook and Twitter enabled. Social sign in makes it easy for causal visitors to become content contributors by creating an account. Social sign in removes the complex registration form that may put some off. It's a fact that most people visiting your site will have either a Facebook account or a Twitter account. Use that to your advantage! #2 Use Profile Completion One of the biggest reasons sites fail to convert visitors into members is because of large or complex forms. If you have many required profile fields, your potential member is likely to abandon the form. Use the Profile Completion system with fewer fields where possible for a simpler registration form. The Profile Completion system allows new members to complete their profile in their own time. Of course, you can still enforce vital fields before members can contribute. #3 Use Fluid View Traditional forums can be a little daunting to site visitors used to Facebook. The top down categorisation is a strength for separating conversations. Yet, it can be confusing for a first time visitor to navigate. Fluid view breaks down these boundaries by presenting your conversations in one simple list. By removing the need to jump between forum containers, new visitors are encourage to keep diving deeper into your conversations. An engaged visitor is more likely to contribute. #4 Keep your forum structure simple Even with fluid view enabled, complex forum structures can confuse. Consider a brand new forum with a hundred different conversation areas. Would a new user know where to go and post? Would they be put off thinking they are posting in the wrong area? The best advice is always start off with as few forum containers as possible and increase them as your community grows. #5 Use Reactions One of the simplest ways to increase engagement is to turn on Reactions. Reactions allow other members to leave feedback on a post in a few clicks. The default reactions allow one to like, give thanks, express confusion, sadness or happiness. You can add your own reactions to tailor the platform to your niche and personality. Non-verbal engagement is important for your active posters. If they receive reactions to their posts, they are more likely to reply more and return often to see what feedback they have received. #6 Use the Sign In/Sign Up widget A very simple way to increase visitor to member conversion is to just ask them to register. Invision Community ships with a drag and drop widget that you can use to outline what your site is about and encourage registration. In one very simple but prominent box, you can see what the site is about and how to join in. Summary New and existing communities should take a moment to see their site through a new visitor's eyes. Consider how easy your structure is to navigate and how many barriers to registration there are. You can streamline both registration and conversation presentation with our built in tools. The key to increasing engagement is to make it a simple as possible to join your community. Make sure your barriers or entry are set low. Not using Invision Community? We can convert you from other platforms preserving your data. Our migration page has more information on the platforms we can convert you from.
  13. Ips News 4.x

    It's hard to believe that we're close to wrapping up 2017 already. It seems like only yesterday we were putting the finishing touches to Clubs, Fluid View, Profile Completion and all the other new features added this year. We're not resting though, Invision Community 4.3 is well underway and we'll be releasing news of its new features soon. Our developers have been busy squashing bugs and release Invision Community 4.2.6. Regular visitors to our own community may have noticed that we've been running several search tests to improve the results search brings. Our latest community articles continue to be well received. This month's highlights are: In team talk we post a simple question that proved hard to answer. As always, we'd love to hear what you think of our articles. If there's anything you'd like covered, just let us know below! Thanks!
  14. Ips News 4.x

    It's that time of year again! Have you been thinking about starting your Invision Community? Or perhaps you're currently using another service and want to take advantage of our modern, mobile ready and social media equipped platform? This has been a great year for Invision Community. We've added many new features including Clubs, Fluid View, Profile Completion and more. We've been adding useful articles such as the benefits of owning your own community versus a Facebook Group, how to optimize your community's SEO, and how to stop spam. And we're already working on our next major release due out early 2018. To celebrate, we have two new coupon codes for you! 20% OFF ALL CLOUD PACKAGES Start with Invision Community today with our hassle free cloud packages. There's nothing to upload and nothing to install. You don't need to know your FTP from your MySQL. We do all that for you! Use coupon code during checkout: CICBF2017 15% OFF SELF HOSTED LICENSES Prefer to manage your own hosting? No problem. Grab your downloadable license today. Use coupon code during checkout: SHBF2017 The small print These coupons are valid from today right through to midnight Monday 27th November (EST). Note, the self hosted coupon is not valid for renewals. Thanks and happy shopping!
  15. This month we ask a very simple question that got our team thinking hard. “If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?” Now, this doesn't assume that there is a disaster, so you don't need to think about things like food and water. It also doesn't need to include humans or pets. This is also not a "Desert Island" question so survival tools are not required. This got us really thinking about what material possessions are important to us. It also made us realise how much technology has made a lot of things redundant. We might have said "CD collection and my favourite books" ten years ago, but with a phone, that's no longer the case as so much is handled on the device. Ryan (Developer & Guitar showroom owner) In terms of just packing up and moving on, I actually don't own a lot that I would consider critical / prized / irreplaceable. My dad's 50 year old acoustic guitar is all I would take with me, as it's the only thing that *isn't* directly replaceable. Maybe include iMac and iPhone to have some sort of connection to the outside world at all times, but I really don't need anything else I own. Brandon (Developer & Jet ski owner) I guess if I were to pick five things I couldn't live without I'd have to narrow down the list to my phone, my wallet, my TV (I unwind by zoning out on movies or home repair shows), my car (I can't walk to anything but the ICW here which wouldn't do me much good), and coffee (with International Delights Cold Stone Creamery creamer). Brandon neglected to mention that he owns a Jet Ski Marc S (Support technician & cycle injury enthusiast) Top 5 is hard, and makes you realise that despite living in a world of material possession, we actually rely on very few things. Albeit tending to be expensive things. So here goes. Mobile Phone - Despite the calls (which I could do without), and facebook (which I probably should do without), I have a problem with sleeping. For years now I have been using the audible app on my phone to listen to audiobooks. Usually factual stuff, so it doesnt really matter if I lose position. It helps me with my sleep, and therefore my sanity. Computer - This isn't just because I work on one. I tend to spend a lot of hours at it, even when I am not working. Whilst I do support here at IPS, I do a lot of development in my spare time, on my own projects, and quiet enjoy it. Currently working on an app for my brother which tracks horse racing points for a game that he runs, which is just something a bit different to do of an evening. Kettlebells - I'm trying to get a little fitter than I am at the moment. I spent a long time being a very unfit person, and sitting at a computer 24/7. Never a good thing to do, and it eventually starts to catch up with your wasteline (honestly. You in your 20s reading this, it does!). I joined a gym before I moved house, and got quite into working out with kettlebells, so when I moved, I bought some to use myself. I now have a PT who creates sessions for me each week. We're unsure who took the photo Bike - Whilst I havent used it half as much as I would like lately, I trained for, and completed, a 100 mile bike ride earlier this year, along with a few friends, including Andy Milne. This made be realise just how much I enjoy riding a bike. To the degree we're now planning our next bike challenge. Kettle - I'm pretty sure I would die without coffee. There is little else to say about that! Andy (Developer and Support technician) I realise I have far too much clutter in my life answering this question but I managed to come up with 4 things; Running Shoes Bike Watch Laptop Andy finishing the Reykjavik marathon, 19 August 2017 I’m going to make a conscious effort to be a bit more minimalist now and switch to a standing desk and a Paleo diet or go barefoot or whatever other healthy lifestyle choice @Matt recommends this week. Mark W (The Senior Developer) To answer this question I opened up my travel checklist - having taken off the things you said are excluded like clothes and toiletries, the only thing I have is my meditation stool, my laptop, my iPad, my phone, and my watch... so I guess that's my 5! Matt (Developer and object of ridicule) It's a hard one to answer. Years ago, before the internet, I could have listed many things but digital devices and "The Cloud" replaces so much. Here's my five. Macbook Pro. This is my daily work machine and uses iCloud to sync up my work and personal items like photos, etc. I'd have this packed first. iPhone. It's never far from my hands and with Netflix, Amazon, Audible, iTunes and Kindle contains books, music, favourite TV shows and more. I use Audible most nights to help me switch off and get to sleep. Sleepphones. I like to look really cool while sleeping, so a grey fleece headband is a must. Fortunately, they also double as bluetooth headphones designed to not dig into your ears while you sleep. I couldn't be without these. Air Pods. Yes, another pair of headphones. But these little beauties fit in my pocket and I use them when out and about. The lack of cable is a real plus although they're easy to lose. Concept 2 Rower: Ok, so it's not really going to fit in my hand luggage but I thought about which bit of fitness equipment I'd keep. It's a tough one between kettlebells, weights, the treadmill and the rower but I think the rower wins as it can be used many ways for a good workout. Mark H (Support Technician and part-time Phil) Macbook, iPhone, E-cig, suspenders, and my .357 Magnum. (Editors note: I'm genuinely not sure if this is a joke answer or not but didn't like to ask. Either way it's the best list of things I've ever seen.) Daniel (Support Technician and Developer) My five are: Phone, watch, laptop and 1000kg of headache medicine. That's it, i don't need a fifth item since it's only about "stuff" and not family. (Editors note: I'm hoping that 1000kg is just a guess. I'm starting to regret asking this question.) Jennifer (Designer) Computer - This is my work, play, entertainment, and more device. Plus it's a beast. Mobile Phone - When I'm not on my PC I'm on my phone. It keeps me connected to my communities when I'm out. Plus Zombies, Run is on it. High heels - If I had to choose a specific pair it would one of these two. Bed - It is wonderful and has all of my blankets. I couldn't live without my blankets. Dix It - Because I really couldn't think of another thing and this game is hilarious and fun. This really got us thinking about what is important to us and how much "stuff" we have. What would your five things be?
  16. We all know what a pain spam can be. We deal with it daily in our inboxes often relying on clever software to filter it out for us. Even worse, some spam is so well disguised that it can fool you into thinking it is a genuine message. You've put in the hard work with your community. You've used the built in social promotion tools and SEO features to get it noticed. Now that it's indexing well with Google, you've become a target. Invision Community has several tools in its arsenal to deal with spam leaving you free to concentrate on your members and content. We'll take a look at these tools in more detail. First, it's important to know that there are two main types of spam. Computer generated and human generated. Computer generated spam is malicious software that throws millions of messages out and hopes some sticks to high profile communities. Human generated spam is more pernicious as it can often bypass automated measures. Human spammers often register accounts and post as members on your community. This leaves you free to concentrate on your content and less time deleting posts and members! The first line of defense Invision Community comes equipped with Spam Defense. This is free with all cloud and licensed plans. Spam Defense harnesses the combined knowledge of thousands of Invision Communities. It will assess the potential threat of each new user and stop them before they can cause any problems. To date, Spam Defense has blocked over 3,000,000 spam accounts. Spam Defense works by evaluating the registering member against its database. It will score the account from 1 (not a spammer) to 4 (a known spammer) allowing you to decide what to do with each level. If a spammer gets past the Spam Defense, flag them as a spammer using the built in tools. This will clear up all their posts in a single action and report back to Spam Defense that this account has spammed your site. These community led reports allow Spam Defense to learn and adapt. Preventing spammers from registering The CAPTCHA ("Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart") is a well tested and robust method to defeat computerised spammers. It is usually a small widget on a sign up form that asks you to re-enter words shown in an image. Invision Community supports Recaptcha2 by Google, meaning that in most cases your users don't even have to type in random letters. Instead, Google algorithms determine if the user is human or otherwise. Invision Community supports KeyCaptcha. This requires guests to solve a simple problem before they can contribute. The Question and Answer challenge works on its own or in conjunction with a CAPTCHA. This system allows you to create simple question and answer challenges unique to your community. As these answers are unique, computerized spammers cannot solve them. Also, human spammers not knowledable with your niche are often unable to solve them too. While the above are great for reducing the number of computerized spammers, we need to be especially clever to weed out human spammers. Dealing with human spammers Smart configuration of your community will also help in defeating spammers. Invision Community supports posting without registering. This feature allows for fast engagement but use it with caution. It works best if you only allow it for specific forums. Invision Community's membership promotion system also has tools which you can leverage. To make your site less appealing to human spammers, you can configure two membership groups. Let us look at an example which uses "New Members" and "Members". "New Members" is the default group for new registrations. In this group you can remove the ability to add a signature to each post. Often spammers use signatures to earn referrals on links. You can also define a limit for posts per day. This will throttle the number of spam posts a member can make. Now that you have your "New Members" group set up to build trust, you can promote them using Group Promotions. A good strategy is to promote them to "Members" when they have reached a certain level of reputation. This shows that they have become a trusted member of the community. You may wish to promote them a week after joining knowing that spammers usually leave after a day or so. There are many different criteria you can use allowing you to tailor it for your own needs. Summary Dealing with spam is a reality for every successful community. Invision Community has several features to mitigate its impact. Through leveraging its built in tools to smart configuration, you can make your community a fortress against spam. In addition, our exclusive Spam Defense system grows and learns every day stopping spammers from registering. To learn how to configure Invision Community's spam prevention tools, please see our help guide. Not using Invision Community? We can convert you from other platforms preserving your data. Our migration page has more information on the platforms we can convert you from.
  17. Unlike a regular website, where you write content for each page, target keywords and optimize text, a forum community's content is predominantly written by users. They don't know or care about your site's SEO and just want to interact with other users or find answers to their questions. To keep your community moving forward, Invision Community implements many best-practice SEO techniques and approaches for you automatically, without you needing to lift a finger. Even still, there are a few additional steps you can take to potentially help your site rank better. How Invision Community helps you automatically Invision Community does a lot of automatic SEO for you behind the scenes to help your site rank better or to help search engines understand your content. Some of those include: Sitemap generation A sitemap file helps search engines to locate pages within your site. This helps search engines find pages so they will be crawled quicker. Invision Community automatically generates a sitemap for you that points to all of your content URLs, and submits it to Google. JSON-LD Another way a site can help search engines is by providing metadata about a page. For example, if the page contains a review, additional data can be supplied to the search engine with rating count, average, and so on. There are dozens of items that can be described in this way, and doing so can mean your results in search engines display this additional data. This makes results more useful to users, potentially leading them to click on your result versus another. It can also help search engines understand your content better. Canonical URLs Search engines can penalize your site in situations where the same content can have multiple URLs. With software that generates pages dynamically, such as a community, this can happen frequently because there are URLs to get the last read post, the latest post, the first post and so on, all ultimately pointing to the same topic page. Invision Community takes care of this for you by setting a canonical URL for every page, telling the search engine which is the definitive URL it should use. Semantic markup The HTML markup used to generate a page is possibly the most important factor impacting SEO. Each HTML tag has a specific meaning (e.g. H1 is an important title) and allows search engines to determine the structure of the page. It's therefore important that tags are used correctly and in the appropriate context - known as semantic markup. Invision Community has been built with semantic markup principles in mind right from the start. Responsive theme Google has been transitioning to a mobile-first approach when crawling sites and it's likely this does or will factor into its PageRank system. Now more than ever it is important that your community offers a genuine mobile experience. Invision Community achieves this by supporting responsiveness - where the theme adapts depending on size of the screen being used - by default. What you can do to improve ranking Let search engines see your content One of the most important things you can do to help with SEO might seem obvious, but we've seen many people unwittingly neglect it: ensure that search engines can see your content! It's tempting to lock down your community so that users have to log in before being able to see your content, and for some communities this might be necessary. However, a search engine can only see content accessible to guests, and so by locking your community down a search engine won't be able to see very much at all, and your pages won't show in search results. Wherever possible, we suggest allowing guests to read your content, though you can require registration to reply. Enable HTTPS Even ignoring SEO this is a good idea, because it's more secure for your users and browsers are increasingly alerting users about sites that don't use HTTPS, showing them as insecure. In terms of SEO, research has shown a correlation between between sites using HTTPS and their ranking position, and in 2014 Google indicated that HTTPS would be a “ranking signal” going forward. Given the other benefits of HTTPS, it would therefore be wise to enable it across your community. Ensure your site loads fast A fast-loading site is very important for rankings, and so you should do what you can to keep your community running quickly. This includes: Enable guest caching Invision Community includes a built-in caching system for pages viewed by guests, ensuring they don't have to be re-generated for every page view. This can greatly speed up your site for guest users and therefore search engines. This is automatically configured on our Cloud services. Don't go overboard with plugins A few good plugins can set your community apart from others, but going overboard can significantly slow down your load times or clutter your interface. Be wary of image-heavy themes As with plugins, a great theme is a good thing to have, but try to avoid one with extensive use of very large images. Choose a good host Some website hosts are slower than others, so ensuring your host is up to scratch is important. Of course our Cloud services are a great solution here! Use 301 Redirects if migrating If you're migrating from another community platform, your page URLs will change to reflect Invision Community's architecture. You can greatly improve SEO retention by using special redirects (known as 301 Redirects) to send users from your old URLs to the new. Search engines understand this method and will update their records. We include redirects in our free migration packages to help you retain your SEO standings after migrating to Invision Community. Write relevant content If your site targets a particular niche, you may see benefit in writing longer-form content as articles on a site blog. This kind of content ranks well and allows you to ensure keywords are used (versus content posted by members, which can be anything). You can also encourage further discussion of the article in the wider community, amplifying its benefit. For a site news page/blog, our Pages app can be used to build an articles section for this purpose. Use social media profiles to your benefit You should register social media profiles for your site on the popular platforms and make them a part of your presence. These sites rank very highly of course, and so if your social profiles can also rank highly for your name, they can be a good way of directing traffic to your site. Use the ‘About' section of the profile to write an interesting blurb about what your site offers. Create eye-catching header images and profile photos to use on the profiles too. Cross-link each social profile to the others (and back to your site, of course). Finally, link to your social profiles from your site too. Invision Community allows you to easily do this and insert icons in your header or footer. Beyond that, you can also use social media to your advantage by cross-linking some of your best content to it. We'll go into more detail on how best to leverage social media in a future article, but the new Promote functionality in Invision Community is a great way of achieving this. Summing Up As always, content is king when it comes to ranking, and that should be your most important focus. Fostering a vibrant community that creates and shares interesting content is key. You can then use SEO methods boosted by Invision Community features to expand your community's reach in search engines. If you have any SEO tips that have helped your site, we'd love to hear them. Share them in the comments below!
  18. Whether you run an existing community or are taking tentative first steps into setting up an online community forum around your brand, an important choice you need to make is between social networks like Facebook or having a community you own and control. Let's take a look at the benefits of an owned community versus a Facebook group - as well as how you can still use Facebook (and other social media platforms) to your advantage. You own your data The biggest point to consider when using Facebook groups is that you do not own your own data. Facebook owns it and does not even allow you direct access to it. If you decide later to move to a different platform, need to run reports to extract meaningful insights, or otherwise work with your community data: you are out of luck. In contrast, with an Invision Community, your data is your data. You can use it in any way that makes sense for your goals; be it analyzing trends, sending promotions to users, or generating reports and statistics. We never hold your data hostage and there's no fee to get it. Beyond owning the data, you also control how it's used and presented. Facebook is notorious for changing algorithms for when (or even if) people see your posts. When you run your own community the experience for your and your users is in your control. Branding opportunities This is a big one. An owned community gives you the tools you need to make your community a seamless part of your user's interaction with your business. This naturally includes your brand styles (your logo, colors, site navigation and so on) but also your community web address (URL). With an owned community, your URL will be easy to find - customers normally opt for something like forum.yourname.com or community.yourname.com. Users will have more confidence that they're in the right place, and more closely associate your community and your message with your brand. Emails sent out by your owned community can also carry your branding, consistently reinforcing that connection between your business and your community. And, of course, when users share content from your community to Facebook and other social networks, they're sending users directly to your website where you have the opportunity to lead with your most important call to actions. More control over user experience All Facebook groups are, essentially, the same experience and yet your business needs almost certainly aren't the same as every other. One size doesn't necessarily fit all when it comes to community! When you control your own community, you have the ability to control your user's experience. Need to show specific types of data in specific places? You can do that (and more) with Invision Community's easy to use Blocks feature. Need to create a custom community application to serve as a resource center for product support? You can do that too. Another huge benefit of this control is that, unlike a Facebook Group, users won't be seeing ads and 'recommended content' from competing businesses and communities. With user attention being pulled in so many directions these days, the last thing your community needs is for users to leave because Facebook has suggested a competitor! No barriers to monetization Not all communities require a monetization strategy. In many cases, the community is part of a larger customer relationship strategy rather than a revenue-generating destination in its own right. But for those communities that do plan to monetize, options with a Facebook group are at best difficult to act upon, and at worst practically non-existent. In contrast, Invision Community gives you the opportunity to explore monetization strategies that work for you. These might include paid subscription plans (a particularly attractive option for fan club communities), traditional advertising through Google AdSense and other networks, or sponsorship deals with other businesses that might be relevant to your members. Invision Community has tools for each of these approaches built in, allowing you to start monetizing with minimum fuss. Fine-grained permission controls Facebook groups struggle to reflect the real-world roles that staff members play in your organization, limiting your choices to 'administrator' or 'moderator'. And the same is true of users, too - your options for recognizing different levels of user (such as VIPs, or brand ambassadors) are limited. Invision Community is different. Since you are creating and configuring each member group, you can precisely control who can see what, and how they are recognized within the community. You can even sync these roles via Single Sign-On (SSO) making setup and assigning users to groups painless. For staff groups, you can limit access to key community functions based on roles or responsibilities, ensuring access is granted on an as-needed basis only. For users, you can get creative and find a group structure that works best for your specific needs. For example, support communities often find that recognizing the most knowledgeable and helpful members with a new member group (complete with elevated permissions) is a great way of engaging users. And finally, with this control over access, it's very easy to create restricted areas of the community. Whether you want to create a private subforum that staff can use to coordinate tasks or a file repository that's only available to subscribers, Invision Community can achieve it. You can still reap the Facebook benefits Setting up your community within Facebook's walls might not be the best approach for you. That doesn't mean you should ignore Facebook, however. On the contrary, it's an influential platform and there's a very good chance your users are already using it. Invision Community offers a number of tools that allow you to benefit from Facebook while avoiding the drawbacks we discussed. We'll go into more detail on utilizing social media in a future article, but to summarize: Invision Community features social sign-in options, enabling users to register and log in using their existing social media accounts, substantially reducing onboarding friction. Content can promoted by staff back to your social network pages, automatically and on a schedule you decide. Invision Community supports automatic embedding of a wide number of social networks (and other services), allowing users to share their favorite Facebook and Twitter posts and spark a whole new conversation - but this time in your community. Summary When you are creating an online community for your business or hobby it is important to think about your goals and future growth by choosing a platform that is there to work for your needs. When you establish your community on Facebook, you're helping to grow someone else's business (including, potentially, your competitors!) and hoping that some of those spoils fall to you. With an owned community, the rewards of your hard work belong to you and your business alone. Invision Community has been enabling users and businesses to communicate online since 2002, and we're proud of our reputation as a platform that puts control in your hands. Contact us if you'd like to discuss how we can help you too.
  19. Our recent release of Invision Community 4.2 was the most well-received version ever! The feedback we received on new features like Clubs, Reactions, and Promotes was better than we could have hoped and we really enjoyed seeing all the creative uses as people implemented them on their own communities. We have been hard at work on version 4.3 with a goal of improving on all the great new features. It is well under way and we are happy to able to start announcing what's new over the next few weeks. Invision Community 4.3 will not only contain new features but also have a core focus on refinement from 4.2's new features. You will see many improvements to Clubs, new integration options, large application improvements, new promotional features, and more changes large and small. You can expect to see news posts about new features and changes very soon with a release date in early 2018. Follow our news section or subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates.
  20. Whatever the purpose of a community - be it customer support, fan engagement, interest-based groups and so on - there's usually a need for site staff to communicate important information to users. Of course, in some cases this information is best suited to a site announcement, which by design has a lot of visibility and authority. But it's important that day to day staff posts stand out too. As we'll discuss in future articles, a key part of engagement is that users see your organization's team interacting with the community. In many cases, users will expect and appreciate acknowledgement from your community team, and by highlighting those responses you can add a visible stamp of authority. Invision Community has a few different tools to help you highlight staff posts, so let's take a look at them in more detail. Group badges With group badges you can upload a small image that is shown beside a user's posts. It's shown alongside the user's group name, so you don't need to repeat that text. Each group can have a different badge, perfect for communities that structure their staff groups based on role type. It's common to color-code group badges for easier identification - support as green, product development as blue, and so on (and you may want to coordinate these colors with the prefix and suffix you use, which we cover later in this article). It's not just staff groups that can have badges, either; your regular member groups can too. However, a word of caution! If every group has a badge, they may lose their distinctiveness. We recommend reserving group badges for those groups you specifically want to draw attention to. Post highlights Second is a feature more explicitly designed to highlight a post rather than simply draw attention to the author. Group settings in Invision Community enable you to choose to have posts by users in each group show with a distinctive background color and border. The color is defined by your theme and so is easily configurable, too. As with group badges, it may be tempting to highlight every group's content, but we recommend not doing so as that reduces the overall impact of the feature. Keep it reserved for your key staff groups, and especially those that regularly interact with the community. Group prefix/suffix Invision Community allows you to define a custom prefix and suffix for each group. This is used in key locations, including to highlight usernames in the Active User block and to style member group names alongside content. An important part of this feature is that it accepts HTML tags, which gives you a lot of scope for customizing the display by adding an opening and closing HTML tag to the prefix and suffix settings, respectively. For example, let's say we want to add a shield icon before the name, and make the text purple. Prefix: <span style='color: #9013FE'><i class='fa fa-shield'></i> Suffix: </span> Simple! Now our staff members will display in the Active User block and elsewhere like this: Bonus feature: Staff activity streams I wanted to also mention a feature that achieves a slightly different goal to those we covered above, but nonetheless is an important way to bring additional visibility to staff content: activity streams. As well as an overall “All Activity” stream that shows everything happening in the community, Invision Community allows you to define pre-made streams that are available to all users. You can use this to build streams of content with particular tags, certain types of content - or, as in this case, content by users in specific groups. Simply create a new activity stream in the Admin Control Panel, set the configuration so that it only pulls content from members in your staff groups, and you're done. Users will now be able to visit the stream page to get a handy overview of everything staff members are doing in your community. I recommend checking out the other filter options available for streams while you're setting this up - there's a huge amount of power available! Summing up I hope this quick overview of content highlighting features has been useful. When users visit your community, they're usually looking for authoritative information and that often comes right from your own team. By utilizing the features we've discussed here, you can make that information stand out more against the other content in your community.
  21. Making security considerations a key part of your community setup and maintenance can save you from many future headaches. You've worked hard to get your community moving. Don't make yourself an easy target and undo that work. Here’s our current advice to our customers. 1. Enable HTTPS HTTPS is fast becoming the standard way to serve websites. In 2016, more than 50% of web requests were served under HTTPS for the first time. Chrome and Firefox now explicitly warn users on login forms that aren’t sending data over HTTPS, and it’s not hard to imagine that in the near future all insecure pages will receive the warning. HTTPS simply means that website data is served over a secure connection and can’t be read or tampered with by a ‘middle man’ hacker. You can identify a site using HTTPS because the address in your browser will show ‘https://’ (instead of http://), and normally a lock icon or the word ‘secure’. Invision Community supports HTTPS by default simply by changing your base URL configuration to include HTTPS. Of course your web host will need to support it as well and our Invision Community Cloud services support it by default. Contact support if you have any questions. Recommendation: Set up HTTPS for your entire community to prevent ‘man in the middle’ attacks. 2. Set up Two Factor Authentication Invision Community supports Two Factor Authentication (2FA for short), and we highly recommend making use of this feature for your users, but especially for your administrator staff. 2FA is a system that requires both a user’s password and a special code (displayed by a phone app) that changes every few seconds. The idea is simple: if a user’s password is somehow compromised, a hacker still wouldn’t be able to log in to the account because they would not have the current code number. You may already be familiar with 2FA from other services you use. Apple’s iCloud, Facebook and Google all offer it, as do thousands of banks and other security-conscious businesses. Invision Community supports 2FA via the Google Authenticator app (available for iOS and Android) or the Authy service, which is able to send codes to users via text message or phone call. You can also fall back to security questions instead of codes. You can configure which members groups can use 2FA, as well as requiring certain groups to use it. Recommendation: Require any staff with access to the Admin Control Panel or moderation functions to use 2FA, to ensure that no damage can be done should their account passwords be discovered. Allow members to use 2FA at their discretion. 3. Configure password requirements The password strength feature displays a strength meter to users as they type a new password, showing them approximately how secure it is, as well as some tips for choosing a good password. While you can leave this feature as a simple recommendation for users, it’s also possible to require them to choose a password that reaches to a certain strength on the meter. Recommendation: Require users to choose at least a ‘Strong’ password. 4. Use Admin restrictions It’s very common that many different staff members need access to the Admin Control Panel depending on the role. You may have design staff, billing staff, community managers, and so on, all with particular tasks they would like to achieve. Invision Community can help improve the security of your Admin Control Panel by allowing you to restrict the functions available to each administrator, granting them access to only the tools needed to do their job. Recommendation: Audit your community’s administrator accounts and applying restrictions where it makes sense to do so. 5. Stay up to date It’s important to ensure you’re always running the latest release of Invision Community. With each release, we add new security features, audit code and fix any issues reported through responsible disclosure. Falling behind can therefore make your community a tempting target for potential hackers. Your Invision Community Admin Control Panel will let you know when a new release is available, and you can also check out our Release page to track releases. For our Enterprise customers, we’ll automatically apply updates for you shortly after release as part of your plan. For our self-hosted and Cloud customers, you can easily apply new updates via the Admin Control Panel with a couple of clicks. Our Invision Community Cloud contains all best practices for security. However, if you are self-hosted, be sure to work with your web host to ensure your server is setup properly. Ensuring that server software, firewalls, and access controls are in place is very important as an insecure server can be your worst enemy. Recommendation: Aim to install latest updates as soon as feasible. 6. IP address restrictions For organizations where staff are centrally-based in one location, or are required to use a VPN, you can improve your community security by restricting access to the Admin Control Panel to the IP addresses your staff will be using. This is a server-level feature, so contact your IT team to have this facility set up your installation. Enterprise customers who wish to utilize IP restrictions should contact our Managed Support team, while Cloud customers can submit a support ticket to have this set up. Recommendation: Where staff all access the community from a small number of IP addresses, restrict Admin Control Panel access to those IPs. Summary Don’t leave security as an afterthought. Invision Community includes a range of tools to help you ensure your data and members protected, as well as industry-standard protections ‘under the hood’. Make use of these features, and they’ll help ensure the wellbeing of your site. As always, if you have any questions or need advice, our support team are on hand to assist you.
  22. This week, we were inspired to discuss home automation after @Joel R raised the question in a topic. With so many commercial options available now, such as Alexa, Siri and Google Home, we started discussing what automation we have in our homes. This week we'll focus on the a few team members who have heavily automated teams. Although @bfarber's answer "I have kids to help automate the home" was a clear winner. Marc S (Support technician & cycle injury enthusiast) For me I just have Hive, which is automation for my central heating system, and an Echo. So I can tell my heating to switch on and off by speaking to the echo if I wish, but to be honest its very rare that I do so. I tend to just use my phone, as it would rely on me being in the same room as my echo. I have some lights which are on sensors in my en-suite, and in my entrance hall. I have thought about getting bulbs I can switch on and off with voice control, but I'm honestly not sure how much they would be used in comparison to what they cost to buy. Because of the way my lights are configured, it would cost a fortune to do (for example my living room would need 5 bulbs for the main light). If I decided to go down that route, I would be looking for lightswitch adaptations, rather than bulbs. Andy (Developer and Support technician) This is a hobby of mine so might be a long answer! When I fully renovated my apartment I took the opportunity to go wild and put structured cabling and do all the prep work for a complete system. I use a system designed and manufactured by a company in my local area (Idratek.com) as the “controller” which handles heating, lighting, presence detection, intercoms, door locks etc and binds everything together. I installed everything myself and in total used about 2km worth of cat5e wiring with hidden magnetic reed switches recessed in door and window jams. I’ve then extended this by adding integrations with other things such as Hue lighting, automated curtains, zoned heating, a smart kettle and cameras etc. A particular favourite of mine is the integration with Logitech Squeezebox. If somebody rings the doorbell or calls me on Skype then the volume automatically decreases in the room I’m in so I can take the call. This system goes beyond the mainstream ad hoc automation kits such as Hue and other retail “smart” products in that it’s not just motion detection but presence. So for example if you’re in a room and the doors and windows are closed the system knows you are in that room until the door is opened. So if you’re sat still reading the light won’t turn off on you but it will still turn off automatically as soon as you leave. There’s no relying on extended 10 minute time outs. Lighting is controlled using internal and external light level sensors too so there’s no messing about adjusting the on/off times with seasonal changes. The system has all the usual smartphone controls but the idea is that it is truly “smart” in that once set up there is little intervention required. Heating is weather compensated for example and although curtains open automatically once the sun comes up, they won’t do so if you’re still in the room to prevent inadvertent flashing to neighbours. If you open a window in a room then the radiators in that room and connecting rooms are automatically switched off so you’re not wasting money heating the outside. I like to kid myself that I’m saving money but in reality the money I have spent probably exceeds any savings I will make in two lifetimes. So if I’m not saving money at least I’m being eco friendly whilst having some fun seeing how far I can push the tech. Mark W (The Senior Developer) I'm not as crazy as Andy, but I do have quite a bit of stuff: All the lights in the house are Hue. These are coupled with motion sensors (Hue motion sensors which also handily double as temperature and light sensors) but for completeness, I took all of the light switches off the walls, replaced the switches with a blank plate which I then added Hue Dimmer Switches on top of - this means that I can still use "normal" light switches when I want to. I have a Hive thermostat, and wrote a Homebridge plugin (https://github.com/mark-wade/homebridge-hive) to allow me to control it with Homekit, which is what I use to tie all my stuff together (Homebridge itself is running on a Raspberry Pi) I have a coffee machine and kettle from Smarter, which I also have Homebridge plugins for. Every room has a Sonos (Play:1 in bedroom and bathroom, Play:3 in office, kitchen and living room), again with Homebridge plugins I have automation set up to: Turns the lights and music on and off as I move throughout the house Turn the coffee machine on after I go into my office in the morning Turn everything off and turn the thermostat down once everyone has left the house But, because I use Homekit to tie it all together, I also use Siri quite a lot. "Hey Siri, turn the coffee machine on" literally never gets old. I'd really like to get a smart door lock and window blinds, but I'm still waiting for products that are actually decent to arrive on the market (there's a lot of US-centric stuff available, but here in the UK we normally need to wait a bit longer). Mark H (Support Technician and part-time Phil) I use an ISY-994i by Universal Devices, which controls *almost* all lights in the house, the door locks (Schlage Z-wave), and is integrated with my: Elk security system OneLink fire/CO alarms 3 Raspberry PI's with temperature sensors (DS2482-100 I2C to 1-Wire IC) Logitech Harmony Davis weather station (Vantage Pro 2) The mobile App I use to control this all, is Orchestrated Mobilinc. Daniel (Support Technician and Developer) A Raspberry Pis running HomeBridge 2 Amazon Dots + 3 Logitech Harmony Hubs & Elite Controllers allow me to control everything via remote controls, phone or voice. Lights: Hue Sound: Sonos in all rooms I have also dozen of homekit compatible sockets to control some none smart devices via the system. The Harmony Hub but also the Raspberry allow me also to control Dyson Fans. Since I moved to a Samsung Phone it's quite a mess because I had to find an alternative to control the homekit stuff Quite clearly, giving developers a box of gadgets and some spare time can lead to very creative things. Do you have any home automation? Do you prefer Alexa to Google Home? Do you also want to move into Andy's house? Let us know.
  23. One of the bigger decisions a community manager has to make as a community grows is whether to employ proactive or reactive moderation (or a combination of both). This isn’t always a conscious decision; sometimes forum moderation features are toggled without giving much explicit thought to the style of moderation desired and the pros and cons of doing so. It’s worth taking a moment to consider the reasons behind each type, and come to a justification for one or the other. Firstly, let’s discuss what we mean by proactive and reactive moderation. Proactive Moderation With a proactive approach to moderation, the goal is to prevent bad content from ever appearing in public. The primary way that this is achieved is by having moderation staff review all content posted, and manually approving it after deciding whether it is acceptable. Another feature that could be classed as proactive moderation is administrator screening of new registrations. When a new user registers in the community, their account can be placed in a ‘validating’ state, requiring an administrator to review the information submitted and deciding whether to approve the account. As you might expect, proactive moderation is the safest way to ensure bad content doesn’t make it to public view. However, the significant drawback is that users won’t see their content immediately, which can be frustrating and severely stifle productive discussion. At worst, it can push users away from your community altogether. Heavy-handed moderation is often viewed negatively by members who are trying to participate, and can ultimately backfire. With a proactive moderation approach, it’s important that you communicate with members one-to-one if they post content with good intentions but which doesn’t meet your criteria. This can reduce resentment over wasted effort, and gives them the opportunity to adjust their approach for future content. Reactive Moderation In contrast, a reactive approach to moderation allows user to post freely, without explicit pre-screening of content, with moderators reacting to issues as and when they arise. Reactive moderation is, generally speaking, a more pleasant experience for users because it allows them to engage fully with the community. However, there is of course the risk that unsuitable content is seen in public, at least temporarily. Choosing a reactive approach doesn’t have to mean a free-for-all. There are many features you can use to make identifying and dealing with bad content a quick and painless process, while still allowing users to contribute freely to the community: Report center Allows users to identify bad content and submit notifications to moderation staff for prompt action. Badword filter, URL filtering and keyword triggers Prevent common swear words and other divisive terms from being used by censoring them or replacing them with ***. You can also blacklist undesirable URLs from being used within posts. Plus, automatically watch and moderate posts that contain terms you specify. Warning system Where a user has proven to be problematic, the warning system in Invision Community allows you to track infractions and apply punishments to the account. These can range from a simple warning message, to suspension, to complete ban. Users can be required to acknowledge the warning before being able to see the community again. Moderation queue Individual users can be placed into the moderation queue, requiring all content they post to be screened by a moderator before being visible - a good compromise that means you don’t need to screen all content, just that from troublemakers. Spam service The IPS Spam Defense Service is a free service that automatically reviews new registrations to your community to determine whether they match any known spammers, using data crowdsourced from other Invision Community sites. The service can virtually eliminate known spammers from your community, preventing them from ever causing a problem. One-click spam cleanup If a spammer does make it into your community, removing their posts and banning them is a one-click action for moderators. Saved actions Saved actions make it quick to apply multiple moderation actions in one go. For example, if members often post support topics in a non-support forum, a saved action would allow moderators to move the topic and reply to let the member know what happened - all with a single click. Which is the right approach for your community? Every community is different, so there’s no one answer here - that’s why Invision Community includes features that enable both approaches, to allow you to determine which to use. In general, we suggest thinking of reactive moderation as the default stance, and increasing the amount of oversight you make depending on the circumstances. There are exceptions of course. For example, in a situation where a user posting personally-identifying information in a public forum could have a profound implication for personal safety, a proactive moderation approach might be more desirable. Similarly, if it’s essential that users receive correct information that has been vetted by your staff, you may want to review content before it appears (though in this case, other techniques might be considered, such as staff labelling content once it is ‘approved’ by them). Your choice need not be entirely one or the other, either. While Invision Community has moderation settings that apply to the entire community, it’s also possible to apply different settings on a per-forum or per-member group basis. Communities often make use of per-group moderation as a way of screening new members. This is achieved by putting new members into a ‘limited’ group that requires content to be reviewed by a moderator. Then, using Invision Community’s group promotion tools, the member is automatically moved to a regular member group once they have a specified number of approved posts (usually a low number; one to five works well). This approach reduces the danger of a rogue member signing up and creating a problem, without requiring the resources to screen every new post to the community. Finally, whichever approach to moderation your team ultimately finds work best, we recommend creating a clear, detailed set of community guidelines that outlines the boundaries of the community, and what you consider acceptable and unacceptable from members. Most users don’t set out to create problems for you, and referring to your guidelines can often put the lid on any trouble before it starts. We hope this overview proves helpful to both new and established communities. If you have any approaches to moderation that you think others might be able to learn from, please go ahead and share them in the comments below!
  24. What is the one thing you'd like to do in life, but haven't got around to yet? This week, we get introspective and look at the things we'd love to do but haven't found the time to do yet. Brandon (Senior tech support and development) Travel more. I've traveled a little bit, but there are still many many places I'd like to visit. Something tells me I'll need to wait for some of the kids to get older and move out first however. Mark H (Tech support) Take a vacation in Hawaii, as that will complete a goal I set in my youth: Visit all 50 States of the US. Have vacationed, usually camping, in 49 of them so far. Marc S (Tech Support) I have a friend who I have spoken to in the US since I was about 13, through originally chatrooms, then ICQ, and these days Facebook. We have always said one day we will meet up, and thats something I certainly intend to do one day, but havent gotten around to it. Rhett (Cloud Support) A week in Phillip Island, Australia for the MotoGP Race. It's still on my todo list! Matt (Senior Developer) Write a book. Unlike my colleagues, I have no strong desire to travel. I've always wanted to write a book though. In my early teens I used to spend time in front of a mechanical typewriter (through choice, I'm not THAT old) and knocked out a few short stories. They were awful, obviously, but I do love the written word and have a few stories I'd like to get down. Andy (Senior tech support and development) Over the years I’ve started learning a few languages and know just enough French and Italian to be dangerous. I’ve never really focused on either though. I would definitely like to get around to becoming a proficient speaker in at least one other non native language. Mark W (Senior Developer) I'm going to go with everyone else and say more travel. Since I get to work from home I often get a niggling feeling that I could be doing this anywhere in the world rather than in my little office in Colchester. I've made some strides in that direction this year: I spent New Years Eve in Sydney, a somewhat interesting series of events led me to spend some time in Washington DC (but that's a story for another time), plus I visited Berlin and Krakow. 4 countries in one year isn't too bad I think, hopefully next year I can break it though! Jennifer (Designer) Visiting my Irish friend in the UK and attempting to go drink for drink with him to see what sort of shenanigans/trouble he gets me into. Daniel (Senior tech support and development) I want to sail around the world for at least one year (but preferable much longer) and visit as many countries as possible on this trip. I would really love to spent my whole retirement on a sailing ship cruising around the world till i get bankrupt! Stuart (Senior tech support and development) I think quite a few people may have a similar answer, but travelling more is something I would really love to do but haven't got to it yet. I've been to USA many times. There are many places on the list I'd like to go at some point like Peru (Machu Picchu), Austraila, Dubai, Indonesia, Bali... Endless list really. A more realistic answer would be to finish some of my project cars that have been sat in a barn for years. We'd love to hear what you would like to do, but don't have time for just yet. Let us know below!
  25. This week's question is inspired by liquidfractals's reply to last weeks question. What is your favorite music and which bands would you have loved to see live? We learned many things; mostly that our team have poor taste in music. Brandon (Senior tech support and development) I like a lot of different genres. I grew up with rap and pop, but I like R&B, country, electronic and rock too. Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs n Harmony is probably my favorite rapper (and I've seen the group perform live), with Chamillionaire being a close second (and I've actually met him and talked to him one on one). I'd love to see Pentatonix live, that's on my bucket list I'd say. Mark H (Tech support) My tastes in music are quite eclectic. Given my age, "Rock & Roll" is at the top of the list, but after that it's "anything except Rap and Country". Who I'd like to see? Well.... I did have an invite from an older friend to attend Woodstock with him and his even older brother. Problem being, I was still very much a minor. Dad put the kibosh on that idea. I do wish I had gone. Marc S (Tech Support) I have lots of different genres of music that I listen to. Pretty much everything from Classical to hard trance, Whitney Houston to Marilyn Manson. I think if I was forced to pick just one, then it would likely be Progressive, or uplifting Trance. I could listen to this all day and night, and have produced some tracks, alongside one of my friends in the past. Rhett (Cloud Support) That's a hard one for me, I have kids, and a wife, we listen to all sorts of music, I'm not often in control of the station 😂 Matt (Senior Developer) Music is a huge part of my life. I listen to music all day while I work and I always have a pair of headphones in my pocket. My tastes change considerably depending on my mood but Sigur Ros, Radiohead, The National and Metallica are often on repeat. I quite like Apple Music as it often suggests bands that I've not heard of. I used to be a guitarist in a Metallica cover band in school. Thankfully it was before the internet existed so no shameful footage exists of those days. Mark W (Senior Developer) <looks over to now playing... "Miley Cyrus"> Maybe I won't take part this week... Jennifer (Designer) I listen to a lot of different genres and artists. Honestly my music tastes depend on my mood and what I'm focusing on. Thank god for Spotify. I listen to nearly everything except for Death Metal and Country (although I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule for both of them). I tend to lean to female voices over male voices most of the time. I have a special love for Five Nights At Freddys Fan songs, Portal Music and Pink Fluffy Unicorns (dancing on rainbows). I'd say some of my top artist loves would be: Amanda Palmer, Janelle Monae, Lily Allen, Nicki Minaj, The Pretty Reckless, Muse, Black Veil Brides, Fall Out Boy, Maroon 5 and Skillet Daniel (Senior tech support and development) All kind of electronic music (DnB, Electro, Frenchcore... literally everything) Stuart (Senior tech support and development) I listen mostly to classical music (being married to an Opera singer does that to you). I do also enjoy listening to rock and metal. One band I would have loved to see live is Queen, but unfortunately that was a little (not much) before my time. Drop us a line and let us know what your favorite music is. If you have any questions for the team that you'd like to be featured, let us know and we'll queue them up!